12 April 2023

Garum Masala

William Dalrymple

Dramatic archaeological discoveries—including a marble Buddha in Egypt and jars of Mediterranean garum (fish sauce) and olive oil in India—have led scholars to radically reassess the size and importance of the trade between ancient Rome and India.

In March 2022 a team of American archaeologists was excavating a temple of the Egyptian goddess Isis at the ancient site of Berenike, on the shores of the Red Sea in modern-day Egypt, when they stumbled across a series of remarkable finds.

Berenike is today a bleak and desolate spot. Under pale blue skies, the flat, treeless red-dust wadis of the western desert give way to the windy shores of the Red Sea. There is at first glance little to see, and though the site contains the ruins of some once-impressive structures—a temple of Serapis, a Roman aromatics distillery, and a fine bathhouse—the walls now rarely rise above knee-high. Nevertheless, these unprepossessing ruins, easily missed as you drive up the coast, were the landing point for generations of Indian merchants traveling to the Roman Empire, and Berenike was once a place where unimaginable fortunes could be made.

China’s and India’s Relations with Russia after the War in Ukraine: A Dangerous Deviation?

Felix K. Chang 

China and India have pursued generally similar bilateral approaches towards Russia during the Russian-Ukrainian War. Both have refrained from condemning Russia, continued to trade with it, and distanced themselves from the West’s robust economic and diplomatic response.

The reasons for China’s and India’s approaches are rooted in their past relations with Russia, their unique and evolving relationships with the United States, and the shifting balance of power between Beijing and New Delhi.

How China’s and India’s ties with Russia evolve could change power dynamics between Beijing and New Delhi, and lead to greater tensions in Asia.

When Russian assault troops landed at Hostomel Airport near Kiev in February 2022, few could have anticipated how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would alter geopolitics in Europe. Yet it has the potential to do the same in Asia. Moscow’s failure to score a quick military victory over Ukraine has made Russia increasingly reliant on China and India to not only buy its exports to bolster its coffers, but also, in the case of China, supply it with dual-use technologies to support its defense industry.

As the war continues, how China’s and India’s bilateral ties with Russia evolve is important, not only for Moscow’s war effort, but also for China-India relations in Asia. Both China and India have refrained from criticizing Russia’s invasion and helped to lessen the impact of Western economic sanctions against Russia. But the difference in how Moscow views what it stands to gain from the two countries could ultimately influence what it might do if put in a position where it needed to choose between them.

And being put in that position is not a theoretical concept, considering the existing tensions between China and India. Over the last decade or so, China-India relations have become more competitive and deadly. Tensions could deteriorate further over their border disputes. Should Russia explicitly or implicitly favor one over the other, that could shift the power balance between Asia’s two continental giants and lead to greater tensions in the region.

The Soviet Union and Beyond

India-China Border Tensions and U.S. Strategy in the Indo-Pacific

Lisa Curtis, Derek Grossman

India-China border intrusions and clashes have become more frequent and threaten to lead to all-out conflict between the two Asian giants. In recent years, China has upped the ante in its border disputes with India through infrastructure development, military deployments, capability enhancements, and periodic efforts to encroach into territory controlled by India. The first deadly border clash between the two countries in 45 years occurred on June 15, 2020, in the Galwan River Valley, where 20 Indian troops and at least four Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops were killed. More recently, on December 9, 2022, Chinese and Indian forces clashed along the disputed border in the mountains near Tawang in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh after an estimated 300 Chinese PLA soldiers tried to cross the border.

A Threshold Alliance: The China-Pakistan Military Relationship

Sameer P. Lalwani, Ph.D.

Geopolitical shifts in South Asia over the past decade, driven by sharper US-China competition, a precipitous decline in China-India relations, and the 2021 withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, have pushed the Chinese and Pakistani militaries closer together. The countries’ armies and navies are increasingly sharing equipment, engaging in more sophisticated joint exercises, and interacting more closely through staff and officer exchanges. Yet, as this report concludes, a full China-Pakistan alliance is not inevitable, as Chinese missteps and other sources of friction could slow its consummation.A JF-17 jet, jointly manufactured by China and Pakistan, flies over Islamabad, Pakistan, during a Defense Day celebration on September 6, 2015. (Photo by Anjum Naveed/AP)

SummaryDespite China’s eschewal of formal alliances, the China-Pakistan military partnership has deepened significantly over the past decade, approaching a threshold alliance. The trajectory toward a military alliance is not, however, inevitable.

China is Pakistan’s most important defense partner since the end of the Cold War. Beijing has become the leading supplier of Pakistan’s conventional weapons and strategic platforms and the dominant supplier of Pakistan’s higher-end offensive strike capabilities.

China’s military diplomacy with Pakistan quantitatively and qualitatively rivals its military partnership with Russia. China and Pakistan have accelerated the tempo of joint military exercises, which are growing in complexity and interoperability. Increasingly compatible arms supply chains and networked communications systems could allow the countries to aggregate their defense capabilities.

The prospects for China projecting military power over the Indian Ocean from Pakistan’s Western coast are growing. Chinese basing has meaningful support within Pakistan’s strategic circles. The material and political obstacles to upgrading naval access into wartime contingency basing appear to be surmountable and diminishing over time.

Friends of China have huge influence on Capitol Hill: Grant Newsham


‘When Beijing throws in the allure of money, they make short work of Wall Street and America’s business class—and academia as well.’

The recently released US best seller When China Attacks: A Warning to America starts with a description of what a devastating near-future attack on Taiwan might look like. But, even more disturbing, is its description of current results of the decades long political warfare attack that China has already waged on its perceived enemies.

In this edition of Indo-Pacific: Behind the Headlines, we speak with the book’s author, Col Grant Newsham (Retd). He was the first US Marine Liaison Officer to the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, was instrumental in developing Japan’s amphibious capability and was, for over a decade, an executive director at Morgan Stanley Japan. He also served as the reserve G2 (intelligence) and G5 (plans and policy) at Marine Forces Pacific and was a US Foreign Service Officer specializing in insurgency, counter-insurgency, and commercial matters.

Q: How is an attack from China different than what the United States might be expecting?
A: It’s almost unrecognizable—not least because America’s ruling class has steadfastly refused to recognize it. The Americans tend to think a “war” only happens when both sides kind of agree to it—and shooting starts. And until that happens, it’s all just a misunderstanding—and there’s a potential for working things out. This reflects the American trait—indeed, conceit—that any problem can be resolved by talking.

Q: How bad is it getting in the US?

China Gears Up for Cognitive Warfare


China’s military is increasingly at work on wearable technology and a dedicated psychological support system to win at what it views as the crucial space of cognitive warfare—manipulating enemy troops’ state of mind to shape their behavior and hardening its own forces against such efforts.

“In future cognitive domain operations, the influence of rational factors such as science and logic on individual cognition is likely to be weakened, and cognitive confrontation may become a contest of emotions,” says one recent article in PLA Daily. “The rapid development of intelligent technology is changing the logic of information dissemination in an all-round way, making the impact of information on thinking and consciousness more profound and comprehensive, and human brain cognition has truly risen to an important field of military confrontation.”

Cognitive domain operations seek to capture the mind of one’s foes, changing the thoughts and perceptions of an adversary to shape their decisions and actions. As another People’s Liberation Army outlet describes, a cognitive attack aims to “use an “invisible hand” to control the opponent’s will, making the opponent feel “I can’t” and “I dare not,” and then achieve the effect of “I don't want to.”

Given such perceived stakes, PLA media is also more and more concerned with warding off such attacks and steeling their forces’ will in the mental aspects of war.. In “Cultivate a Good Combat Psychology,” the authors write, “War is not only a material contest, but also a spiritual contest. People are always the decisive factor in the outcome of a war, and the effective functioning of people depends on the support of a good psychological situation and stable psychological quality.”Training for mental resolve, they write, can help ward off sensory disorders and other problems that can hurt judgment and decision-making. Training environments must “improve the psychological adaptation, stability, and endurance of officers and soldiers on the battlefield.” In line with an ideological theme that cuts through much of PLA writing, they say such training can help troops cultivate “revolutionary heroism” that acts as a “spiritual sword” to overwhelm and defeat enemies.

China’s new world order is taking shape

It was a bumper week for diplomacy in Beijing. Chinese President Xi Jinping accompanied his French counterpart, President Emmanuel Macron, on a three-day visit to the Chinese capital and the southern metropolis of Guangzhou. Escaping, if briefly, from the fiery protests taking place in his own country, Macron was received by adoring, excited crowds of students at Guangzhou’s Sun Yat-sen University. In between grand receptions and formal tea ceremonies, the two leaders saw a slate of French companies and Chinese state-run firms clinch some major business deals.

Macron gave Xi the optics he sought: A clear reminder to the United States — who Xi obliquely referred to as a domineering “third party” — of the gap between its hawkish stance on China and the more perhaps equivocating posture of many in Europe. It was less clear what Xi gave Macron politically: The French president urged Xi to bring Russia “to reason” over its invasion of Ukraine, but that was met by boilerplate rhetoric and little indication of the needle of the conflict being moved in any significant direction.

In what was framed as a joint call with France, Xi urged for peace talks to resume soon and called “for the protection of civilians,” while also reiterating that “nuclear weapons must not be used, and nuclear war must not be fought” over Ukraine. That latter point marked perhaps the biggest distance between Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has periodically rattled the nuclear saber as the war he unleashed in Ukraine lurches on. Despite European entreaties, Xi made no definitive commitment to speak with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Macron was joined in China by Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission. The two leaders sent somewhat divergent messages; von der Leyen bemoaned China’s “unfair practices,” particularly in trade, and arrived in the country after delivering a tough speech on the authoritarian challenge posed by Beijing. Macron, on the other hand, warned against the West plunging itself into an “inescapable spiral” of tensions with China.

Inside the Nuclear Threat: Russia, China, North Korea, Iran

Peter Huessy

North Korea has fired over 100 ballistic missiles of all kinds in the past 12 months over or near Japanese and South Korean territory, some seven-fold greater than in the previous half-decade.
Nuclear Threat: Russia, China, North Korea, Iran

China has built 360 new ICBM silos in Western China, now exceeding the number of ICBM launchers in the United States, while sending a surveillance balloon across the United States in violation of American sovereign airspace.

Iran has according to the United Nation’s IAEA enriched uranium to 84%, within a few percent of the weapons grade fuel needed for a nuclear warhead, sufficient quantities of which they can produce in a month for a dozen warheads.

And Russia continues to threaten the use of nuclear force against the US, NATO and Ukraine should the US not refrain from supplying weapons to Ukraine and have recklessly forced down a USAF surveillance drone operating in international waters.

And so, this is the news in early 2023 as the United States intelligence community seeks to “connect the threat dots” and calculate the threats the country faces. While cataloguing specific actions or “dots” makes some sense by what one might describe as the “four brothers mayhem”, there is rarely a strategy framework discussed from which the American people can judge the seriousness of events.

For example, media descriptions are usually of the “look at this additional provocation” variety when describing missile tests, for example. But actually, the Russians and Chinese, Iranian and Korean hostile acts are not to provoke the US to retaliate in kind and attack. The very opposite in fact. The four hostile nations are seeking to divide the US alliances in the Western Pacific, in central Europe, and in the greater Middle East. And to persuade the US to retreat in any future military crisis, and to force the United States to withdraw from key geographic regions where the United States military now regularly operates.

Beating China in the Race for Quantum Supremacy

Dustin Carmack

How the United States positions itself for success in the era of quantum computing, sensing, and encryption will have ramifications for the future of manufacturing, the development of medical cures, the national security needs of the military, the ability to protect information, and more. In addition, which country reaches quantum supremacy first will determine global power dynamics. The United States cannot allow power to be centralized in the hands of one actor, especially the Chinese Communist Party. For the U.S. to lead in quantum technology, it must employ a whole-of-government and whole-of-industry approach alongside foreign allies and partners. While many challenges remain in bringing quantum technology to scale, the scientific race and outcome amongst nations, militaries, academia, and technology companies will define the 21st century.


The U.S. and China are in a pivotal race to achieve quantum technology supremacy and capabilities that will have national security and commercial ramifications.

Quantum technology will change how the government and commercial sector communicate, enhance sensory capabilities, and revolutionize computing sciences.

Washington must take action to win this race, while also preparing for a surging and capable China with quantum prowess that threatens U.S. national security.

Select a Section 1/0

China’s potential to eclipse the United States in a quantum-technology arms race is an issue of acute concern to U.S. national security. Within the past decade, China has identified quantum capabilities as a mission-critical technology for its economic and national security measures. China’s developments in the quantum arena have drawn a heavy-handed response from the United States, with the Department of Commerce placing multiple Chinese quantum computing (QC) firms on an export blacklist and the Department of Defense (DOD) issuing a memorandum calling on the public and private sector to develop and adopt post-quantum encryption standards.

The Rise and Fall of the BRI

Nadia Clark

China’s ascent as an international financier (especially in low-income countries) has been accompanied by claims that it engages in so-called debt-trap diplomacy. The term originated in 2017 to describe a deal that saw Beijing receive a 99-year lease for the Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka after the country fell behind on debt payments and has since been more widely applied to any Chinese project that conflicts with Western interests, especially those under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Western media and senior policy officials seem to feel that China is using the BRI to exert undue influence over the world, especially because the initiative mostly funds infrastructure rather than the social sector projects, such as health or education initiatives, that are often favored by large multilateral donors and Western nations. Critics worry that China will be able to seize control of these assets for military use or use them as leverage in future negotiations.

In reality, this lending is nothing new; China has been providing economic aid and technical assistance to other countries since the 1950s, shortly after the official founding of the People’s Republic of China and a time when China itself was still a developing nation. The real reason why the BRI has struggled to sustain itself is not due to debt traps or predatory lending, but something far more mundane: poor risk management and a lack of attention to detail and cohesion from the Chinese state-owned enterprises and banks, private companies, and local governments involved.

After the initial announcement of the project in 2013 and the subsequent formalization of the “One Belt, One Road Initiative (OBOR)” in 2015 (renamed the “Belt and Road Initiative” in 2016), Chinese companies, especially those involved in industrial production, jumped at the chance to sign onto various OBOR projects. These projects were seen as a solution to the issue of excess capacity that many Chinese companies faced after the 2008 global financial crisis and the Chinese government’s ensuing stimulus packages, leading to an explosion in the number and location of new overseas foreign contracted projects signed by Chinese companies. In addition to explicit government encouragement urging companies to reduce supply-side structural issues by exporting surplus to developing countries, participation in BRI is further fueled by implicit pressures borne from China’s socialist market economy structure. While state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are mandated to carry out projects that are aligned with state objectives such as the BRI, private companies could feel pressured to do the same to remain in good standing with the government and maintain some degree of operational autonomy. This coercion is especially prevalent for the BRI, which has been touted as Xi’s “flagship project”.

How to Fight Back Against China’s Global Media and Information Offensive

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.

These include Beijing’s global expansion of its state media outlets like Xinhua, 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 outlets.

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

America and China Need to Talk

Scott Kennedy and Wang Jisi

Relations between the United States and China have fallen to their darkest depths since the early 1970s, when U.S. President Richard Nixon met with Chinese leader Mao Zedong (and Nixon’s national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, met with Mao’s deputy Zhou Enlai) in a bid to end the hostility that had characterized the relationship since the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) triumphed in the Chinese Civil War in 1949. The decades of détente and cooperation that eventually resulted from Nixon and Mao’s dialogue now seem like ancient history. Today, officials and commentators all over the world fear that


Ethan Brown 

The conflict in Ukraine, now thirteen months long and counting, has made clear the costs of failed deterrence. The first lesson to draw from this conflict is that Russia invaded because there was no credible deterrence in place. The second lesson is one measured in clear metrics: since February 2022, the United States has largely sponsored Ukraine’s defense, totaling more than $76.8 billion in aid.

This raises an important question: How much would American taxpayers be saving had the government invested in strong deterrence in Ukraine before February 2022? The cost would certainly have been less than $76.8 billion—a figure that doesn’t even account for the hundreds of thousands of lives that have been destroyed by the conflict, the devastation to Ukraine’s infrastructure, and the damage to the overall global economy.

As Ukraine has drawn deeply from both American coffers and munitions stockpiles, prudence requires policymakers to at least consider a more reasonably priced venture: Security force assistance offers deepened ties with partners against autocratic and authoritarian competitors, but a proactive one that comes at considerably less total cost than reactive force-shaping on the fly.

To be sure, the United States sent Ukrainian security forces piecemeal weapons and equipment before February 2022, but this was not enough to discourage a Russian invasion. Credible deterrence rests on security partners collaboratively achieving defensive, repellent capacity before conflict—which means more than simply having weapons and technology.

Leaked Pentagon documents provide rare window into depth of US intelligence on allies and foes

Natasha Bertrand and Kylie Atwood

Highly classified Pentagon documents leaked online in recent weeks have provided a rare window into how the US spies on allies and foes alike, deeply rattling US officials, who fear the revelations could jeopardize sensitive sources and compromise important foreign relationships.

Some of the documents, which US officials say are authentic, expose the extent of US eavesdropping on key allies, including South Korea, Israel and Ukraine.

Others reveal the degree to which the US has penetrated the Russian Ministry of Defense and the Russian mercenary organization Wagner Group, largely through intercepted communications and human sources, which could now be cut off or put in danger.

Still others divulge key weaknesses in Ukrainian weaponry, air defense, and battalion sizes and readiness at a critical point in the war, as Ukrainian forces gear up to launch a counteroffensive against the Russians – and just as the US and Ukraine have begun to develop a more mutually trusting relationship over intelligence-sharing.

Ukraine has already altered some of its military plans because of the leak, a source close to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN.

The Pentagon has stood up an “interagency effort” to assess the impact of the leak, Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh said Sunday.

“The Department of Defense continues to review and assess the validity of the photographed documents that are circulating on social media sites and that appear to contain sensitive and highly classified material,” Singh said in a statement. “An interagency effort has been stood up, focused on assessing the impact these photographed documents could have on U.S. national security and on our Allies and partners.”

Singh added that US officials spoke with allies and partners over the weekend regarding the leak, and informed “relevant congressional committees.”

US Justice Dept opens probe into secret US documents leak

The US Department of Justice on Saturday said it has begun an investigation into a trove of leaked US documents, many related to Ukraine, that have spread to the internet.

The breach appears to include assessments and secret intelligence reports that touch not only on Ukraine and Russia but also highly sensitive analyses of US allies.

"We have been in communication with the Department of Defense related to this matter and have begun an investigation," a Justice Department spokesperson told AFP.

A steady drip of dozens of leaked documents and slides have made their way onto Twitter, Telegram, Discord and other social media and chat sites in recent days, and new documents continue to surface.

The Pentagon said Friday it was "actively reviewing the matter" and that it had formally referred the apparent breach to the Justice Department.

US officials told the Washington Post that some documents appeared to be manipulated but many were consistent with CIA World Intelligence Review reports that are shared at high levels within the White House, Pentagon and State Department.

Defense analysts say any breach of internal classified US documents would be both damaging and potentially embarrassing.

In addition, the leak would prove valuable to Moscow by showing how deep US intelligence has penetrated parts of the Russian military apparatus, US media said.

Other documents include apparent information about internal debate within the governments of US allies.

Among the documents, for example, were discussions about South Korea's debate on whether to provide the United States artillery shells for use in Ukraine, The New York Times said.

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. They have also ramped up anti-Western propaganda efforts, earned praise from Moscow for not joining Western sanctions and trade restrictions on Russia, and emulated a Russian-style crackdown on Georgia’s vibrant civil society. In March, they even attempted to pass a law designating pro-Western and pro-democratic civil society organizations as “agents of foreign influence.” With support and encouragement from Moscow, the Georgian government is building an authoritarian state in Russia’s image.

Tbilisi’s slide into authoritarianism is all the more concerning in that it has largely been driven by one man: the reclusive billionaire, party boss, and kingmaker Bidzina Ivanishvili. Although he was briefly prime minister in 2012–13, Ivanishvili no longer holds any official position in government. But as the founder and former chairman of Georgian Dream, an increasingly pro-Russian, populist party that has gained pervasive control over Georgia’s state institutions, he has been ruling the country through proxies for much of the past decade. Ivanishvili, who made his original fortune in Russia, fears that efforts to meet the democratic criteria needed for Georgia’s integration into the EU could threaten his grip on Georgian institutions and government and therefore fiercely opposes closer ties with Europe in favor of a growing entente with Moscow. Unlike oligarchs in Ukraine, who have had to vie for political influence, Ivanishvili has had little competition in Georgia, allowing him to buy votes and gradually put his followers in positions of power in the legislature, courts, and executive branch. As with the ruling parties in Hungary and Russia, Georgian Dream has used these institutions to keep and expand its power through successive elections. It has also used this control to strengthen ties with Moscow. To loosen Russia’s hold over Georgia, the United States and its allies should support Georgia’s democratic opposition and take action against Ivanishvili and any Georgian companies that are helping Russia evade sanctions. It is time for the United States and its allies to sanction members of Georgia’s government.


Leaked Pentagon documents provide rare window into depth of US intelligence on allies and foes

Natasha Bertrand and Kylie Atwood

Ukrainian soldiers of the Da Vinci Wolves Battalion fire artillery in the direction of Bakhmut on April 3, 2023.

Highly classified Pentagon documents leaked online in recent weeks have provided a rare window into how the US spies on allies and foes alike, deeply rattling US officials, who fear the revelations could jeopardize sensitive sources and compromise important foreign relationships.

Some of the documents, which US officials say are authentic, expose the extent of US eavesdropping on key allies, including South Korea, Israel and Ukraine.

Others reveal the degree to which the US has penetrated the Russian Ministry of Defense and the Russian mercenary organization Wagner Group, largely through intercepted communications and human sources, which could now be cut off or put in danger.

Still others divulge key weaknesses in Ukrainian weaponry, air defense, and battalion sizes and readiness at a critical point in the war, as Ukrainian forces gear up to launch a counteroffensive against the Russians – and just as the US and Ukraine have begun to develop a more mutually trusting relationship over intelligence-sharing.

Ukraine has already altered some of its military plans because of the leak, a source close to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN.

The Pentagon has stood up an “interagency effort” to assess the impact of the leak, Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh said Sunday.

“The Department of Defense continues to review and assess the validity of the photographed documents that are circulating on social media sites and that appear to contain sensitive and highly classified material,” Singh said in a statement. “An interagency effort has been stood up, focused on assessing the impact these photographed documents could have on U.S. national security and on our Allies and partners.”

Singh added that US officials spoke with allies and partners over the weekend regarding the leak, and informed “relevant congressional committees.”

U.S. Pushes to Assess Damage From Leak of Purported Files on War in Ukraine

Nancy A. Youssef

The U.S. pressed on Saturday to assess the damage of a widespread intelligence breach, as the Pentagon and the Justice Department seek answers to how dozens of images that purport to show highly classified documents on the war in Ukraine and other international matters surfaced online.

Determining the source of the leak and its implications has dominated the attention of leadership at the Pentagon, defense officials said, as a wide-ranging internal government probe gathered steam over a U.S. holiday weekend.

While some of the documents are roughly two months old, their disclosure could affect the conduct of the war in Ukraine because they purport to spell out potential battlefield vulnerabilities and the composition of parts of Ukraine’s forces, U.S. officials said. The documents also appear to include intelligence on internal matters in a variety of nations, including allies Israel, South Korea and the U.K. The leak is likely to have an impact on U.S. national security worldwide, officials said.

The Wall Street Journal wasn’t able to independently authenticate the documents, but they contain enough detail to give them credibility. Defense officials have said they believe some of the documents could be authentic, though some also appear to have been altered.

Taken together, the document dump, initially made in a small forum on the Discord messaging platform, is shaping up to be one of the most damaging intelligence breaches in decades. The unauthorized disclosure of highly sensitive information has alarmed not only top U.S. security officials but also allies with whom the U.S. shares secret intelligence.

Some U.S. security partners are playing down the impact of the breach on operations covered in the documents.

Andriy Chernyak, a spokesman for Ukrainian military intelligence, described the leaked documents as an “operation by Russia’s special services.”

Can We No Longer Believe Anything We See?

Tiffany Hsu and Steven Lee Myers

Seeing has not been believing for a very long time. Photos have been faked and manipulated for nearly as long as photography has existed.

Now, not even reality is required for photographs to look authentic — just artificial intelligence responding to a prompt. Even experts sometimes struggle to tell if one is real or not. Can you?

The rapid advent of artificial intelligence has set off alarms that the technology used to trick people is advancing far faster than the technology that can identify the tricks. Tech companies, researchers, photo agencies and news organizations are scrambling to catch up, trying to establish standards for content provenance and ownership.

The advancements are already fueling disinformation and being used to stoke political divisions. Authoritarian governments have created seemingly realistic news broadcasters to advance their political goals. Last month, some people fell for images showing Pope Francis donning a puffy Balenciaga jacket and an earthquake devastating the Pacific Northwest, even though neither of those events had occurred. The images had been created using Midjourney, a popular image generator.

On Tuesday, as former President Donald J. Trump turned himself in at the Manhattan district attorney’s office to face criminal charges, images generated by artificial intelligence appeared on Reddit showing the actor Bill Murray as president in the White House. Another image showing Mr. Trump marching in front of a large crowd with American flags in the background was quickly reshared on Twitter without the disclosure that had accompanied the original post, noting it was not actually a photograph.

Experts fear the technology could hasten an erosion of trust in media, in government and in society. If any image can be manufactured — and manipulated — how can we believe anything we see?

Fed fingerprints all over ‘dollar-is-doomed’ talk


As China draws down dollar holdings and the yuan trumps the US greenback in Russia, more and more economists are asking if an inflection point has been reached.

Count Nobel laureate Paul Krugman firmly in the “no” camp. “The dollar’s dominance isn’t under threat,” the New York Times columnist argues.

Others aren’t so sanguine as Asia’s biggest economy reduced its stockpile of US Treasury securities for a sixth straight month in January, the latest for which there is data on Beijing’s reserve holdings.

This week brought news that, in February, the Chinese yuan topped the dollar in trading volume in Russia for the first time. Daily transaction data at the Moscow Exchange suggest volumes rose even more significantly in March.

There’s no shortage of theories why. They include President Joe Biden’s White House “weaponizing the US dollar and the global payment system” amid the Russia-Ukraine crisis, as strategist John Mauldin at Millennium Wave Advisors, puts it.

That, he notes, “will force non-US investors and nations to diversify their holdings outside of the traditional safe haven of the US.”

Others point to the US letting inflation soar to 40-year highs. Political chaos in Washington — from the January 6, 2021 insurrection to today’s debt limit brawl — is doing America’s credit rating no favors.

Yet economist Mohamed El-Erian argues the real problem is how the Federal Reserve has lost more than just the economic plot. It’s losing the trust of central banks that took for granted that the dollar would outshine all alternatives indefinitely.

The nexus between technology, geopolitics and national security

Michael C. Horowitz

In the final session on Day 1 of ASPI’s Sydney Dialogue, Mike Horowitz from the US Department of Defense led a panel discussion on global technology trends.

In these introductory remarks, I will lay out how the US Department of Defense is thinking about the intersection of technological change in geopolitical competition and what it means for the security environment, particularly in the context of the Indo-Pacific, a vital region for the future of the world. I want to tell you about three trends shaping this intersection of technological change, geopolitics, and national security.

First, a series of technologies, including artificial intelligence, biotechnology and cyber, are already online and growing more sophisticated every day in ways that are already reshaping economies, societies and militaries. For example, the recent public release of large language models like ChatGPT illustrates the way advances in AI and machine learning can revolutionise how we aggregate, access and process information everywhere from the classroom to the military. These advances represent general-purpose technologies like the combustion engine and the aircraft in prior generations. They have strategic consequences, and the drivers and impacts are so much broader.

They reflect a trend where so many of the cutting-edge technologies of today have experienced booms due to private-sector and commercial investment. Second, these technological changes are accelerating changes in the security environment. The 2022 US national defence strategy clearly describes this evolving strategic environment in the way the People’s Republic of China is seeking to leverage technological advantage to create systemic challenges.

Furthermore, Russia’s horrific invasion of Ukraine, triggering the largest war in Europe since World War II makes Russia an acute threat that we also think about every day in this context. Third, we cannot go it alone if we are going to succeed in this complex world. As Under Secretary of Defense [Colin] Kahl said last year, this is not a competition of countries. It’s a competition of coalitions.

Russia’s new foreign-policy concept: the impact of war

Nigel Gould-Davies

Moscow’s first major policy statement since launching the war on Ukraine is a strangely backward-looking attempt to counter the ‘hegemonic ambitions’ of the West, and particularly the United States.

On 31 March, Russia released its latest foreign-policy concept setting out its official view of the world, its major interests and goals, and how it will pursue them. It is Russia’s sixth, and darkest, such statement, following those published in 1993, 2000, 2008, 2013 and 2016.

The 9,000-word document might invite scepticism. It is a committee product in a personalistic autocracy. It espouses principles of international law, human rights and peace that Russia has violated outrageously. It was drafted with its propaganda value in mind. Indeed, for the first time, propagandistic terms such as ‘Russophobia’, ‘neo-Nazism’ and ‘collective West’ are mentioned in this version of the concept.

But the concept matters. It is Russia’s first systematic policy statement since it invaded Ukraine in February 2022. It codifies Russia’s evolving response to the adverse changes in its international position that the invasion triggered.

It refers to the war and to Ukraine only once, and then indirectly, claiming that the US and Europe have ‘unleashed a new type of hybrid war’ against ‘Russia’s vital interests in the Ukrainian direction’. By contrast, the previous concept published in 2016 – two years after Russia’s first invasion of Ukraine – supported ‘cultural and spiritual ties with Ukraine in all areas on the basis of mutual respect and commitment’. Nonetheless, the war dominates the new concept in three ways.

Why Biden’s new nuclear security agenda might not work as planned

Sitara Noor 

Early in March, the Biden administration unveiled its 19th National Security Memorandum. While the operational part of this memorandum is classified, the White House shared a factsheet on the new strategy, which is centered around three main pillars: countering weapons of mass destruction terrorism, advancing nuclear material security, and improving radioactive material security. The three-pronged strategy aims to reinvigorate long-standing approaches to risks from weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and nuclear security and introduce new ways to deal with emerging threats.

While the Biden administration’s new strategy acknowledges emerging risks during crises, especially in the wake of the Russia’s invasion of Ukraine—and particularly as regard’s military activities in and around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant—it also provides a sharp reminder that the traditional nuclear security risks demand continuous attention. Just the same, the Biden strategy falls short in terms of new ideas and concrete plans for dealing with emerging nuclear security challenges and for garnering the international support needed to transform those plans into reality.

A different international context. The new US strategy on nuclear security aims to prevent, mitigate, and respond to emerging threats posed by the WMD terrorism at national and international level. It specifically considers the implications of on‑and-over-the-horizon technologies that can affect the nature of threats and would require a corresponding response. The strategy also offers the first comprehensive policy for the security of radioactive materials. The strategy is intended to be President Biden’s agenda to reinvigorate and carry forward the work of the Obama administration on nuclear security. But, although President Obama managed to convene four successful Nuclear Security Summits between 2010 and 2016, those efforts came in an altogether different international political and security environment. The summits built momentum that resulted in some tangible results, including the entry into force of the 2005 Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, the removal and down-blending of highly enriched uranium from more than 50 facilities in 30 countries, and over 260 other national security commitments and pledges from participating countries.

Maximizing the Potential of American Irregular Warfare in Strategic Competition

Charles T. Cleveland, Daniel Egel, David Maxwell, Hy Rothstein

The United States lacks the concepts and associated doctrine for its irregular warfare capabilities to achieve their potential in strategic competition.

This challenge was articulated in 2013 in a hallmark collaboration (PDF) of Army Chief of Staff Raymond Odierno, Marine Corps Commandant James Amos, and U.S. Special Operations Commander William McRaven. Center to their critique was the observation that the Pentagon's concept of competition does not reflect the fundamental reality that “competition and conflict are about people.” They concluded that the “growing problem in linking military action to achieving national objectives” was in significant part because the Pentagon tends to “focus on the clash and lose sight of the will” of the population.

Unfortunately, the Pentagon has done little in the intervening decade to address their concerns.

One of their explicit recommendations (PDF) that the Pentagon ignored was the examination of the concept of the “human domain” as a new warfighting domain encompassing the “physical, cultural, and social environments.” This failure may limit the ability of the United States to use its irregular warfare capabilities effectively in strategic competition.

The Chinese, Russians, and other U.S. antagonists are actively embracing new approaches that embrace the human domain concept for warfighting.Share on Twitter

In sharp contrast, the Chinese, Russians, and other U.S. antagonists are actively embracing new approaches that embrace this concept for warfighting. Both China's unrestricted warfare and Russia's hybrid warfare recognize the “human domain as the critical area of competition,” as does Iran's use of surrogates in Lebanon and elsewhere.

What we know about Russian hackers — and how to stop them — after a year of cyberwar in Ukraine


Since the beginning of 2022, when Russian hackers began to wage an intense cyberwar against our country, we have seen dozens of forecasts about how the events would unfold on the digital frontlines. Many predicted dire consequences for Ukraine as Russian hackers are considered among the most skilled in the world.

But most of those predictions vastly underestimated the resilience of Ukraine as well as the hackers, technologists and cyber strategists working together to counter Russian cyber operatives and their ongoing attacks. More than a year has passed and Ukraine has withstood Moscow’s cyber aggression. And we’ve managed to study our enemy’s techniques and tactics in cyberspace. This knowledge has become the foundation for an analytical report, Russia’s Cyber Tactics: Lessons Learned 2022, that is based on the experiences from the past year of warfare and what we expect to see from Moscow in cyberspace in the near future.

Russian hackers’ tactics are changing. For instance, there were many cyberattacks aimed at disrupting certain critical services prior to and at the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Those were also an instrument of informational and psychological warfare on Ukrainians designed to demoralize society.

Following the retreat of Russian troops from Kyiv, we started detecting an increasing number of attacks aimed at gathering information for espionage purposes. Russian military hackers are interested in any information they think can help Russia win this war. They prioritize quiet and long-term campaigns allowing them to stay inside systems and to maintain access data for as long as possible. This distinguishes them from so-called Russian “hacktivists” whose primary goal is informational impact, so they promptly disclose details of their attacks.

The countries that support Ukraine have also become targets for Russian military hackers and “hacktivists.” Their primary goals are to have a psychological impact on the democratic countries that support Ukraine. Given that, with a great deal of probability, we expect to see an increasing number of cyberespionage attacks, system infiltrations and data thefts in those countries.

New Details on Intelligence Leak Show It Circulated for Weeks Before Raising Alarm

Yaroslav Trofimov , Sharon Weinberger Robert McMillan

One of the most significant leaks of highly classified U.S. documents in recent history began among a small group of posters on a messaging channel that trafficked in memes, jokes and racist talk.

Sometime in January, seemingly unnoticed by the outside world, an anonymous member of a group numbering just over a dozen began to post files—many labeled as top secret—providing details about the war in Ukraine, intercepted communications about U.S. allies, such as Israel and South Korea, and details of American penetration of Russian military plans, among other topics.

The documents, which appear to have numbered in the hundreds, stayed among the members of the tiny group on the Discord messaging platform until early March, when another user reposted several dozen of them to another group with a larger audience. From there, at least 10 files migrated to a much bigger community focused on the Minecraft computer game.

On Wednesday, with the U.S. government apparently still unaware, a Russian propaganda account on Telegram posted a crudely doctored version of one of the documents, alongside a few unedited ones.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department are now on a sprawling hunt for answers on how the dozens of images that purport to show secret documents surfaced online. A government probe, launched Friday at the request of the Defense Department, is searching for the source of the leak.

A Pentagon spokeswoman said Sunday night the department was reviewing and assessing the validity of the photographed documents “that appear to contain sensitive and highly classified material.” She said the U.S. had discussed the matter with allies over the weekend and was weighing the potential national security impact of the breach.

Opinion – ChatGPT and the Threat to Diplomacy

Ilan Manor

Historically, British Prime Ministers have taken a dim view of diplomats. Lloyd George stated that diplomats were invented simply to waste time. Edward Heath defined a diplomat as a man who thinks twice before saying nothing. The digital revolution threatened to make diplomats not only mute but obsolete. Scholars writing in the early 2000s echoed the sentiment of British Prime Ministers arguing that foreign ministries were change resistant institutions burdened by rigid working routines and centuries’ old protocol. Diplomats thus lacked the ability to adapt to new digital surroundings. Yet time has proven these critics wrong, and today diplomats can best be defined as digital innovators.

Over the past decade diplomats have adopted a host of digital technologies by launching Embassies in virtual worlds, creating social media empires, designing consular smartphone applications, and even embracing the digital ethos of transparency while live-tweeting debates in diplomatic forums. Some foreign ministries have proven to be especially tech-savvy such as the British Foreign Office which created a big data unit or the Israeli ministry that authored its own algorithm to combat hate speech online.

Through trial and error, digital experimentation and the occasional faux pas, diplomats have migrated safely to the 21st century. However, diplomacy now faces an unfamiliar digital challenge- that of ChatGPT. Launched in November of 2022, this generative AI chatbot has been the subject of intense media coverage and debates. As ChatGPT passed exams into prestigious law faculties and medical schools, educators warned of its use to write university essays or academic papers. Lawyers have cautioned of petitions generated within minutes while legislators have expressed concern over laws written by AI systems. Few news reports, however, have focused on ChatGPT’s impact on diplomacy, an important issue as ChatGPT assumes the role of an information gatekeeper, much like Google.

I Saw the Face of God in a Semiconductor Factory

I ARRIVE IN Taiwan brooding morbidly on the fate of democracy. My luggage is lost. This is my pilgrimage to the Sacred Mountain of Protection. The Sacred Mountain is reckoned to protect the whole island of Taiwan—and even, by the supremely pious, to protect democracy itself, the sprawling experiment in governance that has held moral and actual sway over the would-be free world for the better part of a century. The mountain is in fact an industrial park in Hsinchu, a coastal city southwest of Taipei. Its shrine bears an unassuming name: the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company.

By revenue, TSMC is the largest semiconductor company in the world. In 2020 it quietly joined the world’s 10 most valuable companies. It’s now bigger than Meta and Exxon. The company also has the world’s biggest logic chip manufacturing capacity and produces, by one analysis, a staggering 92 percent of the world’s most avant-garde chips—the ones inside the nuclear weapons, planes, submarines, and hypersonic missiles on which the international balance of hard power is predicated.

Perhaps more to the point, TSMC makes a third of all the world’s silicon chips, notably the ones in iPhones and Macs. Every six months, just one of TSMC’s 13 foundries—the redoubtable Fab 18 in Tainan—carves and etches a quintillion transistors for Apple. In the form of these miniature masterpieces, which sit atop microchips, the semiconductor industry churns out more objects in a year than have ever been produced in all the other factories in all the other industries in the history of the world.

Of course, now that I’m on the bullet train to Hsinchu, I realize that the precise hazard against which the Sacred Mountain offers protection is not to be uttered. The threat from across the 110-mile-wide strait to the west of the foundries menaces Taiwan every second of every day. So as not to mention either country by name—or are they one?—Taiwanese newspapers often euphemize Beijing’s bellicosity toward the island as “cross-strait tensions.” The language spoken on both sides of the strait—an internal waterway? international waters?—is known only as “Mandarin.” The longer the threat is unnamed, the more it comes to seem like an asteroid, irrational and insensate. And, like an asteroid, it could hit anytime and destroy everything.

How to Revitalize the World Bank, the IMF, and the Development Finance System

Mia Amor Mottley and Rajiv J. Shah

As the world’s finance ministers travel to Washington for the annual spring meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) next week, humanity’s future hangs in the balance. Climate change threatens to make the world either inhospitable or unhabitable for billions of people. The global economy is creating more poverty, hunger, and despair. And an unjust war in Ukraine is producing disastrous consequences for vulnerable people just after a pandemic that did the same.

Every country is facing this mix of compounding crises, yet every country has not been affected in the same way. Nor does every country have the same means to withstand these challenges, let alone overcome them. Rich-countries, after stoking their economies with trillions in fiscal and monetary support in recent years, have recently raised interest rates to address inflation, so far without suffering the deep recessions that many feared. In contrast, lower-income countries that could not respond to the pandemic with stimulus packages and quantitative easing are now swamped by debt and projected to grow much slower than expected or needed for sustained development. Unsurprisingly, hundreds of millions of people in those countries are falling behind: poverty and hunger have increased while measures of health care, education, and gender equity have dramatically declined.

Unfortunately, despite many warnings and pleas, the World Bank, the IMF, and other international financial institutions—and their wealthy shareholders—have not yet done enough to overcome this inequity. Some of their struggles are understandable. Many of these organizations were established in 1944 to help rebuild countries after World War II; they were not designed to counteract multiple global crises at the same time. But too many of their present-day struggles stem from policy choices. Wealthier countries have neglected to honor previous commitments, including pledges to spend at least 0.7 percent of their GDPs on foreign aid and to mobilize $100 billion a year for climate action in developing countries. And the World Bank and IMF have struggled to tailor their instruments to support countries in this moment of profound need.