29 December 2022

Takshashila Open SlideDoc - An Open Tech Strategy for India (A Working Draft)

Nitin Pai, Pranay Kotasthane, Bharath Reddy

Executive Summary

This is a working draft that we would like people to contribute to. In the spirit of open source, we invite contributors to build on and add to the ideas in this document. If you have any feedback or would like to contribute to any of the sections in this document, please contact us at research@takshashila.org.in or raise it as an issue on this GitHub repository.

"Open Tech" refers to technology that is transparent, inclusive and embodies the freedom to use, study, modify and redistribute to the maximum extent possible.

The definitions of open-source software, open standards, and open-source hardware are well understood. "Open Tech" is used as an umbrella term that includes all of these technology areas.

Open Tech can help India achieve techno-strategic autonomy, economic growth, technology leadership, and skill development. Transparency and inclusivity also help foster trust, broaden access to technology and further democratic values.

India's PLI vs China’s PLA: Can Delhi’s Strategic Use of Trade Thwart Beijing?


The past three years have witnessed the emergence of a new pattern in the India-China relationship. With tensions along the disputed boundary escalating, New Delhi has increasingly chosen to respond with actions in the economic domain.

For instance, even before the standoff began in Eastern Ladakh in April 2020, the Indian government made prior approval mandatory for investments from the countries sharing land borders with India. Following the Galwan Valley clash, decisions were taken to ban Chinese apps on national security grounds and exclude Chinese vendors from India’s 5G ecosystem, and there has also been an intensification of investigations into Chinese enterprises.

In addition, there has been a growing discussion across the policy ecosystem in India about the potential of Chinese economic coercion, particularly with regard to critical sectors, and an emphasis on the need to boost local manufacturing. The Indian government’s Production Linked Incentive (PLI) schemes across 14 sectors with the aim of creating national manufacturing champions, is part of this effort.

The Taliban Can’t Win Friends or Influence People

Lynne O’Donnell

The Taliban are losing their grip on power in Afghanistan as attacks on diplomats and foreign nationals leave a trail of casualties and as border clashes threaten to spill into war. Investors are leaving the country in fear for their lives, scuppering what little hope there was of reviving the war-ravaged economy. Meanwhile, the United States continues to pour in millions of dollars with no clear idea of where the money goes.

On the country’s eastern border, Taliban gunmen trade fire with Pakistani soldiers, killing or wounding scores of people, including women and children, in recent weeks. Islamabad has effectively withdrawn its ambassador, Ubaid Ur Rehman Nizamani, after he was attacked at the embassy in Kabul on Dec. 2. Some commentators say the two countries are now at war. Two Russians were among six people killed in a suicide attack on their embassy in September. Clashes have erupted on Afghanistan’s border with Iran. Regional countries that were relieved to see the United States and NATO leave last August now worry about the flow of drugs, migrants, and left-behind U.S. weapons out of Afghanistan as the country nears collapse.

Bargaining Chips? Taiwan’s Economy May be its Best Defence

Alexander M. Hynd and Seamus Dove

Taiwan faces a range of economic and security challenges, but its advanced economy may prove its saving grace. Can semiconductors help keep Taiwan safe amid a rapidly changing geoeconomic landscape?

After US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial trip to Taiwan in August 2022, Beijing responded in a show of force, firing ballistic missiles and conducting military drills near the island. In Canberra, much has been made of these heightened security tensions, and hypothetical questions have emerged surrounding Australia’s strategic role in a potential cross-strait military conflict. But lost in the recent talk of Taiwan’s security is a forthright discussion of the island’s unique economic situation, and how this might shape the future of its 23 million inhabitants.

Unique Economic Challenges

Taiwan faces two great and interrelated economic challenges. First, its lack of official recognition by the vast majority of states puts obstacles in the way of the island’s economic empowerment. The infrastructure of statehood can play a crucial role in facilitating interstate trade. For example, “choice of law” rules in private international law determine which legal system is used to oversee contracts in international business. Due to its marginal position in international society, Taiwanese businesses are often required to seek contracts with their foreign counterparts under the law of other states, such as Singapore. By doing so, Taiwanese businesses are forced to abide by rules relating to procedure, enforcement, and arbitration that may not be in their interests.

China's chip industry fights to survive U.S. tech crackdown

TAIPEI/QUANZHOU -- In the southeastern Chinese port city of Quanzhou, a near-derelict factory hit by U.S. sanctions four years ago has discreetly come back to life.

Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co. (JHICC), a memory chipmaker, had to halt operations after the U.S. accused it of stealing trade secrets in late 2018. But it has been gradually resuming production after a mysterious new client emerged.

JHICC's campus of sleek glass buildings looks stately again, its trees pruned and its lawn mowed since it reopened. Earlier this year, busloads of engineers and procurement and financial staff began arriving from the new customer to help the company restart production. They ask JHICC counterparts to call them by their English names, rather than their Chinese ones, in order not to draw attention to themselves, four people with knowledge of the situation told Nikkei Asia.

Their identities, however, are an open secret within JHICC. They come from Huawei Technologies, China's technology champion, whose chip supplies have been crippled for two years, a victim of U.S. sanctions imposed in 2020.

With Record Military Incursions, China Warns Taiwan and the U.S.

Amy Chang Chien and Chang Che

China sent a record number of military aircraft to menace self-ruled Taiwan in a large show of force to the Biden administration, signaling that Beijing wants to maintain pressure on Taiwan even as some tensions between the superpowers are easing.

The swarm of Chinese fighter jets, maritime patrol planes and drones that buzzed the airspace near Taiwan in the 24-hour period leading to Monday morning demonstrated Beijing’s appetite for confrontation with the United States over Taiwan, the island democracy China claims as its territory.

The military activity — which, according to Taiwan, included at least 71 Chinese aircraft — came days after President Biden’s latest move to expand American support for the island. Beijing has denounced the United States’ effort as an attempt to contain China and interfere in its domestic affairs.

Tensions over Taiwan have been rising in the months since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the island in August, prompting Beijing to step up its activity in the area with several days of live-fire drills. China said that the exercise was aimed at honing its ability to conduct joint patrols and military strikes, but also made clear what the target was.

Why China’s attempt to set up more military bases abroad may run into rough weather

Air Marshal Anil Chopra

The sea-faring Europeans moved out to far-off lands in 17th and 18th centuries after the industrial revolution in search of natural resources. They initially set up facilities at port cities and then moved inland to colonise the nation. After World War II, the Americans and the Soviet Union build military bases across the globe to extend power and influence. Many other powers have set up smaller military bases overseas.

The rising global power China is now doing the same by using its surplus funds, offering financial inducements and using its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to extend influence and acquire military bases abroad. Notable among Chinese military bases is the Ream naval base in Cambodia, People’s Liberation Army Support Base at Djibouti, a military post in south-eastern Gorno-Badakhshan in Tajikistan, and the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force Golden Wheel Project that brings cooperation for positioning and supporting the DF-3 and DF-21 medium-range ballistic missiles in Saudi Arabia since the establishment of Royal Saudi Strategic Missile Force in 1984.

A permanent Chinese military installation has come up in Equatorial Guinea on the Atlantic coast. China also has many police and intelligence posts across the globe. They also have research stations, coastal radars, space tracking stations in different parts of the world. Global geopolitics and local opposition continue to pose hurdles. Among its political messaging and global reach, China provides more troops to UN Security Council (UNSC) peacekeeping missions than all the other UNSC permanent members combined. Chinese state-owned enterprises already spend $10 billion on security globally, which includes hiring Chinese security support, ranging from regular military and civilian police to ‘private’ security companies.

China, Japan up military ante on the Nansei Islands


China has stepped up its naval and air drills around the Nansei/Ryukyu Islands, ratcheting tensions alongside a rapidly re-arming Japan.

Japan News recently reported that a Chinese carrier battlegroup spearheaded by the Liaoning has been conducting naval drills simulating an attack on the Nansei/Ryukyu Islands since December 16, with the exercises set to end on December 26.

The Chinese Communist Party-run Global Times identifies the ships as the Type 055 cruiser Lhasa, the Type 052D destroyer Kaifeng, the Type 903A replenishment ship Taihu, and the hull number 796 electronic reconnaissance vessel.

Japan News notes that the Type 055 and Type 052D are capable of land attacks and that the Liaoning’s air wing has started nighttime take-off and landing drills.

The report cites the Japanese Ministry of Defense saying that China’s carrier battle group entered the Western Pacific on December 16, passing through Okinawa and the Miyako Strait. The following day, the vessels were spotted 260 kilometers west-southwest of Okidaito Island, with Japan reportedly last spotting them 450 kilometers off Kitadaito Island.

Here’s What Will Happen to Qatar’s Billion Dollar Stadiums Now That the World Cup Is Over


The men’s soccer world championship ended in Qatar on Dec. 18 with one of the most thrilling finals in the league’s 92-year history. It was a night of heart-stopping drama that went into overtime, and then some, ultimately ending with the coronation of Argentina as world champions. For Qatar, a gas-rich gulf nation with big ambitions and little in the way of a soccer tradition, it was a star-studded coming out party, marking its entry on the world stage by showing off its political and sporting event prowess. Qatar spent some $220 billion over 12 years getting ready to host the championships, shelling out $6.5 billion to build seven of the most technologically advanced stadiums in the world, and to renovate another. An untold number of migrant laborers imported to do the work died in the process. But as the athletes pack up their trophies and the last of the fans trickle home, what happens to the stadiums now that the party is over?

Giant sporting events are often memorialized by the white elephants they leave behind, massive stadiums that cost hundreds of millions in construction, require millions more in annual maintenance, and are rarely—if ever—used again to their full capacity. Cape Town’s 2010 World Cup stadium has become a cherished local landmark, but the occasional concert and $4-a-person tours are not enough to fund its constant repairs. Eight of the 12 stadiums built for Russia’s 2018 World Cup, spread across a country with a population of 143 million spanning 11 time zones, are faring a bit better by hosting local soccer teams and sporting events, but none of them are likely to recoup the cost of investment.

Biden Escalates The Economic War With China

Milton Ezrati

President Joe Biden has taken the dispute with China to new levels – far beyond anything done by or even proposed by his predecessor, Donald Trump. Before Trump, presidents tended to categorized America’s relationship with China as a kind of partnership. There were complaints about some Chinese practices but no action. Trump changed that. Characterizing China as an economic competitor, he imposed heavy tariffs on Chinese goods coming into this country. Biden has not only kept those tariffs in place, but he has also imposed export controls and visa limits as well as restrictions on investment flows. The recently passed CHIPS for America Act adds subsidies for domestic production of semiconductors into the mix.

When in 2018 Trump started to impose tariffs on Chinese goods, the commentariat and many academics were highly critical. Some argued that the levies would hurt the American economy more than they would China’s. That claim was always dubious, since sales in America are much more important to China than sales in China are to America. Others worried, as it turned out unnecessarily, that the tariffs would invite a crippling retaliation not only from China but from other nations as well. More telling in the environment of 2018 were the complaints that tariffs ran counter to the free trade and globalization on which elite opinion seemed to believe political liberalization and world economic prosperity rested.

Inside the monumental, stop-start effort to arm Ukraine

Karen DeYoung, Dan Lamothe and Isabelle Khurshudyan

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. — Virtually every day, a line of 18-wheel trucks loaded with weapons or ammunition pulls up to a sprawling warehouse here nestled near an asphalt runway stretching nearly two miles. Drawn from U.S. military depots around the country, the lethal cargo is unloaded onto pallets that will be packed aboard cargo planes bound for Europe, the next stop on its journey to the front lines in Ukraine.

The constant tempo has evolved from choppy beginnings into precision choreography in the 10 months since Russia’s Ukraine invasion. Similar scenes are being repeated at bases and seaports up and down the East Coast as U.S. commitments surpass $20 billion in military support for a war in which the United States, at least officially, is not a participant.

“It’s all a steady flow on purpose,” Air Force Master Sgt. Christopher Mitcham said this fall as he supervised the activity in Dover. “You just understand that you’re at the mercy of what the mission needs.”

Both the mission and its needs have undergone a radical transformation since Russia’s full-scale invasion in late February, when the Biden administration provided minimal support for vastly outnumbered Ukrainian defenders. Since then, Washington has dug ever-deeper into its own arsenal and treasury to supply Kyiv with massive quantities of arms.

Belarus Is Inching Toward Invading Ukraine

Norma Costello and Vera Mironova

Recent satellite images of Belarus show newly carved forest roads and the movement of a slow stream of military equipment to Ukraine’s northern border. Many experts take it as a sign that Belarus is likely to be the next front in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The arrival of new equipment, together with a recent “counterterror” operation and snap inspection of troops organized by the Belarusian military, has made the Ukrainian government worried that a new offensive could be launched from the north early next year.

Belarus, a country often described as Europe’s last dictatorship, has largely kept its military out of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but there are growing signs that may soon change. There has been an increase in trains transporting soldiers and equipment from the Russian border to the town of Brest in southwestern Belarus close to the border with NATO member Poland. According to the Russian Interfax news agency, Russian troops in Belarus will soon conduct tactical exercises.

Artyom, a former lieutenant colonel with Belarusian special operations forces who defected to Europe, spoke with Foreign Policy on the condition of anonymity from his country of asylum. He said deploying Belarusian troops to Ukraine would be a gamble for President Aleksandr Lukashenko. “Lukashenko is doing his best not to send the military to Ukraine. He understands that the only people who can keep him in power are the military and security services. If they go to Ukraine, they will either die or get wounded, and that could be a disaster for him,” he said. “He claims that ‘Poland plans to attack us,’ so we need to put a military on our border. He is, however, at the mercy of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin.”

How Innovation Can Build the Future Our Grandchildren Deserve


I’ve been saying for years that the world is getting better. I’ll point out that, for example, the number of young children who die before their fifth birthday has fallen by more than half in just two decades—from 10 million in 2000 to just over 4 million today.

But current events are making it harder to argue that the future will be better than the past. Russia’s war on Ukraine is inflicting terrible suffering in Eastern Europe and driving up food and energy prices around the world. The COVID-19 pandemic caused millions of deaths and severely hampered efforts to immunize children. Economic growth is slowing. And climate change is leading to more frequent extreme weather.

These setbacks are causing the most pain for people who were already the worst off. It would compound the tragedy if nations stopped doing the things that have worked for the past two decades—including being generous with foreign aid. The world should continue to do more to help the poorest.

The good news is that this is eminently achievable. We can continue to reduce health inequity while dealing with war, the economy, the pandemic, and climate change—thanks in part to innovations in global health that will allow the world’s efforts to have more impact than ever.

Beyond Geopolitics: Re-Examining Russia’s BRICS Relationship

Lucas Dias Rodrigues dos Santos

Despite frequent skepticism, the BRICS have come a long way. From a loose label given by investment bankers to four emerging economies in 2001 (Brazil, Russia, India and China), to a semi-formal group (adding South Africa in 2010). True, the differences between these five states have often hindered them from acting in concert; but they have still deepened their relationship with regular meetings at all levels (from leaders’ summits to scientific cooperation), and jointly-run institutions (such as a multilateral development bank, the NDB). This year a variety of countries, from Argentina to Iran, applied to join. But what does Russia get out of it – especially now?

Economic ties between its members have certainly increased, but still remain modest; so the explanation is often attributed to geopolitical clout. Bobo Lo, for example, argued in 2015 that “what is most important to the Kremlin is the imagery of BRICS summitry.” This is because , first, “[it reaffirms] – to the leadership, the Russian public, and a wider international audience – that Russia naturally belongs to the global elite”; and, second, it “[conveys] that Russia is part of the dynamic group of ascendant powers, in contrast to a decaying and discredited West.” This is a common thread in the literature, with Alexander Sergunin terming this a “soft power” strategy, and André Gerrits a “brand-strengthening” one. This certainly was observable as this last June’s BRICS Summit, which a major Indian outlet remarked “was the first meeting of such a grouping including Russian President Vladimir Putin since the invasion of Ukraine – giving the message that Russia is not isolated” – a framing echoed by the Wall Street Journal, among others.

Opinion – The Rationale of Russia’s ‘Special Military Operation’ in Ukraine

David R. Marples

Russia’s war on Ukraine has sparked a variety of debates among scholars in the West. Basically, there seem to be two lines of thought, which can be further subdivided into different themes. The first is that the war is a brutal, unprovoked attack to which the West must respond, by providing Ukraine with the means to resist in the shape of various weapons, including the HIMARS and most recently the US Patriot missile. The second, and the subject of this commentary, is that Russia is fighting a defensive war to prevent further advances of NATO, and the danger of a nuclear strike on Russia, and to assert control over its natural spheres of interest, i.e., the territories of the former Soviet Union.

According to American political scientist John Mearsheimer, “the United States is principally responsible for causing the Ukraine crisis,” He adds further that:

My central claim is that the United States has pushed forward policies toward Ukraine that Putin and other Russian leaders see as an existential threat, a point they have made repeatedly for many years. Specifically, I am talking about America’s obsession with bringing Ukraine into NATO and making it a Western bulwark on Russia’s border. The Biden administration was unwilling to eliminate that threat through diplomacy and indeed in 2021 recommitted the United States to bringing Ukraine into NATO. Putin responded by invading Ukraine on Feb. 24 of this year.

EU Semiconductor Futures: Scenarios and Challenges for 2030

Kjeld van Wieringen

With the EU preparing a ‘chips act’ to reinforce its semiconductor sector, what are the challenges that will need to be addressed – and what are the potential consequences of failing to act?

In response to previous chip shortages, the proposed European chips act aims to mobilise €43 billion in 'policy-driven investment' to reinforce the EU's semiconductor capabilities by 2030. At the same time, equivalent strategies in the US, China, South Korea and Japan likewise aim at ramping up investment in their own chip sectors. What must the EU do to keep up, and what are the best- and worst-case scenarios for European semiconductor futures?

Answers to this question were provided through a survey, a workshop and interviews with over a dozen European semiconductor policy experts deeply involved with advising policymakers on these issues. Their expectations, hopes, fears and geopolitical insights will shape the potential continuity, rise, decline or collapse of EU semiconductor capabilities and supply security by 2030, as well as indicate the key challenges that will determine which of these scenarios may become reality. These findings were originally prepared for and recently published by ESPAS, the EU's shared foresight cooperation framework, in a paper titled 'Global Semiconductor Trends and the Future of EU Chip Capabilities'.

Three Big Surprises of 2022: Weakened Russia, Weakened China, Weakened American Economy

Michael Barone

2022 was a year full of surprises. Important things didn’t work out as many people had expected on just about every point on the political spectrum.

The prime example: Ukraine. When Vladimir Putin’s Russian troops invaded on Feb. 24, it looked like an independent Ukraine was toast. Military experts on cable channels said Russia had overwhelming superiority. It would take Kyiv and occupy the whole country.

The Biden administration evidently shared this view, evacuating the U.S. Embassy and offering a plane to rescue the president (and former comedian) Volodymyr Zelensky, who at this point uttered the immortal words, “I need ammunition, not a ride.”

The Biden administration, to its credit, adjusted to the unexpected reality and provided Ukraine with vital military and economic aid. This week, Zelensky is visiting Washington voluntarily, not as an exile. And it is Putin who is describing his side’s position in Ukraine as “extremely difficult.”

The lesson is that morale can trump material. People will prove braver and more resourceful when protecting their freedom and their nation’s independence than firepower statistics suggest.

Article 5 for the Next Decade of NATO

Collective defense is at the heart of European security. Enshrined within Article 5 of its founding treaty, NATO allies see “an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all.” Written over seventy years ago with the threat of a Soviet invasion of Western Europe in mind, Article 5 has been formally invoked just once—in support of the United States following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Collective defense held throughout Europe and prevented open military conflict between NATO allies and the Soviet Union. In the 21st century, however, conflict can take many forms. With that in mind, it’s worth considering whether the time has come to review the text of Article 5 in light of current trends in warfare which may not be captured in the original “armed attack” language.

Since the Soviet collapse in 1991, NATO has evolved. Originally created as a defensive alliance, it has since become more active in “out of area” actions to preserve security and protect human rights, redefining the alliance’s international role. NATO deployed forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1995 and Kosovo in 1999. In the early 2000s, NATO deployed forces outside of Europe for stabilization and training in Afghanistan, training in Iraq, and maritime security in the Gulf of Aden.

After Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine, NATO rediscovered its essential collective defense role in Europe. Members committed to increasing defense spending and ensuring that new allies were interoperable. Russia’s escalation of its war on February 24, 2022, reinforced this need.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine was a 'geopolitical earthquake' that defined 2022 and has transformed the world for years to come


When Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in late February, it sent shockwaves across the world. The White House in early 2022 warned that an invasion could be imminent, but there was still an overwhelming sense of disbelief when the Russian attack started. A nuclear power was vying to conquer its next-door neighbor. An unthinkable, nightmare scenario was now a reality — the largest military conflict in Europe since World War II had begun.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine was the story that defined 2022, with cataclysmic consequences that have seeped into the daily lives of people across the globe — but none more so than the Ukrainian people.

The war, which is still raging on, will continue to shape the world in the year to come and likely long after.

"Russia's invasion of Ukraine represented a geopolitical earthquake, scrambling the entire chessboard of global politics," Ivo Daalder, a former US ambassador to NATO, told Insider.

Web3: A New Dawn For The Internet?

Ivan Shkvarun

The modern era is one of constant flux and change. Burgeoning technologies are all around us, perpetually evolving and imperceptibly melding with our lives. This has led to a lot of speculation about what the future of tech holds, and in particular, what will become of that seminal invention of recent history—the internet.

Working in the sphere of open-source intelligence for years, I’ve encountered numerous theories on this topic, but the one that has intrigued me the most is the concept of Web3. While predictions and doubts abound about this new potential paradigm, one thing remains clear to me: The unknowns of tomorrow are also opportunities, and those who adapt early on are the ones who stand to gain if a sea change does occur.

So, here are my thoughts on where I think the World Wide Web might be heading and what this actually means for the individuals and organizations whose activities are inextricably linked to these technologies.

Assessing The Network-State in 2050

Bryce Johnston

The nation-state was the primary actor in international affairs for the last two centuries; advances in digital technology may ensure the network-state dominates the next two centuries. The network-state, as conceived by Balaji Srinivasan, is a cohesive digital community that is capable of achieving political aims and is recognized as sovereign by the international community[2]. The citizens of the network-state are not tied to a physical location. Instead, they gain their political and cultural identity through their affiliation with a global network connected through digital technology. The idea of the network-state poses an immediate challenge to the nation-state whose legitimacy comes through its ability to protect its physical territory. By 2050, nation-states like the United States of America could compete with sovereign entities that exist within their borders.

An accepted definition of a state is an entity that has a monopoly on violence within its territory[3]. While a network-state may have a weak claim to a monopoly of physical violence, they could monopolize an alternate form of power that is just as important. Most aspects of modern life rely on the cooperation of networks. A network-state that has a monopoly over the traffic that comes through it could very easily erode the will of a nation-state by denying its citizens the ability to move money, communicate with family, or even drive their car. One only has to look at China today to see this sort of power in action.

ChatGPT’s rise heralds brave new world where AI could rule over replaceable humans

April Zhang

In 1932, Aldous Huxley published his masterpiece Brave New World, describing a world where technology is highly advanced and environmentally engineered people get their happiness from consumption, sports, sex, and a pleasure drug called soma. He wanted to warn us of the advancement of machines.

This month, a mixture of the Fifa World Cup, the Harry & Meghan Netflix documentary series and the AI-powered ChatGPT reminded me of his scientific dystopian world. I wonder what Huxley would say if he were still alive today.

He would probably consider the World Cup and the Harry & Meghan series perfect examples to prove his farsightedness. Up to 1.5 billion people may have watched the World Cup final, according to estimates of global viewership. Some 28 million households watched the first volume of Harry & Meghan series within four days of its release.

Although Huxley saw the danger of scientific advancement, he didn’t foresee a world where technology can do jobs that used to be performed by humans. In Brave New World, people are bred and engineered to work and there is no place for the jobless. In this aspect, he would have to catch up with what technology can do and reimagine his world accordingly.

Scoping the gray zone: Defining terms and policy priorities for engaging competitors below the threshold of conflict

In October, the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security’s Forward Defense practice convened current and former practitioners and other experts for a private workshop under its Adding Color to the Gray Zone project, which seeks to advance a US and allied strategic framework for hybrid conflict. Participants discussed what actions should and should not be encompassed by the term “gray zone,” the value in defining the gray zone and hybrid conflict, and the most pressing issues for the United States to address in this realm.
Strategic context

Through hybrid conflict or warfare, US adversaries are blurring the lines between peace and war, in a space often referred to as the gray zone. Without firing a single bullet, US adversaries are striking at the fibers of US and allied societies, economies, and governments to test confidence in systems that underwrite both the US constitutional republic and the US-led, rules-based international order. Gray zone competition is a critical and practical element of twenty-first-century security. The ability of the United States to defend against gray zone threats and leverage its advantages for national imperatives will affect its competitive edge in the coming years. There is much debate, however, around what the gray zone and hybrid conflict or warfare signify. While reaching agreement on this terminology is a critical first step for any strategy, it serves only as the early pages of any strategy, and US adversaries are chapters ahead in their respective playbooks.
The value of defining key terms

The Pentagon’s 2022 China Military Power Report: My Summary


Despite coming out extremely late in the year, the Pentagon’s 2022 China Military Power Report (CMPR) was worth the wait. For me, as usual, it was worth reading word for word. Since the first edition in 2000, the annual CMPR issued by the Department of Defense (DoD) has offered government-verified data on China’s meteoric military rise that is often simply unfindable or unconfirmable anywhere else. As Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Dr. Ely Ratner emphasized at the public rollout presentation—hosted by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in Washington, DC on 8 December 2022—it is “the most authoritative unclassified articulation of PRC capability and strategy.” Developed and edited under the capable leadership of Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for China Dr. Michael Chase, this year’s edition may well be the most smoothly written, the one that most thoroughly references Chinese sources, and the one with the most extensive coverage of space and Taiwan security issues by a significant margin. [All quotes from Drs. Ratner and Chase are from the AEI event.] Perhaps even more so than any of its predecessors, the 2022 CMPR illustrates its points with a superb set of graphics (appended in full at the bottom of this post.) What follows is my best effort to distill the report’s key points.

US Military ‘Furiously’ Rewriting Nuclear Deterrence to Address Russia and China, STRATCOM Chief Says


The United States is “furiously” writing a new nuclear deterrence theory that simultaneously faces Russia and China, said the top commander of America’s nuclear arsenal—and needs more Americans working on how to prevent nuclear war.

Officials at U.S. Strategic Command have been responding to how threats from Moscow and Beijing have changed this year, said STRATCOM chief Navy Adm. Chas Richard.

As Russian forces crossed deep into Ukraine this spring, Richard said he delivered the first-ever real-world commander’s assessment on what it was going to take to avoid nuclear war. But China has further complicated the threat, and the admiral made an unusual request to experts assembled at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama, on Thursday:

“We have to account for three-party [threats],” Richard said. “That is unprecedented in this nation's history. We have never faced two peer nuclear-capable opponents at the same time, who have to be deterred differently.”

Are nuclear weapons ineffective in deterring non-nuclear weapon states? The paradox of Russia’s war on Ukraine

Since February 24, Russia’s war on Ukraine has become a laboratory of major theories and regimes. Most of them were inherited from the Cold War period. At the forefront of this day-to-day testing lab, nuclear deterrence is being assessed for its capabilities and limits. This critical juncture is already paving a new role in today’s international security architecture.

The concept of nuclear deterrence is closely linked to the ownership of nuclear weapons by five NPT-permitted nuclear weapon states (the United States, Russia, China, France, and the United Kingdom) and four other nuclear-possessing states (India, Pakistan, Israel, and the DPRK).

It is based on what Dr. Strangelove satirically describes, in Stanley Kubrick’s eponymous 1964 masterpiece, as the idea of “producing in the mind of the enemy the fear to attack”.
Thus, the effectiveness of this threat must be credible and comprehensible to other states. In addition, this message should be carried with a devastating retaliatory threat for using nuclear weapons, which should deter the aggressive behavior of a potential attacker.

In the context of the present war in Ukraine, the problem is that Russian nuclear deterrence has not been entirely credible and might undermine the declaratory policies of other nuclear weapon states. However, deterrence against US/NATO is working and its use as a cover for Russian aggression in Ukraine could be successful.