7 January 2023

Why India and China Are Fighting in the Himalayas

Ajai Shukla

NEW DELHI — On a freezing December day on a remote Himalayan mountain ridge, Indian and Chinese soldiers fought with sticks, stones, clubs and bare fists. Scores were bloodied and injured. The incident, according to the Indian authorities, occurred on Dec. 9, when about 300 soldiers from the People’s Liberation Army of China attempted to occupy Yangtse, a mountainous border post on the disputed India-China border in the Tawang area in northeastern India.

Soldiers from China and India, nuclear-armed Asian neighbors, have been clashing on their disputed border with an alarming frequency owing to the rise of aggressive nationalisms in President Xi Jinping’s China and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s India. Insecurity is also growing in New Delhi and Beijing over intensified construction of border infrastructure by both countries. And mutual suspicion is deepening as China contemplates the increasing strategic cooperation between the United States and India as competition and conflict between Washington and Beijing intensifies.

China and India share a disputed 2,100-mile border, which has neither been settled on a map nor marked on its difficult mountainous and glacial terrain. Broadly, it runs between China’s Tibet Autonomous Region and the Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh in the northeast, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, and the federally administered territory of Ladakh in the north. Neither the colonial British authorities nor the leaders of independent India were able to agree on the detailed alignment of a border with China.

Afghanistan, Uzbekistan Settle New Electricity Agreement Amid Winter Shortages

Catherine Putz

Perhaps the first foreign official to arrive in Tashkent in 2023 was the Taliban’s Acting Energy and Water Minister Mullah Abdul Latif Mansour, who traveled north on January 1 and returned to Kabul the next day with an agreement on the export of electricity to Afghanistan from Uzbekistan.

It’s been another rough winter for both Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. Agreements made between the two sides may still be upended by the very real fragility of Central Asia’s energy systems — politically and infrastructurally.

According to the Taliban government’s Ministry of Energy and Water, Mansour “called solving the electricity problem with Uzbekistan and extending the contract as one of the important purposes of the trip and explained that fortunately the trip had a good achievement and both purposes were fully achieved.”

Energy shortages are particularly acute in the winter, when plunging temperatures cause spikes in energy demands. This was true in the winter of 2021-22 and is happening again in the present winter.

Understanding the Nuclear Landscape in Southern Asia: Complexities and Possibilities

Dr Manpreet Sethi

Manpreet Sethi offers recommendations for policymakers in southern Asia to better manage the risks and challenges inherent in the nuclear security balance between China, India, and Pakistan in this special report published in the Journal for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament.

The nuclear playground in Southern Asia is marked by an exceptional level of complexity. A number of players; their disparate thinking on how to establish deterrence; nuclear dyads that elongate into strategic chains; inter-twining of nuclear issues with conventional, space, cyber realms; disparities in military capabilities; historical animosities accentuated by unresolved territorial conflicts; divides that spawn ideologies, religions and civilizational issues; all make for an immensely complex situation. The consequent regional nuclear dynamics has fair potential for crisis and arms race instability. As a way to address the regional nuclear challenges, the paper explores the character of Pakistan–India and China–India nuclear dyads along three specific axes: drivers of conflict; points of commonalities, similarities and differences; and implications of these for their nuclear stockpiles. Armed with this understanding, it then offers some policy recommendations to address the concomitant dangers.

Bangladesh Caught In Middle Of US-Russia Power Struggle

Nazmul Ahasan

Bangladesh is caught in the middle of the geopolitical battle between Russia and the United States over Ukraine and must walk a fine line to line to prevent an impact on its economy.

The South Asian nation does not want to strain ties with old friend Moscow, which is helping Dhaka build a U.S. $12.65 billion (1.3 trillion taka) nuclear power plant, but it balks at the idea of economic sanctions from Washington, which is a key recipient of many of its exports.

This tug of war played out recently when Bangladesh blocked a United States-sanctioned Russian ship loaded with cargo destined for the power plant from docking at a local port on Dec. 24. The ship has since docked at an Indian port, according to a Bangladesh official involved in the plant’s construction.

For Bangladesh’s government, it was a difficult decision to make.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina counts Russia as one of her strongest allies. The ties between her Awami League party and the Russian state date to Bangladesh’s war of independence in 1971, which the Soviet Union steadfastly supported.

In search of America’s next ‘grand strategy’


U.S. President Joe Biden, right, stands with Chinese President Xi Jinping before a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit meeting, Monday, Nov. 14, 2022, in Bali, Indonesia. Biden says Chinese counterpart Xi has agreed to resume crucial talks on climate between the two countries. The Chinese and U.S. leaders met on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Bali. 

Since the end of World War II, there have been three occasions when American policymakers have had the motive, means and opportunity to forge a new “grand strategy.”

The first was in the late 1940s, when American policymakers were forced to confront the new reality of an ideologically inflected bipolar competition with the Soviet Union. In this case, U.S. policymakers adopted a grand strategy of “containment,” defined broadly as the use of American power to check the expansion of Soviet influence and prevent the spread of communism more generally.

The second occasion was in the early 1990s, when American policymakers seized the opportunity presented by the end of the Cold War and the onset of the so-called Unipolar Moment. On this occasion, as the structural conditions of American geopolitical primacy and ideological hegemony became clear, U.S. policymakers settled on a grand strategy of liberal internationalism — that is, a strategy of U.S. military primacy in the service of creating and upholding a truly global liberal international order.

The US could be regretting Obama's vision for the Middle East


In April 2016, the journalist Jeffrey Goldberg interviewed former US president Barack Obama on his foreign policy legacy for The Atlantic. Mr Obama touched far and wide on global affairs, but it was his remarks on the Middle East that raised eyebrows in the region.

“The competition between the Saudis and the Iranians – which has helped to feed proxy wars and chaos in Syria and Iraq and Yemen – requires us to say to our friends as well as to the Iranians that they need to find an effective way to share the neighbourhood and institute some sort of cold peace,” Mr Obama said. Not only did the former president place an ally and an enemy on the same footing, he implied that it was up to regional states to impose a balance of power so that the Americans could concentrate on other parts of the world.

Mr Obama’s critics saw in his phrase an abandonment of the US’s Arab allies. However, there was also something else involved, namely a traditional, realist political worldview that implicitly accepted that both Iran and Saudi Arabia were entitled to seek power to fulfil their interests, as all states do. To ensure that this impulse would not lead to conflict, Mr Obama suggested, the different parties had to find a modus vivendi among themselves.

In many regards, the region has come around to the vision Mr Obama outlined in his interview. And the Americans are discovering they don’t like it. Two prime examples of this situation, chosen at random, have been Turkey’s attempts to snuff out de facto Kurdish autonomy in northern Syria, against US wishes. And more recently, the decision in October of the Opec+ group to cut oil production, which was reaffirmed in December.

The Myth of America’s Ukraine Fatigue

Raphael S. Cohen and Gian Gentile

As the Ukraine war grinds into its second year, one of the big strategic questions is whether or not Americans and their allies are growing tired of the war. Indeed, there are media accounts of unnamed senior U.S. officials
warning Kyiv about this concern—and Ukrainians, understandably, also worry that their Western backers might grow tired of the war. The question of whether Western support for Ukraine is waning has kept the pollsters busy and dominated the opinion pages. In all likelihood, this was a major reason why Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky traveled to Washington earlier this month, leaving his country for the first time since the war began.

But just how real is Americans’ war fatigue? Less than it seems, most likely.

Much of the concern about the United States suffering from war fatigue stems from a series of polls of the American electorate that found popular support for Ukraine slipping. Separate surveys from the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute found that, while an overwhelming majority of Americans still backed Ukraine and believed Russia was the aggressor, a growing minority—particularly among Republicans—believed the United States was providing too much aid and that the war was costing the United States too much.

Countering Terrorism on Tomorrow’s Battlefield: Critical Infrastructure Security and Resiliency (NATO COE-DAT Handbook 2)


Every day, malicious actors target emerging technologies and medical resilience or seek to wreak havoc in the wake of disasters brought on by climate change, energy insecurity, and supply-chain disruptions. Countering Terrorism on Tomorrow’s Battlefield is a handbook on how to strengthen critical infrastructure resilience in an era of emerging threats. The counterterrorism research produced for this volume is in alignment with NATO’s Warfighting Capstone Concept, which details how NATO Allies can transform and maintain their advantage despite new threats for the next two decades. The topics are rooted in NATO’s Seven Baseline requirements, which set the standard for enhancing resilience in every aspect of critical infrastructure and civil society.

As terrorists hone their skills to operate lethal drones, use biometric data to target innocents, and take advantage of the chaos left by pandemics and natural disasters for nefarious purposes, NATO forces must be prepared to respond and prevent terrorist events before they happen. Big-data analytics provides potential for NATO states to receive early warning to prevent pandemics, cyberattacks, and kinetic attacks. NATO is perfecting drone operations through interoperability exercises, and space is being exploited by adversaries. Hypersonic weapons are actively being used on the battlefield, and satellites have been targeted to take down wind farms and control navigation. This handbook is a guide for the future, providing actionable information and recommendations to keep our democracies safe today and in the years to come.

The United States and NATO at a Crossroads regarding the War in Ukraine

Eldad Shavit, Shimon Stein

President Putin’s decision to annex four regions of Ukraine and his definition of his struggle against the Western elites as an existential struggle, while avowing his determination to defend the annexed territories and making implicit threats about the possibility of using unconventional weapons, significantly increase the risk of escalation. Consequently, the United States and its allies are now at a crossroads. It seems that Russia’s conduct will compel them to formulate a follow-up strategy that will heighten the challenge of supporting Ukraine without getting dragged into war with Russia. Thus far, aside from the threat of a serious and “decisive” response, the United States and NATO have maintained a veiled response to Russia’s potential use of unconventional weapons. The response could be political (cutting off relations) and economic, but a conventional military response cannot be ruled out. The official statement by Israel – which so far has refrained from responding to Ukraine’s request to provide it with military aid – that it will not recognize Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian regions is a positive step, but insufficient. The Israeli government should stand clearly by Ukraine’s side, including responding to its military requests. In addition, it should unhesitatingly stand by the side of the US in the struggle, which will influence the shaping of the future world order and the leading role of the United States.

The United States administration persists in its determined statements regarding Russia's actions in the war in Ukraine. In response to Russia's decision to annex four regions of Ukraine's territory, President Biden condemned the move, defined it as illegitimate, and stated that the United States will continue to help Ukraine restore its control over its territory by strengthening its military and diplomatic capabilities. Biden also warned Moscow that Washington would defend every inch of NATO territory. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg emphasized that Russia's actions constitute a rhetorical escalation the likes of which have not been seen since the beginning of the war.

The Bird Has Been Freed, and So Has a New Era of Online Extremism

Ella Busch


“The bird is freed.” With these words, @elonmusk announced his official takeover of the Twitter platform on October 27, 2022 at 11:49pm.[1]Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla -and now Twitter- bought the company for $44 billion this fall. His implementation of a “Twitter 2.0” has been nothing short of problematic, with his self-proclaimed “extremely hard-core” workplace strategy[2] resulting in the resignations of half of the company’s previous 7,500 employees. As the company’s sole board member, Musk has used this authority to apply his personal ideology of unmoderated speech, or “free speech absolutism” to Twitter. The company has already stopped enforcing its previous Covid-19 misinformation policy, reinstated formerly-banned accounts (including that of former President Donald Trump), and has scaled back its moderation efforts.[3] This lack of moderation risks more than the circulation of false or hurtful communications: it is likely to cause extremists to flock to the platform in order to take advantage of unregulated speech, disseminate propaganda, and radicalize potential recruits to terrorist groups. Twitter’s new ownership and content moderation standards will worsen far right extremism in the US because they allow for the creation and spread of far-right extremist (FRE) propaganda as well as the reemergence of figures that inspire and unify the far-right. To mitigate this risk across all social media platforms, the United States must amend its current legislation relating to corporate responsibility in moderating hate speech online.

Even Defeat In Ukraine Won’t By Itself Lead To Russia’s Disintegration

Paul Goble

Many commentators are suggesting that if Russia loses its war in Ukraine, the country will disintegrate, Pavel Pryanikov says. But history shows that even a loss in a war by itself won’t lead to that outcome. It will occur only if there are forces within Russia pointing in that direction, and as of now, they aren’t sufficient to cause that outcome.

According to the Russian commentator who founded the Interpreter portal, Russia won’t fall part even if it signs “a partial capitulation” to Ukraine, just as it did not disintegrate after it signed such a treaty with Japan. Now, as then, such a move would shake the country but not cause it by itself to fall apart (business-gazeta.ru/article/578730).

The Putin regime understands this; and one must give it its due, it has “taken the mistakes of its predecessors into account.” Had Gorbachev been more willing to use massive amounts of force, he would have saved the USSR at least for a time, much as Beijing saved the Peoples Republic of China by crushing the Tiananmen protests, Pryanikov says.

Putin, of course, is more than ready to use massive force; but he also has taken steps so that he is not threatened by four other factors that led to the disintegration of the USSR. First, he has crushed regional elites. Second, he has worked hard to limit any manifestation of nationalism. Third, he has brought the intelligentsia to heel, forcing it to submit or emigate.

US Should Allow Venezuela To Export More Oil

Ivan Eland

During the Trump administration, the United States imposed “maximum pressure” on the Venezuelan government of Socialist thug Nicolas Maduro.

This policy involved tightening economic sanctions and a seeming attempt to help overthrow his corrupt and oppressive government. Unfortunately, but predictably, this policy failed, and Maduro is stronger than ever, some of which can be attributed to a “rally around the flag” from an external “villain” being perceived to have attacked Venezuelans.

Now, to help alleviate pressure on the politically potent oil price caused by international economic sanctions imposed on Russia because of its brutal invasion of Ukraine, the Biden administration recently allowed Chevron to again begin pumping Venezuelan oil. In exchange, the Venezuelan government and opposition agreed to spend, under U.N. management, billions of frozen funds on infrastructure and humanitarian aid at home. Administration officials argued that Chevron’s resumption of operations in Venezuela would impel the government and opposition to start talks on a framework and schedule for holding free elections.

Trends In Terrorism: What’s On The Horizon In 2023?

Colin P. Clarke

(FPRI) — The most defining feature of international terrorism in 2023 will be its diversity, reflected by the broad array of ideologies and grievances motivating plots and attacks. The Islamic State, the most significant terrorist threat since the global counterterrorism campaign to dismantle al-Qaeda in the immediate years following 9/11, has been attenuated in Iraq and Syria, losing two of its emirs in 2022. Outside of the Levant, Islamic State branches and affiliates remain potent, especially in the Sahel region of Africa and in South Asia, where the Islamic State Khorasan Province is waging a stubborn insurgency against the Taliban. The Islamic State Khorasan Province has launched high-profile attacks against both Russian and Chinese interests in Afghanistan. Still, Western counterterrorism successes may not be sustainable without a robust commitment to continue working with partners on the ground to ensure that these groups do not reconstitute. Without continued US and allied pressure, it is likely that Islamic State, al-Qaeda, and their respective branches and franchise groups could successfully rebuild their networks in the Middle East and beyond.

And while the United States and its coalition partners have done an impressive job at destroying the physical caliphate in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa is now the center of gravity for jihadist terrorism. In West Africa, the al-Qaeda-linked Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin and the Islamic State West Africa Province are competing for resources and recruits and, in the process, leaving a deadly trail of destruction in their wake. According to the Global Terrorism Index, the Sahel has become “increasingly more violent over the past 15 years, with deaths rising by over one thousand percent between 2007 and 2021.”

Five trends to watch in 2023 as the global economy tries a dangerous reboot

Josh Lipsky

If you’ve listened closely to financial leaders over the past few months, one theme comes across clearly: They just want to get back to where they were before the pandemic.

If we could just get back to 2 percent inflation, if we could rewind the clock to before Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, if we could only get China to open up and manufacture for the world, then things would be fine.

This desire for normalcy is misguided. Europe’s over-reliance on Russian energy was a vulnerability waiting to be exploited. Low inflation vexed the US Federal Reserve in 2019 because it signaled weakness in the labor market. As for China, if you think things were running smoothly in 2019, you probably forgot about the trade war.

“Get Back” is a great Beatles song, but it’s bad economic policy. As we enter 2023, here are five underappreciated trends to watch in geoeconomics. With each trend, policymakers can focus on a return to the status quo or build something different, and better, this year.

1. Central banks part ways

The Ukraine war has made predictions futile

Lawrence Freedman

Over the course of 2022, I wrote extensively about the Russian threat to Ukraine. I wrote five pieces in the period before the invasion on 24 February and another 35 after the full-scale war started. In the prewar pieces the question was whether there was going to be a war and if so, what form it might take. Once the war began the issue became about its likely course. The big questions were – and sadly still are – about who was “winning”, how long the fighting would last and what it would take to bring it to an end, along with the risk of nuclear use and the economic dimensions of the war.

Many of my pieces have been as much backward as forward-looking, trying to explain the background to events. When looking forward I have been wary of predictions. One person above all is responsible for this terrible war, and while trying to make sense of Vladimir Putin’s priorities and presumptions is essential to any analysis, I cannot claim any special insight into his decision-making. Moreover, while one can normally expect a stronger force to prevail over a weaker one, the tactics and strategies employed make a difference, as they have done to a remarkable extent in this case. This war has been extremely focused in that it has largely taken place on Ukrainian territory. At the same time it has involved many countries, most committed to supporting Ukraine, a few sympathetic to Russia, others looking to mediate, and all taking to varying degrees an economic hit from the war’s knock-on effects.

Issues to watch in 2023

There is cautious optimism that Europe will endure this winter without an energy crisis. Gas prices have fallen, storage is 95 per cent full, and the autumn was mild. High summer gas prices cut industrial demand but domestic heating demand will be critical over the winter. Already, France’s problematic nuclear fleet and lower hydroelectric output mean Europe is using more gas to generate power.

The problem is next winter when ensuring adequate gas storage will be much harder

Russian pipeline gas supply to southern Europe has fallen by 55 per cent. While Asian demand has fallen, Europe has still paid record prices to secure additional liquefied natural gas (LNG), largely from America but also Russia. European demand for LNG this winter will push prices up, and these will rise even higher if China relaxes its Zero-Covid policy and demand recovers. However, with luck, Europe will avoid power cuts in early 2023. The problem is next winter. With less Russian pipeline gas and a tight LNG market, 90 per cent winter gas storage levels will be much harder to achieve.

NATO’s resurgence

Alice Billon-Galland, Research Fellow, Europe Programme, Chatham House and one of 14 NATO Young Leaders

In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, NATO adopted a new strategic concept. Member states will reinforce NATO battlegroups and bolster higher readiness forces from 40,000 troops to more than 300,000, while striving to avoid escalation with Russia. Turkey’s attempts to block Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership will preoccupy Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary-General, until he leaves his post next autumn.

Profiles in Power: The World According to Kissinger

Jessica T. Mathews

Setting aside Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Narendra Modi, and Benjamin Netanyahu, each leading his country backward in different ways, the contemporary world does not offer examples of masterful, long-tenured political leadership. And so Henry Kissinger’s new book, Leadership: Six Studies in World Strategy, seems at first glance to be both timely and potentially valuable. Kissinger sets out to examine the ability of great leaders not just to deal successfully with the circumstances they face but to profoundly alter the history unfolding around them.

The leaders Kissinger chooses cover a broad swath of the history of the second half of the twentieth century. He shows Konrad Adenauer, the first chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, as a man humble enough to shoulder the moral burden of Hitler’s defeat; strong enough to give his divided country “the courage to start again,” this time with democracy firmly emplaced; and prescient enough to see the need for a federated Europe. The studies of Charles de Gaulle and Lee Kuan Yew, the architects of postwar France and modern Singapore, respectively, are fresh and full of interest. The chapter on U.S. President Richard Nixon, and to a lesser degree, the one on the Egyptian leader Anwar al-Sadat are largely devoted to retelling what Kissinger has written many times before about the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam, the opening to China, dealings with Russia, and shuttle diplomacy in the Middle East. Sadat’s story struggles at times to emerge from that of his powerful predecessor, Gamal Abdel Nasser. It comes alive with the 1973 war with Israel and that conflict’s diplomatic aftermath, including the Camp David accords, which Kissinger reads as part of a broader (and ultimately failed) effort by Sadat to create a “new order in the Middle East.” The final study, of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, whom Kissinger credits with rescuing the United Kingdom from a spiral of mortal decline, is weakened by repeated descriptions of her warmth and “charm”—qualities that are hard to tally with a leader known, even to admirers, for extreme divisiveness and an inclination to bully.

Putin’s New Year’s nightmare: How Ukraine shocked Russia with a deadly barrage of missiles

Stanislav Kucher

On New Year’s Eve, all the main Russian TV channels were broadcasting President Vladimir Putin’s New Year’s address to the nation. He stood against a backdrop of uniformed soldiers and officers, all said to be veterans of the war in Ukraine; according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, the speech had been recorded earlier in the day, during Putin’s visit to the Southern Military District. Putin spoke for nine minutes, hammering the West, congratulating Russian forces for their bravery and battlefield successes, and finishing with a resounding “Happy New Year!” It was just before midnight.

As millions of Russians heard those words, four Ukrainian missiles struck the heavily populated Russian military base in the city of Makiivka, in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine that Russia has claimed for its own. Russia’s Defense Ministry said 89 Russian soldiers were killed; Ukrainian officials claimed the toll was between 300 and 400 dead. Even by the lower count, it was by far the most devastating strike against Russian forces since the war began.

Russian TV viewers would have had no idea what had happened. After Putin’s New Year’s wishes, the first hours of 2023 featured holiday programming. It would be nearly 48 hours before Russian TV broadcast stories about the strike — and even then, the attack rated only brief mentions.

Pentagon Leveraging 5G To Fight in Electromagnetic Spectrum

Mikayla Easley

Whether it’s to look up funny cat videos or operate a robotic system using wireless internet, 5G has become a staple in the everyday lives of many.

But for the Pentagon, the communications technology has become a key enabler for another more critical function — the ability to harness the electromagnetic spectrum for operations.

A significant amount of military weapon systems and applications depend on the electromagnetic spectrum — the range of frequencies or wavelengths of electromagnetic energy — to operate, according to a Congressional Research Service report published August 2021.

The spectrum supports military operations today by linking wireless communications, satellites, signal intelligence and radar technologies that support situational awareness and electronic warfare, said the report, titled “Overview of Department of Defense Use of the Electromagnetic Spectrum.”

To ensure the United States maintains its advantage over adversaries across an increasingly complex, congested and contested electromagnetic spectrum, or EMS, the Defense Department released its Electromagnetic Spectrum Superiority Strategy in 2020. It called on the department to develop capabilities and policies that support electromagnetic spectrum operations — coordinated actions to exploit, attack, protect and manage the electromagnetic environment.

War Transformed

Brian Kerg

The character of war is rapidly changing. The increasing availability of evolving technology confounds previous frameworks for military operations. Socioeconomic factors and demographic shifts complicate manpower and force generation models for national defense. Ubiquitous connectivity links individuals to global audiences, expanding the reach of influence activities. And a renewed emphasis on strategic competition enhances the scope of military action below the threshold of violence.

This is the world that Mick Ryan explores in War Transformed: The Future of Twenty-First Century Great Power Competition and Conflict. A retired major-general of the Australian Army, adjunct fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and a frequent writer on topics of modern and future warfare, Ryan is well positioned to develop this study. By deeply examining drivers of change, Ryan aims to offer a solid approach to preparing for modern competition and war. In this he succeeds admirably, offering military practitioners and policy makers alike a sound understanding of war’s changing character, a path of inquiry to understand it, and principles to seek advantage in this new security environment.

Ryan’s central premise is that despite ever expanding technological leaps, relative advantage will not be maintained by the relentless pursuit of the latest tech.[1] Rather, military organizations will gain a decisive edge in the 21st century through a combination of appropriate ideas, adaptive institutions, and well trained and educated people. While Ryan offers that his argument is not particularly groundbreaking, it is still important and must be re-emphasized to guard against the feckless pursuit of new and glamorous technology, and to focus policymakers and leaders instead on their greatest asset—their people.

The Long-Term Economic Implications of the Ukraine War

Dan Steinbock

Douglas Macgregor recently argued in these pages that Washington’s refusal to acknowledge Russia’s legitimate security interests in Ukraine and to negotiate an end to the war will cement “the path to protracted conflict and human suffering.” As Macgregor observed, even while the tide is now turning in Ukraine, Washington’s foreign policy continues to be fueled by the ideological self-delusion of the true believers: “Like the ‘best and the brightest’ of the 1960s they are eager to sacrifice realism to wishful thinking, to wallow in the splash of publicity and self-promotion in one public visit to Ukraine after another.”

It is indeed a spectacle eerily reminiscent of events over half a century ago, when Washington’s proxy war in Vietnam was escalated even as it was failing. The U.S./NATO-led proxy war against Russia in Ukraine has already bankrupted the Ukrainian economy, an outcome some observers saw nine months ago. It will also accelerate the decline of the U.S. international role and global economic prospects. When great powers fail to balance their economic base with their military power and strategic commitments, they risk imperial overstretch. That is America’s key global risk in the 2020s. And due to the U.S. role in the world economy, the global repercussions of such overstretch will be adverse, extensive, and long-lasting.

In The Best and the Brightest (1972), David Halberstam argued that it was the refusal of U.S. elite policymakers and intellectuals to recognize the true economic and human costs of Vietnam escalation that led them to sacrifice realism for wishful thinking. As the idea that South might not win against North Vietnam was simply dismissed, Secretary of State Dean Rusk said, “We will not pull out until the war is won.”

Paul J. David-Justus, Turkey’s Future in NATO: Asset or Liability?, No. 543, January 3, 2023

Paul J. David-Justus

Paul J. David-Justus is an Assistant Research Fellow at the National Defense University’s Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction and is a current doctoral candidate at Missouri State University’s graduate Department of Defense and Strategic Studies. The views reflected here are his own.



In September 2020, Greece and Turkey narrowly avoided war as a result of a dispute regarding offshore energy exploration rights in the Aegean Sea. This near-miss propelled Athens to pursue a military modernization program over the fear of a possible future escalation with Ankara—an ally ostensibly committed to Greece’s defense.[1]

The incident was not an isolated one, however. It followed the Trump administration’s leveling of sanctions against Turkey for its acquisition of the Russian S-400 air defense system in contravention of U.S. concerns, as well as its assault on U.S.-backed Kurdish militias in Syria.[2] It also comes against the backdrop of a deepening internal crackdown by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in recent years, featuring mass arrests, the erosion of the rule of law, and marked increases in the power of the Presidency. Further, Turkey has threated to veto Sweden and Finland’s applications for North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) membership amid Russia’s unjust, irredentist invasion of Ukraine, delaying the addition of two strategically valuable members to the Alliance in a bid to gain political concessions.

Blockchain Not Bitcoin: Agriculture and Health Care Companies Thrive on New Technology

Alexandra E. Bello

As Bitcoin approached $70,000 in November 2021,[1] cryptocurrency enthusiasts were exuberant about blockchain technology and the rise of digital currency. The crypto craze calmed substantially in the months that followed,[2] however, and it wasn’t long before crypto exchanges Celsius, Voyager and FTX filed for bankruptcy.[3] Collectively, they owe customers over $9 billion.[4] Naturally, calls to improve the regulation of digital financial markets have followed.[5]

By contrast, innovators in the agriculture and health care industries have successfully integrated blockchain, the technology that underlies cryptocurrency, without controversy or new regulatory frameworks. The so-called ag-tech and health tech sectors are also attracting significant investment. In 2021, they received $11.4 billion and $29.1 billion, respectively, in venture capital funds.[6]

This issue brief outlines how blockchain technology is transforming the current business landscape — particularly the agricultural and health care sectors. Through its ability to provide both transparency and security, blockchain is being used by agricultural and health care companies to enhance interoperability, traceability and efficiency.

Ransomware: A Wake-Up Call for Cybersecurity in the Indo-Pacific

Sachin Tiwari

The 2021 report by cybersecurity firm Sophos found that 78 percent of Indian firms were targeted by ransomware attacks, signifying the rising level of such crimes. Similar trends are visible across the Indo-Pacific, with countries in the region among the most targeted by ransomware attacks in the previous year. However, these incidents are not limited to private industry but cut across to sensitive targets termed as critical to national interests.

The recent ransomware attack on AIIMS, one of the largest public health institutions in India, highlighted the dangers cyberattacks can pose to human life. Attackers targeted AIIMS servers with malware that made the servers dysfunctional. Various services were affected, from patient registration to emergency services, affecting patients and curtailing hospital operations for several days. And that was in addition to the leak of personal data in large numbers, including information on key individual.

2022 trends suggest that the healthcare industry is the second-most targeted (after the manufacturing sector) for ransomware attacks. The problem is global in nature. Cyberattacks targeting small island nation Vanuatu in the Pacific in November 2022 had a major impact on government networks and crippled services. Another major ransomware attack on the Colonial pipeline in 2020 led to a massive disruption in fuel supplies in the eastern United States.

Four organizations win DARPA contracts to simulate threats in networks for SMOKE program

Mark Pomerleau

Four organizations were recently awarded contracts forS the Signature Management using Operational Knowledge and Environments program overseen by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

The SMOKE program aims to develop signature management technologies and automate threat-emulated infrastructure in order to provide realistic simulations of threats for a more holistic network picture.

The organizations that landed contracts for the effort include BlackHorse Solutions, Inc. – a Parsons Company – Cynnovative, Georgia Tech and Punch Cyber Analytics Group, according to a DARPA spokesperson.

The approximate total program value is $55 million.

The project is currently in the research-and-development phase. It kicked off in October 2022 and is slated to run over the next three years.

The program is divided into two technical areas: automated planning and execution of attribution aware cyber infrastructure, and discovery and generation of infrastructure signatures. According to the original broad agency announcement, it was expected that the winners for each technical area would deliver components on an iterative and incremental basis.


Lieutenant Colonel Nathan Jennings
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The United States Army is embarking on a new era as it adopts Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) as its central warfighting concept. As articulated by Chief of Staff of the Army General James McConville in the 2022 revision of Field Manual 3-0, Operations, the new doctrine is designed to allow the landpower institution to use advanced tactics and technologies to “hold critical terrain, assure allies and partners, defeat the most dangerous enemies in close combat anywhere in the world, and consolidate gains to achieve enduring strategic outcomes.”1 While MDO is intended to provide the Army with a wide range of capabilities to combat diverse adversaries, the battle concept—which directs more rapid, novel and sometimes counter-intuitive synchronization of efforts from across land, maritime, air, cyber and space domains—directs particular focus on enabling the institution to win large conflicts of expanded scale and intensity.

With this prioritization, the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, which deeply informed the development of AirLand Battle doctrine in the 1980s, can offer new insights for the Army as it modernizes for future warfare. The seminal Middle East conflict, which saw the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) fight an existential war against Egyptian and Syrian adversaries who sought to regain lost territories, stunned the world due to the lethality and destruction of the modernizing battlefield. Featuring sudden reversals and massive attrition, the war saw the IDF lose more than 800 armored vehicles and 100 attack aircraft in just three weeks of intense combat as they grappled with a new array of anti-armor and anti-air defenses.2 For their part, both the Egyptian and Syrian militaries likewise suffered massive losses as they countered a succession of Israeli ground, air and naval counter-offensives that ended with a dramatic crossing of the Suez Canal.

The Battle of Mogadishu; Framework of Mission Command Failure

Gustavo Arguello

On 3 October 1993, during operation codename Gothic-Serpent, United States special operators in Mogadishu, Somalia, had the task of capturing high-ranking members of Aidid’s militia. The operators executed Gothic-Serpent as part of Task Force Ranger, under the overall command-and-control of General Garrison, the commanding officer who directed the capture of the high-ranking militia lieutenants. Participants expected the mission to last 30 minutes, but the battle extended overnight and eventually became the bloodiest battle since the Vietnam war. According to the case study “The successes and failures of the battle of Mogadishu and its effects on U.S. foreign policy”, the Gothic-Serpent met its operational goal despite the number of casualties in the 15-hour battle (Dotson, 2016).

Operation Gothic-Serpent had special operation members from at least three separate military services; these units included Army Rangers, Delta Force operators, and helicopters from the 160th special operations aviation regiment (SOAR). Also, Airforce para-rescue personnel and Navy members from the elite team-six sea, air, land (SEAL) unit (Bowden, 1999). Despite the high level of competence, mutual trust, and experience the special operators had, tactical errors occurred, resulting in the loss of American Soldiers due to mission command and command-and-control failures. The Army measures success by accomplishing mission goals, which in the case of the Gothic-Serpent, operators captured the two targeted lieutenants along with other militia leadership members (Dotson, 2016). During operation Gothic-Serpent, Task Force Ranger succeeded in their military objective despite mission command failures, lack of command-and-control elements, and poorly executed tasks and system related to the command-and-control warfighting function.

The Oblique Approach to Irregular Warfare: Civil Affairs as the main effort in Strategic Competition

Juan Quiroz

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a wakeup call to U.S policymakers and defense leaders that our approach to Irregular Warfare (IW) requires reevaluation because the conflict has also impacted the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) strategic calculus for annexing Taiwan. If like Russia the PRC resorts to military action to satisfy its territorial ambitions the world would be plunged into economic chaos, and millions of civilians would be caught in the crossfire, to say nothing of the cost to our armed forces. To head off this disastrous scenario, our leaders need a new IW approach that multiplies all aspects of national power (diplomacy, information, military, economic, financial, intelligence, law enforcement – DIME-FIL). Instead of focusing hardening partners’ defensive posture to survive large scale conflict, our new approach should proactively disrupt and degrade Chinese influence, depriving the PRC of the diplomatic, informational, and economic tools that set conditions for military action. Because of their training and institutional experience dealing with these non-military domains, U.S. Army Civil Affairs (CA) forces need to transition from their current role as a supporting effort to maneuver and special operations forces to become the main DoD action arm for future IW campaigns focused on strategic competition.

Why Civil Affairs? (Policy Imperatives, Doctrinal Basis)

Refuting the Irregular Warfare Pipedream

Charlie Black

Let’s begin with stating that this forum is great for candid debate. I applaud James Armstrong who came out swinging in his recent rebuttal to an article authored by LTG Cleveland et al. Unfortunately, his article mischaracterizes the many causal factors of a two-decade long war and misplaces blame for associated military failures that are shared by many, elected and appointed.

First, war of any character is ultimately pursued for political purposes with the uniformed military as only one among many instruments to achieve desired outcomes. This is especially stark when conducting an irregular war. Armstrong’s first elephant isn’t. No executive department and certainly no single military service has “the” responsibility for irregular warfare (IW). Additionally, we are reminded that the development of IW capabilities and the conduct of irregular warfare are two different roles as clearly delimited between Warfighters and the services. Ultimately the responsibility, authority, and accountability reside with the Commander-in-Chief.

Second, there is also no 2nd elephant. We can argue for eternity about the numerous success and failures consequent to the employment of joint forces over the past twenty years. It has been a long war with well-known and lesser known operations conducted across the globe. There are many tactical to strategic level examples of success and failure over the conduct of many campaigns. A broad and deep exploration of this episode of war might best be distributed to the academe and military schoolhouses, conducted by scholars and military practitioners alike. There is much to be learned and the new Irregular Warfare Functional Center (IWFC) has a key role to that end no matter where its final home.

The Army Has a New Flow Battery. It Could Change Military Power.


The U.S. Army recently began testing something called a “flow battery” at Fort Carson, Colorado. If successful, the flow battery, which is powered by two chemical components dissolved in liquids that are pumped through the battery system, could someday help bring long-duration, large-capacity energy storage to many U.S. military bases.

In partnership with Lockheed Martin, the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center team at the Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) Operational Energy broke ground late last year on GridStar Flow, a rechargeable redox flow battery featuring electrochemistry consisting of engineered electrolytes.

“Bottom line is, the Lockheed Martin flow battery will provide a feasible means of long-duration grid scale energy storage to Fort Carson and their mission-critical assets that no other Army installation currently possesses,” Tom Decker, Army program manager, said in a news release. “This is a significant tool and has potential to make an impact on future military bases.”