26 February 2023

On Point: Weaponizing Everything, Including Lawyers and Balloons: China's 1999 Manual for Defeating America

Austin Bay

During its North American aerial odyssey, The Big Chinese Balloon passed within intel-gathering distance of ICBM silo fields, strategic bomber bases, key global logistics hubs (Charleston for example) and major Army and USAF headquarters.

The balloon wasn't just blowing in the wind. Its calculated military itinerary tells reasonable Americans and Canadians -- reasonable being a qualifier that excludes media influencers and politicians bribed or blackmailed by communist China -- that the balloon was spying on critical North American defense installations.

Which means it had a War Mission. Note I did not write "pre-War"; I wrote "War."

I'll explain why in a moment, but first due praise for The Wall Street Journal's February 20 article titled: "China's Newest Weapon to Nab Western Technology -- Its Courts."

According to the report, U.S. and EU officials "accuse China of using its courts and patent panels to undermine foreign intellectual-property rights and help Chinese businesses. They say China is focusing such efforts on industries it deems important, including technology, pharmaceuticals and rare-earth minerals."

Beijing has weaponized its legal system to steal technology.

How did China come to dominate the world of electric cars?

Zeyi Yang

Before most people could realize the extent of what was happening, China became a world leader in making and buying EVs. And the momentum hasn’t slowed: In just the past two years, the number of EVs sold annually in the country grew from 1.3 million to a whopping 6.8 million, making 2022 the eighth consecutive year in which China was the world’s largest market for EVs. For comparison, the US only sold about 800,000 EVs in 2022.

The industry is growing at a speed that has surprised even the most experienced observers: “The forecasts are always too low,” says Tu Le, managing director of Sino Auto Insights, a business consulting firm that specializes in transportation. This dominance in the EV sector has not only given China’s auto industry sustained growth during the pandemic but boosted China in its quest to become one of the world’s leaders in climate policy.

How exactly did China manage to pull this off? Several experts tell MIT Technology Review that the government has long played an important role—propping up both the supply of EVs and the demand for them. As a result of generous government subsidies, tax breaks, procurement contracts, and other policy incentives, a slew of homegrown EV brands have emerged and continued to optimize new technologies so they can meet the real-life needs of Chinese consumers. This in turn has cultivated a large group of young car buyers.

“China will be ready to invade Taiwan by 2027”


China will be poised for a successful invasion of Taiwan by 2027, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army and the start of President Xi Jinping’s fourth term in power, a report from the US Congressional Research Service (CRS) has come out. He also mentioned the insistence of some in the US that the policy of “strategic ambiguity” that had continued since the establishment of diplomatic ties with China in 1979 should be abolished. The United States has not clearly stated whether or not it directly intervened in China’s invasion of Taiwan.

CRS quoted William Burns, director of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), in a report titled “Taiwan Politics and Security Issues” on the 17th and said, “With the modernization of the Chinese military, the balance of military power on both sides of the Strait has shifted in favor of China. Taiwan’s military capabilities are high, but its budget is less than one-tenth of the Chinese military’s, and it faces problems with equipment and readiness,” he said. “The United States is focused on preventing China’s amphibious invasion, but there are some claims in Taiwan that this approach is vulnerable to China’s military pressure,” he said.

The report also said, “Some lawmakers are arguing for the abolition of ‘strategic ambiguity’ on the grounds that the US should make a clearer promise to defend Taiwan.” US President Joe Biden is sending mixed messages about this, but he also said that “the US will defend Taiwan” four times since August 2021.

Still Getting Asia Wrong: No “Contain China” Coalition Exists

David C. Kang

For decades, scholars have been claiming that Chinese power is, will, or should cause East Asian countries to balance it. Yet, these countries have steadily reduced their proportional defense spending, are increasing their economic relations with China, and are building regional multilateral institutions with Beijing. US strategy needs to be rethought: there is little evidence any East Asian country would join even an incipient containment coalition against China.

The U.S. Defense Industrial Base Is Not Prepared for a Possible Conflict with China

Seth G. Jones

In a major regional conflict—such as a war with China in the Taiwan Strait—the U.S. use of munitions would likely exceed the current stockpiles of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).

According to the results of a series of CSIS war games, the United States would likely run out of some munitions—such as long-range, precision-guided munitions.

This would occur in less than one week in a Taiwan Strait conflict.

The U.S. defense industrial base also lacks adequate surge capacity for a major war.

These shortfalls would make it difficult for the United States to sustain a protracted conflict.

These problems are particularly concerning since the rate at which China has been acquiring high-end weapons systems and equipment is five to six times faster than the United States, according to some U.S. government estimates.

A Finely Fractured Consensus: American Motivations for Rules-Based Order 

Benjamin Tze Ern Ho 

An ongoing schism within the United States exists over what the rules of an ideal international order should be. Fieldwork interviews conducted by the author revealed three competing schools of thought with implications for America’s global role and policies toward China.

A Tool of Attrition: What the War in Ukraine Has Revealed About Economic Sanctions

Edward Fishman

In his 2022 State of the Union address, delivered less than a week after the invasion of Ukraine, U.S. President Joe Biden touted the “powerful economic sanctions” that the West had imposed on Russia, measures that had instantly crushed the ruble and laid waste to the Moscow stock exchange. Russian President Vladimir Putin, Biden warned, “has no idea what’s coming.”

This year, by contrast, Biden did not even mention sanctions in his State of the Union speech. His silence was understandable. After edging toward the brink of collapse, Russia’s financial system stabilized. ATM lines dissipated, and the ruble bounced back. The biggest Russian banks lost access to SWIFT, the financial messaging system, and Visa and MasterCard pulled out of the country. But even Western-branded credit cards never stopped working inside Russia. At one point, the International Monetary Fund projected Russia’s economy would contract by 8.5 percent in 2022. Now, it estimates that it shrank by just 2.2 percent.

A year on, it is easy to feel disappointed with the sanctions. Neither the Russian elite nor the Russian public shows any signs of breaking with Putin, and the war in Ukraine grinds on, with no end in sight. But sanctions are more of a marathon than a sprint, and the long-term picture looks much more promising than the short-term one. By cutting off Russia from foreign technology and investment and slashing the Kremlin’s energy revenues, Western sanctions have fundamentally altered Russia’s national trajectory. They are destroying the economic model Putin relies on to pursue his imperialist foreign policy.

The Ukraine War Could Mean The End Of Russia

Andrew A. Michta

Think End States in Russia, not Ukraine: As the war in Ukraine approaches its first anniversary, and as Russian forces continue to press forward along the front line, questions about Ukrainian resilience going forward and what the final settlement of the war will look like remain front and center of Western commentary and analysis.

We worry about Ukraine’s breaking point, its ability to continue resisting – though President Joe Biden’s visit to Kyiv and his subsequent trip to Warsaw surely provided a boost to morale at the frontlines in the East. Still, little attention has focused on what might happen in Russia in the wake of this incredible folly committed by Putin last February. One question that ought to be on everyone’s mind is: where is Russia heading?
What Putin Wants and What History Teaches

Putin’s Russia is re-litigating 1991 – in that sense, it is another aspirational empire, much like interwar Germany – still convinced that the Russian people can reclaim their imperial place in the sun once the treachery of its politicians has been expunged. Putinism is much like the Dolchstoßlegende narrative during the Weimar Republic insofar as there is a sense among the citizenry that the Russian military never lost against the West, but was subverted by politicians – cowardly Gorbachev, drunken Yeltsin, you name it.

A Report Card on the War in Ukraine

Graham Allison

By now, it is clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine has been a grave strategic error. As Napoleon Bonaparte’s former minister of police said of the French leader’s foolish execution of a rival duke, his actions could be described as “worse than a crime … a blunder.” Yet even as Putin’s war has undermined Russia on the geopolitical stage, we should not overlook the fact that Russia has succeeded in severely weakening Ukraine on the ground.

This week, the Belfer Russia-Ukraine War Task Force, which I lead, is releasing a Report Card summarizing where things stand on the battlefield at the end of the first year of Russia’s war. As the Report Card documents, when we measure key indicators including territorial gains and losses, deaths of combatants and civilians, destruction of infrastructure, and economic impact, the brute facts are hard to ignore.

At the battlefield level, if one can remember only three numbers, they are: one-fifth, one-third, and 40 percent.

Since invading Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, Russian troops have seized an additional 11 percent of Ukraine’s territory. When combined with land seized from Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, that means Russia now controls almost one-fifth of the country. The Ukrainian economy has been crushed, its GDP declining by more than one-third. Ukraine is now dependent on the United States and Western Europe not only for weekly deliveries of weapons and ammunition but also for monthly subsidies to pay its soldiers, officials, and pensioners. Forty percent of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure has been destroyed or occupied.

How the War in Ukraine Could End Sooner Than Expected

Peter A. Wilson and William Courtney

There are predictions aplenty that Russia's war on Ukraine will persist. But it could also end soon. Kremlin regime change, a Russian army collapse, or a Ukrainian win are possible. None of these contingencies should be ruled out.

The West has crossed many self-imposed red lines. It was once reluctant but now provides Ukraine with Stinger and IRIS-T low-altitude anti-air missiles, HIMARS rocket artillery, and Patriot high-altitude air defenses. The United States and Germany have said they will supply infantry fighting vehicles.

Despite this generous Western support and Ukraine's plucky military gains, pessimists are legion. Some foresee a frozen conflict. Some worry that Russian President Vladimir Putin will dig in his heels, viewing the fight as existential and denying Ukraine's identity. Some say he plans a long war or predict no one will win.

The doubters may be right. The conflict has lasted longer than many regional wars, and no victory or retreat is in sight. Predictions merit only guarded confidence when so many have proven wrong, e.g., that Kyiv could fall within days or Russia would quickly gain air superiority over Ukraine.

Will Logistics Be Russia's Undoing in Ukraine?

Bradley Martin

Wars rarely end quickly. The longer a war goes on, the more it requires: more money, more manpower, more firepower and, perhaps most importantly, more logistics. This last item—logistics—describes the often-complex systems that tie the war's front lines back to the economies of the nations doing battle, as well as the manpower required to link the two.

But the interdependence between what is happening at the front and what is happening economically back home can create counterintuitive situations and strange bedfellows. For example, a nation often cannot hope to continue a war without trading directly with the enemy.

Such is the case with Russia, which has long been selling its oil to nations that are directly supporting Ukraine. In March 2022, half of Russia's crude oil exports and 75 percent of its natural gas exports went to countries in the European Union. When the nations of the European Union prosper, they consume oil and gas. When those same nations prosper, they produce more of the kinds of military equipment needed by the Ukrainians in their war against Russia. And so, Russia's reliance on its energy exports causes it to sustain the very economies that are now supplying Ukraine with tanks and missiles to use against Russians.

From Gatherer of Lands to Gravedigger: A Political Assessment of Putin's War on Ukraine

John Tefft, Bruce McClintock, Khrystyna Holynska

A year after Russia invaded Ukraine it may be difficult to accurately predict the war's lasting impact on the international order, but there are steps the United States and the West could take to help sculpt the outcome: remain committed to Ukraine, strike a balance between support and escalation, and begin to consider the best long-term future of Russia and how the West can support it.

In 2015 Arkady Ostrovsky, Russia editor of The Economist, published The Invention of Russia, from Gorbachev's Freedom to Putin's War. In the concluding chapter of this brilliant account of the course of modern Russia, Ostrovsky puts Vladimir Putin squarely in the Russian historical tradition of using “aggression and territorial expansion as a form of defense against modernization”:

“Putin has portrayed himself as a gatherer of Russian lands and restorer of the Russian empire. In fact, he is likely to go down in history as its gravedigger.”

Avoiding a Long War: U.S. Policy and the Trajectory of the Russia-Ukraine Conflict

Samuel Charap, Miranda Priebe

How does this end? Increasingly, this question is dominating discussion of the Russia-Ukraine war in Washington and other Western capitals. Although successful Ukrainian counteroffensives in Kharkiv and Kherson in fall 2022 renewed optimism about Kyiv's prospects on the battlefield, Russian President Vladimir Putin's announcement on September 21 of a partial mobilization and annexation of four Ukrainian provinces was a stark reminder that this war is nowhere near a resolution. Fighting still rages across nearly 1,000 km of front lines. Negotiations on ending the conflict have been suspended since May.

The trajectory and ultimate outcome of the war will, of course, be determined largely by the policies of Ukraine and Russia. But Kyiv and Moscow are not the only capitals with a stake in what happens. This war is the most significant interstate conflict in decades, and its evolution will have major consequences for the United States. It is appropriate to assess how this conflict may evolve, what alternative trajectories might mean for U.S. interests, and what Washington can do to promote a trajectory that best serves U.S. interests.

Some analysts make the case that the war is heading toward an outcome that would benefit the United States and Ukraine. Ukraine had battlefield momentum as of December 2022 and could conceivably fight until it succeeds in pushing the Russian military out of the country. Proponents of this view argue that the risks of Russian nuclear use or a war with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will remain manageable.[1] Once it is forced out of Ukraine, a chastened Russia would have little choice but to leave its neighbor in peace—and even pay reparations for the damage it caused. However, studies of past conflicts and a close look at the course of this one suggest that this optimistic scenario is improbable.

UK forces lead live-fire cyber war exercise

Alex Scroxton,

More than 750 cyber security specialists from around the world have participated in one of the largest-ever live-fire cyber war exercises, which saw them respond to a series of simulated cyber threats that mirror tactics deployed by Russia in its war on Ukraine, including attacks on critical networks, industrial control systems and unmanned robotic systems.

The Defence Cyber Marvel 2 (DCM2) war game exercise was led by British Army specialists, and brought together 750 experts from 11 countries, including Ghana, India, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Oman, Ukraine and the US. They were put through their paces at a joint in-person virtual event hosted in Estonian capital Tallinn, which is home to Nato’s Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDoE).

The UK contingent included 900 personnel drawn from the Army, the Royal Navy, and the RAF.

The seven-day competition, which concluded last week, saw participants judged on the effectiveness and speed of their response, and how quickly they were able to identify and adapt to new threats. The event also offered participants the opportunity to share learnings and best practice with their counterparts from other countries.

“The modern battlefield is evolving at an unprecedented pace; it is therefore vital that our personnel are trained to adapt quickly in this crucial domain and can recognise cyber threats with capability and speed,” said defence secretary Ben Wallace.

A year into Ukraine, looking back at 5 prewar predictions


On Feb. 15 2022, as the world watched to see if Russia would invade Ukraine, Mark Cancian of CSIS wrote an article looking at some of the lessons that could be learned from such a conflict. A year later, he has returned to see what assessments came true, and which surprised him.

Last February, as war became imminent, I wrote an article for Breaking Defense that asked five questions that had been bouncing around the defense community for years — and which the looming conflict in Ukraine would potentially answer.

Are tanks obsolete? Is cyber a game changer? Are helicopter operations viable? Are amphibious assaults still possible? Will artillery dominate the modern battlefield? At the war’s one-year point, some answers are emerging. While some of these answers came as expected, others are surprising, even uncomfortable. All have major implications on how future conflicts — as well as the ongoing war in Ukraine — will be conducted.

1. Are tanks still viable on the modern battlefield? Answer: Yes

The unexpected ‘winners’ of the war in Ukraine: The people, companies and countries that have benefited from the turmoil

Joshua Keating

The losses from a year of war in Ukraine have been almost incalculable. Tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians and soldiers have been killed, millions have been displaced, large portions of the country are under a brutal Russian occupation and the country’s infrastructure has been shattered. The war has contributed to a global food and energy crisis that has plunged many of the world’s most vulnerable people into a state of desperation. Hundreds of thousands of young Russian men have been sent off to fight in what some feel is a pointless and self-defeating war — and whatever they may feel, it’s a war from which many won’t return. The Kremlin’s rule has become far more brutal and autocratic, and hopes of peaceful coexistence between Russia and the West have been dashed for the foreseeable future.

On the global stage, Russia’s invasion has shattered long-standing geopolitical norms, diverted scarce financial resources from other pressing issues and renewed dormant fears of nuclear conflict. All told, the world is a more frightening and less stable place than it was a year ago.

But any event as globally disruptive as this war will have unexpected ripple effects and beneficiaries. The war in Ukraine is no exception. A number of companies, countries and individuals have profited financially or gained political advantage as a result of the war and its secondary effects — and are in a much stronger position than they were a year ago. That’s not to say they have cheered the events of the past year or pressed either side to continue fighting, only that they have reaped windfalls as a result of the Russian invasion and what has followed.

‘No Dumb Questions’: Is there a deadline to fix climate change?

Dave Levitan,  Angelo Leotta, and Tom Nagorski

In 2018, the world got a particularly sobering report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): On its current path, the planet would be locked into a rise of more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial temperatures — and it would happen in just 12 years. And that 1.5-degree target, set forth in the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement, has been highlighted as a level of warming beyond which the impacts of climate change grow catastrophic. It appeared that a crucial deadline was fast approaching.

But climate change doesn’t quite work that way — where a date on the calendar arrives and a line in the sand is crossed and only then does it all go to hell. Instead, each ton of greenhouse gases emitted is slowly but surely thickening the warm blanket surrounding the planet, sending temperatures steadily higher and incrementally increasing the risks of extreme heat waves, stronger storms, melting ice sheets and more. So when the question arises, “Is there a deadline to fix climate change,” perhaps the best answer is this: The “deadline” to slow and stop climate change is today, and then tomorrow, and then the day after that.

It’s certainly not a “dumb question.”

What has Putin’s war on Ukraine taught the world? Military might isn’t everything — the ‘will to fight’ matters too

Tom Nagorski

President Joe Biden says the war in Ukraine has shown the resolve of the U.S. and its European allies. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says it’s shown the resilience and courage of the Ukrainian people. And to Russian President Vladimir Putin, a chief lesson of the war is that Russia can withstand the economic punishment inflicted by the West.

There is truth in all three assessments. And here’s a fourth: When it comes to the war in Ukraine, don’t buy into the conventional wisdom.

The Yale historian Timothy Snyder put it bluntly in a lecture for his fall 2022 course, “The Making of Modern Ukraine”:

“In general, everyone was totally wrong about everything with respect to the war.”

Among the widely held assumptions of a year ago: Putin was like a chess master on the global stage, a savvy strategist with one of the world’s most powerful armies at his disposal; the U.S. was in no mood to engage in another global conflict six months after its disastrous exit from Afghanistan; and NATO was a fractured alliance that couldn’t be counted on to respond effectively to a Russian attack on a non-NATO state.

War in Ukraine: Twelve disruptions changing the world

Olivia White, Kevin Buehler, Sven Smit, Ezra Greenberg

On March 17, 2022, we wrote about the war’s extraordinary toll on lives and livelihoods. At that time, we set out the 12 short- and mid-term disruptions that had the most potential to reshape industries and economies. Those disruptions are gathering force. In this article, we offer 12 charts to illuminate the potential strength and direction of these shifts and their effects on lives and livelihoods. Some of these charts use the macroeconomic scenarios we laid out in our first article that provide guidance on the range of potential outcomes. We see two critical dimensions: the scale and duration of disruption, and the impact of government policy, consumer, and business responses. See sidebar “More on our scenarios.”

The invasion of Ukraine is causing a massive humanitarian crisis

The war has displaced the most refugees in Europe since World War II. To date, 5.6 million refugees have fled Ukraine, and another 7.7 million have left home and sought shelter elsewhere in the country.1 All told, the war has pushed nearly 30 percent of Ukrainians out of their homes. The war in Ukraine represents the second largest humanitarian crisis since the 1960s in terms of number of people who have fled or been displaced, and fifth in terms of fraction of the population this represents. And it could get worse: the UN estimates that 8.3 million Ukrainians could be refugees by the end of the year.

Why War Pledges for Ukraine Fell Flat in Munich


MUNICH, Germany—One after another, leaders from the United States, NATO, and nearly every European country west of the Dnipro River stood up at the Munich Security Conference and declared that they would not abandon Ukraine. The West, they vowed, would arm, equip, and fund Kyiv’s fight against Russian invaders until the war is won.

“As President Biden often says: The United States will support Ukraine for as long as it takes. We will not waver,” said Vice President Kamala Harris, in her televised keynote speech on Sunday. Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, at an invitation-only sideline luncheon immediately afterward, said Putin should know that “this help [for Ukraine] isn’t ending. It doesn’t end. As long as it takes.”

So why did nobody believe them?

After all, Harris gave Ukraine the full-throated support of the United States and the packed-to-the-rafters audience cheered. On Monday, President Joe Biden delivered more of the same—for “as long as it takes”—during a celebrated visit to Kyiv, and again to a massive crowd on Tuesday in Warsaw.

One Year In: What Are The Lessons from Ukraine For The Future Of War?


Wars are not just contests of weapons and will; they are also laboratories of a sort. Their battles provide lessons that will shape not just what happens next in that particular conflict, but also in all other conflicts to follow.

The most momentous of these insights can create inflection points in history. They become turning points in the story of war, influencing how, when, and even where to fight from that time forward.

Like so many other major wars, the last year of fighting in Ukraine has shown this effect. Every other military in the world is studying it to inform their own approach to future conflicts. Thus, we’ve seen signs of not just what will happen next in battles there, but also in future wars elsewhere.

Opening the pages of history

The most obvious type of inflection point in the story of war is when a new weapon is introduced that fundamentally changes or even ends the fighting, such as the atomic bomb’s debut in World War II. Yet more commonly, a new technology points the way to the future of war, but with an initial impact that is not all that powerful. This is usually because new technology is nascent, needing more time and experience to make it more capable and learn how to use it. But once it has been introduced, there is no going back. Future wars will surely see more and more of that technology in more and more powerful ways.

Russia policy after the war: A new strategy of containment

Alexander Vershbow

As Vladimir Putin’s world-altering war against Ukraine enters its second year, any hope of reviving the post-Cold War European security order depends on defeating Russia in Ukraine. But that will only be the first step in what will be a long struggle—one that calls for an updated strategy of containment.

We, the transatlantic community together with other like-minded democracies, face a long-term strategic confrontation with Russia—a hostile adversarial relationship that will have few guardrails, and where even the modest ambition of peaceful coexistence may be out of reach for a long time to come.

The nature of the Putin regime, its disregard for international law, its brutal suppression of all dissent, its whitewashing of Russian history, plus Putin’s obsession with subjugating his neighbors and reconstituting the Russian empire—all these factors make peaceful coexistence difficult, if not impossible, to conceive in the near and medium term.

Even if developments on the battlefield force Russia to end the war on terms relatively favorable to Kyiv, Putin will not readily abandon his broader revisionist aims. For Putin’s Russia, Ukraine is Ground Zero in its existential war against the West. A winding down of the military conflict is not likely to lead to a reduction in Russia’s efforts to control Ukraine by other means or to dominate its other neighbors, including the Baltic states and other NATO and European Union (EU) members.

NATO and the Invasion, One Year On

Sean Monaghan and Gabriella Bolstad

Next year will mark 75 years since NATO was founded in 1949. The Atlantic alliance has faced many challenges over seven decades, but Russia’s war of conquest in Ukraine might be its biggest test yet.

One year on from Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, NATO has played two important roles: enabling Ukraine to defend itself and containing the conflict through strengthening its own deterrence. The war in Ukraine is tragic enough; a wider conflict with Russia would be truly catastrophic.

NATO’s two roles are also interdependent. The emerging specter of equipment or munitions shortages among allies suggests NATO may need to choose in future between strengthening Ukraine’s deterrence or its own.

Stronger deterrence also supports Ukraine by enabling allies to transfer arms to Ukraine without fear of reprisal. Yet one year on from the invasion and eight months after its summit in Madrid, progress in implementing the commitments to strengthen NATO’s defense and deterrence has been mixed.

Bearing the Brunt :The Impact of the Sanctions on Russia’s Economy and Lessons for the Use of Sanctions on China

Gerard DiPippo and Andrea Leonard Palazzi

A new report by the CSIS Economics Program assesses the effects and effectiveness of the international sanctions and export controls aimed at Russia since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. It is the first of three reports exploring the feasibility and implications of the United States using economic measures to deter China in a crisis over Taiwan. Subsequent reports will analyze the economic interdependencies and vulnerabilities of the Chinese and U.S. economies and evaluate how economic measures might be deployed during various Taiwan contingencies.

This report finds that while the economic measures are harming the Russian economy, they have done less damage than many predicted—in part because of Russia’s continued energy exports—and are unlikely to deliver a knockout blow. Western policymakers’ goals have evolved from deterring Russia, to trying to destabilize its financial sector, to degrading its ability to sustain its war effort. The report finds that enacting comparable sanctions and export controls on China would be far more difficult and disruptive to the global economy. The report concludes by offering 10 major lessons with implications for potential sanctions or export controls against China in a potential crisis over Taiwan.

What are ‘robot rights,’ and should AI chatbots have them?

Benjamin Powers

AI chatbots are all the rage. From ChatGPT to Bing’s new AI-powered search engine and Google’s new Bard chatbot, people are obsessed with seeing how they can replace tasks with AI and test its limits.

Much of researchers’ and journalists’ concerns about the new AI wave have focused on bots’ potential to generate bad answers and misinformation — and its potential to displace human workers. But David Gunkel, a professor of communication studies at Northern Illinois University, is wrestling with a different question: What rights should robots, including AI chatbots, have?

The question has taken on new urgency since the New York Times published an interview with Bing’s AI, Sydney, in which the AI said it loved the reporter, and the Washington Post interviewed Sydney without mentioning that the reporter was a reporter.

Grid spoke with Gunkel, the author of “The Machine Question: Critical Perspectives on AI, Robots and Ethics,” about what he means when he talks about AI rights, what the recent surge in attention means for the future and where this will all end.

Early thoughts on regulating generative AI like ChatGPT

Alex Engler

With OpenAI’s ChatGPT now a constant presence both on social media and in the news, generative artificial intelligence (AI) models have taken hold of the public’s imagination. Policymakers have taken note too, with statements from Members addressing risks and AI-generated text read on the floor of the House of Representatives. While they are still emerging technologies, generative AI models have been around long enough to consider what we know now, and what regulatory interventions might best tackle both legitimate commercial use and malicious use.


ChatGPT is just one of a new generation of generative models—its fame is a result of how accessible it is to the public, not necessarily its extraordinary function. Other examples include text generation models like DeepMind’s Sparrow and the collaborative open-science model Bloom; image generation models such as StabilityAI’s Stable Diffusion and OpenAI’s DALL-E 2; as well as audio-generating models like Microsoft’s VALL-E and Google’s MusicLM.

While any algorithm can generate output, generative AI systems are typically thought of as those which focus on aesthetically pleasing imagery, compelling text, or coherent audio outputs. These are different goals than more traditional AI systems, which often try to estimate a specific number or choose between a set of options. More traditional AI systems might identify which advertisement would lead to the highest chance that an individual will click on it. Generative AI is different—it is instead doing its best to match aesthetic patterns in its underlying data to create convincing content.


Tyson Meadors

In the spring of 2019, then-Navy Secretary Richard Spencer publicly released the “Navy Cybersecurity Readiness Review.”1 Conducted in the tradition of earlier reviews commissioned by Navy Secretaries such as the Chambers Board and the General Board Studies of 1929-1933, this report, led by the now-Under Secretary for Intelligence Ronald Moultrie, concluded that the Navy’s cybersecurity shortfalls were “an existential threat.”

Following its release, Secretary Spencer summarized the review’s findings during Congressional testimony: “…[O]ne of our battles is going to be just getting off the pier because [of] cyber…” After over two years in the position, the civilian leader of the Navy and Marine Corps had become convinced that the cyber-related reforms and force structure changes outlined in the Review were required to remain a viable naval power.

Due to his untimely dismissal in November of that same year, however, Secretary Spencer was never afforded the opportunity to see his proposed cyber reforms through. In his wake, the “existential” cyber matters described in the report have been largely left unaddressed. Three years later, Congress started to demand significant reforms to Navy cyber force structure in the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). These NDAA mandates suggest that Congressional defense committee leadership has concurred with Spencer’s conclusions—so much so, in fact, that they are willing to force the matter on Navy leadership.

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.

Improved cyber, info-warfare integration sought by Navy

DefenseScoop reports that the U.S. Navy has been working to integrate cybersecurity and other information warfare capabilities with its fleet non-kinetic effects teams at sea. 

"We are looking at investing in more capacity for [electronic warfare], for cyber, for [information operations], with an anticipation of some of the capabilities like directed energy that we talked about, and what we might also need to do not just on the net, but at the net and the unique access we bring from the maritime [domain]. I think we're progressing in that area. We've got a study ongoing this year looking at that capability and the integration," said Naval Information Forces Commander Vice Adm. Kelly Aeschbach. 

Authority limitations have hindered cybersecurity operations at the Navy but relaxing measures have since enabled the use of cyber-enabled radio-frequency operations, Aeschbach said. 

Maritime Coalitions and Deterrence: Beware the Melian Choice

Michael S. Malley and James J. Wirtz

Existing US deterrence strategy unrealistically assumes that allies and partners will do three things they have not done in the past and show few signs of being willing to do today. Much US thinking about deterrence is shaped by deterring a land war in Central Europe, but the incentives and opportunities faced by members of a maritime coalition are different.