30 January 2023

Modi Is Muzzling Big Tech

Rishi Iyengar

Silicon Valley has spent years courting India, but its companies face an increasingly tricky censorship minefield in the world’s largest democracy.

This week, India made global headlines by banning a BBC documentary on its prime minister, Narendra Modi, which focused on his role in religious riots in the state of Gujarat in 2002 when he was the state’s chief minister. The broadcast ban included a directive to YouTube and Twitter under the country’s technology laws, demanding they take down links to the documentary, which a government advisor said the companies complied with.

A YouTube spokesperson told Foreign Policy that it blocked the documentary “due to a copyright claim” by the BBC but declined to confirm whether the Indian government had demanded a takedown. Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.

The Modi government cited “emergency” powers under new technology rules it enacted in 2021, buttressing existing laws with the power to take down any content it deems as contravening “the sovereignty and integrity of India, public order, friendly relations with foreign countries, etc.” Local employees of tech companies that flout the rules face the threat of jail time. Those rules, digital rights advocates and experts fear, have given Modi carte blanche to go after critics and opponents, shrinking the space for free speech—online and otherwise.

“Modi has always seen the media as an arena to control,” said Aliya Bhatia, a policy analyst at the Center for Democracy and Technology’s free expression project. “Tech companies are an extension of this arena of control for this government. The real issue here is about the impunity and opacity with which Modi is using emergency powers to control what users can say online.”

Having spent several years welcoming global tech companies into India, Modi and his government are increasingly now trying to bring them to heel. A series of clashes with the likes of WhatsApp, Twitter, Amazon, and Netflix indicate that social media and the digital realm are becoming ever more integral to Modi’s long-standing effort to control the public narrative and shut down critics.

PS Commentators Respond: Could the “Chinese Century” Belong to India?

As India considers how to make the most of its demographic dividend, China has reported its first annual population decline since 1961. At the same time, the West is courting India for trade and security partnerships, and attempting to shift its supply chains away from China, in part to limit Chinese technological development. And while analysts predict that India will become the world’s third-largest economy by 2027, many are now questioning China’s ability to overtake the United States as the world’s largest within the next few decades.

In this Big Question, we ask Pranab Bardhan, Brahma Chellaney, Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg, and Yi Fuxian whether the economic fortunes of India and China will continue to diverge, and what that could mean for the global economy.


I think the century will probably not belong to China or India – or any country, for that matter. Chinese achievements in the last few decades have been phenomenal, but it is now experiencing a palpable – and expected – slowdown. And while international financial media have been hyping the arrival of “India’s moment,” a cold look at the facts suggests that such assessments are premature at best.

A key reason for this is demographic. Yes, India has most likely already surpassed China as the world’s largest country by population, and its youth bulge is substantial. But far from delivering a “demographic dividend,” India’s relatively young population may turn out to be a liability, as the country struggles to generate sufficient productive employment.

India has found the most success in skill-intensive sectors – such as software, digital technology, and pharmaceuticals – which do not have much need for the low-skill workers who comprise a huge share of India’s working-age population. In fact, the share of unskilled labor-intensive industries in India’s merchandise exports declined by almost half over the last two decades. Massive numbers of Indians are now un- or under-employed, and many discouraged workers have dropped out of the labor force.

It does not help that Indians lag even on elementary health indicators: household survey data show that the proportion of children who are stunted or otherwise malnourished remains extremely high. Simply put, while India has a large quantity of people, the quality is lacking, with productivity levels insufficient to enable the country to compete internationally in many sectors.

Mao’s Strategy Inspires Afghan Guerrillas and Chinese Planners

Benjamin R. Young

At the U.S. Naval War College, a prestigious education institution in Rhode Island for the U.S. military, the famous works of military strategists are examined. Former Prussian Gen. Carl von Clausewitz’s On War serves as the cornerstone of the Strategy and War curriculum while former Chinese Gen. Sun Tzu’s The Art of War is the lynchpin of understanding the importance of psychology in warfare. However, there is a third military strategist who is methodically studied by U.S. military officers: former Chinese leader Mao Zedong, whose works are offered as part of a class called Strategy and War.

The thought of intermediate-ranking American military officers studying the works of a Chinese communist may seem absurd. But Mao’s theories of warfare have had a profound influence on generations of so-called Third World insurgencies—even as they transformed into a set of rhetorical cliches at home.

Mao’s military philosophies grew out of his experiences as a revolutionary leader in the Chinese Civil War. Mao’s ragtag band of communist guerrillas was malnourished, poorly clothed, poorly armed, and poorly trained. As Chinese propaganda proudly states, the Red Army of the 1930s was constantly on the verge of starvation and dissolution but overcame these odds to become a mighty fighting force. In 1934, the National Army (also known as the Kuomintang) pinned communist forces in Jiangxi province. However, Mao led his forces in a strategic and difficult retreat into Yan’an in Shaanxi province. This arduous journey, known as the Long March, later became a key part of the hagiography surrounding Mao during China’s Cultural Revolution. In present-day China, Yan’an is referred to as “the cradle of revolution” and has become a key destination for China’s red tourism industry.

The Case for Partitioning Afghanistan

Tom Ordeman, Jr.

Author’s Note: This essay was originally prepared for submission in mid-August of 2021, during the projected withdrawal of coalition troops from Afghanistan. However, submission was ultimately pre-empted by the abrupt collapse of the Afghan government and security forces. As the international community continues to engage in an after-action review following twenty years of operations that ultimately ended in failure, this case for a partition of Afghanistan is presented with minimal edits. This essay is presented as a contribution to the ongoing discussion of how the international community could have avoided the eventual outcome, and created a state of lasting stability that continues to elude both the Afghans and their former coalition partners.

On April 13th, 2021, the Biden Administration announced their decision to extend the Trump Administration’s previously established Afghan withdrawal deadline by four months. The White House ultimately failed to describe what the additional four months were meant to accomplish, nor were officials able to enunciate any sort of strategy that might have accomplished anything of substance in the dwindling weeks. The withdrawal ultimately took place independent of nearly twenty years of disparate, unrealistic, and often contradictory coalition objectives. No shortage of failed suggestions for securing peace in this war-torn country were mooted during the preceding two decades. In the end, the coalition’s haphazard withdrawal proved catastrophic, unfolding on live television and across social media platforms in real time.

During his tenure as Vice President, Biden infamously advocated for a de facto partition of Iraq. While the international commentariat revisits some new incarnation of Biden's vision whenever Iraq is in the news - notably after 2014, owing to internal tensions over the Islamic State debacle - only very rarely, and then almost silently, did comparable suggestions for partitioning Afghanistan percolate into the international conversation. In fact, a partition of Afghanistan could very well have reconciled many aspects of Afghanistan that made little or no sense either before or since 2001, and continue to cause instability and friction today.

The Context for Partition

How a Chinese naval blockade could isolate Taiwan and send shockwaves across the world

Joshua Keating

When most people imagine war in the Taiwan Strait, they tend to conjure up images inspired by Normandy, France, in 1944; Incheon, South Korea, in 1950; Baghdad in 2003; or even Kyiv in 2022: Troops streaming out of transport ships onto beaches, missiles slamming into air defense systems, and heavy casualties all around. In short, a bloody conflict with the potential to draw in the United States and its allies.

But what if a Taiwan D-Day never comes? What if instead of all-out invasion, Beijing instead opts for an escalating pressure campaign aimed at bringing Taiwan to its knees without actually starting a war?

“What I fear is that China will not do a frontal assault on Taiwan, but they will begin to do one thing after another that never quite gives the United States or Japan or the Quad Alliance any casus belli,” or justification for war, Orville Schell, director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society, told Grid last August.

In this scenario, Beijing’s campaign to snuff out Taiwan’s political autonomy would involve not hundreds of thousands of troops crossing the Taiwan Strait, but a more subtle approach: ships interdicted at sea and undersea cables snipped in mysterious circumstances. Many experts believe these tactics are more likely than all-out war.

“A full military attack is uncertain,” Yun Sun, director of the China program at the Stimson Center, told Grid. “To fight a war, you need at least some level of confidence that you’ll win, and the Chinese don’t have that at this point.” Sun said China’s concerns about a war in Taiwan have likely increased since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — an operation many seasoned military analysts assumed would be a weeklong cakewalk but which shows no signs of ending after nearly a year of war.

Can China and America Live and Let Live?

Van Jackson

In the last half-decade or so, the United States’ political and national-security establishment has re-embraced great-power competition as the organizing principle of American foreign policy at an alarming rate. After 30 years of relative calm between major nations after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Democrats and Republicans alike have concluded that rivalry with China will be the defining challenge of the next generation of American national security. They justify that conclusion by arguing that rivalry is inevitable and that countering Chinese influence in Asia is crucial to maintaining regional stability.

“China has mounted a rapid military modernization campaign designed to limit U.S. access to

the region and provide China a freer hand there,” reads the Trump administration’s December 2017 National Security Strategy. “China presents its ambitions as mutually beneficial, but Chinese dominance risks diminishing the sovereignty of many states in the Indo-Pacific. States throughout the region are calling for sustained U.S. leadership in a collective response that upholds a regional order respectful of sovereignty and independence.” The NSS, along with the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS), codified growing bipartisan concerns about China’s influence, concerns that had percolated in think tanks and the bureaucracy during the Obama years and become politically viable under Trump. The conventional wisdom around this question went something like this: The post–Cold War consensus that welcoming China into the global economy would lead to political liberalization was deeply misguided, and China was now using the advantages created by years of skirting international norms to threaten stable U.S. leadership in Asia and around the world.

Lithium, lightest metal on earth, carries heavy geopolitical weight


“Control oil and you control nations,” former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once said. Today, it could be argued that to control lithium – white oil as it were – is to control nations. Lithium has become a critical mineral in green technologies, with lithium-ion batteries used to power electric vehicles, and to store wind and solar energy.

Like oil, lithium, is not evenly distributed in the world. Nearly 80 per cent of known deposits are in four countries – the South American lithium triangle of Argentina, Bolivia and Chile, and Australia. However, holding less than 7 per cent of the world’s lithium reserves, China is the world’s largest importer, refiner and consumer of lithium, buying 70 per cent of lithium compounds and supplying 70 per cent of lithium production, largely to domestic lithium battery makers, six of which are among the top ten in the world.

China’s lithium dominance has caused concerns. Both the European Union and the United States have prioritised building greater self-sufficiency in raw materials, lithium included, in their industrial policies, aiming to curb their reliance on China and boost homegrown green technologies. This exposes China’s vulnerabilities in its transition to clean energy.
Can and should China be contained?

A global supply chain based on global collaboration – sourcing the best supplies based on the principle of efficiency – exposes its intrinsic vulnerability, especially when the geopolitical landscape is shifting. Concerns for security in supply chains have overtaken efficiency and economic returns.
From the supply side, Australia enjoys a powerful position in lithium. On the demand side, however, because power is concentrated in a single large buyer – China – this is a vulnerability.

What China Can Learn From Japan—and Alexander the Great

Howard W. French

The Chinese government’s confirmation this month that the country’s population had shrunk for the first time since the late 1950s—when millions of people died of starvation in former Chinese leader Mao Zedong’s disastrous campaign to accelerate industrialization, known as the Great Leap Forward—set off a frenzy of media coverage about the dire implications for the main geopolitical rival and would-be alternative pole to the West.

At one point, the New York Times alone had no fewer than four articles on its homepage heralding the development, and the sub-headline for one opinion column about the country’s now “undeniable” reversal of fortunes read: “Forget about a rising China. The dangerous part will be its decline.”

Among the signals confirming this coming decline and predictions of its consequences that were cited in other press reports were that India would soon surpass China as the world’s most populous nation and that the decrease in China’s demographic numbers might mean that it would have a much harder time surpassing the United States in overall economic size—and might not be able to attain that goal at all. One comparison that few Western publications made, revealing their common tendency toward self-centered parochialism, was that the United Nations projects that sub-Saharan Africa’s population will surpass China’s (and India’s not long afterward) by the early 2030s.

Will the U.S. Really Defend Taiwan?

Seth Cropsey

Taiwan’s ruling party has a new leader, and the change bodes ill for peace in the Indo-Pacific. Vice President Lai Ching-te, a staunch proponent of the island’s independence, took over chairmanship of the Democratic Progressive Party last week from President Tsai Ing-wen. She stepped down as party leader after the party suffered losses in recent local elections. China will now almost certainly seek to meddle in Taiwan’s 2024 election in an attempt to keep Mr. Lai from winning the presidency. If he does win, Beijing could move quickly to invade.

The U.S. is unprepared for such a crisis. President Biden broke decades of American precedent by stating twice in 2022 that the U.S. would intervene to defend Taiwan if China attacked. Usually Washington has preferred to keep the U.S. security guarantee somewhat vague. On the other hand, no American president has explicitly refused to defend Taiwan, either.

China could shut down our military in a minute if we don't fix the looming rare earths supply crisis

China could shut down our military in a minute if we don't fix the looming rare earths supply crisis

If we examine most major weapons systems, they cannot function without using rare earth minerals. That's why the current supply crisis is a five-alarm fire

Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin has the latest on the rare earth minerals essential to the military and national security on 'Special Report.'
NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

In 2010, China precipated a low-intensity conflict with Japan and the West by stopping the export of rare earth elements. Alarm bells rang across the White House, the Pentagon, and corporate America. When China relented after about a week, U.S. military planners knew our country had dodged a bullet. They started asking: how likely is another rare earth squeeze play by China?

As the then-CEO of the only producing rare earth mine in the U.S. in 2010, I rate the odds of another rare earth crisis in the next five years as 9.5 out of 10. As was the case then, neither the U.S. nor our allies are adequately prepared for the economic and military catastrophe that will result. The rare earth projects that were on the drawing board in the U.S. at that time still have not advanced past the permitting and study stages, which means they are still years away from production.

Biden Administration's Total Disregard for Iran's Protestors, Nuclear Threat

Majid Rafizadeh

Iran's mullahs have made significant advances by tripling their nuclear program's capacity to enrich uranium to 60%, a short step away from the 90% purity required to build a nuclear weapon.

Iran is selling Russia drones and other material; is Russia "paying" for them by helping the mullahs complete their nuclear weapons undertaking?

Just last week, the US Department of State declared Iran the "world's leading sponsor of terrorism." This is the same State Department that had allowed the mullahs to brutally crack down on and kill their own people, deliver drones and other deadly weapons to their ally Russia; freely increase their influence in Latin America, and rapidly advance their nuclear weapons program. What will it take for the Biden administration finally to help the young men and women of Iran who have been fighting so hard for their freedom?
Iran's mullahs have made significant advances by tripling their nuclear program's capacity to enrich uranium to 60%, a short step away from the 90% purity required to build a nuclear weapon. (Image source: iStock)

Since the Biden administration assumed office, Iran's ruling mullahs have seized the opportunity to continuously advance their nuclear program, which is currently a short step away from manufacturing nuclear weapons.

Why Saudi Arabia Doesn’t Want Iran’s Regime to Fall

Talal Mohammad

On Sept. 16, 2022, a young Kurdish Iranian woman named Mahsa Amini died after being arrested by Iran’s morality police for allegedly wearing her hijab incorrectly. Protests have rocked the country ever since. Initially centered on demands to abolish the compulsory hijab and disband the morality police, the popular movement has in recent months broadened its scope to seek minority rights and, in some cases, independent states for Kurdish, Baloch, Azeri, and Arab groups in Iran. Amini’s death gave a common platform to these minorities’ long-festering grievances and led some Iranian opposition groups to call for regime change that could give way to a post-Islamic Republic Iran.

In heavily Kurdish regions of Iran, there have been armed confrontations between Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Kurdish separatist groups. Tehran has targeted Kurdish separatist bases in neighboring Iraq and accused these groups of seeking to secede from Iran. The Iranian regime has also accused the Saudi government of influencing, funding, and masterminding separatist activity within Iran.

Saudi Arabia and Iran have been archrivals since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, which toppled Iran’s monarchy. At the time, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini called for exporting the revolution, sending shivers down the Saudi royal family’s spine. Since then, a series of direct and indirect confrontations between Tehran and Riyadh have shaped the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East—and the Gulf in particular. Each power today has numerous proxies that form regional spheres of influence. Most (but not all) Iran-affiliated groups are Shiite, while Saudi-linked groups are Sunni.

The Saudi-Iranian rivalry has forged much of recent Middle Eastern history. Riyadh supported former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in his eight-year war with Iran in the 1980s. In 1982, Tehran helped establish, fund, and train the newly created Hezbollah militia, which has exerted increasing control over Lebanese politics ever since. The 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq and the downfall of Hussein saw Iran seek to exert Shiite influence over the country in a struggle that has in many ways endured to today. The Saudi-Iranian standoff has also defined post-Arab Spring conflicts in Syria and Yemen. Iran’s support for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and Yemen’s Houthis is the cornerstone of the Tehran-Riyadh rivalry today.

Ukraine’s Makeshift Army Is Getting More Misfit Toys

Robbie Gramer, Jack Detsch, and Amy Mackinnon

The United States and Germany have announced they will send modern Western battle tanks to Ukraine, capping months of tense diplomatic debates and marking a political win for Kyiv as it readies for spring offensives against invading Russian forces.

Yet the deliveries also pose new logistical headaches for the Ukrainian military and its Western backers, as Ukraine prepares to receive a hodgepodge of varied NATO hand-me-downs that all have different training, spare parts, and maintenance demands—and even require different types of fuel. If British-, German-, or American-made tanks look roughly the same to the untrained eye, then they’re a world apart when it comes to the materials and training needed to deploy them to the battlefield.

“It’s like having a motorcycle, a boat, and a high-end sports car all out in the open and trying to keep all of them operating in rough conditions everyday, doing the maintenance on all of them yourself, while you’re being shot at,” said Jim Townsend, a former senior U.S. Defense Department official, describing the challenge Ukraine faces in fielding and maintaining multiple types of complex modern tanks in a war zone all at once.

The question of which countries would send Kyiv tanks and when has morphed into a political litmus test of support for Ukraine within the NATO alliance. Britain was one of the first allies to make the jump, offering 14 Challenger 2 tanks this month. And Germany faced down withering criticism for its apparent slow-walking of a decision to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. Meanwhile, the United States announced it would begin sending up to 30 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine as early as this week, a decision that coincided with Berlin’s announcement that it would finally unleash the Leopards, capping weeks of debate.

The new batch of tanks heading Ukraine’s way underscores the complex considerations involved in rushing advanced military hardware to a country embroiled in a bitter existential war with Russia. “It’s almost a lesson of how not to do it. But in an emergency, that’s what you have to do,” said Mark Cancian, a retired Marine Corps colonel who worked on force structure and acquisition issues in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

How the War in Ukraine Is Boosting Russian Politicians’ Careers

Previously, ambitious members of the Russian elites climbed the career ladder by taking part in the Leaders of Russia contest and training programs for governors. Now the career pipeline runs through Ukraine, and anyone reluctant to radicalize will find themselves sidelined.

For those in Russia’s ruling elite set on reaching the top, the war in Ukraine is an unexpected new career elevator. Ever sensitive to the whims of President Vladimir Putin, the presidential administration is increasingly keen to reward veterans of the conflict.

It is not, however, actual combat veterans who are favored, but officials and politicians who have visited the front line for photo opportunities and made use of them to demonstrate their radicalism. Such displays are well received in the Kremlin, regardless of the consequences for the quality of government or relations among the elites, many of whom wish things could just go back to how they were before the invasion of Ukraine.

The elites have been dressing for the part since the very beginning of the war, when First Deputy Chief of Staff Sergei Kiriyenko and the United Russia ruling party general secretary Andrei Turchak started the trend, sporting khakis in newly occupied areas of Ukraine. Appearances at the front by careerist politicians, among them State Duma deputies Vitaly Milonov, Sergei Sokol, and Dmitry Khubezov, grew more frequent in the summer. There is now even a special reserve unit made up of lawmakers called Cascade.

Others have gotten in on the action, too. Alexander Sapozhnikov quit his post as mayor of the city of Chita to volunteer for the war. Primorye Governor Oleg Kozhemyako eagerly visited the trenches. Dmitry Rogozin, ex-head of the state space corporation Roscosmos, also donned a uniform and headed off to the front.

Whether any of them have taken part in actual combat is unclear. But they have fully embraced the label of combatant, a bet that appears to have paid off. These days, Putin speaks constantly of the valor of those fighting the war, and even delivered his New Year’s address against a backdrop of men and women in uniform.

Scholz’s Tank Decision Upends Germany’s Long Affair With Russia


After months of dithering, Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced on Wednesday that Germany would send fourteen Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. He will also allow European countries that bought the tanks to send them to Kyiv.

After facing consistent pressure from the United States and from many of Germany’s European allies, Scholz has ended a chapter of his thirteen-month-old leadership that risked isolating Germany, dividing Europe, and seriously damaging Berlin’s relations with the United States.

Speaking to the Bundestag, Scholz said his decision was entirely consistent with his previous actions. Germany, he stated, did not want the war in Ukraine to escalate—which Russia claimed would be a consequence of sending tanks. For that reason, he was not prepared to allow other countries to supply the Leopard 2 tanks or go it alone without cover from the United States. President Joe Biden’s decision to send thirty-one M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine robbed Scholz of any more excuses.

Now comes the chancellor’s next chapter. And it won’t be a straightforward narrative, even compared to the last one—for two reasons.

One is the fallout inside Scholz’s Social Democratic Party (SPD). The party’s left wing has always opposed sending the tanks and even arming Ukraine. It’s not just because they are pacifist and ambivalent about NATO and the United States. For them, the war that Russia began was gradually undoing decades of extremely close relations between Germany and Russia.

Most IT pros say cyberwarfare threat greater after Ukraine war - report


More than 3 in 5 IT and security professionals agree that the war has created a greater threat of cyber warfare, and a quarter of global organizations feel underprepared to handle cyberwarfare in the modern cybersecurity climate, according to a new report from Israeli cybersecurity company Armis.

The Armis State of Cyberwarfare and Trends Report: 2022-2023 highlights the increased prominence of cyberwarfare following the ongoing Eastern European conflict, noting that over half (54%) of IT security professionals surveyed reported experiencing more threat activity on their networks in the past six months (May-October 2022) than the six months prior.

As well, in many organizations the increasing threat of cyberwarfare has led to slower product development. Per the report, 55% of IT professionals reported that the growing danger has led their organizations to stall or stop digital transformation projects. “This percentage is even higher in specific countries, including Australia (79%), the U.S. (67%), Singapore (63%), the UK (57%), and Denmark (56%),” noted the report.

“Cyberwarfare is the future of terrorism on steroids, providing a cost-effective and asymmetric method of attack, which requires constant vigilance and expenditure to defend against,” said Nadir Izrael, CTO and co-founder of Armis.

“Clandestine cyberwarfare is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. We now see brazen cyberattacks by nation-states, often with the intent to gather intelligence, disrupt operations or outright destroy data,” Izrael said. “Based on these trends, all organizations should consider themselves possible targets for cyberwarfare attacks and secure their assets accordingly.”

Soldiers hurt Ukraine far more than hackers, says WEF

Damien Black

If you are thinking that 21st-century Armageddon will come in the form of a massive cyberattack, you should think again because, in the past year, tanks and guns have proved to be by far the worst threat to Ukraine, says the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Citing the lack of digital damage done to the beleaguered country since Russia invaded in February, the WEF has highlighted a key element of cyberattacks it says is often overlooked – their inherent reversibility.

“The conflict in Ukraine has, in many ways, defied expectations, especially for the cybersecurity community,” said the WEF. “The cyber war that many expected failed to materialize, as these operations failed to levy any strategic impact, and the cyber domain of Russia’s offensive has largely been relegated to the background.”

Whereas damage done by kinetic or conventional warfare is not easily reversed – a glance at the televised coverage of bombed-out buildings in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities will confirm this, not to mention the horror of human casualties – most cyberattacks can be reversed relatively quickly.

A dead person is irreplaceable and a shelled building might take months or even years to repair – this stands in stark contrast to, say, the Colonial Pipeline in the US, which was up and running less than a week later despite sustaining one of the worst cyberattacks in the history of digital warfare.

“Cyber [damage] has proven to be relatively reversible,” said the WEF. “Colonial Pipeline, the largest US oil pipeline, subject to a ransomware attack, was down for only five days, compared to several wind farms in Ukraine that experienced physical damage – affected for months so far, and maybe longer yet as the conflict continues.”

Even small-arms fire – again, leaving the tragic toll on human life aside – can wreak damage to buildings that are not soon repaired, the WEF added.

There’s a Wild Scramble for Control of the Dark Web Taking Place in Russia

Niko Vorobyov Max Daly

On New Year’s Eve people in Moscow spotted what looked like an up-and-coming tech startup projecting its logo onto the sides of various buildings. But in fact it was a guerrilla marketing stunt promoting OMG, a darknet marketplace selling heroin, mephedrone, marijuana, and everything else in between.

A fortnight earlier one of OMG’s main competitors, Kraken, parked a bus painted with its logo across two lanes of the Russian capital’s Novy Arbat thoroughfare, blocking traffic for over an hour before the authorities were able to remove it. This was not Kraken’s first PR stunt. In October it projected a hologram of its namesake, the mythical sea monster, holding the company logo in its tentacles, onto a Moscow business centre.

Darknet marketplaces are commercial websites accessed by an encrypted browser which operate on the dark web, functioning primarily as black markets for illegal activity or substances. The fact they were being advertised so publicly in Moscow was slightly bizarre.

But this very public advertising blitz stemmed from events that took place In April 2022, when the world’s biggest ever darknet market Hydra, which made most of its money selling drugs, was shut down and its alleged mastermind Dmitry Pavlov was arrested in Moscow. Yet, like the Hydra of Greek legend, whose heads multiply when they are severed, a new generation of darknet markets popped up to challenge for control of a market worth at least $1.37 billion, according to unofficial estimates.

And over the last 9 months, using a mix of publicity stunts and crippling cyber attacks on each other, OMG, Kraken and around 10 other darknet markets have been engaged in a tit-for-tat turf war for Hydra’s throne.

But amid the scramble for power and wealth, experts have told VICE World News that the huge profits being generated by these platforms are being fuelled by money from gangs involved in increasingly sinister crimes.

What Europe’s ‘Qatargate’ Is—and Isn’t

Caroline de Gruyter

Eleven days before last Christmas, the French radio program Les Matins de France Culture dedicated a segment to “Qatargate,” the corruption scandal in the European Parliament that had just broken. The two guests were a French member of the European Parliament (MEP) and a journalist for the newspaper Le Figaro specializing in Middle Eastern affairs. Within minutes, the conversation drifted from the cash found at a Greek MEP’s home in Brussels and the offices of parliamentary assistants that had been searched and sealed to Qatar’s lavish spending in Paris in recent years.

This is just one sign that we have to be careful about labeling Qatargate as a European problem or, as a French far-left MEP said last week, “a chronic disease of the European institutions.” Not only is there no evidence, for the moment, that other European institutions outside the European Parliament are affected, but national institutions and politicians also seem to be grappling with problems of a similar nature.

On the radio broadcast, the guests discussed how, under former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, politicians were reportedly not averse to “gifts” from the tiny Gulf state, home to one of the world’s largest sovereign funds. Already, in 2016, in a book called Nos très chers émirs, journalists accused a French deputy minister of having received money from Qatar in exchange for political favors; he denied the accusation. French President Emmanuel Macron, one of the guests said, had allegedly received such expensive gifts from Qatar that he had discreetly returned them through the French Embassy in Doha.

Satellite images hint at scale of Russian mercenary group's losses in Ukraine

Aina J. Khan and Matthew Mulligan

Aerial photos of a cemetery on the outskirts of the Russian village of Bakinskaya suggest a sevenfold increase in the number of graves in just two months.

Satellite images show the increase in the number of graves at the Bakinskaya cemetery in southwestern Russia. Satellite images show the increase in graves at the Bakinskaya Cemetery in Russia.

The number of graves at a cemetery used by Russia's notorious mercenary Wagner Group has dramatically grown over the last two months, satellite images show.

A photograph taken on Jan. 24 by Maxar Technologies, a U.S. defense contractor headquartered in Colorado, shows at least 121 burial plots in a section of the cemetery allotted to fighters from the private military company.

An image of the same area taken on Nov. 24 appears to show around 17 graves, suggesting that in two months there has been around a sevenfold increase, according to an NBC News analysis of the site on the outskirts of the village of Bakinskaya, in southwestern Russia.

The apparent expansion at the site, which is situated around 200 miles from the border with Crimea, comes after Wagner Group fighters were belatedly credited earlier this month by Russia's defense ministry with taking the town of Soledar in eastern Ukraine, which saw some of the war’s most intense combat.

Main risks of training Artificial Intelligence Systems with open-source data

Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems often employ large datasets to train the model that will later perform a specific task. It is common for these training datasets to be built by massively collecting data from open sources on the internet. This includes repositories of specialized publications or public sector data, websites, etc... In these cases it is essential to verify the legal regime applicable to these data in order to identify the potential risks of their use.

Among the main risks associated with the training of AI systems, (1) those associated with the use of personal data and (2) those associated with data ownership are of particular relevance.
Risks associated with the use of personal data

Insofar as the training dataset contains personal data, all data protection regulations must be complied with. Among others, this includes verifying the roles of the parties involved - controllers, joint controllers, processors... -, the categories of data collected, the legal basis for the processing, and/or the information to be provided to the data subjects.

Data protection obligations are independent of whether or not the system, once in operation, provides personal data to users, or whether or not the data has been anonymized after collection. It is therefore necessary to check whether personal data have been processed from the moment they are collected.

Also noteworthy is the obligation to inform data subjects that their data are going to be processed, within a maximum period of one month from their collection. When the personal data have not been collected directly from the data subjects, they must be informed of the source from which their data have been extracted. Failure to provide information constitutes a breach of personal data regulations.

ChatGPT: Educational friend or foe?

Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Elias Blinkoff 

The invention of the telephone in 1876 was met with simultaneous amazement and trepidation. Critics wondered if phones would disrupt face-to-face communication in ways that made us either too active or lazy. When television entered our homes, we fretted about the potential harms of the box and screen time in every living room. Surely, this would create a society of couch potatoes who do not even notice the people sitting by their side and fail to engage in more important activities. The definition of “screen time” was later broadened to include the impacts of digital content and “social media” on children. Indeed, a recent article in The Atlantic by Professor John Haidt warns that the generation raised on social media could even imperil American capitalism and culture.

The latest challenge to the creative human intellect was introduced on November 30th, 2022 by OpenAI. ChatGPT is a conversational bot responsive to users’ questions in ways that allows it to search large databases and to create well-formed essays, legal briefs, poetry in the form of Shakespeare, computer code, or lyrics in the form of Rogers and Hammerstein, to name a few. As New York Times writer Kevin Roose commented, “ChatGPT is, quite simply, the best artificial intelligence chatbot ever released to the general public.”

Used in the right way, ChatGPT can be a friend to the classroom and an amazing tool for our students, not something to be feared.

As with the telephone, however, ChatGPT is primarily being met with amazement and trepidation. Some in education fear that students will never need to learn to write, as they can merely lean on ChatGPT. Writing for The Atlantic, English teacher Daniel Herman worried that ChatGPT spelled “The End of High School English.” In the same publication, Stephen Marche declared the college essay “dead.” Fortune Magazine quipped, “Is Chat GPT the end of trust? Will the college essay survive?” On January 3, 2023, the New York City Department of Education took the dramatic step of responding to these fears by blocking access to ChatGPT on all department devices and networks. A department spokesperson justified the decision due to “…concerns about negative impacts on student learning, and concerns regarding the safety and accuracy of content.” She further questioned the educational value of the technology, stating: “While the tool may be able to provide quick and easy answers to questions, it does not build critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, which are essential for academic and lifelong success.”

ChatGPT Isn’t the Only Way to Use AI in Education

SOON AFTER ChatGPT broke the internet, it sparked an all-too-familiar question for new technologies: What can it do for education? Many feared it would worsen plagiarism and further damage an already decaying humanism in the academy, while others lauded its potential to spark creativity and handle mundane educational tasks.

Of course, ChatGPT is just one of many advances in artificial intelligence that have the capacity to alter pedagogical practices. The allure of AI-powered tools to help individuals maximize their understanding of academic subjects (or more effectively prepare for exams) by offering them the right content, in the right way, at the right time for them has spurred new investments from governments and private philanthropies.

There is reason to be excited about such tools, especially if they can mitigate barriers to a higher quality or life—like reading proficiency disparities by race, which the NAACP has highlighted as a civil rights issue. Yet underlying this excitement is a narrow view of the goals of education. In this framework, learners are individual actors who might acquire new knowledge and skills with the help of technology. The purpose of learning, then, is to master content—often measured through grades and performance on standardized tests.

But is content mastery really the purpose of learning? Naming reading proficiency as a civil rights issue likely has less to do with the value of mastering reading itself, and more to do with the fact that mastery of reading (or math, or other subjects) can help lay a foundation for what learning can unlock: breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty, promoting greater self-awareness and self-confidence, and cultivating a stronger sense of agency over one’s destiny and the destinies of one’s communities. Content mastery is part of this equation, but making it the primary focus of education misses the fact that so much of a child’s future is shaped by factors beyond the classroom. Critically, networks, or who children and their families are connected to, and how, matter for helping children prepare to live fulfilling lives. This is especially true for networks that cut across socioeconomic, demographic, and other lines. Indeed, a large recent study highlighted how social capital, defined as friendships across socioeconomic divides, can play a larger role in fostering intergenerational economic mobility than school quality (often measured by the test scores of students who go there).

What everyone misses when it comes to cyber attacks

Thomas Johansmeyer

The conflict in Ukraine saw fewer cyber attacks than anticipated and more kinetic strikes.

The absence of a heavy cyber dynamic to the conflict is due to the lack of impact inflicted by such attacks, despite popular belief about the scale of their potential danger.

Reversibility of cyber attacks is one limit to the risk they pose although their threat can still be significant particularly when combined with other forms of engagement.

The conflict in Ukraine has, in many ways, defied expectations, especially for the cyber security community.

The “cyber war” that many expected failed to materialize as these operations failed to levy any strategic impact, and the cyber domain of Russia’s offensive has largely been relegated to the background.

Likewise, while the Ukrainian “IT Army” provided captivating headlines, the international and Ukrainian voluntary hackers that purport to help the national defence ministry to target Russian infrastructure and websites have shown to offer no more than marginal contributions. The conflict has remained predominantly kinetic, and that seems unlikely to change.

However, this outcome raises a simple but important question. Why hasn’t cyber played a greater role in the conflict in Ukraine? The answer could provide insight into future conflicts where there’s a concern about outsized cyber engagement or other forms of hybrid warfare.

The debate on the role of cyber in conflict is not new; but its “Pearl Harbour moment” is yet to occur. Political scientist Thomas Rid says “cyber war” hasn’t happened and isn’t likely, while another scholar in the space, Lorenzo Franchesci-Biccherai, says such a term is “used in the wrong situations” and likely to result in “hyperbole.”

Yes, everyone has classified documents. The system is out of control.

Fareed Zakaria

An earlier version of this article misstated Daniel Patrick Moynihan's service on the Senate Intelligence Committee. It began in 1977. This article has been updated.

What should we think of the fact that Donald Trump, Joe Biden, and now Mike Pence have all turned out to have classified material sitting in their houses? Before I answer that question, let me tell you a few facts. One 2004 essay put the number of classified pages in existence at about 7.5 billion. In 2012, records were classified at a rate of 3 per second, making for an estimated 95 million classifications that year alone. Today, no one knows how frequently information is classified. And as of 2019, more than 4 million people were eligible to access classified information, about one-third for top secret records, the highest general designation.

The real scandal is that the U.S. government has a totally out-of-control system of secrets that represents a real danger to the quality of democratic government.

Let me acknowledge a political point. It is true that people glossed over these issues when Trump was found to be holding onto classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago home, but have begun to discuss them now that President Biden also appears to be guilty of the same offense. Some of this double standard is political bias. But Trump’s behavior was also a major issue, particularly his refusal to turn over the documents and defiance of direct requests from the Justice Department. That is an important difference, though it doesn’t change the larger point. Given how crazy the classification system is, the wonder is that we don’t find more top secret documents littered throughout the houses of government officials.

TikTok’s New Defense in Washington: Going on the Offense

Cecilia Kang, Sapna Maheshwari and David McCabe

WASHINGTON — Last week, TikTok’s chief executive, Shou Zi Chew, met with several influential think tanks and public interest groups in Washington, sharing details on how his company plans to prevent data on American users from ever leaving the United States. And the company’s lobbyists swarmed the offices of lawmakers who have introduced bills to ban the app, telling them that TikTok can be trusted to protect the information.

TikTok, the popular Chinese-owned video app, has been in the cross-hairs of American regulators for years now, with both the Trump and Biden administrations weighing how to ensure that information about Americans who use the service doesn’t land in the hands of Beijing officials.

Through it all, the company has maintained a low profile in Washington, keeping its confidential interactions with government officials under wraps and eschewing more typical lobbying tactics.

But as talks with the Biden administration drag on, pressure on the company has arrived in waves from elsewhere. Congress, state lawmakers, college campuses and cities have adopted or considered rules to outlaw the app.

Now, TikTok is upending its strategy for how to deal with U.S. officials. The new game plan: Step out of the shadows.

“We have shifted our approach,” said Erich Andersen, general counsel of ByteDance, the Chinese owner of TikTok. He said that the company had been “heads down” in private conversations with a committee led by the Biden administration to review foreign investments in businesses in the United States, but that then the government put the negotiations “on pause.”

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Wi-Fi signals could prove useful for spies

Like all radio waves, Wi-Fi signals undergo subtle shifts when they encounter objects—human beings included. These can reveal information about the shape and motion of what has been encountered, in a manner akin to the way a bat’s chirps reveal obstacles and prey.

Starting from this premise Jiaqi Geng, Dong Huang and Fernando De la Torre, of Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, wondered if they could use Wi-Fi to record the behaviour of people inside otherwise unobservable rooms. As they describe in a posting on arXiv, they have found that they can. “DensePose from Wi-Fi”, the paper in question, describes how they ran Wi-Fi signals from a room with appropriate routers in it through an artificial-intelligence algorithm trained on signals from people engaging in various, known activities. This algorithm was able to reconstruct moving digital portraits, called pose estimations, of the individuals in the room.

My Military Experience In A Leopard 2 Tank

R. W. Zimmermann

My Leopard 2 Tank Experience: As a former M1A1 Abrams tank commander, I have followed with great interest the frantic reporting on the possible deployment of German Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

Will this tank live up to the expectations NATO and Ukraine heap upon it?

My Time with the Leopard 2 Tank

I was a headquarters company commander and battalion operations officer in the 3rd Armored Division (Spearhead) from 1988 to 1991. During my time as a defender of the Fulda Gap, I had the opportunity to command a Leopard II in a battalion live-fire setting with our partner unit, Panzer Battalion 153 in Koblenz, Germany. We operated in a combined warfare environment during which our reconnaissance platoon of Bradley Fighting Vehicles scouted the way for the German battalion to the Baumholder tank range.

The exercise unfolded during the hours of darkness and in total radio-listening-silence, something that was a tad difficult for us Americans, since we tend to love talking a bit too much on our radios. Meanwhile, the Germans effectively used motorcycle dispatch riders to keep unit commanders and vehicle crews posted on the progress of the movement.

Live-fire occurred during the morning hours and unfolded quite impressively. The Leopard IIs of the Bundeswehr had no mechanical failures during the extended road march. Their efficient diesel engines were quickly refueled, and the Panzers made ready to roll again. The Leopard’s power plant was louder than the M1’s gas turbine, yet if you were the enemy, the impressive deep grumble of the tank would have made you aware that something terrifying was headed your way.

Genesis of a Logistics Exercise – Building a Modular Content for Tactical Logistics Commands

Sandra Huber & Michael Kidd


A resurgent Russia has once again highlighted the importance of the NATO alliance. For such a large and diverse organization, NATO is in a constant state of innovation examining, testing, and where appropriate implementing new ideas. A prime example is the creation of two Joint Logistics Support Groups (JLSGs); 1 star deployable logistics headquarters that command enablers and coordinate theater logistics - permitting operational commanders to focus more closely on the mission while JLSG can place its entire organizational focus on logistics. Specifically, they manage all aspects of Reception, Staging, and Onward Movement (RSOM) and 3rd line sustainment of NATO forces at the tactical level, to include transportation, medical, engineering, and force protection (NATO, 2018).

These nascent commands, located in Naples Italy (JLSGNP), and Brunssum Netherlands, have engaged in a multi-year effort to build their capability by the beginning of 2023. STEADFAST JUPITER 22 was to be the capstone exercise for JLSG Naples. A fully integrated NATO exercise with over 20 training audiences where JLSGNP would test its mettle in support of a complex multi-domain mission. The exercise would pressurize the command to see if the policies and procedures it established would survive contact with an intricate set of challenges.

In 2022 NATO de-prioritized STEADFAST JUPITER over immediate requirements. While most commands shifted focus to other tasks, for a number of organizations, that was simply not an option. “I had to assess my command's ability to command and control logistics forces. Our ability to support future operations as part of the NATO response force is a priority mission!” said Admiral Vizulis, Commander - JLSG Naples.

Directing his command to leverage the initial exercise plans into a complex logistics Command and Control (C2) exercise, Admiral Vizulis pressed a normally 18 month planning cycle into six months while rebranding the exercise as a complex logistically focused problem set. In total, 172 team members from 16 different Headquarters and 15 member nations - plus Calian contracted support rallied to ensure the command would have a rigorous look at their concepts and procedures. By the end of October 2022, the commander would know that his command could bridge stovepipes and execute its core missions of RSOM and Sustainment and Support while responding to crisis.

From a JLSGNP perspective, the main effort of the exercise was twofold:Focus on logistics processes executed by JLSG. Would the exercise highlight significant gaps in the reporting expectations for subordinate and higher organizations, or validate as sufficient the existing communications requirements?

Additionally, start the process of designing injects and storylines logistics and operational exercise for the future so that commanders can decide which modules and injects are included in any exercise.

Selected Background