13 May 2023

SHAPING THE NARRATIVE IN WAR

Maj Gen P K Mallick, VSM

Development of Social Media (SM) is a relatively new phenomenon. Between 2004 and 2014, all 22 of the world’s biggest Social Media (SM) networks were developed and launched. Facebook was the first to be started on February 4, 2004. The rapid global increase in mobile telephone usage helped the growth of SM. SM can be fun, exciting, entertaining and useful for maintaining relationships. For

marketing, managing their public image, connect with customers and solicit ideas and feedback people can use social media websites for professional reasons. SM can be used to issue warnings for cyclones, floods or other disasters. Homebound people who are ill, stay-at-home parents, or retired use social media to stay connected.

SM can also be used for political polarisation and radicalisation. SM is being used by both state and non-state actors to further their own interests.SM has been utilised to recruit terrorists, organise revolutions and riots, encourage attacks, collect funds, glorify gangs and spread violence. Terrorist organisations like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State exploit the social media to radicalise, recruit and deploy young people in service of their terrorist causes. The 2011 Arab Spring and 2011 London riots have shown how social media can impact matters of national security. A recent Oxford University study found evidence of disinformation campaigns run by state actors in more than 70 countries around the world. Most of these countries are authoritarian regimes that use SM to threaten activists and journalists with hate and violence, spread pro-government propaganda and drown out opposing voices.

Today 62 % of US adults get news on social media. While traditional media has lost credibility with readers, internet sources of news have actually gained in credibility. News business change with buzz feed. The majority of readers spend most of their reading time scanning headlines rather than reading the story. The headline and not the story has become the single most important element of the news.

SOCIAL MEDIA: A STUDY OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND ITS IMPACT ON CONTEMPORARY WARS/CONFLICTS BY LT GEN S R R AIYENGAR PVSM, AVSM, VSM UDAY PUBLISHING HOUSE, INDIA PAGES: 152 IN HARDCOVER PRICE: RS. 699/-

The emergence of social bots, artificial intelligence and computational propaganda will soon enable highly persuasive machine-generated communications. Artificial Intelligence creates hyper-realistic false narratives online. An automated system uses the mass of online data to infer your personality and interests, religious affiliation, political preferences and demographic data.

It knows which social media platforms and news websites you visit. The system dynamically creates content specifically designed for your specific psychological frame and achieve a particular outcome. Digital tools have terrific advantages over humans. Once an organisation creates and configures a sophisticated AI bot, the marginal cost of running it on millions of user accounts is relatively low. They can operate 24/7 throughout the year and respond to events immediately. In an information environment where the first story to circulate may be the only one that people register, even if it is untrue, this is critical.

The G20 Must Build on the G7 Five-Point Plan for Critical Minerals

Dr. Kapil Narula & Dr. Andrew DeWit

The G7, formed in 1975, is an intergovernmental political forum of seven member states of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union (EU). Historically, these countries are amongst the most influential ones, with significant political, economic, and military power. Japan assumed the G7 Presidency for 2023 and the 49th G7 Summit is scheduled to be held from 19-21 May 23 at Hiroshima.

Considering the increasing role of other countries in global politics, the G20 (Group of Twenty) was created which included emerging economies such as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea and Turkey, along with the countries of the G7. Though the G20 was formed in 1999, initially it was attended only by finance ministers and central bank governors. The G20 represents over 80% of global GDP and two-thirds of the world’s population and provides a platform for both advanced and emerging economies to discuss and implement coordinated international responses on globally important issues, making it the premier forum for economic cooperation. India assumed the G20 Presidency for 2023 and the 18th G20 Heads of State and Government Summit will be held in New Delhi in September 2023.

Importance of critical minerals

Critical minerals are those non-fuel minerals that are essential for the economic and national security of a country, but are vulnerable to supply chain disruption. These include lithium, cobalt, graphite, copper, rare earth elements, and platinum group metals, amongst others. These minerals are essential for clean energy technologies such as wind turbines, solar PV panels, storage batteries and electric vehicles. Therefore, their availability plays an important role in the sustainable energy transition.

What a Ukraine win, lose or draw means for China

NATASHA KUHRT And MARCIN KACZMARSKI

Beijing is positioning itself to increase its global power at the end of the Ukraine war. But the question right now for China’s President Xi Jinping is which scenario is most likely to happen, what role China can play, and what each outcome will mean for China.

As the war continues, the strength of the Sino-Russian alignment will be tested as never before. Whether Russia wins or loses, or whether the war remains unresolved resulting in a frozen conflict, all pose a dilemma for China, which has been deliberately raising its profile as a peacemaker during the conflict.

There are various scenarios that are the most likely ways the war could proceed, or end.
Scenario 1 – Ukraine wins

Russia’s loss in Ukraine would send a powerful signal confirming both the West’s resilience and weakness of authoritarian aggressors. Such a development would explicitly undermine one of the key narratives shared within the Chinese Communist party, at least since the 2008/09 global economic crisis, that the West is in decline and its rivals, China in particular, are in the ascendancy.

The victory of Ukraine supported by the west would put Xi in a particularly uncomfortable position, challenging his favourite phrases of the “east wind prevailing” and “changes unseen in a century.”

However, wars tend to end messily. Were Russia to be defeated, much would hinge on the nature of the defeat. If defeat implied the departure of not only Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, but also his inner circle, a new Russian government might deprioritize relations with China and reprioritize good relations with the West, which would be a blow to Beijing.
Scenario 2 – Russia wins

Russia’s victory amid crumbling support for Ukraine in the West would empower China. Beijing might be tempted to move to much more risky behavior, especially in its neighborhood.

Three scenarios for the next phase of the Ukraine war and what each means for China

Natasha Kuhrt, Marcin Kaczmarski

Beijing is positioning itself to increase its global power at the end of the Ukraine war. But the question right now for China’s president Xi Jinping is which scenario is most likely to happen, what role China can play, and what each outcome will mean for China.

As the war continues, the strength of the Sino-Russian alignment will be tested as never before. Whether Russia wins or loses, or whether the war remains unresolved resulting in a frozen conflict, all pose a dilemma for China, which has been deliberately raising its profile as a peacemaker during the conflict. There are various scenarios that are the most likely ways the war could proceed, or end.
Scenario 1 – Ukraine wins

Russia’s loss in Ukraine would send a powerful signal confirming both the west’s resilience and weakness of authoritarian aggressors. Such a development would explicitly undermine one of the key narratives shared within the Chinese Communist party, at least since the 2008/09 global economic crisis, that the west is in decline and its rivals, China in particular, are in the ascendancy.

The victory of Ukraine supported by the west would put Xi in a particularly uncomfortable position, challenging his favourite phrases of the “east wind prevailing” and “changes unseen in a century”.

However, wars tend to end messily. Were Russia to be defeated, much would hinge on the nature of the defeat. If defeat implied the departure of not only Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, but also his inner circle, a new Russian government might deprioritise relations with China and reprioritise good relations with the west, which would be a blow to Beijing.
Scenario 2 – Russia wins

Russia’s victory amid crumbling support for Ukraine in the west would empower China. Beijing might be tempted to move to much more risky behaviour, especially in its neighbourhood.

Mao’s Legacy Is a Dangerous Topic in China

Tania Branigan

“For Chinese people, history is our religion,” the intellectual Hu Ping has argued. “We don’t have a supernatural standard of right and wrong, good and bad, so we view History as the ultimate judge.” The Chinese Communist Party has finessed this tradition. It sees history not as a record, still less a debate, but a tool. It can be adjusted as necessary yet appears solid and immutable: Today’s imperatives seem graven in stone, today’s facts the outcome of a logical, inexorable process. The contingencies and contradictions of the actual past are irrelevant. The truth is what the Party says, and what the Party chooses to remember.

The Road Back to Growth in China

YU YONGDING

BEIJING – According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, the economy grew by 4.5% year on year in the first quarter of 2023. While that hardly matches the robust growth of the pre-pandemic period, it did exceed market expectations. And with the right policies, China can do even better.

There is plenty of pessimism about China’s economic prospects nowadays, with many warning – not without reason – that China has entered a deflationary period. In the first quarter of 2023, China’s consumer price index (CPI) rose by only 1.3% year on year – down from 1.8% in the previous quarter. More striking, China’s producer price index (PPI) fell by 2.5% year on year in March – its sixth consecutive month of decline.

This is not a new trend. In fact, China’s PPI has been negative for the better part of the last decade. Beginning in March 2012, China’s PPI was in negative territory for 54 consecutive months. In January 2019, it turned negative again – and remained so for 17 months. While CPI has remained positive, it has grown by less than 2% annually, on average, for a decade.

While claims that China has entered a deflationary period are excessive, the data indicate that China’s economy continues to be hamstrung by low effective demand. Official figures also support the claim that China’s GDP growth has been below potential for some time.

This may not have been surprising when the zero-COVID policy was triggering regular lockdowns, including in economic hubs like Shanghai. But the abandonment of strict pandemic-containment policies in December was widely expected to unleash pent-up demand, leading to a robust recovery. Some even warned that inflation could spike, as supply struggled to keep up.

None of this came to pass. Non-economic factors – linked, for example, to global geopolitical tensions – bear some of the blame. But, in my view, one of the most important reasons for China’s weaker-than-expected economic performance since December is the government’s overly cautious approach to macroeconomic policy, particularly fiscal policy.

China’s government has set a growth target of “around 5%” for 2023. For an economy that grew by 6.7%, 6%, 2.2%, and 8.1% in 2018-21, that is simply too low. A better approach would aim for 6% growth – an entirely feasible target, given China’s recent performance. While the government’s reluctance to aim for a higher growth rate is understandable, a conservative target can create a self-fulfilling prophecy, by weakening confidence and failing to exploit growth potential fully.

Terrorism Net Assessment

Terrence K. Kelly, David C. Gompert, Karen M. Sudkamp

How can the U.S. government measure the adequacy of investments in counterterrorism in light of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the decline in threats from major extremist Islamist organizations, and the shift of national security priorities from jihadist terrorism to China and Russia?

In this report, the authors offer a concept of how to determine the capabilities the United States needs to remain safe from international terrorism. By assessing the threats and prioritizing the functions and means to counter them, it is possible to derive net terrorist threat assessments: in essence, the dangers given a determined set of U.S. counterterrorism capabilities. The authors provide a framework that offers an indicative assessment of competing demands for high-priority counterterrorism capabilities.

Key Findings

To perform a net assessment, the intent, capabilities, and access to targets of chosen terrorist threats must be analyzed

This analysis focuses on two broad classes of threats: (1) very capable, usually large, anti-American jihadist extremist groups (mainly in and around the Greater Middle East) and (2) widely, if not globally, distributed networks of radicalized small cells or individuals.

A complete net assessment should include an examination of other threats by intent, capabilities, and access and of the potential for distributed threats to become more dangerous.

Leveraging Islam and Internal Conflict

Miriam Katharina Heß

Assessment of the president of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov; the inner-Chechen conflict; and Chechen fighters on both sides in Russia’s war against Ukraine reveals how internal conflicts become crucial for international structures and how transnational dynamics – such as foreign fighter flows – pose challenges to the interplay of national and international law. By anticipating the effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine beyond the Zeitenwende in Germany and Europe, policy-makers will increase readiness and preparedness for the ongoing but also post-war period.
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Kadyrov’s ambitious presence in Russia’s war against Ukraine is a double-edged sword: his loyalty toward Putin is one factor in maintaining political security; yet he is overplaying his hand and contributes to the intensification of new-old conflicts that challenge Russian politics.

As an Islamic politician, Kadyrov positions himself as the spokesperson for Russian Muslims and a link between Moscow and regimes in the Middle East. For Putin, amid Russia’s international isolation, Kadyrov is a flexible, non-binding, and low cost means in this context.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine triggered high foreign fighter movements from Europe to Ukraine that challenge the interplay of national and international law and make Germany a likely destination for returning European fighters.

The online version of this policy brief doesn't contain footnotes. To view the footnotes, please download the PDF version here.

The full invasion that President Vladimir Putin launched against Ukraine in February 2022 presented an opportunity for Ramzan Kadyrov, the president of Chechnya, to enhance his role in Russia’s politics. The leader that Putin installed in the North Caucasus republic of 1.5 million inhabitants in southern Russia has made himself a central figure in the Kremlin’s war propaganda. Advertising his private army as reliable and combat-experienced, he has presented it as key for Putin’s plan to take over Ukraine since the beginning of the invasion.

But Kadyrov has overplayed his hand. His excessive provocations – such as calling the war a jihad, shaming all Chechens that are not fighting for Russia, and staging visits to Ukraine – have revived the internal conflict in Chechnya. This has created a vulnerable flank for Russia that Ukraine exploited when it recognized the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria as independent. The reviving of the conflict in Chechnya will have long-lasting consequences for the Russian government – and for international and European security.
A Ludicrous But Essential Protagonist for Putin

Beyond Ukraine’s Offensive

Michael Kofman and Rob Lee

As the Russian winter offensive reaches its culmination, Ukraine is poised to seize the initiative. In the coming weeks, it plans to conduct an offensive operation, or series of offensives, that may prove decisive in this phase of the conflict. This is not Ukraine’s only remaining opportunity to liberate a substantial amount of territory and inflict a major defeat on Russian forces, but the upcoming offensive may be the moment when available Western military equipment, training, and ammunition best intersect with the forces set aside by Ukraine for this operation. Ukraine is also eager to demonstrate that, despite months of brutal fighting, its military is not exhausted and remains able to break through Russian lines.

Policymakers, however, have placed undue emphasis on the upcoming offensive without providing sufficient consideration of what will come afterward and whether Ukraine is well positioned for the next phase. It is critical that Ukraine’s Western partners develop a long-term theory of victory for Ukraine, since even in the best-case scenario, this upcoming offensive is unlikely to end the conflict. Indeed, what follows this operation could be another period of indeterminate fighting and attrition, but with reduced ammunition deliveries to Ukraine. This is already a long war, and it is likely to become protracted. History is an imperfect guide, but it suggests wars that endure for more than a year are likely to go on for at least several more and are exceedingly difficult to end. A Western theory of success must therefore prevent a situation in which the war drags on, but where Western countries are unable to provide Ukraine with a decisive advantage.

Ukraine may well achieve battlefield success, but it will take time to translate military victories into political outcomes. The West must also prepare for the prospect that this offensive may not achieve the kinds of gains seen during Ukraine’s successful operations in Kharkiv and Kherson. By placing too many bets on the outcome of this offensive, Western countries have not effectively signaled their commitment to a prolonged effort. If this operation proves to be the high point of Western assistance to Kyiv, then Moscow could assume that time is still on its side and that bedraggled Russian forces can eventually wear down the Ukrainian military. Whether Ukraine’s next operation is successful or not, Russia’s leader may have few incentives to negotiate. For Ukraine to sustain momentum—and pressure—Western states must make a set of commitments and plans for what follows this operation, rather than maintain a wait-and-see approach. Otherwise, the West risks creating a situation whereby Russian forces are able to recover, stabilize their lines, and try to retake the initiative.

The Utility of Deterrence

Robyn Hutchins

It’s time to look closer at the peace, stability, and history behind deterrence theory.

In a recent Inkstick article, “The Privilege of Deterrence: It’s time to look closer at the privilege, white supremacy, and racism behind deterrence theory,” Middlebury Institute of International Studies student Mackenzie Knight uses responses to her TikTok posts to argue that deterrence theory is premised in white supremacy. In reply to her advocacy for nuclear disarmament, TikTokkers _fellas_in_paris_, boltyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy, smackhead_alek, irocktreefiddy, saiyanddrake, ladon_dracorex, and beakerfrog suggest that a proxy war in Vietnam, Afghanistan, or elsewhere is better than a nuclear war between Russia and the United States.

Knight attributes the views expressed in their posts to white supremacy and then claims that deterrence theory is born in racism. While Knight has a right to her own feelings, she does not have a right to her own facts. The simple truth is that on every point she makes in her tirade against social media rivals, Knight is wrong. Let me explain.

Nuclear deterrence is not premised on white supremacy. When it was developed by early deterrence theorists in the years and decades following World War II, it was designed as a way for the United States to deter the Soviet Union. American deterrence theory was certainly premised in anti-communism, but not racism. Knight’s willingness to assume she knows the motivation behind her TikTok detractors and then attribute her bias to the work of deterrence scholars and practitioners is lazy thinking.

Knight argues that because her TikTok detractors suggest they will accept a small proxy war to prevent a nuclear war makes them white supremacists. This is inaccurate. They may be nationalists, but so are the Russians, Chinese, and North Koreans, who all adhere to their own versions of deterrence theory. When Knight writes, “Nuclear superpowers like the United States and Russia get to laud the ‘success’ of deterrence while innocent lives in Vietnam, Korea, and Afghanistan (to name just a few) are lost in the proxy wars they started,” she fails to understand that great-power wars, which historically occur about twice per century, never remain solely between the great powers.

An ominous policy change is a sign Russia is preparing for a long, bloody war in Ukraine

Michael Peck

Recent changes to Russian conscription law indicate Moscow is preparing for a long war in Ukraine.

The changes make it easier to call up new troops and harder for Russians to avoid those call-ups.

Beyond a need for manpower, the changes may reflect the Kremlin's embrace of more heavy-handed rule.

The Kremlin expected a short war and a quick victory when it ordered Russian forces to invade Ukraine in February 2022. But Russian leaders appear to preparing for a long and bloody fight, judging by a series of new measures related to military conscription.

"Russia is taking, step by step, the necessary legal mechanisms that they need to do to transition the economy and transition the country to something that approaches, potentially, a wartime footing," Dara Massicot, an expert on the Russian military at the RAND Corporation think tank, said during an event hosted by Georgetown University in April.

The Russian government is "methodically stepping through a process to go over to a higher readiness and protracted war," Massicot added.

For example, lawmakers amended Russia's conscription law in April to allow the government to send digital draft notices that will be valid upon being posted rather than paper summonses that had to be signed by the recipient to be valid. Those who receive summonses and fail to appear at recruitment offices will face a variety of penalties, such as not being allowed to register a car or to leave the country.
A Russian army recruitment station in Moscow in April. Vlad Karkov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Since late 2022, Russia has made several "of these esoteric legislative changes, where it's tightening penalties on draft evasion, essentially putting a stop-loss in place for everybody," Massicot said. "No one can actually leave the military right now unless they're medically discharged."

For the Glorious Ukrainian Resistance

Charles T. Pinck