11 April 2023

Briefer: India’s Lithium Resources in Kashmir Highlight Conflict Risks Around Critical Minerals

Tom Ellison

On February 9th, the Geological Survey of India announced1 it had discovered 5.9 million tons of lithium, a metal in high demand for electric vehicle batteries and other low-carbon energy technologies. Though the findings are preliminary, if borne out, the discovery would put India among the world’s top holders of lithium, with significant implications2 for India’s own electric vehicle (EV) deployment, environmental management, and energy independence. However, the potential reserves’ location in Jammu and Kashmir state—heavily militarized territory disputed by Pakistan—underscores the security challenges associated with critical mineral wealth. These challenges highlight the urgent need to prepare for the potential negative security repercussions of expanded mining in India and elsewhere, including via improved mining governance, new technologies, reduced lithium demand, and conflict resolution.

Economic and Environmental Implications

The development of lithium resources in Kashmir would have lucrative and disruptive implications that could exacerbate existing security challenges. First, the lithium would be a major economic and resource asset for the Indian government, as global demand for lithium is projected to increase forty-two-fold3 in a future scenario that meets the Paris Agreement’s climate targets. This boon could help India generate revenue to tackle climate and other challenges or meet its domestic renewable energy and EV goals with cheaper and more independent lithium supplies—if India can develop adequate refining capacity alongside extraction.

Second, however, lithium mining could damage local ecology, populations, and economies. The environmental impacts4 of extracting lithium of the hard rock variety potentially located in Jammu and Kashmir include excessive freshwater use, deforestation and resulting carbon emissions, and the contamination of water or fertile land with mining byproducts. This is all in an area the World Resources Institute’s Aqueduct rates as Extremely High in physical water stress.5

Is South India in the Crosshairs of Islamic State?

Balasubramaniyan Viswanathan

The Islamic State, in its 23rd issue of Voice of Khorasan magazine published last month, has trained its focus on the Southern part of India. In a message entitled “a message to the inhabitants in the land occupied by cow and mice worshipping filths,” Islamic State has claimed responsibility for failed attacks in Coimbatore (Tamilnadu) and Mangalore (Karnataka), which occurred last October and November respectively. The message asks: “Do you not consider out attacks in Coimbatore (Tamilnadu) and Karnataka (Bangalore), where our brothers took revenge for the honour of our religion and terrorized kufar and its followers? (sic).” In January 2023, the Geopolitical Monitor highlighted these attacks as being inspired by Islamic State’s ideology and as an sign of Islamic State in Hind province attempting to regroup. Interesting as it may seem, both these attacks are failed attacks possibly indicating that the Islamic State in an attempt to garner political mileage and make inroads into South India, may have taken credit for these attacks, albeit belatedly, for reasons outlined below.

The claim of responsibility for the botched attempts was published in its 23rd issue of Voice of Khorasan which came out in March 2023, almost six months after the actual events occurred. Usually, Islamic State claims its attacks immediately either through its official outlets Amaq News Agency or through statements released by its linked channels or through Al Naba Newsletter, if the attacks are carried out by modules linked to the Islamic State. On the other hand, if the attacks are carried out by inspired modules, then the claim of responsibility comes a little later and at times the attacks are not claimed at all. For instance, some of the terrorist attacks by the Islamic State in Jammu & Kashmir immediately claimed by Amaq News Agency buttress the fact that the Islamic State is swift to claim responsibility for their attacks:06 Oct 2021 – assassination of an individual in Srinagar claimed on 8 Oct 2021

Why So Many Are Buying What Xi and Putin Are Selling

Pankaj Mishra

In their ideological struggle with the US and Europe, the Chinese and Russian autocrats can tap into a still-rich vein of anti-Westernism around the world.

Pankaj Mishra is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. His books include “Age of Anger: A History of the Present,” “From the Ruins of Empire: The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia,” and “Temptations of the West: How to Be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet and Beyond.”

After months of listening to US President Joe Biden declare democracy to be in mortal conflict with autocracy, China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin are launching an ideological counterattack. Last month, Xi explicitly denounced the US and its Western allies for pursuing “containment from all directions, encirclement and suppression against us.” Putin signed a 42-page document outlining a foreign policy aimed at curbing Western “dominance.”

Theirs hardly matches the ardor and eloquence of Mao Zedong’s speech inaugurating the People’s Republic of China in 1949: “Ours will no longer be a nation subject to insult and humiliation.” Nikita Khrushchev was punchier in insisting that communism was more resilient than capitalism: “We will bury you.”

But then, Putin and Xi have none of the ideological gravitas and appeal of their predecessors. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union and China claimed to offer a new model of organizing society, politics, economy, and the world order. Communism was especially seductive to new nations struggling to overcome decades of exploitation by capitalist Western powers.

Report: Chinese state-sponsored hacking group highly active


BANGKOK (AP) — A Chinese hacking group that is likely state-sponsored and has been linked previously to attacks on U.S. state government computers is still “highly active” and is focusing on a broad range of targets that may be of strategic interest to China’s government and security services, a private American cybersecurity firm said in a new report Thursday.

The hacking group, which the report calls RedGolf, shares such close overlap with groups tracked by other security companies under the names APT41 and BARIUM that it is thought they are either the same or very closely affiliated, said Jon Condra, director of strategic and persistent threats for Insikt Group, the threat research division of Massachusetts-based cybersecurity company Recorded Future.

Following up on previous reports of APT41 and BARIUM activities and monitoring the targets that were attacked, Insikt Group said it had identified a cluster of domains and infrastructure “highly likely used across multiple campaigns by RedGolf” over the past two years.

“We believe this activity is likely being conducted for intelligence purposes rather than financial gain due to the overlaps with previously reported cyberespionage campaigns,” Condra said in an emailed response to questions from The Associated Press.

China’s Foreign Ministry denied the accusations, saying, “This company has produced false information on so-called ‘Chinese hacker attacks’ more than once in the past. Their relevant actions are groundless accusations, far fetched, and lack professionalism.”

Chinese authorities have consistently denied any form of state-sponsored hacking, instead saying China itself is a major target of cyberattacks.

APT41 was implicated in a 2020 U.S. Justice Department indictment that accused Chinese hackers of targeting more than 100 companies and institutions in the U.S. and abroad, including social media and video game companies, universities and telecommunications providers.

America Needs a “Cold War” Strategy for China

Randy Schriver Dan Blumenthal 

Policymakers in the United States are starting to come to grips with a stark reality—a Cold War with China—and the need for a strategy with clear objectives. The Chinese spy balloon traversing U.S. airspace and growing concerns over China’s diplomatic and potential military support for Russia’s war against Ukraine are just the latest developments galvanizing U.S. policymakers on the need for action to counter the threat from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The United States’ new hardline position on China was long overdue and has caught many, including Beijing, off-guard. But it should not have. For decades, China has systematically abused the privileges that it has been accorded as a member of the free and open community of nations in its own bid for dominance. Evidence of this can be seen in China’s ongoing use of diplomatic coercion, unlawful military provocations, and, in the economic realm, the rampant theft of intellectual property, predatory trade practices, and widespread market manipulation through massive subsidies to favored industries. The use of these tactics by the Chinese Communist Party is not an accident but part of a deliberate strategy to supplant the United States as the global leader and create a regional and global order deferential to its authoritarian preferences.

To put it bluntly, America has been far too slow to rise to this challenge. The fundamental change to a competitive approach made by the Trump and Biden administrations were a start, but a comprehensive strategy that organizes and coordinates America’s considerable policy tools to achieve victory still does not exist—especially in the economic arena.

That is why we launched the China Economic and Strategy Initiative, to help develop and articulate an optimal economic strategy, one that includes objectives with clear lines of effort, to address China’s epochal economic and technological challenge to U.S. geopolitical leadership. A vital part of that process is to first understand what has already been done to counter China to identify how the United States must position itself for success going forward.

“Strategic Competition” Is Not a Strategy

China’s Media and Information Warfare

Joshua Kurlantzick

In the past five years, countries ranging from the United States to Australia to Germany to France to the United Kingdom have become increasingly concerned about the threat of Chinese media and information strategies.

China’s two-pronged strategy

These include Beijing’s global expansion of its state media outlets like Xinhua and its network China Global Television Network (CGTN) – as well as its increasing control of all Chinese-language media around the world, (including in virtually every European country where there are Chinese-language media).

In addition to the traditional media sector, in the information space Beijing has built information “pipes” like 5G networks and undersea cables.

It has also expanded its more sophisticated use of disinformation on social media platforms and relies on increasingly popular social media platforms like TikTok, WeChat and other tools.
Counteraction needed

Policymakers in many regions – and increasingly in Europe – are beginning to recognize the threat of Beijing’s expanding media, information and traditional influence actions. They are starting to take some actions against China’s efforts.

For example, the United Kingdom and some European countries have taken outlets such as the China Global Television Network (CGTN) off the air.

Australia has passed laws to heighten scrutiny of foreign influence in the country, while the United States has forced unfree foreign state outlets to register as foreign agents.
In focus: TikTok

Not just Washington, but all liberal democracies (including those in Europe) are trying to figure out how to handle the vastly influential TikTok, which is becoming the most popular app in the world – but has been found to have sent users’ data back to China.

To date, however, there has been little coherence among those democracies over how they should respond to Beijing’s global media and information offensive – and little sharing of best practices among democracies on how to respond.

Steps to take

The Fallacy Of A US Withdrawal From The Middle East – Analysis

James M. Dorsey

America is in decline. Eclipsed by China’s rise, it is shifting attention from the Middle East to the Indo-Pacific.

That is one refrain in the analysis of three seemingly paradigm-challenging developments in the past month: a Chinese-mediated restoration of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the kingdom’s association with the China-led, security-focused Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, and a possible Russian-facilitated revival of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Syria.

The geopolitical importance of these developments is too early to tell. While significant in and of themselves, they raise as many questions as they provide answers. Their ultimate impact remains uncertain.

At the same time, these developments, although seemingly sidelining the United States, have not changed facts on the ground. Furthermore, they do not suggest tectonic plate shifting.

Geography is one immutable fact. There is no coherent Indo-Pacific strategy that does not include the region’s Western approach: the Arabian Sea with Oman, Yemen, Somalia, India, and Pakistan as littoral states.

In other words, a continued US commitment to security in the Middle East or West Asia, however reconfigured, has to be part and parcel of any Indo-Pacific strategy.

Mini-lateral alliances like I2U2 that brings together the United States, India, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel with a focus on economics and non-conventional security such as food production testify to the importance of the Gulf and the Arabian Sea.

Moreover, the recent China and Russia-related developments did not happen in a vacuum. They reflect a global rebalancing of power rather than the eclipse of one power by another.

Initially, the rebalancing towards a multipolar world involves the United States and China.

However, it is only a matter of time before India emerges as the world’s third-largest economy and claims its seat at the top table.

In that multipolar environment, middle powers like Saudi Arabia determined not to be caught in a renewed Cold War in which they are forced to align themselves with any one side of the divide, are accruing increased agency and leverage as they play all sides against the middle.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman appeared to be flexing his enhanced muscles when he reportedly told associates late last year that he was no longer interested in pleasing the US saying he wants something in return for anything he gives Washington.

Meanwhile, depending on the outcome of the Ukraine war, Gulf states may find that Russia is, at this point, a middle rather than a global power even if that is not how it seeks to project itself.

Is A US-China Conflict Inevitable Now? – OpEd

John Bruton*

The most worrying phenomenon in the world today is the warlike rhetoric that China and the US exchange on a regular basis. Almost the only topic, on which Republicans and Democrats agree nowadays, is that China must be curbed economically and militarily.

President Donald Trump imposed punitive tariffs on Chinese goods worth $50 billion. He cited the theft of intellectual property and currency manipulation as reasons for penalizing China. Mike Pence, as Trump’s vice president, declared that the US would prioritize competition over cooperation in its relations with China.

President Joe Biden’s administration is not only continuing with Trump’s tariffs, but it is also introducing restrictions on the export of certain semiconductor chips to China. Their goal is to prevent China from getting access to cutting-edge technology and to hobble the semiconductor industry.

Industry experts estimate that Taiwan now “produces over 60% of the world’s semiconductors and over 90% of the most advanced ones.” Officially, Taiwan is a part of China. When the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) won the civil war, the Kuomintang (KMT) fled to an island off Mainland China. For decades, both the CCP and KMT maintained a “One China” policy.

Taiwan has since transitioned into a democracy. The KMT is no longer in power. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen belongs to the Democratic Progressive Party. She has made a historic visit to the US and met the US House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy. The Chinese are clearly not pleased with this visit or this meeting. De facto, Taiwan has become militarily and politically independent of Beijing.

Taiwan has become a flashpoint for US-China relations. In the last few years, US media has been speculating about a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. China’s rhetoric has also been hardening. Beijing is restricting the exports of rare earths needed to build the batteries necessary for renewable power.

Russia Could Lose Billions In Arms Sales To China. Here’s Why

Robert Farley

After years of living on the edge, Russia’s position as a major global arms exporter looks likely to careen into a catastrophic collapse. China appears poised to take advantage, potentially replacing Russia as the major weapons supplier to countries that are barred from purchasing Western arms or that can’t afford them.
The Context

For most of the history of the People’s Republic of China the arms trade with Russia has run one direction; technology and equipment goes to China in return for resources, cash, and political influence.

The USSR helped stand up China’s defense industrial base (DIB) after the end of World War II, entering into licensing and technology transfer agreements that allowed the PRC to build Soviet equipment from Soviet kits with Soviet technical assistance. Over time, the PRC’s defense industrial base became more accomplished, although the Sino-Soviet Split and the Cultural Revolution had a catastrophic impact on the development of China’s DIB. The Soviet Union continued to use arms sales as an adhesive to commit customers to long-term political relationships, but increasingly faced competition from cheaper Chinese weapons.

As the Cold War ended, China again became a customer for Russian military equipment and Russian technology. Deeply in need of hard cash, Russia was happy to sell China whatever Beijing wanted to buy and to help modernize the Chinese DIB.

Over time the sophistication of Chinese industry grew while the state of Russia’s defense industry stagnated from a lack of capital, a lack of new technology, and an aging workforce. Russia has managed to maintain a large share of the export market, but faces three big problems moving forward:
The Customers

The U.S. Needs an Economic War Council for China

Charles Edel

This week, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met with U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Southern California. It’s the second time in less than a year that Taiwan’s leader has sat down with a speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives—and it’s the second time Beijing is saber-rattling and threatening significant retaliation.

What America Learned in Iraq

James Ryan 

This past week, we marked twenty years since the ill-fated disaster that was the US-led invasion of Iraq. Today, we are sharing at FPRI a collection of essays from our senior fellows reflecting on the ways the invasion and occupation reshaped American foreign policy in the region and beyond.

Each of our contributors strikes one particular refrain—the invasion damaged, possibly irreparably, the credibility of the United States to promote its values in the Middle East. As Sean Yom argues, the boosters of the invasion held to a kind of post-Cold War domino theory that believed a transition to democracy in Iraq with American assistance would inexorably iterate itself across the region. Instead, the manifest failures of the war turned this hope into a threat, “democratize, or else we’ll do it for you,” as Yom puts it.

Fear of the disorder brought about in Iraq certainly played a role in the anxieties of counterrevolutionary forces across the region in the wake of the Arab uprisings of 2011, as Robert D. Kaplan has elaborated recently in the Wall Street Journal. In his reflection today, he notes how fears of this disorder have strongly characterized President Joe Biden’s response to Russia’s similarly misguided, disastrous invasion of Ukraine—a balanced commitment of American support that forgoes grandiose dreams of remaking a whole region’s value systems reflects “an integration of the lessons learned… without overlearning them.” In the mind of the administration, defending Ukrainian sovereignty in the face of Russian aggression may yet prove both the inverse of the US position in Iraq, and its most successful attempt to secure democracy, to boot.

The relative success of America’s current Ukraine policy should raise questions about the role of promoting democratic values and human rights in US foreign policy more generally, and what role they may yet play in a region that’s been so damaged by past efforts in this area. Sarah Bush offers an important note to this end. As the tragic fate of Afghan women following the US withdrawal in 2021 has shown, it remains important to maintain commitments to democracy, human rights, and gender equality in foreign policy even in the midst of a disaster like Iraq. Finding ways to push (re)invigorated autocracies in the region to go beyond the instrumental efforts to expand rights, where possible, will be a key element of a foreign policy that seeks a balance between restraint and values. Bush urges US policymakers to employ a “savvy” approach on rights, rather than throwing them out with the bathwater of military misadventure.

Iraq: Some Reflections

Robert D. Kaplan 

The Iraq War was far bloodier for the United States than supposed, and its meaning over the past two decades keeps subtly shifting, affected by the march of current events.

The conventional fact is that roughly 4,000 American servicemen and women were killed. That is a narrow version of the truth. When you add in the number of American contractors and civilians killed, the number is closer to 8,000. Tens of thousands had life- and family-changing injuries: that is, the loss of a major limb, or the loss of at least one eye, or facial burns. When you consider the loved ones directly affected by each seriously wounded veteran you have tens of thousands more, mainly working-class Americans, with which the policy elite in Washington in general does not interact. This is to say nothing about the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed.

The Iraq War, though far more important than supposed in terms of American casualties, may turn out to be less important in terms of geopolitics. Iraq was a far-flung, imperial-like adventure gone awry, from which the United States, with all of its natural and economic resources, matched to an enviable geography, has simply moved on from. The US defense establishment may be behind in planning and acquiring the weaponry needed to deter China because of a decade of counterinsurgency in the Middle East (including Afghanistan), but progress in this regard has been steady and impressive. Yet again, what will be striking to historians looking back on all this is how despite the blunders of Iraq and Vietnam, the American Empire, so to speak, lumbered forward. Blunders on such a scale would have crippled minor- and middle-level powers, but not the United States. And because America’s margin for error is so wide, it breeds a certain amount of decadence in Washington.

America for almost two decades lived in the shadow of the Iraq failure—until Russia invaded Ukraine. For almost two decades, caution and restraint were the reigning paradigms (however unspoken, however disregarded in an instance or two). This was an obvious reaction to Iraq. But Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has led to renewed war fever in Washington. It’s not that the lessons of Iraq have been disregarded; rather, they have been overshadowed. Yes, there is a group on the Republican right that feels the United States should be more cautious in Ukraine. But more of Washington wants the Biden administration to send even more weapons, faster. The White House, by sending tens of billions of dollars in weaponry to Ukraine, without risking the life of an American soldier, while also being careful not to allow the war to spread, may have gotten the balance right. And if that turns out to be the case, it would mean that the lessons of the Iraq War have been integrated into Washington’s foreign policy mindset, without overlearning them.

Operation Iraqi Freedom: Learning Lessons from a Lost War

Heather S. Gregg 

American-led efforts to state and nation-build in Iraq all but failed, resulting in the deaths of 4,431 US troops, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi fatalities, and mixed-at-best results in creating a viable state.
Despite these failed efforts in Iraq, the United States will most likely need to work with allies, partners, and the Ukrainian people to reconstruct their country in the wake of Russia’s war against Ukraine. Therefore, learning lessons from the war in Iraq is critical for future efforts at state stabilization.

Editor’s Note: FPRI is publishing a collection of essays to mark the twentieth anniversary of the start of the Iraq War. The articles analyze the war’s impact on US influence in the Middle East, America’s global standing, and US democracy promotion efforts. In addition, our authors explore the legacy of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and argue that the inability of American officials to understand Iraqi politics was perhaps the most important intelligence failure of the entire war effort.

Twenty years ago, the United States, together with a “coalition of the willing,” invaded Iraq with the initial goals of eliminating the country’s purported weapon of mass destruction capabilities, severing Iraq’s alleged support of al Qaeda, and deposing Saddam Hussein and Ba’ath Party leadership. In its place, the Bush administration promised to create a democracy in Iraq, develop an economy based on Iraq’s oil wealth, and build a professional military.

Ultimately, the justifications for the invasion were unfounded. Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction program proved to be virtually non-existent and Iraq’s purported ties to al Qaeda were also found to be untrue.

The costs of the war were significant. Between 2003 and March 6, 2023, Department of Defense Casualty Index reports 4,431 US troops died in Iraq and 31,944 were wounded in action. Allies and partners that supported the war in Iraq also lost lives, eroding goodwill and straining important relationships. And, although exact numbers vary and will never be known, estimated deaths of Iraqi civilians are in the hundreds of thousands, with one estimate at nearly half a million. The war also touched off two decades of forced migration, including an estimated 9.2 million refugees and internally displaced persons, and caused a significant “brain drain” from Iraq, depleting it of the talent necessary to run the country. Alongside the toll on the population, Iraq’s physical infrastructure, including its oil production capabilities and electrical grid, were significantly damaged in the course of war. Ironically, the invasion helped create the conditions for the rise of al Qaeda in Iraq and its successor, the Islamic State, which occupied large portions of the country from 2014 to 2017. The fight to defeat the Islamic State caused further death and destruction in Iraq and Syria.

‘Win-win’: Washington is just fine with the China-brokered Saudi-Iran deal


Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, left, hold hands with his Saudi Arabian counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, right, and China's counterpart Qin Gang in Beijing Thursday, April 6, 2023 to finalize a deal that would reopen embassies, resume direct flights and restart security and trade agreements. | Ding Lin/Xinhua via AP Photo

As Washington denizens look toward the Middle East and see China brokering diplomatic deals between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the surprising general response has been: One less thing for us to worry about.

Top diplomats for Saudi Arabia and Iran were in Beijing on Thursday to finalize a deal that would reopen embassies, resume direct flights between their two nations and restart security and trade agreements. It’s the latest sign that Beijing is not content with being solely a regional behemoth, but rather a major global power.

But the Biden administration, which has openly worried about China’s growing clout in the Middle East, has met this development with a shrug. And while some in Washington, D.C. fear that China is filling a vacuum left by the United States, most see only upside to Beijing’s regional foray.

“Not everything between the U.S. and China has to be a zero-sum game,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who leads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Middle East panel. Plus, he said, better relations between Riyadh and Tehran means that there will be less conflict in the region, which would lower the chance of the United States getting dragged into a fighting in the Middle East. “I don’t know why we would perceive there to be a downside to de-escalation between Saudi Arabia and Iran.”

Others provided reasons stretching from the grand strategic to the tactical.

Intel Is Reeling: Why Should the Government Save It?

Kevin Klyman

Gordon Moore, one of the founding fathers of Silicon Valley, died on March 24 at the age of ninety-four. He co-founded Intel in 1968 and grew it into one of the most powerful companies on the planet as its chief executive and chairman. Moore’s Law—his prediction that the number of transistors in a circuit would double every twenty-four months—was pivotal in putting chips in every electronic device and laid the groundwork for personal computers, smartphones, and artificial intelligence.

But according to Intel’s January earnings call, the company is far from its heyday under Moore. Intel’s profits fell by 60 percent in 2022 while revenue fell by 20 percent, leading Moody’s, Fitch, and S&P to downgrade its credit rating. The company has started the process of laying off thousands of employees and has cut its employee base pay by 5 to 10 percent. Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger blamed “persistent macro headwinds” for the collapse, though the company’s inability to deliver new products on time and its severe overestimate of demand for personal computers are also responsible. Intel’s recovery plan is largely dependent on it receiving billions in federal subsidies from the CHIPS and Science Act, which is likely as Intel was the principal lobbyist for the bill.

But why should Washington save Intel? The answer most frequently provided by policymakers is that the U.S. produces no advanced chips, putting it at risk of losing a conflict with China if Taiwan is unable to ship chips across the Pacific. In reality, this is a canard. Peter Wennink, CEO of Dutch lithography giant ASML, dispelled this myth in December, saying that “it is common knowledge that chip technology for purely military applications is usually 10, 15 years old.” America’s warfighting capability is not meaningfully undermined by its lack of production of advanced chips as even platforms like the F-35 fighter jet use only legacy chips.

Another justification for directing subsidies to Intel is the idea that American firms should regain leadership in chip manufacturing to promote U.S. economic competitiveness. As President Joe Biden said when he signed the CHIPS Act into law, “the future of the chip industry is going to be made in America” by “American companies.” This helps explain why Intel may receive upwards of $3 billion from the Commerce Department for its two plants in Ohio, while U.S. factories of foreign firms that have met ambitious technology targets like the Korean memory chip maker SK Hynix will receive less.

Game-changers: Implications of the Russo-Ukraine war for the future of ground warfare

T.X. Hammes

What does the record of combat in the year since Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine herald about the future character of ground war? Defense analysts are split on whether the conflict manifests transformative change or merely reinforces the verities of ground combat. On the one hand, the bulk of each side’s formations are armed with decades-old equipment and trained in Soviet-era tactics. However, both forces are adapting, and the Ukrainian military is demonstrating an impressive propensity to improvise and innovate. In particular, Russia was not prepared for Ukraine’s convergence of new capabilities in command and control, persistent surveillance, and massed, precision fires which are changing the game of ground warfare.

Verities of ground combat

The Russo-Ukraine war has reinforced important continuities in military operations. These include the importance of preparation, logistics, and industrial capacity which are the core components needed to sustain a capable force. The war has also driven home the importance of both massed and precision fires. Cannon artillery has played a central role in the war, firing about two million rounds to date. Ukrainian forces have also adeptly employed long-range High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) to dramatically damage Russian ammunition resupply. Artillery fires have been, and will continue to be, crucial for supporting maneuver, degrading adversary communications and logistical capabilities, and destroying or suppressing adversary artillery. Consequently, the industrial capacity to produce the necessary ammunition, maintenance equipment, and systems to replace losses, will remain a defining feature of military preparedness.


The European Union’s Digital Trade Rules: Undermining European Policy To Rein In Big Tech – Analysis

Deborah James*

This report shows how Big Tech companies are working to constrain the ability of EU democratic bodies to regulate their activities in the public interest through “trade” agreements, which are binding and permanent.

Digitalization is the defining economic transformation of our time. The benefits to society are well-known, but the harms caused from the expansion of Big Tech’s are still being understood. The EU has started to recognise the urgent need rein in some of Big Tech’s most pernicious practices. The Digital Services Act (DSA), the Digital Markets Act (DMA), along with the Data Act, the Data Governance Act (DGA) and the Artificial Intelligence Act (AI Act) are first steps towards ensuring that the digital sector of the economy operates under the same framework of fair play and the public interest as the rest of the economy.

The same EU that is advancing new laws governing the digital economy is promoting a digital trade policy that contradicts, and would severely constrain, current and future public interest policymaking in the EU and beyond.

Through a number of bilateral and regional trade agreements Big Tech is seeking to maintain a policy environment which favors private control of technological resources and practices, and data, for supernormal profit. Control over data – and in particular, the ability to transfer data across borders – and keeping their algorithms or source codes secret are the top goals of Big Tech in any “digital trade” agreement.

The EU has finalized trade agreements with a dedicated digital trade chapter with Canada, Singapore, Vietnam, Japan, the UK, Mexico, Chile, Mercosur, and New Zealand. And is currently negotiating digital trade chapters with Indonesia, Australia, India, the region of Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA), and plurilaterally in the WTO.

This research analyses the most dangerous clauses included in the EU digital trade agenda (Free flow of data, ban on data localisation and non-disclosure of source code). It identifies 10 reasons why it will be harmful for European society, Europe’s green agenda and democracy at large:

A Dead-End War: Russian Failure and Ukrainian Destruction

What Putin wanted was a lightning military offensive of just a few weeks that would end with the overthrow of Zelensky’s regime in Kiev. [Reuters]

The first anniversary of the war in Ukraine came on 24 February 2023, bringing an opportunity to reconsider the roots of the war, what it has become as it enters its second year, and what it could bring in the coming months, not only for Russia and Ukraine, but also in the broader international arena.

Ukraine has posed a problem for Russia’s strategic security since the first Ukrainian democratic revolution in 2004, but the threat at that point was not urgent. Russia still enjoyed considerable influence within the Ukrainian state and its political class. This changed with the ousting of Ukraine’s pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, in February 2014, after which Moscow encountered more nationalist, independent-minded leaders determined to strengthen relations with Western Europe and the United States.

Within days of Yanukovych’s ouster, Russia seized Crimea. Soon after, Russian-majority provinces in eastern Ukraine declared their independence and sought to affirm it by force of arms. While the West refused to recognise the annexation of Crimea, it took no military action to counter Russia. It did, however, increase shipments of defensive weapons and strengthened economic ties with Ukraine. It was no surprise, then, that Ukraine subsequently became more determined to join NATO and the European Union.

In late 2021, Kiev sought to resolve the situation in the eastern provinces militarily, at which point Russia mobilised—too late, according to Putin’s critics—for a definitive solution to the Ukrainian issue.

The Putin administration called the war a “special military operation.” What Putin wanted was a lightning military offensive of just a few weeks that would end with the overthrow of the regime in Kiev, the installation of a friendly regime, and the destruction of Ukrainian nationalist militias. But the operation did not go as planned. The attack on Kiev not only failed, but Russia sustained heavy losses before ordering its troops to withdraw.

The Effect of Malicious Cyber Activity on the US Corporate Sector

Anna Scherbina Bernd Schlusche

We compile a comprehensive dataset of adverse cyber events experienced by US firms. We then categorize cyber incidents by their detrimental impacts on firms’ assets and operations, e.g., data theft, ransomware attacks, security breaches, denial of service attacks, and show that firms suffer significant value losses across multiple cyber categories. These losses also spill over to economically linked firms, thereby amplifying the negative effect of malicious cyber activity on the economy. We also compile a lexicon to identify from public sources firms that possess trade secrets, work on emerging technology or critical infrastructure projects, or have government and defense contracts, and show that such firms face a higher risk of a cyber incident.

Laurin Groover and Col. Donald J. Fielden, USAF (ret.), Cybersecurity Considerations for the New Congress, No. 551, April 1, 2023

Laurin Groover

Cybersecurity Considerations for the New Congress

Laurin Groover spent over a decade on Capitol Hill as senior staff to House Armed Services Committee leaders. With nearly 30 years at the nexus of government, politics, and industry, she is a business development and government relations consultant specializing in cyber solutions for the warfighter.

Col. Donald J. Fielden, USAF (ret.)

Col. Donald J. Fielden recently retired from the U.S. Air Force after serving over 33 years as a cyber operations and cybersecurity leader for the Department of Defense. He currently consults for the DoD and industry on cyber operations, cybersecurity and information technology issues.


The U.S. Government approaches to cybersecurity and protection of our national security architectures are admirably aggressive but disjointed. The disjointed approaches are yielding conflicting priorities, competing solutions, and unnecessary fiduciary expenditures. The lack of an integrated, synchronized, and strategic approach results in ever-increasing vulnerabilities to our nation’s information and data ecosystem. Narrowing the aperture to Congress, there are an estimated 80 congressional committees and subcommittees that claim cybersecurity as at least part of their charters.[1] Such diversity in Congress fails to deliver a hard-hitting, enduring, and effective national-level strategic approach to securing our nation’s cyber ecosystem. One solution to this problem at the national level is establishing a Joint Committee on Cybersecurity.

Given the political polarization gripping Capitol Hill, House Republicans and Democrats recently did the seemingly impossible – they came together in a bipartisan fashion to establish the Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party (China Committee). The House leadership is to be applauded for addressing the serious and multitudinous threats posed by China. Both the House and Senate should expand this effort to examine more broadly the threats to U.S. cyber infrastructure critical to national security by creating a Joint Committee on Cybersecurity.

The Challenge of China

China Brief

Central African Republic Mine Attack: Can China Protect its Overseas Nationals?

Xi Jinping Thought and The End of (Chinese) History

CCP Narratives on Taiwan at the Two Sessions: Maintaining a “Measured

Wang Yi’s European Tour: China Seeks a Trans-Atlantic Wedge

Beyond Arms and Ammunition: China, Russia and the Iran Back Channel

How Vladimir Putin Saved NATO


HAMBURG – When Finland cleared the last hurdle for NATO membership last week, major Western newspapers buried the story. Yet Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto justly celebrated “these historic days” – the end of 75 years of neutrality. As of this week, Finland is formally in, and Sweden, another eternal neutral, will soon follow, once Turkey stops blocking its membership.

Why would these two countries throng into an alliance that French President Emmanuel Macron diagnosed as being “brain dead” only four years ago, and which former US President Donald Trump saw as “obsolete” in 2017? The wisdom of the eighteenth-century British wit Samuel Johnson offers a broad answer here: “When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”

But there is an even pithier answer to this question: Vladimir Putin. The man who would be King of Europe has given NATO a new brain and a new lease on life.

What an irony! One of Putin’s many pretexts for subduing Ukraine was to stop NATO enlargement once and for all. Instead, by pushing two neutral Nordic countries into the Alliance, he has achieved the opposite. NATO, now, has not been in better health for decades.

Yet Putin does not deserve all the credit. NATO was never as sclerotic as Macron and Trump presumed. It is the oldest alliance of free countries, and longevity bespeaks functionality. In past centuries, royals changed coalitions more often than their wigs. As Lord Palmerston famously said, “We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies.”

Russia Is Winning in Georgia

Francis Fukuyama and Nino Evgenidze

As the United States and its NATO allies are focused on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, Russia’s efforts to bring another country into its orbit has gone largely unnoticed. Like many countries that were once part of the Soviet Union, Georgia has a population that is largely pro-EU and pro-NATO, an orientation that has only been strengthened in the years since Moscow’s 2008 invasion of the country, which left Russia occupying some 20 percent of its territory. Yet Georgia’s current leaders have not only failed to support Ukraine in its own struggle against Russian aggression. 

The Technology of Taming Weapons

George Friedman

The massive spring offensive against Ukraine that Russia threatened has not materialized. This does not mean it won’t happen, but it raises serious questions. A major offensive should not be telegraphed for obvious reasons, and if the secret leaks, it should be launched rapidly. The Russians have not crippled the Ukrainians, nor have they forced the United States to stop sending weapons to support Ukraine on the battlefield. The Russians see themselves as incapable of capitulating or winning a decisive victory. An alternative strategy is needed. The frequent Russian references to the possible use of nuclear weapons, or breaking with the U.S. on arms controls, make sense in this context.

That the strategy pivots around frequent references to nuclear action is a reminder of why they used to be called “terror weapons.” Lenin said the purpose of terror is to terrify. The threat of a nuclear attack clearly has that strategy in mind. It is a reasonable strategy, capable of breaking the material and psychological capabilities of the enemy.

The advantage of nuclear weapons is their ability to inflict significant casualties with a single weapon. A nuclear weapon has a large kill zone, which means it can carry out this mission efficiently. Nuclear weapons may not need high accuracy, but they do need survivability. One part of that is the launch plan, which may be targeted by the enemy. Another risk is interception in flight by the enemy, but in this case the weapon may still be able to destroy a large area. That said, there are weaknesses in nuclear weapons. They are dependent on counterintelligence to create survival strategies. They normally have a fixed launch pad, and the launch vehicle, while rapid, is not normally maneuverable. The weight of the warhead might limit the time to target. Taken as a whole, nuclear weapons combine a large kill zone with high lethality, but until launched they are vulnerable.

From the Russian point of view, a nuclear strike creates more problems than solutions. From the American point of view, the defensive posture is inherently dangerous. At the same time, both the Russian and American positions have vulnerabilities built in. Therefore, both sides must create alternatives.

Leaked military documents on Ukraine battlefield operations circulated as early as March


A tranche of leaked documents that detail plans about Ukraine’s spring military offensive circulated online as early as March — a month earlier than previously reported, according to researchers with Bellingcat and a review of social media postings.

The batch includes more pages than originally known and also outlines sensitive information about other global hotspots.

The Ukraine-specific documents, photographed and distributed on myriad social media sites, outline everything from Ukraine’s readiness and training capabilities to death tolls on the battlefield. They date from the end of February to the end of March — around the same time as senior American generals hosted the Ukrainian military at a U.S. base in Germany to wargame the spring operation.

The materials that circulated in early March were uploaded on a Discord, an encrypted messaging app. They appear to be photos of slide deck printouts that were folded up and then smoothed out again. They have since been posted on other social media websites, including Twitter and Telegram.

Hollow Warriors

Richard Morse

“If the United States does not compete effectively against adversaries, it could ‘lose without fighting.'” -- Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley; in the Executive Summary of Joint Concept for Competing.

In mid-March, the Joint Chiefs issued a 91-page press release titled JOINT CONCEPT FOR COMPETING (JCFC) which announces the Pentagon's shift in the way it views warfare and its intent to proactively counter the CCP's long-range strategy to conquer the United States. The CCP's strategy is traced to a treatise, published in 1999, by two CCP coronels, Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui, under the title Unrestricted Warfare. The goal, in unrestricted warfare, is to weaken the United States into submission, through an array of corrosive tactics, over a long period of time. Essentially, to "win without fighting." "The first rule of unrestricted warfare is that there are no rules, with nothing forbidden." The Joint Chiefs summarize:

"Adversaries are employing cohesive combinations of military and civil power to expand the competitive space. Adversaries aim to achieve their strategic objectives through a myriad of ways and means, including statecraft and economic power as well as subversion, coercion, disinformation, and deception. They are investing in key technologies designed to offset U.S. strategic and conventional military capabilities (e.g., nuclear weapons, anti-access and area denial systems, offensive cyberspace, artificial intelligence, hypersonic delivery systems, electromagnetic spectrum)

Simply put, our adversaries intend to “win without fighting,”

But they are also building military forces that strengthen their ability to “fight and win” an armed conflict against the United States."

"This really is a big deal." Casey Fleming, CEO of the firm Blackops Partners, stresses the significance of the Pentagon's press release in an interview with NTD's Tiffany Meier. "Every American needs to understand what this really means. This press release is something very serious for every American to get knowledge on and pass it among their families, peers, colleagues, and so on." He explains that the target of the CCP's silent war on America is every American citizen -- every man, woman, and child...literally.

U.K. National Cyber Force, Responsible Cyber Power, and Cyber Persistence Theory

Richard J. Harknett, Michael P. Fischerkeller, Emily O. Goldman 

On April 4, the United Kingdom’s National Cyber Force (NCF), a defense and intelligence partnered organization between the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and elements of the U.K. Ministry of Defense, released “The National Cyber Force: Responsible Cyber Power in Practice.” The document builds on the U.K.’s 2022 National Cyber Strategy and provides details about how the NCF is currently operating responsibly, given its rapidly accumulating knowledge and understanding of cyberspace strategic realities.

The document’s description of the cyber strategic environment and the U.K.’s operational approach for exercising responsible cyber power closely align with U.S. insights about cyberspace embodied in the defend forward strategy and the operational approach of persistent engagement. The fact that the U.K. and the U.S. came to the same strategic and operational revelations independently is a testament to the explanatory power of cyber persistence theory (CPT) and to a paradigm change unfolding before our very eyes.

From Misalignment to Persistence

Our book, “Cyber Persistence Theory: Redefining National Security in Cyberspace,” introduces the logic of initiative persistence, explains how such logic aligns to the structural realities of the cyber strategic environment, and creates an imperative for all cyberspace actors. The explanatory framework of CPT redefines security as seizing and sustaining the initiative in exploitation; that is, anticipating the exploitation of a state’s own digital vulnerabilities before they are leveraged against them, exploiting others’ vulnerabilities to advance their own security needs, and sustaining the initiative in this exploitation dynamic. States may choose not to abide by this logic or not operationalize it well. The consequence, however, will be cyber insecurity and a loss of relative power for those not persisting. Alternatively, states may choose to abide by the logic but do so in irresponsible ways that threaten peace and security—such as by using cyber-enabled ways and means to illicitly acquire intellectual property, circumvent international sanctions, and undermine confidence in democratic institutions. The U.K. has provided a helpful framework for distinguishing such irresponsible cyber behavior.

Asserting a Cyber Border

David Greggs

Where is the United States border in cyberspace? Does one exist? There are a variety of opinions on the subject but few absolutes. While land, sea, and airspace boundaries remain well established, there is no cyberspace border. Without an established and defined border, homeland defense in cyberspace remains confusingly spread between public and private organizations. Discussion of cyberspace borders often runs headfirst into an argument over privacy. When should the data be inspected and who should inspect it? This creates significant privacy concerns and answering this question is beyond the scope of this article. However, before we can begin to answer questions related to if or how data should be inspected, the first question to be answered is where the border is. Effective discussion about homeland defense of the United States cannot progress without clarity of a cyber border.

The U.S. should assert a cyberspace border. One way to do that is the identification of internet traffic packets as they cross logical and physical infrastructure. To explore this topic, this article examines how a border enables a nation to defend itself, explores some basics of how the internet works, identifies how the cyber domain is unique, and recommends how the United States could define the cyberspace border.

A Border Enables Defense

Internationally, a nation’s sovereignty is accepted as its land territory, airspace, and twelve nautical miles from the coast. The United Nations formally established the twelve nautical miles with the Convention on the Law of the Sea. Additionally, U.S. Code and a Presidential Proclamation by Ronald Reagen has affirmed this space. While territorial disputes continue to persist, the important fact remains that there is general acceptance and international recognition of physical borders.

When Russia invaded Ukraine, the free world widely recognized that this was an invasion of sovereign Ukrainian territory. Ukraine continues to defend within their sovereign territory, with international recognition that they have the right to do so. Additionally, the U.S. and its allies provided billions of dollars in financial aid to Ukraine to support their fight. While many support Ukraine’s defensive efforts, the international community would be less likely to support a counteroffensive into Russian territory because this would be a violation of Russian sovereignty. Borders matter—when they are recognized.