28 December 2022

India’s Digital Rupee: Opportunities And Concerns – Interview

On Dec 1, the Reserve Bank of India introduced the Indian Digital Rupee-R (retail) on a pilot basis with four participating banks. Reserve Bank historian and former central banker Bazil Shaikh explains what a digital rupee is vis a vis traditional money, the advantages and concerns, and its future in cross-border transactions.

Gateway House (GH): What is a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) and how is it different from money as we know it?

Bazil Shaikh (BS): CBDC is a form of digital money denominated in the national unit of account. It is issued as a digital token[1] and seeks to replicate physical banknotes[2] or traditional money in a digital form.

CBDCs are backed by the state authority and keep principles of issue unaltered. Issued as a fiat central bank liability, they have legal tender status, i.e., good to discharge debt and pay taxes. They provide continuity rather than cause disruption.

China Aims to Rebuild US Ties in Diplomatic Push for 2023

China said it will strive to “recalibrate” its relationship with the US and increase communication with Europe as the country outlines its major diplomatic tasks for next year.

“We will follow through on the common understandings reached between the Chinese and US Presidents” and work to bring bilateral relations back on the right course, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a speech at a symposium about foreign relations on Sunday.

President Xi Jinping has sought to mend frayed ties with the US and its allies, holding his first in-person summit with President Joe Biden in Bali, Indonesia, last month. Beijing’s more assertive foreign policy has contributed to a collapse in public support across the developed world during Xi’s decade in power.

The US has been pressuring its security partners including South Korea, the Netherlands, Taiwan and Japan to comply with sweeping curbs on the sale of advanced semiconductors to China.

Earlier, Wang told Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a phone call that the US should stop suppressing China’s development, and both nations should focus on implementing a consensus reached between the leaders in Bali. China will oppose any hegemony and bullying, Wang said in the Sunday speech, without naming any nations.

How China Sees the World

Qin Gang

The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) was held in October. The CPC has thus started on a new journey, and so has China’s development. The thinking of Chinese Communists, as stated at this Party Congress, not only determines China’s direction but also has a sure impact on the world’s future.

Just as people’s worldviews fundamentally shape the ways they choose to engage with the world, the same holds true for countries and political parties. It has been reaffirmed at the Party Congress that China is committed to its foreign policy goals of upholding world peace and promoting common development, and it remains dedicated to building a community with a shared future for mankind. Such an official, open declaration of the CPC’s worldview sheds light on the way it engages with the world.

Looking at the world as a community with a shared future naturally leads to a path of reform, opening up, and win-win cooperation. In the past decade, China has established twenty-one pilot free trade zones and increased the Free Trade Agreements (FTA) it has signed from ten to nineteen, which include the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the biggest FTA in the world. Pre-establishment national treatment has been given to foreign investors across the board, and the items on the negative list for their investment have been curtailed to thirty-one from the original ninety-three. China’s market entities have soared to over 160 million. According to the World Bank, China ranks thirty-first globally in the Ease of Doing Business Ranking, up by sixty-five spots in ten years. Given this record, people should think twice about the veracity and true intentions when they hear grumblings about China “moving backwards” in reform and opening up, or “having lost America.”

How Would a Chinese Invasion of Taiwan Play Out?

Neal E. Robbins

SHRIVENHAM, England—It’s 2025. China has blockaded Taiwan. Aircraft carriers, submarines, and war planes circle the island, keeping out all but humanitarian aid. U.S., Taiwanese, and allied battleships hover nearby, but tense talks have drawn a blank. Then a bloody invasion starts.

How did it come to this?

Maj. Tom Mouat watches with dismay. This is not how things usually play out. “We’ve got to a shooting war, which is really depressing,” he said. The British war-gaming expert has run this simulation before. Normally, when pitting Beijing’s ambitions of control against its democratic neighbor’s commitment to self-governance, conflict just “inches a bit closer to happening.” Then everybody backs off. But this time, as Mouat put it, there is a stream of “declarations coming out of China, and [the war in] Ukraine has changed the balance.” Even as the game’s role-players were making their moves on Nov. 9, Chinese President Xi Jinping, in the real world, told his army chiefs to “comprehensively strengthen military training in preparation for war”—words seen as a warning for Taiwan and the United States, which helps arm Taipei and maintains a “keep them guessing” policy about its willingness to come to the island’s defense.

China carries out military exercises near Taiwan and Japan, sending 47 aircraft across Taiwan Strait in ‘strike drill’

Eric Cheung, Jessie Yeung and emiko jozuka

Taipei, TaiwanCNN — China sent 47 aircraft across the median line of the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, its largest incursion into Taiwan’s air defense zone in recent months, as Beijing steps-up efforts to normalize aggressive military operations around the self-ruled island.

The incursions were made by 42 J-10, J-11, J-16 and Su-30 fighter jets, two Y-8 maritime patrol aircrafts, a KJ-500 early warning aircraft, as well as a CH-4 and a WZ-7 military drone, according to the Taiwanese defense ministry.

It added that a total of 71 Chinese aircraft were spotted around the island, and that Taiwan’s military have responded by tasking combat air patrol aircrafts, navy vessels, and land-based missile systems.

The flights, part of a so-called “strike drill” according to China’s military, follow naval exercises by a Chinese aircraft carrier group in the Western Pacific close to Japan on Friday.

CCP: Who makes up the party


These first three charts, taken together, tell you a lot about the Chinese Communist Party.

The ones on age and gender make China an outlier compared with many other countries. In other words, the senior ranks of the party are mostly old, as in over 60 years old, and overwhelmingly male. Younger, women politicians are now commonplace in many countries. But not in China.

In some respects, the age profile of the senior echelons of the party – in the Central Committee – is similar to many east Asian political systems, or, perhaps more accurately, their bureaucracies. In such systems, promotion is tied to age and time served. In the case of China, the party bureaucracy is the political system, and you rarely rise through the ranks without serving your time outside of Beijing.

Many Chinese will argue this is a positive feature of the system. It is a meritocracy, and you have to prove yourself before being promoted. There is some truth in this. Other east Asian systems also have fewer women in their ranks than many Western countries, but none are as bad as China.

A Shaky Foundation: The Myth of Authoritarian Stability in the Middle East

Jon Hoffman

American foreign policy in the Middle East is based on a myth. For decades, policymakers have worked to prop up Middle Eastern autocracies out of the belief that they serve as the only bulwark against chaos and threats to American interests in the region. This approach gets things backward. Rather than being the solution to the region’s various problems, these actors are responsible for producing and exacerbating the greatest underlying problems in the region, and a blank check from Washington allows them to act with impunity both at home and abroad. Accordingly, U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East is in desperate need of an overhaul.

The Biden administration has presented a new logic to justify these partnerships: competition with Russia and China. The argument holds that the Middle East is a critical theater for great power competition, and partnerships with Arab dictatorships are an advantage in that competition. But this and all other arguments often cited to justify U.S. support for these actors are unsound. Instead of representing essential partners needed to counterbalance Russia or China or advance other perceived interests, these governments best embody a sunk investment at a time when the United States is already strapped for resources. The United States should end its overly militarized approach to the Middle East, abandoning its failed partnerships with regional autocrats.

Saudi Arabia is the US Army’s Biggest Customer

Douglas A. McIntyre 

Saudi Arabia is the US Army’s Biggest Customer© Provided by 24/7 Wall St.America has provided weapons to other nations for decades. In World War II. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt described the U.S. as the “arsenal for democracy” just before America entered the war. Large factories in the country’s biggest cities were then converted from their traditional manufacturing purposes to making tanks, airplanes, and other ordnance of war for the period from 1940 to 1945. These arms were shipped around the world, to nations as far as the Soviet Union. 

Today, the U.S. continues to supply military equipment to nations around the world, and the country’s weapons-making industry has become one of America’s largest. The industry relies somewhat on the U.S.’s other nations’ military or “defense” budgets. And Saudi Arabia has a large military budget.

Six Factors That Will Shape Russia’s Winter War in Ukraine

Stephen Fidler

As Russia’s war in Ukraine moves into another year, the next few months will provide critical clues as to whether Moscow’s forces will be able to halt or even reverse the momentum gained by Ukrainian troops on the battlefield. With the end of the campaign still looking a long way off, here are six big factors that will influence the trajectory of the war in the early months of 2023.

The Weather

It is still the season of mud in Ukraine. Temperatures have dropped below freezing but haven’t stayed low for long enough to harden the ground. Even tracked vehicles struggle to move except on paved roads. Across much of the front line dividing Russian and Ukrainian forces, the tempo of the conflict has slowed.

Hard ground—if or when it comes—would likely see the intensity of the conflict increase. That would likely favor Ukraine, the side that has proved itself more capable of rapid military maneuver, though it would also make it more challenging for advancing forces to dig in and defend newly won positions.

The revenge of history in Ukraine: year of war has shaken up world order

Patrick Wintour

The Ukrainian writer Oksana Zabuzhko recalls a quote attributed to Otto von Bismarck: “Wars are not won by generals, but by schoolteachers and parish priests.” It’s a country’s taught collective memory, its shared sense of its own history, that are the decisive instruments for mobilisation, and are as important on the battlefield as weaponry.

Few conflicts have been so shaped by the chief actors’ sense of their own national story as the Ukrainian war that began in February. It is the competing grand narratives of the past, not just in Russia and Ukraine, but in Germany, France, Poland, the Baltics, the UK, the US, and even the global south, that make this war so hard to resolve.

Indeed, sometimes this war feels less like the end of history and more like the revenge of history.

Georgiy Kasianov, the Ukrainian historian, puts history in the cockpit of a conflict that may create a new world order. “Russian forces have been smashing their way through Ukraine spurred in large part by historical fiction,” he wrote in Foreign Affairs. “But history also propels the fierce Ukrainian resistance. Ukrainians, too, harbour a particular understanding of the past that motivates them to fight. In many ways, this war is the collision of two incompatible historical narratives.”

Is a Global Recession Really Around the Corner?


CAMBRIDGE – The world’s leading economists spent most of 2022 convincing themselves that, if the global economy was not already in a recession, it was about to fall into one. But with the year’s end, the global slump has been postponed to 2023.

Clearly, the reports that the United States was in recession during the first half of the year were premature, especially given how tight the US labor market is. And, despite the confidence with which many again proclaim the inevitability of a downturn, the chances of one in the coming year are well below 100%. But, owing to the rapid interest-rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve and other major central banks, there is something like a 50% chance of a recession in 2023 and a 75% chance of it happening at some point during the next two years.

Europe, hit hard by soaring energy prices, is more likely to head into a recession, which conventional wisdom defines as two consecutive quarters of GDP decline. China, however, seems to be in even worse shape. It has the same problems as Europe, plus a collapsing property sector and a surge in COVID-19 cases, owing to the Chinese government’s recent decision to reopen the economy without a sufficient vaccination push.

El Niño Is Coming—and the World Isn’t Prepared

IN 2023, THE relentless increase in global heating will continue, bringing ever more disruptive weather that is the signature calling card of accelerating climate breakdown.

According to NASA, 2022 was one of the hottest years ever recorded on Earth. This is extraordinary, because the recurrent climate pattern across the tropical Pacific—known as ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation)—was in its cool phase. During this phase, called La Niña, the waters of the equatorial Pacific are noticeably cooler than normal, which influences weather patterns around the world.

One consequence of La Niña is that it helps keep a lid on global temperatures. This means that—despite the recent widespread heat waves, wildfires and droughts—we have actually been spared the worst. The scary thing is that this La Niña will end and eventually transition into the better-known El Niño, which sees the waters of the equatorial Pacific becoming much warmer. When it does, the extreme weather that has rampaged across our planet in 2021 and 2022 will pale into insignificance.

Current forecasts suggest that La Niña will continue into early 2023, making it—fortuitously for us—one of the longest on record (it began in Spring 2020). Then, the equatorial Pacific will begin to warm again. Whether or not it becomes hot enough for a fully fledged El Niño to develop, 2023 has a very good chance—without the cooling influence of La Niña—of being the hottest year on record.

Global Sanctions Dashboard: What’s coming in 2023?

Charles Lichfield, Maia Nikoladze, and Castellum.AI

Key takeaways

Russia remains the top target. The latest sanctions address the annexations of Ukrainian regions and limit Russia’s access to IT, engineering, and other key services.
Dollar weaponization creates an additional reason for geopolitical competitors to seek alternative systems. But there’s been no flight from the dollar as of yet.
New US export controls on AI intend to cut off advanced semiconductor exports to China but only a small fraction of US and Taiwan exports to China is likely to be affected.

This year, Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine caused the most rapid escalation of economic statecraft we may have ever witnessed. Coordinated Western sanctions have isolated Russia and limited its access to advanced technologies. The United States is now applying export controls to China, invoking the powerful Foreign Direct Product Rule (FDPR) in the largest escalation of economic statecraft against China since the trade war in 2020.

In this edition of the Global Sanctions Dashboard, we walk you through the Fall sanctions against Russia and Iran, explain the implications of US semiconductor export controls against China, and show you the projected sanctions trends in 2023.
New sanctions: Russia continues to be the top target

Downgrade counter-terrorism efforts at your peril

Raffaello Pantucci

The growing consensus among the UK national security establishment is that terrorism is no longer the biggest threat. As migration, Russia’s war in Ukraine and Chinese military expansion increasingly top the list of concerns within Whitehall, terrorism has fallen out of vogue.

To some degree this is a positive thing. Al-Qaeda’s September 11 attacks warped the global security apparatus, and the exaggerated response to this event, including the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, created their own security problems. But it is alarming how quickly the terror threat has been downgraded: capability and resources are now being reallocated towards state-based threats. For the security agencies, China, Russia and Iran are the priorities, and more attention is being paid to them. Generally this resource is reallocated (often from counter-terrorism) rather than created.

Terrorism has been a feature of human society for generations. Back in the early 2000s, the scholar David Rapoport posited the idea of this threat operating in 40-year “waves”. He traced an “Anarchist wave” (1880s to 1920), an “Anti-Colonial wave” (1920s to early 1960s), a “New Left wave” (mid-1960s to 1990s), and the current “Religious wave” that began with the siege of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the fall of the shah of Iran and the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

Amid a show of unity, Zelensky and Biden differ on some war needs

Karen DeYoung and Missy Ryan

Beyond the sincere expressions of Ukrainian gratitude and firm pledges of ongoing American support, President Volodymyr Zelensky and President Biden came together Wednesday with specific, and sometimes differing, goals for their meeting.

With a $47 billion U.S. aid package requested by Biden for 2023, both were keen to solidify support from the new, Republican-led House that takes over next month. It was important, a senior administration official said, for Zelensky to use his considerable in-person charisma in making the case to lawmakers “about how this really is a struggle for democracy.”

For Zelensky himself, the objective centered on appeals for more powerful weapons to enhance Ukraine’s ability to launch major offensives against entrenched Russian forces in the coming year. There was little indication that he succeeded, at least in the short term.

In a tweet labeled “My Christmas Wishlist,” posted earlier this month before this week’s announcement of another $1.85 billion worth of U.S. security assistance, Zelensky adviser Mykhailo Podolyak’s top five items included four that the Biden administration has declined to offer or help provide — including advanced battle tanks and long-range missiles. The fifth, the Patriot air-defense system, was included in the new aid package.

Russia Proposes Major Military Reorganization, Conscription Changes, Increase In Troop Numbers

Russian military officials are proposing a major reorganization of the country's armed forces, including increasing the age for mandatory conscription, as casualty rates from Moscow’s 10-month-old invasion of Ukraine continue to climb.

The proposals, announced earlier this week by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, would expand the size of Russia's armed forces by around 30 percent to 1.5 million troops and amount to a reversal of reforms undertaken more than a decade ago that sought to modernize its Soviet-era force structure.

They also amount to an acknowledgment of the systemic issues Russia's military continues to face, problems highlighted by the grinding conflict in Ukraine.

Russia has recorded more than 100,000 dead and wounded in Ukraine since February, according to public estimates from Western intelligence and military officials. The last time Moscow disclosed an official death toll was in September, when Shoigu announced 5,937 soldiers had been killed in the war.

Putin’s War In Ukraine Is Now A Historic Disaster

Robert Kelly

As winter sets in, the fighting in Ukraine will slow. Both sides will use the downtime to resupply and refit for next year’s warm weather fighting season. So this is an excellent time to take stock of where the conflict stands after ten months and look for larger trends above the ebb and flow of the frontlines.

Four major geopolitical takeaways stand out:


No matter how the war unfolds in the next year or two (and it looks set to drag on), Russian power has been badly reduced.

Russian President Vladimir Putin planned a short war that would illustrate Russian military might and bolster his country’s claim to sit at the high table of world politics, despite a corrupted economy too small for a great power.

Instead, Putin has stumbled into a quagmire akin to the Soviet war in Afghanistan in the 1980s or the American war in Vietnam.

Bakhmut Is ‘Soaked In Blood’ As Eight Of Ukraine’s Best Brigades Battle 40,000 Former Russian Prisoners

David Axe

Russian mercenary firm The Wagner Group since this summer has been trying, and so far failing, to capture the town of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region.

For Wagner, Bakhmut is a symbol. In seizing the ruins of the lifeless town, which lies 10 miles southwest of Russian-occupied Severodonetsk—one of Donbas’s bigger cities—Wagner apparently aims to establish itself as an alternative to the regular Russian army.

But at least eight of the Ukrainian army’s heaviest brigades keep interrupting Wagner’s plan—and making the battle for Bakhmut a statement about Wagner’s weakness rather than its strength.

“The Russian military and mercenaries have been attacking Bakhmut nonstop since May,” Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said Wednesday. “They have been attacking it day and night, but Bakhmut stands.”

The Ukrainian brigades in and around Bakhmut—the 60th and 71st Infantry Brigades, the 24th, 57th and 58th Mechanized Brigades, the 4th Tank Brigade, the 46th Air Mobile Brigade, the 128th Mountain Brigade and others—represent the best of Kyiv’s active army, which in 10 months of hard fighting has bulked up with new and heavier weapons while also translating extensive battlefield experience into better tactics and small-unit leadership.

American Bargain Hunters Flock to a New Online Platform Forged in China

As inflation and recession concerns squeeze American consumers, many are turning to a new mobile app with Chinese roots.

Online shopping site Temu has soared in popularity in the U.S. since its launch in September. The rapid growth of the site, which sells ultra-low-priced goods mostly made in China, has made Shanghai-based Pinduoduo Inc. PDD -1.71%decrease; red down pointing triangle the latest Chinese firm to find success in a country increasingly wary of Beijing as a technology rival.

In less than four months, Temu has racked up 10.8 million installations in the U.S., according to analytics firm Sensor Tower, making it the country’s most downloaded mobile app in any category between Nov. 1 and Dec. 14.

When Kathy Benetti first went on Temu on Thanksgiving, she wasn’t planning to splurge. But as she browsed the site—pronounced “TEE-moo”—she was struck by the low prices. Before she knew it she had filled her shopping cart with 14 items totaling $90.

NATO Cyberspace Exercises: Moving Ahead CyCon 2022 Workshop Summary

Amy Ertan, Veronika Datzer, Aurimas Kuprys, Lisa Schauss

How do we effectively “train as we fight” in cyberspace? How can NATO best adapt to changes in the cyber threat landscape, or themes including hybrid warfare and disinformation which blur the distinctions between kinetic and digital warfare? How can Allies overcome the challenges of information-sharing and duplication to ensure swift response to adversarial attacks – and how can exercising facilitate such shifts? These questions represent active areas of discussion across the NATO Enterprise, as the Organisation continues to build out the effective design, execution, and strategic development of cyber and joint military exercises.

At the 2022 International Cyber Conflict Conference (CyCon) the workshop “NATO Cyberspace Exercises: Moving Ahead” took place. For the second year, this NATO exercise-focused workshop gathered experts to address and discuss these concerns. Held in person, the workshop welcomed approximately 65 attendees including a range of invited experts and relevant stakeholders, as well as open sign-ups from conference attendees who were interested in cyber exercising themes. This workshop drew upon the valuable input and recommendations captured from the 2021 workshop, further opening the conversation on NATO exercises to the broader cyber community. Following plenary presentations, attendees were divided into six-eight person syndicates to discuss relevant challenges and opportunities. The workshop ran in accordance with Chatham House convention and as such syndicate comments are not attributed to any attendees by name.

Meeting China's Emerging Capabilities: Countering Advances in Cyber, Space, and Autonomous Systems

Edited by Bates Gill
Source Link

In this NBR report, experts from Australia, India, Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam discuss China’s emerging cyber, space, and autonomous weapons capabilities. They examine regional countries’ responses to counter these challenges and consider opportunities for cooperation with the United States.

AI in the Common Interest


LONDON – The tech world has generated a fresh abundance of front-page news in 2022. In October, Elon Musk bought Twitter – one of the main public communication platforms used by journalists, academics, businesses, and policymakers – and proceeded to fire most of its content-moderation staff, indicating that the company would rely instead on artificial intelligence.

Then, in November, a group of Meta employees revealed that they had devised an AI program capable of beating most humans in the strategy game Diplomacy. In Shenzhen, China, officials are using “digital twins” of thousands of 5G-connected mobile devices to monitor and manage flows of people, traffic, and energy consumption in real time. And with the latest iteration of ChatGPT’s language-prediction model, many are declaring the end of the college essay.

In short, it was a year in which already serious concerns about how technologies are being designed and used deepened into even more urgent misgivings. Who is in charge here? Who should be in charge? Public policies and institutions should be designed to ensure that innovations are improving the world, yet many technologies are currently being deployed in a vacuum. We need inclusive mission-oriented governance structures that are centered around a true common good. Capable governments can shape this technological revolution to serve the public interest.

Three inflection points for emerging tech in 2022

Hayden Field, Jordan McDonald, and Grace Donnelly

Every year has its breakout technologies, and 2022 was no different. Here’s a look back at three emerging technologies that hit an inflection point this year.

Carbon removal

The role of carbon-dioxide removal (CDR) has long been a topic of discussion within the climate-tech community, but 2022 boosted the profile of this suite of both proven and nascent technologies.

This year, direct air capture (DAC) projects saw a wave of significant investments from both private and public sources. In the second quarter alone, VCs invested $841 million in carbon-capture and DAC startups—nearly double the total VC funding for the sector over the previous four quarters combined, according to data from Pitchbook.

The US Department of Energy issued guidelines for how it will award the $3.5 billion of funding for DAC hubs in the bipartisan infrastructure law, and policymakers updated a carbon-capture tax credit to include support for DAC. Climeworks, a Swiss startup that operates the world’s largest DAC plant, raised $650 million to help scale its tech and broke ground on a second plant in Iceland with 9x the capacity of its first.

How Huawei is winning over the global south

Greg Noone

The logic behind the expansion of telecoms networks is cold and remorseless. Turning a profit from such networks requires the provider to find users, most of which reside in cities. These networks are at their most sophisticated in places where demand for complex services is at its highest: financial hubs, for example, like London and New York. Conversely, telecoms companies are reluctant to route fibre optic out into the sticks, where nobody lives and demand never rises beyond a local hunger for reliable broadband.

Unless that is, you’re Huawei. One of China’s largest telecoms companies, the firm made its name in the early 2000s as the provider that would venture deep into the countryside to hook up villages and towns with next-gen networking capabilities, usually at a lower price point than its nearest competitors. This was thanks, in large part, to generous subsidies from Chinese state banks, and applied to entire countries across the global south that were otherwise excluded from the mainstream of telecommunications: places like Uganda, for example, where Huawei has made major contributions toward building the country’s ICT infrastructure since 2006. Such efforts argue foreign policy experts, help to win over new backers for China’s campaign to reshape global digital governance norms as part of its Digital Silk Road project.

Huawei does not have as many friends in the West. After murmurs from US and UK intelligence agencies in the early 2010s that the company’s involvement in their networks constituted a cybersecurity risk – thanks in part to provisions in China’s National Intelligence Law, which compels tech companies to hand over any data to the state deemed relevant to national security – the telco became a victim of the growing rivalry between Washington and Beijing, with the former campaigning hard against Huawei’s involvement in upgrading Western networks to 5G. Most recently, that animus has extended to the UK ripping out much of the company’s kit from its 5G networks and the US banning the importation and sale of any equipment from Huawei.

Most-read 2022: The drone era has arrived

Seth J. Frantzman

We’re finishing the year by republishing our ten most popular articles from 2022. Here’s number six: Seth J. Frantzman’s piece from March about how Ukraine’s use of drones changed the war against Russia.

The Ukrainian airforce has so far held out in the battle for the skies. Russia continues to rely on missiles for deep strikes into Ukrainian territory while the defenders have been able to contest the airspace by employing drones.

Ukraine has proven a turning point in the age of drone warfare. The first great drone superpower, the United States, used its unmanned aerial vehicles in places like Afghanistan where few fighters had the technology to shoot them down. But Ukraine isn’t primarily using drones to hunt people, loitering over targets for days; rather, it’s using them to go after Russian armoured vehicles and supply columns. This seems like a strategy designed particularly for Russia. Moscow’s military theory has always been to establish just enough territory to set up its ferocious artillery units, using heavy armour primarily to defend ranged firepower before storming in once enemy positions have been flattened. Drones have fundamentally shaken that Russian strategy.

US Military's Failing Deterrence Against China

Judith Bergman

In just two years since 2020, when the Pentagon wrongly estimated that it would take China a decade to double its nuclear stockpile at the time of approximately 200 nuclear warheads, China has already doubled its stockpile.

"As I assess our level of deterrence against China, the ship is slowly sinking, It is sinking slowly, but it is sinking, as fundamentally they are putting capability in the field faster than we are. As those curves keep going, it isn't going to matter how good our [operating plan] is or how good our commanders are, or how good our forces are – we're not going to have enough of them. And that is a very near-term problem." — Admiral Charles Richard, defense.gov, November 3, 2022.

Unfortunately, the US is facing China with a lot of outdated military hardware.

Instead of doing all in its power to counter those adversaries, however, the Department of Defense has been focusing precious time on extremism, diversity, equity and inclusion, and climate change within the military....

Know the Battlespace to Own the Battlespace: Lessons From Ukraine

Ensign Nick Danby

Russia’s invasion of another sovereign nation should have come as a shock. But because of timely, accessible, and accurate warnings about Russian troops massing at Ukraine’s borders, the world was braced for the onslaught. That Russia—a “strategic competitor”—has been unable to overcome a humiliating stalemate against an ill-equipped Ukraine also should have been surprising, if not for allied intelligence warning and sharing and Ukraine’s agile, guerrilla-ized targeting of Russia’s offensive military vulnerabilities.

U.S. and allied intelligence professionals must study the lessons of the war in Ukraine to hone their skills and dominate the next conceivable fight: China’s forceful reunification of Taiwan.

The shared strategic contours between Ukraine and Taiwan make this policy analogy compelling. In both instances, a “great power” is hell-bent on forcing a former “territory” back under its control while Washington and other Western capitals attempt to thwart capitulation.

Serving as part of the carrier strike group intelligence staff on board the forward-deployed USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), I have studied the lessons of Ukraine from afar and applied them to a festering conflict in the Indo-Pacific. It is important to note, however, that Taiwan is not Ukraine, and the situation in Ukraine does not presage Taiwan’s future. Differences include:

The Next Frontier: UAVs for Great Power Conflict | Part 1: Penetrating Strike

Arlington, VA | December 7, 2022 — The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies is pleased to announce a new entry in its Research Studies series, The Next Frontier: UAVs for Great Power Conflict | Part 1: Penetrating Strike by Caitlin Lee, Senior Resident Fellow at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies and Mark A. Gunzinger, Director of Future Concepts and Capability Assessments at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.

Only a few years ago, the idea of the U.S. Air Force operating uninhabited aerial vehicles (UAV) with artificial intelligence (AI) in highly contested airspace seemed to many like science fiction. Fast-forward to 2022, and Air Force leaders have made the rapid fielding of next-generation UAVs, known as “autonomous collaborative platforms” (ACPs), a top priority. A confluence of events—the strategic threat posed by China, advances in AI and other key technologies, and growing evidence that these technologies can improve operational outcomes—have created a groundswell of support across the Air Force, the Department of Defense, and industry, to move this technology into the battlespace quickly.

PLA Blows Hot And Cold Over US Air Force’s Multirole Heavy Aircraft

Derek Solen


In mid-November, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) published an article evaluating the U.S. Air Force’s (USAF) recent efforts to use its heavy aircraft (bombers, tankers, and cargo aircraft) for more missions than they were designed to execute. The article casts doubt on the usefulness and feasibility of these efforts.

However, the article was soon followed by another article indicating the threat that is posed by one of these efforts. The glaring contradiction raises the question of which article represents the consensus in the PLA, but in this case, the more alarmist of the two is likely to be closer to the consensus.
Downplaying the Threat

The first article was written by one Liu Haochang (China National Defense News, November 16). The article was published in the International section of China National Defense News (中国国防报, Zhongguo guofang bao) a sister publication of the PLA Daily, the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Central Military Commission, which is equivalent to the U.S. Defense Department. The audience for China National Defense News is the Chinese militia and those working in China’s defense establishment outside the PLA and the Chinese People’s Armed Police, people involved in conscription, civilian mobilization, and “defense education.” Defense education comprises students’ mandatory military training as well as the indoctrination of the public in military affairs. It is for this last purpose that China National Defense News regularly publishes CCP orthodoxy concerning foreign military affairs in its international section.

Aerial Minefields Can Put the ‘Miss’ in Missiles

Scott Savitz

The growing missile threat is the greatest tactical challenge of the early 21st century. Adversaries ranging from near-peer competitors to rebel groups increasingly can wield highly accurate missiles that can strike ships, ground forces, and key installations. China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea are expanding the size and capabilities of their arsenals, enabling them to unleash devastating fires against the United States and its allies.

At the current state of technological development, missile barrages have a tremendous advantage over existing and near-term defensive capabilities. It is inherently difficult to strike relatively small, high-speed projectiles that can maneuver in three dimensions. Moreover, barrages launched from multiple locations against concentrated targets can overwhelm the defenders’ ability to match them missile for missile, an effect that can be exacerbated by the use of decoys. Endowing potential targets with enough launchers and missiles to counter vast barrages would demand more resources than defense budgets could accommodate.

Complementary ways of countering the missile threat hold promise but face their own limitations. Lasers can provide a higher-volume, less-expensive way of targeting missiles; however, lasers capable of damaging a missile (which is designed to withstand intense heat) have immense power and cooling requirements. They also can be rendered less effective by humidity, precipitation, dust, and other atmospheric conditions.