20 January 2023

Bangladesh Struggling with Pricey LNG

Sk Hasan Ali

Bangladesh has placed much of its energy future on imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) to fuel its power sector. However, all bets for LNG are off now, given its high cost and supply issues. The best way forward for the South Asian nation is renewables development.

Bangladesh, similar to nearby Pakistan, is facing severe headwinds from its decision to make liquefied natural gas (LNG) a major part of its power generation energy mix.

The South Asian nation relies on the super-cooled fuel for around 20% of its gas needs, up from some 11% only four years ago. Bangladesh started importing LNG from 2018-19 to compensate for depleted domestic gas reserves. It started purchasing LNG for gas-fired power plants from the spot market in 2020 to meet growing demand.

Bangladesh’s energy supply quandary has become even more acute since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year. The war kicked off an ongoing global energy crisis, resulting in record-high prices for pipeline natural gas supply and LNG.
Bangladesh Will Increase Liquefied Natural Gas Imports

This, however, hasn’t stopped the country of more than 168 million people from pushing ahead with more LNG import infrastructure development plans. Bangladesh has proposed 15.1 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of new LNG import capacity. This comes with a price tag of USD 2.6 billion. Currently, the country has 9.3 mtpa of LNG import projects still operational.

Bangladesh’s reliance on imported LNG has already caused major blackouts over most of the country due to exorbitantly high fuel prices, including spot procurement and long-term offtake deals. The blackouts are expected to continue until 2026.

‘Strategic Ambiguity’ Has the U.S. and Taiwan Trapped

Raymond Kuo

As the United States settled into the winter holiday season, China dispatched 71 aircraft for military maneuvers around Taiwan, its largest single incursion ever. The incident came on top of hundreds of flights over the past 18 months as well as military exercises and missile launches near the main island in the wake of then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit in August last year. Alongside warnings of further military reprisals, Beijing has also increased its nuclear warhead stockpile, deployed a hypersonic glide vehicle, launched a third aircraft carrier, and further modernized its military.

Meanwhile, the United States continues to debate how best to maintain the status quo in the region, support the self-ruled island, and deter a Chinese attack. Washington’s current policy is one of “strategic ambiguity”—based on the theory that it’s best to keep all parties guessing whether, and to what extent, the U.S. military will intervene in a war across the Taiwan Strait. Is that still the appropriate strategy to deter Beijing? Or should Washington publicly commit to Taiwan’s defense, as former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen urged on Jan. 5?

Strategic ambiguity typically is understood as deliberately creating uncertainty in Beijing and Taipei about whether the United States would intervene in a war. This supposedly creates dual deterrence: The threat of U.S. intervention prevents China from invading, and the fear of U.S. abandonment prevents Taiwan from sparking a war by declaring independence, which China considers a casus belli. This approach, supporters contend, has kept peace for decades and prevented entrapment, whereby the United States unwillingly gets pulled into war.

The Problem(s) With China’s Population Drop

Paul Krugman

China’s population declined last year, for the first time since the mass deaths associated with Mao Zedong’s disastrous Great Leap Forward in the 1960s. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that China has announced that its population declined. Many observers are skeptical about Chinese data; I’ve been at conferences when China released, say, new data on economic growth, and many people responded by asking not “Why was growth 7.3 percent?” but rather “Why did the Chinese government decide to say that it was 7.3 percent?”

In any case, it’s clear that China’s population is or soon will be at a peak; the best bet is probably that population has been falling for several years. But why consider this a problem? After all, in the 1960s and 1970s, many people worried that the world was facing a crisis of overpopulation, with China one of the biggest sources of that pressure. And the Chinese government itself tried to limit population growth with its famous one-child policy.

So why isn’t population decline good news, an indication that China and the world in general will have fewer people placing demands on the resources of a finite planet?

The answer is that a declining population creates two major problems for economic management. These problems aren’t insoluble, given intellectual clarity and political will. But will China rise to the challenge? That’s far from clear.

The first problem is that a declining population is also an aging population — and in every society I can think of, we depend on younger people to support older people. In the United States the three big social programs are Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; the first two are explicitly targeted at seniors, and even the third spends most of its money on older Americans and the disabled.

Beijing’s Zero-Covid Flip-Flop Policymaking in Xi’s "New Era"

William C. McCahill Jr.

In building a personality cult around him, Xi Jinping’s propagandists have published reams of “important speeches” and other expressions of “Xi Jinping Thought.” The bulkiest tome among those is Governing China, a thick anthology of platitudes that party cadres have been forced to buy and that foreign businesses have willingly bought to curry favor. What does China’s sudden shift in dealing with Covid-19 say about Xi’s governance?

Xi Jinping’s sudden, bewildering turn from draconian zero-Covid quarantines, lockdowns, and mass testing to a “let ‘er rip” policy will mean sickness, death, sorrow, dashed dreams, and destroyed wealth for millions of Chinese. Another, though far less tragic, casualty of Xi’s volte-face will be foreign investors’ and policymakers’ confidence in China’s governance. When a life-or-death paradigm can turn on a dime, how should we judge the governing competence of Xi’s regime?

Why, after more than two years of relentlessly enforcing zero-Covid restrictions, however unscientific those were, and touting China’s success under Xi’s “overall command,” did Beijing abruptly reverse itself? No official answer will be given, leaving Chinese citizens and foreign observers to speculate on how the mysterious machinery of the party-state works under Xi’s one-man “management.” Always opaque, politicized, and driven by personalities—especially that of the general secretary—Beijing’s policy decisions in Xi’s reign seem to have lost both the internal give-and-take and the wider stakeholder consultations that characterized the tenures of Xi’s predecessors, particularly the Jiang Zemin–Zhu Rongji duumvirate.

The historic Covid-19 pandemic challenged governments around the globe. China’s patchy public health system and authoritarian political culture made its challenges even more acute. China’s long first phase of pandemic policies used the party’s time-tested controls on information and the movement of people—control being the dominant gene in the party’s code—in an unscientific attempt to suppress, if not eradicate, the virus. Xi himself and the party propaganda megaphones boasted of their unique success. Though at terrible cost to public morale and the national economy, this approach worked…until it didn’t.

COVID-19 and How the CDC Can Change Before the Next Pandemic


The COVID-19 pandemic has thrust the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention into the spotlight like it has not been before. The agency’s role in messaging, guidance and research has been criticized across the political spectrum and across academia, politics and analysis. Recently, the Center for Strategic and International Studies released a report titled Building the CDC the Country Needs with recommendations for modernizing the agency.

Courtney Bublé joined the podcast to discuss the CSIS report and the future of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a Fight for Taiwan, the U.S. Military Could Defeat China

Alex Hollings

While largely classified Pentagon war games have previously suggested China would succeed in such an attack, a recent series of war games carried out by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think-tank indicates that previous Defense Department war games were likely aimed at identifying weaknesses within Taiwan’s and America’s defensive postures, rather than providing a clear and realistic view of how such a conflict would play out.

But despite the seemingly optimistic outcomes of CSIS’s war games, one thing remained clear throughout every iteration: American intervention on behalf of Taiwan would lead to staggering losses of life and military hardware unlike anything seen by American forces since the Second World War.

And as is so often the case when it comes to Uncle Sam’s combat operations, victory for Taiwan is heavily dependent on the effective use of the full breadth of American airpower — though surprisingly, it’s not the F-22 or F-35 that could make the biggest difference. Instead, it’s America’s bomber force that could win the day.

CSIS played out China’s invasion of Taiwan 24 times, and heavy losses were a constant through all of them

The Problem(s) With China’s Population Dro

By Paul Krugman

China’s population declined last year, for the first time since the mass deaths associated with Mao Zedong’s disastrous Great Leap Forward in the 1960s. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that China has announced that its population declined. Many observers are skeptical about Chinese data; I’ve been at conferences when China released, say, new data on economic growth, and many people responded by asking not “Why was growth 7.3 percent?” but rather “Why did the Chinese government decide to say that it was 7.3 percent?”

In any case, it’s clear that China’s population is or soon will be at a peak; the best bet is probably that population has been falling for several years. But why consider this a problem? After all, in the 1960s and 1970s, many people worried that the world was facing a crisis of overpopulation, with China one of the biggest sources of that pressure. And the Chinese government itself tried to limit population growth with its famous one-child policy.

So why isn’t population decline good news, an indication that China and the world in general will have fewer people placing demands on the resources of a finite planet?

The answer is that a declining population creates two major problems for economic management. These problems aren’t insoluble, given intellectual clarity and political will. But will China rise to the challenge? That’s far from clear.

The first problem is that a declining population is also an aging population — and in every society I can think of, we depend on younger people to support older people. In the United States the three big social programs are Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; the first two are explicitly targeted at seniors, and even the third spends most of its money on older Americans and the disabled.

China Undergoing ‘Build-Up in Every Warfare Area,’ Says ONI Commander

John Grady

The danger to Taiwan from China is “something we need to take very seriously” as the island is taking steps to mobilize its entire society to deter a mainland takeover, the commander of the Office of Naval Intelligence said last week.

The Taiwanese are asking themselves “what can we do to make China think twice” before it would attempt a cross-straits invasion, Rear Adm. Michael Studeman said last week. He said Beijing has increased its probes of Taiwan’s air defenses and sent more warships by the island since this summer to also warn off the United States and potential allies.

“The stakes have gone up,” he said.

He noted Taiwan’s stepped-up security spending, extending the training time required of draftees and exercising in how to fight and operate against an invading force, he said speaking at an online event sponsored by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance.

Studeman said he has shared with Taiwanese officials lessons the United States has learned from the fighting in Ukraine

“China is the number one challenge to America,” noting the pressure it is putting on the Philippines and Japan over territorial claims.

What has been the most surprising thing to him across his more than 30 years of service has been Beijing’s ability to take basic technology from systems like anti-ship ballistic missiles and transform it rapidly into a hypersonic weapons system.

Has Turkey Become an American Foe?

Robert Ellis

At the virtual Munich Security Conference in February 2021, newly elected U.S. president Joe Biden declared that “America is back. The transatlantic alliance is back.” In a pre-election pitch, Biden also made clear that NATO is at the very heart of U.S. national security and is the bulwark of the liberal democratic ideal.

To date, Biden has held firm on his promise and revitalized NATO in its stand against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The same applies to Europe, which has abandoned its lethargy and also taken a firm stand.

Biden also made it clear that the United States would withdraw the vast majority of its troops from the wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan, narrowly defining America’s mission as defeating Al Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS). This shift focused on America’s most cost-effective operation, where 2,000 special forces troops and intelligence assets allied with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northern Syria to defeat the Islamic State.

In October 2019, then-President Donald Trump reversed U.S. policy when he, in a telephone call with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, greenlighted a third Turkish incursion into Syria and ordered the withdrawal of U.S. special forces from the area. Trump considered the move “strategically brilliant,” although Brett McGurk, once Trump’s special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, panned it as “strategically backward.” Nevertheless, U.S. special forces have maintained a foothold in the region.

Consequently, U.S. support for the SDF and its backbone, the Kurdish YPG militia, remains a bone of contention between the United States and its supposed Turkish ally. This week, Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is visiting Washington in an attempt to iron out disagreements with Secretary of State Antony Blinken. These issues include a plan to sell forty F-16 fighter jets and nearly eighty modernization kits to Turkey and Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S-400 air-defense system.

Europe’s Geopolitical Confusion

Hans Kundnani

There is a consensus—which has further strengthened since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February—that, as the European Union finds itself increasingly threatened, it must become more “geopolitical.” But there is little clarity about what “geopolitics” means. It is used in at least five different ways: Firstly, as a straightforward synonym for international politics; secondly, in the strict, original sense focusing on the role of geography in international politics; thirdly, to refer to the strategic use of military tools (as opposed to “geo-economics”); fourthly, as a synonym for “power politics” (as opposed to rules in international politics); and fifthly, to capture a shift away from economic liberalism or the pursuit of economic objectives.

Those who call for a more “geopolitical” Europe rarely spell out which of these five meanings—or perhaps even some other meaning of geopolitics—they have in mind. It often seems as if those who use the term have not even thought about its history or its different meanings and their implications. This leads to a rather confused and often somewhat circular debate in which participants conflate different meanings of geopolitics or different participants mean geopolitics in different senses. It also means that when participants use the term to make arguments that may be controversial and are then criticised for them, they can backtrack and say that they meant something different. In short, it’s an intellectual mess.

A good illustration of this is German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s interview with TV current affairs host Anne Will a month after the war in Ukraine began. He said that what scared him was how Russian President Vladimir Putin thought in such geopolitical terms (“What frightened me is this incredible emphasis on geopolitics in the Russian president's thinking”) because to think in such terms was to reject the European “peace order.” In other words, while other figures like European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell were urging the EU to become more “geopolitical,” Scholz still saw “geopolitics” as something to be rejected rather than aspired to—even after the Russian invasion. It is easy to dismiss this as German Machtvergessensheit (“obliviousness to power”). But Scholz actually had a point.

The Problematic History of Geopolitical Europe

Mercenaries and massive troop call-ups won’t win Putin’s war

Brendan Nicholson

Fresh threats of a major military offensive and the use of mercenaries, many recruited in Russia’s jails, are unlikely to bring victory to Vladimir Putin a year after his invasion of Ukraine, says retired Australian Army major general Mick Ryan.

Ryan tells The Strategist that it’s clear Russia wants to launch a major offensive in Ukraine—but there’s less evidence that it can carry out such a campaign. ‘We need to temper our expectations. Size does not imply quality or capability about the Russians.’

Russia has moved trains full of old tanks into the pro-Moscow nation of Belarus, north of Ukraine, but that doesn’t mean it will invade from there, says Ryan. ‘It’s evidence that the Russians are conducting a deception campaign to draw more Ukrainian forces to the border.’

Putin’s mobilisation of men for his war in Ukraine would give Russia some capacity to undertake offensive operations, he says, ‘but it does not give you the ability to do the complex planning and orchestration and execution of large-scale military offensives. So they will be able to undertake some offensive activities in a couple of locations concurrently, maybe. But I think the expectation that the Russians have now built this big army of mobilised troops is just not reality.’

However, Putin is clearly putting a lot of pressure on his military commanders to launch a major offensive, says Ryan. ‘Putin has no military knowledge, as has been very clear over the last year, and he thinks just because he’s mobilised 150,000 troops, all of a sudden that gives him this massive capability to conduct operations to take the provinces he annexed. Once again, he’s demonstrating the massive disconnect between politics and military capacity in the Russian system.’

Coercive Disclosure: The Weaponization of Public Intelligence Revelation in International Relations

Ofek Riemer

Can intelligence serve as a coercive instrument in international relations? While coercion literature mostly addresses military and economic means, this article argues that coercion can also include the deliberate public disclosure of intelligence. Intelligence can be employed to threaten adversaries, reduce their latitude, and force them to adjust their plans and operations. Additionally, intelligence disclosure can be used to mobilize domestic and international audiences and make others align with a certain narrative and alter their policies accordingly. Still, coercive disclosure can fail or succeed only partially against a determined opponent or a target that is resilient to public and international pressure. To demonstrate the workings of coercive disclosure, we analyze Israel's campaign, beginning in 2017, against the Lebanese Hezbollah's missile manufacturing program and Turkey's coercive campaign vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia and the United States following Jamal Khashoggi's assassination in 2018.

Slow deliveries to Ukraine; Debt-ceiling showdown; New F-35 radar; and more.


Last August, as Russia bombarded Ukraine with kamikaze drones, the U.S. announced it would send counterdrone equipment to the besieged country. Among the weapons was Vampire, a kit whose camera, rocket launcher, and jammer could be mounted on any type of vehicle. Using a laptop, a person sitting on the passenger seat of a pickup truck or Humvee could, in theory, use a Vampire kit to nullify incoming drones.

But Ukraine won’t get the interceptors until mid-2023, almost a year after Colin Kahl, defense undersecretary for policy, announced the Vampire donation. Throughout the conflict, the Pentagon has made it no secret that the only U.S. weapons that will reach Ukraine quickly are the ones it can pull from an arsenal, load onto a plane, and fly across the Atlantic. Others, as Kahl acknowledged in August, “will take months to get [some weapons] on contract, and you know, one, two, three years, in some instances to arrive in Ukraine.”

Eleven months after Russia invaded Ukraine, the process of ordering weapons and waiting for their manufacture remains painstakingly slow. This is particularly the case for counterdrone gear, the Wall Street Journal reports.

I keep going back to a December quote from Greg Hayes. The Raytheon Technologies CEO bluntly questioned whether companies could fulfill the vast backlog of orders, particularly when it takes months, or longer, for the Pentagon to finalize contracts. Hayes said the only reason Raytheon was able to send NASAMS missile interceptors into Ukraine in a matter of weeks was the personal involvement of the Army’s top acquisition official.

The Syrian Civil War’s Never-Ending Endgame

The Syrian civil war that has decimated the country for more than a decade, provoking a regional humanitarian crisis and drawing in actors ranging from the United States to Russia, has been drawing inexorably to a conclusion for years now. President Bashar al-Assad, with the backing of Iran and Russia, has emerged militarily victorious from the conflict, which began after his government violently repressed civilian protests in 2011. The armed insurgency that followed soon morphed into a regional and global proxy war that, at the height of the fighting, saw radical Islamist groups, including the Islamic State, seize control over vast swathes of the country. They subsequently lost almost all the territory they controlled in the face of sustained counteroffensives by pro-government forces as well as a U.S.-led coalition of Western militaries.

Though the fighting has waned in the past few years, parts of the country—such as the northwestern Idlib region—remain outside of government control. In early 2020, the Syrian army’s Russian-backed campaign to retake Idlib from the last remaining armed opposition groups concentrated there resulted in clashes with Turkish forces deployed to protect Ankara’s client militias. The skirmishes were a reminder that the conflict, though winding down, could still flare back up and escalate. The situation in the northeast also remains volatile following the removal of U.S. forces from the border with Turkey, with Turkish, Syrian and Russian forces all now deployed in the region, alongside proxies and Syrian Kurdish militias.

The return to high-intensity fighting in Idlib in 2020 created yet another humanitarian crisis, sending waves of refugees toward the Turkish border and adding to the war’s already staggering humanitarian cost. The estimated death toll is 400,000 people, but it could actually be much higher. And at various points in the conflict, more than half of the country’s population was displaced. The United Nations Refugee Agency estimates that 5.6 million people have fled Syria since the fighting started, putting a significant strain on neighboring countries as well as Europe. Even as the conflict winds down, it is unclear when or if they will be able to return.

Democracy defenders and Rambo wannabes: Ukraine’s volunteer foreign fighters

Jeff Stein

KHARKIV, Ukraine — A 30-year-old former British military captain faced a personal crossroads several months before Russia invaded Ukraine, as he contemplated a desk job at a security firm and a future spent discussing trifles with his sisters and mother in their hometown in southeastern England.

He was still struggling with the routines of civilian life when the chance to volunteer to defend Ukraine offered an alternate path. Now, after nearly getting killed in an artillery barrage in Bakhmut, the former officer, who is not being identified for safety reasons, said he is “happier than I have ever been.”

The Ukrainian fight has given him purpose, and he is thrilled by the danger. “This war has been a terrible, terrible thing for Ukraine,” he said in a phone interview last month. “But the last nine months have been the best, most enjoyable of my life. I can’t go sit in an office and do PowerPoint for the next 50 years.

“There’s a part of me that’s doing it for the right reasons, and there’s part of me that’s doing it for the violence,” the British veteran said. “It’s kind of a bit of both.”

The complex motivations that pulled him to the blood-soaked trenches of Ukraine reflect the experiences of thousands who answered President Volodymyr Zelensky’s appeal for volunteer fighters after Russia invaded last February. Some went to defend democracy, others to escape their own demons.

An estimated 1,000 to 3,000 such foreign fighters are believed to be active, with most serving in three battalions of the International Legion, according to analysts and academics monitoring them, who stressed that the numbers were rough approximations. The Ukrainian military did not reply to requests for details about the volunteers, or estimates of their numbers.

The Sanctions on Russia Are Working

Vladimir Milov

There is a widespread belief that Western sanctions on Russia have fallen flat. Proponents of this theory point to macroeconomic indicators suggesting that the Russian economy has proved resilient. Critics also highlight how sanctions haven’t had their desired effect: after all, Russian President Vladimir Putin has not moved to end his disastrous war against Ukraine.

These arguments, however, are misguided. It is important to note that Russia had the opportunity to cushion its economy against Western sanctions before Putin declared war. For starters, Russia accumulated substantial financial reserves. Since 2014, Russia has increased trade to Asia, which has allowed it to weather a reduction of commerce with the West. Most important, Putin aggressively strengthened his repressive machine to deter mass protests against deteriorating living standards. For all those reasons, expectations that Western sanctions would cause the Russian economy—and Putin’s regime—to quickly disintegrate were unrealistic.

Putin has invested significant resources in a disinformation campaign aimed at misleading Western policymakers about the real effects of sanctions. But make no mistake: they are, in fact, hobbling the Russian economy. And propagating the myth that they are not effective could nudge policymakers to drop them, giving Putin a lifeline.

The assertion that the Russian economy has shown remarkable resilience to sanctions hinges on misleading macroeconomic indicators. Specifically, critics of sanctions point to the strengthened ruble, the modest contraction of Russian GDP, and low unemployment. But these figures do not in fact reflect the situation on the ground.

Russia’s Crime and Punishment

Oona A. Hathaway

As the conflict in Ukraine is about to enter its second year, Ukraine and the West are accelerating efforts to ensure that Russian President Vladimir Putin doesn’t get away with his illegal war. That has meant the West supplying weapons that were previously off the table, but it has also meant renewed attention to accountability. In November, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made clear that justice is a key condition for peace. “This,” he explained, “is what stokes the greatest emotions.” But while there are courts where Russians can be prosecuted for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, a major piece is missing: there is nowhere to try Putin and other top Russian leaders for launching the war in the first place. For this, a special tribunal for the crime of aggression is needed.

For months, Ukrainian representatives have been quietly working to generate support for a special tribunal. The proposal picked up steam in mid-December, when the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, endorsed the creation of a tribunal and pledged to “start working with the international community to get the broadest international support possible for this specialized court.” In mid-December, while accepting the European Union’s top human rights award, Zelensky called on states to form a special tribunal to prosecute “the crime of Russian aggression.” At the same time, a Ukrainian delegation, hoping to capitalize on the momentum, arrived in Washington, D.C., seeking U.S. support for a special tribunal.

The effort to establish a special tribunal may seem quixotic. After all, plenty of criminal investigations into crimes committed by Russians during the war are already underway in both domestic and international courts. Why add another court to the mix? But without a special tribunal for the crime of aggression, the fundamental crime of launching and waging this illegal war—a crime without which the other crimes would not have taken place—would go entirely unpunished. Creating a court that has jurisdiction to try this crime is an essential step in the global effort to reject Russia’s blatantly illegal war and, with it, Putin’s willingness to destroy the modern international legal order in pursuit of a new Russian empire.

Are You a Strategist or an Operator?

In the years after World War I, longtime Army colleagues and friends George S. Patton and Dwight D. Eisenhower contemplated what would happen if another global conflict broke out. As Patton envisioned it: “In the next war, I’ll be the Stonewall Jackson, and you can be the Robert E. Lee. Ike, you do the big planning, and you let me go in and shoot up the enemy.”

And that’s pretty much how things worked out in World War II.

Eisenhower led from Allied headquarters as Europe’s Supreme Commander, while Patton served on the ground as commander of the Third and Seventh armies.

Ike, who lacked battlefield experience, was nonetheless brilliant as a theater commander. Having spent his career as a highly effective staff officer, he had a genius for planning, marshaling material, organizing logistics, and practicing diplomacy. Charming, modest, flexible, and steady, he excelled at getting the disparate and sometimes rivalrous Allied leaders to work together, interfacing with politicians and the press, and keeping all the pieces of a monumental war effort sorted and spinning.

Patton, on the other hand, had little patience for politicking and wasn’t lauded for his ability to formulate high-level plans. But, he possessed all the traits necessary for superior battlefield command. Bold and aggressive, he executed missions with mastery and confidence and advanced with relentless drive.

While each man’s position and responsibilities were different, each excelled in his particular role.

How Russia’s New Commander in Ukraine Could Change the War

Last week, Russia announced that it was replacing General Sergei Surovikin—who had been put in charge of the war in Ukraine only three months earlier—with another general, Valery Gerasimov. The change surprised many observers. Surovikin was thought to have improved the Russian war effort, and Gerasimov was at least partially responsible for planning the disastrous initial invasion. But Gerasimov is close to the Kremlin, and will now get another chance. “They have taken someone who is competent and replaced him with someone who is incompetent, but who has been there a long time and who has shown that he is loyal,” Dara Massicot, a senior policy researcher at the rand Corporation, told the Times.

The Meaning of Geopolitical Europe: A Response to Hans Kundnani

Zaki Laïdi

Coming from the academic world, I understand the desire to question the meaning political actors give to their ideas. The idea of a “geopolitical Europe” is one of them. That is what Hans Kundnani tried to do in a very succinct way in his article “Europe’s Geopolitical Confusion.” His conclusion is that the concept is fuzzy and not well defined. So let me question that conclusion, with which I strongly disagree.

Yes, “Geopolitical Europe” (GE) is certainly not a theory. Nevertheless, it is a set of assumptions that have dramatically affected European Union thinking and behavior since 2020. So, let me define briefly what GE means and what it entails.
A Vision of the World

Above all, GE is a vision of the world—a view that breaks with the classically interdependent and liberal vision of the world on which the EU based its policies. We imagined, in a very naïve way, that an increased interdependence on energy would make Russia less aggressive. This was a terrible mistake we are now correcting at an incredible speed and in a very effective way. At the beginning of the war in Ukraine, German dependency on Russian energy imports was 55 percent for gas, 50 percent for oil, and 30 percent for coal. In 2023, those figures will be 0 percent for gas, 0 percent for oil, and 0 percent for coal, all this without economic disruption. What an achievement!

Reducing EU dependency vis-à-vis a country that may harm you is a concrete achievement of Geopolitical Europe. Unfortunately, Hans Kudnani never mentions this example or any other one, probably because he is more interested in concepts as such, not in their effectivity. However, for a political actor this is a nonstarter. Concepts matter as long they are translated into policies. Otherwise, they remain abstract and limited to the academic sphere. Which is fine, but frustrating.

The Skyrocketing Costs for Russia’s War Effort

Pavel Luzin

he final deficit of the Russian federal budget for 2022 appeared to be 3.35 trillion rubles, almost $48.8 billion according to the average exchange rate during the year. Although, the ruble became a partially convertible currency after the beginning of Moscow’s aggression against Ukraine, and therefore, the exchange rates must be treated carefully. The Russian government’s total revenue for 2022 was 27.77 trillion rubles (about $409.68 billion) and total spending was 31.11 trillion rubles (just under $459 billion) (
RBC, January 10, 2023). However, the original government budget had accounted for 25 trillion rubles ($368.81 billion) in revenue and only 23.78 trillion rubles ($350.81 billion) in spending (Minfin.gov.ru, December 2021). Thus, the additional and unplanned spending of 2022 came out to be 7.33 trillion rubles, or $107 billion, and an undefined share of this amount, presumably somewhere between 3 trillion and 4 trillion rubles ($44 billion to $59 billion), belongs to the national defense, national security and law enforcement budgets. Meanwhile, the additional 2.77 trillion rubles ($40.86 billion) of revenue came from increased taxes on Gazprom and the Russian National Wealth Fund, which de facto means an emission of rubles (Kommersant, September 28, 2022; Minfin.gov.ru, November 8, 2022; TASS, December 27, 2022).

Russian government budget planning for 2023 presumes 26.13 trillion rubles ($385.48 billion) in revenue and 29.06 trillion rubles ($428.71 billion) for spending (Budget.gov.ru, December 5, 2022). The share of national defense spending is planned to exceed 5 trillion rubles (almost $74 billion), and the share of the budget dedicated to national security and law enforcement is planned to exceed 4.4 trillion rubles ($64.9 billion). These figures were updated from the original estimates of 3.47 trillion rubles ($51.19 billion) and 2.97 trillion rubles ($43.82 billion), respectively (Minfin.gov.ru, December 2021; Duma.gov.ru, October 26, 2022; Duma.gov.ru, November 10, 2022). However, the current budget plan is not final and will probably be revised throughout 2023. Therefore, if the estimated immediate costs of Russia’s war against Ukraine during 2022–2023 grew from 5 trillion rubles (almost $74 billion) to 8.3 trillion rubles ($122.4 billion) as of November 2022 (see EDM, November 17, 2022), now it definitely exceeds 10 trillion rubles (147.5 billion) and promises to further increase.

Ukraine has repeatedly pleaded for tanks to fight Russia — its Western allies could now be ready to provide them

Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine has repeatedly asked its Western allies to provide it with battle tanks to help it fight Russia and up until now, its Western allies appeared reluctant to do so.

That could be about to change, experts note, when Ukrainian officials and those from its Western allies meet later this week in Germany to discuss the country’s military needs.

The U.K. has already broken an impasse over the provision of tanks, announcing last week that it will send 14 Challenger 2s to Ukraine.

A new Leopard 2 A7V heavy battle tank, the most advanced version of the German-made tank.

Ukraine has repeatedly asked its Western allies to provide it with battle tanks to help it fight Russia but up until now, its Western allies appeared reluctant to do so, fearing the provision of offensive weapons could provoke Moscow further.

After months of pressure on the likes of Berlin and Washington to provide such hardware, however, that reluctance could be about to change, experts note, and some announcements could be made when Ukrainian and Western officials meet later this week in Germany to discuss the country’s pressing military needs.

How ChatGPT Hijacks Democracy

Nathan E. Sanders, Bruce Schneier

Launched just weeks ago, ChatGPT is already threatening to upend how we draft everyday communications like emails, college essays and myriad other forms of writing.

Created by the company OpenAI, ChatGPT is a chatbot that can automatically respond to written prompts in a manner that is sometimes eerily close to human.

But for all the consternation over the potential for humans to be replaced by machines in formats like poetry and sitcom scripts, a far greater threat looms: artificial intelligence replacing humans in the democratic processes — not through voting, but through lobbying.

ChatGPT could automatically compose comments submitted in regulatory processes. It could write letters to the editor for publication in local newspapers. It could comment on news articles, blog entries and social media posts millions of times every day. It could mimic the work that the Russian Internet Research Agency did in its attempt to influence our 2016 elections, but without the agency’s reported multimillion-dollar budget and hundreds of employees.

Advancing Cyber Norms Unilaterally: How the U.S. Can Meet its Paris Call Commitments

Bethan Saunders, Alex Cooper

The constant evolution in cyberspace creates immense opportunity – and risk. While the internet makes it easy to innovate and share information rapidly, it also creates ample opportunity for relatively ambiguous and highly destructive cyberattacks. As global critical infrastructure grows ever more interconnected, so do both the attack surface and the potential cost of cyberattacks. Incidents such as SolarWinds, NotPetya, and WannaCry have demonstrated the devastating, widespread, and often non-targeted impacts of cyberattacks on innocent civilians

Establishing norms for state behavior in cyberspace is critical to building a more stable, secure, and safe cyberspace. Norms are defined as “a collective expectation for the proper behavior of actors with a given identity,” and declare what behavior is considered appropriate and when lines have been crossed. Cyberspace is in dire need of such collective expectations. However, despite efforts by the international community and individual states to set boundaries and craft agreements, clear and established cyber norms for state behavior remain elusive. As early as 2005, the UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) and UN Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) both aimed to create shared “rules of the road,” but fundamental disagreements between states and a lack of accountability and enforcement mechanisms have prevented these initiatives from substantively implementing cyber norms. As a result, the international community and individual states are left with no accountability mechanisms or safeguards to protect civilians and critical infrastructure from bad actors in cyberspace.

In 2018, the Paris Peace Forum convened states and international organizations with civil society and the private sector to address persistent failures of peace, including in cyberspace. Participants issued the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace as a result of the initial Forum. While not initially involved in the drafting, the United States announced its decision to support the Call at the 2021 edition of the Forum. This Paris Call invites all cyberspace actors, across states, non-profits, and private sector actors to come together to face digital threats endangering citizens and infrastructure. As of today, the Paris Call has over 80 nation-state governments, 700 private sector entities, and 390 civil society organizations’ public supporters.

AI Research Task Force Votes to Send Final Report to Congress, President

By Kirsten Errick,

A majority of the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource Task Force voted on Friday to approve the group’s report—an implementation plan and roadmap for a resource infrastructure supporting AI research—that will be sent to Congress and President Joe Biden in the next couple of weeks.

The task forcelaunched in July 2021—is a result of the National AI Initiative Act of 2020, which asked the National Science Foundation, in conjunction with the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, to examine the possibility of creating that resource—dubbed the National AI Research Resource, or NAIRR—and to produce a plan outlining how this “could be established and sustained.” The task force is composed of government, academic and private sector members.

“The roadmap and implementation plan outlined in the final report are instrumental to the nation’s leadership in AI research and development,” National Science Foundation Director Sethuraman Panchanathan said at the meeting. “Adhering to the recommendations of this report will help us propel the advancement of AI-related research, workforce development and infrastructure for decades to come. The federal government, working together with academia, industry and organizations will catalyze innovation ecosystems for future breakthroughs in this field. NSF is proud to support NAIRR as part of our commitment to lead the federal government in AI related research and development.”

At the meeting, the task force provided an overview of the report, which outlined a framework for the NAIRR. The goal is to “strengthen and democratize the U.S. AI innovation ecosystem in a way that protects privacy, civil rights and civil liberties,” according to the task force.

A news site used AI to write articles. It was a journalistic disaster.

By Paul Farhi

When internet sleuths discovered last week that CNET had quietly published dozens of feature articles generated entirely by artificial intelligence, the popular tech site acknowledged that it was true — but described the move as a mere experiment.

Now, though, in a scenario familiar to any sci-fi fan, the experiment seems to have run amok: The bots have betrayed the humans.

Specifically, it turns out the bots are no better at journalism — and perhaps a bit worse — than their would-be human masters.

On Tuesday, CNET began appending lengthy correction notices to some of its AI-generated articles after Futurism, another tech site, called out the stories for containing some “very dumb errors.”

An automated article about compound interest, for example, incorrectly said a $10,000 deposit bearing 3 percent interest would earn $10,300 after the first year. Nope. Such a deposit would actually earn just $300.

More broadly, CNET and sister publication Bankrate, which has also published bot-written stories, have now disclosed qualms about the accuracy of the dozens of automated articles they’ve published since November.

New notices appended to several other pieces of AI-generated work state that “we are currently reviewing this story for accuracy,” and that “if we find errors, we will update and issue corrections.”

Army Debuts Improved Smartphone-Friendly Pay System


After a year of delays, the Army’s updated human resources system promises all 1.1 million soldiers the ability to access crucial forms, like those needed to list beneficiaries in an emergency or death, while also allowing them to showcase talents and skills outside their assigned specialties—all from their phones.

“Release 3 improves upon our ability to manage soldier talent, reduce pay discrepancies, and allow our soldiers to track their personnel actions from the initial activity all the way through the approval process, whether using their computers or from the convenience of their smartphones,” Lt. Gen. Douglas Stitt, the Army’s deputy chief of staff for G-1, told reporters ahead of the debut.

The Integrated Personnel and Pay System-Army, or IPPS-A, has been in development and tweaked with phased releases for years. This latest upgrade, Release 3, was originally planned to roll out across the Army—including reserve and guard components—in December 2021.

The extra time for the updates was necessary for troubleshooting, according to Col. Rebecca Eggers, the Army’s functional management division chief, who oversees IPPS-A’s ​​requirements, business processes, deployment, and training strategy.

“We tested the system enough that we know that it's stable and that the functionality works as intended. So last year, when we went through our initial test phases, the system definitely wasn't ready…so we took a pause and really looked at what we would need in order to deliver the system in its entirety,” Eggers said.

Army Special Operators Seek to Reduce Suicide with ‘Bottom-Led’ Approach


Suicide deaths have increased over the past five years among the elite troops of Army’s Special Operations Command, or USASOC, so the command is making changes to better support soldiers and their families. The results could shape how other parts of the military deal with the problem.

“We got to get in front of people and say, ‘This lifestyle is challenging; you're going to need some help along the way, whether it's a medical doctor, the mental piece…just to perform better’,” Maj. Gen. Patrick Roberson, the deputy commander for USASOC at Fort Bragg, told reporters Wednesday. “You can be the toughest guy in the world. You're gonna hurt yourself at some point.”

The command has about 36,000 soldiers, the vast majority of whom are on active duty, and they represent more than half of the military’s special operations forces. In 2022, USASOC reported 18 suicide deaths, up from six in 2017 and 12 in 2018.

As of Sept. 30, the Army reported 195 confirmed or suspected suicide deaths across all components. The Pentagon has not yet released its final pan-military quarterly report for 2022.

The USASOC strategy, which was finalized in September, is based on Thomas Joiner’s Interpersonal Theory of Suicide, which says individuals’ risk is highest if they don’t feel like they belong, are a burden, and have the means, such as access to firearms. So the updated approach aims to build a sense of community, create a sense of purpose, promote wellness and stress management, and collect data. The data will help target and track markers for overall wellbeing and catch vulnerable operators earlier.

USASOC brigades and similar units have been directed create a suicide prevention liaison that would lead developments and efforts, Jeff Wright, deputy director of the command’s Human Performance and Wellness Program, told reporters Wednesday.

As 2 of the ‘MARSOC 3’ go on trial for homicide, the 3rd gets immunity

Irene Loewenson

The trial of two Marine Raiders for a high-profile homicide case started Tuesday with a Navy corpsman, also charged in that case, receiving immunity that will let him testify freely and could make it harder for him to be prosecuted.

Gunnery Sgts. Daniel Draher and Joshua Negron are being tried at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, on charges that include involuntary manslaughter.

On the first day of the trial, the convening authority granted a third defendant, Hospital Corpsman Chief Petty Officer Eric Gilmet, immunity to testify, according to Gilmet’s civilian attorney, Colby Vokey. That means that any military prosecutors that bring Gilmet to trial in the future will have to ensure they derive all of their evidence independently of his testimony in this trial.

In practice, the immunity will make it harder for Gilmet to be prosecuted, according to Vokey.

Draher, Negron and Gilmet — now known colloquially as “the MARSOC 3″ — were celebrating New Year’s 2019 at an off-base nightclub in Irbil, Iraq, while deployed with Marine Special Operations Command.

According to security footage and later statements to law enforcement, retired Army Master Sgt. Rich Rodriguez, who was deployed as a defense contractor, approached the trio and accused them of showing insufficient respect for his rank and former Green Beret status.

Air Force, Marine Generals Seen as Top Picks for Joint Chiefs Job

By Nancy A. Youssef, and Gordon Lubold

WASHINGTON—President Biden is considering two service chiefs and the head of the U.S. cyber defense command to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in what will be the president’s biggest opportunity to date to shape U.S. military leadership.

Air Force Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown, the Air Force chief of staff, and Gen. David Berger, the Marine Corps commandant, are leading candidates to succeed Army Gen. Mark Milley as the Pentagon’s top officer when his four-year appointment ends Sept. 30. Army Gen. Paul Nakasone, who serves as both head of U.S. Cyber Command and the director of the National Security Agency, also is a contender, U.S. and defense officials said.