22 March 2023

Can India’s Lithium Reserves Secure Its Energy Independence?

Monika Chaudhary

In February 2023, India’s government announced that the Geological Survey of India found around 5.9 million tonnes of lithium reserves in the Salal-Haimana region of Jammu and Kashmir. Lithium is sometimes termed ‘white gold’ for its strategic importance as an essential metal in electrification. But India faces several challenges capitalising on its lithium deposits.

The discovery of lithium in Jammu and Kashmir expands India’s known lithium reserves. Lithium deposits have previously been found in Karnataka, Kerala and Rajasthan. Australia is the largest producer of lithium in the world with 50 per cent of global supplies, while Chile, Argentina and China account for 23 per cent, 14 per cent and 12 per cent of production respectively.

Lithium is used in portable electronics, electric vehicles, energy storage systems, medical devices and satellites. Lithium batteries can enable a shift to clean and renewable energy sources that would result in significant reductions of countries’ carbon footprints.

India could strategically benefit from its own lithium production in several ways. India could move towards energy independence, by reducing its need to import lithium and eliminating the associated risks of supply chain disruption. Domestic lithium extraction could enable India to develop advanced technologies of the future like electric vehicles and renewable energy storage systems.

Will Asia Pick Up The Pieces In Afghanistan?

James Durso

The U.S. and NATO hastily evacuated Afghanistan on 15 August 2021, ending the two-decade, $2 trillion-dollar effort to turn Afghanistan into Denmark with mountains or, more truthfully, to reform Pashtun culture to Western standards.

The “mission transition” AKA “retreat” left Afghanistan without the hardware mod cons that, with the software – an enlightened Afghans populace – would ensure the country would no longer be a terrorist safe haven, and would become a well-governed, capitalist democracy, a demonstration to the world of America’s hard and soft power.

Since the retreat, the U.S. froze $9.5 billion in Afghanistan’s central bank reserves, sanctioned the Taliban government for its treatment of women and girls, and imposed visa restrictions on individual Taliban leaders. All well and good, but Washington’s actions aren’t doing anything to ameliorate the regional dislocation caused by the failed military campaign and nation-building project.

On 7 March, Russia and six Asian nations bordering Afghanistan (China, Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan) met in Tashkent, Uzbekistan to plan what would be required to bring peace to the war-torn nation, and called for the lifting of the freeze on Afghan central bank assets. On the same day, France hosted a meeting of Western countries on the Taliban and the Afghanistan situation; curiously, none of Afghanistan’s neighbors were invited.

August 2021 was the third time U.S. hightailed it out of Afghanistan. The first time was in 1991 when it cut off aid to the Mujahideen as the Cold War ended. Then, in 2003 Washington turned its focus to Baghdad and lost momentum in Afghanistan as it redeployed troops to invade Iraq. The pivot to Iraq prefigured Afghanistan’s fate and set the stage for the 2021 retreat, which just made it official.

Taiwan is feeling the pressure from Russian and Chinese autocracy

Pavel K. Baev

Taiwan is where Russia’s war in Ukraine and China’s economic underperformance overlap and produce a dangerous resonance. The war may be far away from Taipei, but it brings material problems, like delays in deliveries of U.S. armaments, and disturbing changes in the regional security environment. The end of China’s fast-paced economic growth has resulted in political shifts as attempts to regain familiar dynamism, so prominent in the discourse of the recent 14th National People’s Congress, alternate with resorts to aggressive nationalism. Taiwan, like Ukraine, faces real challenges from a mighty neighbor and doubts about its security. One hopes that the lessons learned from the unfolding disaster in Europe are not lost on Beijing.


One of the war’s lessons is that autocrats are prone to making astounding mistakes of judgment. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine exemplifies a blunder of epic proportions, but Chinese President Xi Jinping’s stubborn insistence on his zero-COVID policy — until its sudden and risky cancellation — also qualifies as a profound mistake. An important cause of these errors is the distorted flow of information to the top of autocratic pyramids as neither low-level bureaucrats nor high-level courtiers are eager to transmit bad news upward. Putin’s praise of the Russian naval infantry a few days after the 155th marine brigade had been ingloriously destroyed at Vuhledar illustrates his ignorance of the real situation in the Donbas trenches. Taiwanese authorities have to equally allow for the possibility that Xi also has entirely unrealistic assessments of the available military options for forceful “unification.”

The View of the Taiwan Strait from the U.S.-Japan Alliance

Matthew Pottinger, Cortez A. Cooper III

An October 2022 event gathered experts to examine the view of the Taiwan strait from the U.S.-Japan alliance. Presenters with experience in the governance of the United States and Japan considered the Taiwan strait issue from the perspectives of the two countries. The keynote presentation was given by Mr. Matthew Pottinger, Deputy U.S. National Security Advisor from 2019 to 2021, and the National Security Council's Asia director from 2017 to 2019.

Other presenters included Mr. Cortez Cooper, senior international/defense researcher at the RAND Corporation; Professor Matsuda Yasuhiro, professor of international politics at the University of Tokyo; and Dr. Sheila Smith, John E. Merow senior fellow for Asia-Pacific Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. The discussion was moderated by Dr. Jeffrey W. Hornung, senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation. This video includes the full proceedings of the event.

Is China Winning the Information Race?

Jacob Heilbrunn

Jacob Heilbrunn: Is there an information race and should America be concerned about China’s attempt to construct its own global media?

Joshua Kurlantzick: There is an information race, to be sure—in terms of state media; Chinese control of Chinese-language media in many countries; control of information “pipes” like 5G networking, etc.; and the growing power of Chinese social media platforms, like WeChat and, most notably, TikTok. However, my book is called Beijing’s Global Media Offensive: China’s Uneven Campaign to Influence Asia and the World, and that subtitle is there for a reason. In many respects, and in particular with much of its big state media (China Global Television Network, China Radio International, China Daily), Beijing has not reached much of an audience—the figures for viewership or listenership to these channels are minimal. Xinhua has been much more effective at reaching a global audience, by signing content-sharing deals with local media in a wide range of countries, and thus getting picked up (translated) in a wide range of news outlets all over the world. China has, however, had great success in gaining control of nearly all of the Chinese language media around the world, whether by having actual Chinese state firms buy into the media or by having local owners, in countries with Chinese language media, who happen to be pro-Beijing (for business reasons, or other reasons), buy up the outlets and basically end any independent reporting on Beijing and China’s actions. So, from Australia to Malaysia to the United States to Canada, there is little independent Chinese-language media left, even in places with large numbers of people who read or watch Chinese-language media as their primary source of news.

DIA official on China’s ‘awesome’ military buildup

Bill Gertz

China is expanding its military capabilities in multiple ways as part of a large-scale modernization program that is “awesome” in scope, according to a senior Defense Intelligence Agency official.

Doug Wade, chief of DIA’s recently formed China Mission Group, told a Washington think tank this week that the Chinese military could take a number of aggressive military and intelligence actions toward Taiwan short of an all-out invasion.

Mr. Wade said no single aspect of Beijing’s military buildup, one that includes hypersonic missiles, space weaponry and a large-scale expansion of nuclear forces, keeps him awake at night.

“It’s the totality of it,” he said.

China‘s military modernization over the past few years, and where we believe it’s going in the near future, is really just kind of awesome,” Mr. Wade told a meeting at the Intelligence and National Security Alliance. “It spans so many different elements. If you look at their naval capabilities, the expansion of the number of their assets, how they use them, combined with sort of how they pulled together their air capabilities, their missile capabilities, their C5ISR capabilities,” using the acronym for command, control, communications and intelligence systems.

Relations Sour Between China And Russia As Ukraine War Continues

The Russian army’s ongoing struggle to capture Bakhmut might appear to be primarily a tactical episode in the larger geo-strategic picture of Russia’s war against Ukraine. However, it also affects the key political interactions shaping this picture, including the formally cordial, but in fact rather uneasy, relations between Moscow and Beijing. Chinese President Xi Jinping, who these days is basking in the well-prepared triumph of securing a third presidential term, knows well the value of symbolism and comprehends the Kremlin’s frustrations with its inability to score even a minor victory (Nezavisimaya gazeta, March 9). Xi likely regrets the announcement of a “friendship without limits” with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the eve of the war; yet, that figure of speech grants the Chinese president useful opportunities to play with shifting the limits on supporting Russia in its increasingly desperate efforts to keep control over the course of its ill-conceived war.

This maneuvering has gained expanded space with the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s publication of a “peace plan” for the Russo-Ukrainian war, attributed to Wang Yi, the foreign policy supervisor in the Chinese Communist Party’s Politburo, who elaborated on its broadly formulated 12 points during his tour around Europe and in Moscow (Forbes.ru, February 27). Putin is certainly in no position to object to any initiative launched by Beijing, but the official promise to give the plan due attention was remarkably curt, and commentaries in the central media were strictly abbreviated (Rossiiskaya gazeta, February 27). Only a few pundits insinuated that China’s profile in the global arena had become so prominent that it felt compelled to formulate a position, which amounted to a list of general and well-known principles (Russiancouncil.ru, March 1).

Why China appears ready to go to war with the US over Taiwan

Rebekah Koffler

Last Friday, Chinese leader Xi JinPing won his third five-year term as president in a unanimous vote by the National People’s Congress. Having secured his grip on power quite possibly for life, Xi is executing China’s grand plan to re-establish control over Taiwan.

Indeed, so crucial is Taiwan – which broke away from communist China in 1949 – that Beijing appears willing to tussle with Washington over its long-term fate.

As the only nation standing between China and Taiwan, US battle readiness has never been more vital. But the US remains woefully unprepared even as every sign from Xi suggests he’s readying himself to rumble.

First, the war drums – loud ones. In October, Xi installed a “War Cabinet” comprised of seven men, all Xi loyalists, after removing advisors favoring reforms from the all-powerful Politburo.

Saudi-Iran Deal: Why does it seem like all the countries in the Middle East are getting along now?

Joshua Keating

The rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran — one a Sunni power long close to the United States, the other a Shiite power with close links to Russia and China — has long been one of the defining characteristics of geopolitics in the Middle East, as well as one of the main drivers of the bloody wars in Syria and Yemen. Five years ago, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, was trying to convince Americans that Iran’s supreme leader “makes Hitler looks good.” In 2019, the Middle East’s cold war threatened to become hot when a swarm of Iranian drones attacked Saudi oil refineries, knocking half of the kingdom’s oil output offline.

So it was somewhat jarring to see the two countries’ top security officials shaking hands last week after signing an agreement to reestablish diplomatic relations and tamp down regional tensions. Perhaps more jarring for those used to the United States being this region’s most influential outside power, it was not President Biden or Secretary of State Antony Blinken presiding over the handshake but China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, at a ceremony in Beijing.

The deal has caused unease in both Washington and Jerusalem, and critics of the Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu governments have blamed these leaders for allowing it to happen.

Without question, a true Iran-Saudi rapprochement would be a game-changer in the region. Whether or not that’s what this really is remains to be seen. But this event didn’t happen in isolation. Throughout the Middle East in recent years, longtime foes on opposite sides of deep political and sectarian divides are reopening lines of communication. Israel has opened diplomatic relations with several Arab nations; a ceasefire is holding in Yemen; and longtime foes of Syria’s dictator are welcoming him back into the fold.

Significance of the Iran-Saudi Arabia Agreement Brokered by China

Middle East and China Experts Share Thoughts on Impact

Saudi Arabia and Iran announced on March 10 that they have agreed to re-establish diplomatic ties in an agreement brokered by China. We asked several Belfer Center experts for their thoughts on the significance of the unexpected deal orchestrated by China and what its long-term ramifications might be.

"China’s role in mediating a detente between Iran and Saudi Arabia highlights a long-standing flaw in U.S. Middle East policy. China has cordial relations with every country in the Middle East, which gives every state in the region an incentive to stay on good terms with Beijing and enhances China’s leverage. The United States, by contrast, has “special relationships” with some countries and no relations at all with others (such as Iran). The result: America’s clients take its support for granted and America’s adversaries have no reason to adjust their behavior. If the U.S. wants to compete effectively with a rising China, it should adopt a more realistic and evenhanded approach to diplomacy."

Peninsula Plus: Enhancing U.S.–South Korea Alliance Cooperation on China, Multilateralism, and Military and Security Technologies

Jacob Stokes and Joshua Fitt

Executive Summary

The United States–Republic of Korea (ROK or South Korea) alliance has entered a critical phase. In 2023, the two countries will commemorate the 70th anniversary of signing their bilateral mutual defense treaty. This year also marks the first full year under national leaders President Joe Biden and President Yoon Suk Yeol. After several challenging years in the two countries’ relationship, ties are improving. Better alliance relations have, unfortunately, coincided with a deterioration in the regional and global security environment, specifically due to threats from North Korea, China, and Russia. This report examines the U.S.-ROK alliance as it adapts to the new regional context by exploring how the United States and South Korea can sustain and deepen their relationship in three vital policy areas: coordination on China, alignment in minilateral and multilateral settings, and defense technology collaboration.

Perhaps the biggest shift in alliance priorities in recent years has been the growing importance of the China challenge. During Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping’s decade in power, Beijing has adopted a more muscular foreign policy. Both the United States and South Korea have reshaped their approaches toward China in response. ROK concerns about China have grown as Beijing shields Pyongyang and acts aggressively elsewhere in the region, including toward Taiwan. But South Korea’s approach to China will continue to differ from that of the United States. The allies have divergent preferences regarding the speed, manner, and degree of partial decoupling with China. Moreover, South Korea’s deep trade ties with China will continue to make it vulnerable to Chinese political and economic coercion.

Revisiting America’s War of Choice in Iraq


NEW YORK – One advantage that historians have over journalists concerns time, not so much in the sense that they are free from urgent deadlines, but that they have the deeper perspective conferred by the years – or decades – between events and the act of writing about them. Twenty years is not a lot of time in historical terms, of course. But when it comes to understanding the war that the United States launched against Iraq in March 2003, it is all we have.

Not surprisingly, even two decades after the war began, there is no consensus regarding its legacy. This is to be expected, because all wars are fought three times. First comes the political and domestic struggle over the decision to go to war. Then comes the actual war, and all that happens on the battlefield. Finally, a long debate over the war’s significance ensues: weighing the costs and benefits, determining the lessons learned, and issuing forward-looking policy recommendations.


The events and other factors that led to the US decision to go to war in Iraq remain opaque and a matter of considerable controversy. Wars tend to fall into two categories: those of necessity and those of choice. Wars of necessity take place when vital interests are at stake and there are no other viable options available to defend them. Wars of choice, by contrast, are interventions initiated when the interests are less than vital, when there are options other than military force that could be employed to protect or promote those interests, or both. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a war of choice; Ukraine’s armed defense of its territory is one of necessity.

America’s Military Depends on Minerals That China Controls

Morgan D. Bazilian, Emily J. Holland, and Joshua Busby

In 1944, when the outcome of World War II hung in the balance, the rapid advance of Allied forces across Europe suddenly stalled due to fuel shortages. In the famous words of then-Gen. George Patton: “My men can eat their belts, but my tanks have gotta have gas.”

Patton’s quote is a testament to the crucial role of supply chains and logistics in military operations. Simply stated, supply chains win wars and save lives. Materials need to be in the right place at the right time.

For the United States today, those materials include many more resources than fuel for tanks. A host of so-called critical minerals are essential to building and maintaining modern weapons systems. In today’s globalized world, the United States and other major world powers are alarmingly dependent on other nations—first and foremost China—for these materials. China’s rapid buildup of a sophisticated military has rendered it America’s most consequential strategic competitor and has set the so-called pacing threat for American defense strategy.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine demonstrated the dangers inherent in heavy dependence on another state, especially a hostile one. The war ushered in the most serious energy crisis since the 1970s and forced Europe, which had become dangerously complacent about reliance on Russian oil and gas, to spend billions of euros seeking alternate suppliers and insulating consumers from inflation and astronomical energy prices.

The Silicon Valley Bank collapse changed the way Washington works with small and mid-sized banks

Matthew Zeitlin

Typically, when you think about power the financial system has over Washington, it’s the JPMorgans, Goldman Sachs, Citis and Banks of America that first come to mind. And when you think about community banks, it might be the “penny-ante Building and Loan” run by George Bailey in “It’s A Wonderful Life” instead.

But when it comes to getting the most out of Congress, it’s sometimes best to be somewhere in the middle. The biggest banks don’t always get the kindest treatment due to the lasting harm done to their reputations by the 2008 financial crisis. Instead, the best path for combining scale, profitability and political favoritism consists of convincing lawmakers your bank and similarly situated ones are just a series of Bailey Building and Loans — all the while operating large enough institutions such that the chief executive can pull $10 million in annual compensation.

For a while, Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and its peer institutions were able to pull it off. When SVB and other “mid-size” banks successfully removed some of the strictures of the Dodd-Frank Act in 2018, the headline in Reuters was: “Small banks trump Wall Street on Dodd-Frank rewrite.”

While the term of art in the banking industry for banks like Silicon Valley Bank or Signature Bank is “mid-size” or sometimes “regional,” that label can sometimes belie their impact — and the risks they pose to the financial system. The failures of these two banks has echoed far beyond Northern California or New York City, where they were respectively based: On Wednesday, the Swiss bank Credit Suisse was teetering on the edge.

Beyond Monopsony: Pentagon Reform in the Information Age

Mackenzie Eaglen

Executive Summary

The United States Department of Defense pur­chases more goods, services, and software than all federal agencies combined and is often the tar­get of scrutiny and reform. But the majority of what the military buys is no longer equipment or tangi­ble items but rather labor and technology. Reform­ers have yet to keep up and continue to overfocus on weapons acquisition when hardware is increasingly the commodity.

Despite near-constant attempts at reform, encom­passing no less than 14 different efforts over the past eight sessions of Congress, change has not fully met the moment but typically served as short-term bud­get bogey exercises. Too often, changes are imposed on the Pentagon by Congress—a body that creates many of the problems reforms fail to fix. The Defense Department is a victim of the instability caused by continuing resolutions and lack of clarity, yet Con­gress further ties its hands regarding finances and sticks to rules from a bygone era when the defense budget was a tiny fraction of the size it is today.

This report explains where past reform efforts focused and charts a new course for the Informa­tion Age when urgency, flexibility, transparency, and action are the watchwords. It reviews defense reform initiatives of the past decade and more and provides a series of policy recommendations borne out of the belief that to truly reform the Pentagon, change must not be additive. Defense reforms instead must roll back unnecessary strictures, byzantine regulations, and outdated bureaucracy and reduce time, tasks, and attention on unnecessary work. Pentagon reforms should also increase accountability for passing appro­priations on time and help realize the true costs of running the US military.

The Top Five Lessons From Year One of Ukraine's War

Stephen M. Walt

Since Russia invaded on Feb. 24, 2022, the two combatants have each suffered more than 100,000 casualties, along with thousands of tanks and other armored vehicles lost. Ukraine’s economy has shrunk by roughly 30 percent, and more than 30 percent of its population has been displaced. Its infrastructure is being wrecked, and some 40 percent of its electricity-generating capacity has been damaged. Neither side seems willing to compromise or even consider a cease-fire; if anything, Moscow, Kyiv, and Ukraine’s Western supporters are doubling down.

War is an instructive if harsh teacher, and sometimes the most we can salvage from the sacrifices that others have made is greater knowledge and wisdom for the future. Here are five lessons that leaders and publics around the world might learn after a year of war in Ukraine.

Lesson No. 1: It is very easy for leaders to miscalculate.

As I wrote late last year: It is now obvious that Russian President Vladimir Putin erred when he assumed Ukraine could not mount a serious resistance and that it wouldn’t matter if it tried. He badly miscalculated Russia’s military prowess, Ukraine’s tenacity, and Western Europe’s ability to find alternative sources of energy. But Westerners made mistakes, too: They discounted the possibility of war for years, exaggerated the potency of economic sanctions, and underestimated the depth of Russian opposition to Western efforts to bring Ukraine into their orbit. In this case (as in many others), the fog of war obscured our vision long before the actual fighting started.

Russia preparing for renewed cyberwar against Ukraine, finds Microsoft report

Anugraha Sundaravelu

Russian hackers appear to be preparing a renewed wave of cyber attacks against Ukraine, according to a research report by Microsoft.

On Wednesday, the tech giant’s cyber security research and analysis team outlined a series of discoveries about how Russian hackers have operated during the Ukraine conflict and what may come next.

‘Since January 2023, Microsoft has observed Russian cyber threat activity adjusting to boost destructive and intelligence gathering capacity on Ukraine and its partners’ civilian and military assets,’ said the report.

One group ‘appears to be preparing for a renewed destructive campaign’.

Microsoft found that a particularly sophisticated Russian hacking team, known as Sandworm, was testing ‘additional ransomware-style capabilities that could be used in destructive attacks on organizations outside Ukraine that serve key functions in Ukraine’s supply lines’.

Around the halls: AUKUS defines an emerging alliance at sea

The joint announcement on March 13, 2023, that the partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States (AUKUS) has defined a path forward on Canberra acquiring conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarines is a significant moment for the future of the Indo-Pacific region. Below, Brookings experts assess the implications of the AUKUS partnership on the United States and its allies, China, nuclear non-proliferation, and much more.

Senior Fellow and Director, Project on International Order and Strategy

The September 2021 announcement of a deal between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States on nuclear-propelled submarine technology — and a raft of other sophisticated military technologies — was widely hailed as a “strategic masterstroke,” and welcomed by national security experts across the political spectrum. Two initial concerns have been put to rest: After a diplomatic furor over de-linking France from the project, Paris quickly allowed the issue to die down, and early proliferation concerns were largely assuaged by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Other questions raised at the time of the announcement included the potential knock-on effect on other allies’ interest in acquiring nuclear submarines, and the prospect of a fierce Chinese reaction — though of course a strong response by Beijing could be taken as an indicator of success. The deal has also already survived one change of government in Canberra and appears to enjoy widespread and bipartisan support.


After World War I, international law was established that banned biological and chemical weapons and attempted to shield civilians from the horrors of total war. Many believed that the intentional targeting of civilian populations would end. The Spanish Civil War of 1936 to 1939 shattered these illusions. Much like the experience of the 1930s, the invasion of Ukraine is shattering the illusion that aggression is a relic of the past, and a reminder that warmongering must be deterred by forceful resistance.

Discussion Questions:

Additional Resources:
Read “Our Spanish Civil War?” by Victor Davis Hanson via Independent Institute. Available here.
Watch “War Crimes in Ukraine: The Pursuit of International Justice,” with H. R. McMaster and David Schwendiman, on Battlegrounds. Available here.
Read “NATO’s Nordic Realignment,” by Thomas Henriksen via Defining Ideas. Available here.

Wagner Group and the IRGC: The Rise of Self-Sustaining Military Proxies

Alma Keshavarz, Kiron K. Skinner

The lessons-learned doctrine from the war in Ukraine is yet to be written, but the conflict has clearly demonstrated how paramilitary forces, such as Russia’s Wagner Private Military Company (better known simply as the Wagner Group) can reinforce state militaries.

Of course, proxies and non-state partnerships have influenced the contours of conflicts in the Middle East for many years. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has led the curve via its relationships with Shia militia groups in Iraq and across the Levant.

Yet the IRGC is more than a fighting force. Despite sanctions on its commercial affiliates, most notably Khatam al-Anbia, it is a financially self-sustaining military. Beyond this, the IRGC created a systemic model of establishing a presence in vulnerable states and regions, and followed with front and shell companies for funding and sanctions circumvention. And the Wagner Group appears to be following a similar path. Moreover, Wagner serves as a tool of foreign policy for Moscow, just as the IRGC does for Iran.

There are key differences to be sure. The IRGC was created by and is recognized as a military institution of the Iranian regime. The Wagner Group is a private military company, owned by one man—Yevgeny Prigozhin. And while it works in tandem with the Russian defense forces, it also competes with them for resources and funding. Yet while Prigozhin is the owner, the group is believed to be loosely managed by Russia’s Ministry of Defense and the GRU, its military intelligence office.

Updating My Munich Predictions


LONDON – It is exactly one month ago that I gave a speech on the eve of the Munich Security Conference. Since then, so many remarkable things have happened – and have happened so fast – that it is worth comparing my predictions of a month ago with actual developments.

The biggest changes have occurred in the global climate system. By this, I mean actual climate events and climate scientists’ understanding of those events. The main message I wanted to convey in Munich was that the global climate system is greatly dependent on what happens within the Arctic Circle. The Arctic Circle climate system used to be separate from the global climate system. Winds used to blow in a predictable counterclockwise direction; but, because of increased human interference, the separation between the Arctic climate system and the global climate system no longer prevails.

Indeed, cold air now leaks from the Arctic Circle and is replaced by warm air sucked up from outside. Consequently, the Arctic Circle has warmed up four times faster than the rest of the world over the last four decades, and the rate of warming is dangerously accelerating. Since my speech, temperatures in the Arctic Circle have soared over 20º Celsius above normal, setting records and intensifying concerns about the rate at which the Greenland ice sheet is melting.

Climate scientists’ understanding of the warming process has also taken a big step forward. They have been able to prove that the release of methane, a far more potent and dangerous greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, is greater than can be explained by the sources of emissions associated with human activity. This finding implies the existence of other sources – for example, increasing methane emissions from the warming permafrost – result from human disturbance of nature.

Bakhmut: Russian casualties mount but tactics evolve

Quentin Sommerville

Ukraine has drawn a line in the dirt, and that line is Bakhmut. It is a city that few say matters strategically, but that tens of thousands have died fighting over. It began more than seven months ago, and is the longest battle of the war so far.

Two Ukrainian army brigades defending the city's southern flank gave the BBC access to their positions last week as fierce fighting continued in and around Bakhmut. The men have spent months facing both regular Russian army forces, and prisoners recruited by the Wagner private military group who have swarmed their trenches in droves. Troops say Russian casualties far outweigh theirs, but the enemy is deploying new techniques to try to seize the city and surrounding countryside.

Ukraine's forces are outgunned and outnumbered, but on a chalk hillside to the south, there is the anti-tank group from the 3rd Separate Assault Brigade. 3Storm - as they are known - are unyielding. They've dug trenches deep into the earth. Timber props supporting the roof shudder as Russian artillery lands in the near distance, and field mice scurry along duck boards. An antiquated field telephone sits in a wooden nook; these are conditions their grandfathers would recognise.

"They cannot get to us, we can see for a kilometre in all directions," says a bearded 26-year-old soldier who goes by the call sign "Dwarf", pointing out Russian positions. "We can hit the enemy with everything we have," he says.

Ukraine and the Long War

George Friedman

Editor’s note: By definition, geopolitics moves slowly. It’s a drawn-out explanation for the long-term trajectory of nations, one that all too often gets lost in the shuffle of our modern news cycles. Those of us who study geopolitics, then, tend to repeat ourselves more than we’d like because a nation’s trajectory changes neither quickly nor dramatically. Its behavior necessarily elicits repetition – and for us, that’s a good thing. But even we welcome the occasional reminder that what we said in the past holds true today, and that when a forecast comes to fruition it benefits our readers not because we said it but because it’s true. With that in mind, we republish a piece written a year ago by George Friedman discussing what a long war in Ukraine will look like. It reads as if it could have been written at any time, as any good geopolitical analysis should.

For as often as it happens, nations typically don’t elect to enter wars if they know they will be long, drawn-out, uncertain and expensive affairs. They enter wars when they think the benefits of winning outweigh the risks, or when they think they have the means to strike decisively enough to bring the war to a quick resolution. Long wars result from consistent and fundamental errors: underestimating the will and ability of an enemy to resist, overestimating one’s own capabilities, going to war for incorrect or insufficient reasons, or underestimating the degree to which a powerful third party might intervene and shift the balance of power.

If a nation survives the first blow, then the probability of a victory increases. This is particularly the case in the long war. The nation initiating the war tends to have committed available force at the beginning, maximizing the possibility of an early victory. The defending power has not yet utilized its domestic forces or those of allies prior to the attack. Therefore, the defender increases its military power much more rapidly than the attacker. The Japanese could not match American manpower or technology over time. The United States underestimated the resilience of the North Vietnamese, even in the face of an intense bombardment of their capital. There are exceptions. The Germans in 1914 failed to take Paris, and in the long war were strangled by the British navy and ground down on the battlefield.

Kremlin Says 'War Against NATO' in Ukraine Is for 'Future Generations'


The Kremlin has said that its full-scale invasion of Ukraine is taking longer than expected and claimed it has morphed into a confrontation with the entire NATO alliance.
President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told Newsweek that the NATO effort to arm Ukraine and isolate Moscow will not succeed.
The invasion, Peskov said, is intended to ensure "stability on the continent."

The Kremlin has said that its full-scale invasion of Ukraine has "stretched out" longer than initially planned and that its war against Kyiv has developed into a conflict with the entire NATO alliance.

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Newsweek on Thursday that what began as a fight against Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's government has morphed into a broader confrontation with NATO, which since February 24, 2022 has embarked on an unprecedented effort to arm Ukraine and isolate Moscow.

"The time of the special military operation indeed stretched out," Peskov said in a statement, using the Kremlin's terminology for the invasion. "It began as an operation against the Ukrainian regime and continues, in fact, as a war against NATO, with the de facto involvement of many countries of the alliance including the United States."

The Black Sea Region Is Suddenly Cast in Geopolitical Spotlight

Walter Mayr

For many years, the Black Sea was largely ignored by geostrategists. But with Russia's invasion of Ukraine and its aggressive posturing elsewhere in the region, countries along its shores find themselves on a dangerous fault line. How are they dealing with their belligerent neighbor?

They fire from extremely close range. Fingers on the triggers of their pistols, elite fighters from the Romanian navy approach to within just three meters of the enemy. An enemy made of cardboard.

The war game on board the Romanian flagship Regele Ferdinand is to prepare the troops for the worst-case scenario. The almost 5,000-ton frigate is carrying a crew of 240 men and women as it glides through the waters of the Black Sea under a steel-blue sky. Off the port side, to the north, lies Ukraine. The coast of Russia is to the northeast, Georgia lies to the east and Turkey to the south.

‘No Dumb Questions’: What is OPEC?

Tom Nagorski,  and Jake Garcia

It’s been around for 60 years. It’s one of the world’s most influential nongovernmental institutions. And it affects billions of people, in one way or another. But much about OPEC — the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries — is (forgive the pun) opaque. Or at least it’s poorly understood. And so this seemed a good candidate for Grid’s regular “No Dumb Questions” series: “What is OPEC?”

For one thing, it’s a six-decade-old organization, founded by a handful of major oil producers who felt that too much of the power and influence in the oil sector rested with big oil companies. A founding principle of OPEC was that the nations that sit atop great reserves of petroleum should have control over how much is brought up from the ground and shared in the global market. The group also said then — and still maintains — that it exists to ensure stability in the market for one of the world’s most important commodities.

As Grid’s Global Editor Tom Nagorski notes, that’s not a universal view. As OPEC has grown and its influence has increased, many nations outside OPEC have been critical of the group, calling OPEC a “cartel,” and suggesting its members care more about power and profit than market stability. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden is only the latest on a long list of U.S. presidents to plead with OPEC leaders to boost production to bring down the price of gas. Biden went to Saudi Arabia last year to do just that; it didn’t work.

Small Satellites, Big Data: Uncovering the Invisible in Maritime Security

Saadia Pekkanen, Setsuko Aoki


Even the biggest ships on the world’s vast oceans can be invisible, their identities, paths, and activities hidden. New technology is lifting the veil. Small satellites collect terabytes of global data daily, while advances in computational analytics now mine that data faster than any human can. Shedding new light on maritime activities affects policies on national and international security, safety, national and transnational economic interests, and environmental concerns.

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The danger of downplaying the Ukrainian battlefield toll

Branko Marcetic

“Ukraine will win.” Some variation of this has become the unofficial mantra of U.S. policy toward the Ukraine war, asserted in countless columns, interviews and speeches, ones often pledging open-ended U.S. commitment to the Ukrainian war effort and chiding policymakers for not sending greater quantities and more escalatory types of weapons.

It was partly on this basis, in fact — that with enough support, Ukraine could militarily defeat a Russia weaker than many thought — that then-UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson reportedly urged against peace talks early in the war.

This attitude has been bolstered by the unconfirmed information that’s trickled out publicly about the significant damage inflicted on the Russian military. Besides the disastrous loss of equipment — including half of its usable tanks and as much as 8 percent of its active tactical combat aircraft, by one estimate — the consensus among Western officials about Russian casualties seems to have settled on a staggering 200,000, with more killed than in all of its other post-World War II conflicts combined.

Yet this central claim of an almost certain Ukrainian military victory over chastened Russian forces is asserted in the absence of one key measure of the military situation: verifiable battlefield losses. From the beginning of the war until now, Ukraine has, like Russia, treated its casualties as a state secret, one so closely guarded that not even U.S. intelligence and officials, who advise the country’s leadership on military strategy and assist in war planning, know exactly how many Ukrainians have been killed and wounded over the past year. This is even though, as one Ukrainian officer told the Wall Street Journal in a recent piece about the grinding battle for the city of Bakhmut, “the war is won not by the party that gains territory, but by the party that destroys the armed forces of the adversary.”

Army War College Press

  • Defeat in Afghanistan: An Autopsy
  • Enhancing US Global Competitiveness through Women, Peace, and Security
  • Factoring Gender into Kinetic Operations
  • Climate Change: An Opportunity for INDOPACOM
  • Daoism and Design: Mapping the Conflict in Syria
  • The Case for an Army Stability Professional
  • Minotaurs, Not Centaurs: The Future of Manned-Unmanned Teaming
  • SRAD Director's Corner: Afghanistan: The Logic of Failing, Fast and Slow
  • Review and Reply: On “Why America’s Army Can’t Win America’s Wars” (part 1)
  • Review and Reply: On “Why America’s Army Can’t Win America’s Wars” (part 2)

What are the differences between SD-WAN and MPLS?

Multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) is a common method for constructing the connections between local area networks (LANs) that make up wide area networks (WANs). Using specialized routers, MPLS sends packets along predetermined network paths, improving upon the typical way the Internet works. These predetermined network paths can be used as the connective tissue that comprises a WAN and allow multiple virtual WANs to coexist over a shared network backbone. However, they take quite a bit of time to set up, can be expensive, and require a contracted service from a carrier or telecommunications company.

A software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) is a large network that connects LANs using software, not hardware. SD-WANs do not require any specialized equipment for routing. They run over the regular Internet, making them cheaper to implement than other networking methods.

The SD-WAN model does not exclude the usage of MPLS — MPLS can be one of the networking methods used in an SD-WAN — but overall SD-WANs are often more flexible and cost-effective by comparison.

SD-WAN vs. MPLS: A real-world analogy

To understand the differences between software-defined connections and MPLS connections, consider the difference between a railroad service and a passenger bus line.

Railroads have specialized routes set up via train tracks, and only trains that belong to the railroad can use the tracks. Because trains can stay on these tracks and often do not have to stop until they reach their destination, train transport is fairly fast and reliable.

The Fallacy of the Short, Sharp War: Optimism Bias and the Abuse of History

Ryan T. Easterday

States have frequently embarked on military campaigns that failed to achieve their objectives as quickly—and cheaply—as expected. For every Spanish-American or Austro-Prussian War that seems in retrospect to be a short, sharp success for the victors, there is a Crimean, Boer, or Afghan War that those of us with the benefit of hindsight know grinds on longer and presents a butcher's bill greater than planners and politicians anticipated. In fact, history suggests that quick, decisive victories are the exception rather than the norm. Yet, states continue to plan and initiate wars with the expectation that they can achieve decisive victories unreasonably swiftly. All too often, disaster results. This pattern indicates a failure mode of strategic decision making. Understanding the mechanism by which this failure mode operates may help states avoid future catastrophe—whether by choosing alternate means to pursue their national goals, or by investing in appropriate preparations for the protracted war they are likely to fight, not just the short, sharp war they want to fight.

War is naturally characterized by uncertainty, and humans are known to exhibit an in-built optimism bias that frequently causes them to overestimate the likelihood of positive outcomes. This bias may have evolutionarily adaptive advantages in many situations.[1] Yet in the dialectic between military planners generating coercive options within available means and national cabinets seeking solutions to intractable diplomatic or geostrategic problems within acceptable costs, optimism bias can lead to tragic and avoidable outcomes. Indeed, the historical record shows that optimism bias contributes to misunderstandings between military planners and the politicians who employ them in ways that increase the likelihood of war being selected as the best option to achieve national imperatives—even in the face of clear evidence to the contrary.

Russia's Asymmetric Response to 21st Century Strategic Competition

Krystyna Marcinek, Eugeniu Han

The ultimate outcome of the 2022 war in Ukraine and its strategic and economic ramifications are yet to be determined. Arguably, Russia will have to rethink, reform, and rebuild its military while facing even more binding financial constraints under a new wave of sanctions and export controls. In this new environment, Russia's political and military leadership likely will have to prioritize some modernization programs and abandon others. In the past, some Russian military strategists have said that the country's military should not match its adversaries' capabilities; instead, it should seek an asymmetric response by developing capabilities that make its adversaries' high-tech weapon systems economically unjustifiable. In recent years, there seemed to be a growing consensus in Russia that artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics — enabling relatively cheap but capable force — might just be such an asymmetric response. Moreover, in the face of the unsatisfactory performance and low morale of the Russian troops in Ukraine, Moscow might see the robotization of the Armed Forces as a way to alleviate its dependence on manpower.

The authors of this report look at Russian views of military applications of robotics and AI and study Russia's motivations for the development of these capabilities. They investigate the degree of autonomy that the Russian military would be willing to delegate to machines, and to what extent the military is willing to replace (rather than augment) human soldiers. Finally, they assess whether Moscow has delivered — or can deliver — on its robotization vision.



The U.S. Army is currently experiencing a challenging period, highlighted by potential shifts in the global balance of military capabilities, emerging technologies, increased threats to the U.S. homeland and other issues that impose new demands on the nation’s premier land force. China and Russia continue to challenge the rules-based international order. Aimed at supplanting the United States in its role as the world’s dominant military, both have become more assertive as they seek to advance their own global agendas. Defense leaders suggest that, by 2040, both countries will have positioned the instruments of their national power to undermine the global national security interests of the United States. The development and growth of the Army of 2040 must be manned, trained and equipped and must lead with a focus on readiness to conduct large-scale combat operations (LSCO). These types of operations are inherently joint in terms of scope and size of the forces committed, and they entail high tempo, high resource consumption and generally high casualty rates. Additionally, large scale combat introduces levels of complexity, lethality, ambiguity and speed to military activities not common in other operations.1

To meet the evolving threat and to achieve readiness levels required to operate successfully in LSCO, the Army is undergoing a once-in-a-generation transformation to develop the capability to converge effects on land, in the air, sea, space and cyberspace. This transformation will enhance the joint force with the range, speed and convergence of cutting-edge technologies that will be needed to win on the future battlefield. This transformation will be highlighted by a new operational concept, reorganization of our forces, continued investment in our people, the development of new equipment and the adoption of new concepts on how to fight that allow the Army to maintain superiority over any potential adversary.2 The commitment to transform today to meet challenges of tomorrow will ensure that America remains capable of assuring peace through strength, even in the face of our determined and capable great-power competitors.

The bleak reality for Ukrainian soldiers


The narrative that Ukraine’s military is headed toward certain victory against Russia has recently taken quite the hit.

Two weeks ago, NPR’s FRANK LANGFITT reported that both Ukraine and Russia have torn through their best-trained and most-experienced troops. After a year of fighting, both forces now rely heavily on conscripts — a development that favors Russia since Moscow has more people it can call up than Kyiv.

Then Monday evening, the Washington Post’s ISABELLE KHURSHUDYAN, PAUL SONNE and KAREN DeYOUNG dug even deeper, reporting that pessimism and fear is sweeping through Ukrainian ranks.

KUPOL, a lieutenant colonel, told the Post that his battalion is “unrecognizable” from the group he started out with. “Of about 500 soldiers, roughly 100 were killed in action and another 400 wounded, leading to complete turnover. Kupol said he was the sole military professional in the battalion, and he described the struggle of leading a unit composed entirely of inexperienced troops.”

“We don’t have the people or weapons,” a senior Ukrainian official also told them. “And you know the ratio: When you’re on the offensive, you lose twice or three times as many people. We can’t afford to lose that many people.”

Ukraine starts producing shells for Soviet-era tanks

Max Hunder

KYIV, March 14 (Reuters) - A major Ukrainian arms manufacturer announced on Tuesday it had started making 125-mm rounds for Soviet-era tanks, as Kyiv seeks to boost its armour capabilities for a counter-offensive against invading Russian forces.

The ammunition was being made outside Ukraine with the co-operation of an unnamed NATO country, state-owned Ukroboronprom said.

"The first batch of 125-mm projectiles for T-64, T-72 and T-80 tanks, which the Security and Defense Forces of Ukraine use to strike the invaders, has already been delivered," it said in a post on the Telegram app.

It said the shells had been made to fulfil an order from Ukraine's defence ministry. Despite them being made abroad, Ukrainian personnel participated in the manufacturing process, Ukroboronprom said.

While Western-made battle tanks donated by allies will soon enter service with Ukraine's armed forces, the bulk of Kyiv's tank fleet will remain Soviet-made in the short term.

This creates an acute need for new sources of ammunition supply, as most NATO tanks use a different calibre -- while the vast majority of 125-mm round stocks are held by Russia and other countries who would not supply Ukraine.