25 March 2023

U.S. Intel Helped India Rout China in 2022 Border Clash: Sources

India was able to repel a Chinese military incursion in contested border territory in the high Himalayas late last year due to unprecedented intelligence-sharing with the U.S. military, U.S. News has learned, an act that caught China’s People’s Liberation Army forces off-guard, enraged Beijing and appears to have forced the Chinese Communist Party to reconsider its approach to land grabs along its borders.

The U.S. government for the first time provided real-time details to its Indian counterparts of the Chinese positions and force strength in advance of a PLA incursion, says a source familiar with a previously unreported U.S. intelligence review of the encounter into the Arunachal Pradesh region. The information included actionable satellite imagery and was more detailed and delivered more quickly than anything the U.S. had previously shared with the Indian military.

It made a difference.

The subsequent clash on Dec. 9 involving hundreds of troops wielding spiked clubs and Tasers did not result in any deaths as previous encounters have, rather it was limited to a dozen or so injuries and – most conspicuously – a Chinese retreat.

“They were waiting. And that’s because the U.S. had given India everything to be fully prepared for this,” the source says. “It demonstrates a test case of the success of how the two militaries are now cooperating and sharing intelligence.”

China as Peacemaker in the Ukraine War? The U.S. and Europe Are Skeptical.

Edward Wong and Steven Erlanger

WASHINGTON — As Xi Jinping, China’s leader, meets with President Vladimir V. Putin in Moscow this week, Chinese officials have been framing his trip as a mission of peace, one where he will seek to “play a constructive role in promoting talks” between Russia and Ukraine, as a government spokesman in Beijing put it.

But American and European officials are watching for something else altogether — whether Mr. Xi will add fuel to the full-scale war that Mr. Putin began more than a year ago.

U.S. officials say China is still considering giving weapons — mainly artillery shells — to Russia for use in Ukraine. And even a call by Mr. Xi for a cease-fire would amount to an effort to strengthen Mr. Putin’s battlefield position, they say, by leaving Russia in control of more territory than when the invasion began.

A cease-fire now would be “effectively the ratification of Russian conquest,” John Kirby, a White House spokesman, said on Friday. “It would in effect recognize Russia’s gains and its attempt to conquer its neighbor’s territory by force, allowing Russian troops to continue to occupy sovereign Ukrainian territory.”

“It would be a classic part of the China playbook,” he added, for Chinese officials to come out of the meeting claiming “we’re the ones calling for an end to the fighting and nobody else is.”

Demography poses no imminent threat to China’s economic modernisation

Peter McDonald

China’s population fell in 2022 and will continue to do so throughout the 21st century, according to the United Nations Population Division’s 2022 Revision of World Population Prospects. The data shows a sharp fall in China’s fertility rate from 1.81 births per woman in 2017 to 1.16 in 2021.

This trend is based on data supplied by the Chinese government, indicating China’s belated acknowledgement that the country’s fertility rate is very low. The UN projects that China’s fertility will rise very slowly and evenly from its low point in 2021 to reach 1.48 births per woman by 2100. This seems an unlikely scenario based on the experience of fertility trends of Chinese populations in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore and, importantly, in China’s largest cities. Among these populations, fertility has fallen even further and remained low for many years.

When a country’s annual fertility rate falls rapidly to a very low level, it is often because women of younger childbearing age delay their first birth while women of older childbearing ages limit the number of children that they have. The age at which women have their first birth has been rising rapidly in China, but there is still scope for further rises as female education levels increase, employment opportunities for women expand and China urbanises.

The enduring lessons of the Iraq War

Bob Bowker

The US-led overthrow of the government of Saddam Hussein in Iraq marked the beginning of a series of events that reshaped the strategic environment of the Middle East. It also had enduring consequences for Iraqi society, and for Arab societies and Arab governments beyond its borders.

There was no reason to doubt that the military defeat of Iraq could be achieved. But there were larger questions involved—including what a successor regime should look like; whether such a regime, initially established and maintained under US protection, would prove sustainable; and if not, what the consequences would be.

It appears those questions were never addressed by those who took the decision to invade Iraq. Nor is there evidence that those who decided to commit Australian forces to the war examined those issues in the depth they deserved.

I have no direct knowledge of what took place in Canberra in the lead-up to the war. But I am aware that a decision in principle to commit Australian forces to the conflict was taken at an informal meeting of ministers ahead of the formal cabinet decision to that effect.

When released, the cabinet record is unlikely to outline the content of that meeting, or the cabinet discussion that followed.

Improved Saudi-Iran relationship has Israel nervous — about Iran, and about China


TEL AVIV — The new agreement restoring diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia may not be a regional game-changer as some have claimed. But it is already having an impact on how Israel views implementation of the Abraham Accords and its efforts to establish relations with its Arab neighbors.

According to government sources, the deal has already resulted in the halting of negotiations over an “advanced defense system” that Israel was in discussions to sell to an Arab nation, with a potential $1 billion price tag. The Israeli Ministry of Defense declined to comment, but sources said the MoD asked for the pause in order to evaluate the risk that the new agreement between Riyadh and Tehran could eventually result in the transfer of Israeli tech to Iran.

“The Iran–Saudi agreement casts a big shadow over other similar potential deals. Jerusalem will now have to rethink what to do when it sees the Iranian muscle flexing in contradiction to the vague US policy in the region,” one source said.

Israel is also realizing it has to deal with the clear Chinese effort to become a major player in the Gulf region and Africa, a tricky situation as Jerusalem, at the urging of Washington, has been disentangling itself from relations with Beijing for several years. As reported by Breaking Defense, Israel has been warned by the US to take the “needed actions” while letting Chinese companies work on major programs in Israel that have any relation to defense issues. Washington has also put pressure on Israel over Chinese port developments.

Why the Press Failed on Iraq

John Walcott

Twenty years ago, the George W. Bush administration invaded Iraq to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and eliminate the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) officials said he had. Getting the American public to support a war against a country that had not attacked the United States required the administration to tell a convincing story of why the war was necessary. For that, it needed the press.

I was Knight Ridder’s Washington, D.C., bureau chief at the time, and among other duties handled our national security coverage. This gave me a front-row seat to Washington’s march to war and the media’s role in it. As the Bush administration began making its case for invading Iraq, too many Washington journalists, caught up in the patriotic fervor after 9/11, let the government’s story go unchallenged. At Knight Ridder’s Washington bureau, we started asking questions and publishing stories that challenged the Bush administration’s claims that Iraq had an active WMD program and ties to al Qaeda. One thing that set Knight Ridder’s coverage apart was our sourcing—forgoing senior officials in Washington for experts and scientists inside and outside the Beltway and more junior staffers and military officers much closer to the relevant intelligence.

Such an approach also would have helped U.S. policymakers. The failed wars in Afghanistan and Iraq show what happens when top officials ignore their subordinates or assemble their own teams of analysts to confirm their biases—and when journalists become stenographers for them. Unfortunately, 20 years on, there is little evidence that the Washington press corps has learned this lesson. If anything, today’s bleak media environment has only made it harder to get the story right.

Iraq, 20 Years Later: A Changed Washington and a Terrible Toll on America

Robert Draper

WASHINGTON — A month before President George W. Bush first sent American troops into Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was warned that the war might end up costing the United States billions of dollars.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s reply to retired Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, the American tasked with overseeing Iraq’s postwar reconstruction, would constitute a towering moment of hubris in a foreign policy misadventure tragically replete with them.

“My friend,” General Garner remembered Mr. Rumsfeld saying, “if you think we’re going to spend a billion dollars of our money over there, you are sadly mistaken.”

Today, 20 years after the president ordered the airstrikes that rained down on Baghdad on the night of March 20, 2003, the war is widely seen in Washington’s power centers as a lesson in failed policymaking, one deeply absorbed if not thoroughly learned.

The United States spent an estimated $2 trillion in Iraq over the two decades, a price tag that barely begins to express the toll it has taken on both countries. Roughly 8,500 American military personnel and contractors lost their lives there, according to Brown University’s Costs of War project, and as many as 300,000 others returned home suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders. Iraq lost nearly half a million civilians in the war and the subsequent eight-year American occupation, which Mr. Rumsfeld vowed would never occur.

US, Philippines Tout Perks of Military Deal Opposed By China

Andreo Calonzo

The US and the Philippines highlighted the benefits of a recently expanded defense deal, as America’s push for greater presence in the Southeast Asian nation faced opposition from China and local politicians.

US and Philippine officials showcased the US-funded rehabilitation of the runway inside Basa Air Base north of Manila, among the five sites previously chosen to implement the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement. The repair is targeted for completion later this year, Philippine Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez said at the groundbreaking Monday.

The $24-million plan that will enable the runway to host bigger aircraft and to operate at night is “EDCA in action” and “the latest project to strengthen” the two nations’ alliance, US Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson said at the event. The expanded US access in the Southeast Asian nation is meant to benefit both countries, according to US Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall.

The military deal will also help the Philippine economy by utilizing local companies and materials, the US envoy said, touting gains from the rapprochement that’s worrying some communities and politicians including Senator Imee Marcos, the elder sister of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

The US last month secured access to four more Philippine military sites, as tensions with Beijing over Taiwan and the South China Sea persist. The move is part of a 2014 pact which allows the US to rotate its troops for prolonged stays as well as build and operate in Philippine bases. The four military locations will be announced by the two nations as soon as they can, Kendall said.

First wave of tech to defend Guam from newer threats due in 2024

Jen Judson

WASHINGTON — The first wave of defenses designed to counter complex missile threats against Guam will include radars, launchers, interceptors, and a command-and-control system, and they’ll be place on the island next year, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency director said this week.

The MDA asked for more than $800 million in its fiscal 2024 budget request, released Monday, to develop and begin constructing its architecture to defend Guam against a range of threats including ballistic, cruise and hypersonic missiles. Nearly half of that money would continue the design and development of the architecture.

Another $38.5 million would upgrade the MDA’s Command and Control, Battle Management, and Communications program to support Guam’s defense.

The agency is investing in the architecture, but it is also partnered with the Army and Navy. The sea service will provide technology and capability from its Aegis weapon system and has jurisdiction over the land where the assets will be placed.

The Army is requesting $638 million in FY24 to supply its share of the equipment to Guam, but it will deliver three Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensors, or LTAMDS, and Patriot air-and-missile defense systems, as well as an assortment of Mid-Range Capability missile launchers and Indirect Fires Protection Capability launchers, or IFPC, along with the Northrop Grumman-built Integrated Battle Command System designed to connect the right sensors to the right shooters on the battlefield, according to the Army’s budget office.


If you have ever wondered, “where do America’s spies come from?” the answer is quite possibly the Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS) at Georgetown University. It is only a modestly-seized institution, yet the school provides the backbone for the Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Defense, State Department, and other organs of the national security state.

From overthrowing foreign governments and conducting worldwide psychological operations to overseeing drug and gun smuggling and a global torture network, the CIA is perhaps the world’s most controversial and dangerous organization. All of which begs the question, should an educational institution have any formal relationship with it, let alone such a storied school as Georgetown?

Yet, with more than two dozen ex-CIA officials among its teaching staff, the school tailors its courses towards producing the next generation of analysts, assassins, coup-plotters and economic hitmen, fast-tracking graduates into the upper echelons of the national security state.

The CIA has also quietly funded the SFS, as journalist Will Sommer revealed. The agency, based in Langley, VA, secretly donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund the department’s work, despite Georgetown insisting on its website that this money came from anonymous donations from individuals.

Losing Iraq Worse Than We Had To


Iraq is a corrupt, divisive, sectarian country of little consequence because al-Qaeda has been driven beyond its borders. The war was not worth its costs. Could it have been prosecuted at less cost? Yes. With a different outcome? Most likely, no. Let me cite four takeaways from the war that lead to this conclusion, based on my decade of embedding on the battlefields with dozens of our platoons.

First, in 2003, American battalions were in charge of dozens of Iraqi cities, Shiite and Sunni. Our commanders began to hold local elections, but that ground movement was stopped by Ambassador Paul Bremer, the president’s envoy. Had they continued, local elections would have strengthened local centers of power, mitigating the later emergence of national, divisive political parties. General Jim Mattis, then commanding the First Marine Division, was simultaneously moving to reorganize Iraqi army units and, under new leadership, spread them out as the local security elements. Instead, Bremer dissolved the Iraqi army, leaving U.S. forces as the de facto police.

Had Iraqi military units been revitalized as local security, U.S. officers would have selected or approved their leaders. As in South Korea from 1953 into the 1990s, stability would then have required substantial American control over the foreign military. The first takeaway, then, is that our military from the start was not permitted to restructure the Iraqi forces and have veto power in selecting whom to promote. The same was true regarding Iraq’s prime ministers, resulting in a succession of vengeful hacks. Granted, having veto power would almost have reflected the British model in India. But when our troops are dying, we should have a firm say in what sort of democracy will emerge. Instead, we tolerated the rise of sectarianism, another form of tyranny.

Head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary force warns of Ukrainian counterattack

Ronny Reyes

The head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary force warned Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu that Ukraine was planning an imminent counterattack to cuff off the invading army.

In a letter published Monday, Yevgeny Prigozhi said Ukrainians hope to launch a “large-scale attack” in the next few weeks in an effort to separate the Wagner forces from Russian troops in eastern Ukraine.

“I ask you to take all necessary measures to prevent the Wagner private military company being cut off from the main forces of the Russian army, which will lead to negative consequences for the special military operation,” he said.

Prigozhin sent the letter to Shoigu — the first of its kind — as Vladimir Putin toured the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, which has been leveled to the ground since the start of the war last year.

Wagner is a private military company founded by Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch and a close confidant of Putin, who is overseeing 50,000 fighters in Ukraine, including convicts enlisted for the war.


Stavros Atlamazoglou

It has been 390 days since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. On Monday, the Russian forces continue to push hard in the Donbas but without having achieved any major operational breakthroughs.

The Russian large-scale offensive operation in the area is likely reaching its culmination point.

An offensive without much success

Over the weekend, the Ukrainian military conducted a small counterattack to the southwest of Bakhmut, pushing the Russian forces back and liberating some territory. Although a localized action, the Ukrainian counteroffensive operation shows that the Russian forces might be overstretched and vulnerable to counterattacks.

Indeed, the Russian offensive might be reaching its culmination point.

“The tempo of Russian offensive operations across the theater has slowed in recent weeks, suggesting that the Russian spring offensive in Donbas may be nearing culmination. Ukrainian officials have indicated that significant Russian losses near Vuhledar are severely inhibiting Russian forces’ capacity to conduct further offensive operations in Donetsk Oblast,” the Institute for the Study of War assessed in its latest operational update on the war.

Russian Mercenaries Are Pushing France Out of Central Africa

Justin Ling

“For those of you here for the first time, the Central African Republic is a country of opportunity, and everybody has the possibility to come back,” Pamir, the hero of the 2021 Russian movie Tourist, tells his assembled crew of military instructors. “Take advantage while the boat is full.”

Pamir (a callsign) and his dozen Russian compatriots are in the country on a training mission to help the embattled government regain control in the civil war-torn country. Unbeknownst to the Russians, there is a plot afoot: An ex-president, nefarious European powerbroker, and greedy Catholic priest are conspiring to launch a coup against the government.

But the Russians are in the way, so the French-speaking European raises a militia to attack their base.

“We need a little victory that will be globalized by the media,” the Francophone tells his ordained co-conspirator. He offers a word of prescient caution: “The Russians know how to fight—and, unfortunately, they do it well.”

The militants launch their assault on the base but are thwarted—almost single-handedly—by the brave Russians. The coup-plotters’ plan to disrupt the nascent country’s election is derailed, and the Russians go back home. Some, indeed, come back to continue helping the government try to maintain control.

The credits roll.

How Russia and China overtook the West


For the past year, Nato countries, led by the US, have strived to nudge the rest of the world into providing military aid for Ukraine and sanctioning Russia, in the hope of isolating the latter. They have, by and large, failed on both counts. Western officials might point out that 141 of 193 countries supported a recent UN resolution demanding Russia withdraw from Ukraine, but the 32 abstaining countries included China, India, Pakistan and South Africa — which alone account for around 40% of the global population.

Despite the West’s attempts to “globalise” the conflict, only 33 nations — representing just over one-eighth of the global population — have imposed sanctions on Russia and sent military aid to Ukraine: the UK, US, Canada, Australia, South Korea, Japan and the EU — in other words, those countries that are directly under the US sphere of influence, which in many cases involves a significant US military presence. The remaining nations, comprising close to 90% of the world’s population, have refused to follow suit. If anything, the war has actually strengthened Russian relations with a number of major non-Western countries, including China and India, and accelerated the rise of a new international order in which it is the West that looks increasingly isolated, not Russia.

Since the invasion, China has hugely increased its purchases of Russian oil, gas and coal, while exporting far more machinery, manufactured products and high-end electronics in the other direction; they have boosted their bilateral trade by more than 30%. The two countries have also committed to significant investment and infrastructure projects through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the world’s largest regional grouping in terms of geographic scope and population, which also includes India, Pakistan, Iran and all the major Central Asian republics. Moreover, as a result of Western sanctions, they have been forced to rely on rouble-yuan trade instead of using the dollar, which has enhanced the yuan’s reserve currency status.

Fragile unity: Why Europeans are coming together on Ukraine (and what might drive them apart)

Ivan Krastev, Mark Leonard


The conventional wisdom is that wars end in negotiations. But their end is more often determined at the ballot box – or even in the opinion polls. A lack of public support brought America’s war in Vietnam to an end, the French war in Algeria to its close, and – with Slobodan Milosevic’s defeat at the ballot box in 2000 – ended the wars in the former Yugoslavia. Ukraine’s Western allies have so far been surprisingly united in their support for Kyiv. But Vladimir Putin surely hopes that Western public opinion will turn, leaving Ukraine high and dry.

In his state of the nation speech delivered a few days before the anniversary of his invasion of Ukraine, the Russian president made it very clear that he is positioning for a long war, hoping that the logic of democratic politics will exhaust Western support for Kyiv and allow Moscow to prevail.

But 12 months into the fighting, the cracks in the Western coalition have got smaller rather than larger. A multi-country ECFR poll conducted in January 2023 in ten European countries (Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, and Spain) shows that Europeans are surprisingly united in their determination to back Kyiv’s independence. Could the unity of European public opinion surprise Putin – in the same way that the fighting spirit of the Ukrainians did? What does the dynamic of public opinion in the last 12 months tell us about the next stage of the war?

The latest IPCC report on climate change is the most terrifying yet. It comes after more than 150 years of warnings.

Dave Levitan

The world is on the verge of passing a crucial climate threshold within about a decade, sharply increasing the chance of catastrophic warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned in its latest report, released Monday.

The analysis found that the global average temperature will likely exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels — the ambitious limit set by the Paris Agreement — by the first half of the 2030s. It stressed that the world’s poorest areas are at increasing risk, with almost half the population living in “highly vulnerable” areas, where deaths from floods, droughts and storms were 15 times as high over the past decade as they were elsewhere.

The science group’s sixth major report comes after another unsettling year for the climate — a sweltering, drying, melting, burning summer in 2022, a mixed but largely disappointing result at the U.N. climate conference in Egypt, another top-10 average temperature year with the promise of new records to come.

The recent extremes may seem like they are arriving in rapid-fire fashion, taking some by surprise — but the planet’s shift into a new climate, shaped by fossil fuel use and other human activities, has been a long time coming. So have the warnings about humanity’s potential to alter the climate, which date back more than 150 years.

Grid looked back through the impressively long timeline of the people and organizations that have called attention to the problem and urged action.

Online Sleuths Untangle the Mystery of the Nord Stream Sabotage

Matt Burgess

IT’S BEEN SIX months since the Nord Stream gas pipelines were ruptured by a series of explosions, leaking tons of methane into the environment and igniting an international whodunit. Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, and an unnamed pro-Ukrainian group have all been accused of planting explosives on the Baltic Sea pipelines in recent months. But half a year since the sabotage took place, the mystery remains unsolved.


To honor your privacy preferences, this content can only be viewed on the site it originates from.

Digital sleuths are stepping in to help provide clarity around bombshell claims about who was behind the attacks. Open source intelligence (OSINT) researchers are using public sources of data in their efforts to verify or debunk the snippets of information published about the Nord Stream explosions. They’re providing a glimpse of clarity to an incident that’s shrouded by secrecy and international politics.

Since early February, multiple media reports have claimed to provide new information about who could have attacked the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines on September 26. However, the reports have largely been based on anonymous sources, including unnamed intelligence officials and leaks from government investigations into the attacks.

First, American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh published claims that the US was behind attacks in a post on Substack. This was followed by reports in The New York Times and German publication Die Zeit claiming a pro-Ukrainian group was responsible. (European leaders have previously speculated Russia could be behind the attacks, and Russia has blamed the United Kingdom.) No country has claimed responsibility for the blasts so far, and official investigations are ongoing.

The Case for a Security Guarantee for Ukraine

Lise Morjé Howard and Michael O’Hanlon

All wars end. Eventually, the war between Russia and Ukraine will, too. The time to begin preparing for peace is not after the last gun falls silent but now, as the conflict rages. Long before they had triumphed in World War II, Allied leaders began to contemplate the shape of the future peace. At conferences in Tehran, Yalta, Potsdam, and elsewhere, they discussed proposals and made plans to create international institutions that could prevent another war. Today, a similar effort is needed. Western leaders must develop security mechanisms and consider strategies to assist Ukraine and manage future relations with Russia.

Ukraine must be brought into the democratic world and strengthened so that it can resist future Russian aggression. It also needs some type of Western military protection. But policymakers need to think more broadly about Russia’s role in the postwar order, as well. The nation needs a constructive vision, not just a plan to rein in its worst impulses. If after the war ends Russia is permanently banished from the international community, it will emerge, furious and humiliated, as a renewed threat. Putin, his war machine, and his imperial mindset must be defeated, and Ukraine must be hardened against any possible future aggression. At the same time, however, the West must also try to secure a long-term peace with Moscow.

Such an outcome will require both deterring Russia and simultaneously offering it a path to redemption—or at least to peaceful coexistence. One way to do so would be to create a new security community—call it the Atlantic-Asian Security Community—composed of many NATO members, as well as Ukraine, its allies, and any neutral states that wished to join. Once Putin’s regime falls and is replaced by a government committed to peace, Russia should be eligible to join, as well.

The West Can't Afford Hubris About Russia's War in Ukraine

Max Hastings

A military friend of mine recently visited a relatively honestly governed African state. He asked its president why he does not support the West on Ukraine. His host answered: “I can’t see what’s different between what Russia is doing there and what the West did in Iraq.”

We could suggest responses to that, starting with an assertion of American good intentions in Iraq — the desire to make its people free, rather than to enslave them as Russia seeks to do with Ukraine. In the eyes of much of the world, however, such stuff lacks conviction. Yes, 141 states supported last month’s UN vote condemning Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. But 85% of the world’s population do not participate in the Western sanctions imposed on Moscow, which still leak prodigiously.

Indians, South Africans, Mexicans and many others — not to mention Putin’s Chinese, Iranian and North Korean allies — may not love the Russians, but they see them as morally indistinguishable from the Americans. Both are branded as aggressive, overbearing, cruel, and ruthless in pursuit of their own interests. The Vietnam war is never forgotten.

We have just returned from vacation in Malaysia. In our villa, we ran around turning off lights, as we do at home since British electricity bills doubled. As soon as we left a room, however, staff turned everything back on again. We asked the manager: Haven’t his energy costs soared? He replied that in fact they have fallen. “Malaysia doesn’t do sanctions, so we are buying oil and gas cheaper than we did last year.”

Nuclear nightmare: reckless leaders are pushing the world back to the brink

Simon Tisdall

Leaders of unstable nuclear-armed states do dangerous and foolish things when under stress. They miscalculate, provoke, overreach. Given the febrile state of bilateral relations, last week’s aerial military clash between Russia and the US over the Black Sea inevitably intensified fears of nuclear escalation. The incident dramatised how dangerous Vladimir Putin, cornered by his existential Ukraine blunder, truly is – and the risks he is increasingly prepared to run. But he’s not the only one.

As often the case over the past year, Putin relied on American restraint. US forces could easily have gone after the offending Su-27 fighter at its Crimea base. Each time Russia’s president darkly hints at going nuclear, that once unthinkable prospect becomes a little less outlandish – and western leaders must steel their nerves. Russia’s repeated bombing of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant fits this pattern of minacious brinkmanship.

Russia possesses about 1,600 deployed strategic nuclear warheads, out of a military stockpile of about 4,500. Like the US and other nuclear weapons states, it is modernising and adding new systems. At the same time, a vital safety net of arms control treaties dating from the Soviet era is shredding. Last month, Putin ditched New Start, which caps deployed strategic nuclear arsenals. It was Russia’s last such treaty with the US.

In other words, at the very moment when the Kremlin is under unprecedented pressure and US-Russia relations are at their most tense since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, the political channels, agreed mechanisms and binding limits that could help avoid a nuclear collision are less robust and dependable than ever before. While the risk of unintended nuclear confrontation is ever-present, Putin’s recklessness makes it infinitely worse.

As Xi visits Russia, Putin sees his anti-U.S. world order taking shape

Robyn Dixon

RIGA, Latvia — For Vladimir Putin, the state visit to Russia by Chinese President Xi Jinping, which begins on Monday, provides a giant morale boost and a chance to showcase the much-vaunted new world order that the Russian leader believes he is forging through his war on Ukraine — in which the United States and NATO can no longer dictate anything to anyone.

Xi’s visit to Russia, just after cementing his precedent-breaking third term in power, brings together two men who have positioned themselves as leaders for life — and it sets the scene for global confrontation, with Beijing willing to use its partnership with Moscow to counter Washington, even if that means granting tacit approval to Putin’s brutal, destabilizing war.

“The grim outlook in China is that we are entering this era of confrontation with the U.S., the gloves are off, and Russia is an asset and a partner in this struggle,” said Alexander Gabuev, an analyst with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

It remains to be seen whether this confrontation will heat up, pushing three nuclear powers to the brink of World War III, or merely marks the opening chords of Cold War 2.0. But Xi’s visit shows sides being taken, with China, Russia and Iran lining up against the United States, Britain and other NATO allies — in a competition for global influence and for alliances with nations such as South Africa and Saudi Arabia, which seem ambivalent but up for grabs.

Charting a New Course for the Pacific Islands

April A. Herlevi

This NBR report examines key issues confronting the subregion of Micronesia within the Pacific Islands and considers strategic avenues for strengthening future U.S. engagement amid climate and health security challenges and U.S.-China competition. The report draws on the Pacific Islands Strategic Dialogue convened by NBR in May 2022 in Tamuning, Guam, in partnership with the University of Guam and with support from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency Strategic Trends Research Initiative.

DoD’s Software Acquisition Strategy Could Result In Dangerous Security Vulnerabilities

Dan Gouré

The Department of Defense (DoD) is about to acquire enterprise software in a way that could grant one company a near-certain monopoly and potentially create serious cybersecurity risks. For years, the Pentagon has licensed Microsoft’s Office 365 (O365) as the basis for its essential productivity functions. But now the department is poised to acquire a particular version of Office 365 with enhanced features, particularly related to cybersecurity.

While some would argue that this is an efficient solution, depending on one software bundle that does everything from e-mail and word processing to advanced security may not be the most effective or safe approach. Buying the enhanced license will not only extend Microsoft’s virtual monopoly on productivity software for the Pentagon, but lock DoD into reliance on its security applications. In the constantly evolving world of cyber threats and responses, it is a serious mistake to rely solely on one company for all network security needs.

For years, when it comes to back-office and productivity software, DoD has been like the proverbial Tower of Babel, with different services, components, agencies, and offices relying on distinct and often incompatible applications. This resulted in enormous inefficiencies and unnecessarily high costs. Depending so much on a myriad of different applications and associated databases also created barriers to the exchange of critical information and vulnerabilities that could be exploited by cyber threats.

The defense department went through a long struggle to move away from legacy back-office and productivity software in favor of a single, unifying set of capabilities able to integrate the work of the entire defense enterprise. Finally, it settled on one: O365. While Microsoft products were widely used through DoD, it now will define a single suite of applications as its go-to capability.

Avoiding the Secrecy Trap in Open Source Intelligence


The Secrecy Problem

Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) operating concepts in the Intelligence Community (IC) are outdated. While the IC has long cited open source in classified products, treating unclassified information as just another “INT” feeding classified systems is an inadequate model with the future datasphere approaching hundreds of zettabytes and where the most valuable data and analytic technology is coming from outside classified facilities. The IC’s meager and decades-long OSINT reforms and under-performance are symptoms of a culture designed to protect secrets. While secrets and protecting them will always be a part of a healthy intelligence apparatus, the policy, resourcing, and information technology (IT) priorities of classified operations are incompatible with a world flooded with open and commercial data and cannot scale OSINT toward a cohesive national-level mission.

Georgetown University researchers estimate that China has 100,000 open source analysts extracting value from scientific and technical developments globally but with an emphasis on the United States. China has a larger labor pool with a more government-directed interwoven labor model and scouring scientific and technical journals is a sub-set discipline of OSINT, but the 100,000 figure in this sub-set alone is still a staggering line of effort. By comparison, the IC’s fragmented OSINT efforts, of any sub-set or model, are orders of magnitude smaller with the general model of small-to-modest-sized full-time OSINT teams embedded within substantially larger classified shops. Moreover, the IC often reduces OSINT to a collection discipline to feed “requests for information” into classified products re-hosted on air-gapped and classified networks. This “highside” model where OSINT is sucked up for “fusion” is a narrow, outdated mindset and limits broad customer, partner, and Allied sharing. As evidenced by the increased demand for quality OSINT from the conflict in Ukraine, broad Allied and partner sharing is required to counter malign influence, spoil operations of our adversaries, and shame criminals masquerading as world leaders.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman warns that other A.I. developers working on ChatGPT-like tools won’t put on safety limits—and the clock is ticking


OpenAI CEO Sam Altman believes artificial intelligence has incredible upside for society, but he also worries about how bad actors will use the technology.

In an ABC News interview this week, he warned “there will be other people who don’t put some of the safety limits that we put on.”

OpenAI released its A.I. chatbot ChatGPT to the public in late November, and this week it unveiled a more capable successor called GPT-4.

Other companies are racing to offer ChatGPT-like tools, giving OpenAI plenty of competition to worry about, despite the advantage of having Microsoft as a big investor.

“It’s competitive out there,” OpenAI cofounder and chief scientist Ilya Sutskever told The Verge in an interview published this week. “GPT-4 is not easy to develop…there are many many companies who want to do the same thing, so from a competitive side, you can see this as a maturation of the field.”

Sutskever was explaining OpenAI’s decision (with safety being another reason) to reveal little about GPT-4’s inner workings, causing many to question whether the name “OpenAI” still made sense. But his comments were also an acknowledgment of the slew of rivals nipping at OpenAI’s heels.

Threat intelligence is a critical component of any organization’s security strategy, says Yusuf Hashmi, Sr. Director – Group Head – IT Security (CISO) at Jubilant Ingrevia Limited


In today’s digital age, the security landscape is constantly evolving, and organizations are constantly facing new threats. Threat intelligence is a critical component of any organization’s security strategy, as it helps identify potential threats and take proactive measures to prevent them. In this article, we will explore the concept of threat intelligence, its importance, and how it can be leveraged to enhance organizational security.

What is threat intelligence?

Threat intelligence refers to the process of collecting, analyzing, and disseminating information about potential threats to an organization’s security. This information can come from a variety of sources, including open-source intelligence, social media, the dark web, and proprietary sources such as internal security logs.

The goal of threat intelligence is to provide organizations with actionable insights that can help them make informed decisions about their security posture. This can include identifying new and emerging threats, understanding the tactics and techniques used by threat actors, and tracking their activities and movements.

Why is threat intelligence important?

Threat intelligence is critical for organizations of all sizes, as it helps them stay ahead of potential threats and take proactive measures to prevent them. Without threat intelligence, organizations would be operating in the dark, with no knowledge of potential threats until they had already been compromised.

How Open-Source Intelligence Is Changing Warfare

Midshipman First Class Owen Vandersmith, U.S. Navy

Open-source intelligence (OSINT) is the process of using publicly available information and tools to create (usually public) intelligence. Fact-checkers and whistleblowers have employed OSINT, but recently its utility for military purposes has gained attention.

While OSINT has been a subject of official study since at least the 1940s, it has become more privatized in the 21st century. In 2016, for example, users on the notorious social media site 4Chan gave Russia the coordinates of a terrorist training camp. However, Russia’s conflict with Ukraine has resulted in a large-scale civilian effort to track Russian activities there and, in particular, to analyze the Russian invasion that began in early 2022. As the United States prepares for potential conflict with peer adversaries, it is important for military professionals and the public to learn about OSINT, the threats it could pose, and how the United States can use this community as an asset for future conflicts.
The Three Pillars of OSINT

OSINT is not just the information it produces or its capabilities. Three key “pillars” comprise it:

Data sources. OSINT researchers need data to analyze.

Information aggregation. OSINT researchers need references and places to store information obtained by investigation. They also need to be able to transfer this information to each other.

Two Oddball Ideas for a Megaqubit Quantum Computer


The perpetual problem with scaling up most quantum computers is a seemingly mundane one—too many cables. Experts say quantum computers might need at least a million qubits kept at near absolute zero to do anything computationally noteworthy. But connecting them all by coaxial cable to control and readout electronics, which work at room temperature, would be impossible.

Computing giants such as IBM, Google, and Intel hope to solve that problem with cyrogenic silicon chips that can operate close to the qubits themselves. But researchers have recently put forward some more exotic solutions that could quicken the pace.

At the IEEE International Electron Device Meeting (IEDM) in December, two groups of researchers suggest that silicon might not be the best answer. Their solutions instead rely on semiconductors and transistors more commonly aimed at near-terahertz-frequency radio. And in February at the IEEE International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) a separate research group proposed technology that could use terahertz radio to eliminate communication cables altogether.
Shared Quantum Wells

A type of device made from compound semiconductors such as indium gallium arsenide rather than silicon and called a high electron-mobility transistor (HEMT) is a natural at amplifying the kind of RF signals needed to interact with qubits. But researchers at Korea Advanced Institute of Technology (KAIST) and at IBM Zurich and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) calculate that it could also do the cable-reducing task of routing, multiplexing, and demultiplexing. Crucially, it could do it with little power loss, which is important, because at the coldest parts of the cryogenic chambers used for quantum computers, the refrigerator system can remove only a couple of watts of heat.

Room-Temperature Superconductivity Claimed


Scientists today reported that they’ve observed room-temperature superconductivity. Superconductivity is a rarefied state of matter in which electrical resistance in a material drops to zero while its electrical and magnetic capacity vastly expands. Until now, the phenomenon has been observed only at cryogenic temperatures or phenomenally high pressures. Such a discovery, if confirmed, could open pathways to a range of applications including lossless electric transmission, high-efficiency electric motors, maglev trains, and low-cost magnets for MRI and nuclear fusion.

However, the caveats attached to today’s announcement are considerable. While the researchers say their material retains its coveted lossless properties at temperatures up to 20.6 ºC, it still requires substantial pressure (10 kilobars, or 9,900 atmospheres). Today’s publication is also tarnished by the fact that the scientists behind the discovery, publishing their work in today’s issue of the journal Nature, have retracted a previous paper on room-temperature superconductivity because of its unconventional data-reduction methods.

The primary researcher Ranga Dias—assistant professor in the departments of mechanical engineering and physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester—said the retracted research paper has since been revised to accommodate the criticisms and accusations. Originally published in Nature as well, the revised version is back under peer review with Nature, Dias said.

“We’ve made an open-door policy. We [allowed] everybody to come to our lab and see how we do the measurements.”
—Ranga Dias, University of Rochester

Detection Stays One Step Ahead of Deepfakes—for Now


In March 2022, a video appeared online that seemed to show Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, asking his troops to lay down their arms in the face of Russia’s invasion. The video—created with the help of artificial intelligence—was poor in quality and the ruse was quickly debunked, but as synthetic content becomes easier to produce and more convincing, a similar effort could someday have serious geopolitical consequences.

That’s in part why, as computer scientists devise better methods for algorithmically generating video, audio, images, and text—typically for more constructive uses such as enabling artists to manifest their visions—they’re also creating counter-algorithms to detect such synthetic content. Recent research shows progress in making detection more robust, sometimes by looking beyond subtle signatures of particular generation tools and instead utilizing underlying physical and biological signals that are hard for AI to imitate.

It’s also entirely possible that AI-generated content and detection methods will become locked in a perpetual back-and-forth as both sides become more sophisticated. “The main problem is how to handle new technology,” Luisa Verdoliva, a computer scientist at the University of Naples Federico II, says of the novel generation methods that keep cropping up. “In this respect, it never ends.”

No. 319: The Promise and Peril of Wargaming

Taylor Grossman

Wargaming can be a powerful tool for educating soldiers, developing military doctrine, and determining future investment strategies. However, wargaming also has real limitations: if misapplied, wargaming can reinforce bad assumptions and be used to justify unrealistic or faulty battle plans.

PRC Spy Balloon Reveals New Arena of Strategic Competition

Kevin Pollpeter

The overflight of a People’s Republic of China (PRC) spy balloon across the continental United States reveals Beijing’s ambitions to establish itself as a military power with global reach. PRC balloons have overflown more than 40 countries across five continents.1 Lacking an airborne strategic reconnaissance capability, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) appears to have sought a low-cost intelligence collection platform that was so retro that it has revealed gaps in the ability of the US and other militaries to defend their sovereign airspace.

The spy balloon episode also highlights the increasingly heated diplomatic relationship between the United States and the PRC. The balloon overflight and subsequent shootdown have derailed efforts by both countries to lower tensions and demonstrate how unplanned events can complicate the relationship. The competing narratives from both the United States and the PRC, with the United States portraying the PRC as a malign actor intent on subverting the established international system and the PRC portraying itself as an innocent victim of US aggression, underline a competition that is increasingly likened to a “Cold War 2.0.”2

The Unknowable Future of Warfare

Cameron Ross

In 1960, British physicist and novelist C. P. Snow famously stated that it was a mathematical certainty that nuclear war would occur within the decade. Thankfully, despite his confident pronouncements about it being a scientific fact and something scientists knew “with the certainty of established truth,” nuclear weapons were never used in anger.[1] While Snow’s convictions seem silly today, he is by no means an aberration in his failure to foresee the future. After the Boston Tea Party, British Prime Minister Lord North assured the House of Commons that London could bring Boston back into compliance with four or five frigates and that military force was unnecessary.[2] French General Ferdinand Foch reportedly declared in 1904 that “airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.”[3] Dick Cheney believed Iraqis would welcome Americans as liberators in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He also stated, “The Gulf War in the 1990s lasted five days on the ground. I can’t tell you if the use of force in Iraq today would last five days, or five weeks or five months. But it certainly isn’t going to last any longer than that.”[4] While all of these seem foolish in hindsight, they came from knowledgeable and intelligent people and were entirely reasonable in their context. And yet, they proved to be fundamentally wrong.

Back to the Future: Using History to Prepare for Future Warfare

Ian Li

Predicting the future of warfare is at best a speculative affair. Any forecast can never be proposed with absolute certainty, no matter how robust the underlying analysis. The future is always somewhat uncertain. In fact, history is replete with examples of visionaries who have tried but failed to accurately divine the nature of change. Nonetheless, it is a necessary endeavour, because such is the cost of war today that the implications of failure can be far-reaching, even existential. From the Oracle of Delphi to the modern application of data analytics, military planners over the ages have sought greater clarity regarding the future conduct of war.[1] However, there is no crystal ball for future warfare. Instead, this essay argues that historical lessons provide the best means of determining its form, but only if they are used correctly. The context behind each case study must be carefully considered by military planners who seek to learn from the past so that the observations gathered can be accurately extrapolated onto the present situation, and the resulting lessons meaningfully applied.

Learning from the Past

The value of history as a means of informing the future conduct of war is not new. James Mattis holds that “a real understanding of history means that we face nothing new under the sun.”[2] The fundamental reason for this lies in the Clausewitzian adage that no matter the age, all wars conform to a set of universal principles that constitute its nature.[3] The great captains of the past would therefore not find the conflicts of today any more foreign conceptually than those they themselves experienced. The struggle they would have to overcome would rather be in adapting to the new means available with which to wage them.[4]