3 February 2023

A new Sino-Russian alliance: What are its implications for India?

C. Raja Mohan

China can ramp up, at will, the military pressure on the disputed border with India; Delhi depends on Russian military supplies to cope with the PLA challenge; and Moscow is now a junior partner to Beijing. It is not a nice place for Delhi to be in

2Despite their huge stakes in economic engagement with Russia and China, Berlin and Tokyo have had no choice but to join Washington in ramping up the commercial pressure against Russia and China. (Illustration by C R Sasikumar)

The triangular dynamic between the US, Russia and China has long been the principal factor shaping independent India’s geopolitics.

India and the Second Coming of the Space Age


Summary: India needs its domestic legal frameworks in place before it can compete in the Second Space Age and reap its benefits. The country should look at introducing or amending legal frameworks to provide certainty to domestic entrepreneurs and foreign investors about the scope of permissible space activities and how they will be treated under Indian law.

The term “sputnik moment” is popularly used to connote a moment in time when a nation realizes, usually belatedly, that its technological prowess has been surpassed by a rival nation. For the United States, this moment came when the erstwhile USSR launched the first-ever satellite Sputnik into outer space, ushering in the “first” Space Age.

The first Space Age was only a part of the larger geopolitical rivalry between the U.S. and the USSR. Accordingly, the battle for supremacy in outer space was led primarily by public actors such as governments, with private entities taking a backseat with respect to geopolitical calculations. While rapid strides were indeed made in space technology, an important question to ask to gauge the success of the first Space Age is not only what happened, but what should have happened, and did not.

Arguably, the missing component here was the failure to involve more commercial enterprises as equal players in spacefaring endeavors. Accordingly, what began with a bang ended with a whimper as the first Space Age languished in commercializing the space sector to the degree seen in other sectors like semiconductors, which had broken ground around the same time.

However, this is now changing with the flourishing of a second Space Age.

Various factors are at play here. A McKinsey & Co. report highlighted how, due to advances in software, off-the-shelf components, miniaturization, and re-usable rockets had lowered the costs of reaching space. Geopolitical factors also remain as germane as ever. For instance, nations are now realizing that space is indeed the final frontier, for both public and private actors, in a race for dominance.

Takshashila Discussion Document - China’s Global Security Initiative: Undermining US Alliances or Quest for a New Security Architecture?

The Global Security Initiative (GSI), along with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Global Development Initiative (GDI), is often discussed as one of China’s three key foreign policy propositions. Since the announcement of GSI by Xi Jinping, thus far, there has been no clear articulation from Beijing of specific measures or projects under the initiative. Nevertheless, Chinese media, analysts and diplomats have sought to flesh out its interpretations and specific actions that could fall under the ambit of GSI. The latter have also sought to win endorsements for GSI from developing countries.

Examining this literature, this document details the objectives, scope and policy implications of the initiative. It concludes that GSI is fundamentally an attempt to discredit US engagement in the Indo-Pacific, while projecting China as a responsible global power. It also concludes that the likely measures under GSI can be classified into the following:

Measures related to the traditional security domain

Measures related to developmental and financial security

Actions to influence global governance norms

To Help Afghanistan, Engage Its Political Opposition

Richard Fontaine

Eighteen months after the fall of Kabul, the situation in Afghanistan is moving from bad to worse. In addition to banning girls from secondary schools, the Taliban recently closed universities to women. Taliban officials also stopped women from working with nongovernmental organizations that distribute humanitarian aid in December, prompting international charities to suspend their work. The United Nations now reports that 6 million Afghans stand on the brink of starvation.

The United States has rightly continued to provide help to Afghanistan despite the Taliban conquest and stands today as the single largest donor of humanitarian assistance in the world. While such aid remains critical, Washington should not simply accept the Taliban’s coercive rule as an indefinite if unfortunate reality. By engaging with the political opposition, the United States can take steps toward a better Afghan future.

Traveling recently in Tajikistan and Turkey, we met with former Afghan officials, members of the diaspora, refugees, and others who look in anguish at Afghanistan’s plight. Kabul’s ambassador in Dushanbe, appointed by the previous government, holds meetings in the cold: The embassy’s budget for central heating has run out. Opposition figures in Turkey attempt to harmonize their political approaches but face constraints on their speech and activities imposed by the Turkish government. Each one laments the fall of Kabul and all urge the international community to not simply give up on Afghanistan.

On the Leaks of a War With China

George Friedman

Over the past few days, two senior U.S. officials – Gen. Mike Minihan, the head of the U.S. Air Force Mobility Command, and Michael McCaul, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee – predicted that a war with China could erupt by 2025. I have been on record as saying China’s economic and political vulnerabilities make such a conflict unlikely, but when a four-star general and one of the few politicians I actually respect go well out of their way to say something like this, I’m compelled to recheck my thinking. That the two are saying the same thing, moreover, suggests to me that someone in Washington has briefed them on the matter. Briefings are not the subject of random gossip.

I remain skeptical; the Pentagon has distanced itself from the general’s remarks, and though McCaul may be a respectable politician, he is still a politician. But in reevaluating the likelihood of a war, some questions must still be answered.

Who will start the war? It’s hard to believe the U.S. would initiate a conflict. Defeating the Chinese navy, though doable, wouldn’t resolve the matter. So long as the Chinese homeland is intact, Beijing can rebuild its armed forces. For China, attacking the U.S. Navy would be a major gamble, and it would have to calculate what a defeat at sea would cost it, particularly domestically.

Why would they wait to start the war? It could be that U.S. intelligence learned that there was an attack planned and spread the news to signal to Beijing that it was wise to its plans. But if those plans were indeed for 2025, the U.S. would have plenty of time to prepare for it. Time and danger are the same in warfare, and the idea that China is planning that far out is hard to buy. No one wants to give the other side an advantage.

What does the aggressor hope to accomplish, and is it worth the risk? China wants to secure its eastern ports and ensure access to trade routes in the Pacific Ocean. The U.S. might want to move from a notional threat to a real threat.

Crazy Optimism About China's Economy

Gordon G. Chang

Stocks may soar for a while, but China's economy is far sicker than analysts assume.

First, China's disease statistics are questionable.

Beijing is asking the world to believe that SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen causing this disease, is behaving differently in China than it has in all other parts of the world.

Second, even if China were over Covid as the regime maintains, the economy is still plagued by its over-dependence on property, which accounts for almost 30% of GDP.

"The property sector downturn is hard-wired into the first half of 2023," reported the Rhodium Group last month, in an analysis on China's economic prospects.

Fourth, the regime during the pandemic did almost nothing to remedy the principal structural flaw in the Chinese economy: the overreliance on government spending.

China is not going to have a good 2023 or a good 2024. Foreigners are going to lose money in China again.
Stocks may soar for a while, but China's economy is far sicker than analysts assume. China is not going to have a good 2023 or a good 2024. Foreigners are going to lose money in China again. (Image source: iStock)

China's propagandists tell us the Chinese economy this year will "accelerate to 4.8%." Foreign analysts are even more bullish. Goldman Sachs estimates growth of gross domestic product of 5.5%.

China's National Health Commission announced the end of the Communist Party's "dynamic zero-Covid" policy on December 7. It did not take long for Wall Street to crank up the optimism machine. Morgan Stanley, on the following day, issued a research note predicting that Chinese equities would outperform emerging markets and global peers.

Denial May Bring War - Punishment May Keep it at Bay

CDR Salamander

Does your opponent respond the same - or to the same degree - to identical incentives and disincentives than you do?

Are you mirroring?

Do you want your opponent to think a certain way because it is convenient to you and your priors?

Are you doing your best to structure your actions such that they are conveniently aligned with your peacetime path of least resistance, or are they mindfully structured with your opponent’s view of warfighting?

China shops around US bans to power its nuclear weapons research program

Tobias Mann

The Chinese agency responsible for developing and maintaining nuclear weapons has reportedly been powered by Intel and Nvidia silicon for at least two years, despite spending over a quarter of a century under a trade ban meant to prevent their use by foreign militaries.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the state-backed China's Academy of Engineering Physics CAEP) has likely used back channels and shell companies to obtain US chips for use in nuclear weapons simulations and other applications.

The CAEP shares much in common with the US Department of Energy. Both agencies are tasked with the development and maintenance of the nation's strategic weapons stockpile. Since underground nuclear weapons tests were banned in 1996, such work has often been done with supercomputers designed to simulate various aspects of nuclear weapons' testing.

In an effort to prevent the use of US chips for military applications in 1997 the US added the CAEP to the Commerce Department's Entity List of organizations that aren't allowed to import certain technologies. However, as the WSJ investigation found, these efforts appear to have done little to stop Chinese agencies with ties to the military obtaining US-made chips.

The Journal uncovered more than 30 papers published by CAEP researchers that made use of American semiconductors, including several with direct military applications.

The findings underscore just how ineffective the US Commerce Department's measures have been and builds on a WSJ investigation from last year that found that the US approved 94 percent of licenses required to export restricted goods to China.

Part of the problem is the US export bans only restrict the sale of goods to specific entities — usually those with ties to foreign militaries. As highlighted in the WSJ report, many of these goods are widely available in servers and PCs sold in the Chinese market.

‘Human Mines’: China’s Population Policy Flip-Flops Spark Anger

Chauncey Jung

In early 2023, China officially admitted that the country is experiencing population decline for the first time in 60 years. That announcement did not surprise ordinary Chinese residents struggling to make ends meet amid a slowing Chinese economy and the political turbulence led by the now abandoned zero COVID measures.

On the Chinese internet, a term called “human mine” (人矿) captured the public’s attention for a few days before being censored by Chinese cyberspace officials. This new internet term ironically equates human beings to mineral resources like gold, iron, and copper. In a now-censored social media post, an internet user made the comparison between ordinary Chinese residents and natural resources: “Human mines” refers to those people who spend 20 years in school, pay real estate mortgages for 30 years, and help hospitals make profits 20 years. The term implies that China’s people are treated as consumable products from the moment they are born.

This bizarre, and to some extent offensive, term reveals the strong disapproval of individuals living in China toward the country’s policies on education, employment, and healthcare. China’s failure to deliver meaningful improvements in these areas has contributed to many people’s decision not to have children.

While the term might be merely a few days old, the idea of using specific policies to manipulate the country’s population has a long history dating back to the Mao era. According to documents published by the Chinese Communist Party History and Archive Research Institute, Mao vowed to conduct planned human production in the country. When meeting female representatives from Yugoslavia in 1956, Mao said that the birthrate remained in an anarchistic and disorganized state: “Why can’t we have plans for producing humans? I think it is possible.”

While Mao’s leadership ended in 1976 with his death, Chinese political leaders continued to adopt his ambition to control the growth of the population. In the late 1970s, China’s began to adopt a “one-child policy” to reduce population growth. The restrictive policy started with Chinese Communist cadre members and quickly expanded to the entire population.

The policy had the goal of stopping population growth by 2000. But instead of helping achieve that goal, the controversial restriction on giving birth to children led to further social issues and massive human rights violations within the country.

Drones could play key role in PLA’s ‘final unification war’ on Taiwan

Kristin Huang

Drones like the TB-001 could be used to attack helicopters and strike Taiwan’s smaller vessels during a conflict across the strait, according to a Chinese military magazine. Photo: EPA-EFE

A Chinese military magazine has highlighted the vital role drones would play in the event of a war across the Taiwan Strait.

It said drones could be used to “assassinate enemy leaders” and that their use could minimise casualties by shortening the conflict. They could also be used to target Taiwan’s mobile missile launchers and heavy weaponry.

The article in Ordnance Industry Science Technology outlines how a People’s Liberation Army attack on Taiwan might unfold.

After launching “the final unification war”, the PLA would seek to “suppress the island of Taiwan in all directions – land, sea, air, space, electricity and the internet”, according to the article.

It said drones would be key, noting their advantages over manned aircraft and other weapons systems.

“Manned combat aircraft can only stay in the air for a short time, usually three to four hours, which is completely different from the 30 to 40 hours of large and medium-sized drones,” it said.

China’s Pro-Growth Happy Talk


A robust economic recovery in China would require the country’s leaders to find ways to improve relations with the West and launch a credible political, legal, and economic reform program. But despite official vows to boost growth, no such agenda is on the horizon.

CLAREMONT, CALIFORNIA – The Chinese government seems to have fallen back in love with economic growth. As the chaotic exit from its zero-COVID policy has unfolded – leading to tens of thousands of deaths (at least) – the country’s leaders have been eager to profess their undying devotion to robust economic recovery. But lip service alone will get China nowhere.

Last month’s Central Economic Work Conference – the annual meeting where the top leadership of the Communist Party of China sets the economic-policy agenda for the next year – established growth as the government’s top economic priority in 2023. In the weeks that followed, the public was treated to a spectacle not seen in years, as provincial governors fell over themselves to echo the CPC’s commitment to growth and reassure jittery private investors and entrepreneurs.

The political motivation for this shift is obvious: the CPC hopes to restore public support, after popular frustration with draconian zero-COVID restrictions gave way to dissatisfaction with the botched exit from the policy. But it will mean little unless the government translates its pro-growth rhetoric into action.

Neighbors bound by a shared future

China Daily

Editor's note: The world has undergone many changes and shocks in recent years. Enhanced dialogue between scholars from China and overseas is needed to build mutual understanding on many problems the world faces. For this purpose, the China Watch Institute of China Daily and the National Institute for Global Strategy, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, jointly present this special column: The Global Strategy Dialogue, in which experts from China and abroad will offer insightful views, analysis and fresh perspectives on long-term strategic issues of global importance.

As the US tries to queer the pitch for its economy, China should offset its plan and build a sound environment to realize its development goals

China is currently facing an increasingly complex international situation in its surrounding areas with mounting uncertainties — cooperation and dialogue coexist with disputes and local conflicts. When discussing the situation in China's neighborhood, we should pay special attention to the fact that the problems are not caused by regional countries, but rather, external interference and provocations. Behind the rough winds is the United States. The international situation in China's surrounding areas is being strongly interfered in by the US.

The US has unveiled a slew of strategic measures to contain China, from its "Pivot to Asia" to "Rebalance to Asia", to the "Indo-Pacific Strategy", the "Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity" and eventually to the formation of Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or QUAD — a strategic security dialogue among Australia, India, Japan and the US. The ultimate goal is to contain China's rise and hinder the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

The conflict in Ukraine has turned into a crisis and is spreading across Europe. Besides, the US is relentlessly stoking confrontation and instigating its allies to destabilize China's surroundings to brew new crises. Therefore, in the face of new circumstances and new challenges, China needs to focus on creating a better international environment in its surrounding areas.

Russia’s cyberwar against Ukraine offers vital lessons for the West

Yurii Shchyhol

Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine is fast approaching the one-year mark, but the attack actually started more than a month before columns of Russian tanks began pouring across the border on February 24, 2022. In the middle of January, Russia launched a massive cyberattack that targeted more than 20 Ukrainian government institutions in a bid to cripple the country’s ability to withstand Moscow’s looming military assault.

The January 14 attack failed to deal a critical blow to Ukraine’s digital infrastructure, but it was an indication that the cyber front would play an important role in the coming war. One year on, it is no longer possible to separate cyberattacks from other aspects of Russian aggression. Indeed, Ukrainian officials are currently seeking to convince the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to investigate whether Russian cyberattacks could constitute war crimes.

Analysis of the Russian cyberwarfare tactics used in Ukraine over the past year has identified clear links between conventional and cyber operations. Ukraine’s experience in countering these cyber threats can provide valuable lessons for the international community while offering a glimpse into a future where wars will be waged both by conventional means and increasingly in the borderless realm of cyberspace.

As the world watches the Russian invasion of Ukraine unfold, UkraineAlert delivers the best Atlantic Council expert insight and analysis on Ukraine twice a week directly to your inbox.

The Russian cyberattack of January 2022 was not unprecedented. On the contrary, Ukraine has been persistently targeted since the onset of Russian aggression with the seizure of Crimea in spring 2014. One year later, Ukraine was the scene of the world’s first major cyberattack on a national energy system. In summer 2017, Ukraine was hit by what many commentators regard as the largest cyberattack in history. These high profile incidents were accompanied by a steady flow of smaller but nonetheless significant attacks.


Global inflation will fall in 2023 and 2024 amid subpar economic growth

Global growth is projected to fall from an estimated 3.4 percent in 2022 to 2.9 percent in 2023, then rise to 3.1 percent in 2024. The forecast for 2023 is 0.2 percentage point higher than predicted in the October 2022 World Economic Outlook (WEO) but below the historical (2000–19) average of 3.8 percent. The rise in central bank rates to fight inflation and Russia’s war in Ukraine continue to weigh on economic activity. The rapid spread of COVID-19 in China dampened growth in 2022, but the recent reopening has paved the way for a faster-than-expected recovery. Global inflation is expected to fall from 8.8 percent in 2022 to 6.6 percent in 2023 and 4.3 percent in 2024, still above pre-pandemic (2017–19) levels of about 3.5 percent.

The balance of risks remains tilted to the downside, but adverse risks have moderated since the October 2022 WEO. On the upside, a stronger boost from pent-up demand in numerous economies or a faster fall in inflation are plausible. On the downside, severe health outcomes in China could hold back the recovery, Russia’s war in Ukraine could escalate, and tighter global financing costs could worsen debt distress. Financial markets could also suddenly reprice in response to adverse inflation news, while further geopolitical fragmentation could hamper economic progress.

In most economies, amid the cost-of-living crisis, the priority remains achieving sustained disinflation. With tighter monetary conditions and lower growth potentially affecting financial and debt stability, it is necessary to deploy macroprudential tools and strengthen debt restructuring frameworks. Accelerating COVID-19 vaccinations in China would safeguard the recovery, with positive cross-border spillovers. Fiscal support should be better targeted at those most affected by elevated food and energy prices, and broad-based fiscal relief measures should be withdrawn. Stronger multilateral cooperation is essential to preserve the gains from the rules-based multilateral system and to mitigate climate change by limiting emissions and raising green investment.

Why Crimea Is Not a Bridge Too Far

Michael Allen

The fate of the Russian-seized Ukrainian territory of Crimea may soon become a point of divergence between Ukraine and its Western allies. Ukraine’s November recapture of the southern territory of Kherson puts Ukraine within range—both in terms of geography and momentum—of the strategic pathways into Crimea, posing a dilemma for Western policymakers. While Ukraine still has battles to fight, the West may soon have to decide whether it would support a coming Ukrainian assault on Crimea, or insist Ukraine count its blessings and settle for the return of only the territory Russia has captured since its invasion of February 2022.

For the Ukrainians, the answer is obvious. Crimea, illegally annexed by Russia in 2014, belongs to Ukraine. For U.S. strategists, however, allowing Russia to keep Crimea could be the face-saver Putin needs to agree to ending the war. Others worry that doing so will set a dangerous precedent and that rewarding Russia’s aggression will only make future hostilities more likely.

Of course, the desires of the people living in Crimea matter, too. But it is difficult to accurately discern what their preferences might be. A 2014 referendum on the topic was widely considered a sham, not unlike those recently staged in Russian-held Kherson, Donetsk, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia. This mirage of public opinion is even less reliable considering Russian President Vladimir Putin’s subsequent efforts to reshape the population of the peninsula through forced deportations, the persecution of native Tatars, and the imprisonment of political activists.

Responding to a Limited Russian Attack on NATO During the Ukraine War

Bryan Frederick, Samuel Charap, Karl P. Mueller

Although U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) planners have long focused on preparing for the contingency of a large-scale conflict with Russia, the Ukraine war has created a unique set of circumstances that make a more limited Russian attack plausible. This Perspective outlines the characteristics of the potential Russian attack that are relevant to informing a U.S. or NATO response, including Moscow's possible motivations for launching the attack, what the United States could try to accomplish in its response, and how different types of U.S. or NATO responses might help to advance U.S. goals in the conflict.

Using four hypothetical limited Russian attack scenarios, the authors explore how variations across two dimensions of a U.S. or NATO response — the proportionality of a possible kinetic response and the nature of non-kinetic responses — could lead to trade-offs in the pursuit of different U.S. goals. From this analysis, the authors identify key considerations to assist U.S. policymakers weighing how to address various contingencies.

The Calls for More Progress on Space Governance Are Growing Louder

Amissile lifted off from a base in northwest Russia on a November morning in 2021. It hit its target several minutes later: a dead Russian satellite that had been orbiting uselessly since the 1980s. The Russian minister of defense applauded the precision of the missile test as “worthy of a goldsmith.”

But the satellite didn't just vanish. It blew into hundreds of pieces of debris—solar panels, antennas, chunks of metal—that were now whipping around the Earth at thousands of miles per hour. NASA woke the astronauts on the International Space Station and told them to evacuate into their docked space capsules as the debris shot past. At last count, several hundred trackable pieces of that satellite were still in orbit.

Space may seem infinite, but the narrow band that hugs the Earth, where satellites and space stations operate, is not. A recent RAND study described it as congested, contested, and littered with debris. Tens of thousands of additional satellites are scheduled to launch in the next few years, the vanguard of a new space era. Existing space treaties won't be enough to keep them safe, to prevent crowding and collisions, and to preserve the promise of outer space.

“If you don't have some kind of global governance framework, if you can't prevent satellites from running into each other, then it all becomes pretty pointless pretty quickly,” said Katie Feistel, an assistant policy researcher at RAND. “There is such opportunity in space. The potential benefits are huge. But only if we keep space sustainable.”

RAND anticipated the dawn of the space age with its first report, Preliminary Design of an Experimental World-Circling Spaceship, released 11 years before Sputnik.

It has produced more than 1,000 reports on space and space policy in the 75 years since then. It recently launched the RAND Space Enterprise Initiative to pull together research and expertise on space strategy, operations, and challenges—starting with space governance.

There are no international laws against blowing up a satellite and putting a space station at risk.

The Ukraine War and the Future of the European Union’s Security and Defense Policy

Luis Simón

Following the end of the Cold War, Europe enjoyed a so-called peace dividend, and security and defense policy were pushed to the periphery of European politics. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has moved security and defense back to a more central position in European politics. The return of interstate war in Europe has also led to an increased focus on deterrence and territorial defense and a revival of NATO. What does it mean for the future of the European Union’s security and defense policy, not least given the latter’s traditional emphasis on “low-intensity” crisis management operations outside of Europe?

To be sure, the need to strengthen deterrence against a nuclear-capable great power underscores NATO’s role as the first port of call for most European countries, including EU member states. There is a debate about how Article 42.7 of the EU Treaty provides a foundation for collective defense in an EU context. However, Finland and Sweden's decision to seek NATO membership sends an unambiguous signal: when it comes to the core business of deterrence and defense, the European Union is no match for NATO. This is hardly surprising.

The European Union’s experience with security and defense is relatively recent, and has focused primarily on low-intensity crisis management operations outside of Europe, often “civilian” or “civ-mil” in nature, rather than military. Other than a small, supporting cell, the EU has no standing assets for the military planning, command and control of operations, and no experience in the area of deterrence and defense. Moreover, it explicitly acknowledges NATO’s primacy when it comes to deterrence and territorial defense.

For its part, the Atlantic Alliance has a state-of-the-art multinational command and control structure, highly developed processes for defense and force planning, prepositioned forces and assets under its command and critically, it includes the United States and United Kingdom, two nuclear powers that extend nuclear deterrence guarantees over all allied territory.

Ukraine’s Tank Problem – OpEd

Binoy Kampmark

It seems to be a case of little provision for so much supposed effect. The debates, the squabbles, the to-and-fro about supplying Ukraine with tanks from Western arsenals has served to confirm one thing: this is an ever-broadening war between the West against Russia with Ukraine an experimental proxy convinced it will win through. Efforts to limit the deepening conflict continue to be seen as the quailing sentiments of appeasers, the wobbly types who find democracy a less than lovable thing.

So far, promises have been made to ship the US M1A2 Abrams, Germany’s Leopard 2 and the UK’s Challenger. Others have alluded to doing the same thing – including France regarding its Leclerc tanks – but tardiness fills the ranks, and logistics will make the provision of such weapons a long affair. Re-export licenses will have to be issued, notably regarding the Leopard 2; training Ukrainian tank crews will also need to be undertaken.

All in all, the picture is not as rosy as those in Kyiv think, despite the confident assessment from Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Andriy Melnyk that his country’s defence forces would have access to “at least a hundred tanks” within three months.

The US tanks are, for the most part, still grounded in their country of origin, with their deployment potentially delayed for months, if not years. Pentagon deputy spokesperson Sabrina Singh was frank in admitting that, “We just don’t have these tanks available in excess in our US stocks, which is why it is going to take months to transfer these M1A2 Abrams to Ukraine.” Singh, it should also be remembered, expressed the department’s view earlier this month that the tank was hardly suitable for Ukrainian needs, given how its jet turbine engine hungers for JP-8 jet fuel, unlike the diesel engine used by the Leopard and Challenger counterparts.

The engine is also rather tricky to maintain for crews, leaving it susceptible to blowing in the event of error. No less an authority than the Pentagon press secretary US Air Force brigadier general Pat Ryder, admitted that the M-1 “is a complex weapons system that is challenging to maintain, as we’ve talked about. That was true yesterday; it’s true today; it will be true in the future.”

Global Poverty: A Disease Affecting More Than A Billion People – OpEd

Matija Šerić

Poverty is a big problem that has always faced humanity. It can be said that poverty is a global disease that is almost impossible to cure at least as long as the current political and economic trends continue. There is no single definition of poverty, but it is a very accurate definition by Investopedia, which claims that poverty is a state “in which a person or community lacks financial resources or necessities for a minimum standard of living”. The Scottish Poverty Information Unit designates people as poor if “they do not have sufficient resources for their material needs and if conditions exclude them from active participation in activities that are considered normal in society…”

Individuals and families affected by poverty may be left without adequate housing, clean water, healthy food and medical care. Poverty is a socioeconomic condition that is the result of multiple factors (not just income) such as ethnicity, race, age, gender or access to education. At the same time, poverty is an individual but also a broader social problem. At the individual or household level, the inability to make ends meet can lead to a number of psychophysical problems. At the social level, high poverty rates are an obstacle to achieving economic growth and can cause problems such as unemployment, crime, urban and rural decay, and a general threat to the health of a nation.
Multiple forms of poverty

Extreme poverty is not only poverty characterized by low incomes, but it is characterized by a state in which people cannot afford the most basic necessities of life. It is divided into absolute and relative poverty. Absolute poverty is a condition when a person cannot afford the minimum food, clothing or home. Relative poverty is a condition where the household income is below a certain percentage, usually 50% or 60% of the median income of that country.

Europe Doesn’t Need the United States Anymore

Rajan Menon, Daniel R. DePetris

The Russian military’s weaknesses have been apparent since the early days of the war in the Ukraine. The staggering losses in troops and equipment, Moscow’s inability to adequately equip or even supply its troops, and the multiple shifts in command—Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov being Russian President Vladimir Putin’s latest choice—have exposed the myth of the Russian army’s supposed invincibility.

The jostling between Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Wagner Group—a private army active in the key battles of Soledar and Bakhmut—and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu as well as Russia’s high command attests to deep and persistent friction among the very people Putin counts on to run the war and attain victory.

Still, nearly a year since the invasion began, Russia is still regarded by many as a formidable military power and a dire threat, not only to Ukraine itself but also to Europe as a whole. This continues to be the predominant lesson drawn from the Russian military’s decision to invade what is—the European part of Russia aside—Europe’s largest country in land area and one of its most populous.

Producing Military Genius. A Letter To The Next President.

Can the American military select and produce leadership capable of winning? Sports teams ironically illustrate what the military forgot: The best players should always be selected from a diverse population after a performance-based selection process.

The NFL’s combine is a great example. While this performance-based screener doesn’t always predict the best performers, it’s hard imagining NFL owners only picking players based on subjective recommendations from college coaches or the external needs for inclusion. It’s also hard imagining ownership not firing a coach with a consistent losing record.

Why are sports teams inherently better at designing a system for screening and selecting performance when outcomes for predictive failures do not result in the death of young talent entrusted by America’s mothers and fathers?

Noteworthy that in the current American military system, other than influence from the President, Congress, and politically appointed secretaries within the defense department, the American people are relegated to military leaders internally produced within a nepotistic system.

American military leaders have many good qualities, but their aggregate shortfalls in courage and performance are well documented since the creation of the post World War II national security model. Recent sensational examples, like Benghazi or Afghanistan aside, the military’s inability to achieve political objectives in Vietnam, Beirut, Somalia, Kosovo, Libya, Iraq, or Syria should clearly indicate a team needing new leadership.

In any other business model, consistent failure would result in new leadership, but this has not been the case for the American military. Consequently, problems have festered for so long that simply changing out top level military leaders no longer fixes the military’s foundational problems.

Great power competition has shifted in the United States’ favour

Ryan Hass

At the start of 2022, China’s economy appeared strong, Beijing seemed to have contained the spread of COVID-19, Sino–Russian relations were deepening and there was growing talk of autocracies stealing the march on democracies across the world. China’s leaders were proclaiming that ‘time and momentum’ were on China’s side in its great power competition with the United States.

Meanwhile, the United States was mired in partisan paralysis, with President Joe Biden’s ‘Build Back Better’ agenda seemingly stuck. Washington was reeling from the reputational damage of the United States’ chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. Within Asia, talk was growing louder of China dominating the 21st century.

A year later, the script reads differently. China’s economy has turned sluggish, pulled down by expanding state intervention in the economy, waves of COVID-related lockdowns, a property sector slowdown and softening international demand for Chinese exports. Beijing’s messy exit from its zero-COVID policy has exacerbated domestic stressors. Even as China remains the largest trading partner for most of the world, its economic lustre has dimmed amid declining economic growth.

China’s international image in most of the developed world has also suffered. Part of this owes to China’s rhetorical support for Russia amid Moscow’s barbarism in Ukraine. China’s plummeting image is also attributable to its hardening authoritarianism at home, its nationalistic ‘wolf warrior’ diplomacy and its growing military activity along its periphery, including in the waters and airspace around Taiwan.

US general warns British Army no longer top-level fighting force, defence sources reveal

Deborah Haynes

A senior US general has privately told Defence Secretary Ben Wallace the British Army is no longer regarded as a top-level fighting force, defence sources have revealed.

They said this decline in war-fighting capability - following decades of cuts to save money - needed to be reversed faster than planned in the wake of Russia's war in Ukraine.

"Bottom line... it's an entire service unable to protect the UK and our allies for a decade," one of the defence sources said.

The sources said Rishi Sunak risked failing in his role as "wartime prime minister" unless he took urgent action given the growing security threat posed by Vladimir Putin's Russia.

This should include increasing the defence budget by at least £3bn a year; halting a plan to shrink the size of the army even further; and easing peacetime procurement rules that obstruct the UK's ability to buy weapons and ammunition at speed.

"We have a wartime prime minister and a wartime chancellor," one source said.

"History will look back at the choices they make in the coming weeks as fundamental to whether this government genuinely believes that its primary duty is the defence of the realm or whether that is just a slogan to be given lip service."

Pentagon’s new management reform institute aims to learn lessons from past failures


WASHINGTON — Nimble and efficient are not words used to describe day-to-day management of the Pentagon, but officials are on a quest to improve the department’s performance and identify ways to better retain institutional memory for their future successors.

That’s the drive behind today’s launch of a new Defense Management Institute (DMI), a team-up of the Department of Defense and the non-profit Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA). The DMI’s focus will evolve over time, but Michael Donley, the Pentagon’s director of administration and management, has given the entity three primary tasks — developing a defense management network of expertise and community; researching management topics; and assembling a digital repository of research and resources on core defense management issues.

“The Defense Management Institute is groundbreaking…never before has there been an institute dedicated solely to performance improvement,” Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said at today’s event. “Management reform advances the entire department, including acquisition [and] technology, all of which are central to the department’s mission and directly supports the warfighter.”

In addition to conducting studies and analyses for the Department of Defense, the DMI will assemble an online library of past management studies, and better connect defense officials with relevant experts. The institute is also aligned to conduct periodical performance reviews of defense agencies to assess their effectiveness and efficiency, Donley said. However, he noted that it will take time for the institute to find its footing and sort through the finer details.

In theory, DMI’s research should help the department better understand how it can become more efficient in tackling acquisition needs — which could prove important over the next two budget cycles. Although in the works for some time, DMI’s establishment comes just weeks after Republicans took control of the House of Representatives, with a small put powerful group of members calling for cuts or greater oversight to Pentagon spending.

ChatGPT Passed an MBA Exam. What’s Next?

Christian Terwiesch

Wharton professors Christian Terwiesch and Ethan Mollick weigh in on ChatGPT and why the controversial software has limitless potential to improve education, business, and a range of industries.

Wharton’s Christian Terwiesch talks with Wharton Business Daily on SiriusXM about how ChatGPT performed on his exam.

Wharton professor Christian Terwiesch said he “fell in love” with ChatGPT after reading its answer to an exam question in his graduate-level operations management course.

The professor fed the question to the controversial new chatbot as part of an experiment to see how the software would perform on a typical test. When prompted to explain the bottleneck process at a hypothetical iron ore factory in Latin America, ChatGPT aced it.

“Wow! Not only is the answer correct, but it is also superbly explained,” Terwiesch wrote in a recent white paper about his experiment. “I don’t see any reasons to take points off from this answer: A+!”

ChatGPT has been making headlines since it was launched in November by San Francisco-based OpenAI, mostly because it can be used by students to cheat on homework assignments and exams. The artificial intelligence software, which OpenAI made available to the public, can produce high-quality written responses to complex questions in a matter of seconds. Some public school systems, including New York and Seattle, have already banned the use of ChatGPT on their devices and networks.

Concerns about plagiarism are legitimate, said Terwiesch. But the professor, who chairs the Department of Operations, Information and Decisions and serves as co-director of the Mack Institute for Innovation Management, sees expansive potential in the chatbot’s artificial intelligence. With its incredible speed and accuracy, ChatGPT can be a powerful tool to improve the teaching process, customize learning, make business more efficient, and save precious time that could be used more productively by humans.

Time for Resilient Critical Material Supply Chain Policies

Fabian Villalobos

Research QuestionsWhat is the nature of the critical materials problem?

How did the current rare earth element (REE) supply chain form and what lessons learned are applicable to other critical materials, such as those found in LIB materials?

What are the potential risks of a disruption to the critical material supply chain?

What should be the aim of policies used to prevent or mitigate the effects of shocks to critical material supply chains?

The ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic and Russian invasion of Ukraine highlight the vulnerabilities of supply chains that lack diversity and are dependent on foreign inputs. This report presents a short, exploratory analysis summarizing the state of critical materials — materials essential to economic and national security — using two case studies and policies available to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to increase the resilience of its supply chains in the face of disruption.

China is the largest producer and processor of rare earth oxides (REOs) worldwide and a key producer of lithium-ion battery (LIB) materials and components. China's market share of REO extraction has decreased, but it still has large influence over the downstream supply chain–processing and magnet manufacturing. Chinese market share of the LIB supply chain mirrors REO supply bottlenecks. If it desired, China could effectively cut off 40 to 50 percent of global REO supply, affecting U.S. manufacturers and suppliers of DoD systems and platforms.

Although a deliberate disruption is unlikely, resilience against supply disruption and building domestic competitiveness are important. The authors discuss plausible REO disruption scenarios and their hazards and synthesize insights from a "Day After . . ." exercise and structured interviews with stakeholders to identify available policy options for DoD and the U.S. government to prevent or mitigate the effects of supply disruptions on the defense industrial base (DIB) and broader U.S. economy. They explore these policies' applicability to another critical material supply chain — LIB materials — and make recommendations for policy goals.

What the Cities of the Future Will Look Like

FP Contributors

The cities of the future are here—or, at least, in the works. From Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s dreams of Neom, a $500 billion planned city, to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ambitions for the city of Xiongan, which he calls his “personal initiative,” so-called smart cities are being built from the ground up, to considerable global skepticism.

In this edition of Flash Points, we explore how cities, new and old, provide glimpses into global leaders’ ambitions and how they’re changing as the surveillance state expands, urban populations grow, and local governments become increasingly important to state-level diplomacy.—Chloe Hadavas

It’s the Perfect Time to Break Up Google’s Ad-Tech Monopoly

Caitlin Chin

It hasn’t been a great start to the year for Google. On January 20, its parent company Alphabet announced approximately 12,000 layoffs, or 6 percent of the company’s workforce—its most extensive cuts to date. Four days later, on January 24, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed yet another lawsuit against Google, this time for allegedly engaging in anticompetitive practices in the digital ad technologies sector, in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The DOJ’s case focuses on Google’s Ad Manager Suite, which includes the industry-dominant ad exchange that matches publishers who want to sell ads with marketers who want to place them.

There’s a big political question looming over this case: Amid historic inflation and threats of recession, is there enough popular sentiment to crack down on Big Tech platforms such as Google or Meta, which generally offer consumer products and services at little or no monetary cost? Unsurprisingly, Google says no: “Antitrust cases shouldn’t penalize companies that offer popular, efficient services, particularly in difficult economic times,” wrote Dan Taylor, the company’s VP of global ads, in a recent statement. The Chamber of Progress, a technology industry group of which Google is a member, also questioned the timing of the lawsuit, arguing that the “DOJ case seems pretty disconnected from economic reality,” given recent layoffs.

It may seem contradictory, but an economic downturn is actually the perfect time to enforce antitrust laws in the ad-tech industry. First of all, Google is fine. It generated $54.5 billion in ad revenue from July through September 2022 alone, an increase of 2.5 percent from the same quarter in 2021. And 2021 was a banner year for the company: It amassed $209.5 billion in global advertising revenue—a significant uptick from around $36.4 billion in 2011, leading Google CEO Sundar Pichai to call 2021 “one of the strongest years we’ve ever had in the history of the company.”

The real casualties of any pending financial crisis will be the much smaller players that also depend on digital advertisements —newspapers, magazines, and local businesses—and that directly suffer from Google’s dominant position in the market. While Google more than quintupled its earnings in the past decade, U.S. publicly traded newspapers collectively decreased their annual advertising revenue from $49.4 billion in 2005 to an estimated $9.6 billion in 2020, illustrating this precarious relationship.

To Protect Satellites, Secure Your Networks, Chief of Space Ops Says


Attacks on ground networks can be “backdoor” assaults on the space-based capabilities that are key to modern warfare, Chief of Space Operations Gen. Chance Saltzman told reporters Tuesday.

“Satellites in space are not useful if the linkages to them and the ground network that moves the information around that you get from satellites is not assured, is not capable, is not accessible,” Saltzman said at the Pentagon during a media roundtable. “I think it’s a reminder that…if we’re not thinking about cyber protection of our ground networks, that we may have a backdoor, if you will, to negate satellite operations without counter-satellite operations.…There’s other ways to attack these systems.”

Saltzman, who took the reins of the fledgling Space Force in November, recently released what he calls the service’s three lines of effort: “fielding combat-ready forces,” “amplifying the guardian spirit,” and “partnering to win.”

For the first, he noted that “just because we have the right systems in orbit or the systems on the ground, doesn’t necessarily make it a ready force.”

That concept has been shown in Ukraine, Saltzman said: “I think the Russians had, on paper, had very good equipment. But they didn’t necessarily have the sustainment behind it. They didn’t necessarily have logistics.” he said.

The utility of commercial space capabilities has also been on display during the conflict, particularly the use by Ukraine of Starlink satellite internet, which “demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt that there’s good viability for commercial augmentation” to support military operations, he said.

Finally, Saltzman said, the war in Ukraine has underscored that space and cyber “are inextricably linked.”

“Right out of the gate, we saw both sides attacking satellite operations to degrade command and control. We see a lot of GPS interference to degrade those kinds of capabilities. So clearly, if right out of the gate you’re trying to degrade those capabilities, you recognize that they are central to operations, that they are important to how a force fights in the modern environment,” he said.