24 May 2023

Wickremesinghe’s Visit To Japan Signals A Key Change In Sri Lanka’s Foreign Policy – Analysis

P. K. Balachandran

India and the West may replace China as the dominant development partner

The Sri Lankan President, Ranil Wickremesinghe, will be in Japan from May 24 to 27 for talks with his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida and other Japanese leaders. The visit is expected to signal a key change in Sri Lanka’s foreign policy as it moves away from China and ties up with the Western powers and India to execute its developmental plans.

A statement from the Japanese foreign office says that Kishida and Wickremesinghe are to “exchange views on bilateral relations between Japan and Sri Lanka and regional and international affairs.” The statement also said that Japan expects President Wickremesinghe’s visit to “further deepen the friendly relations between Japan and Sri Lanka.”

This will be the second summit between Kishida and Wickremesinghe in less than a year. The first was held in September 2022 on the sidelines of the funeral of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The Wickremesinghe-Kishida talks this time round is expected to result in the announcement of some developmental projects including the US$ 2 billion Light Railway Transit (LRT) project for Colombo, which was abandoned by the Sri Lankan government led by Gotabaya Rajapaksa in 2020, a year after Japan had agreed to fund the project with a very soft loan with a long grace period.

Informed political sources said that the LRT project was stopped over the issue of commissions. Japan was hurt not only because of this, but also because the government did not take it into confidence before announcing cancellation.

The Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration led Japan up the garden path in regard to the construction of the East Container Terminal (ECT) in Colombo port in partnership with India. Under pressure from trade unions, that were allegedly in cahoots with a foreign power, the Gotabaya government reneged on the agreement citing its election manifesto. It declared that the ECT will be constructed by Sri Lankan organizations.

Damaging and Disingenuous: Evaluating the ‘India Out’ Campaign in Maldives

Mimrah Ghafoor

Meeting supporters at an event in Naifaru, Maldives, in March 2022, former President Abdula Yameen Abdul Gayoom made a striking statement with his choice of attire. Emblazoned on the front of his T-shirt were the words “India Out,” a slogan Yameen had introduced into Maldives’ political lexicon shortly after his exoneration and release in late 2021 from a money-laundering conviction. Yameen and his opposition coalition, comprising the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and People’s National Congress (PNC), have rallied under this slogan, contending that the current Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) government, led by President Ibrahim Solih, is jeopardizing Maldives’ autonomy through an “India-First” foreign policy and alleged openness to hosting an Indian military presence.

Yameen has since been convicted of a separate money laundering charge, and is once again imprisoned, serving an 11-year sentence, casting the viability of his presidential candidature into doubt, even after securing his party’s nomination. Yet “India Out” rhetoric continues to feature prominently in the opposition’s campaigns — most recently in response to an official visit by the Indian Defense Minister Ranjath Singh — despite government actions to ban the movement.

While the government’s moves to proscribe the campaign are arguably overzealous and undemocratic, the movement itself is problematic for several reasons. Not only does it threaten Maldives’ relations with its most powerful neighboring country, but it also fuels xenophobia against Indian nationals. Moreover, it is insincere, and appears designed to exploit nationalist sentiment in the upcoming September presidential elections. This is evidenced by the often-overlooked facts that during his presidency Yameen himself officially maintained an “India First” foreign policy, and that despite his reputation as more diplomatically aligned with India’s rival, China, he was reluctant to irreparably damage ties with New Delhi.

Why Does the G7 Need India?

Niranjan Marjani

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting Hiroshima, Japan, from May 19 to 21 where he will represent India as an invited country at the 49th G-7 Summit. This engagement comes amid a busy diplomatic schedule for India, which holds the presidency of the G-20 and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) for 2023. The G-7 Summit is thus a platform for India to take its many multilateral engagements forward. For the G-7, engaging with India is imperative for several reasons.

First, with a GDP of $2.66 trillion, India’s economy is larger than three member countries of the G-7 – France, Italy, and Canada. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and is expected to grow at 5.9 percent in 2023-2024. India is also the fastest growing economy in Asia. The World Bank has said that India’s growth rate is the highest among the seven largest emerging-market and developing economies.

India’s economic growth is in contrast with that of Western countries, most of which are facing stagnant growth prospects. Anne-Marie Gulde-Wolf, deputy director for the Asia and Pacific department of the IMF, said that India could be a key economic engine capable of driving global growth through consumption, investment, and trade. As an outlier among world’s major economies, India remains an attractive investment destination due to factors such as market potential, low manufacturing costs, business reforms, and a favorable industrial climate.

Recently India surpassed China as the most populous country in the world. With 68 percent of the population of working age (15-64 years) and 65 percent of the population under the age of 35, India offers a young and abundant skilled and semi-skilled work force.

Second, along with the United States and Japan, the European countries are formulating their policies to engage more with the Indo-Pacific region. In the past few years, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany – G-7 members from Europe – have formulated their own Indo-Pacific strategies. Italy too has shown inclination recently to engage with the Indo-Pacific region.

It’s clear Indian economy is not ‘fast-growing’, govt must raise capacity for growth & employment


In the past four decades and more, the structure of India’s economy has changed quite dramatically. Compared to 1980-81, using current prices, the share of “agriculture and allied activities” has dropped from 38 per cent of GDP to 21 per cent, while that of services has grown from 37 per cent to 53 per cent.

That of industry (including construction and utilities) has remained more or less unchanged at 26 per cent. So agriculture, the slowest-growing segment of the economy, has shrunk relative to the others, while the services sector (the fastest-growing) has become the dominant one.

What does this structural change mean for overall economic growth? Assuming the sector-wise growth rates remain unchanged, the dominance acquired by the rapidly growing services sector means that economic growth as a whole should have accelerated.

Given the shifts in weighting among the three sectors, what was 5.5 per cent average growth in the 1980s should translate into at least 6.3 per cent growth now.

Now factor in other changes, like life expectancy. This was 54 years in 1980, and is currently estimated at 70 years. In other words, the average Indian no longer dies while still in their working age. That should have improved productivity, as should the rapid spread of education, including post-school education, where enrolment levels have grown sharply — although educational quality is an issue.

Compound these with the increased rate of investment in fixed capital (up from 19.7 per cent of GDP in 1980-81 to 28.6 per cent before the pandemic), and efficiency boosters like the spread of digitisation.

Opinion – Pakistan’s Perilous Status

Shaarif Sameer

Since its inception, Pakistan has bought its way through crises from great power patronage by US or a clientage relationship with China. It is losing both of them. For the first time, the country doesn’t seem to have its traditional base of international support to squeak its way through a troika of economic, political, and security crises that it currently faces. Owing to its fortunate geography and historical alignments with great powers, the political elite in Pakistan had mastered the art of managing domestic crises by capitalizing on international crises; however, both the US and China seem to have lost interest in the country.

Just a decade ago, the country was strategically important to both US and China. Despite Pakistan’s erratic policy on Afghanistan and a flirtatious relationship with the Taliban, the US needed the country for the continuity of its military operations in Afghanistan and a possible withdrawal at later stages. So, it tolerated these indiscretions with a pinch of salt. On the other hand, China kept nurturing Pakistan as a dependable balancer against India and a future bridge with West Asia, both economically and diplomatically. Therefore, China sponsored the country as a possible regional power that could match up with India and provide China with a dependable ally on the international stage. However, contrary to both great powers’ expectations, Pakistan proved to be a difficult and intransigent protégé resulting in both powers distancing themselves from a capricious ally.

Pakistan, on the other hand, needs its international patrons now more than ever. The country is grappling with a debilitating economic crisis, a stalemated political crisis, and an ever-growing security crisis. The country is facing an unprecedented political crisis with widespread discontent against a puppet political leadership and the military leadership due to bad governance and soaring inflation. The former prime minister, whose government was overthrown after a no-confidence motion in parliament, has challenged the powerful military like no one has ever done before. The whole fabric of the political system hangs on a thread where the discontent has reached the point of seditious extent.

‘In a lot of the world, the clock has hit midnight’: China is calling in loans to dozens of countries from Pakistan to Kenya


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.”

For China, Economics Issues Are Security Issues

J. Tedford Tyler, Kedar Pandya

On April 20, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen delivered some notable remarks at Johns Hopkins University. In discussing sanctions on Chinese companies, Yellen noted that, “our goal is not to use these tools to gain competitive economic advantage.” She tried to emphasize that a U.S.-China decoupling was not on the horizon. A week later, on April 27, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke at the Brookings Institution, where he echoed Yellen by saying that the Biden administration is “looking to manage competition responsibly and seeking to work together with China where we can.” But Sullivan also criticized China’s overuse of industrial policy and indicated that U.S. policymakers would respond in kind.

Both Yellen and Sullivan are misguided about China’s views on economic and security policy.

For China, economic issues are security issues. Chinese president Xi Jinping stated in 2014 that economic security is the “foundation” of his “comprehensive security concept.” For Xi, military power protects economic development, and economic growth is critical to national security. Since 2014, Xi has only hardened his position, remarking at the “Two Sessions” in March 2023 that “security is the foundation of development.”

In this, Xi is borrowing from Deng Xiaoping, the architect of the “Reform and Opening-Up Era.” From the late 1970s onward, Deng pursued economic modernization, which used market incentives to support the “Four Modernizations” of agriculture, defense, industry, and science and technology. China’s economy responded by averaging double-digit growth between 1980–2010.

In the early days Xi’s presidency, concepts such as “strategic emerging industries” and “Made in China 2025” were announced. They signaled an inward turn in economic policy, concerning Washington. Chief among these concerns was intellectual property theft and the potential for advanced technology to fall into the hands of the Chinese military.

China’s Tech Threat Hangs Over the G-7

Rishi Iyengar

To Alon Raphael, the three Chinese nationals he hired in 2018 were “model employees” with a great work ethic who fit right in at Femtometrix, his Los Angeles-based company whose technology helps identify defects in advanced semiconductor chips during manufacturing. He got them visas to stay in the country, and one of them even invested in the company. “These were people that, at one point, I would have trusted my life to,” he said.

Is France Backing China’s Currency Against the US Dollar?

Alain Tao

In April, French President Emmanuel Macron found himself in hot water after making controversial statements in an explosive interview after a state visit to China.

The French leader warned against becoming “America’s followers” and reminded Europeans that if not enough is done to strengthen European autonomy, European countries “will become vassals” when tensions escalate between the United States and China.

These comments sent European policymakers into damage control, with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki declaring that “instead of building strategic autonomy away from the United States, I propose a strategic partnership with the United States.”

However, a largely overlooked remark by Macron may prove to be the most consequential. The French leader also suggested that Europe reduce its dependence on the “extraterritoriality of the U.S. dollar,” referring to Washington’s ability to deny countries access to the dollar-dominated global financial system.

This concern harkens back to former U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to end Washington’s participation in the Iranian nuclear deal. That reintroduced a stringent sanctions regime that forced European businesses to withdraw from Iran or risk being sanctioned themselves. This unilateral decision drew fierce criticism from Europe of an alleged “weaponization” of the dollar that undermined European sovereignty.

Deals concluded surrounding Macron’s state visit to China seem to indicate a willingness by France to address this concern, namely by supporting the use of the Chinese yuan or renminbi in international trade.

For the very first time, a deal finalized during the visit between French shipping giant CMA CGM and China State Shipbuilding Corporation was made in Chinese yuan. It was the largest shipbuilding order made in China to date, with an order placed for 16 vessels valued at 21 billion yuan ($3.1 billion).

China sends a subtle message to Central Asia: Rely on us, not Russia

China promised billions of dollars in “financing support and free assistance” to five Central Asian countries on Friday, as top leader Xi Jinping presented a wide-ranging security and defense plan to a region that has long been in Russia’s orbit.

Hosting the China-Central Asia Summit in the city of Xi’an, the fabled end of the ancient Silk Road, Xi presented himself as a generous and reliable partner for countries that were once part of the Soviet Union — but which have become increasingly alarmed by Russia’s efforts to take back control of Ukraine, another former Soviet Republic.

This approach reveals a crack in Beijing and Moscow’s “no limits” friendship, but the bigger contrast was with the West: While Xi was hosting the leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, the Group of Seven leaders were gathering in Hiroshima, Japan, to discuss Russian aggression and Chinese economic coercion.

The split-screen images highlighted how Xi is trying to create a “multipolar” world, where the United States is no longer the sole global superpower.

“Central Asia understands that in this multipolar world, they are expected to be on the side of Russia and China,” said Niva Yau, a nonresident fellow for the Atlantic Council’s Global China Hub based in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

“A year ago, there were a lot of discussions in the region because of the war, about whether Central Asia needed to pivot, needed to look to the West,” she said. “This week has shown very clearly where Central Asia has decided to align themselves.”

Xi told the Central Asian leaders that China could boost the region’s “law enforcement, security and defense capability construction.” Over the course of the two-day meeting, he met each leader and signed bilateral agreements boosting trade, infrastructure and technology investment, and making visa-free travel arrangements.

Beijing is angling for greater influence in Central Asia as Moscow remains focused on its grinding war in Ukraine. Chinese state media have echoed that language.

“The countries of Central Asia have realized that Russia is having so much difficulty in its fight against Ukraine that it is not wise to completely rely on Russia — they must find a way out,” read a commentary in the nationalist tabloid Defense Times.

Days before the summit in Xi’an, the five heads of Central Asian states visited Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, where they attended the May Day military parade.

With eye on Ukraine, top Chinese general calls for unconventional warfare capabilities

BEIJING, May 16 (Reuters) - Drawing lessons from the Ukraine crisis, a top Chinese general urged greater integration of novel capabilities, including artificial intelligence, with conventional warfare tactics ahead of any confrontation with the West.

A new genre of hybrid warfare has emerged from the Ukraine conflict, with the intertwining of "political warfare, financial warfare, technological warfare, cyber warfare, and cognitive warfare," General Wang Haijiang, commander of the People's Liberation Army's (PLA) Western Theatre Command, wrote in a front-page article in an official newspaper on Monday.

In the name of national security and to fend off perceived threats from the West, Chinese efforts to prepare the country for security challenges have not relaxed despite a slowing economy and COVID-19. Defence spending is set to rise for the eighth straight year in 2023.

The scale and sweep of Chinese military preparations are closely watched not just by the West, but also by China's neighbours and democratically governed Taiwan, which China claims as its own.

"At present and in the future, local conflicts and turmoil are frequent, global problems are intensifying, and the world has entered a new period of turmoil and change," Wang wrote in Study Times.

"Various 'black swan' and 'grey rhinoceros' events may occur at any time, especially with the containing, encircling, decoupling, suppressing, and military threats of some Western nations," he continued.

Despite the hundreds of billions of dollars poured into defence spending, China's armed forces do not have much recent experience in a hot war, with its last - and brief - military conflict in 1979 with Vietnam.

IJ Infinity Group Military Strategy Magazine

Spring 2023, v. 8, no. 4 A Strategist’s Guide to Disruptive Innovation

A Quintessential Factor in Strategy Formulation: The Unequal Dialogue

Cold Wars, Grey Zones, and Strategic Competition: Applying Theories of War to Strategy in the 21st Century

Securing Oman for Development: Sultan Qaboos Confronts his Enemies, 1970-1976

Will Artificial General Intelligence Change the Nature of War?

What Should a Strategist Know and Do, and Why

F-16s won’t fundamentally alter the course of Ukraine War

Daniel L. Davis

On Friday, the Biden administration paved the way for Western allies and partners to transfer their stocks of American-made F-16 Fighter jets to Ukraine and added that the U.S. would help train their pilots to fly them.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky immediately hailed the “historic decision” to provide the F-16 Fighting Falcon to Ukraine, adding that it would “greatly enhance our army in the sky.” A sober assessment of the capabilities and limitations of this transfer, however, should temper expectations.

Zelensky had been pleading for Western fighter jets since Russia invaded his country in February 2022, but the U.S. had balked at every step. It is unclear why Biden has chosen now, after 15 months of war, to approve the transfer (which in February he said Ukraine didn’t need). The U.S. had long claimed they would not send the fighters because it might inflame Russia too much and that the jets weren’t that necessary to Ukraine’s war effort.

Yet the U.S. had similar concerns about fears of Russian escalation over the delivery of other categories of weapons, like the M777 howitzer, the HIMARs rocket launchers, Patriot Air Defense systems, and M1A1 tanks. Russia protested after the introduction of each, yet took no additional actions. Predictably, Russia on Saturday warned of “colossal risks” to the U.S. if they sent the F-16s, but did not specify what those risks were. In all probability, the Russians will not escalate the war merely because of the presence of F-16s in Ukrainian hands.

But the Biden Administration’s about-face on this issue raises many questions, key among them are how effective can the aircraft be in helping Ukraine win its war. As it turns out, the answer is not encouraging.

For starters, it will take a long time to adequately train Ukrainian pilots and maintenance crews to be able to fly the jets into combat and keep them airworthy. In February, Undersecretary of Defense Colin Kahl said it would take between 18 and 24 months to get pilots and maintenance crews trained, airframes procured, and delivered on site for use.

Innovation Lightbulb: Global Investments in Chip Manufacturing

Hideki Tomoshige and Gregory Arcuri

In this week’s Innovation Lightbulb newsletter, we document announced global investments in chip fabrication plants (fabs) from the world's top three chipmakers: TSMC, Samsung, and Intel. These three companies combined have announced over $220 billion in investment in new and existing volume-manufacturing facilities since the start of 2021.* Let’s take a look at them:


Intel, the largest U.S. chip manufacturer, has committed to expanding its manufacturing footprint in the United States and Europe. In early 2021, it announced a $20 billion investment in two new chip facilities (Fab 52 and Fab 62) at its Ocotillo campus in Chandler, Arizona, which will manufacture Intel’s most advanced semiconductors including the Intel 20A, and which are planned to begin operations in 2024. In 2022, Intel announced another $20 billion investment in two leading-edge fabs in New Albany, Ohio, to come online by 2025 at a new campus which Intel claims may eventually accommodate up to eight new fabs.

In Europe, Intel has also committed to expanding existing manufacturing operations in Leixlip, Ireland—currently its largest such operations outside the United States. Its announced 17 billion euro initial investment in a “Silicon Junction” manufacturing complex in Magdeburg, Germany, has drawn even more attention, promising two new leading-edge fabs by 2027—the first of their kind in Europe.


In 2020, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), the world’s largest chipmaker, announced an initial $12 billion investment for a 5-nanometer fab in Arizona, an investment which was expanded to $40 billion and two fabs in late 2022. The fabs, when completed, will be TSMC’s first manufacturing facilities built on U.S. soil since the 1990s and will be its first leading-edge fabs there.

Making the Most of the European Sky Shield Initiative

Sean Monaghan and John Christianson

European nations have provided a wide range of air and missile defense systems to help Ukraine defend against indiscriminate missile and drone strikes by Russia. Russia’s aggression and tactics have also renewed focus on their own air and missile defenses. This report finds that European air and missile defense faces big challenges, with serious gaps in ground-based air defense, command and control, and defense against emerging advanced threats.

The German-led European Sky Shield Initiative, launched in October 2022, has the potential to address these problems and fill the gaps. However, Sky Shield is already under severe political pressure and faces an uphill battle given the many challenges of European defense cooperation. Yet given critical shortfalls in air and missile defense, European nations have little choice but to make Sky Shield a success.

This report is made possible by general funding to CSIS. No direct sponsorship contributed to this report.Download the Full Report 8452kb

The Strategic Downside To Drone Attacks – Analysis

James Durso

In the United States, giving aid and comfort to the enemy is a serious offense, but America’s armed drone program, while it kills a lot of bad guys, also helps generate new recruits to replace them.

In early May 2023, the Pentagon announced a drone attack killed a “senior al-Qaeda leader” in Syria. On 18 May, the same day Syria president Bashar al-Assad arrived at the Arab League meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the Pentagon was forced to admit it may have killed the wrong guy. The “wrong guy” was Lotfi Hassan Misto, a 51-year-old sheep herder and father of ten who was tending his flock.

But the Pentagon wasn’t giving up so easy as it insisted: “Though we believe the strike did not kill the original target, we believe the person to be al-Qaeda.”

After a mistake like this, al-Assad may be excused for thinking he is on a divinely-ordained mission. He didn’t even need to wax eloquent at the Arab League meeting about American perfidy and brutality; all he had to do was read the news as it came off the wire.

Days before al-Assad’s triumphant arrival in Jeddah, the Brown University Cost of War Project announced an estimated 4.5 million people died in the post 9-11 wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, among others. Al-Assad and his host, Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, are responsible for many of those deaths but America’s precision, high-tech drones command more attention, especially when, as is often the case, they kill the wrong guy.

A bad man in a movie said, “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action.” Many of the helpless people in the countries where America went to war after 9-11 agree with the bad man.

The killing of Lotfi Hassan Misto will bring to mind the America’s shambolic retreat from Afghanistan, capped by the drone killing of ten members of a family, including seven children, when the U.S. forces attacked who they thought was an Islamic State facilitator, a rushed revenge attack justified as a “righteous strike” by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley.

How American Can Reinvent Its Approach to Technology Innovation

Siddhartha Kazi

In 1954, scientists at Bell Labs in the United States invented the first silicon solar panel. By 1978, American firms produced over 95 percent of the global solar market. Yet despite this initial dominance, American firms only produced a paltry 6 percent by 2021. Instead, it is China that controls 70 percent of global production. A similar story can be seen with hypersonic missiles: the technology was initially developed in America in the 1960s, but currently, America has “catching up to do very quickly.” This sort of situation is so common, in fact, that China has a lead in thirty-seven out of forty-four major emerging technologies, according to a report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

Despite the United States continuing to spend the most on research and development (R&D) of any nation, the United States is lagging behind in spearheading new technologies. The issue isn’t a lack of R&D spending but rather an inability to implement new technologies or maintain a market edge over other nations. In other words, we are still the greatest innovators in the world, but we cannot successfully commercialize our innovations. The major reasons for this are a shift away from industrial policy to science policy, industry consolidation, and a lack of financing for small and medium enterprises. If we wish to correct course, it is necessary to look at the history of R&D in the United States.

During the 1950s and 1960s, the U.S. federal government, particularly the Department of Defense (DoD), played an active role in fostering innovation by being the “first buyer” of many new technologies and encouraging technology-sharing between firms. For example, the first market for transistors was NASA, which bought every transistor in the world in 1962 for the Apollo missions. More recently, NASA used a similar method in its commercial orbital transportation service program (COTS) program, which encourages commercial spaceflight by buying cargo and crew transporters for the International Space Station. One major success of this program has been SpaceX, whose first major success was developing the Falcon 1 for a COTS contract in 2006, demonstrating that the concept is just as viable today as it was in the 1960s. Additionally, the DoD often facilitated knowledge sharing between firms and researchers, especially by using second source contracts—i.e., contracts that stipulated that any new technology purchased by DoD would have to be produced by at least two firms—creating redundancy in the supply chain.

The Biden Administration’s Dangerous Grand Strategy

Melanie W. Sisson 

The world is fast becoming a more armed and dangerous place. Discourse in Washington, D.C., attributes this unhappy trend to the temperaments and appetites of autocratic leaders generally, and of Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping specifically. There is of course no question about Putin’s culpability, as the war he launched in Ukraine continues into its second year of death, destruction, and callous manipulation of the risks of escalation and nuclear detonation. Xi is implicated insofar as he is expanding China’s nuclear arsenal and using the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to advance discredited maritime and territorial claims, coerce regional neighbors, and signal displeasure with U.S. Taiwan policy, all with the potential for misperception and miscalculation.

This focus on Russia’s and China’s militarism overlooks the contributions U.S. national security strategy is making to the increasingly hazardous international environment. The United States is pursuing military solutions to its problems with Russia and China despite the fact that, short of fighting wars that should never be fought, there aren’t any.

In Ukraine, the United States continues to chase the moment when battlefield dynamics shift sufficiently in Kyiv’s favor that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is in the “strongest possible position at the negotiating table.” This framing reduces decision-making to a choice between which weapons to send or not to send so as to strike just the right balance between perpetuating the war between Russia and Ukraine without precipitating a war between Russia and NATO. The first year of navigating this line involved such large transfers of ammunition and of Javelin and Stinger missiles to Ukraine that its continuation into a second year has inspired serious conversations about reviving legacy munitions production through multiyear government contracts. These calls to reestablish the United States as the “arsenal of democracy” are fashioned as necessary both to defeat Putin today and to deter Xi tomorrow. Making more weapons over a longer duration, however, is a tactical maneuver that addresses the U.S. ability to have and transfer weapons; its strategic effect will be to prolong the destructive stasis in Ukraine and to fuel the militarization of U.S. alliances and partnerships elsewhere.

Mystery surrounds ‘hundreds’ of UK ‘long-range’ attack drones heading to Ukraine


BELFAST — The recent announcement by UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak that his government will supply Ukraine with “hundreds of new long-range attack drones” despite not having any such known fleet of aircraft in regular inventory has sparked more than a little intrigue among defense analysts.

On May 15 Sunak said the drones have a maximum range of 200 kilometers (125 miles), but beyond that, the exact type of system or information about its capabilities have not been disclosed. The Prime Minister’s press office told Breaking Defense that it “wouldn’t be able to get into further detail.”

The lack of transparency on the matter stands out as British political and defense officials have been consistently open about military equipment sent to Ukraine throughout the conflict with Russia. Those items gifted by the UK include Challenger 2 main battle tanks, over 10,000 anti-tank missiles such as NLAW, Brimstone and Javelin, Storm Shadow long-range strike weapons, Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), self-propelled guns, hundreds of armored vehicles and Starstreak short-range, man-portable, air-defense systems (MANPADS).

As for the mystery “long-range” drone, though, experts told Breaking Defense they’re not sure to what specifically the MoD might be referring.

“There’s nothing in the UK inventory that fits the long-range attack drone bill, so there’s really only two options that could explain this: an aircraft that the UK government has been working on and kept quiet, or something sourced from another country that the UK will fund and provide to Ukraine,” said Douglas Barrie, senior fellow for military aerospace at the UK-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) military think tank.

Discounting small or mini-sized drones and those with more exotic mission sets, the UK currently operates General Atomics MQ-9A Reapers, soon to be replaced with a MQ-9B SkyGuardian fleet, Thales Watchkeeper and QinetiQ Banshee drones. But none of those have been procured in the “hundreds” or are considered attack drones and only Watchkeeper, predominately an ISR asset and which has suffered a number of accidents in UK service, matches the 200-kilometer range profile.

Lennart Meri Lecture 2023 by Fiona Hill

Fiona Hill

More than a year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the brutal war Vladimir Putin ignited has transformed, as major regional conflicts often do, into a war with global ramifications. This has not, as Vladimir Putin and others claim, become a proxy war between the United States or the “collective West” (the U.S. and its European and other allies) against Russia. In the current geopolitical arena, the war is now effectively the reverse—a proxy for a rebellion by Russia and the “Rest” against the United States. The war in Ukraine is perhaps the event that makes the passing of pax Americana apparent to everyone.

In its pursuit of the war, Russia has cleverly exploited deep-seated international resistance, and in some cases open challenges, to continued American leadership of global institutions. It is not just Russia that seeks to push the United States to the sidelines in Europe, and China that wants to minimize and contain U.S. military and economic presence in Asia so both can secure their respective spheres of influence. Other countries that have traditionally been considered “middle powers” or “swing states”—the so-called “Rest” of the world—seek to cut the U.S. down to a different size in their neighborhoods and exert more influence in global affairs. They want to decide, not be told what’s in their interest. In short, in 2023, we hear a resounding no to U.S. domination and see a marked appetite for a world without a hegemon.

In this context, the next iteration of the global security, political and economic system will not be framed by the United States alone. The reality is already something else. It is not an “order,” which inherently points to a hierarchy, and perhaps not even a “disorder.” A range of countries are pushing and pulling in line with their own priorities to produce new arrangements. We in the transatlantic community may need to develop some new terminology as well as adapt our foreign policy approaches to deal with horizontal networks of overlapping and sometimes competing structures. We have entered what Samir Saran, President of India’s Observer Research Foundation, has dubbed the age of “limited liability partnerships.” The regionalization of security, trade and political alliances complicates our national security strategies and policy planning, but it may also intersect with our priorities in useful ways if we can be flexible and creative—rather than simply resisting and responding when things go in directions we don’t like. As British security expert Neil Melvin has suggested, we should embrace the idea of “mini-lateralism.”

Backstopping Ukraine’s long-term security: Toward an Atlantic-Asian security community

Lise Howard and Michael E. O’Hanlon 

This piece is part of a series of policy analyses entitled “The Talbott Papers on Implications of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine,” named in honor of American statesman and former Brookings Institution President Strobe Talbott. Brookings is grateful to Trustee Phil Knight for his generous support of the Brookings Foreign Policy program.

Peace for Ukraine may be a long way off, as we write these words in the spring of 2023. Yet the time to begin preparing for peace is not after the last gun falls silent. Long before they had triumphed in World War II, Allied leaders began to contemplate the shape of the future peace — even though in that case, they had already settled on the absolutist goal of unconditional surrender as the inevitable end state of the conflict. At conferences in Tehran, Yalta, Potsdam, and elsewhere, they discussed proposals and made plans to create international institutions that could prevent another war. Today, a similar effort is needed, beyond the ideas that have been developed and voiced to date. Western leaders must develop security mechanisms and consider strategies to assist Ukraine in sustaining its independence, and to manage future relations with Russia. With the right approach, the prospects for any eventual peace negotiations may also be substantially improved.

We offer one proposal here for how to protect Ukraine — while also improving the odds that Russia can someday again become a responsible part of the European security order, or at least reducing the odds that it will increasingly go rogue across a range of issues. The concept centers on the idea of deploying a substantial, armed training and monitoring mission of at least several thousand Western troops, including Americans, to Ukraine after a ceasefire or peace accord — but doing so under the auspices, and with the protection, of a new security architecture and perhaps also the United Nations, rather than NATO.

Current thinking about security architectures to help Ukraine focus on NATO membership for Ukraine, on the one hand, and a “porcupine” strategy on the other, by which NATO countries would enhance arms exports to Ukraine so as to maximize the odds of successful self-defense. These two ideas present an inadequate range of possibilities. Russia has assaulted Ukraine and committed heinous war crimes against Ukrainians. Russia must be held accountable and punished for these crimes. But we must not allow wrath toward Russia to cloud thinking about NATO expansion. Although NATO expansion to Russia’s boarders did not directly cause Russia’s violent assault on Ukraine, it is hard to argue it played no role at all. NATO expansion was well-intentioned and designed to enlarge the zone of democratic peace in Europe while acknowledging the right of independent states to have a major say in their own security arrangements. But when juxtaposed with the pride and paranoias of Russians like Vladimir Putin, it inadvertently contributed to a Russian geostrategic and historical narrative that, however inaccurate, was both predictable and dangerous.

Publishing from the PhD: Reflections on My First Experience of Peer Review

Michael Livesey

Last week, I received some good news. An article I submitted to a peer-reviewed journal had been accepted for publication. This was my first piece of written work to undergo full peer review. This is an important milestone in the PhD journey for anyone hoping to build a career in academia (or outside of it). My experience of this has been enlightening and challenging in equal measure. I’ve found the experience brought opportunities for personal growth, as well as moments of frustration and dismay. In the days since I received my acceptance email, I’ve been reflecting on this balance between positivity and negativity. I’ve taken four key lessons from these reflections – which I’d like to share in brief. Either, to stimulate conversation with colleagues regarding the merits (or otherwise) of the peer review system. Or, to shed light on aspects of the undertaking ahead, for other postgraduates looking to publish their first article. Peer review is one of the hottest (and most contested) issues in academic discourse. Nonetheless, I am hoping this write-up might highlight lessons which haven’t been covered so vocally within that discourse (lessons which I hadn’t been aware of).

Before I elaborate these lessons, let me provide some specifics regarding that journey’s stages and duration. This experience began in a conventional way – with me drafting materials from my PhD research in article form, back in April 2022. I took a month out of my thesis work to write a first draft – which I sent to close colleagues for comment, and which I presented at a series of summer conferences. I used feedback from readers and discussants to inform a pre-submission article redraft, which took me a further two weeks. I submitted my redrafted manuscript to my journal of choice. After nine weeks of review, I received a ‘revise and resubmit’ decision, with comments from three reviewers. I spent a further three weeks revising my manuscript in line with reviewer comments. Then, I re-submitted. Following eight more weeks of review, I received an acceptance email at the end of March 2023.

Take-home one: peer review forced me to enter a ‘growth mindset’ vis-à-vis my research

Russia’s army is learning on the battlefield

Russian generals have been slow to learn from their strategic errors. General Valery Gerasimov botched Russia’s initial assault on Kyiv, bungled an assault on the eastern Donbas region last summer and has frittered away tens of thousands of troops on a futile offensive on the same front over the past five months. A Ukrainian offensive is now looming. But despite it all, Russia’s army still appears to be learning and improving in important ways.

A new paper published by Jack Watling and Nick Reynolds of the Royal United Services Institute, a think-tank in London, shows how Russian tactics have evolved. Mr Watling and Mr Reynolds have visited Ukraine repeatedly over the past year and published detailed studies of the war, which are read avidly in Western armed forces and defence ministries. Their latest paper draws on interviews with Ukraine’s general staff and ten of its brigades. They point to several areas of change—many of which will pose a major threat to Ukraine’s offensive plans.

F-16 Fighters To Ukraine: A Game-Changer Or Waste Of Time?

Robert Farley

For months, analysts and politicos have debated the question of delivering Western fighter jets to Ukraine.

Supporters argue that training and transfers should move forward immediately, and detractors warn of escalation concerns and urge a focus on other priorities within Ukraine’s war effort.

In the past couple of days there appears to be some movement on the matter.

Operators of the F-16 Viper multi-role fighter jet, including the Netherlands, have expressed a willingness to transfer their aircraft to Ukraine. A leaked report from the U.S. Air Force suggests that pilot training for the F-16 could be completed in as little as four months, although there are likely some questions about the effectiveness of the pilots trained.

This puts things squarely in the court of the Biden administration. Because of the complex nature of the arms trade, Washington has a veto over the transfer of essentially any Viper in the world. Now, in apparent response to statements of interest from several operators, the Biden administration appears to be making clear that it will not veto the transfer of F-16s to Ukraine. More important, the Biden administration has also agreed to facilitate joint training of Ukrainian pilots on the F-16.

This all makes it extremely probable that F-16s will soon fly into combat over Ukraine.

What Has Gone Before

The move comes as concerns grow about the health of Ukraine’s air defense network.

While Ukrainian air defenses have shot down a significant number of Russian missiles (exact numbers are unreliable) and have kept fixed-wing Russian aircraft away from the front and away from Ukrainian cities, concerns have grown about the rate at which Ukraine expends its missiles.

If Ukraine ran out of missiles or simply had to curtail their use, Russia’s air forces would gain considerably greater tactical and strategic freedom.

Russia’s Unconventional Warfare: Moscow’s domination of the Information Space

Antonio Graceffo

U.S. intelligence and defense services, as well as the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) 2023 Threat Assessment recognize China and Russia as the two greatest threats to U.S. national security. The U.S. has more firepower than either of the two and is a member of the world’s most powerful military alliances NATO, Aukus, and the Quad. Consequently, the U.S. would have a distinct advantage in a direct conflict. However, direct conflict remains a future possibility. Meanwhile, Russia and China have both been attacking the U.S. through unconventional warfare for decades. Because Russia is better at understanding American language and culture, and owing to their vast experience, dating back to World War II, arguably, Russia tends to be more effective at unconventional warfare than China.

George Kennan, the father of the containment policy, defined unconventional warfare as “the employment of all the means at a nation’s command, short of war, to achieve its national objectives.” Unconventional warfare can be military or quasi-military operations, other than conventional, direct warfare. Called the Gray Zone, an area between peace and conflict, unconventional warfare can include the use of covert forces or guerilla warfare in a hot conflict. Proxy wars, such as those fought in Vietnam and Korea would be examples of a conflict between the United States and the USSR which did not involve overt, direct combat between the two. More recent examples would be the Syrian Civil War, where Russia provided military support to the government of President Bashar al-Assad, while the United States was backing various opposition groups. Similar indirect conflicts have taken place in Yugoslavia and Kosovo, as well as Georgia. The most obvious example today is the Ukraine war. Although the direct combatants are Russia and Ukraine, the war can be seen as a great-power struggle between the U.S.-led west and the Russian Federation, although no U.S. troops have taken part.

In addition to backing local forces and actively engaging in combat operations, Russia also deploys the Wagner mercenary group into conflicts around the world. Wagner supports the Kremlin’s objectives, often fighting against third-forces supported by the U.S. The group has taken an active role in conflicts in the Central African Republic, Libya, Mali, Syria, and Ukraine, among others.

At G7, Japan quietly strengthens alliances

William Yang in Hiroshima

Amid rising security risks in the Indo-Pacific region, Japan is diplomatically cultivating allies near and far during the G7 presidency.

As leaders from the Group of Seven (G7) major industrial countries meet in Japan, the host nation is using the three-day summit to highlight pressing security challenges in the Indo-Pacific region while asserting itself as a key player on the international stage.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is "leveraging" Japan's G7 presidency to draw the world's attention to the challenging security situation in the region, said Jeff Kingston, director of Asian Studies at Temple University Japan.

Security issues in the Indo-Pacific region include China's ongoing efforts to expand and modernize its nuclear forces and technologies, its potential invasion of Taiwan and North Korea's continuation of its military nuclear weapons program.

G7 leaders summit kicks off in Hiroshima

Three countries in Japan's vicinity, North Korea, China and Russia, possess nuclear weapons capabilities. As such, holding the G7 summit in Hiroshima, one of two Japanese cities devastated by atomic bombs dropped by the United States in the last days of World War II, has an enormous symbolism.

Prior to the start of the summit, Kishida said he believes the first step toward any nuclear disarmament effort is to provide "a first-hand experience of the consequences of the atomic bombing and to firmly convey the reality."

Promoting nuclear disarmament, which may include getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles program, is a '"personal mission for Kishida," said Japan expert Kingston, "and it's a distant goal."

Beyond the Indo-Pacific

Opinion – Eastern and Southern Africa as the New Persian Gulf?

David Michaels

The delivery of Mozambican gas to Spain and Croatia last winter almost went unnoticed, even though it was a forerunner of new promising supplies to Europe. The latter, one of the world’s largest energy consumers, has recently lost its main supplier, Russia, and the gap in the market is still open. This creates a golden opportunity for Eastern and Southern Africa, rich in natural gas reserves. The region now holds the potential to take off just as the Gulf region did almost a century ago – but first, it has to overcome several obstacles.

With the world’s attention focused on renewable energy, the industry is progressing forward – but thirst for energy is growing at much higher rate. This inconsistency opens new perspectives for so-called intermediate energy sources, namely, natural gas, and also new opportunities for those that have long been in the shadows. One of them is Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA): the region’s proven gas reserves amount to trillions of cubic meters and look tempting enough for international investors to flock around. These conditions would look favorable if not for poor security, underdeveloped infrastructure and lack of cooperation that have been posing challenges for energy companies there.

The clash of obstacles and opportunities looks quite controversial. “The uncertainties have never been so large, and the challenges so profound… What is nevertheless clearer, and more crucial, is the energy trilemma: how to ensure a secure, affordable, and sustainable energy system over the short- to long-term?” commented Gabriel Lima, President of Gas Exporting Countries Forum when speaking on African LNG export opportunities. Nevertheless, investments in the region keeps flowing, more or less, and the first fruits are already ripe with the much-welcomed gas shipment from Mozambican FLNG platform Coral Sul. The job of setting up production and export routes demands great effort from producers, but the lure is too sweet to brush it off. The main question here is whether the existing problems can be solved efficiently enough for everybody concerned to get a plus score.

The Global Economy’s Future Depends on Africa

Jack A. Goldstone and John F. May

In recent decades, the engine of the world economy has been the spectacular growth of China. From 1980 to 2020, fully one-quarter of the increase in global GDP was due to China’s growth, outstripping the contributions of the United States (22 percent), the European Union (12 percent), and Japan (4 percent). From 2010 to 2020, when the United States and Europe were still recovering from the Great Recession, the world was even more dependent on China; in that decade, China’s growth accounted for over 40 percent of the rise in global GDP.

What is a semiconductor?

Semiconductors are the unsung heroes of the technology world: parts manufactured from pure elements that work behind the scenes to power and connect everything from smartphones to cars.

The expression “semiconductor shortage” is one of those pandemic-era catchphrases—like “supply chain issues” or “physical distancing” or “sourdough starter”—that will probably conjure memories of deep lockdown and the dull ache of a phantom mask behind your ears for years to come. But many people have a murky understanding of what a semiconductor actually is. You might know that semiconductors have something to do with why your car was suddenly worth a lot more than you thought it was. But many of us would be hard pressed to explain what they actually are.

A first step would be to break down the word. A conductor, as you might remember from elementary-school science class, is something through which electrons freely move from one type of material to another. Ever gotten a shock in the winter after touching a doorknob? That’s because metal is a great conductor of electricity. (In fact, so is the human body, which is why you can sometimes pass the shock on to an unsuspecting victim.) The opposite of a conductor is an insulator, which impedes the flow of electrons from one material to another. Rubber is a great insulator, which is why it’s safe to be inside a car (with rubber tires) during a lightning storm.

A semiconductor is a substance that falls somewhere on the continuum between conductor and insulator. Manufacturers process silicon and other materials into semiconductors for all kinds of electronic devices that rely on harnessing electricity for processing power. And these semiconductors, or chips, are in greater demand than ever before: the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), which is currently transforming manufacturing, production, and global business more generally, is characterized by smart computers and connected devices. Smart means connected, and connected means chips.