21 March 2023

Indonesia Close to Closing Deal for BrahMos Weapons System: Report

Sebastian Strangio

On Wednesday, Reuters reported that the India-based defense company BrahMos Aerospace is on the verge of closing a deal to sell Indonesia supersonic cruise missiles worth at least $200 million.

The report was based on an interview with Atul D. Rane, the CEO of BrahMos Aerospace, who said that the firm was “in advanced discussions with Jakarta on a deal worth $200 million to $350 million,” as per Reuters’ paraphrase. The deal will reportedly involve both the anti-ship variant of the BrahMos weapons system and a version that can be mounted on warships.

“I have a team right now in Jakarta,” Rane told the news agency, adding that he expects to close the deal within the year. He added, “The defense forces of Indonesia are extremely interested.”

BrahMos Aerospace, a joint venture between India and Russia that was set up in India in 1998, has been negotiating with Indonesia for a possible purchase for some time. Last July, Indian media reports claimed that the two parties were in the final stages of talks for the possible order of the shore-based variant.

Myanmar, Bangladesh Readying Repatriation of More Than 1,000 Rohingya

Sebastian Strangio

A delegation from military-ruled Myanmar has begun touring the refugee camps of southeastern Bangladesh to verify hundreds of potential candidates for a controversial pilot repatriation project. The delegation arrived yesterday in Teknaf, on the border with Myanmar, and will spend the week interviewing Rohingya refugees who have been shortlisted for the program.

According to a report by Reuters, which cited a Bangladeshi official responsible for administering the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, a total of 1,140 Rohingya are to be repatriated through the pilot project, of which 711 have had their cases cleared. The remaining 429 on the list were still being processed and their identities and places of origin verified.

Nearly 1 million Rohingya civilians are currently stranded in a series of large refugee camps around the town of Cox’s Bazar. Most fled to Bangladesh in August 2017, when the Myanmar armed forces launched a fierce “clearance operation” that saw civilians shot and dozens of villages razed to the ground – a series of attacks that U.N. officials said displayed “genocidal intent.”

Given the heavy financial burden that this crisis has imposed on the Bangladeshi government, Dhaka is understandably desperate to begin the repatriation of the Rohingya refugees. So far, it has resorted to relocating several thousand Rohingya refugees to the isolated and windswept island of Bhasan Char in the Bay of Bengal and pushed hard for the repatriation of Rohingya to Myanmar. Last August, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that the Rohingya “are nationals of Myanmar and they have to be taken back.”

South Korea-Japan rapprochement creates new opportunities in the Indo-Pacific

Andrew Yeo

In a sign of further diplomatic thawing, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol traveled to Tokyo this week to meet his Japanese counterpart, Prime Minster Fumio Kishida. It was the first official visit of a South Korean president to Tokyo in 12 years due to tensions in South Korea-Japan relations. Yoon’s visit comes just over 10 days after the two leaders struck a deal to resolve a dispute over South Korea’s 2018 court ruling against Japanese companies’ use of forced Korean labor during World War II.

The Yoon-Kishida summit gives Seoul and Tokyo a diplomatic boost and provides further political momentum to establish a “future-oriented” bilateral relationship. The meeting also bodes well for strengthened U.S.-Japan-South Korea trilateral relations. It therefore carries positive implications for the Biden administration’s Indo-Pacific Strategy. However, the Yoon government faces strong domestic political headwinds. Nearly 60% of South Koreans oppose Yoon’s handling of the forced labor issue with Japan.


Yesterday’s summit should be viewed as a significant step in an effort to restore bilateral South Korea-Japan relations that began following Yoon’s inauguration in May 2022. The two leaders had met four times prior to yesterday’s meeting in Tokyo. Improved bilateral relations have also helped facilitate U.S.-Japan-South Korea trilateral relations and vice versa with the three countries holding around 40 trilateral meetings over the last year.

The New Cold War that Threatens to Turn Hot

Willy Wo-Lap Lam

Executive Summary

The increasingly ferocious competition between the United States and its allies on the one hand, and China and the “axis of autocratic states” on the other, has taken on unmistakable signs of a “new Cold War.” The leadership of President Xi Jinping, who is a hawkish nationalist convinced of the fact that “the East is rising and the West is declining,” is committed to challenging American dominance in fields ranging from economics and technology to geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific Area. President Joe Biden has crafted a so-called “anti-China containment policy” together with NATO in Europe as well Japan, South Korea and Australia in Asia. The Chinese response has been to continue supporting their long-time quasi-ally Russia and to build up a coalition consisting of non-democratic states in Central Asia together with Pakistan, Iran and North Korea so as to prevent the “eastern expansion” of NATO. Reports in the American media that several state-owned enterprises in China are helping Moscow with parts and components of military hardware has further inflamed the East-West contention over Ukraine. And given that flashpoints such as Beijing’s possible military action against Taiwan and the commitment of the U.S. and its allies to protect the “renegade island,” there is even a possibility of the “Cold War” turning hot.

After the “spy balloon” incident and evidence that several Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) have supplied military components to the Vladimir Putin regime, relations between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the United States and its allies seem destined to go towards an irreversible downward spiral. The answer to the question of whether we are witnessing a Cold War or “new Cold War” analogous to the bitter struggle between the U.S. and the Soviet Union from World War II until 1991 has become more obvious. Developments in the foreseeable future seem to indicate that a new Cold War, although one that is substantially different in nature from the U.S.-USSR face-off, is in the offing.

What the Iran-Saudi Agreement Reveals About China’s Approach to Conflict Management

Guy Burton

In the past week, China’s role in brokering an agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia to re-establish diplomatic relations has generated a considerable amount of commentary. It has also prompted discussion as to whether this heralds a new departure in Chinese foreign policy and its arrival as a major peacemaker in the Middle East.

Such claims are overstated. If anything, the agreement highlights the extent to which Chinese participation required a process to already be in place. That is not to diminish China’s involvement, however. As well as revealing some of the features of Chinese “quasi-mediation,” this episode also suggests how Beijing might engage with other regional conflicts.

In general, China’s aim has always been to maintain balance in its relations in the Middle East and the Gulf region and cultivate good economic and political relationships with all countries in the region. Yet underneath this overall position, the reality facing China is somewhat different. For one, China’s economic relations with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arab states are arguably more diversified and deeper than those with Iran, while Iran is more dependent on China for economic trade and political support than Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, China’s aim for balance is undermined by the regional tensions and rivalries that operate regardless of Beijing’s wishes.

Indeed, the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran threatens the wider Gulf region. That has implications for China and any expansion or deepening of economic ties by its state and private firms and nationals based there. Perhaps with that in mind, in 2021 then-Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi put forward a Five-Point Plan regarding regional security. While it reflected many of the statements made by Chinese officials, by having broad and general principles, it was also notable for making specific references to tensions in the Gulf and the need to resolve them via confidence building measures.

In U.S.-Led Iraq War, Iran Was the Big Winner

Vivian Yee and Alissa J. Rubin

If visitors to Baghdad knew nothing of Iraqi politics, they could be forgiven for thinking that the trim-bearded, green-uniformed man whose larger-than-life photo is everywhere in the Iraqi capital was Iraq’s president.

Along the boulevard that tracks the Tigris River and inside the Green Zone, the seat of Iraq’s government, the likeness of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani towers above roundabouts and stands astride medians. The last person to be so glorified was Saddam Hussein, the dictator deposed and killed in the American-led invasion of Iraq that began almost exactly 20 years ago.

But Mr. Suleimani was Iranian, not Iraqi.

The commander of the Quds Force, the external arm of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards Corps, he achieved near-mythic status in Iraq as an influential force who helped bind Iraq and Iran after the invasion. It was thanks in large part to Mr. Suleimani, whom the United States assassinated in Iraq in 2020, that Iran came to extend its influence into almost every aspect of Iraqi security and politics.

That, in turn, gave Iran outsize influence over the region and beyond. Tehran’s rise exposed the unintended consequences of Washington’s strategy in Iraq, analysts and former U.S. officials say, and damaged the United States’ relationship with its regional allies.

China and Russia Denounce U.S., Allies Over Submarine Deal

James T. Areddy

Moscow joined Beijing in criticizing as provocative and destabilizing a plan set this week to speed the sale of U.S. nuclear-powered submarines and technology to Australia, with both U.S. rivals expressing concern that the arrangement risks further proliferation of weapons.

President Biden hosted Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday in San Diego as they moved ahead with the submarine plans within their existing alliance and a grouping known as Aukus.

As part of Mr. Biden’s focus on strengthening alliance ties in the Indo-Pacific, the U.S. will sell as many as five U.S. Virginia-class submarines to Australia to provide it with nuclear-powered subs in the 2030s. Mr. Biden said the submarines won’t carry nuclear weapons.

Submarine production would later shift to Britain and Australia, which would incorporate American technology into a new design. Those subs are projected to enter the Australian fleet in the 2040s.

China has been highly vocal in its opposition to Aukus since the security arrangement was announced in September 2021.

AUKUS: Flawed by Design?

Zack Cooper

The new AUKUS announcement is the latest in a string of Biden administration initiatives on the Indo-Pacific. Recent progress with Japan, the Philippines, and several Pacific Islands has been impressive. But even for someone who has long supported Australia acquiring nuclear-powered submarines and the United States forward deploying Virginia-class boats to Perth, this plan has several concerning features.

The new AUKUS plan reportedly has three phases. In the first phase, American and British attack submarines will forward deploy to Australia on a rotational basis. Australia will also invest in port facilities for nuclear-powered submarines and co-crew some allied boats so that Australian sailors can learn how to operate nuclear-powered submarines.

In the second phase, the United States will sell three to five used Virginia-class submarines to Australia. New submarines were not an option in part because Australia did not want Virginia Payload Modules. Australia will also make an investment into the US shipbuilding industry as part of this deal.

The third phase will be a mainly United Kingdom-Australia project to construct a new AUKUS-class submarine. The new class will be modeled on the British Astute-class submarine with some US elements incorporated. The boats would be built in both the United Kingdom and Australia.

But is it sensible for Australia to operate two different types of nuclear-powered submarines? This will dramatically increase the endeavor’s cost and complexity. Since Australia is only likely to operate a handful of submarines—probably less than a dozen—acquiring two different submarine types will notably increase expenses.

The US, UK and Australia Send China a Message

James Stavridis

As a US Navy admiral in command of America’s fleet of nuclear submarines, I often found myself in Point Loma, California, at the entrance to San Diego harbor. It is the home base of the Navy’s attack submarine force, whose importance is hard to overstate.

These warships are the apex predators of the high seas. They overmatch their Chinese and Russian counterparts in stealth, range and offensive firepower. When powered by nuclear reactors and freed of the necessity of ever surfacing for oxygen, Virginia-class subs are deadly killers that threaten any surface ship on the planet.

Point Loma is also the site of today’s historic summit of the leaders of the US, Australia and the UK, where they announced a ground-breaking defense accord. What are the key elements of this agreement — and how will all this be received in Beijing?

The US will sell Australia up to five of these vaunted Virginia-class submarines, and will share technology that enables Australia to build their own boats with the help of the British. US, UK, and eventually Australian nuclear attack submarines will also be based in Australia, notably out of Perth on the western coast of the vast Australian continent — far from Washington and London but closer to China. Over the next several decades, the three allies will become fully aligned on nuclear submarine technology, bringing additional capability far closer to Beijing.

Vultures at the gate: The national security risk of Silicon Valley Bank’s failure


In 2008, as the U.S. financial sector melted down, Beijing saw opportunity. “The financial crisis was a rare opportunity for Chinese enterprises lacking resources and advanced technology to go abroad and acquire foreign companies at low cost,” wrote Chinese researchers at Beihua University in a government-funded report, published in 2010. In a more acute example, in 2012, when emergent U.S. electric vehicle battery company A123 went bankrupt, China’s Wanxiang swept in to pick up the pieces — at a bargain.

The point: China loves a fire sale.

And in today’s post-Silicon Valley Bank bailout environment, there’s nothing to prevent China from gaining closer proximity to the sale rack — and access to critical and foundational emerging technology.

Right now, the U.S. and international tech ecosystem risks standing on the precipice of another crisis-turned-China opportunity. You may have heard that Silicon Valley Bank, and its customers, have had a tough week. SVB, known as the start-up bank, surprised investors with the news that it would need to raise $2.25 billion to shore up its balance sheet. Mass hysteria ensued, ricocheting across international hubs of innovation from San Francisco to Boston to London.

A day later, customers had withdrawn $42 billion in deposits and the bank’s stock had plummeted by some 60 percent. By last Friday, Silicon Valley Bank officially had failed and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) had been appointed receiver. Then the Treasury and Federal Reserve stepped in, guaranteeing uninsured deposits, a de facto bailout of the banking system.

America’s foreign policy has lost all flexibility

Fareed Zakaria

On his trip to Saudi Arabia last year, President Biden made an emphatic declaration about U.S. policy in the Middle East: “We will not walk away and leave a vacuum to be filled by China, Russia, or Iran.” Last week’s rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, brokered by China, suggests that this is precisely what has happened. The reestablishment of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia is not in itself a seismic event; they broke off relations only seven years ago. But last week’s revelation exposes a deep-seated flaw in American foreign policy, one that has gotten worse in recent years.

In 1995, the journalist and scholar Josef Joffe wrote an essay that described two paths for American grand strategy after the Cold War. He called them “Britain” or “Bismarck.” The first was to emulate Britain in its traditional approach toward geopolitics, by building alliances against any rising powers that seem hegemonic but to otherwise stay uninvolved. Joffe argued that this “balance of power” strategy would be impossible for America as a preeminent power and linchpin of the international order. Instead, he advocated a strategy as the broker, drawing on Bismarck, the great Prussian statesman who unified Germany and made it Europe’s leading great power in the late 19th century.

Bismarck famously depicted the ideal situation for Germany as “not that of the acquisition of territory, but of an overall political situation in which all the powers except France need us and are held apart from coalitions against us by their relations to each other.” The associated doctrine is called the Kissinger Diktat, named not for Henry Kissinger, but for the spa town of Bad Kissingen where Bismarck codified it. In a remarkable case of historical resonance, however, Henry Kissinger’s greatest diplomatic triumph a century later was animated by the same idea. In making the opening to China while simultaneously pursuing detente with the Soviet Union, Kissinger ensured that Washington ended up with better relations with Beijing and Moscow than they had with each other.

The Lessons Not Learned From Iraq

Michael Hirsh

“War is a stern teacher,” Thucydides wrote nearly 2,500 years ago. Since then, great nations have often sought to learn lessons from the wars they waged, especially bad or stupid wars. But the same can’t really be said of the United States, which invaded Iraq 20 years ago as of Sunday. (March 19, 2003, marked the start of the “shock and awe” air war.)

Considering its long-term effects, the Iraq invasion amounted to one of the most consequential strategic misdirections in U.S. history. Yet there has been very little discussion about why that is—and why what happened two decades ago is not a history lesson at all but rather part of an ongoing class in current events.

The hubris and excess of the Iraq invasion—a later iteration of the “reckless audacity” that Thucydides, the Greek historian, ascribed to the warmongering Greeks in the Peloponnesian War—are still with us today, shaping our times. The aftereffects of Iraq dramatically reduced the position of the United States in the Middle East, most recently opening the way to China’s brokering of Iran-Saudi Arabia rapprochement. The unnecessary diversion into Iraq—and the drain on U.S. resources and attention that resulted from it—set the stage for Washington’s 20-year failure in Afghanistan, which left U.S. President Joe Biden humiliated when he precipitously withdrew all U.S. troops, declaring in August 2021 that he was putting an end to U.S. efforts “to remake other countries.”

U.S. Seeks to Head Off Any Chinese Call for Cease-Fire in Ukraine

Charles Hutzler

WASHINGTON—The U.S. is trying to head off a potential proposal from Beijing for a cease-fire in Ukraine ahead of a Russia-China summit, saying suspending fighting now would help solidify Russia’s hold on Ukrainian territory.

With Chinese leader Xi Jinping due to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow next week, the White House expressed concern Friday about China’s deepening ties with Russia during the Ukraine war. That makes a potential call for a cease-fire a one-sided proposal to Russia’s benefit, said John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council.

“A cease-fire now is again effectively the ratification of Russian conquest,” Mr. Kirby said at a news briefing. Such a move, he said, would recognize Russia’s territorial gains and occupation of Ukrainian territory while giving Moscow a chance to entrench its positions and refresh its troops as Ukraine prepares for an anticipated spring offensive.

The pre-emptive criticism of a possible cease-fire proposal is a broadening of a Biden administration effort to use public statements and disclosures to try to narrow Beijing’s room for maneuver with Moscow, including by projecting itself as a mediator, according to former officials and foreign-affairs analysts.

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Overcoming Japan’s Uphill Battle Toward Digital Transformation

Daisuke Kawai

Foreign notions of Japan tend to project images of a high-tech culture, and in certain industries like robotics in the major population centers this is largely true. Japan, however, has been lagging behind advanced nations in adopting newer forms of technology and streamlining government services.

Underinvestment in information and communications technology (ICT), exemplified by 80% of ICT spending going toward maintaining legacy systems, and a lack of user training persist into the 2020s.[1] As a result, over 1,900 intergovernmental procedures still require the use of outdated storage devices, including CDs, mini-disks, and even floppy disks.[2] A high-profile case in point occurred in 2022 in Yamaguchi Prefecture when a city clerk sent a floppy disk containing citizens’ data to a bank to initiate Covid relief payments. The bank then misformatted the online transfer order resulting in one resident receiving a lump sum of 46.3 million yen (approximately $350,000)—the total payment meant for 463 residents.[3] The recipient quickly absconded with his unexpected windfall, causing a legal headache for the local authority.

In short, the government of Japan has long faced significant socio-technical hurdles in rolling out digital-based services. This commentary argues, however, that new initiatives introduced in the wake of the pandemic should help address these challenges.
Causes of Japan’s Delayed Digital Transformation

Numerous factors have slowed the pace of Japan’s digital transformation. Societal resistance to embrace rapid change, the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, delays in and lack of human resources to implement digitalization at the national and local government levels, administrative inefficiencies caused by insufficient system coordination, and the deterioration of services for residents, including cumbersome procedures and delays in distributing benefits, have all contributed to the lack of progress in the digitalization of government services.

A two-front test of wills: Defeating Russia and deterring China


Last October, a group of 30 congressional Democrats wrote to President Biden quoting his commitment to avoid direct military conflict with Russia and “World War III, something we must strive to prevent.”

They noted Biden’s call for an end to the fighting: “There’s going to have to be a negotiated settlement here [but] Vladimir Putin doesn’t have a way out right now, and I’m trying to figure out what we do about that,” he said.

They urged the president to push for immediate negotiations, saying, “It is America’s responsibility to pursue every diplomatic avenue to support such a solution that is acceptable to the people of Ukraine.”

Though some administration statements also seemed to be pressing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to scale back his intentions to expel Russian forces from all occupied Ukrainian territory, the letter was widely seen as undermining Ukraine’s position and caused a strong backlash in the Congress and the White House. It was retracted days later.

On the Republican side, a smaller number of House members also began to waver regarding support for Ukraine, voicing concerns about the escalating financial costs of the conflict and seeking greater accountability for U.S. funding.

Despite these outliers, overwhelming majorities of both parties in the House and Senate strongly support the U.S. weapons flow to Ukraine and, if anything, criticize it as being too slow and limited.

Artillery Shortage Hampers Russia’s Offensive in East Ukraine, Western Officials Say

Matthew Luxmoore

Shortages of artillery shells are hampering Russia’s grinding advance in eastern Ukraine, Western officials said on Tuesday, as Moscow pushes to capture the city of Bakhmut after months of heavy fighting and Kyiv gears up for a counteroffensive.

Russian ammunition shortages have in recent weeks worsened to the extent that extreme rationing of artillery shells is likely in force on many parts of the front, the U.K.’s Defense Ministry said on Tuesday in its daily intelligence briefing. Other European defense officials agreed with the assessment, with one stressing that Russia was working with partners including North Korea to buy ammunition quickly while it scaled up production.

The U.K. said that artillery rationing on the front lines was a major reason for Russia’s recent failures to make military gains in Ukraine, adding that Moscow was likely resorting to use of old munitions stock that had previously been categorized as unfit for deployment in the war.

On Tuesday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu instructed Russian arms producers to double their production of precision-guided weapons during a visit to Tactical Missiles Corporation JSC in Korolyov, a city outside Moscow, Russian state media reported.

How to Prepare for Peace Talks in Ukraine

Thomas R. Pickering

Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine continues unabated. Seesawing military actions alternate with on-again, off-again interest in peace negotiations. But no clear end is in sight. Neither side has a realistic expectation of military victory or unconditional surrender.

All parties to the conflict have made clear that they believe it is too soon for diplomacy. But at some point, the time will come for negotiations, and it is essential that the United States plans carefully for that day. Failure to do so will condemn Washington to a hurried and poorly thought-through approach to ending the war—a mistake the United States has made in every serious conflict it has become embroiled in since 1945. No war ends without political consequences. Either the United States engages to shape those consequences to serve its interests, or others will shape the consequences in its stead.

Ending a war occurs in three phases: prior preparations, pre-negotiations, and the negotiations themselves. The first phase involves resolving internal differences of opinion and opening communications among the parties: each party irons out its own disagreements and reviews the other parties’ positions and attitudes to determine priorities and strategy. The second involves laying the groundwork for official negotiations, including by determining where and when they will take place and with whom participating. And the third involves the direct talks that most people associate with diplomacy.

Each phase of peacemaking involves choices. No process is a template for others. Decisions lead to forks in the road, which open some possibilities and close off others. Political circumstances, leverage, and changing military realties all influence preparations. Like battle plans, peace plans may not survive first contact with the enemy, but the groundwork laid in advance of negotiations will still inform decision-making and improve the odds of a favorable outcome.

Much of the Global South is on Ukraine’s side

Nicolas Véron

Efforts by the United States, Europe, Japan, South Korea and other developed economies to rally the world against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine have met with only partial success. Many countries have declined to go along with the imposition of sanctions on Russia and some recent commentary has implied that the ‘Global South’ has adopted a neutral position in the conflict (see for example here, here and here). That is indeed the case for China and India, the Global South’s two economic and demographic heavyweights. But votes at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), which in late February adopted a resolution demanding an end to the war and an immediate Russian withdrawal, indicate that the rest of the Global South actually leans towards supporting Ukraine.

For simplicity, the ‘Global South’ is here defined based on gross domestic product per capita, using GDP at market exchange rates estimated by the World Bank (see note to Figure 1). All countries with 2021 GDP per capita above $15,000 are considered part of the ‘Global North’, with the addition of EU members Bulgaria and Romania (GDP per capita $12,221 and $14,858 respectively). Under that definition, both Russia and Ukraine are in the Global South, as are China and India. Conversely, some geographically southern countries including Chile and Uruguay are classified as part of the Global North under this GDP per-capita criterion. Thus defined, the Global South represents 85% of the world’s population, and nearly 39% of global GDP.

Each country’s position on the Russo-Ukrainian war is determined on the basis of its UNGA vote on 23 February 2023, the outcome of which was broadly similar to those of UNGA votes on Ukraine in 2022. While specific motivations may vary, it is natural to classify votes in favour of the resolution, which demanded that Russia “immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine,” as favouring Ukraine, and those against it as favouring Russia. The other two options – abstentions and no-shows – are bundled together as signalling neutrality.

The Impact of AIIB on the World Bank

Zichen Wang

In late January, International Organization (IO), a leading peer-reviewed journal that covers the entire field of international affairs, published The Impact of China's AIIB on the World Bank where three authors estimate an average reduction of 22 percent in the annual number of new World Bank infrastructure projects in developing Founding Members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

The World Bank, under the stewardship of the United States, stands out as the global leader among international development organizations. Does China's establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) undermine this status? Examining this question, we focus on the borrowing practices of a special set of countries: the founding members of the AIIB. These founders openly defied the public preference of the United States, arguably to create a potential rival to the World Bank. Using a new causal inference method, Pang, Liu, and Xu's Dynamic Multilevel Latent Factor Model—as well as several well-known estimation models as robustness checks—we document at least a temporary decrease in the number of World Bank infrastructure projects that the developing AIIB founders have entered into. This study presents the first systematic evidence that China's AIIB could unsettle the political influence the United States has enjoyed over developing countries through its leadership of the World Bank. An important set of countries may be parting ways with the World Bank and looking to a Chinese institution for leadership in the world of development.

The authors are Jing Qian, PhD Candidate, Department of Politics, Princeton University; James Vreeland, Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Department of Politics and School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University; and Jianzhi Zhao, Associate Professor, School of International Relations and Public Affairs, Fudan University, Shanghai, China.

Microsoft-backed OpenAI starts release of powerful AI known as GPT-4

Jeffrey Dastin

March 14 (Reuters) - The startup OpenAI on Tuesday said it is beginning to release a powerful artificial intelligence model known as GPT-4, setting the stage for human-like technology to proliferate and more competition between its backer Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) and Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O) Google.

OpenAI, which created the chatbot sensation ChatGPT, said in a blog post that its latest technology is "multimodal," meaning images as well as text prompts can spur it to generate content. The text-input feature will be available to ChatGPT Plus subscribers and to software developers, with a waitlist, while the image-input ability remains a preview of its research.

The highly-anticipated launch signals how office workers may turn to ever-improving AI for still more tasks, as well as how technology companies are locked in competition to win business from such advances.

Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O) Google on Tuesday announced a "magic wand" for its collaboration software that can draft virtually any document, days before Microsoft is expected to showcase AI for its competing Word processor, likely powered by OpenAI. A Microsoft executive also said that GPT-4 is helping power its Bing search engine.

OpenAI's latest technology in some cases represented a vast improvement on a prior version known as GPT-3.5, it said. In a simulation of the bar exam required of U.S. law school graduates before professional practice, the new model scored around the top 10% of test takers, versus the older model ranking around the bottom 10%, OpenAI said.

Strategic Amnesia: The U.S. Army’s Stubborn Rush to Its Next War

Kyle K. Rable

In the summer of 2019, I arrived at Fort Lee to start my Basic Officer Leadership Course for Quartermaster officers. At Fort Lee, I began to see the U.S. Army transition from the counterinsurgency wars to focus on the near-peer threat. Logistics officers were to move on from Forward Operating Base (FOB) procedures to learn how to conduct supply trains moving through the different fronts of a battlefield. The only problem with this was that we, a group of brand new officers, were told that we would no longer fight a counterinsurgency. This rush to move on seemed to ignore the basic understanding of learning from the past that the Army preaches.

In the headlong rush to move past Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army's preparation for near-peer conflict means failing to institutionalize the strategic lessons learned. For example, the latest update to Field Manual (FM) 3-0 mentions Ukraine 18 times while mentioning Iraq only eight times and not discussing Afghanistan at all. In the eight times Iraq is discussed in FM 3-0, none examine counterinsurgency or nation building operations. Most of the conversation in these sections is about the 2003 invasion or the support of Iraqi forces in their fight against the Islamic State (IS) in northern Iraq. By ignoring the last 20 years of fighting, the Army is failing to prepare appropriately for the more ambiguous battlefields of today. As seen by the Russian invasion of Ukraine (i.e., the failure of Russia to achieve its objectives and the way Ukraine is arming its population) unlimited and limited war definitions should be fluid. The Army has failed to fully develop a strategic understanding of counterinsurgency wars in its rush to fight the conventional war, instead focusing on tactical improvements.

Venture capital gives America a strategic edge in the age of technology wars


Since the Cold War, America’s technological leadership has provided the U.S. military a qualitative advantage over its adversaries. That edge is now threatened by China’s rapid development of technologies with both civilian and military applications.

U.S. early-stage hardware startups are seriously disadvantaged by a persistent lack of financing. Meanwhile, China has been pouring money into Chinese–as well as U.S. and European–tech startups.

Recognizing this problem, Congress authorized the U.S. Department of Defense to spend $75 million to invest in dual-use hardware startups. However, the Pentagon has proven reticent to embrace a venture capital-style approach, even though research has demonstrated it is optimal for driving innovation.

There is precedent for this type of approach within the United States. The U.S. intelligence community invests nearly $60 million in public funds each year through a venture capital fund called In-Q-Tel. Respected in VC circles, In-Q-Tel invests in startups working on A.I., virtual reality, biotech, data analysis, robotics, sensors, and more. Similarly, the U.K. invests more than $120 million annually and NATO plans to invest an additional $70 million per year in companies that build dual-use technologies.

What is ‘deep sensing’ and why is the US Army so focused on it?

Colin Demarest

WASHINGTON — The Army is seeking ways to identify, monitor, target and strike opponents from farther distances and with greater precision amid the U.S. military’s pivot to the Indo-Pacific.

To do so, the service is pursuing what officials, including Secretary Christine Wormuth and Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville, dub “deep sensing.”

Key to the effort is a “family” of in-development situational awareness tools, Wormuth said this week at the McAleese and Associates defense conference in Washington, D.C. They include the Terrestrial Layer Systems, or TLS, that can provide soldiers with cyber and electronic warfare assistance; the High Accuracy Detection and Exploitation System, or HADES, an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance jet outfitted with advanced sensors; and the Tactical Intelligence Targeting Access Node, or TITAN, meant to centralize and accelerate the collection, parsing and distribution of data.

“The first operational imperative for the Army of 2030 is really to be able to see and sense farther and more persistently, at every level across the battlefield, than our enemies,” Wormuth said. “So how are we going to do that? We’ve got to be able to collect and analyze unprecedented quantities of raw data from many different sources.”

Can war games really help us predict who will win a conflict?

Jacquelyn Schneider

We’ll send you a myFT Daily Digest email rounding up the latest Geopolitics news every morning.

The writer is director of the Hoover Institution’s war gaming and simulations initiative and a Hoover fellow at Stanford University

War games, once niche and highly secretive, are coming in from the cold. Two recent unclassified games run by US think-tanks found that a future conflict over Taiwan would lead to a bloody stalemate, predicting “a huge cost” for all countries involved. There have also been reports of classified Nato-Ukraine war games and declassified Air Force war games that find (unsurprisingly) that in order to defeat China, military personnel need new fighter jets and bombers.

These games have received a disproportionate amount of attention — but what do they really mean and why do they matter? While often called “simulations” or “exercises”, war games are distinct from computer imitations of combat, field exercises or organised brainstorming sessions. Instead, they are interactive events that display four characteristics: expert players, immersed in scenarios, bounded by rules and motivated by consequence-based outcomes.

War games go back millennia to ancient Rome, early Iraq, and China. They took on a central role in the modern conduct of war with the Prussian development of Kriegsspiel, a board game that simulated combat to train officers in the early 19th century. During the cold war, the US and Nato turned to war games to understand the impact of the nuclear revolution. Defence war gaming continued after the Berlin Wall fell, with games designed to test new ideas about “information age” warfare.

How a Problem-Solving Course Could Help Rebuild Trust in the US Military


As the Pentagon works to recover from its worst-ever recruiting year, it should broaden its efforts to increase Americans’ familiarity and trust with the U.S. military. One way it might do so is to bring its Hacking 4 Defense course to more universities and even high schools.

The Army has struggled the most, missing its goal by 15,000 recruits, but all the services are hindered by a general lack of trust in our government. Last year, only two in 10 Americans said they trust Washington to do what is right. Distrust is also bleeding into the military, according to a 2022 Reagan National Defense Survey. It suggested that perceptions of a politicized military led to a decrease in confidence in the institution.

Hacking 4 Defense—H4D for short—was founded in 2016 to make national security both attractive and real to a new generation through hands-on problem-solving. Launched at Stanford University and expanded to many other colleges, the course challenges teams of university students to find innovative and entrepreneurial ways to solve the Pentagon’s hardest problems. This engagement boosts familiarity, and, ultimately, trust among some of America’s best and brightest young people.

In our own work as H4D professors, we have watched our students join the military, start mission-oriented companies and non-profits, and pursue public-service careers in other federal, state, and local agencies. Wherever they wind up, they become part of a cadre of skilled innovators who bring uninhibited creativity and an acceptance of risk that is missing in traditional government culture.

The U.S. Joint Chiefs New Strategy Paper on Joint Concept for Competing

Anthony H. Cordesman

The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff have issued a major new paper on U.S. strategy entitled Joint Concept for Competing. It is an in-depth analysis of the changes needed in U.S. strategy that is some 70 pages in length, rather than a short and often vacuous analysis like the U.S. national strategy papers. It is also a major departure from the past U.S. focus on warfighting and reappraisal of both the need for a global approach to competition and of the threats posed by potentially hostile major powers like Russia and China, and smaller powers like Iran and North Korea.

Focusing on Long-Term Competition Rather Than Deterrence Alone

The new paper focuses on the most critical strategic challenges the United States faces. It creates an approach to national strategy that can limit and defeat outside threats while minimizing the risk of escalating to a level of combat that is potentially uncontrollable and does devastating damage to both sides, and that can meet the ongoing global challenges from states like China and the regional challenges from states like Iran.

The introduction by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Milley makes it clear that U.S. strategy cannot focus on winning in a warfighting sense. It quotes Henry Kissinger in stating that “the objective is to increase one's options and reduce those of the adversary. The goal is less victory than persistent strategic progress.”

Tanks are vital but Ukraine will need much more to defeat Putin’s Russia

Jeffrey Cimmino, Shelby Magid

For nearly a year, Ukrainian forces have shown their ability to heroically defend their land and their people against Russia’s invading army. However, despite some genuine triumphs on the battlefield, Ukrainian soldiers and civilians continue to die. Meanwhile, Russian forces are seeking to consolidate their gains and a major new Russian offensive may be looming in the near future.

In this context, after tense and drawn-out wrangling among Western allies and partners, Germany has finally agreed to send (and allow others to send) Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, while the United States will provide 31 M1 Abrams tanks. Ukrainians and their supporters have welcomed these long-awaited decisions. Leopard print is now all the rage in Ukraine.

Such decisions are worth celebrating as they were hard fought and will make a difference in saving Ukrainian lives. But while the landmark step of sending tanks demonstrates further Western resolve in support of Kyiv, Ukraine’s partners cannot afford to take a victory lap. Instead, they must remain firmly focused on the work ahead. Tanks are a vital element in Ukraine’s fight, but timing is everything and more is still needed to win the war. Ukraine’s allies and partners must continue to prepare for the long haul in order to defeat Russia.

Humans have lived on the Tibetan Plateau for 5,000 years

Dyani Lewis

Modern inhabitants of the Tibetan Plateau are descendants of people who have occupied the ‘roof of the world’ for the past five millennia. In the biggest study of its kind, researchers sequenced dozens of ancient genomes from the region, revealing where its ancient settlers came from and how they adapted to high-altitude living1.

The Tibetan Plateau extends from the northern edge of the Himalayas across 2.5 million square kilometres. It is a high-altitude, dry and cold region. Despite its inhospitable environment, humans have been present on the plateau since prehistoric times. Denisovans, extinct hominins that interbred with both Neanderthals and the ancestors of modern humans, lived on the northeastern edge of the plateau 160,000 years ago. Stone tools made 30,000–40,000 years ago are further signs of an early human presence in the region2.

But when people established a permanent presence on the plateau — and where they came from — has been a matter of debate, says Qiaomei Fu, an evolutionary geneticist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, who led the study.

Historical records date back only 2,500 years. Dating of sediments with human hand- and footprints in the central plateau indicated that people might have lived there permanently as long as 7,400 years ago3.

Nuclear Security During Armed Conflict: Lessons From Ukraine

Vitaly Fedchenko

The attacks on nuclear installations in Ukraine by the Russian military in 2022 were unprecedented. Nuclear security aims at prevention, detection and response to malicious or unauthorized acts by non-state actors, not the armed forces of a state. However, an international armed conflict creates new circumstances in which a national nuclear security regime must operate.

In March 2022 the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) highlighted ‘seven indispensable pillars of nuclear safety and security’ in extraordinary circumstances. There are three further areas in which the international nuclear security framework can be strengthened and prepared for extraordinary events, including armed conflict. First, there is a need to further clarify and plan the actions of competent authorities. Second, the IAEA may be able to assist member states in developing guidance for specific scenarios during extraordinary events. Third, there should be further integration of nuclear security with nuclear safety and emergency preparedness and response.