12 May 2023

Five Unconnected Dots of Manipur violence

Rajiv Kumar Srivastava - Social Analyst

First, two judgments of the Manipur High Court are being cited prominently in media as the reasons for the violence that broke out in the state since 03 May . This is far from the truth. Extent for violence has not yet been assessed. It is estimated that 60 people have lost their lives and common people have suffered heavy losses as their houses burnt and valuable looted. The first order of the court was given on 27 March on the writ petition of M Chunamani, which was in the context of inclusion of Maiti community in the reservation. Another order of the Manipur High Court, which had nothing to do with reservation, came on 04 April, according to which three churches built on government land in Imphal East were removed on 10 April. Both these orders were given weeks before eruptions of violence. These two orders at different time line were not taken spontaneous cognizance by ethnic groups , yet they were publicised as the main reason for the violent incident in May and a narrative was build up to divert attention from the real cause of violence. The contours of the violence were prepared in March-April itself, selective usage of both the judicial decisions of the High Court was made. After the removal of the churches on 10 April , two prominent faultlines emerged , in which state government was on one side and Naga and Kuki tribes on the other side. Differences beyond reconciliation purely for ethnic hardlines .

Second, communal disharmony was cited as the another main reason for the violence. It makes sense. Most of the Naga and Kuki tribals living in the hilly areas are Christians. Removal of three unauthorized churches in Maieti dominated Imphal East area on on 10 April created a confusion among Kuki tribal people. Political parties did not take appropriate action to mitigate it. But some people also gave it a communal colour to strengthen their influence among the Maiti dominated forty assembly seats in the plains. They projected themselves as saviour of religious faith from conversion to Christianity. The ruling party of Manipur was following Yogi Adityanath’s disciplinary action on non-Hindu religious places, which could not be possible due to large concentration of ethnic population in different areas.

India’s personal data protection act and the politics of digital governance

Stephen Weymouth

India recognizes the importance of establishing policy foundations for digital commerce, as cross-border data flows are essential to firms in all sectors, not just in technology. In manufacturing, three dimensional printing and robotics are revolutionizing production processes. Agriculture is benefiting from sensors and analytics, which optimize crop yields and resource usage. Healthcare is being transformed by electronic medical records, health information exchanges, and algorithms that analyze patient data and detect illness. Financial services are using blockchain technologies and AI to enable faster and more secure transactions. All industries rely on electronic payments, data analytics, and cloud storage to streamline various processes. With customers located worldwide, cross-border data flows are the byproduct of digital transactions. Data privacy frameworks can facilitate these flows by building consumer trust, thereby unlocking innovation and efficiency in all sectors.

Given the significance of cross-border data flows to its economy, India has actively engaged in multilateral and bilateral discussions on digital trade governance. It is a member of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), a strategic forum comprising the United States, Japan, India, and Australia, a possible venue for coordination on digital governance. India has also joined the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), a US-led framework for economic cooperation which will facilitate conversations seeking “high-standard rules of the road in the digital economy, including standards on cross-border data flows and data localization.” The US-India Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET), launched by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden during the Quad summit in May 2022, presents an opportunity to build India-US trade ties through an industry-focused agenda. Finally, India and the United States have launched a new bilateral Defense Industrial Cooperation Roadmap to accelerate technological cooperation.

This issue brief delves into the politics of India’s evolving digital governance, focusing on the draft Digital Personal Data Protection Bill of 2022 (DPDPB). The DPDPB aims to balance the interests of Indian consumers seeking enhanced privacy and data security against the business need for unconstrained data flows. The government’s responsive approach to stakeholder feedback on previous versions of the bill indicates that achieving these goals is feasible. However, concerns persist about ambiguities surrounding data transfers and institutional arrangements that exempt the government from complying with the law in ways that may encourage surveillance and censorship of opposing viewpoints.

Pakistan: Political Crisis Deepens With Arrest Of Ex-PM Imran Khan – OpEd

Altaf Moti

Pakistan is facing a political crisis as former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who leads the largest opposition party in the country, was arrested on Tuesday by paramilitary forces on charges of corruption. His supporters have condemned the arrest as a “political vendetta” by the current government and the military, and have called for nationwide protests.

Imran Khan, who was ousted from power in April 2022 after losing a no-confidence vote in parliament, has been leading a popular campaign against the government and the military, accusing them of colluding to remove him from office and of being involved in massive corruption and interference in political affairs. He has also vowed to punish them for their crimes if he returns to power.

Imran Khan faces multiple graft cases filed against him by the anti-corruption and other agencies, which he says are politically motivated and biased. He is accused of illegally selling gifts given to him by foreign dignitaries while he was in office, which he denies. He has also defied several arrest warrants issued against him and has clashed with the police and his supporters on several occasions.

Imran Khan is widely regarded as a genuine leader and a champion of anti-corruption in Pakistan. He is also the founder and leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which is the largest political party in the country according to the latest opinion polls. He is a former cricket star who led Pakistan to win the 1992 World Cup and later became a philanthropist and a social activist. He is known for his honesty, charisma and vision for a prosperous and democratic Pakistan.

The current government of Pakistan is a coalition of several parties led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, the brother of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was also removed from office on corruption charges in 2017. The government has been struggling with an economic crisis, high inflation, low foreign reserves, a stalled IMF bailout program, a revenue shortfall, and rising militancy.

While The Taliban Struggle To Govern, The Afghan Opposition Continuing To Mobilize – Analysis

Luke Coffey

A lot of the recent focus regarding developments in Afghanistan has been on the increase in transnational terrorist groups operating there and the difficulties the Taliban are having trying to govern and secure the country.

However, there has been another important development regarding the nation and it is one that took place thousands of miles away.

Last week, more than 30 activists, journalists, religious scholars and former Afghan government officials met in Vienna to discuss a single shared issue: opposition to the Taliban. Referred to as the Second Vienna Conference, it was, as the name suggests, the second such meeting of opposition representatives in Vienna since September last year.

The first meeting was notable because it acknowledged the commander of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, Ahmad Massoud, as the de facto leader of this anti-Taliban opposition movement. It was also noteworthy because it was the first time that such a gathering had taken place on the international stage since the Taliban regained power in August 2021.

The second gathering in Vienna included an even more diverse group of participants, including activists from many different backgrounds, ethnic groups and religious affiliations.

Although the center of gravity for the conference was Massoud and the National Resistance Front, the National Resistance Council for the Salvation of Afghanistan was also represented. It is an anti-Taliban movement founded in Turkiye last year by prominent Afghan power brokers living in exile.

In addition, leaders and representatives of the Hazara and Uzbek minorities were present at the conference. Almost half the participants were women. And for the first time, even an Afghan Sikh, Anarkali Hunaryar, participated. In 2010, she was the first non-Muslim woman elected to the Afghan parliament.

Imran Khan’s Arrest Sets Pakistan on an Uncertain Course

Umair Jamal

Police use a water cannon to disperse supporters of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan protesting against the arrest of their leader, in Karachi, Pakistan, Tuesday, May 9, 2023.Credit: AP Photo/Fareed Khan

In a watershed moment for Pakistan, the country’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan has been arrested in connection with a massive corruption case. The arrest is likely to keep him in police custody for days. It has sent shockwaves throughout the nation and set it on an uncertain course.

Khan’s arrest in the Al-Qadir Trust case is a major setback for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. “The case relates to illegal acquisition of land and construction for Al-Qadir University involving unlawful benefit given in recovery of prime proceeds (190 million pounds) through National Crime Agency, U.K.,” Pakistan’s National Accountability Bureau (NAB) said in a statement. The NAB maintains that Khan and his wife struck a deal with Malik Riaz, a major property tycoon in Pakistan, that caused a loss of more than $239 million to the national exchequer in the scandal whereby prime land was transferred at meager rates.

The implications of this arrest are far-reaching and will have significant consequences for Pakistan’s political landscape.

Over the past year, Khan has been leading an agitation against state institutions to put pressure on them and evade arrest. His tactics have included targeting state institutions as a preemptive strategy and fueling violence. He has been able to successfully mobilize supporters and gain attention from the international media.

It is still unclear what impact this will have on the country’s economy, but it is certain that aftershocks will be felt in all corners of society as Khan’s supporters try to come to terms with this development. The arrest has sparked widespread demonstrations across the country. PTI supporters have taken to the streets in protest, engaging in rioting and attacking the houses of army personnel although their leader was arrested in a case pursued by the anti-corruption body.

US military readiness “degraded” by two decades of conflict

Richard Thomas

The US Department of Defense is facing several readiness challenges as it attempts to recapitalise its forces. Credit: US DoD

The latest US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report into the country’s military readiness, has repeated previously highlighted challenges faced by the services as they juggle recapitalisation efforts with the need to sustain in-service platforms to ensure availability.

In its 2 May report, the GAO said that the US Department of Defense (DoD) faced “several challenges” as it worked to rebuild and restore readiness across the military, while also seeking to modernise its forces.

Examples of this include the US Navy’s ship maintenance backlog, which had grown to $1.8bn, and aircraft maintenance and supply issues limiting the availability of ageing aircraft. Ground forces, by contrast, had seen an increase in readiness.

According to the GAO, nearly two decades of conflict had “degraded military readiness”, as the DoD worked across all domains to rebuild capabilities while also undergoing a significant programme to modernise its forces.

The US military has been consistently on a conflict footing for the better part of a generation, as it fought twin insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Of its recommendations, the GAO said it had made “dozens… in prior reports to help improve readiness in each of the domains”, although some of these “remain unimplemented”.

In GAO testimony before the US Congress on 2 May, Diana Maurer, director, Defense Capabilities and Management at the GAO, stated that mission capability had declined since 2017.

Why France and Germany will not ‘decouple’ from China

Genevieve Donnellon-May

With China increasingly assertive in pursuing its economic and geopolitical interests abroad, US–China tensions are rising, leading many traditional American allies to consider following Washington’s lead in pursuing economic ‘decoupling’ from China. Their strategy aims to reduce economic reliance on China through extensive export controls and re-ordered supply chains.

Yet in Western Europe, France and Germany are showing an unwillingness to join their allies in decoupling from China. French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent comments that Europe should not get ‘caught up in crises that are not ours’ demonstrate this.

If anything, their relationship with Chinese capital is thriving. China is one of France and Germany’s major trading partners outside of the European Union and a significant export market for goods such as luxury goods and pharmaceuticals.

Exports to China made up 7.4% of Germany’s total exports and 4.21% of France’s in 2019, with these numbers growing over the last three years to record levels. Given China’s growing middle class, the country presents an enormous potential consumer market in years to come.

According to recent reports, France’s bilateral trade in goods with China exceeded US$100 billion for the first time in 2022, an increase of 14.6% on 2021­. The recent signing of 18 cooperation agreements by 46 French and Chinese companies across numerous sectors further emphasises the gathering pace of these trade relationships.

As for Germany, its total trade with China saw an increase of 21% from 2021. While exports increased by a modest 3.1%, Germany’s imports from China accounted for much of the growth, soaring by more than a third.

Jamestown Foundation China Brief, May 5, 2023, v. 23, no. 8

Editor’s Note: Taiwan Under Siege

Taiwan’s Dwindling Diplomatic Allies

Can Beijing Seize the “Opportunity of the Century”?

“Joint Sword” Exercises Around Taiwan Suggest a Shift in PLA Operational Doctrine

Sword out of Sheath?: Assessing the Strategic Implications of the PLA’s April Exercises around Taiwan

China's Emerging Approach to Taiwan: Blockade and Disinformation

Why a US-led, China-focused Asian Nato is no longer so far-fetched

Kai He

This year is likely to be remembered as a turning point in history because it could signify the emergence of an Asian Nato – a multilateral security alliance in the Asia-Pacific led by the United States and consisting of its traditional bilateral allies in the region such as Australia, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines. This grouping will target China, the elephant in the room.

The idea of an Asian equivalent to the transatlantic security alliance was previously considered a far-fetched notion for two reasons. First, the US-led “hub-and-spokes” system, consisting of a series of US bilateral alliances, had been successful in maintaining regional security in the Asia-Pacific. In other words, an Asian Nato was not considered necessary.

Second, while the role of the US as the “hub” was not questioned, the relationships between the “spokes” have been strained for decades. For instance, historical issues have plagued the ties between South Korea and Japan, and Japan had a bitter experience with Australia during World War II.

The geopolitical landscape has experienced significant shifts recently. Last October, Japan and Australia strengthened their security partnership by signing a new security agreement. In March, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met in Tokyo to put an end to the two nations’ trade disputes and start the process of rapprochement.

The most consequential development, however, has been the intensification of US-China strategic competition since the spy balloon incident in February. President Xi Jinping has accused the US of trying to contain, encircle and suppress China. Furthermore, the meeting between Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, and US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in Los Angeles has further strained the already-contentious bilateral relationship. As a result, China has suspended high-level meetings with the US.

How China’s Echo Chamber Threatens Taiwan

Tong Zhao

The risk of a military conflict in the Taiwan Strait is becoming dire. On Feb. 2, CIA Director William Burns stated that Chinese President Xi Jinping had ordered China’s military to be “ready by 2027 to conduct a successful invasion” of Taiwan. Although Burns added that this did not mean that Xi has decided to invade Taiwan, he described Xi’s move as “a reminder of the seriousness of his focus and his ambition.”

But the main factor that will determine whether Washington and Beijing come to blows over Taiwan is not necessarily Xi’s strategy for unification but the idiosyncrasies of China’s political system. The dynamics among China’s political leadership, its policy elite, and the broader public have generated an internal feedback loop that is not entirely within Xi’s comprehension or control. This could result in China’s being fully mobilized for war even without Xi deciding to attack Taiwan.

Xi’s assertive rhetoric, combined with his demand for absolute obedience, has produced an echo chamber in Beijing. His repeated emphasis on the need for unification with Taiwan and his nationwide campaign to encourage the public to “revere the military and admire force” have generated strong political incentives for civilian and military officials to mobilize themselves as if war were inevitable. When Xi spoke at the Chinese Communist Party’s 20th Party Congress last October, his pledge that China “will never promise to renounce the use of force” to achieve unification received louder and longer applause from the over 2,000 party delegates than any other passage in his nearly two-hour speech.

This adulatory reaction is, in turn, causing Xi and other Chinese leaders to be dangerously overconfident. As media outlets muzzle any doubts about the use of force to achieve unification, the leadership could easily perceive a lack of dissent as widespread public support for its aspirations regarding Taiwan. Furthermore, Chinese propaganda agencies’ promotion of anti-American narratives has created a growing sense among the public and policy elite that the United States poses a mortal threat and that a showdown with Washington is inevitable. This puts pressure on Chinese leaders to stress the importance of war preparation, which risks setting the country on a self-fulfilling path to conflict.

Washington and its partners are doing themselves a disservice by assuming that China’s leadership has a coherent strategy on Taiwan, or that Xi’s thinking is the key factor in whether Beijing goes to war. Rather than focusing narrowly on the Chinese president’s current plans, they should think more broadly about the dynamics that reinforce the Chinese public and leadership’s belief that a decisive move on Taiwan may be necessary to defend China’s territorial integrity and break Western containment. And instead of relying solely on deterrence, the United States and other governments should craft their messaging and policies with the aim of disrupting this internal feedback loop.

Orders of Disorder Who Disbanded Iraq’s Army and De-Baathified Its Bureaucracy?

Garrett M. Graff

The history of Iraq was already being rewritten by L. Paul Bremer on his flight into Baghdad. It was May 2003, and Bremer, an experienced former ambassador and bureaucratic player—he’d served as Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s chief of staff—was just weeks into his new role as presidential envoy to the freshly liberated country. After a flurry of briefings in Washington and a final Oval Office meeting with President George W. Bush, “Jerry,” as everyone called Bremer, had flown into Qatar and on to Kuwait and then Iraq. Bremer’s diplomatic career had taken him to most Middle Eastern capitals, but this was the first time he’d ever seen Baghdad. He had spent the previous two weeks trying to learn as much as he could about the country he would now rule.

Aboard the U.S. Air Force C-130, Bremer edited two draft documents he intended to issue when he arrived. One provided for “de-Baathification,” prohibiting senior officials from Saddam Hussein’s party from participating in the new Iraq. The other disbanded the Iraqi army and other security organs. Looking out the plane windows, Bremer and his deputy, Clay McManaway, saw fire after fire stretching toward the horizon. “Industrial-strength looting,” McManaway yelled over the churn of the propellers. “Lots of old scores to settle.”

In a way no one on the flight could have realized, these succinct observations would go a long way toward explaining the ultimate consequences of the documents in Bremer’s briefcase. Over the last 20 years, as the United States has reckoned with the human toll and costly legacy of its disastrous war of choice in the Middle East, those two infamous decisions of Bremer’s Coalition Provisional Authority—CPA Order 1, de-Baathifying the Iraqi state, and CPA Order 2, dissolving the Iraqi military—have been held up as some of the worst mistakes of the war. They are seen as sparks that would ignite the insurgency to come and set Iraq aflame for years, a period of disorder that would claim the lives of thousands of U.S. troops and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians.

And yet the orders that paved the way for all that chaos and bloodshed have remained shrouded in mystery. At the time, not even senior U.S. leaders such as CIA Director George Tenet and Secretary of State Colin Powell understood where they had come from or who had approved them. Two decades later, after piecing together memoirs from key participants, archival documents, and fresh interviews with a dozen former top U.S. officials, a more complete origin story is finally available.

The two orders, it turns out, had very different backstories and very different paths through the policymaking process. Although both were drafted by relatively unknown mid-level Pentagon officials, the de-Baathification order emerged from the murky world of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s office, whereas the order disbanding the country’s military and security apparatus was finalized on the ground in Iraq. Perhaps surprisingly, although both orders overturned the White House’s prewar plans, neither was seen as a particularly big deal at the time by those who rolled out the new approach. Like much of the U.S. misadventure in Iraq, the story of CPA Orders 1 and 2 is a tale of belated planning, misplaced assumptions, and bungled execution—all occurring amid a rapidly deteriorating situation on the ground.

Incitement to Kill: Tracking hate speech targeting Ukrainians during Russia’s war in Ukraine

Benjamin Strick

This research examines the use of hate speech and national slurs to dehumanise, call for violence against, and celebrate the death of Ukrainians. The data analysed indicates widespread hate speech targeting Ukrainians primarily on Twitter and Telegram. Further examination of these accounts indicates the content was further spread to YouTube and Facebook.

The research was accomplished by analysing data collected from Twitter and Telegram based on national slurs referencing Ukrainians in the context of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The dataset collected and analysed in the research resulted in 1585 accounts with more than 2500 interactions from Twitter, and 15655 results from more than 480 channels on Telegram.

This analysis shows that in comparison to prior years, February 2022 saw a surge in the use of national slurs and hate speech against Ukrainians on both Twitter and Telegram.

Twitter accounts that were found to be using hate speech against Ukrainians include accounts that are verified with a blue tick. Many of those accounts also post content heavily supportive of Russia, stoking divide within US audiences, targeting the LGBTQI+ community and sharing memes and messages related to conspiracy theories such as biolabs in Ukraine, QANON and issues related to Donald Trump.

The accounts analysed on Telegram include channels that took videos of Ukrainian funerals, or from Ukrainians who had visited graves, and reposted them with degrading and dehumanising comments. Other channels specifically focus on looking for dead or captured Ukrainians and celebrating the circumstances around that imagery. The content circulated in these channels was reposted on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.

Further research indicates the increase and gravity in the use of hate speech language by Russian politicians, Russian state-linked media and pro-Russian propagandists calling for (further) violence and celebrating the death of Ukrainians.

Military Review,

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Decided among the Cities: The Past, Present, and Future of War in Urban Environments

Analysis of Land Army Maintenance Techniques in the War in Ukraine

Fighting with Agility: The 162nd Armored Division in the 1973 Arab-Israeli War

A Sad and Bloody Business: Land Force Lessons from the Falklands, Forty Years On

Culture Change and People First: Creating a Culture that Acts as the Antibody to the Corrosive Elements

Toward a Vernacular of Risk: Unmiring Mission Command through Risk Education

Furthering the Discussion on METT-TC

Nanoenergetic Materials for Microscale Tactical Applications

China’s Belt and Road Initiative in East Africa: Finding Success in Failure?

Peace Games: Preparing U.S. Officials for Challenges and Opportunities Abroad

Upon the Fields of Friendly Strife: An “Athletic Charter” to Reform the Army’s Sports Culture and Build Better Leaders

On Killing Remotely: The Psychology of Killing with Drones

I Miss You [poem]

The Eurasian Leaks in the West's Russia Sanctions


LONDON – Changes to the global trade system, not least because of the deepening Sino-American rivalry, have been making headlines in recent years. Yet while most of the attention has focused on trends like “friend-shoring,” “near-shoring,” and “reshoring” of supply chains, recent changes in the patterns of cross-border Eurasian trade have gone largely unnoticed, despite their implications about the effectiveness of Western sanctions on Russia.

Those sanctions cover goods that could “contribute to the enhancement of Russian industrial capacities,” including quantum-computing technologies, advanced semiconductors, sensitive machinery, goods related to transportation, and chemicals. They also cover arms, goods for use in the oil industry and maritime navigation, and luxury products.

Some goods are considered “partly” sanctioned, because the list of sanctioned goods is not perfectly aligned with the product codes – more than 6,000 in total – in the standard trade classification. For example, sanctions may cover only products with a value above a certain threshold – say, a ski suit that costs more than €300 ($330) – or only some products belonging to a particular category, such as sparkling wine. (Champagne is subject to sanctions, but prosecco is not, presumably because Russian oligarchs are expected to be fonder of the former.)

Simon Johnson Says More…

This week in Say More, PS talks with Simon Johnson, a former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund and a professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

Project Syndicate: Last November, you defended Gary Gensler, the chair of the US Securities and Exchange Commission, from “intense” industry pushback against his efforts to tighten regulation on some parts of the financial sector. Gensler recently testified before the House Financial Services Committee about the SEC’s enforcement strategy, including its attempted crackdown on digital assets. What is missing from the current US approach to such assets, and which steps are most urgently needed to avoid “[l]etting people run de facto banks without proper supervision”?

Simon Johnson: The obvious issue that urgently needs to be addressed is stablecoins, which operate just like banks: the “coins” are demand deposits, which many holders feel are as good as cash, and the issuing entity holds assets. If those assets are stable in value and fully liquid, then redemption demands can be met. But any loss of asset value or impediment to liquidity, especially if it occurs amid in a sharp market downturn, can trigger a kind of bank run. Recent experience with Silicon Valley Bank and other regional banks has reminded everyone how those work.

PS: In February, you and Daron Acemoglu highlighted the risks posed by artificial intelligence, which is “being designed and deployed by corporate America in ways that will disempower and displace workers and degrade the consumer experience, ultimately disappointing most investors.” Since then, an open letter calling for a six-month (or longer) pause on advanced AI research has attracted more than 27,000 signatories, including many tech leaders. Do you think such a moratorium would make a difference in mitigating some of the risks you identify? If regulators were given six months to devise a framework to guide AI development, where should they start?

SJ: I don’t think a six-month “freeze” on advanced-AI development is the right approach, not least because some people – in the US or elsewhere – would simply ignore the moratorium, using the time to catch up with the market leaders.

US And Ukraine: Sending Arms Or Twisting Arms? – OpEd

John Feffer

After Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the United States quickly moved to support the government in Kyiv. With Joe Biden in the White House, having replaced someone who made no effort to conceal his admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin, this U.S. support was no surprise. Prior to the invasion, the Biden administration had been warning Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky publicly for a month and privately for several months of the likelihood of an intervention. It had helped Ukraine bolster its defense with $400 million in military aid in 2021, on top of the $2 billion provided between 2014 and 2020. After Russia invaded, that figure skyrocketed to over $31 billion (plus more than twice that amount in non-military assistance).

U.S. support for Ukraine over the last year has not been confined to military hardware. The Biden administration has led a global campaign to: condemn Russia; levy both multilateral and unilateral sanctions against the Kremlin and its domestic supporters; persuade allies to provide military and economic assistance of their own; strengthen NATO and usher in new NATO members; and mobilize energy supplies for Europe to substitute for Russian imports.

Despite this broad-based effort to defend Ukraine, the United States has nonetheless displayed a certain degree of caution. It has drawn the line at committing U.S. forces to the battlefield, aside from a handful of Special Forces. It has refused to support a no-fly zone over the country, and it has not sent surveillance planes over the Black Sea for fear of engaging Russian forces. It has hesitated to supply Kyiv with every weapon system on its wish list, whether fighter jets or long-range missiles. This caution reflects in particular the anxieties of the Pentagon—a risk-averse institution—about provoking an escalation of the conflict both horizontally (into adjoining countries) and vertically (involving non-conventional weapons like tactical nuclear devices).

The Biden administration has calibrated this balance between military assistance and geopolitical caution within a rapidly changing global context. Russia’s actions have divided the world into three blocs: illiberal supporters of the Kremlin and its imperial policy, the largely democratic club of nations who directly support Ukraine, and the much larger group of fence-sitters who generally acknowledge that the invasion was a violation of international law but are reluctant to break with Moscow.

Commercial satellite imagery services included in new $1.2B Ukraine security assistance package


The latest U.S. security assistance tranche for Ukraine, valued at $1.2 billion, includes funding for commercial satellite imagery services as well as a slew of air-defense capabilities.

The package was announced by the Pentagon on Tuesday. The list of capabilities put out by the Department of Defense did not specify which company or companies would provide the satellite imagery services, or how much of the funding would be allotted for that.

Notably, the capabilities included in the new package will be procured from industry using Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) funds — not drawn from existing DOD stocks.

“I don’t have anything specific to announce today in terms of particular companies that we may or may not be contracting with through this USAI effort. That will be work that’s ongoing, certainly, as we look at options on how best to support Ukraine,” Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told DefenseScoop during a press briefing.

Tuesday’s announcement did not specify how the Ukrainians would use the commercial satellite imagery services. However, such assistance would likely aid the Ukrainian military — which is expected to launch a counteroffensive soon — by increasing their situational awareness and helping them target Russian forces.

In its fiscal 2022 annual report, the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit noted that “commercial remote sensing companies … are providing satellite images of Russian military activities in Ukraine, generating an unprecedented level of visibility and driving accountability.”

JUST IN: Defense Department Releases Science, Technology Strategy

Sean Carberry

The latest strategy document to roll out from the 2022 National Defense Strategy is the National Defense Science and Technology Strategy, which focuses on Defense Department’s technology priorities and the future of the research and engineering enterprise, according to the document and a senior official.

The strategy states that in the face of growing private-sector investment in science and technology and growing adversary capabilities, the Defense Department “must be more proactive with its engagements with the private sector to make the right investments to capitalize on emerging technologies, as well as to preempt adversary attempts to do the same by protecting critical and emerging technologies early in the development cycle.”

The strategy lists three lines of effort to achieve its objectives: focus on the joint mission, create and field capabilities at speed and scale and ensure the foundations for research and development.

During a briefing with reporters, Dr. Nina Kollars, advisor to the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, said under the first line of effort, “the department will focus on the joint mission by investing in information systems and establishing processes for rigorous threat informed analysis.”

With the best data and data systems, the department can make better informed investments in science and technology, she added.
Under the second line of effort, the department will foster “a more vibrant defense innovation ecosystem, accelerating the transition of new technology to the field in scalable ways,” she said.

“Third, the department will ensure the foundations for research and science by continuing and expanding upon our efforts to recruit, retain and cultivate talent, revitalize our physical infrastructure, upgrade our digital infrastructure and nurture stronger collaboration across all strategic stakeholders,” she added.

With Adversaries Testing Us, AI Is Vital to National Security

Gustave Perna & Paul J. Selva

Uncrewed aerial vehicles prep for deployment with artificial intelligence, or AI, toolbox payload technology as part of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, or Dstl, HYDRA project trials on Salisbury Plain, U.K., Nov. 4, 2022. This demonstration showed how the AI toolbox adapts to new data sources, platforms and operating locations to provide rapid updates to the AI deployed onto autonomous systems. The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory partnered with Dstl to demonstrate state-of-the-art AI technology in this military exercise. (Courtesy photo)

These are precarious times with each day bringing more audacious acts of provocation and incendiary rhetoric by near-peer competitors. Consider the Russian downing of a U.S. drone, and renewed concerns about Beijing arming Russian troops. Both serve as examples of our adversaries’ resolve to test the will of the United States to defend our interests and those of our allies and partners. The threat to the world could not be more stark.

Our collective 79 years of service devoted to keeping America safe have taught us that the last thing we need in a crisis is escalation of tensions, which could plunge us into widespread conflicts in multiple theaters. Instead, we must focus on a strategy of deterrence to minimize the likelihood of conflict, backed by a high level of preparedness to maximize our ability to orient faster, think faster, and, when appropriate, react faster than potential adversaries.

Indeed, integrated deterrence is the cornerstone of the United States’ National Defense Strategy. It requires a holistic approach to ensuring that the U.S. military is so well prepared with robust supply chains and reliable distribution networks that can react quickly and conclusively to unanticipated disruptions that adversaries would recognize the folly in any effort to take us on.

Logistics, mobility, and sustainment have long been at the core of our military’s strategic advantage. The uncanny talent of our Armed Forces to mobilize resources and dispatch them to where they need to be in short order, has been crucial in the past to our nation’s ability to build up Iron Mountains worldwide so formidable that they have a deterrent effect on near-peer competitors. Think back to 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea. In response, we used our logistical prowess to marshal air, land, and sea forces in the Baltic States. This not only demonstrated our resolve – and capacity – to take up the mission of defending our NATO allies, but also brought a deterrent value.

Sudan Conflict: Peace Prospects Dwindle as Both Sides Dig In

Dr. Mohamed ELDoh

The conflict between the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) has unleashed widespread violence and instability throughout the country for almost a month now. At the beginning of the conflict, there was a belief that one side would be able to take control of the country decisively, yet the conflict now shows no signs of ending anytime soon. While there are ongoing de-escalation efforts and peace initiatives from global and regional influencers including the United States (US), Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel, it is highly unlikely that there will be any peace between the two groups in the foreseeable future, due to several underlying factors that continue to fuel the conflict.

Firstly, the RSF is a paramilitary force, or a militia of sorts, that was created in 2013 to support the Sudanese government in combating rebels in the region of Darfur. In other words, the RSF was originally not a part of a nationally organized army authority and most of the RSF fighters are from the tribes of Janjaweed in western Sudan. The word Janjaweed itself means “devils on horseback.” The group is currently made up of heavily armed troops with mostly light weapons, making them move easily and more flexibly across Sudan. In contrast, the SAF is Sudan’s official military and has a larger and more sophisticated heavy arsenal that is made up of both ground and air forces, making it more versatile in the battlefield yet slow to counter the RSF’s swift movements and guerrilla warfare tactics.

Thus, the contrasting fighting tactics between the RSF and SAF is challenging for both sides, and this stands as one of the main reasons why the fighting is likely to continue for a longer period than originally imagined. One facet of this battlefield dynamic is evident in SAF air force attempts to counter the rapid moves of the RSF on the ground while the RSF attempt to occupy civilian districts to pressure the SAF not to attack. Overall, the RSF has demonstrated its military capabilities in previous conflicts in Darfur, and the group’s ruthlessness has been key to its successes. However, despite its military might, the RSF is mainly composed of militias, which makes its operations less organized and coordinated than those of a regular national army, therefore giving an extra edge to the SAF, which roughly has the same number of fighting manpower as the RSF.

Middle Eastern rivalries alive and kicking despite de-escalation

James M. Dorsey

Middle Eastern battlegrounds are alive and kicking even though rivals seek to balance contentious relations.

Take efforts by the United Arab Emirates, and more recently Saudi Arabia, to bring Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in from the cold in a bid to drive a wedge between Syria and Iran and address numerous repercussions from the more than decade-long brutal war he waged to keep himself in power.

Sanctioned by the United States and Europe, Assad was also a pariah in the Arab world after the 22-member Arab League suspended Damascus’s membership in response to his conduct in the war. A meeting of the League’s foreign ministers decided on Sunday to readmit Syria.

With sanctions and international isolation failing to topple Assad or moderate his policies, the UAE and Saudi Arabia hope engagement will be more productive.

That hasn’t prevented the UAE from continuing to counter the influence of Turkey and Iran in Syria, two countries with which it has formally buried its hatchets.

In the latest round, Mazlum Abdi — the commander-in-chief of the U.S.-backed, predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who is also known as Mazloum Kobani — reportedly traveled last month to Abu Dhabi to seek UAE assistance in negotiating an agreement with the Assad government.

The SDF played a crucial role in helping the United States defeat the Islamic State in Syria.

Abdi was accompanied by Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) leader Bafel Talabani. The PUK is one of two major rival factions in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Emirati officials confirmed Abdi’s visit but denied reports that he met with UAE national security adviser Tahnoun bin Zayed al Nahyan.

The UAE is concerned that further engagement with the Kurds could strain relations with Assad.

Simon Johnson Says More…

Project Syndicate: Last November, you defended Gary Gensler, the chair of the US Securities and Exchange Commission, from “intense” industry pushback against his efforts to tighten regulation on some parts of the financial sector. Gensler recently testified before the House Financial Services Committee about the SEC’s enforcement strategy, including its attempted crackdown on digital assets. What is missing from the current US approach to such assets, and which steps are most urgently needed to avoid “[l]etting people run de facto banks without proper supervision”?

Simon Johnson: The obvious issue that urgently needs to be addressed is stablecoins, which operate just like banks: the “coins” are demand deposits, which many holders feel are as good as cash, and the issuing entity holds assets. If those assets are stable in value and fully liquid, then redemption demands can be met. But any loss of asset value or impediment to liquidity, especially if it occurs amid in a sharp market downturn, can trigger a kind of bank run. Recent experience with Silicon Valley Bank and other regional banks has reminded everyone how those work.

PS: In February, you and Daron Acemoglu highlighted the risks posed by artificial intelligence, which is “being designed and deployed by corporate America in ways that will disempower and displace workers and degrade the consumer experience, ultimately disappointing most investors.” Since then, an open letter calling for a six-month (or longer) pause on advanced AI research has attracted more than 27,000 signatories, including many tech leaders. Do you think such a moratorium would make a difference in mitigating some of the risks you identify? If regulators were given six months to devise a framework to guide AI development, where should they start?

SJ: I don’t think a six-month “freeze” on advanced-AI development is the right approach, not least because some people – in the US or elsewhere – would simply ignore the moratorium, using the time to catch up with the market leaders.

Fighting Rages In Bakhmut As Momentum Builds For Ukraine’s Counteroffensive – Analysis

Andriy Kuzakov, Andrei Krasno and Reid Standish

(RFE/RL) — Along the northern flank of Ukrainian-controlled territory on the outskirts of the eastern city of Bakhmut, tank crews from the 10th Mountain Assault Brigade are waiting for the ground to dry up so they can begin a long-anticipated counteroffensive against Russian forces.

The tank operators continue to support Ukrainian infantry during battles and provide cover fire from afar, but the muddy roads brought by thawed frozen ground and heavy spring rainfall have left them playing a less forward-leaning role.

“The Russians still have enough artillery and anti-tank weapons, including ATGMs [anti-tank guided missiles],” Mykola, a tank operator, told Current Time, following Ukrainian military protocol of only providing his first name to journalists. “We still have far from an easy time here and while it’s raining like it is now, it’s difficult to work.”

The battle for Bakhmut, which Russia sees as a stepping stone to other cities in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, has been the scene of the war’s most intense fighting for months, costing thousands of lives on both sides. Ukrainian forces have been pushed back in recent weeks, but have managed to keep some control of the area while inflicting as many losses as possible on regular Russian troops and fighters from the Wagner mercenary group.

Despite many military experts disputing its strategic value, Ukrainian officials have underlined the importance that Kyiv attaches to holding Bakhmut as Ukraine makes the final preparations for its expected counteroffensive, which will be backed by thousands of Western-donated armored vehicles – including tanks – and freshly trained troops.

When, where, and how Kyiv launches its push are crucial questions that Ukrainian officials have kept closely guarded. Analysts say the counteroffensive will have far-ranging consequences for the future direction of the war and the degree of its success could impact the level of Western support moving forward.

Collapse Of The Russian Empire’s Main Historical Pillar? – Analysis

Vadim Shtepa*

In early April 2023, the authorities in a few Russian regions bordering Ukraine—Belgorod, Bryansk and Kursk—decided to refuse to hold the regular military parade in honor of Victory Day on May 9 (Svoboda, April 10). Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov stated that he did not want to “provoke the enemy with a large number of equipment and military personnel in the city center.” Thus, the situation in Russia is beginning to look typical for that of a losing army, as the concentration of Russian troops in any region no longer means that the locals are secure. On the contrary, this presence is causing the regions to fear that they will become an easy target for Ukraine’s counteroffensive.

Today, the Kremlin’s “special military operation,” during which it planned to take Kyiv in less than two weeks, looks completely different after over a year of fierce fighting. Now, the Russian regions themselves have been forced to increase their defensive posturing. Moreover, other May 9 parades have been canceled not only in those regions neighboring Ukraine but also in cities quite far from the frontlines, including in Pskov (Pskov.kp.ru, April 29) and even Tyumen in Western Siberia (Ng72.ru, April 22). Unlike last year, when Ukrainian forces did not have many unmanned aerial vehicles, these regions now fear the specter of a Ukrainian drone attack.

The main military parade, on Moscow’s Red Square, will still take place; however, the authorities are forming groups of “people’s combatants” who are supposed to be on duty at night and track “unidentified flying objects” (Pravda.ru, April 27).

This year, the annual “Immortal Regiment” civil procession, during which participants carry portraits of their relatives who died during World War II, was canceled in all cities. This procession, which started during the Vladimir Putin era, is an important tool in the Kremlin’s array of militaristic propaganda. Its sudden cancellation is also related to security considerations but of a different kind. The Russian authorities fear that the people will carry portraits of their relatives who have already died in the war against Ukraine—and it is likely that these portraits will be more numerous when compared to the figures published by the Ministry of Defense (Sibreal.org, April 18).

Red-Team Analysis Of Russia’s Defensive Combat Strategy

Can Kasapoğlu*

1. Stalemate as Strategy

One thing is certain: Vladimir Putin’s generals did not plan for this. In their optimistic pre-war strategy sessions, they envisioned Russian Airborne Forces (VDV) seizing the Antonov Airport before pouring into Kyiv, the Russian military assuming control of the capital as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his cabinet evacuated in a hail of sniper fire, and Putin’s National Guard crushing what remained of the Ukrainian resistance.

Yet almost 15 months into what has become a grinding war of attrition, the best-laid plans of the Russian high command have led to disaster for Moscow. The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation remain bogged down in enemy territory, bleeding helplessly by the day. Meanwhile, their opponent continues to receive high-end weapons systems from NATO capitals.

Russian personnel and military equipment have been eliminated by the thousands. Gone are the plaudits for Putin, the praise for General Valery Gerasimov’s military wisdom or the so-called “Gerasimov Doctrine” of hybrid warfare. Instead, Yevgeny Prigozhin of the Wagner private military company provides the new face of the contemporary Russian Federation, now an importer of arms from the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The Russian elite’s plans to revive the Soviet empire have backfired. Where the Kremlin once strove for the Finlandization of Ukraine, Finland itself is the newest NATO nation. Poland is arming to the teeth. From American HIMARS rockets to British Challenger-2 main battle tanks and Turkish TB-2 drones, NATO nations’ high-end weapons systems dot the Russian frontier. Things are going south for Moscow.

Putin began the war hoping for a lightning-quick victory. Events have forced him to adopt a different strategy: the strategy of stalemate. He now hopes to exhaust the West in a marathon slog, slowly consuming the political resolve supporting Ukraine’s efforts.

Is Kissinger Right About Ukraine Negotiations?


Henry Kissinger says that conditions are right for negotiations on Ukraine by the end of the year. He bases his calculation on the fact that China has emerged as a broker, which puts the Russians on the spot to a degree.

However, there is one missing part to Kissinger’s prediction. While it may not directly concern China, Russia wants far more than just a deal with Ukraine, although even in that context Russia probably won’t take anything less than a demilitarized, non-NATO Ukraine.

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The US thinking on the subject is almost the reverse. Washington thinks it can accept a deal provided Ukraine is “enticed” by bringing them into NATO. In this manner, according to Washington pundits, Ukraine’s security will be assured. Otherwise, Ukraine would be left without protection.

Other similar ideas have popped up from time to time. Among them are ideas that some European states and the United States will guarantee Ukraine’s future security. The reason for this approach is it is increasingly unlikely that the US has enough votes in NATO to bring Ukraine into the alliance.

While the NATO approach is anathema to Moscow, it is conceivable that some sort of surrogate security system, if clearly defined, might pass muster with Russia.

But even if some sort of deal could be hammered out on Ukraine’s future security, there are two stumbling blocks.

The first is the territory that Russia now holds inside Ukraine’s boundaries. This includes Donetsk, the Zaporizhia region, Kherson and most importantly, Crimea.

Winners and Losers in the AI Arms Race


BERKELEY – The first rule of forecasting, the financial journalist Jane Bryant Quinn once observed, is this: give them a forecast or give them a date; just never give them both.

MICHAEL SPENCE justifies government intervention to alter market outcomes – and explains the right way to go about it.

So, here’s a not very bold forecast: Generative artificial-intelligence models like ChatGPT will revolutionize the economy. We just can’t say when.

Nor can we say where. Among the key questions lost amid the flurry of commentary on generative AI is which countries will benefit, and which will not.

Will the United States, a first mover in this domain, grow even more dominant economically? Will developing countries’ traditional route to economic growth, which runs through employment in export-oriented manufacturing, be overrun by AI-empowered robots? Will India and the Philippines, which seek to grow by expanding their service sectors, find this avenue barred as generative AI displaces coders and AI-powered chatbots supplant call-center employees?

Certainly, the US possesses advantages in developing large language models (LLMs). It benefits from close business-university collaboration, lubricated by a deep-pocketed venture-capital industry. It is no coincidence that ChatGPT came out of the US, and out of Greater Silicon Valley in particular.

Earlier general-purpose technologies boosted the economic and geopolitical dominance of the pioneering country. The steam engine commercialized by Matthew Boulton and James Watt both symbolized and inaugurated the half-century when Great Britain emerged as the first industrial country and its navy ruled the seas. Meanwhile, as British and other industrial manufactures inundated markets, handicraft industries in countries like China and India were rendered uncompetitive, causing per capita incomes to stagnate and even fall.

Yet first-mover advantage can be exaggerated. The dean of modern business historians, Alfred Chandler, has been criticized on this score. After all, Britain had already lost its lead in per capita income to the US by the late nineteenth century. To cite a more recent example, Netscape was a first mover for web browsers, but it was unable to hold its early lead over Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and other rivals.

There Is No Getting Ahead of Disinformation Without Moving Past It

Alicia Wanless
I don’t believe in disinformation. And it’s time for democracies to stop focusing on it.

I’m not saying there’s no such thing or that it’s not bad. I’m saying something a little subtler: that the public focus on disinformation is not useful and causes democratic societies to miss larger problems and challenges.

Let’s start with the fundamental problem: There is no generally accepted definition of the term. What exactly is disinformation? Ask five different people, and you’ll likely get five different answers. Some will say it is false information, some will say it’s misleading, and others will say it’s both. Most will agree that it’s spread intentionally, as opposed to its unintentional cousin, misinformation. Distinguishing between the two can be tricky. What if someone believes disinformation to be true and shares it? Is that still intentional? Is it still disinformation? There’s a solution for that! Just mash the two terms together as mis-disinformation to cover it all! But what is it really? Lies? Deception? Rumor? Exaggeration? Propaganda? All of the above? Does one just know it when they see it?

The growing ranks of disinformation experts produce many examples in vaccine myths, conspiracy theories, and covert adversarial state operations. But examples come after disinformation spreads, making it a hard problem to get ahead of. And just about anyone researching disinformation will tell you how harmful, hurtful, and destructive it is for both the specific targets of it and, more broadly, democracy. And yet, despite all the concern and investments in researching and countering disinformation over the past few years, how is it that researchers and policymakers are still collectively admiring this problem? Have all of these efforts diminished the phenomenon? It’s difficult to say because the only baseline that exists is the number of research outputs themselves.