19 April 2023

What Should India Do Before the Next Taiwan Strait Crisis?


Summary: Over the course of the next two decades, the Taiwan question is likely to become increasingly important for the Indo-Pacific region. This paper suggests a suitable foreign policy strategy that India might adopt in preparation for a future crisis in the Taiwan Strait.

In the next two decades, the Taiwan question is likely to assume increasing importance for the Indo-Pacific region. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is becoming more assertive about unifying Taiwan with the mainland, and it is also making progress toward establishing the military capability toward this end. For a rising PRC seeking to establish itself as the dominant global power, it is untenable that a part of its territory remains outside its control. Possible endeavors toward establishing this control could lead to a response by the United States, which would have broader ramifications for the region and the world.

For the United States, any endeavors by the PRC to this end would undermine the very core of the idea that the United States is the defender of freedom and democracy across the world, thus undermining its credibility. It might also deal a devastating blow to the United States’ global power. In this context, and given the significance of Taiwan to both countries, it is an issue that can rapidly escalate, making it a matter of concern in the Indo-Pacific. Further, a conflict over Taiwan would dwarf the global economic fallout that began when Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022. Short of conflict, Chinese coercion of Taiwan could disrupt the freedom of navigation and sea lanes of communication through the Taiwan Strait and will have severe consequences for Asian geopolitics and geoeconomics.

Given India’s substantial geopolitical and geoeconomic interests in the region and its long history of exchanges with East and Southeast Asia, India should pay constant and careful attention to this issue. Further, a policy to respond to various contingencies must be thought through and put into place. This paper tries to look at the possible policy that India might adopt ahead of a major crisis in the Taiwan Strait.

Pakistan-Aligned Hackers Disrupt Indian Education Sector

Alessandro Mascellino

The threat actor known as APT36 or Transparent Tribe has been observed targeting the education sector in India with malicious Office documents distributing Crimson RAT.

The group has been active since at least 2013, but according to a new advisory by SentinelOne, it is now shifting from attacking Indian military and government personnel targets to also disrupting educational institutions.

“Crimson RAT is a consistent staple in the group’s malware arsenal the adversary uses in its campaigns,” wrote senior threat researcher at SentinelLabs Aleksandar Milenkoski.

According to the technical write-up, the names and content of the lure documents, as well as the associated domains and the use of Crimson RAT, suggest that the recent activities observed by SentinelOne are part of a previously reported campaign by Transparent Tribe.

“The documents that Transparent Tribe distributes have education-themed content and names,” reads the advisory. “Based on known behavior of this group, we suspect that the documents have been distributed to targets as attachments to phishing emails.”

SentinelOne explained the team has observed several Crimson RAT .NET implementations with timestamps between July and September 2022.

“Crimson RAT variants implement different obfuscation techniques of varying intensities, for example, simple function name malformation and dynamic string resolution,” Milenkoski wrote.

Crimson RAT can exfiltrate system information, capture screenshots, start and stop processes, and enumerate files and drives.

“Transparent Tribe is a highly motivated and persistent threat actor that regularly updates its malware arsenal, operational playbook and targets,” SentinelOne warned.

Case in point, in these campaigns, APT36 adopted Microsoft’s Object Linking & Embedding (OLE) as a technique for staging malware from lure documents. They also used the Eazfuscator obfuscator to protect Crimson RAT implementations.

The Looming Crisis in Pakistan

Tim Willasey-Wilsey CMG

If the army and government continue to block regional and national elections, they will only increase the scale of Imran Khan’s eventual victory. Fear of Imran’s brand of careless populism coincides with low public confidence in the army and with a renewed threat from Afghan-based terrorist groups. The looming confrontation presents real hazards for a country and people facing economic distress.

There is little doubt that former Prime Minister Imran Khan is the overwhelming favourite to win the regional and national elections in Pakistan. That is why the army and the government are together stretching every legal and constitutional sinew to delay the elections and to disqualify him from standing.

The irony is that Imran has been lucky. His dismissal by Parliament in April 2022 could not have come at a better time for his popularity. Since he was removed from office the economy (never exactly robust) has tanked and prices have risen exponentially. In March 2023, food inflation was reported as 47.1% for urban areas, leading to an unprecedented cost of living crisis. The government’s bid for an IMF (International Monetary Fund) bailout has still not succeeded. The IMF has asked Pakistan to first secure loans from its traditional funders (China, Saudi Arabia and the UAE), all of which have been slow to come forward with sufficient largesse.

A second irony is that the present government, a coalition between archenemies the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), would have been the answer to many prayers in the 1990s and 2000s. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who was always the more talented of the Sharif brothers, has Benazir Bhutto’s son, Bilawal, as his foreign minister and a good understanding with the new Chief of Army Staff Asim Munir. This is the sort of unity which Pakistan has needed for decades, but it has come far too late. Their political methodology, based on the old formula of feudal loyalties and back-room deals, seems old-fashioned and tired compared with the new star in the firmament.

2 Years of Turmoil: Myanmar’s Grinding Stalemate

Naw Theresa

Anti-coup protesters gesture with a three-fingers salute, a symbol of resistance during a demonstration in Thaketa township Yangon, Myanmar, Saturday, March 27, 2021.Credit: AP Photo, File

Editor’s Note: This is the second article in a three-part series about Myanmar’s escalating political crisis. The first part offered an overview of the conflict, and the state of the humanitarian emergency and economic crisis affecting post-coup Myanmar. The second part analyzes the overall conflict and the status of the two sides, while the third will explore ignored undercurrents that provide a fuller picture of the civil war.

Myanmar’s conflict is currently locked in a bloody stalemate: The State Administration Council (SAC) junta and the Myanmar military (Tatmadaw) pretend they can stamp out their armed opponents, while the parallel National Unity Government (NUG) and its affiliated People’s Defense Forces (PDFs) have spoken of imminent final victory ever since the coup of February 2021. The morbid reality is that Myanmar’s worsening civil war will be drawn out and everybody will ultimately lose.

The two sides are in no frame of mind to de-escalate or manage the conflict. The international community continues to call for a peaceful resolution, but neither camp is interested. Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) who had hoped that their Five-Point Consensus would temper the crisis are increasingly exasperated and can only watch as their black sheep writhes in self-mutilation.

The regime has shamelessly abnegated its own commitments to de-escalation made to ASEAN while its opponents talk of a “blood debt” stretching back to 1988 that leaves no room to off-ramp the fighting. Labeling each other “terrorists,” both the SAC and the resistance insist on militarily vanquishing their respective foes, sowing the seeds for a conflict that will likely continue for decades.

China launches weather satellite, flights avoid no-fly zone to north of Taiwan

BEIJING/TAIPEI, April 16 (Reuters) - China launched a weather satellite on Sunday as civilian flights altered their routes to avoid a Chinese-imposed no-fly zone to the north of Taiwan which Beijing put in place because of the possibility of falling rocket debris.
Reporting by Bernard Orr and Ben Blanchard; Editing by William Mallard

Picking the Rose, Leaving the Thorn: Why China’s AI Regulations Are Worth Careful Examination

Johanna Costigan

China’s artificial intelligence (AI) regulations reflect Xi Jinping’s attempt at authoritarian and patriarchal social control — but also offer meaningful protections against a precarious technology. As the U.S.-China “tech war” wages on, the United States should formulate its own AI laws. Otherwise, it risks ceding some regulatory leadership to the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Executive Summary

The Chinese government in recent years has proven adept at formulating and implementing AI regulations — which the United States notably has not. AI regulations should be integrated into U.S. thinking about technology competition in the 21st century.

This paper examines two of China’s pioneering regulatory documents: one that addresses deepfakes (the Provisions on the Administration of Deep Synthesis Internet Information Services) and one that addresses algorithmic management (Provisions on the Management of Algorithmic Recommendations in Internet Information Services). They invoke an adherence to the “correct political direction” as devised by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership — but also outline prudent and enforceable AI regulations.

Among Xi Jinping’s many troublingly repressive tendencies is his attempt to achieve patriarchal control over the moral development of Chinese citizens — and, more specifically, China’s technology companies and the people who run them. China has many practical reasons to regulate AI. But one reason the government has implemented the precise language present in its regulations — centered on ensuring that AI enhances, not threatens, CCP rule — is Xi Jinping’s obsession with making sure no alternate center of power develops, in part by ensuring that a culture of misogyny thrives.

However, even though China’s laws are embedded in an authoritarian and patriarchal governance structure, many of the provisions, such as preventing the circulation of deepfakes, are not inherently authoritarian. Aspects of China’s regulations could therefore potentially be tested and applied in liberal democratic societies.

The US Hands China the Middle East — at Its Own Peril

Michael Mazza | Shay Khatiri

On Sunday, just days after Saudi Aramco publicized a multibillion-dollar investment in China’s petrochemical industry, Saudi Arabia and its OPEC+ partners announced a surprise cut to oil production.

Alongside the recent China-brokered agreement for Iran and Saudi Arabia to resume diplomatic ties, these developments typify an ongoing transition: America is stepping back, and China is stepping up in the Middle East.

Coming a day after Xi Jinping officially secured a third term as China’s president, the announcement of the Saudi-Iran deal had two messages.

First, China under Xi had completed its evolution from a regional to a global power.

Second, China would be a peacemaker, solving problems the United States would not or could not address.

Both messages amount to a play for leadership of the Global South, and are part and parcel of Xi’s effort to forge a new world order.

That order will see US power and influence diluted and America’s alliance network severely weakened, if not broken altogether.

There are two main justifications for the United States’ withdrawal from the Middle East.

First, over a period of decades, the United States has spilled significant blood, treasure and diplomatic resources to maintain regional stability, often with results deemed unsatisfying.

As Chinese power catapulted to new heights over the last 15 years, administrations beginning with Barack Obama’s began calling for a reorientation of US foreign policy.

As China Ascends, Concerns Grow It Might Be Tempted into a 'Splendid Little War'

Scott Savitz

When a nation newly ascends or returns to the status of a leading international power, it often feels the need to publicly demonstrate its rise through a brief, victorious war. Today, China's increasing strength may tempt it to pursue such a conflict, and not necessarily with Taiwan, if it anticipates—perhaps incorrectly—that victory will be swift, decisive, and demonstrative.

The United States did exactly that 125 years ago this month, starting what was called a “splendid little war” against Spain in 1898. Though Spain was weak and overstretched enough that the war's outcome was not in doubt, the rapidity and decisiveness of the American victory were striking. Before the war with Spain, the United States had been a rapidly growing nation with a vibrant economy, but not necessarily one of the foremost nations in the world; after that war, perceptions of its latent military might and its acquisition of overseas territories made it an equal of the leading powers of Europe.

Such demonstrations were a common feature of that era. Prussia's defeat of France in 1870–71 paved the way for German unification and was a forceful way of demonstrating that the newly established German Empire had joined the great powers. Likewise, Japan's victory over Russia in 1904–1905 served a similar purpose, announcing the arrival of an Asian power that could be counted among the giants. In the 21st century, Russia's revanchism in Georgia and Ukraine has partly been an attempt to restore its great-power status.
A Palpable Symbol of China's Power

China may believe a quick and decisive military victory could help to establish the perception that it is not only an economic power of the first rank, but also a military one. As with the American war against Spain, the outcome need not be in doubt. However, it could serve as a palpable symbol of China's re-ascendance to global leadership. It would mark the closure of a series of eras for China: not only the “century of humiliation” ending in the 1940s, during which China was on the receiving end of Western and Japanese imperialism, but also China's isolation under Mao Zedong (1949–1976) and its maintenance of a low international profile thereafter.

America, China and a Crisis of Trust

Thomas L. Friedman

TAIPEI, Taiwan — I just returned from visiting China for the first time since Covid struck. Being back in Beijing was a reminder of my first rule of journalism: If you don’t go, you don’t know. Relations between our two countries have soured so badly, so quickly, and have so reduced our points of contact — very few American reporters are left in China, and our leaders are barely talking — that we’re now like two giant gorillas looking at each other through a pinhole. Nothing good will come from this.

The recent visit by Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, to the United States — which prompted Beijing to hold live-fire drills off Taiwan’s coast and to warn anew that peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait are incompatible with any move by Taiwan toward formal independence — was just the latest reminder of how overheated this atmosphere is. The smallest misstep by either side could ignite a U.S.-China war that would make Ukraine look like a neighborhood dust-up.

That’s one of the many reasons I found it helpful to be back in Beijing and to be able to observe China again through a larger aperture than a pinhole. Attending the China Development Forum — Beijing’s very useful annual gathering of local and global business leaders, senior Chinese officials, retired diplomats and a few local and Western journalists — reminded me of some powerful old truths and exposed me to some eye-popping new realities about what’s really eating away at U.S.-China relations.

Hint: The new, new thing has a lot to do with the increasingly important role that trust, and its absence, plays in international relations, now that so many goods and services that the United States and China sell to one another are digital, and therefore dual use — meaning they can be both a weapon and a tool. Just when trust has become more important than ever between the U.S. and China, it also has become scarcer than ever. Bad trend.

Leaked documents show officials were aware of additional Chinese spy balloons: report


In this photo provided by Chad Fish, the remnants of a large balloon drift above the Atlantic Ocean, just off the coast of South Carolina, with a fighter jet and its contrail seen below it, Feb. 4, 2023. China said Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023, it will “resolutely safeguard its legitimate rights and interests” over the shooting down of a suspected Chinese spy balloon by the United States, as relations between the two countries deteriorate further. (Chad Fish via AP, File)

U.S. officials knew about additional Chinese spy balloons beyond the one that traveled across the United States in January and February, according to a report from The Washington Post.

The Post reported on Friday that the intelligence community also continued to have questions about the balloon after shooting it down in the Atlantic Ocean as it had sensors and antennas that the government had not identified more than a week after.

The reporting was based on documents that the Post obtained from the classified documents leaked online recently that shared a wide range of U.S. intelligence and national security information. The suspected leaker, a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, was arrested in connection with the leak on Thursday and charged with violating the Espionage Act.

The Post reported that the balloon that was shot down was one of at least three that intelligence agencies know of. One of the other two flew over a U.S. carrier strike group in the Pacific Ocean and the other crashed in the South China Sea, according to a top-secret document.

The document did not mention launch dates for the balloons.

U.S.-China Data War Intensifies as Bilateral Relations Nosedive

Willy Wo-Lap Lam

U.S.-China relations appear headed for further deterioration despite the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) efforts to lure back American multinationals and Beijing’s relatively limited support for Russia in its war with Ukraine. Washington has characterized the “existential competition” with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as an entrenched struggle on all fronts, but the data and information sectors have recently become areas of particularly intense contention.

The Xi Jinping leadership has sternly retaliated against purported efforts by the U.S. and its allies to choke off the PRC’s high-tech development pathways. Recent moves targeting American and other foreign firms are also closely linked to General Secretary Xi Jinping’s obsession with cybersecurity and control of data. Last weekend, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), the administrative arm of the policy-setting Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission (CCAC) that Xi chairs, announced an investigation into the operations of leading American memory-chip maker Micron Technology. The CAC cited the need to safeguard the supply chains of Chinese IT and data companies. Regardless, Micron, whose China operations account for 11 percent of worldwide sales, has insisted that it “stands by the security of our products” (Straits Times, April 1; South China Morning Post [SCMP], March 31).

Foreign Firms Under Pressure

The Xi administration’s crackdown on foreign data, accounting and information-related firms began in March, when the Mintz Group and the Chinese branches of the Big Four accountancy firms were compelled to begin winding up their Chinese operations due to Xi’s concerns over the possible leakage of business and political information to foreign rivals (Radio French International, March 27; BBC Chinese, February 24). On March 20, five Chinese employees of the Beijing office of the Mintz Group, an international business intelligence and due diligence company with branches in 18 cities worldwide, were arrested by state-security agents with no advanced notice. The firm’s Beijing office was then closed. The Chinese government has not responded to inquiries from the New York-based conglomerate. Moreover, a Japanese national was arrested by state security for alleged espionage, a possible reference to the theft of sensitive economic and technological data (Radio French International, March 27; Netease, March 18).

Russian space war prowess showcased in Ukraine conflict

Bill Gertz

Russia’s military has deployed several cutting-edge space warfare tools during its nearly 15-month war in Ukraine, using its space assets for intelligence operations and to limit the Ukrainian military’s battlefield command and control, according to a new report.

Electronic jamming of satellites, maneuvering robot spy satellites, cyberattacks on ground terminals and threats of directed energy strikes on imagery satellites show the Ukraine war to be a likely model for space conflicts in future wars, says the latest annual review by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Russia’s attacks against space capabilities used by Ukraine are an example of how counterspace weapons can and will likely be used prior to and during future conflict,” the report, “Space Threat Assessment 2023,” said.

“As China and Russia put more counterspace weapons into operational units, such integration of counterspace weapons and tactics with broader military plans will only increase.”

The report also warned that the increased deployment of space weapons poses “disastrous effects for an array of national security, civil, and commercial users,” particularly if destructive weapons create orbital debris that make large areas of space unnavigable.

In one example, Russian space forces jammed the GPS signals from a European drone that was monitoring the Ukraine border in March 2021.

Ukraine’s counter-offensive is drawing near

“Break the spine!” shouts the man in Russian, chiding his colleague. “What, you’ve never cut a head off before?” The video shows what appears to be a knife-wielding Russian soldier beheading a Ukrainian one alive. “Put it in a fucking bag,” demands another voice, “and send it to his commander.” The footage, posted by a popular Russian far-right account on Telegram, a social media site, on April 11th, provoked outrage in Ukraine. “Everyone must react,” said Volodymyr Zelensky, the country’s president. “We are not going to forget anything.” Mr Zelensky’s army will soon have a shot at revenge.

Intelligence leaks are an opportunity as well as a threat, says Thomas Rid

Over the past dozen or so years, America’s government and its intelligence apparatus has suffered five mega-leaks: the release of diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks in 2010; the disclosures by Edward Snowden in 2013; the publication of National Security Agency (nsa) and cia hacking tools in 2016 and 2017; and, now, the appearance of large amounts of intelligence reports on Discord, a messaging platform.

On April 13th Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old member of the intelligence wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, was arrested on suspicion of leaking highly sensitive documents. Whoever made the leak uploaded “hundreds and hundreds” of documents, says Aric Toler of Bellingcat, an investigative group, who interviewed several members of the Discord channel to which the files were uploaded. Most media organisations reporting on the leaks have access to approximately 50 of these documents. About 20 pages of those are so-called “serial reports,” concise one-paragraph missives on world events, prepared by multiple intelligence agencies. The rest are maps and tactical updates relating to the war in Ukraine, some with dazzling levels of detail.

Russia Says Its New EW System Can ‘Kill’ Satellites At An Altitude Of 36,000 Km; Military Expert Decodes The Claims

Tanmay Kadam

According to a recent report by the state-owned media outlet Ria Novosti, Russia claimed to have developed an electronic warfare (EW) system that can jam satellites in geostationary orbit at an altitude of 36,000 kilometers.

“Enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex have developed a new electronic warfare system capable of suppressing satellites in geostationary orbit with its signal. This is about 36,000 km above sea level,” a source was cited as saying by Ria Novosti.

Without divulging any further details, the source added that at a shorter distance, the power of the emitter of the new system is capable of irreparable harm to the enemy’s electronics.

The revelation of the new Russian EW system came on the “Day of the Specialist in Electronic Warfare,” which is celebrated in Russian annually on April 15 to mark the occasion of the first combat use of electronic warfare on April 15, 1904, during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905), when Russian radio stations interfered with Japanese radio operators during the defense of Port Arthur.

Russia demonstrated its anti-satellite capabilities in November 2021 by carrying out a direct ascent anti-satellite (ASAT) test in which it destroyed one of its satellites that had been in orbit since 1982.File Image

The anti-satellite test showed Russia was “ready to deny us space capabilities to other players, even if it creates some debris,” said Major General Michel Friedling, head of France’s Space Command, in June last year. “And even if it denies, to [Russia, themselves] the use of space capabilities,” he continued.

Thereafter, in the weeks preceding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it launched a cyber-attack on a US-based communications company, Viasat, to cripple Ukrainian command and control, which relied on Viasat’s satellite terminal up to some extent.

Britain’s Principles Of Electronic Warfare Is A Good Start

David Sadler 

Russia’s cyberwarfare in Ukraine was as reckless as war on the battlefield, and its cyberattack on satellites, on the first day of the fighting, accidentally spilled over nearly 6,000 German wind farms used to produce electricity. It spread the malware across Ukraine, irreversibly destroying the data. Its attacks were directed at the electricity and water infrastructure, which increased the destruction of its shells and missiles, and it was one of the most intense electronic campaigns ever, and perhaps the most irresponsible campaign.

But what cyber force is responsible?

On April 4, Britain’s National Cyber ​​Force sought to answer that question by publishing a document outlining how it views the purpose and principles of a “cyber attack” – the disruption of computer networks – separate from cyber espionage. It also revealed the identity of the cyber force’s leader. James Babbage, who gave the first interview to The Economist.

Britain’s transparency in taking it a step forward is welcome. Cyber ​​operations are shrouded in secrecy and can extend to the computer networks on which modern economies and societies depend. In 2017, a Russian cyberattack caused more than $10 billion in damages. The potential for such attacks is poorly understood. Many political leaders mistakenly view them as strategic weapons to deter enemies.

The new British Cyber ​​Power paper is important, as it articulates a realistic and restrained view of cyber power. It says its main goal is less kinetic – a digital alternative to airstrikes – than cognitive. Online, Russian disinformation often targets entire populations. Britain says its targets are usually individuals and small groups. A cyberattack might, for example, tamper with communications, so that the economy is paralyzed by confusion, or chaos spreads.

Catch-235: Western Dependence on Russian Nuclear Supplies is Hard to Shake

Darya Dolzikova​

Many countries, including the US and France, continue to import nuclear energy-related goods and technology from Russia. What can be done to lessen this dependence in the wake of Moscow’s aggression?

Despite the expanding economic restrictions placed on Russia by the US, the EU and others, the Russian nuclear sector, as well as state-owned enterprise Rosatom and its subsidiaries, have largely escaped sanctions. As detailed in an earlier report by the author, Russia has continued to export significant amounts of nuclear technology and supplies since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, including to members of the EU and NATO. Additional trade data, not included in the original report but examined by the author since, also shows significant imports of Russian goods by the US, France and others under Harmonized System (HS) Code 284420, which includes enriched uranium (that is, uranium with higher concentrations of the uranium-235 isotope than mined uranium ore) used for the production of nuclear reactor fuel.

The value of HS Code 284420 imports from Russia into the US and France totalled just under $1.2 billion in 2022. This is in addition to the over $1 billion worth of Russian nuclear energy-related exports in the last calendar year detailed in the previous report, which included exports of nuclear reactor fuel, reactor components and mined uranium. However, the total amount of Russian nuclear energy-related technology and material worldwide is undoubtedly even higher. Statistics on Russia’s trade in some commodities and with certain countries remain challenging to source. For instance, the dataset reviewed in the original report – which is based on Russian customs data – does not capture any Russian enriched uranium exports for 2022 at all. It is possible that certain nuclear energy-related exports may be recorded under Russia’s ‘secret’ trade code, which covers strategic commodities like weapons-related transfers. Media reporting has also covered Russia’s role in Kazakhstan’s uranium mining sector; it is not clear how much natural uranium in Kazakhstan is mined by Russian companies, or whether Russia may be generating revenue – and how much – from uranium transported from Kazakhstan through Russia, including to customers in Western Europe.
Dependencies on Reactor Fuel and Technologies

Buying Time Logistics for a New American Way of War

Chris Dougherty

Discussions about defense strategy that focus on combat units and fail to account for logistics are irrelevant when it comes to understanding how well the United States can deter or defeat aggression by China or Russia. Planes, ships, and tanks are just weapons systems; making them combat capabilities requires getting them and their crews into the fight; supplying them with fuel, food, water, medical care, and munitions; and keeping them maintained. Logistics, more than the quantity of forces or the quality of technology, will determine the potential combat power available to the United States in future conflict scenarios with China or Russia. It will influence Chinese and Russian decisions about going to war, and when, where, and how to fight. It will bound the military courses of action available to U.S. commanders and delineate the strategic options available to presidents.

Despite this critical role, the Department of Defense has systemically underinvested in logistics in terms of money, mental energy, physical assets, and personnel. Neglect of logistics arguably became most severe in the post–Cold War era. Pressure to save money through efficiency and misguided attempts to run the department like a “lean” business disproportionately impacted logistics. Maximizing the ratio of combat “tooth” to logistical “tail” saved money, but at the cost of leaving U.S. armed forces with a logistical system that is stretched thin supporting peacetime operations and wholly unsuited to the demands of warfare with China or Russia.

Recognizing U.S. dependence on strained logistics networks, China and Russia have developed means to attack these networks, including long-range missiles and cyberattacks. Barring changes to U.S. logistics and sustainment concepts, such attacks present a grave threat to the department’s ability to uphold U.S. security commitments in East Asia or eastern Europe.

Logistics, more than the quantity of forces or the quality of technology, will determine the potential combat power available to the United States in future conflict scenarios with China or Russia.

Economic Security and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Daniel M. Gerstein, Douglas C. Ligor

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS's) contributions to U.S. economic security and, by extension, the economy itself are often misunderstood and undervalued. The country's economic prosperity depends increasingly on the flow of goods and services, people and capital, and information and technology across U.S. borders — both visible and invisible.

The challenges the United States faces from an interconnected world have never been more significant. As witnessed during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the American public has been affected greatly, and many of these challenges are rooted in previously unforeseen vulnerabilities to the U.S. economy. To ensure its economic security now and in the future, the United States should ensure both continued global economic leadership and security of its key economic advantages. To this end, the United States must continue to lead in trade, technology, information systems, innovation, human capital acquisition (through both education and immigration), and travel. These are all areas in which DHS is uniquely postured to support, facilitate, and promote U.S. economic leadership.

DHS plays a crucial role in proactively identifying and addressing the harmful influence on U.S. economic actors or sectors that would result in a geopolitical disadvantage to the United States and limit U.S. persons, companies, or entities from prospering in the global economy. This Perspective describes DHS's role in supporting economic security now and into the future. It begins by describing the evolving strategic environment and concludes by examining DHS's critical role in economic security.

The Global Nuclear Balance: Nuclear Forces and Key Trends in Nuclear Modernization

Anthony H. Cordesman

The CSIS Emeritus Chair is issuing a survey of the trends in the United States, Russian, and Chinese nuclear balance provides an unclassified overview of recent U.S. force planning and intelligence data on U.S. nuclear forces and the Russian and Chinese threats and compares summary estimates of global nuclear and related missile forces by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Federation of American Scientists and Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, and CSIS.

It also contains summary data on U.S. force improvement plans taken from the testimony of General Anthony J. Cotton, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, before the House Armed Services Committee on Strategic Forces on March 8, 2023.

This survey is entitled The Global Nuclear Balance: Nuclear Forces and Key Trends in Nuclear Modernization and is available on the CSIS website at https://csis-website-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/2023-04/230414_Cordesman_Global_NuclearBalance%202.pdf?VersionId=DOuD0qi0fgNdCrm9RWh_NMN8jyBBqabJ.

Its purpose is to illustrate some of the different ways that experts portray the changes taking place in the nuclear balance between the major powers, the emergence of China as a strategic nuclear great power, and the shifts taking place in other nuclear forces like those of the United Kingdom, France, North Korea, Iran, Israel, India, and Pakistan.

It is a compilation of some of the most respected unclassified resources that have been put together to illustrate the range of data now available, rather than provide a full analysis. It should be stressed that the different estimates of force numbers and weapon types provided in this summary analysis only provide a limited illustration of the many differences in open-source estimates of the size and nature of foreign nuclear-armed forces and national efforts to modernize and expand them.

Document Leaks Indicate Extent of U.S. Electronic Snooping

Warren P. Strobel

WASHINGTON—The classified documents that investigators say were leaked by a junior member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard indicate the extent to which U.S. spy agencies rely on clandestinely intercepted communications to keep tabs on their adversaries and allies alike.

In vivid examples, the documents track foreign governments’ military movements, diplomatic efforts and clandestine weapons sales, as well as debates in friendly capitals and more.

America Must Fight to Save Its Superpower Status

David Rothkopf

This week has reminded us of that as several deep and important global friendships of the U.S. have been sorely tested. More worrisome perhaps, is that they may be a sign of things to come for us in a world in which we are no longer the only global superpower and our principal rival, a global bloc led by China, is seeking to build up its own networks of influence.

The ties of the United States to France date back to the American revolution. France is often cited as our oldest ally. But this past week, as French President Emmanuel Macron visited China and returned to wax eloquent about Europe’s need to chart its own course with Beijing. He worried aloud that Europe was at risk of being a “vassal” to the United States and that it should reduce its dependence on the U.S. dollar. He further added that Europe should chart a different course from the U.S. with Taiwan, saying, “The worst thing would be to think that we Europeans must become followers on this topic and take our cue from the U.S. rhythm and a Chinese overreaction.”

The remarks triggered a firestorm of public criticism of Macron and deep private unhappiness within the Biden Administration. One senior official told me he was “deeply disappointed” in Macron’s comments. Another said to me the remarks were “very unhelpful,” and that they must have “delighted Xi Jingping.” It is fair to say that across the administration officials were very unhappy with Macron’s performance.

The U.S. grumbling, however, was clearly music to Beijing’s ears. Macron, for example, was treated royally by the Chinese while European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who also visited Beijing at the same time and who articulated a line more in keeping with US and mainstream European views, got a much chillier reception. And while this could be seen as more fecklessness from the French leader (who in the past has been seduced into seeing himself as the one statesman who could reason with Vladimir Putin) it is also an illustration of the world Beijing hopes its ascendancy will help shape.

The U.S.’s gloominess on the war in Ukraine is now clear to see

A Ukrainian serviceman adjusts his helmet in a trench at the front line near Donetsk, Ukraine, on Sunday. (Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters)

For months, U.S. officials have privately conveyed their concerns over the course of the war in Ukraine. In public, they stressed their enduring commitment to help Kyiv resist Russia’s brutal invasion and vowed to support its efforts as long as it takes. But in more candid discussions, with reporters and directly with Ukrainians, they pointed to a tougher reality: A total military victory for Ukraine seemed impossible; the military-industrial base in Western countries required to sustain the flow of foreign munitions and arms to the front was under severe strain; and, at some point, the support of Western publics, especially Americans, would wane, and the spigot gushing tens of billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine would get turned off.

Then came the astonishing set of leaks of top-secret Pentagon documents that surfaced. On Thursday afternoon, a young member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, identified as Jack Teixeira, was arrested in the investigation into leaks of hundreds of pages of classified military intelligence to an online group of young friends. According to my colleagues’ reporting, Teixeira had for months proliferated near-verbatim transcripts and, later, photographs of highly sensitive U.S. documents on a Discord chat server that he controlled. Those materials eventually surfaced on other social media platforms.

The trove of documents has offered revelations into the reaches of U.S. intelligence and its clandestine assessments of developments elsewhere. Among the latter are the deep misgivings of the U.S. national security establishment about the trajectory of the war in Ukraine, which, according to a leaked analysis by the Defense Intelligence Agency, will likely drift into 2024 with no resolution in sight.

U.S. officials scrambled to contain the blowback from the exposed materials, some more embarrassing than others. “I’m concerned that it happened, but there’s nothing contemporaneous that I’m aware of that is of great consequence,” President Biden told reporters in Ireland, in reference to questions about the leak, the bulk of which includes assessments from February and March.

Still, the documents regarding Ukraine paint an inescapably grim picture of the United States’ view of the conflict. According to my colleague John Hudson, the DIA assessment concluded that even if Ukraine recaptures “significant” amounts of territory — an outcome that U.S. intelligence found unlikely — those territorial gains would not lead to peace talks.

Europe Too Reliant on U.S. For Defense, Americans Say


Fifty-nine percent of respondents to a Newsweek poll said Europeans need to take more responsibility for the continent's security.

Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine has renewed focus on Europe's military capabilities.
Given the dual challenges of Russia and China, American policymakers have long been pushing European allies to take on more responsibility for defense.

Americans want their European allies to be less reliant on U.S. military might to defend the continent, a Newsweek poll has found, as policymakers juggle the dual challenges of a revanchist Russia and an increasingly assertive China.

The survey of 1,500 eligible U.S. voters—which was conducted on April 4 by Redfield & Wilton Strategies on behalf of Newsweek—found broad American support for NATO and Ukraine, but suggested that voters want to see their European allies pivot towards greater military self-reliance.

A majority of respondents either strongly agreed (27 percent) or agreed (32 percent) that Europe was too dependent on the U.S. for defense. A quarter neither agreed nor disagreed, and only 8 percent disagreed (6 percent) or strongly disagreed (2 percent).

Those surveyed largely believe that the defense of Europe is important for American security. A majority either strongly agreed (33 percent) or agreed (33 percent) that European security is "vital" to the U.S. national interest. Nineteen percent neither agreed nor disagreed, with only 6 percent disagreeing (4 percent) or strongly disagreeing (2 percent). Almost 10 percent said they did not know.

Opinion – Decolonization Is Decisive in the Confrontation with Russia

Dario Mazzola

Right now there are changes the like of which we have not seen for 100 years. And we are the ones driving these changes together”. Xi Jinping’s farewell to Vladimir Putin echoed Lenin’s statement that “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen”. Recent weeks have indeed been replete with pregnant events in world politics: the risk with such overabundance is a relative scarcity of analysis, especially of a study broad enough to encompass the vastity of these phenomena without neglecting their links. The one issue to be examined here is the relevance and the features of de/anti/coloniality in the context of the confrontation between Russia and the West. This topic is closely related to other relevant elements – say Russia’s special partnership with China and the latter’s reworking of its Maoist ideological heritage – that are too complex to be considered at once. Finally, as recalled below, the topic might even be uncomfortable for Western analysts, which explains both why it is underrecognized in public debate and whyit is urgently necessary to treat it.

Soviet Marxist-Leninist ideology was rich in anti-colonial concepts that were dramatically expressed in foreign policy and diplomacy, as most iconically exemplified by Khrushchev banging his shoe on his desk at the UN General Assembly during a heated exchange of accusations of colonialism between him and the representatives of the Philippines, Lorenzo Sumulong. The gesture is praised in Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth.

Of course, realpolitik implies that lofty and idealistic calls for decolonization – from any side – often cover the mere substitution of the countries interfering with the affairs of the colonized in practice. In the 1990s, the collapse of the Soviet Union and defeat in the Cold War attracted Russia toward the Western block, and this latter began leading a unipolar phase of basically uncontested globalization. At the ideological level, the abandonment of Marxism-Leninism contributed to the dismissal of Russia’s anticolonial stance as powerfully as the balance of power and material interests. Russia was busy enough with the problems and forms of its own survival. The reconciliation with NATO culminated symbolically in the agreements signed in Pratica di Mare in 2002.

OpenAI not training GPT-5, CEO says in response to Musk 'pause' letter

Christopher Hutton

OpenAI, the developer of the popular chatbot ChatGPT, said it is not working on the next generation of artificial intelligence.

CEO Sam Altman said at an MIT event on Thursday that OpenAI was not developing GPT-5, which would be the next generation of its large language model, and that it would not do so for "some time." GPT-4, the model underlying the latest version of ChatGPT, Bing's chatbot, and other applications, was released in March.

Altman's comment came in response to a question about the open letter signed by Elon Musk, Andrew Yang, and a large group of AI researchers asking for a six-month pause on AI training out of fear of the repercussions of powerful AI.

Musk's letter was “missing most technical nuance about where we need the pause," Altman said, and misstated that OpenAI was working toward a more powerful model.

"We are doing other things on top of GPT-4 that I think have all sorts of safety issues that are important to address and were totally left out of the letter," Altman stated.

Musk and other AI researchers posted an open letter in late March calling for a pause on all training of AI models more powerful than GPT-4. "This pause should be public and verifiable and include all key actors," the letter said. "If such a pause cannot be enacted quickly, governments should step in and institute a moratorium." Several members of the AI development industry slammed the letter, claiming that it misrepresents the issues, that it was pushed by OpenAI's competitors, and that several notable signatures were fake.

The Pentagon's top cyber warfare officer dismissed Musk's call to suspend training. "Artificial intelligence machine-learning is resonant today and is something that our adversaries are going to continue to look to exploit," Gen. Paul Nakasone said in congressional testimony.

Altman previously noted there is risk in AI development. "We've got to be careful here. I think people should be happy that we are a little bit scared of this," he said recently.

Artificial empathy: the dark side of AI chatbot therapy

Neil C. Hughes

Digital natives have become used to getting instant answers to their questions by asking digital assistants such as Siri, Google, or Alexa. In addition, online retailers are guiding users to a chatbot for queries and support issues. Predictably, these trends are contributing to the rise of chatbot therapy. But would you trust an AI with your mental health?

In recent months, many mental health start-ups have promised much-needed relief for burnt-out employees. Predictably, the hype around generative AI has also inspired some to explore how AI chatbots could help treat depression and improve the mental health of users by simply providing empathetic conversations. But is there a darker side to trusting AI with your mental health?

The main selling point of chatbot therapy is that it lowers the barrier to accessing mental health services. It's easy to see why so many trust chatbots more than people because they perceive them as a safe, unbiased space to openly share their deepest and darkest thoughts without fear of judgment. But sometimes, a user's relationship with AI can lead to much stronger feelings.
Falling in love with your AI companion

Launched in 2017, Replika was designed to serve as a personal AI companion for users, helping them engage in conversations, express their thoughts and feelings, and even provide emotional support. In addition, it can learn from user interactions by leveraging AI to respond better to individual preferences and communication styles.

As users converse with Replika, the chatbot becomes more tailored to their needs and can simulate a more realistic and personalized conversation. Some users began to develop stronger feelings for their AI companions, and they responded accordingly. Conversations quickly went from flirty to erotic, and sexytime with an AI companion became a thing.

As counterspace weapons ‘proliferate,’ the new cold war for space races forward: studies

Space Development Agency Tracking Layer satellites will keep eyes on both ballistic and hypersonic missiles. (Graphic: L3Harris)

Updated 4/14/23 at 12:41 pm ET with information from the 2023 Space Threat Assessment published by CSIS.

SPACE SYMPOSIUM — More and more nations are developing more advanced counterspace capabilities, in a worrying trend of “proliferation,” though the conflict in Ukraine appears to have demonstrated the limited value in destructive weapons, according to the authors of a new report published by the Secure World Foundation.

The SWF’s survey of 11 nations, released today ahead of the Space Symposium conference, provides an update on the spreading space arms race detailed in the group’s report last year. Over the five years of studying counterspace capabilities detailed in annual reports, one of its authors, Brian Weeden, said a leading trend was definitely “proliferation.”

“On the destructive side, we’ve seen it go from originally two countries in the Cold War, to then China and now four in India, and there’s a lot of concerns over might there be a fifth and a sixth,” Weeden said during a briefing with reporters ahead of the report’s release, referring to the use of destructive anti-satellite weapons, or ASATs.

“And then we’re seeing much more, I would say proliferation on the non-destructive capabilities,” Weeden said. There’s widespread interest in space situational awareness among spacefaring nations, he added, with “growing research on directed energy across quite a few countries.”

Victoria Samson, who co-authored the report, pointed as well to the growth of dedicated military space organizations.

EXCLUSIVE: Pentagon aims to ‘own the technical baseline’ for AI tech, R&D official says


Airmen monitor an Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) “Onramp” demonstration in 20220. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Hernandez)

WASHINGTON — Within “weeks” invitations will go out to key figures in defense, industry and academia for a first-of-its-kind Pentagon-hosted conference on “trusted AI and autonomy,” one of the lead organizers told Breaking Defense in an exclusive interview. The crucial question: Can the Defense Department rely on AI across a host of future missions?

The DoD is well aware it’s playing catch-up to the rapidly advancing private sector in many aspects of AI, acknowledged Maynard Holliday, the Pentagon’s deputy CTO for critical technologies. A big part of the conference is a push, not only to better understand what’s happening on the cutting edge, but how the military can adopt and adapt commercial tech to build AI capabilities it can trust — and control.

“We recognize we need to fast-follow, but we also need to develop military-specific applications of these commercial technologies, and as Under Secretary LaPlante has said in the past, we need to own the technical baseline of these technologies, so that we can have control over their evolution to a militarily specific solution, rather than being vendor-locked and having us beholden to one single vendor to evolve a capability.”

“Technical baseline” isn’t just a metaphor here: It’s a specific term of art for the foundational details that define a complex system, guiding its design and development from the initial drafting of requirements through multiple reviews to the final product — or, in the case of ever-evolving software, through continual cycles of upgrades.

Our Rotten Military Promotion System

Stuart Scheller

A Marine sniper serving during the Afghanistan evacuation recently gave testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the Afghanistan evacuation. His pain was palpable. A revelation worth examining was his identification of the possible suicide bomber prior to the incident. After the sniper, Sgt Vargas-Andrews, confirmed the target with multiple agencies, he asked his Battalion Commander, LtCol Whited, for permission to shoot. The answer from Whited, one in which Vargas-Andrews said he’ll never forget, was, “I don’t know.”

Not found in the media or Congressional testimony is that Whited, a former peer of mine, corroborated this version of events in his formal statement for the military’s investigation. When speaking to the investigating officer, General Curtis, on 5 October 2021, Whited stated, “[We had] a description of a person of interest. We watched him for hours… It bothers me still that we lost track of him, and never heard anything back from higher about him.”

The obvious indecision in Kabul on 26 August 2021 has a much deeper undercurrent. Since World War II, the American military promotion system hasn’t evolved with the needs of today’s challenging security environment. Current military professionals are conditioned, above all else, to please superiors for continued advancement. Said another way, when promotion is the mission, it will always be more important than troop welfare. “I don’t know” is another way of saying, “The risk to force isn’t as great as the risk to my career.”

This understanding leads to an obvious question: Can the military incentivize performance over career progression?

Predictably, without changes to the military system, the lessons of the past will consistently need to be re-learned. In some depressing ways, the Afghanistan evacuation was executed incrementally better than the 1983 Beirut operation; Vargas-Andrews at least had bullets in his gun. The Marines standing post in Beirut weren’t allowed to insert magazines into their weapons. Those Marines were forced to watch a vehicle IED drive past their security post and kill 220 Marines. General officers from the Beirut incident later testified to Congress that negligent discharges into the city were more of a risk than providing Marines on post the lethal force required for protection.