8 May 2023

India Can’t Afford to Lose Maldives Again

Radhey Tambi

Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to Maldives this week to strengthen bilateral defense cooperation came at a critical juncture, with the island country planning to hold general elections in September 2023. Singh’s trip was preceded by External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s visit in January, where he emphasized India and Maldives’ shared responsibility for maintaining regional peace and security.

Such flurries of high-level visits from New Delhi are often witnessed in neighboring countries where good relations with India do not enjoy bipartisan support. In recent times, Malé’s relationship with New Delhi has been swinging between the “India First” policy of current President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and the “India Out” campaign of his predecessor and political opponent Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

Maldives’ location in the north-central Indian Ocean is of immense significance to India, for both geostrategic and geoeconomic reasons. Beyond fishing, the economic importance is enhanced by the presence of seabed minerals like polymetallic nodules in the Central Indian Ocean Basin. These nodules contain rare earth metals and critical minerals that form the backbone of green technologies like electric vehicles, solar panels, and wind turbines. As countries are moving toward zero emissions, the need to secure these minerals will lead to race among the major powers.

According to the International Seabed Authority, India has been granted exclusive right to explore polymetallic nodules in 75,000 square kilometers of the Central Indian Ocean Basin. With India making some considerable progress in deep-sea mining schemes like Deep Ocean Mission and Ocean-Services, Modelling, Application, Resources and Technology (O-SMART), Maldives can be used as a stop-over during Indian survey and exploration missions. Carrying out such activities will require a stable, peaceful, and prosperous maritime environment in the Indian Ocean, where India can carve a confident niche for itself. To make it happen, New Delhi will have to leverage the island nation in building a stable security architecture in the Indian Ocean Region.

Five Challenges of the Pakistan Army and Possibilities of a Coup

Rajiv Kumar Srivastava - Defence Analyst

The first challenge is the confrontation between the army and the political parties of Pakistan, particularly the alliance led by Imran Khan. Imran Khan, right from his prime ministership, took enmity with General Bajwa in the process of choosing the ISI chief of his choice and later General Bajwa's successor, resulting in his ouster from power. Since then, and now over a year, Imran Khan missed no chance to humiliate Pakistan Army by citing repeated operational failures against India. This scale of open criticism of the Pakistan Army was unimaginable a few years back. Today, the people of Pakistan consider their army incompetent for the major failure against the Indian Army, especially in the 1971 war. General Bajwa’s interview with a senior Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir in April 2021 to say that their army can not compete against India, only reinforces Imran Khan's allegations. The army recently gave a 25 per cent hike to its soldiers to overcome inflation, which was not gone down well with the people of the country. Now, on social media, people taking a swipe at General Asim Munir for his English accent during his China visit marking another low.

The second challenge stems from the first challenge itself. A large section of the Pakistan Army considers Imran Khan a politician with a clean image. The slogan of Imran Khan, Naya Banega Pakistan entices them. Retired armymen are openly supporting Imran. In this way, the Pakistan Army chief and other army men who were sidelined by Imran Khan to elevate his favourite generals have gathered on one side. Delay and acrimonious high drama witnessed in the selection of the present Army Chief did not go well with a section of serving generals. Top Corps Commanders who were in the run for the top post tendered resignation but left their footprints of dissent. The result is visible in the open fissure along political lines, groupings and indiscipline of the army. A large number of retired defence personnel are openly campaigning for Imran Khan. A small spark can start a fierce battle within them. This also explains, why the Pakistan Army at this crucial phase of political turmoil sitting on the fence watching political parties and judiciary involved in exact modalities of conduct of national and two provincial elections.

The third challenge is about the battle readiness of the Pakistan Army, and their stamina to fight. Due to financial constraints, the country does not have the money to maintain the weapons, ammo and war-fighting planes. On the other hand, India is making the military balance favourable by purchasing state-of-the-art weapons for its defence forces. This rapidly changing combat potential of the Indian Defence Forces has been confirmed in the interview of their former Pakistan Army General Bajwa. Financial aid from America has now stopped and China does not want to give military goods for free. Collaborations with foreign armies have been almost stopped. Even Ukraine has criticized the quality of Pakistan-manufactured ammunition and rockets for their poor quality. Pakistan Army has also returned a few of Ukraine-manufactured tanks to them to tide over the financial crisis.

No Respite from the Slow-Motion US-China Collision


NEW YORK – I recently attended the China Development Forum (CDF) in Beijing, an annual gathering of senior foreign business leaders, academics, former policymakers, and top Chinese officials. This year’s conference was the first to be held in person since 2019, and it offered Western observers the opportunity to meet China’s new senior leadership, including new Premier Li Qiang.

The event also offered Li his first opportunity to engage with foreign representatives since taking office. While much has been said about Chinese President Xi Jinping appointing close loyalists to crucial positions within the Communist Party of China and the government, our discussions with Li and other high-ranking Chinese officials offered a more nuanced view of their policies and leadership style.

Prior to becoming premier in March, Li served as the CPC secretary in Shanghai. As an economic reformer and proponent of private entrepreneurship, he played a crucial role in convincing Tesla to build a mega-factory in the city. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he enforced Xi’s strict zero-COVID policy and oversaw a two-month lockdown of Shanghai.

Is Washington Prepared to Negotiate Peaceful Coexistence with China?

Paul Heer

The recent negative trajectory in U.S.-China relations underscores a profoundly important question: is peaceful coexistence between the two countries still possible and achievable? Or are the United States and China destined for a hostile adversarial relationship? What purpose or objective might still be served by reviving substantive diplomacy between Beijing and Washington?

Recurring claims that a new “cold war” is emerging obviously evoke the U.S.-Soviet precedent. And although there are many differences between that historical example and the current U.S.-China relationship, there nonetheless are lessons to be learned from making the comparison. Several such lessons can be derived from scholar Frank Costigliola’s new biography of George F. Kennan, the intellectual author of the U.S. policy of containment of the Soviet Union. One of the key themes of the book—Kennan: A Life Between Worlds—is Kennan’s failure over the latter half of his life to convince his policymaking successors in Washington that containment was not intended as a military strategy, and was instead meant as a prerequisite for negotiating the terms of peaceful coexistence between the United States and the Soviet Union.

According to Costigliola, Kennan sought from almost the beginning of the Cold War to end it by “pursuing serious diplomacy” aimed at reaching “an honorable settlement that would reduce tension” between Moscow and Washington and thus preempt a costly militarized struggle. Kennan’s central proposal was military disengagement from Europe by both the United States and the Soviet Union, which in his view would have defused or obviated the most dangerous aspects of the inevitable U.S.-Soviet rivalry. Kennan was focused on what he saw as the limits of U.S. power, and the consequent need to pursue some kind of accommodation with the Soviets so that the United States could devote sufficient attention and resources to addressing America’s domestic challenges. In short, Kennan advocated a combination of “patience, sacrifice, and restraint.”

Opinion The U.S. warms to a role for China in resolving the Ukraine war

The Biden administration appears to be weighing whether to work with China to seek a negotiated settlement of the Ukraine war after what U.S. officials predict will be Ukrainian gains in their long-planned offensive.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken publicly described the administration’s views in a Washington Post Live interview Wednesday to mark World Press Freedom Day. His comments echoed what senior officials have been saying privately in recent days about potential American and Chinese cooperation to mediate the brutal conflict.

The predicate for any such diplomatic effort would be Ukrainian gains on the battlefield, which could put Kyiv in a stronger bargaining position. Asked about Kyiv’s prospects in its anticipated counterstrike in eastern Ukraine, Blinken answered: “I feel confident that they will have success in regaining more of their territory, and I think it’s also important to note that for Russia, this is already a strategic failure.”

When I asked Blinken about working with China to achieve a stable outcome in Ukraine, he gave a surprisingly frank answer: “In principle, there’s nothing wrong with that if we have a country, whether it’s China or other countries that have significant influence that are prepared to pursue a just and durable peace. … We would welcome that, and it’s certainly possible that China would have a role to play in that effort. And that could be very beneficial.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and top journalists join Washington Post Live on Wednesday, May 3. (Video: The Washington Post)

Blinken said there were some “positive” items in the 12-point peace plan that China announced in February. The Chinese proposals includes respecting “the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries,” which implies a Russian troop withdrawal; “reducing strategic risks” and agreeing that “nuclear weapons must not be used”; and taking steps “to gradually de-escalate the situation and ultimately reach a comprehensive cease fire.”

China’s use of exit bans on the rise, worrying international businesses

The report comes amid growing concern about the environment for foreign businesses in China, after the wide-ranging overhaul last week of the country’s espionage law and raids on corporate consultancies Mintz Group and Bain & Co.

“Anyone may be a target — human rights defenders, businesspeople, officials and foreigners,” the rights group Safeguard Defenders said in the report, “Trapped: China’s Expanding Use of Exit Bans.”

The report found that the Chinese Communist Party has used exit bans to silence activists, intimidate foreign journalists, control ethnic and religious groups, and pressure people to return to China to face investigation — and that evidence suggested the number of politically targeted exit bans had grown in the past five years.

“The report shows that those anecdotal cases that we read about now and then are not isolated incidents, but part of a fast growing trend,” said Laura Harth, the group’s campaign director.

Beijing has added to the number of laws regarding exit bans since 2018, according to the report, expanding the ambiguity surrounding activities that could run afoul of the rules.

“China has continued to introduce new laws and regulations on exit bans, further complicating and confusing the legal landscape,” said the report.

A review by The Washington Post identified seven laws and regulations enacted or amended in that time period that provided for exit bans.

Exact statistics on exit bans are not available in China’s opaque bureaucracy, but Safeguard Defenders found a number of indicators showing that their use had risen significantly.

Samsung is a Case Study in How Manufacturers Leave China

“De-risking" is the latest buzzword describing Western governments’ strategy toward China. While it sounds less ambitious than “decoupling," the basic idea is similar: reducing reliance on China for manufacturing, especially for key technological goods.

Opinion A chaotic evacuation is symbolic of U.S. failure in Sudan

Josh Rogin

For most Americans, the U.S. government’s chaotic approach to Sudan became clear only last month when fighting erupted, causing thousands of U.S. citizens to scramble for safety. But for close Sudan-watchers, the disordered evacuation effort is only the latest incident in years of failed policy.

Since April 15, when Sudan’s two most powerful generals started attacking each other, the country has descended into widespread violence, leading Sudanese and foreign nationals alike to flee the capital, Khartoum. On Monday, the United Nations warned that the humanitarian crisis in Sudan is on the verge of becoming a “full-blown catastrophe” and, if the fighting continues, 800,000 potential refugees could cause a regional crisis.

The U.S. government seems to have been caught off-guard. On April 23, military helicopters evacuated the embassy in Khartoum, but the Biden administration said security conditions prevented the rescue of private American citizens, leaving many to seek help from other nations. While several other countries evacuated their people, Americans on the ground lamented their government’s lack of support as they made life-or-death decisions.

After days of criticism, on April 29, the U.S. Defense Department deployed armed drones to protect a convoy of Americans making the harrowing trip from Khartoum to Port Sudan. Two more such convoys have since arrived in Port Sudan. In Washington, lawmakers in both parties had been calling on the administration to prepare for such a scenario.

“The violence and ongoing crisis in Sudan are no surprise to anyone paying attention,” James Risch (Idaho), the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told me. “Why the administration, which has been working on this issue from day one, did not see the troop build-up in Khartoum or other warning signs as sufficient reason to act speaks to the more significant failures of its policy.”

The US, Immigration and Hemispheric Security

Allison Fedirka

Immigration is a politically divisive issue in the United States. It’s easy enough to explain, even if it’s difficult to legislate: The U.S. has more economic opportunities than most other countries, and its 1,900-mile-long, relatively uninhabited and sparsely monitored border is an immigrant’s best chance at entering the country with their legal status up in the air. And with pandemic-related emergency measures set to expire later this month, Washington is bracing for a new influx of Latin American migrants.

But there’s a geopolitical aspect to Western Hemispheric migration that often gets overlooked in domestic political discourse. For the United States, the migration question is not just about border security; it’s about how it manages bilateral ties with Latin American countries at a time when intra-regional tensions are on the rise.

Joe Biden Wants Hackers’ Help to Keep AI Chatbots in Check


CHATGPT HAS STOKED new hopes about the potential of artificial intelligence—but also new fears. Today the White House joined the chorus of concern, announcing it will support a mass hacking exercise at the Defcon security conference this summer to probe generative AI systems from companies including Google.

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy also said that $140 million will be diverted toward launching seven new National AI Research Institutes focused on developing ethical, transformative AI for the public good, bringing the total number to 25 nationwide.

The announcement came hours before a meeting on the opportunities and risks presented by AI between US vice president Kamala Harris and executives from Google and Microsoft, as well as the startups Anthropic and OpenAI, which created ChatGPT.

The White House AI intervention comes as appetite for regulating the technology is growing around the world, fueled by the hype and investment sparked by ChatGPT. In the parliament of the European Union, lawmakers are negotiating final updates to a sweeping AI Act that will restrict and even ban some uses of AI, including adding coverage of generative AI. Brazilian lawmakers are also considering regulation geared toward protecting human rights in the age of AI. Draft generative AI regulation was announced by China’s government last month.

In Washington, DC, last week, Democrat senator Michael Bennett introduced a bill that would create an AI task force focused on protecting citizens' privacy and civil rights. Also last week, four US regulatory agencies including the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice jointly pledged to use existing laws to protect the rights of American citizens in the age of AI. This week, the office of Democrat senator Ron Wyden confirmed plans to try again to pass a law called the Algorithmic Accountability Act, which would require companies to assess their algorithms and disclose when an automated system is in use.

The Discord Leaks: Harmful, Embarrassing, or Manipulation?

Carol Choksy & Jamsheed Choksy

Once again, classified materials linked to U.S. intelligence and defense agencies have reached the public domain via the internet. But do these documents really undermine Washington and its allies by revealing information not already known to geopolitical rivals? Is there much in the leaked items that is actually, or deserved to be, top secret? Or have the revelations, embarrassing as they might be to America and its partners, been shaped and reshaped to influence rivals and the global public by demonstrating the limitations of opposing powers?

What Came Through the Discord App

The so-called top secret documents have been exposed since February 2022. They were spread by a nondescript National Guardsman, Jack Teixeira, on Discord servers and chat groups to a Minecraft chat server, to the 4chan bulletin board and Russian Telegram channels, and eventually to Twitter users. Apparently, only in April did the Pentagon catch on to the online revelations.

The information leaked included intelligence analysis products about issues both related and unrelated to the war in Ukraine. Directly relevant data detailed estimates about Israel supplying equipment to Ukraine, the UAE and Egypt possibly supplying rockets to Russia, discussions by South Korean officials about supplying munitions to Ukraine, NATO plans to equip and train Ukrainian troops, personnel losses on both sides, and Russian plans to reward the destruction of NATO tanks. Other information covers topics such as a cyberattack on Canadian oil infrastructure, the Mossad’s attitude about judiciary protests in Israel, China’s hypersonic advances and its Indo-Pacific maneuvers, emerging powers seeking to stay removed from superpower rivalries, and shifting geopolitical alliances.

A Damaging Leak?

The greatest concern about this leak would be that Russia or other adversaries could figure out who collected information or how information was collected — sources and methods, in other words. Knowing sources means an adversary can remove them. Knowing methods means an opportunity to end access, or to work around it and nullify its usefulness. Should either or both these occur, U.S. ability to support Ukrainian battlefield maneuvers with effective intelligence, and to peer into the inner workings of rival nations, could fall short.

Ukraine targets Russian fuel sites ahead of counter offensive

John Psaropoulos

Drones, missiles and cross-border artillery took centre stage during the 62nd week of Russia’s war in Ukraine, as the 63rd began with a dramatic allegation from Moscow – that Ukraine made an attempt on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s life.

Ukraine may have targeted Russian fuel depots – a possible preamble to its expected counteroffensive. Russia, meanwhile, sharply intensified strikes against Ukrainian civilians, claiming dozens of lives.

Ukraine was likely responsible for explosions in Kozacha Bay, near Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula, where the Russian Black Sea Fleet has a base, on April 29.

Footage showed a massive black mushroom cloud rising from a fuel tank park. Ukrainian military intelligence spokesman Andriy Yusov said 10 tanks containing 40,000 tonnes of refined oil products had been destroyed.

Mikhail Razvozhayev, the Russia-installed governor of occupied Crimea, confirmed that a Ukrainian drone had struck an oil tank, sparking a fire more than 1,000 square metres (10,764 square feet) in size.

A Russian military blogger said two drones had destroyed four fuel tanks. Another Russian blogger said 10 Mugin-5 UAVs had been launched against the fuel tanks from Shkilnyy airfield in Odesa, and some were shot down.

Intelligence community working with private sector to understand impacts of generative AI


Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines speaks during a hearing with the Senate Armed Services Committee on May 04, 2023 in Washington, DC. Haines testified alongside Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier and took questions on the intelligence communities annual threat assessment. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

As the possibilities and potential threats of generative artificial intelligence grow, the United States intelligence community is looking to engage with the private sector to help them assess the technology, according to U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines.

“We’ve been writing some analysis to try to look at what the potential impact is on society in a variety of different realms, and obviously we see some impact in intelligence activities,” Haines told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday. “What we also recognize is that we do not yet have our hands around what the potential is.”

Generative AI is an emerging subfield of artificial intelligence that uses large language models to turn prompts from humans into AI-generated audio, code, text, images, videos and other types of media. Platforms that leverage the technology — like ChatGPT, BingAI and DALL-E 2 — have gone viral in recent months.

While leaders within the U.S. government have acknowledged the technology’s usefulness to assist workers, some have expressed concern over how generative AI will affect daily life and have called for better collaboration with industry to help understand its capabilities.

Within the intelligence community, Haines said that many organizations have assembled task forces made of experts in the field of artificial intelligence to comprehend the technology’s impact.

David Hume's Warning on Forever Wars

Propaganda is checked by open challenge and spirited disputation. But it is hard to discuss one’s own government at war, because you might be treated as an apologist of the enemy, or even an outright enemy yourself. Propaganda is perhaps never worse than at times of war. That is when government is most likely to destroy precious domestic freedoms.

As for the US government nowadays and its conduct of military and foreign interventions, I daresay I rather doubt its wisdom and virtue. On the war in Ukraine and related issues, I find myself persuaded by such voices as John Mearsheimer, the gentlemen of The Duran, and the sages at Andrew Napolitano’s YouTube channel.

Philosophy and scholarship provide respite from the terrible. Boethius wrote—in prison, awaiting execution—of the consolation of philosophy. I find consolation in reading texts too old to know of today’s terrible goings-on. But sometimes connections are unavoidable.

I am involved in a regular reading group, and at this time our text is David Hume’s Essays, which contains “Of the Balance of Power.” It ends with several paragraphs on Great Britain’s “imprudent vehemence” in its many wars against absolutist France. Those paragraphs are remarkably relevant to things today, as I see them. In entering into those paragraphs, one learns about Hume’s thoughts and a way to see events today.

Hume presents France as a real threat to Britain. He speaks of it as “this ambitious power,” one that is “more formidable [than Charles V and the Habsburgs were] to the liberties of Europe.” He seemed to endorse Britain’s efforts to “guard us against universal monarchy, and preserve the world from so great an evil.”

It is possible that those declarations were sincere, and it is possible that they were sound. But Hume was a cagey writer, and certainly wrote to persuade the ruling class. What is so notable about “Of the Balance of Power,” however, is how it concludes. Hume says that Britain has prosecuted war to “excess,” calls for “moderation,” and gives his reasons. In applying those paragraphs to today, we might think of the United States in place of Britain, and Russia or China (or both) in place of France. Today’s Ukraine, Germany, and other NATO countries would be in the place of the allies of Hume’s Britain.

Is Japan’s military fit for purpose?

Rattled by the rise of China, Tokyo has introduced a record increase in defence spending. But experts say it also needs a complete change in mindset Rina Gonoi is releasing a book about her time in Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Forces © FT montage/Getty Images Is Japan’s military fit for purpose? on twitter (opens in a new window) Is Japan’s military fit for purpose? on facebook (opens in a new window) Is Japan’s military fit for purpose? on linkedin (opens in a new window) Save current progress 0% Kana Inagaki and Leo Lewis in Tokyo MAY 4 2023 110 Print this page Receive free Japanese politics & policy updates We’ll send you a myFT Daily Digest email rounding up the latest Japanese politics & policy news every morning. Next Wednesday, Rina Gonoi will publish her account of two harrowing years as a member of Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Forces. It is a blow that will land heavily and with devastating timing. 

The book, Raising My Voice, will hit Japan with a grim depiction of life in uniform. Gonoi’s description of a sexual assault involving four drunken officers — a story that emerged last year, triggering an investigation and a string of dismissals — forced unprecedented self-examination on the nation’s military. Her shocking allegations arrived at what should have been a pivotal moment of confidence and optimism for the SDF, a military force that has existed since 1954 in an uneasy compromise with a constitution that forbids Japan from maintaining “war potential”. In December 2022, the government of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida granted the SDF its biggest budget expansion in its postwar history. The ¥43tn ($314bn) boost over the next five years simultaneously underlined the threat of China’s military rise and delivered the message that the SDF must be significantly more fit for purpose. 

The question, though, is whether the government’s ambitions are simply too big, too psychologically difficult and too late to address with cash alone. “People inside the defence ministry say ¥43tn is enormous but is ¥43tn really such an enormous amount for Japan?” says Kazuhisa Shimada, former vice-minister for defence and executive secretary to Shinzo Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister who was assassinated last year. “Considering Japan’s national strength, a budget that is worth 1.7 per cent of its gross domestic product is not a surprising amount, and the bigger problem is the fact that people are so surprised by this amount,” he says. Former SDF members, defence ministry officials and military experts point to the same problem: a military with extraordinary resources to spend but with a mindset in need of a top-to-bottom update and formidable internal and external challenges. The SDF, by the government’s own admission, has a chronic recruitment problem and a talent shortage. It lacks public permission to engage in anything beyond the barest minimum of force in the national interest. 

Putin’s Missile War Russia’s Strike Campaign in Ukraine

Ian Williams

Russia’s missile campaign against Ukraine has severely underperformed expectations. In the invasion’s early days, Russia underestimated the necessary scale and effort of its missile campaign. Since then, Russia has changed course multiple times, most recently moving to target Ukrainian electrical grid and civilian infrastructure during the winter months. Russia’s haphazard missile campaign reflects both internal strategic failures and Ukraine’s critical forward thinking in the days prior to the invasion. Early Russian failures also gave time for Ukraine to develop its air defense strategy and capabilities which have only grown in effectiveness, thanks in large part to Western aid. This report provides an in-depth review of these and related “missile war” dynamics.

This report is made possible by general support to CSIS. No direct sponsorship contributed to this report. Download the Full Report

Innovation Lightbulb: The Geopolitics of Moore's Law

Gregory Arcuri and Srishti Khemka

What exactly are we looking at here? How can policy makers better understand the message and implications of this graph?

This graph, well-known among chip industry insiders, illustrates a trend concerning the building blocks of electronics: the micro-switches—or gates—that combine to create complex circuits in a computer or device.

In essence, more gates/transistors = more computing power.

When the first transistor was invented at Bell Labs in 1947, it was the size of a desk ornament. Over the decades, scientists and engineers have shrunk them to the nano-scale, with the most cutting-edge chips on the market today boasting 300 million transistors per square millimeter of chip.

The density of transistors on a single chip has historically doubled every two years, while the cost-per-transistor has halved. This empirical observation was made by co-founder of Intel Gordon Moore in 1965, and has since been dubbed “Moore’s Law.” The persistence of this trend has meant an explosion in computing power, the reduction of its cost, and the ubiquity of chips across industries over time. This explosion has enabled innovation in technologies which make us more productive, more connected, more comfortable, healthier, and safer.

However, chip density- and cost-scaling have slowed in the last decade, with cost-scaling even reversing towards more advanced nodes.* The chart above shows that after scaling hit 28nm (a process first commercialized in 2011), cost-reduction stopped due to the extreme complexity and number of process steps required to make an advanced chip.

As a result, designing and manufacturing a chip at the cutting-edge has become increasingly capital intensive and cost-prohibitive for most firms. This is amplified by the winner-take-all nature of the chip industry: if you make the best product, you capture an overwhelming majority of the revenue which can be reinvested; if you fall behind, good luck catching up.

The Space Force Can’t Win Without Rapid-Launch Satellites

Roy Mathews

What happens when the U.S. military needs emergency access to satellites? With China and Russia having developed anti-satellite weapons and other nations placing their own equipment into space, being able to replace or add to U.S. capabilities in space quickly is critical to national security. That requires us to keep a number of satellites in reserve and possess the capabilities to get them into orbit. The Space Force’s ability to reassert U.S. satellite capacities in a pinch could mean the difference between intercepting threats to the homeland and not even knowing they’re on the horizon.

Other branches of the military have already shown how reserve fleets can save lives. Two programs, the Civil Reserve Air Fleet and the National Defense Reserve Fleet, provide the Air Force and the Navy the ability to use civilian aircraft and boats for military purposes in a time of extreme need. That is how we could fly civilians out of Kabul, Afghanistan, using planes from a reserve fleet so the military could secure airports and evacuate its own personnel.

The U.S. Space Force has been putting together its own reserve fleet of commercial satellites for use when the Department of Defense’s satellite capabilities fall short in a time of crisis. Ensuring that data collected from satellites continues to flow uninterrupted to the U.S. military is essential. Dubbed the Commercial Augmentation Space Reserve, it is still in its early stages of development and only focused on keeping satellites in orbit—not keeping them on the ground. We need reserves on the ground in case a satellite is disabled or damaged while in orbit. The U.S. Space Development Agency has purchased and intends to launch hundreds of low-cost, low-orbiting satellites in the future. This ensures that should adversaries want to disrupt U.S. space capabilities, they will need to destroy hundreds of small satellites instead of disabling just one. The Space Force’s ability to seamlessly shift its stream of satellite-provided information will make certain that the U.S. military has the most up-to-date information available to inform their decisionmaking.

Washington’s New Narrative for the Global Economy


CAMBRIDGE – Two competing agendas are currently vying to shape the United States’ domestic and foreign economic policies. One agenda is inward-looking, focusing on the creation of an inclusive, resilient, prosperous, and sustainable American economy. The other focuses on geopolitics and on maintaining US primacy over China. The future of the world economy depends on the outcome of this conflict and whether these opposing priorities can coexist.

US President Joe Biden’s administration represents a radical departure from previous Democratic administrations, pursuing ambitious industrial policies to revive domestic manufacturing and facilitate the green transition. It has also adopted a tougher stance on China than any previous administration, including former President Donald Trump’s, treating the Chinese regime as an adversary and imposing export and investment controls on critical technologies.

Until recently, however, the Biden administration did not articulate a coherent vision that combines these various elements and reassures other countries, including China, that its economic strategy is not centered on confrontation, unilateralism, and protectionism. But recent remarks by US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan indicate that the administration is now taking steps to address this issue, potentially signaling the emergence of a new Washington Consensus.

The Global Economy’s Geopolitical Timebomb

China’s weaker-than-expected economic recovery since abandoning its zero-COVID policy, together with the continued escalation of tensions with the United States, has raised doubts about its ability to achieve the economic dominance that was once considered inevitable. Is the global economy’s rising star losing its shine?

Yu Yongding, a former member of the People’s Bank of China’s Monetary Policy Committee, does not think so, arguing that pessimism about China’s economic prospects is not warranted. With a carefully designed fiscal stimulus focused on infrastructure investment, "China should be able to achieve GDP growth of around 6% in 2023" – well above the government’s target of 5-5.5%.

But, according to Fudan University’s Zhang Jun, China’s government has good reason for lowering its growth targets. It has shifted its focus from rapid growth to job creation and macroeconomic stability, not least to cope with an “unfavorable external environment,” including geopolitical factors that have led to “an unprecedented surge in cross-border restrictions.”

Northwestern University’s Nancy Qian highlights one example of such restrictions: a new bipartisan bill that would “prohibit anyone associated with ‘foreign adversaries’ like China from purchasing US farmland.” The law would do nothing to help American food producers and consumers, she observes, but that is not the point. “For those behind it, the proposed ban is a low-cost way to capitalize on the escalating rivalry between the US and China.”

To be sure, New York University’s Nouriel Roubini notes, US officials have attempted to “establish guardrails for strategic competition with China,” and Chinese officials continue to insist that they have “no interest in economic decoupling,” Nonetheless, prospects for cooperation look increasingly remote.” The US and China “remain on a collision course.”

Deciphering the Latest IPCC Report


NEW YORK – In March, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its so-called “synthesis report,” the final section of its sixth assessment report (AR6). Based on thousands of peer-reviewed articles by hundreds of scientists from around the world, the report provides a comprehensive review of the impact of climate change and what the world must do to limit global warming to 1.5° Celsius.

The good news is that, according to the IPCC, “feasible, effective, and low-cost options for mitigation and adaptation are already available.” But ensuring a “livable and sustainable future for all” also requires a far-reaching transformation and the political will to take bold action.

IPCC reports are invaluable. By bringing science to climate negotiations that are otherwise dominated by political and economic considerations, the reports both inform and promote accountability. Often totaling over 1,000 pages, each report includes a shorter summary for policymakers that member states must officially approve. This process enables government representatives and observers to comment on incoming drafts while still allowing scientists to refuse suggestions that challenge the integrity of their research. During the approval process, however, sentences may be strengthened, softened, or even removed from the final draft.

The latest report warns that extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and intense than previously predicted, while global action has been far slower than expected. Every fraction of a degree matters, and, at the current rate of greenhouse-gas emissions, the world is barreling toward a 3.5°C increase by 2100 – with devastating consequences for humanity and the planet.

Barring urgent action to halve current greenhouse-gas emissions by 2030, global warming is “more likely than not” to reach 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels within the next decade, the report warns. But if policymakers act immediately, they could still prevent ice sheets from melting, permafrost from thawing, and ecosystems from collapsing, thereby saving countless lives.

Russia says Ukraine tried to kill Putin with night-time drone attack on Kremlin

Mark Trevelyan

Russia says it shot down two drones overnight

Ukraine denies responsibility, warns of 'terrorist provocation' Russia says it reserves the right to retaliate

Russian agency says Putin was not in Kremlin at the time

May 3 (Reuters) - Russia accused Ukraine on Wednesday of attacking the Kremlin with drones overnight in an attempt to kill President Vladimir Putin - the most serious allegation that Moscow has levelled at Kyiv in more than 14 months of war.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy promptly denied any Ukrainian involvement, telling a press conference in Helsinki: "We don't attack Putin, or Moscow, we fight on our territory."

A senior Ukrainian presidential official said the incident instead suggested Moscow was preparing a major "terrorist provocation".

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington had not been able to validate the reported attack, and that Russian assertions should be taken with a "very large shaker of salt".

Russia reserved the right to retaliate, Putin's office said, and Russian hardliners demanded swift retribution against Zelenskiy himself.

"Two uncrewed aerial vehicles were aimed at the Kremlin. As a result of timely actions taken by the military and special services with the use of radar warfare systems, the devices were put out of action," the presidency said in a statement.

"We regard these actions as a planned terrorist act and an attempt on the president's life, carried out on the eve of Victory Day, the May 9 Parade, at which the presence of foreign guests is also planned ...

U.S. had no warning of a drone attack on the Kremlin, officials say


The Biden administration had no foreknowledge of an impending drone attack on the Kremlin, four U.S. officials said, and a top official recommends caution when it comes to Moscow’s claims.

Russia said Wednesday that two drones flew overnight into the heart of Moscow to assassinate President Vladimir Putin, even though he wasn’t in the complex. Kyiv denies the allegation and officials said Ukraine had nothing to do with the attack. Instead, they insist it’s all a pretext created by the Kremlin to escalate its 14-month war.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he’d take anything coming from the Kremlin with a “large shaker of salt” during a conversation with the Washington Post’s David Ignatius on Wednesday.

Senior Biden administration officials are still working to confirm whether the suspected attack was ordered by Kyiv, conducted by a rogue pro-Ukraine group, or a false flag operation by Russia, two U.S. officials said.

If it was Ukraine, “we had no advance knowledge,” said one of the officials, who like others was granted anonymity to discuss a sensitive issue. “We are looking into the report but aren’t able to confirm it or validate its authenticity,” said another.

Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee will be briefed by the administration at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. U.S. intelligence agencies didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Experts are skeptical that Ukraine would be brazen enough to try to kill Putin in the Russian capital. “The idea that this was an assassination attempt is absolutely ludicrous,” said Alina Polyakova, president and CEO of the Center for European Policy Analysis in Washington, D.C. “The Kremlin is a bunker and this looked like a makeshift drone that could only cause minimal damage.”

Preventing Intelligence Leaks: Let’s Start Over

James Bruce

As a former CIA career officer, I wince learning about leaks of classified documents that produce sustained headlines. I know the damage such a debacle can wreak on intelligence gathering and cooperation with U.S. allies. The hard-won intelligence that Jack Teixeira, the recently alleged Air National Guard leaker delivered via the internet to nations hostile to the United States, likely cost U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars to produce, and some of those sources and methods may never produce again.
Unauthorized Disclosures – Preventing Self-Inflicted Wounds

It is doubly painful to know that such illegal leaks can mostly be prevented. But that would require repudiating a business-as-usual approach, and a much more concerted way to thwart untrustworthy employees whose responsibilities exceed their judgment.

Ten years ago, I coauthored a think-tank study for the Department of Defense, recommending comprehensive measures to deter and prevent classified leaks. While we cannot know for certain how much these reforms might have helped, my understanding is that despite being officially endorsed, their full implementation, as some cynics had forewarned, has fallen short.

Serious unauthorized disclosures such as the documents stolen from the Air National Guard facility in Massachusetts, can damage U.S. national security. In this case, some of the leaked documents have reportedly spotlighted ways that shared intelligence has helped Ukraine defeat Russian attacks, which Russia may now be able to counter; how deeply U.S. intelligence has penetrated the Russian military, and where, by inference, such leakages may now be plugged; and how Ukraine’s shortages of specific defenses will multiply its vulnerabilities, which Russia can now better exploit. Such foolishly squandered advantages will fuel Russia’s offensive operations, increase casualties to Ukrainian forces and civilian population, and add pressures for U.S. and allied escalation.

The government’s track record controlling classified leaks has been steadfastly poor. Its impotence in dealing effectively with this problem was well characterized 40 years ago by then-Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard K. Willard: “The whole system has been so ineffectual as to perpetuate the notion that the Government can do nothing to stop the leaks.” This harsh judgment is even more true today than it was when Willard’s stunning observation made no discernible difference.

Policing Tasks for IDF Soldiers: Difficulties and Dilemmas

Ariel Heimann

The IDF has recently assigned soldiers from combat units to tasks of protecting the residents of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and other cities, as reinforcement for the Israel Police. This situation is problematic in many senses, as assigning soldiers to policing tasks is a measure that is reserved for real emergency situations. Despite the current tense security reality, it seems that it is not a situation that justifies this step. Normalizing the use of armed soldiers to address security threats within the country’s territory could evolve into a slippery slope, and IDF soldiers could find themselves in conflict with those they were sent to protect, while they lack police authority and do not have appropriate training. Furthermore, the activity of armed soldiers in major cities could be interpreted as militarization of the public sphere, and the military in this case could become a tool in the hands of the civilian authorities and as a substitute for the police. This reality could erode the concept of national emergency and raise questions about the purpose of mandatory service in the IDF.

Against the backdrop of the tense security situation in recent weeks (which is expected to continue in the coming weeks as well), and in accordance with a decision by the Minister of Defense, the IDF is now assigning soldiers from combat units, while armed and wearing army uniforms, to tasks of protecting residents, as reinforcement for the police forces in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and other areas within Israel. This is not the first time that IDF forces have reinforced police forces at points of friction in times of emergency, but it is important and even necessary to examine the dilemmas and implications inherent in such a measure.

Unlike police, IDF soldiers do not have the authority to take action against citizens – to establish a reasonable suspicion or to warn them – when checking them. In addition, many times, the soldiers sent to semi-policing tasks are in training and sometimes even in basic military training. In the case of a complex incident in which it is necessary to distinguish between participants and non-participants in activity that involves a security threat, the lack of appropriate training could take a toll that outweighs the benefit.

Is Arthritis Avoidable?

Jyoti Madhusoodanan

Q: What can we do to avoid getting arthritis as we age?

What was once an easy run may feel tougher to complete. Or perhaps a challenging game of tennis might leave your hip or ankle sore for days.

Painful, stiff or swollen joints are a common complaint among older adults — and for many, they’re the first sign of what may feel like an unavoidable diagnosis: arthritis.

In a recent survey of more than 2,200 people between ages 50 and 80 in the United States, 60 percent said they had been told by a health care provider that they had some form of arthritis. And about three-quarters considered joint pain and arthritis a normal part of aging.

But arthritis is not inevitable as we age, said Kelli Dominick Allen, an exercise physiologist at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

“Sometimes people will start to get aches and pains in their joints and not do anything about it because they think everyone gets arthritis as they get older,” Dr. Allen said. “We shouldn’t think about arthritis as something that we just have to deal with passively.”

Arthritis is a catchall term for the more than 100 kinds of inflammatory joint conditions, each of which can arise for different reasons. Many of those causes have little to do with age, Dr. Allen said.

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One form of degenerative joint disease, though, known as osteoarthritis, is somewhat more likely to occur as a person gets older, said Dr. Wayne McCormick, a geriatrician at the University of Washington School of Medicine. “It’s basically just worn-out joints,” he said.

Osteoarthritis is most commonly seen among people over 50, particularly women, Dr. Allen said.

Google AI Expert Warns Of Massive Uptick In Productivity Growth: No Problems With Social Security – OpEd

Dean Baker

We have long known that people in policy debates have difficulty with arithmetic and basic logic. We got yet another example today in the New York Times.

The NYT profiled Geoffrey Hinton, who recently resigned as head of AI technology at Google. The piece identified him as “the godfather of AI.” The piece reports on Hinton’s concerns about the risks of AI, one of which is its implications for the job market.

“He is also worried that A.I. technologies will in time upend the job market. Today, chatbots like ChatGPT tend to complement human workers, but they could replace paralegals, personal assistants, translators and others who handle rote tasks. ‘It takes away the drudge work,’ he said. ‘It might take away more than that.’”

The implication of this paragraph is that AI will lead to a massive uptick in productivity growth. That would be great news from the standpoint of the economic problems that have been featured prominently in public debates in recent years.

Most immediately, soaring productivity would hugely reduce the risks of inflation. Costs would plummet as fewer workers would be needed in large sectors of the economy, which presumably would mean downward pressure on prices as well. (Prices have generally followed costs. Most of the upward redistribution of the last four decades has been within the wage distribution, not from labor to capital.)

A massive surge in productivity would also mean that we don’t have to worry at all about the Social Security “crisis.” The drop in the ratio of workers to retirees would be hugely offset by the increased productivity of each worker. (The impact of recent and projected future productivity growth already swamps the impact of demographics, but a surge in productivity growth would make the impact of demographics laughably trivial.)

It is also worth noting that any concerns about the technology leading to more inequality are wrongheaded. If AI does lead to more inequality it will be due to how we have chosen to regulate AI, not AI itself.

“We Have No Moat, And Neither Does OpenAI”: Leaked Google Document Breaks Down the Exponential Future of Open Source LLMs


We have been prioritizing research and analysis of the security implications of ChatGPT in the last few weeks and were shifting gears to a survey of all the activity and platforms available in the LLM marketplace relative to ChatGPT – picking up where we left off in our December 2022 post The Past, Present, and Future of ChatGPT, GPT-3, OpenAI, NLMs, and NLP – when another discord server-based leak hit the airwaves. This time, it is a document leaked by a Google employee chock-full of interesting insights about the competitive landscape and future market challenges faced by Google and OpenAI by open-source LLM offerings. As for the legitimacy of the leak, as one commentator put it:

“The text below is a very recent leaked document, which was shared by an anonymous individual on a public Discord server who has granted permission for its republication. It originates from a researcher within Google.Having read through it, it looks real to me—and even if it isn’t, I think the analysis within stands alone. It’s the most interesting piece of writing I’ve seen about LLMs in a while.” (1)

Google: We Have No Moat

And neither does OpenAI

The text below is a very recent leaked document, which was shared by an anonymous individual on a public Discord server who has granted permission for its republication. It originates from a researcher within Google. We have verified its authenticity. The only modifications are formatting and removing links to internal web pages. The document is only the opinion of a Google employee, not the entire firm. We do not agree with what is written below, nor do other researchers we asked, but we will publish our opinions on this in a separate piece for subscribers. We simply are a vessel to share this document which raises some very interesting points.

We’ve done a lot of looking over our shoulders at OpenAI. Who will cross the next milestone? What will the next move be?

But the uncomfortable truth is, we aren’t positioned to win this arms race and neither is OpenAI. While we’ve been squabbling, a third faction has been quietly eating our lunch.

The future of jobs in the age of AI, sustainability and deglobalization

Saadia Zahidi

It is hard to overestimate how tumultuous the last few years have been for workers around the world. The global COVID-19 pandemic led to lockdowns for most people except essential workers and then cautious, partial returns to work or job losses in industries that never fully recovered. Almost immediately, this was followed by the disruption of war in Ukraine and soaring energy and food prices, causing a decline in real wages.

Technology adoption, already accelerating before and during the pandemic, potentially poses a new wave of transformation, especially to white-collar work through the rise of generative AI. And now a strong push for a much-needed green transformation is also leading to expectations of future displacement in carbon-intensive roles in favour of growth in emerging green jobs and skills.

Each new change alone would be difficult for affected workers to navigate, but together they have disrupted livelihoods broadly and created widespread uncertainty about the future. When uncertainty is this high, forecasting can help, not to generate firm predictions, but to provide ways of thinking about the challenges ahead and preparing better for the multiple futures that may unfold.

The Future of Jobs Report 2023

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2023, released today, assesses the impact of macro trends, as well as technological change on jobs and skills over the next five years. The report finds that nearly a quarter of all jobs (23%) globally will change in the next five years. Across 45 economies, covering 673 million workers, 69 million new jobs are expected to be created and 83 million to be eliminated, a net decrease of 14 million jobs, or 2% of current employment.

Investment in the green transition, as well as increasing consumer awareness of sustainability issues will create new opportunities. Roles from renewable energy engineers, solar energy installation and systems engineers to sustainability specialists and environmental protection professionals will be in high demand, translating to a growth of approximately one million jobs.

Enterprise cloud contract could ‘turbocharge’ AI in Pentagon


BALTIMORE, Md. — The Pentagon’s enterprise cloud effort, the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability (JWCC), will provide the Department of Defense artificial intelligence capabilities from top commercial vendors.

“With JWCC coming on board, it’s not just an infrastructure as a service contract vehicle. All of the SaaS offerings that these major vendors have, they’re going to bring them to the table as they build these custom-built clouds for us. The AI that Google has is going to be there. Others are delving into it. Oracle, AWS, Microsoft. Expect that it will be there,” David McKeown, acting principal deputy chief information officer and senior information security officer at the Pentagon, said Wednesday at the AFCEA TechNet Cyber conference.

JWCC, awarded in December of 2022, was the DOD’s highly anticipated enterprise cloud effort that replaced the maligned Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) program. Google, Oracle, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft were all awarded under the contract and will each compete for task orders.

Tech companies have been heavy investing in artificial intelligence capabilities. Google and Microsoft have unveiled chatbots using generative AI, which can provide users with texts, images and even carry on conversations based on prompts.

McKeown warned that data must be made available in all four vendors’ environments to facilitate the employment of AI analytics.

“As we move forward with our Joint Warfighting Cloud Computing contracts and we established large data repositories in these different cloud vendors’ environments, we can’t afford to duplicate that data. We’ve got to figure out a way to make that data available to all four of those clouds and searchable to all four of those clouds so that we can run the AI analytics over that,” he said. “We’re working on that and I think there’s some evolving solutions there.”