21 May 2023

Fostering A Culture Of Trust: Insights On Academic Integrity And Research Ethics – Analysis

Dr. Priyadarsan Patra

India now ranks third globally in both the number of scientific publications as well as the PhDs produced annually. Yet, academic integrity is a growing concern in India where It is customary for academics to present papers at conferences and publish them in journals, with Scopus being the recommended citation database due to its size and scope.

A recent investigative news article (24 April 2023) in The Print points out major lapses of academic integrity in higher-ed that continue to be observed today, even 6 years after the Gazette of India published major regulations on the promotion of academic integrity and prevention of plagiarism (July 2018). According to that report, editors from lesser-known Scopus-indexed journals are offering to publish academic papers for a mere Rs 5,000. Furthermore, for an additional fee, ghostwriters are available to compose entire research papers on behalf of clients. The pressure to publish (publish-or-perish) has created an illicit industry of agents and touts who collaborate with compromised peer-review boards to publish substandard or even entirely fabricated research papers. These so-called “fixers” are targeting academics and scientists who feel stuck in the endless cycle of publishing in the pursuit of promotions or professional status, as well as Ph.D. students who are desperate to graduate.

If left unchecked, such practice will have long-term harmful consequences, including increased uncertainty and a decline in public trust in science and scientists’ ability to uphold the truth. Moreover, this trend could significantly harm the credibility of Indian researchers in the international academic community. Let’s look at some of the dimensions of the problem at hand.

Academic integrity and research ethics are two interconnected concepts that are foundational to the success and credibility of academic learning and trustworthy research. Academic integrity refers to the values, principles, and practices that uphold honesty, transparency, and accountability in the academic community. Research ethics, on the other hand, involves ethical considerations that guide the design, conduct, and dissemination of research. In this article, we will explore the importance and concerns of academic integrity and research ethics, the key principles that underpin them, the potential consequences of failing to uphold them, and how to safeguard against such failures.

Research Ethics

Time to Champion Japan-India Leadership for Peace in the Indo-Pacific

Amit Dasgupta and Don McLain Gill

Two facts unabashedly stare humankind in the face. First, that history repeats itself, and second, that we should never underestimate the addictive power of human stupidity. There is a third fact: We are no longer bound by global solidarity but by a deep divisiveness that threatens to plunge us into chaos and tear us apart, suggesting, thereby, that there is no room for peace.

Can we challenge these assumptions?

Consider, briefly, the prevailing global scenario. We are yet to recover from the devastating effects of the pandemic. Global real GDP is forecasted to grow by only 2.2 percent in 2023. The Russia-Ukraine war shows no signs of abating. Business and consumer predictions for Europe are gloomy, as it struggles with substantial headwinds that will shackle its economy and trigger rising unemployment. The global order faces a real challenge with the declining influence of the United States and the adversarial rise of China. None of this is good news.

As Japan takes up the mantle of leadership of the Group of Seven (G-7) this year, it is provided with an opportunity to contribute to the agenda and direction all seven developed democracies will take amid the unfolding turbulence in the world. Being the only Asian member of the G-7, Japan’s presidency is expected to also reflect Tokyo’s unwavering commitment to deepen, expand, and operationalize the G-7 framework of cooperation with a special emphasis on the Indo-Pacific.

However, acknowledging the structural shifts taking place in the international distribution of power, Japan realizes the need to work more intently with a rising India. Both Tokyo and New Delhi converge in their strategic visions for the Indo-Pacific; hence, it is in Japan’s interest to utilize its G-7 presidency to better institutionalize its strengthening partnership with India to complement its overarching objectives in the region and synergize a more effective cooperative framework with the rest of the G-7 members.

A Sharp Focus on China

China’s loans pushing world’s poorest countries to brink of collapse


FILE - People jostle each other to buy subsidized sacks of wheat flour in Quetta, Pakistan, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023, after a recent price hike of flour in the country. An Associated Press analysis of a dozen countries most indebted to China - including Pakistan, Kenya, Zambia and Laos - found the debt is consuming an ever-greater amount of tax revenue needed to keep schools open, provide electricity and pay for food and fuel. (AP Photo/Arshad Butt, File)

A dozen poor countries are facing economic instability and even collapse under the weight of hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign loans, much of them from the world’s biggest and most unforgiving government lender, China.

An Associated Press analysis of a dozen countries most indebted to China — including Pakistan, Kenya, Zambia, Laos and Mongolia — found paying back that debt is consuming an ever-greater amount of the tax revenue needed to keep schools open, provide electricity and pay for food and fuel. And it’s draining foreign currency reserves these countries use to pay interest on those loans, leaving some with just months before that money is gone.

Behind the scenes is China’s reluctance to forgive debt and its extreme secrecy about how much money it has loaned and on what terms, which has kept other major lenders from stepping in to help. On top of that is the recent discovery that borrowers have been required to put cash in hidden escrow accounts that push China to the front of the line of creditors to be paid.

Countries in AP’s analysis had as much as 50% of their foreign loans from China and most were devoting more than a third of government revenue to paying off foreign debt. Two of them, Zambia and Sri Lanka, have already gone into default, unable to make even interest payments on loans financing the construction of ports, mines and power plants.

In Pakistan, millions of textile workers have been laid off because the country has too much foreign debt and can’t afford to keep the electricity on and machines running.

In Kenya, the government has held back paychecks to thousands of civil service workers to save cash to pay foreign loans. The president’s chief economic adviser tweeted last month, “Salaries or default? Take your pick.”

Don’t Ignore Chinese Legacy Chips as an Economic and Security Threat

James Marks

On February 24, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo launched the Biden administration’s vision for implementing the CHIPS Act, encouraging semiconductor companies to apply for a piece of the $39 billion which has been devoted to reinvigorating America’s domestic chipmaking capacity. Coupled with the Commerce Department’s stringent export controls issued last fall, which targeted leading chipmakers with ties to the Chinese military such as YMTC, it’s clear that the Biden administration is serious about semiconductor competition with China. But every chip matters to national and economic security, not just the leading-edge variety. But as a new paper from China Tech Threat argues, the administration must now address the threat of “legacy” Chinese chips from companies like Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC).

Also known as mature chips, legacy chips—either fourteen or twenty-eight nanometers in size or larger, depending on your definition—are the semiconductors that go into commonplace technologies such as cars, refrigerators, and washing machines. More importantly, defense systems make frequent use of them—Gina Raimondo has told the U.S. Senate, “We have reports from Ukrainians that when they find Russian military equipment on the ground, it’s filled with semiconductors that they took out of dishwashers and refrigerators.” While they don’t get as much attention as leading-edge chips, which are associated with advanced technologies, legacy chips are everywhere. And with the adoption of 5G networks fueling the rise of “smart” objects, the demand for all types of semiconductors will only increase. Unfortunately, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), which administers export controls, has only targeted China’s advanced semiconductor-making capacity.

Chinese companies, perhaps recognizing how the West has underestimated the importance of legacy chips, have decided to increase their output of these critical products. John Lee, the director of the consulting firm East West Futures, told the MIT Technology Review in January that China’s role in supplying these “indispensable chips … is becoming bigger rather than smaller.” Leading that effort is SMIC, China’s largest chipmaker. The Commerce Department placed SMIC on the Entity List in late 2020 with the intent to kill its ability to make leading-edge chips. But SMIC’s legacy business remains unaffected. The company recently posted a record $7.2 billion in revenue and announced expansion plans, despite uncertainty in the broader semiconductor sector. When the company’s four new production fabs come online, it will more than triple the company’s output, estimates Samuel Wang, a chip analyst with the consulting firm Gartner.

Report to Congress on Chinese Naval Modernization

The following is the May 15, 2023, Congressional Research Service report, China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities — Background and Issues for Congress.

From the report

China’s military modernization effort, including its naval modernization effort, is the top focus of U.S. defense planning and budgeting. China’s naval modernization effort has been underway for about 30 years, since the early to mid-1990s, and has transformed China’s navy into a much more modern and capable force. China’s navy is a formidable military force within China’s near-seas region, and it is conducting a growing number of operations in the broader waters of the Western Pacific, the Indian Ocean, and waters around Europe.

China’s navy is, by far, the largest of any country in East Asia, and sometime between 2015 and 2020 it surpassed the U.S. Navy in numbers of battle force ships (meaning the types of ships that count toward the quoted size of the U.S. Navy). DOD states that China’s navy “is the largest navy in the world with a battle force of approximately 340 platforms, including major surface combatants, submarines, ocean-going amphibious ships, mine warfare ships, aircraft carriers, and fleet auxiliaries…. This figure does not include approximately 85 patrol combatants and craft that carry anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCM). The… overall battle force [of China’s navy] is expected to grow to 400 ships by 2025 and 440 ships by 2030.” The U.S. Navy, by comparison, included 294 battle force ships at the end of FY2021, and the Navy’s FY2024 budget submission projects that the Navy will include 290 battle force ships by the end of FY2030. U.S. military officials and other observers are expressing concern or alarm regarding the pace of China’s naval shipbuilding effort and resulting trend lines regarding the relative sizes and capabilities of China’s navy and the U.S. Navy.

China’s naval modernization effort encompasses a wide array of ship, aircraft, weapon, and C4ISR (command and control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) acquisition programs, as well as improvements in logistics, doctrine, personnel quality, education and training, and exercises. China’s navy currently has certain limitations and weaknesses, which it is working to overcome.

The U.S. Tech Industry Needs China


Jin is an associate professor at the London School of Economics

​​The U.S. economy of the 1970s was, in certain ways, quite similar to the U.S. economy today: rising inflation, a population broadly pessimistic about the future of the market, and persistent declines in overall productivity. There was also, back then, a growing economic threat from across the Pacific. Only, in the 1970s, the threat came from Japan, which was the subject of dozens of books, and even a handful of movies, as fears of it overtaking the U.S. as the world’s economic superpower loomed large.

Today, the competition isn’t coming from Japan, but from China. Still, there is a lesson in history, for that period of Japanese innovation and economic growth did not turn out to be any great tragedy for the U.S. Indeed, certain sectors in the U.S. were so spurred on by the perceived Japanese threat that they ended up, by the 1980s and 1990s, dominating the global market. China might play a similar role today, not as a juggernaut to be feared, but as a competitor; one that can—as Japan once did—accelerate the pace of innovation and even bring boom times to the U.S. economy.

Today, part of the fear of China’s rise has to do with the uniqueness of its model: a politically centralized system of power, coupled with a rigorously decentralized economy, wherein local governments compete to build up their own mini ‘Silicon Valleys’ all over the country. One example of this structure comes from the municipal government of Hefei, a city in eastern China of 5 million, which took a chance as early as 2008 in staking the company BOE Technology Group Co. with billions of yuan—or hundreds of millions of dollars—helping the LCD maker overtake Samsung in becoming the world’s largest manufacturer of LCD screens. The city also plays host to mega projects in quantum computing, and backed companies in the sector like CIQTEK when no private investors deemed it commercially viable. Today, Hefei has built the globally renowned “quantum avenue,” which is home to many of the world’s leading quantum companies. The Hefei government also recently saved Nio, an EV company that was on the verge of bankruptcy, by coordinating an entire supply chain—from battery makers to manufacturers—around it. Within a year of that supply chain effort, Nio’s production grew by 81%, and its market value went from $4 billion to $100 billion.

Spotlight on Beijing Institute for General Artificial Intelligence

Huey-Meei Chang

In late 2020, China established the Beijing Institute for General Artificial Intelligence, a state-backed institution dedicated to building software that emulates or surpasses human cognition in many or all of its aspects. Open source materials now available provide insight into BIGAI’s goals, scope, organization, methodology, and staffing. The project formalizes a trend evident in Chinese AI development toward broadly capable (general) AI.

Executive Summary

China’s Beijing Institute for General Artificial Intelligence (BIGAI), established with state backing in 2020, aims openly at artificial general intelligence (AGI) and is assembling the talent and organizational means to pursue it.

The project’s core is an elite team of Chinese- and U.S.-educated scientists managed by former University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) researcher Zhu Songchun, whose work in precursor disciplines, professional network, and openness to methodological alternatives lend credibility to the project.

The present study—an introduction to BIGAI’s goals, staffing, and research—situates this AGI project in the context of China’s overall work toward advanced artificial intelligence.BIGAI by choice is not pursuing the massively large natural language models championed by OpenAI, Google, and other U.S. and British companies.BIGAI focuses instead on developing AGI through alternative “small data, big task” research on brain cognition and neuroscience.The organization has recruited some 30 top scientists educated at leading U.S. and UK research universities, several of whom were trained under U.S. government programs.Zhu described his AGI project to high-level state bodies as being on a par with China’s storied “two bombs, one satellite” programs in terms of its importance.

Given the strategic impact of a successful Chinese AGI program, this study encourages U.S. and allied government policymakers to pay closer attention to China’s AI development, through open sources especially, as a foundation for practical engagement.

China’s lead in electric vehicles is unassailable – the Global North simply can’t compete

Andy Xie

The rapid expansion and innovation of China’s electric vehicle industry has made EVs more affordable for the world. As more EVs become cheaper than cars that use internal combustion engines (ICEs), the climate-friendly choice is also becoming an economical one.

Yet the Global North is likely to erect barriers in the name of national security. The Global South, however, will welcome Chinese EVs to ease its dependence on imported oil – also a matter of national security – lower transport costs and boost productivity.

The increasing cost competitiveness of EVs was on display at the just-concluded Shanghai auto show. China’s new battery technologies, which rely on cheap and plentiful minerals, are stabilising costs and removing the biggest risk to EV adoption: dependence on scarce minerals.

As EV production costs fall in China, it is only a matter of time before the vehicles become much cheaper than ICE cars.

The EV industry is probably the first major modern industry that China is leading, similar to Japan’s leadership in electronics in the 1980s. The EV supply chain is mostly in China so its EV prices, other than reflecting the costs of imported materials, also reflect the cost of labour in China. Without a technological edge, EV makers in the Global North will have a hard time overcoming China’s cost advantage.

The EV industry’s coming of age is China’s Walkman moment. It is a reflection of the efforts to develop indigenous capability throughout China’s supply chain and by Chinese private companies. As a largely electronic product, EVs fit well with China’s manufacturing strengths. But it was also a lucky break for China that many of the global carmakers that dominated its market chose not to fully commit to EVs – and are thus being left behind.

Why Xi Is Ghosting Biden

Craig Singleton

Chinese leader Xi Jinping is ghosting U.S. President Joe Biden. Indeed, it has been six months since the two leaders last spoke—in the interim, Beijing has blamed busy schedules and even balloons for the extended lapse in leader-to-leader engagement. All the while, Xi found time to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow and host high-level diplomatic delegations from France, Germany, and Brazil. Having exhausted every possible excuse, China recently acknowledged that it might not want to talk at all. “Communication [with the United States] should not be carried out for the sake of communication,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Wang Wenbin said in March.

Gaza Rockets Pierce White House Optimism on Middle East

David Adesnik

In five days of fighting that ended with a Saturday night ceasefire, terrorists in Gaza fired more than a thousand rockets into Israel—1,468 rockets to be precise. Thanks to bomb shelters and the Iron Dome missile defense system, the barrage only claimed the lives of two victims inside Israel, one of them a Palestinian construction worker from Gaza. Four Palestinians also died when rockets fell short of the border, hitting homes in Gaza, according to Israel’s military.

This latest round of hostilities is at odds with what Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, described last week as the “fundamental direction and trend of de-escalation that we have supported and encouraged” throughout the Middle East. Before a gathering of experts on regional affairs, Sullivan explained that the positive developments of the past two years were no accident, but “the result of what we have tried to lay down as a comprehensive policy framework.”

By itself, a single flare-up in Gaza does not discredit Sullivan’s broader point. He stressed he was “not pulling out the victory flag” and warned that conflict can resume at any time. Yet a closer look at the violence in Gaza shows that the events of the past few days are part of a trend that runs counter to the White House’s claim that regional tensions have diminished since Biden took office. Specifically, Sullivan underplayed the role of Iran’s clerical dictatorship in stoking conflict across the region and in Gaza in particular.

Israel’s adversary in the latest round of fighting was not Hamas, but the lesser-known and smaller Islamic Jihad. The latter is also a U.S.-designated terrorist organization committed to the destruction of Israel and its replacement with an Islamic state. What makes Islamic Jihad different is the exceptional degree of its subordination to the regime in Tehran. The group is an instrument Iran employs to escalate tensions with Israel on demand.

Why Turkey Experts Got the Election All Wrong

Sinan Ciddi

After a long day, night, and early morning last Sunday and Monday, Turkey’s Supreme Election Council declared that the hard-fought and much-anticipated presidential election would go to a runoff on May 28. Neither incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan nor his main challenger, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, garnered more than 50 percent of the vote, so they will do it all over again. The odds are that Erdogan has the advantage going forward and will extend his two-decade-long leadership for another five years.

Russia fires 30 cruise missiles at Ukrainian targets; Ukraine says 29 were shot down


KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia fired 30 cruise missiles against different parts of Ukraine early Thursday in the latest nighttime test of Ukrainian air defenses, which shot down 29 of them, officials said.

One person was killed and two were wounded by a Russian missile that got through and struck an industrial building in the southern region of Odesa, according to Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesperson for the region’s military administration.

Amid the recently intensified Russian air assaults, China said its special envoy met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during talks in Kyiv earlier this week with Ukraine’s chief diplomat.

Beijing’s peace proposal has so far yielded no apparent breakthrough in the war. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Thursday that the warring parties needed to “accumulate mutual trust” for progress to be made.

Ukrainian officials sought during the talks to recruit China’s support for Kyiv’s own peace plan, according to Ukraine’s presidential office. Zelenskyy’s proposal includes the restoration of his country’s territorial integrity, the withdrawal of Russian forces and holding Russian President Vladimir Putin legally accountable for the invasion in February 2022.

Leaders of the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations gathering in Japan on Thursday were expected to denounce Russia’s war and vow to keep helping Ukraine fight Moscow. They were to hold “discussions about the battlefield” in Ukraine, according to Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser.

A Western official said Russia had built “potentially formidable” defensive lines on Ukrainian territory, including extensive minefields, and had more than 200,000 troops along the 1,000-kilometer (600-mile) front line, though it is unlikely to possess credible reserves.

As Ukraine receives sophisticated weapons systems from its Western allies, the Kremlin has started losing warplanes in areas previously deemed as safe, the official said, while Kyiv has proven able to shoot down Russia’s hypersonic ballistic missiles — the most advanced weapons in Moscow’s arsenal.

Will Europe Be the World's Biggest Loser?


BERLIN – The post-1945 era of global stability is over and gone. From the bipolar world of the Cold War to the American-dominated unipolar world that replaced it, we have long benefited from a sense of strategic order. Though there were many smaller wars (and even some larger ones), from Korea and Vietnam to the Middle East and Afghanistan, the international system remained generally stable and intact.

Since the beginning of the new millennium, however, this stability has increasingly given way to a renewed rivalry between major powers, chief among them the United States and China. Moreover, it has long been clear that India, Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other emerging economies’ political and strategic influence will increase, as will their role within the global system. In the context of a deepening conflict between China and the US, these rising powers will have many opportunities to play one of the twenty-first century’s two superpowers off against the other. Indeed, many of these opportunities seem too good to miss.

In Russia, meanwhile, political elites have been consumed by fantasies of restoring the territorial reach and geopolitical heft of the Soviet Union – and of the Russian Empire before it. Under President Vladimir Putin, Russian policy has increasingly been aimed at reversing the legacy of the immediate post-Cold War era. By contrast, the West – meaning the US and the European Union, following its enlargement since 2004 – has adhered to the basic post-Cold War settlement in Europe. To that end, it has remained committed to defending basic values such as countries’ right to self-determination and the inviolability of internationally recognized borders.

Why Erdoğan Wins


CAMBRIDGE – It is hard not to be disappointed about the outcome of the first round of Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections on May 14. In a campaign defined by the aftermath of February’s huge earthquake, mounting economic problems, and deepening corruption, hopes were high that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s increasingly authoritarian 20-year rule would end. Some polls suggested that the six-party opposition led by the center-left Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), would be able to win a majority or, at the very least, enter the second round with an advantage over Erdoğan.

In the event, Turkey is going to the second round of voting on May 28 with Erdoğan, who received 49.5% of the vote, in a commanding lead. Kılıçdaroğlu received less than 45% of the vote, and the remainder was captured by a far-right, anti-immigrant candidate, Sinan Oğan, who will announce which of the two remaining candidates he supports tomorrow (May 19). But it seems likely that a significant share of his supporters will back Erdoğan in the second round.

What went wrong was more fundamental than faulty polling. It is impossible to make sense of the results without recognizing how nationalistic the Turkish electorate has become.

That change reflects the long-running conflict with Kurdish separatists in the southeast of the country, massive inflows of refugees from the Middle East, and decades of propaganda led by major media outlets and Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP). In the parliamentary elections, AKP, its coalition partner, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the Good Party (İyiP, the second largest in the opposition coalition), and at least three other parties ran on nationalist agendas. MHP, for example, received more than 10% of the vote, despite an ineffective campaign led by an ailing, out-of-touch leader.

Erdoğan’s combative nationalism thus resonated with the electorate more than Kılıçdaroğlu’s moderation and anti-corruption campaign did, especially given that Kılıçdaroğlu is from the Alevi minority (a Shia offshoot in an overwhelmingly Sunni country) and had the implicit backing of the Kurdish party and voters.

The Only Way to Eliminate Polio


STOCKHOLM – When Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine was found to be safe and effective in 1955, following a successful trial involving nearly two million American children, it marked a turning point in the fight against a highly infectious disease causing incurable paralysis or even death. Prior to Salk’s discovery, between 25,000 and 50,000 cases were recorded each year in the United States alone, and little was known about how the virus spread.

Salk created his injectable inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) by treating the virus with formalin. Around the same time, Albert Sabin was developing an oral polio vaccine (OPV), which uses attenuated (weakened) mutant strains that stimulate antibody production without causing the disease. Cheaper and easier to administer than Salk’s vaccine, Sabin’s live-virus version ultimately became more widespread in the global effort to eradicate polio, although it was introduced six years later.

The success of that effort cannot be overstated. Since 1988, when the World Health Assembly adopted a resolution to eliminate the disease worldwide and subsequently launched the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, wild polio cases have plummeted by more than 99%, from an estimated 350,000 cases to six reported cases in 2021. Two of the three strains of wild poliovirus have been eradicated, while the third remains endemic in only Pakistan and Afghanistan. This breakthrough can be attributed largely to mass immunization, but also to improved sanitation and hygiene.

Yet there is growing evidence suggesting that the OPV has outlived its usefulness, given the increasing number of vaccine-associated polio cases resulting from the presence of the live virus. While circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV), as it is officially known, is still relatively rare, its incidence is rising, with nearly 1,000 cases occurring globally in 2020. Such an increase suggests that cVDPV poses a significant barrier to eradicating polio.

To be sure, the OPV does have benefits. Unlike the IPV, for example, it immunizes the digestive tract, where polio replicates. Consequently, this version of the vaccine boosts immunity and prevents transmission, making it particularly useful in areas where the wild poliovirus continues to circulate (the IPV protects individuals from the disease but is less effective at averting its spread). Moreover, in areas with low-quality sanitation, the live-vaccine virus in human waste can spread among the community and help protect it.

What Does it Mean to “Defeat Russia” in Ukraine?

Geoffrey Aronson

Within days of Russia’s attack on Ukraine in February 2022, the State Department undersecretary of state for political affairs, Victoria Neuland, declared that the U.S. objective in the conflict is the “strategic defeat” of Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

One month later, Nuland doubled down. “It is clear that Russia will lose this conflict. ... It is only a matter of time.”

At Davos one year ago, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen added Europe’s voice to the American chorus. “Putin's aggression must be a strategic failure,” she said.

It is well and good, and indeed to be expected, that when the guns start sounding leaders will seek to rally their troops to the cause. Remember George W. Bush’s famous, if premature “mission accomplished” declaration, well before the decisive conflict in Iraq commenced.

But when the real work of waging war commences, President Joe Biden, and the public whose endorsement he seeks, must, in word as well as deed, answer the question: What indeed does such high-sounding rhetoric really mean? How will we know when we have arrived at such a solemn and expansive if indefinite objective as Russia’s strategic defeat?

Putin has paid very close attention to the statements coming from Washington. He cannot afford to have illusions about Washington’s objective or dismiss its intentions as hyperbole.

“The goal of the West,” he declares, “is to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia. To finish us off. That’s exactly how we understand it all. It’s about the existence of our country. But they cannot fail to understand that it is impossible to defeat Russia on the battlefield.”

In a war notable for Washington’s incremental, and so far strategically unsuccessful, escalation of the means—military as well as economic and financial—employed to attain Russia’s strategic defeat, the clarity of U.S. aims today is no more definite than it was at the war’s outset.

Is The U.S. Preparing To Punish OPEC?

James Durso

U.S. consumers are showing significantly less concern about the U.S. energy situation than they did one year ago.

The U.S. House of Representatives may once again consider a piece of legislation to pressure the OPEC oil producers’ group to stop making output cuts.

The bill may be retaliation against the Arab OPEC countries, and a warning to others, for normalizing ties with Iran and Syria.

In early May, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary was reportedly considering a bill to pressure the OPEC oil producers’ group to stop making output cuts by revoking the sovereign immunity that has protected OPEC+ members and their national oil companies from lawsuits over price collusion. (The committee previously passed the bill in 2018, 2019 and 2021.)

The OPEC Basket Price has hovered in the mid $70s, not historically high, though U.S. politicians like to talk down the price of gasoline before the summer driving season begins. (Saudi Arabia needs a price of $80.90 USD to balance its budget, and fund the diversification of its economy.)

Gasoline prices are higher than during the Trump administration, but the Gallup polling organization reported in April 2023, “Americans show significantly less concern about the U.S. energy situation now than they did a year ago.”

If American consumers aren’t up in arms over gasoline prices, and the recent OPEC production cuts have failed to stop the slump in crude oil prices, why might OPEC be a target now?

One reason may be the good news out of the Middle East: a rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia (with Chinese mediation); Egypt and Iran starting to normalize ties (with mediation by Iraq); Syria rejoining the Arab league; the United Arab Emirates and Iran in talks to promote ties, and the possibility for energy cooperation between Iraq and Iran. The bill may be retaliation against the Arab OPEC countries, and a warning to others, for normalizing ties with Iran and Syria, under the color of protecting U.S. consumers. It also avoids a discussion about the Biden administration policy of limiting oil and natural gas production, though lately the administration has approved limited drilling in federal lands.Related: Oil Prices Rise Amid Expectations Of A Tightening Market

Zombie Ideas Could Doom The Marine Corps’ Future

James Holmes

A Marine with Company G, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Central Command, fires an AT4 antitank rocket launcher in the Central Command area of operations, March 23, 2015. The 2/7 Marines participated in a range that tests their ability to conduct an integrated combined arms assault against a simulated enemy position. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Will Perkins/Released)

Robert Work is the Rick Grimes of U.S. Marine Corps force design, forever blazing away at faulty ideas. Victories in such an endeavor are uncertain and impermanent. Some bad ideas are like the walking corpses that hounded Rick and his ragtag band of survivors after the zombie apocalypse. No matter how many times you gun them down, ten, a hundred, or a thousand more just like them come shambling toward you. Eventually you run out of ammo, and they overrun you.

Like the walking dead, bad ideas can carry the day. They win when their purveyors repeat them so incessantly that weary defenders throw up their hands in despair, or when witnesses to the debate conclude there must be something to the ghoulish ideas because they are so often expressed.

Call it an inhuman-wave assault, one meant to drown out sound ideas rather than defeat them.

Over at War on the Rocks last week, Work, a retired U.S. Marine colonel who also served as undersecretary of the navy and deputy defense secretary, replied again to undead assertions from a group of retired generals and senior officials. Last year around this time, the retirees in question took to inveighing against Force Design 2030, Marine Commandant Gen. David Berger’s scheme to retool the Marine Corps to wage island warfare as an adjunct to navy fleet operations. The uproar quieted for a time after Work and some of his trusty sidekicks pushed back, but it surged anew this spring.

Is Ukraine’s Spring Offensive Already Underway?

Ravi Agrawal

From the very start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Kyiv’s military has performed above expectations just as much as Moscow has surprised military analysts with its lack of planning and organization. Perhaps that’s why, in recent weeks, there have been high hopes for what Ukraine could achieve in its much-anticipated counterattack on Russian forces—so much so that Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov found it necessary to downplay expectations.

Why the U.S. Should Close Its Overseas Military Bases

Tyler McBrien

Liseby Elysé was born in 1953 on Peros Banhos, an island in the Chagos Archipelago. As she tells it, life was good on her Indian Ocean “paradise island”:

Everyone had a job, his family, and his culture. But all that we ate was fresh food. Ships which came from Mauritius brought all our goods. We received our groceries. We received all that we needed. We did not lack anything. In Chagos, everyone lived a happy life.

That is, until Western militaries came to town. In his book The Last Colony: A Tale of Exile, Justice, and Britain’s Colonial Legacy, Philippe Sands tells the story of how, in the 1960s and 1970s, the United Kingdom and the United States forcefully expelled the Chagossian people from their ancestral homeland. Almost overnight, an administrator told Elysé and everyone she knew that they had to vacate their houses, leave most of their belongings, and board a ship to faraway Mauritius and elsewhere, beginning a perilous journey often crammed at the bottom of boats “like animals,” in Elysé’s words.

The Geopolitics of U.S. Engagement in Sudan

Zineb Riboua

No one can accuse the Biden administration of being overly generous with praise for Saudi Arabia. It therefore raised some eyebrows when U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted on May 5: “The U.S. and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia welcome the start of pre-negotiation talks between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces in Jeddah.”

Ukraine Is Knock, Knock, Knocking on NATO’s Door

Robbie Gramer

TALLINN, Estonia—One question dominates debates between American and European leaders, and it’s one that Ukraine views as existential. It is also, for now, unanswerable: When will Ukraine join NATO?

Downing of Russian missiles shows ‘profound effect’ of Ukrainians training on US systems: General


US Patriot missile defense batteries newly installed at the Rzeszow airport located near the Poland-Ukraine border in Rzeszow, Poland on March 09, 2022. (Photo by Agnieszka Majchrowicz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

LANPAC 2023 — Ukraine’s destruction Tuesday of six of Russia’s vaunted Kinzhal missiles is most impressive not for the proof that the American-made Patriot anti-missile system’s technology works, but for the fact that US-trained Ukrainian troops brought down the missiles, the head of US Army Pacific told reporters here.

“We have advanced that [Patriot] capability in ways that are profound,” Gen. Charles Flynn told Breaking Defense when asked about the shootdowns. “And so, that system, which was provided to the Ukrainian forces, and then a group of Ukrainian soldiers were trained on that system. I guess I take the question in a bit of a different way and say I think about the value of training forces that never previously had a capability like that and then we provide that capability to them. And they’re able to conduct an intercept in that way. To me that’s that’s the bigger issue.”

Flynn said the training of the Ukrainian troops on Patriots “has a profound effect on the applications of those weapons systems and, maybe more importantly, how you defend and what you’re defending.”

Flynn, who trains and equips all Army forces across the vast Indo-Pacific theater, often points to the importance of America’s allies and partners in the region and cites them as America’s “asymmetric advantage” in the regional competition against China. He’s clearly making the wider point that the US could similarly train troops in this region to provide greater protection against weapons such as China’s DF-21 and DF-26 missiles.

China claimed recently to have involved its Rocket Force in month-long exercises by the Shandong carrier group near Guam, the South China Morning Post reported. The newspaper quoted analysts saying this indicated China was demonstrating it could target Guam, site of important US military bases.

For his part, Russian President Vladimir Putin had claimed the Kinzhal was the world’s most advanced hypersonic missile and would be virtually untouchable.

But Ukrainian officials said Tuesday they intercepted all six Kinzhals fired by the Russians, while the Russian Defense Ministry said that “a high-precision strike by the Kinzhal hypersonic missile system in the city of Kyiv hit a US-made Patriot anti-aircraft missile system.” (CNN reported today the damage to the Patriot system was “minimal” and that the system is still operational. On Wednesday the White House said it could not confirm reports about the damage.)

Ukraine War: Vast hacker ‘militias’ do little damage – but can rally mass support, says study


A Ukrainian teen cheers President Volodymyr Zelensky in liberated Kherson in November, 2022. (Paula Bronstein /Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — How do you mobilize a society for total war in the age of TikTok? If your model is the cyber “militias” that have sprung up over the last 15 months of conflict between Russia and Ukraine, you do it by rallying the masses to post propaganda memes and download simple do-it-yourself hacking scripts.

A new study, due out Thursday from the thinktank CSIS and previewed exclusively by Breaking Defense, delves deep into the role that non-government groups have played in the ongoing cyber conflict. It grapples with how their role blurs traditional lines between civilian and non-combatant, neutrality and intervention, peace and war — and, most importantly, what effect they actually have.

Those actors include corporate giants like Microsoft, which, the study notes, has spent over $400 million since February 2022 to support Kyiv, primarily through free cybersecurity services and cloud hosting for Ukrainian agencies whose servers were threatened by Russian strikes. They include tech upstarts like Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which rushed 500 Starlink satellite terminals to Ukraine in days, then later tried to roll back support when it realized Ukraine was using Starlink to target artillery.

But they also include a wide and wild array of loosely organized volunteers, who are the subject of arguably the most intriguing essay in the collection, by West Point professor Erica Lonergan.

Consider the pro-Kremlin Killnet, described by Lonergan as “a modest hack-for-hire group” that started launching cyber attacks on Ukrainian and Western networks. “Killnet’s adherents are not particularly skilled and the group almost exclusively conducts straightforward DDoS [Digital Denial of Service] campaigns, publishing simple scripts on its social media channels for followers to use,” she says scathingly.

What Russia’s hybrid war on Ukraine has taught us about nation state tactics

It’s been over a year since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24th, 2022. Since that day, Russia has attempted to overrun Ukrainian defenses with a combination of hybrid warfare tactics, including cyber weapons, influence operations, and military force. And while Russia’s military has wrought immense physical devastation in Ukraine, it has fallen short of achieving all its objectives due to the limitations of Moscow’s parallel cyber and influence operations.

As of early 2023, Russian threat actors had expanded the scope of their war-related espionage operations. Between January and mid-February 2023, Microsoft threat intelligence analysts found indications of Russian threat activity against organizations in at least 17 European nations, targeting primarily the government sector. While these actions are most likely intended to boost intelligence collection against organizations providing political and material support to Ukraine, they could also, if directed, inform destructive operations.

As the war in Ukraine enters its second year, we’re offering insights and trends observed during Russia’s first year of cyber and influence operations targeting Ukraine and its supporters. Read on to learn more.

The 3 phases of Russia’s hybrid war

As we’ve continued to study cyber threat trends emerging out of the Russia-Ukraine war, we have found that our analysis best fits into three periods of the war:Phase 1 - Russia’s initial invasion of Ukraine: From January 2022 to late March 2022, Russian cyber threat and influence actors focused on achieving an early victory in Ukraine.

Since January 2022, Microsoft has seen Russian threat actors employ at least nine new wiper families and two types of ransomware against more than 100 Ukrainian organizations. Hundreds of systems across the Ukrainian government, critical infrastructure, media, and commercial sectors have been affected by wipers that permanently delete files and/or render machines inoperable. Most of these attacks coincided with Russia’s initial invasion in February and March 2022.

The G7 Summit is an Opportunity to Tackle AI Regulation

Cassandra Shand

This week, world leaders will converge in Hiroshima, Japan, to kick off the G7 Summit. This gathering of leaders from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Japan, Germany, Canada, Italy, and others presents a well-timed opportunity to lay the groundwork for an international artificial intelligence regulatory framework.

Unfortunately, AI development isn't even listed on the agenda.

Instead, the spotlight will likely focus on U.S.-China relations, a trilateral meeting about Indo-Pacific cooperation between the United States, Japan, and South Korea, and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, with the overarching theme of the summit revolving around outreach to the Global South and how the G7 can encourage a rules-based order. All are worthy topics, but it looks like the conversation on AI regulation and development is at risk of being sidelined altogether. That would be a missed opportunity to address rapid innovation in AI and its inevitable societal implications.

The G7 should initiate the development of a codified and widely adopted agreement or treaty setting clear rules prohibiting dangerous AI development. This agreement should consider prominent state approaches to AI regulation while addressing industry and open-source development standards as distinct components to AI development. It might encourage the adoption of a risk-based AI regulatory framework, which would limit dangerous AI applications while enabling competition in the AI space. The G7 should also anticipate reluctance from less aligned nations, such as China, and formulate strategies to align international interest in establishing international rules and standards around AI development.

Since the debut of GPT-3, policymakers worldwide have grappled with regulating AI as a groundbreaking technology. Today, industry-led pacts to limit training of large language models (LLMs) beyond GPT-4 provide some respite, allowing for a regulatory catch-up. But this weak, implicit pause on training future LLMs is precarious, and regulators are ill-prepared for the imminent evolution in the AI landscape. The G7 needs to address this and work toward establishing international norms for AI regulation. If they don’t, humanity could reap the consequences.

The President Must Move Swiftly to Nominate New National Cyber Director


OPINION — The Office of the National Cyber Director successfully led the development of the new National Cybersecurity Strategy. Now, the office is missing a key ingredient for implementing the strategy’s numerous tasks – a Senate-confirmed director.

Luckily, there is a straightforward solution to this problem: the president should nominate acting Director Kemba Walden who has already proven herself to be a well-qualified, highly capable leader.

The congressionally-mandated Cyberspace Solarium Commission (on which we both served) recommended establishing a national cyber director in its original March 2020 report to institutionalize a national-level mechanism for coordinating cybersecurity issues. Congress agreed and established the Office of the National Cyber Director in the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act. Since then, the office drafted and released the National Cybersecurity Strategy, which reflects the legacy of the inaugural director, Chris Inglis, who retired in February.

Since Chris’s departure, there has been a three-month delay (and counting) in nominating a candidate to replace him. Not only will this hinder the implementation of the strategy, but it will also lead to a lessening of the stature of the office Chris led in standing up.

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Acting Director Walden, however, is an eminently qualified candidate with the necessary experience to lead the ONCD at such a critical time. As the first principal deputy national cyber director, she worked alongside Chris to build the office’s capacity to advise the president and coordinate across the interagency. She was also a key author of the National Cybersecurity Strategy.

From her time leading Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit in fighting against ransomware, she gained an appreciation for the unique role and capabilities of the private sector. From her experience at the Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency, she had an important perspective on how the U.S. must bolster and protect our critical infrastructure. As a Cyber Safety Review Board member, she models the importance of collaborating between the government and the private sector.

What is DPI? The Need for a Principle-Based Approach


Summary: As different countries work toward adopting a global definition for DPI, it is important to implement a principle-based approach built on consensus until such a definition is adopted.

The term “digital public infrastructure (DPI),” generally used to describe digital solutions that promote social welfare, is fast becoming an indispensable tool to meet policy objectives such as financial inclusion and identity management.

By way of a few examples, India’s digital identity system, Aadhaar, covers over 99 percent of the adult population, the UPI network processed almost 13 trillion transactions in 2022, and the CoWIN platform helped immunize 90 percent of the Indian population with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. In other parts of the world, Brazil’s instant payment system Pix has been used by 67 percent of its adult population, while the Government Technology Agency of Singapore uses various digital products to improve citizens’ access to financial information and strengthen cybersecurity.

But despite its growing popularity, there is no consensus on what constitutes a DPI—a roadblock to the adoption of DPIs in a globally consistent manner. Now, under India’s G20 presidency, the Digital Economy Working Group (DEWG) has taken up the task of developing a common understanding of DPI and is seeking to adopt a global definition by September this year.

Amlan Mohanty is a nonresident scholar with Carnegie India. His areas of expertise include privacy, content policy, platform regulation, competition and AI.


Definitions help build trust. For example, a clear definition of “digital public goods (DPGs)” has helped secure institutional funding for projects such as MOSIP and Mojaloop. Similarly, a definition for “space asset” under the UNIDROIT Space Protocol has helped finance the global space industry.

A good definition clarifies objectives. It holds institutions accountable. It provides certainty to businesses looking to participate. It harmonizes legal regimes on issues such as cross-border data flows. And it separates the roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders within the ecosystem.

Space Force ground control operators press for ‘absolutely critical’ network upgrades


Tech. Sgt. Michael Vandenbosch, 22nd Space Operations Squadron defensive counter-space operator, uses software to identify interference to a specific satellite at Schriever Space Force Base, Colorado, Dec. 16, 2019. (US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jonathan Whitely)

SCHRIEVER SFB — As the number of US government satellites continues to grow, the Space Force’s already outdated Satellite Control Network (SCN) for keeping them flying is in real danger of being overwhelmed, according to officers at the 22nd Space Operations Squadron responsible for that mission.

“What we want everyone to know is that this control network has been working for decades, right, and it was absolutely critical for the growth of the Space Force and our US capabilities across the space domain. But it’s in need of modernization,” Lt. Col. Jaime Garcia, the squadron’s commander told a small group of reporters on a rare tour of the SCN’s operations center here at Schriever SFB in Colorado Springs.

“We need to start focusing on making sure that not only infrastructure at all the individual sites is growing, but also growing the capacity that we’re able to support. Because as we’re seeing… the number of launches is not decreasing. The need for space and space domain capacity is not going to go down,” he said. “[B]ringing in that modernization sooner rather than later is absolutely critical.”

The SCN is primarily used to support launches and early satellite operations, track and control satellites, and provide emergency support to tumbling and lost satellites for constellations owned by the US military, the National Reconnaissance Office, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). As well as the operations center here, the network comprises 19 antennas and ground systems at seven locations around the globe that undertake what are known as TT&C functions — tracking (determining where a satellite is located), telemetry (collecting information about its health and status) and command (transmitting signals to control subsystems and maneuvering satellites if necessary).