29 May 2023

Will India’s Agnipath Scheme Spell the End of the Gorkha Rifles?

Aniket Singh Chauhan

The Indian Army’s Gorkha Rifles marching contingent passes through Rajpath, on the occasion of the 67th Republic Day Parade in New Delhi on January 26, 2016.Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Ministry of Defense, India

When the Indian government announced the Agnipath recruitment scheme a year ago, it was met with fierce resistance from aspirants to a career in the Indian Army in both India and Nepal.

Under the Agnipath scheme, soldiers will be hired for a fixed four-year term, after which only 25 percent of them will be retained, while the rest will be demobilized. The demobilized troops will not receive any pension benefits, except a one-time lump sum payment of roughly $14,100 at the end of their service.

Despite the resistance in India, the government went ahead with implementing the scheme and welcomed the first batch of recruits, called Agniveers, under the scheme, on January 7 this year.

However, the stalemate between the Indian and Nepali governments over the recruitment of Nepali Gorkhas into the Indian Army under the scheme continues, with no solution in sight.

When India announced the scheme, Nepal opposed it. Its then Minister for Foreign Affairs Narayan Khadka said that the government had “requested India to stop the recruitment until all political parties in Nepal reach a consensus on the [Agnipath] issue.”

Gorkha aspirants in Nepal were left in limbo after the Nepali government stopped the recruitment that has been going under a unique arrangement since 1947.

In 1947, India, Nepal, and the United Kingdom signed a Tripartite Agreement to protect the rights of Gorkhas serving in Britain’s Brigade of Gurkhas and India’s Gorkha Rifles regiment (it does not apply to Gorkhas in the Nepali Army). The agreement comprises seven clauses ranging from protection of the Gorkha identity to the retention of Nepali citizenship while in service. The bone of contention, however, is the fourth clause which states that a “Gorkha soldier should be allowed to serve for sufficient time to qualify for a pension,” which the Agnipath scheme violates.

Nearly 40,000 Nepali Gorkhas serve in the Indian Army’s Gorkha Rifles regiment.

The Battle for Supremacy in Pakistan: Asim Munir Vs Imran Khan

Aditya Kumar Singh and Rahul Rawat

Workers of Metropolitan Corporation squad remove Imran Khan’s posters outside his house in Lahore, Pakistan, Saturday, May 20, 2023.Credit: AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)

Staying true to its historical trend, Pakistan is yet again in a cataclysm. But this time, it is faced with a polycrisis: political, economic, security, and leadership crises unfolding simultaneously. All are taking a toll on the people due to structural discrepancies in Pakistan. These crises deepen with multiple players involved, leading to the polarization of intelligence within the country, creating multiple sources and narratives on prominent issues prevailing in Pakistan.

The recent developments in Pakistan have redrawn the lines that have long existed with a sharper tone.

The former prime minister, Imran Khan, has pushed General Asim Munir, the chief of army staff (COAS), to the front lines. By mounting a scathing attack on the army, Khan wants to rejoice in an anti-establishment label, but the truth is far from the mirage being presented.

The Myth of an Anti-establishment Khan

After being deposed in April 2022, Imran Khan adopted a firm stance against the army. He struggled to reconcile the notion that the institution responsible for his ascent to power could so abruptly withdraw its support. His posturing against the establishment, in particular former Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa, has given a sense of him being anti-establishment.

But that is nothing less than a myth.

Khan frames his fight as a strict division: either you are with me or against me, and against Pakistan if so. A closer look at his politics shows he is the most pro-establishment leader in Pakistan.

Many of Khan’s cabinet members, like Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Sheikh Rashid, and Fawad Chaudhry, had earlier served under military dictator Pervez Musharraf. When Khan was contesting the election in 2018, many electables were attached to his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) at the behest of the Pakistan Army. Former Army Chief Bajwa and former ISI head Faiz Hameed left no stone unturned to bring Khan to power.

Despite falling out with the army, Khan continues to enjoy the overwhelming support of veterans. Former ISI chiefs Ahmad Shuja Pasha and Zaheerul Islam, who played a key role in propping Khan up, continue to make speeches in his favor. To add more, many members of the PTI are kin of former members of the establishment like Ghulam Ishaq Khan’s grandson Taimur Khan Jhagra, Ayub Khan’s grandson Omar Ayub Khan, Zia-ul Haq’s son Ijaz-ul-Haq, and Chaudhary Pervez Elahi, president of the PTI, who joined the party on Bajwa’s instructions.

It’s Time To Recognize the Taliban

Javid Ahmad

The United States should diplomatically recognize Afghanistan’s Taliban government. That’s not easy for us to say as a former Afghan ambassador and former CIA regional counterterrorism chief. Doing so will be perceived as a painful betrayal to many, but the alternative—allowing Afghanistan’s dangerous descent into a hermit kingdom and forsaking the insight and means to influence or shape events—would mean more dire consequences for all.

The Taliban’s ironclad grip on the country is now an undeniable reality, as is the threat the regime poses to its own people, its neighbors, and the United States. Despite being an uneasy coalition of religious zealots, political pragmatists, and unpredictables, the new rulers have cemented their power, while resisting most attempts at moderation.

Both the Trump and Biden administrations made the disastrous assumption that a reformed Taliban was possible, believing the group would eagerly reintegrate into the world economy for the national good. Not only did that not work out, but the Taliban’s powerful cartel of clerics has also only grown more resolute, leaving no room for dissent.

If Washington hopes to achieve its objectives in the region, it must lead the way and engage with the Taliban to find a practical way forward.Washington has only two viable choices: overthrow the Taliban, which didn’t end well the first time, or work with it. Unfortunately, accepting the status quo of nonrecognition leaves Washington largely blind to developments and powerless to influence change, yet still deeply embroiled with short-term economic, political, and military affairs as the country’s top aid donor.

A recent conference of 21 nations convened by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Doha, Qatar, attempted to craft a pragmatic approach for “constructive engagement” and a “durable way forward,” but the gathering produced no results. While that meeting excluded the Taliban, the group’s sanctioned acting foreign minister, Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi, managed to secure U.N. approval to travel to Pakistan to meet with his Pakistani and Chinese counterparts, whose governments are moving forward with or without the international body on wholesale economic, political and security cooperation.

While no country has granted diplomatic recognition to the Taliban, the act itself, though symbolically significant, is merely a hollow gesture devoid of substantive impact unless accompanied by a process of normalization that entails the establishment of diplomatic channels to facilitate constructive dialogue.

If Washington hopes to achieve its objectives in the region, it must lead the way and engage with the Taliban to find a practical way forward. In a recent op-ed for Al Jazeera, Muttaqi pitched the Taliban’s willingness to work with the United States in return for sanctions relief, noting that the new rulers “believe in dialogue and an exchange of ideas.”

A Nuclear Collision Course in South Asia

Andrew F. Krepinevich, Jr.

In the summer of 2021, the world learned that China was dramatically expanding its nuclear arsenal. Satellite imagery showed Beijing building as many as 300 new ballistic missile silos. The Pentagon now projects that China’s stockpile of nuclear weapons, which had for years rested in the low hundreds, could spike to 1,500 warheads by 2035, confirming suspicions that Beijing has decided to join Russia and the United States in the front rank of nuclear powers.

Security experts are only beginning to sort through the implications of China’s nuclear breakout. They would do well to consider Ashley Tellis’s new book, Striking Asymmetries, which assesses the implications of Beijing’s actions from the vantage point of the rivalries between South Asia’s three nuclear powers: China, India, and Pakistan. In a work that should be required reading for senior political and military leaders, Tellis presents a compelling case why this tripolar nuclear system, which has for decades remained remarkably stable, may be on the verge of becoming far more dangerous.

Tellis draws upon decades of experience in South Asian security affairs, unique access to senior policymakers and military leaders in the three rivals’ defense establishments, and a remarkable ability to make seemingly abstract technical concepts readily understood by those with even a passing interest in the subject matter. The result is the most comprehensive, informed, and accessible assessment to date of this nuclear rivalry—and one that cannot be ignored.


China and Pakistan have a long and close relationship, in part built around their mutual view of India as a rival. India finds itself sandwiched between these two often hostile powers. Yet despite a history of wars and persistent low-grade conflict between India and its two rivals, a general war has been averted since India and Pakistan became nuclear powers a quarter century ago. Moreover, the three countries have not found themselves caught up in a nuclear arms race. Until recently, they viewed their nuclear weapons primarily as political instruments, not as tools for actual warfighting. All three adopted a “minimum deterrent” nuclear posture, maintaining the lowest number of nuclear weapons necessary to inflict unacceptable damage to their adversaries’ key cities even after suffering a nuclear attack.

Winning without fighting? Why China is exploring 'cognitive warfare.'


With the U.S. and its allies rapidly bolstering military capabilities around Taiwan, a successful Chinese invasion, let alone an occupation, of the self-ruled island is becoming an increasingly difficult proposition.

But with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) increasingly focused on “intelligent warfare” — a reference to artificial intelligence-enabled military systems and operational concepts — experts warn that Beijing could eventually have a new card up its sleeve: “cognitive warfare.”

The term refers to operations based on techniques and technologies such as AI aimed at influencing the minds of one’s adversaries and shaping their decisions, thereby creating a strategically favorable environment or subduing them without a fight.

“The PLA has not stated how it intends to use AI to control human cognition,” said Koichiro Takagi, an expert in military information technology and fellow at the Washington-based Hudson Institute think tank.

“But there is an active debate in China about cognitive warfare and how its development would have great appeal to Chinese policymakers, particularly in helping bring about victory in Taiwan without using conventional weapons,” he said.

Just how important AI has become for China’s national security and military ambitions was highlighted by President Xi Jinping during a rare Communist Party congress last October, where he emphasized Beijing’s commitment to the development of AI and other cutting-edge technologies. Not only does China plan to become the world’s leading AI power by 2030, Beijing has also turned to a military-civil fusion strategy to achieve this.

Both the U.S. and Chinese militaries are working toward integrating AI into three common areas: information processing, unmanned weapons and decision-making. However, Beijing is taking the technology one step further by exploring its use in cognitive warfare, which some Chinese military experts say will likely become the next most important battlefield after the physical and information space.

5 Steps the US Must Take to Deter a War with China

The United States faces an unveiled threat from China. Beijing has made clear, in its public pronouncements and its strategic doctrine, that it seeks to conquer Taiwan and engorge the whole of the Western Pacific, ultimately bending Asia’s political structures to its will. The U.S., and the world at large, would be far better served by deterring China than by being forced to defeat it.

The issue, however, is the marginal nature of the military balance.

Thus, the U.S. must take five steps immediately to try to prevent a war with China, by improving America’s deterrence credibility and combat capabilities before hostilities threaten to erupt. Those steps are ensuring Ukraine’s victory in its war against Russia, freezing U.S. Navy fleet retirements, marshaling additional aerial basing within the Philippine Sea, expanding air and naval logistics, and being prepared to hit targets in mainland China if war should occur.

Deterrence requires two elements — the military capability to implement a strategy if hostile action occurs, and the political credibility to follow through on such a strategy. The two are as intertwined as the double helix of a DNA molecule. Absent political credibility, even the most powerful state will face questions over its commitments and suffer probing against its periphery. Absent the military capabilities on full display that can counter and drive back an assault — or punish one severely enough to dissuade it — then an enemy’s aggression often is the result.

The Western Pacific military balance is extraordinarily close. China’s navy — and its People’s Liberation Army (PLA) more generally — have greatly improved their capabilities over the past decade.

Still, the PLA faces difficulties: It appears to lack experience with combined-arms and joint warfare of any kind; it has a massive stockpile of missiles but may struggle to push forward its reconnaissance units enough to track U.S. forces; its aerial tanker fleet is insufficient to sustain a fighter screen in the Philippine Sea, and it has only limited airborne-amphibious capabilities that restrict the size, number, and composition of PLA landing forces.

China’s Port Power

Isaac Kardon and Wendy Leutert

Over the past several years, U.S. national security officials have been intensely focused on China’s growing military power. Having not faced such a powerful challenger since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Washington now describes Beijing, as the U.S. Annual Threat Assessment put it in February, as a “near-peer competitor.” For the U.S. military, China has also become the “pacing challenge”, the benchmark for just how fast and how far it must adjust to provide effective defense in a more competitive international system.

Is the Biden Administration Going Soft on China?

Danielle Pletka

The need to counter China has been a welcome area of bipartisan consensus in a Washington riven over everything from nuclear modernization to chicken nuggets. But the bipartisan concordat on China is ending, foundering over politics, ideology, and economic expediency. And the biggest beneficiary? The People’s Republic of China.

Alert over Chinese cyber campaign targeting critical networks

Alex Scroxton

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), alongside intelligence agencies from the Anglophone Five Eyes alliance, has issued guidance highlighting a campaign of Chinese state-sponsored activity targeting critical national infrastructure (CNI) networks.

Working alongside Microsoft – which has attributed the campaign of malicious activity to an advanced persistent threat actor it has dubbed Volt Typhoon having recently revised its threat actor naming taxonomy – the intelligence community’s disclosure includes technical indicators of compromise and examples of the tactics, techniques and procedures being used by the group.

“It is vital that operators of critical national infrastructure take action to prevent attackers hiding on their systems, as described in this joint advisory with our international partners,” said NCSC operations director Paul Chichester.

“We strongly encourage providers of UK essential services to follow our guidance to help detect this malicious activity and prevent persistent compromise.”

According to Microsoft, Volt Typhoon has been active for approximately two years, and has targeted multiple CNI operators in the US Pacific island territory of Guam, as well as in the US itself. Organisations targeted include communications services providers, manufacturers, utilities, transport operators, construction firms, IT companies, educational institutions and government bodies.

According to The New York Times, the focus on Guam is particularly concerning given the territory’s proximity to Taiwan, and its value to the US in mounting a military response in Taiwan’s defence should China attack it.

Microsoft said that based on the behaviour it has observed, Volt Typhoon “intends to perform espionage and maintain access without being detected for as long as possible”.

Decoupling Is Already Happening—Under the Sea

Elisabeth Braw

Subsea cables carrying internet traffic connect the world by traveling through risky waters. That, as the world now knows, makes them vulnerable to geopolitically motivated harm. But the cables are a remnant of more peaceful times, when operators didn’t have to worry about geopolitics. Now it’s no longer safe to build new cables connecting, say, the United States and China. We’re entering the era of the undersea Iron Curtain.

U.S. Apathy Paved the Way for China in Africa

Howard W. French

In April 1997, toward the end of the protracted demise of the United States’ longtime Cold War client Mobutu Sese Seko, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Bill Richardson, flew to the capital of what was then called Zaire to try to persuade the besieged dictator to step down.

As I stood outside the drawing room of the palace where Mobutu and Richardson met in the morning, an aide to Richardson sidled up to me and whispered an invitation in my ear. If I, as the New York Times bureau chief for the region, would like to fly with them to the southern city of Lubumbashi to meet Laurent Kabila, the rebel leader whose Rwanda-backed forces were taking over Zaire, I should walk toward Richardson’s parked motorcade and stand there and stand by, not saying a word to anyone.

In the golden sunshine late that same afternoon, I was aboard Richardson’s jet as it approached Lubumbashi low over the surrounding scrubland and landed. The ongoing civil war had long ago interrupted commercial air traffic into Zaire’s second largest city, but Lubumbashi sits in the heart of the mining region of a country so richly endowed in minerals that it has been called a geological scandal, and because of this there was hardly any space to park on the airport’s aprons. In anticipation of Kabila’s victory, which indeed did not lie far into the future, private jets that had flown in the executives of Western mining companies seeking new deals for themselves occupied almost every spot.

A lot can happen in a quarter of a century, though—especially when you’re not paying attention, as has largely been the case with the United States regarding Africa. Back then, there was so much talk about the enormous profits that lay ahead for Western companies in the business of extraction, once the corruption and chaos of the Mobutu era was put in the past, that many people in Zaire (now renamed the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and throughout Central Africa thought the United States had sponsored Kabila’s takeover of the country in order to dominate its mineral wealth into the indefinite future.

China Is Developing and Developed at the Same Time

Philippe Benoit

The U.S. House of Representatives recently voted unanimously that China should no longer be considered a “developing country.” A major motivation is to deny China the preferential treatment it receives as a developing country under the World Trade Organization, the U.N. climate framework, and other international arrangements. Indeed, from Africa to Latin America and even Europe, China is very much adopting the role of a rich global power.

And yet, China continues to exhibit many traits of a developing country, including in energy and other areas, and particularly outside the major urban centers most visible to foreigners. The truth about China’s status as a developing country is far more complex.

China has transformed itself from a low-income country in the 1990s into the world’s second-largest economy, with many attributes of a rich global power projecting its economic and diplomatic influence abroad. Earlier this year, French President Emmanuel Macron became another in a line of European leaders to visit China, soliciting closer business ties, while also hoping to encourage Beijing to exercise its influence on Moscow regarding the invasion of Ukraine. China is projecting itself increasingly in international affairs, with the largest number of foreign postings (surpassing the United States) and repeatedly mobilizations of its military (third behind the U.S. and Russia) to the disquiet of its neighbors and others. Indeed, China is acting very much like a wealthy global power.

But China also still exhibits various characteristics of a developing country, including a population of more than 200 million people without access to clean cooking technologies; widespread pollution; and a ranking under the Human Development Index—which focuses on health and education outcomes—of 79th out of 191 countries (scoring below, for example, Sri Lanka and Iran). Even its continuing heavy reliance on coal, a cheap but dirty fuel, is arguably a developing country trait that contrasts with the substantially lower shares achieved by advanced economies such as those of the European Union and the United States.

China is expected soon to graduate from “middle income” into “high income” under the World Bank country classification system—which arguably is part of the reasoning underlying the U.S. House vote—but this change won’t immediately erase its developing country aspects. For example, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has estimated that it will take China until 2030 to provide basic clean cooking access to all. Moreover, China is still, in U.S. dollar terms, far from the income levels enjoyed in developed Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development economies; notably, its GDP per capita is currently half that of Portugal and equates to the average income of the world population across all developed and developing countries.

‘Boomy’ talk about the Chinese economy is a charade

Wall Street forecasts are now even more optimistic than Beijing’s unreachable growth target RUCHIR SHARMAAdd to myFT A shopping centre in Beijing. When retail sales came in way below analysts’ estimates, one attributed this to ‘seasonal adjustment’, as if spring had come unexpectedly © Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images ‘Boomy’ talk about the Chinese economy is a charade on twitter (opens in a new window) ‘Boomy’ talk about the Chinese economy is a charade on facebook (opens in a new window) ‘Boomy’ talk about the Chinese economy is a charade on linkedin (opens in a new window) Save current progress 0% Ruchir Sharma MAY 21 2023 236 Print this page Receive free Chinese economy updates We’ll send you a myFT Daily Digest email rounding up the latest Chinese economy news every morning. The writer is chair of Rockefeller International Something is rotten in the Chinese economy, but don’t expect Wall Street analysts to tell you about it. 

There has never been a bigger disconnect, in my experience, between some of the rosier investment bank views on China and the dim reality on the ground. Perhaps reluctant to back off their calls for a reopening boom this year, sellside economists keep sticking to their forecasts for growth in gross domestic product in 2023, and now expect it to come in well above 5 per cent. That’s even more optimistic than the official target, and wildly out of line with dismal news from Chinese companies. Hopes for a reopening boom were based on the premise that, once released from lockdown, Chinese consumers would go on a spending spree, but company reports show no sign of one. If China’s economy were growing at 5 per cent, then based on historical trends corporate revenues should be growing faster than 8 per cent. Instead, revenues grew at 1.5 per cent in the first quarter. Corporate revenues are now growing slower than officially stated GDP in 20 of China’s 28 sectors, including consumer favourites from autos to home appliances. 

Weak revenues are in turn depressing earnings for consumer goods companies, which normally track GDP growth quite closely, but shrank in the first quarter. Instead of a reopening rush, the MSCI China stock index has fallen 15 per cent from the January peak and consumer discretionary stocks are down 25 per cent since then. If the analysts were right, and consumer demand was picking up in what one described as a “boomy” economy, imports would be strong. Imports fell 8 per cent in April. When retail sales and industrial output came in way below analysts’ estimates last week, one attributed this miss to “seasonal adjustment”, as if spring had come unexpectedly this year. China’s credit growth is weakening too, up by just Rmb720bn ($103bn) in April, half as fast as forecasters expected. 

Revitalizing Strategic Analysis for a New Era of Competition

Anthony H. Cordesman , Benjamin Jensen , and Adrian Bogart

The current methods and processes used across the U.S. government to analyze national security fall far short of the requirements necessary to meet the needs of the nation. Strategic analysis has become too limited and does little more than set broad goals without describing how to integrate military power with other instruments of statecraft or assess their true costs. Moreover, it struggles to keep up with the rapid military and economic changes in rival states such as Russia and China.

The result is inevitable: stilted progress and diminishing marginal returns. Efforts to align the national security enterprise, such as the recent Joint Concept for Competing, stall inside a bureaucracy that struggles to translate concepts and goals into realistic plans and budgets. Absent a revitalization of wargames, net assessment, red teaming, and data science—methods that stress analyzing alternatives and competitive decisionmaking—twenty-first-century strategy will remain a collection of hollow promises.

The Need for a Truly Integrated Mix of National Security Strategies

Current approaches to strategic analysis often fail to tie strategy to the plans, programs, and budgets across the federal government. This failure is all too clear in the FY 2024 budget requests. There is no integrated national security strategy of the kind called for in the Joint Concept for Competing. The Department of Defense (DOD) request does not have a matching national security section in the budget requests for the Departments of State, Homeland Security, or Energy. In addition, the steadily rising costs of the Department of Veterans Affairs are not tied to any integrated plan for military personnel in the DOD. In other words, there is no proper accounting for the cost of securing the nation’s interests.

There is only a marginal effort to link the DOD’s military budget requests to national strategy or annual threat assessments. The secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Staff no longer issue the annual posture statements used to help ensure strategy was openly tied to planning, programming, and budgeting data. The FY 2024 defense budget request illustrates these failures. The budget summaries only cite vague strategic goals, and the detailed budget documents are little more than shopping lists for the individual military services and defense agencies. Even when some budget requests have titles such as “Pacific Deterrence” and “European Deterrence” that have the potential to outline a strategy for a given combatant command or region, they are not tied to other agencies or a larger, whole-of-government plan accessible to Congress and the public at large.

A Persistent Crisis in Central America

Violence and corruption in Central America, particularly in the Northern Triangle countries, is causing a wave of outward migration. Since taking office, the Biden administration has pledged to tackle the root causes of the problem, which the Trump administration’s restrictive measures and pressure on regional governments did nothing to address. Meanwhile, efforts at reform across the region face opposition from entrenched interests that benefit from the status quo. Explore WPR’s extensive coverage of the Central America crisis.

For years, Central America has contended with the violence and corruption stemming from organized crime and the drug trade. More recently, the countries of the region also found themselves at the center of U.S. domestic politics, due to the many desperate Central Americans who make their way across Mexico to seek asylum at the United States’ southern border.

The steady stream of outward migration is driven by ongoing turmoil, particularly in Nicaragua and the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The three Northern Triangle countries rank among the most violent in the world, a legacy of the civil wars in El Salvador and Guatemala, which destabilized security structures and flooded the region with guns. In that context, gangs—often brought back home by deportees from the U.S.—have proliferated, and along with them the drug trade and corruption, fueling increasing lawlessness. Popular unrest has done little to produce political solutions, leading many of the most vulnerable to flee.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump instrumentalized migration for domestic political purposes, while also using threatened cuts in U.S. development aid to pressure governments in the region to do more to hamper the outflow and to take in migrants returned from the U.S. border. But his administration did little to help regional governments address the root causes of the crisis—graft and violence. His successor, President Joe Biden, pledged to return to a more conventional approach of using development aid and high-level support for anti-corruption efforts to address the region’s political, economic and security deficits. But in practice, his approach to the crisis on the southern U.S. border since taking office has represented more continuity than change. Clearly, the issue will remain no less of a challenge for his administration, even as the migration flows have begun to shift.

War is ruthless, but should the U.S. be ruthless when it goes to war? | Column

Make no mistake, America was ruthless in World War II. The national leadership of that era — Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry Truman — demanded unconditional surrender of the nation’s enemies. To achieve that objective, the U.S. military fire-bombed cities in Germany and Japan that killed many tens of thousands of non-combatants. U.S. and Allied armies obliterated the Third Reich. America then dropped two nuclear devices on Japan that killed more tens of thousands.

The much-maligned atom bomb compelled the unconditional surrender of imperial Japan. The result of American ruthlessness led to the creation of two of the most successful democratic countries in the world. But first, the Japanese had to be defeated, come to recognize the fact and then accept the unyielding truth of it. Victory achieved, lasting peace with both countries followed.

Killing on an industrial scale was the means to achieving positive ends. No, I am not suggesting that the U.S. go nuclear to achieve its goals. Nor am I recommending that we return to the days of attempting to “bomb our enemies back into the stone age.” It is now well known that aerial bombardment can have the opposite effect desired. You need only look to current events in Ukraine to see this phenomenon in action.

However, and although no doubt arguable, the ends achieved in World War II may have justified the terrible means used. Unconditional surrender was achieved over the Japanese militarists. Hitler’s malign regime was annihilated. The ruthlessness adopted by Roosevelt and Truman may have been based in their fear of the possible existential threat posed to the American state.

Is America still willing to be ruthless to win? It does not seem so, at least while lacking an existential threat. War-fighting rules of engagement in Afghanistan became restrictive following initial repetitive battlefield successes, especially during the Obama years. The Trump White House subsequently loosened those rules. However, the Taliban cared nothing for the Western humanitarian values and international law that rules of engagement represented, butchering innocents if it served their aims. They did, however, over time, exhibit an unsurprising far greater strength of will and resolve. They were, after all, fighting on their native soil. If the U.S. is constrained by our values and respect for law, what to do?

Biden, McCarthy looking to close US debt ceiling deal for two years

Richard Cowan, Andy Sullivan, Jarrett Renshaw

WASHINGTON, May 26 (Reuters) - The White House and congressional Republicans on Friday are putting the final touches on a deal that will raise the U.S. government’s $31.4 trillion debt ceiling for two years while capping spending on everything but military and veterans, according to a U.S. official.

Negotiators for Democratic President Joe Biden and House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy appeared to be nearing a deal on Thursday as the two sides reached agreement on key issues, such as spending caps and funding for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the military.

However, items including work requirements for recipients of federal aid were still holding up the deal, the official said.

The deal under consideration would increase funding for discretionary spending on military and veterans while essentially holding non-defense discretionary spending at current year levels, the official said, who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak about internal discussions.

The White House is considering scaling back its plan to boost funding at the IRS to hire more auditors and target wealthy Americans, the official said.

The defense and veteran affairs funding matches Biden’s budget released earlier this year, a second U.S. official said.

The agreement would leave many details to be sorted out in the weeks and months ahead.

Each will have to persuade enough members of their party in the narrowly divided Congress to vote for any eventual deal, no small feat with far-right Republicans saying they wouldn’t back any deal without sweeping spending cuts and progressive Democrats resisting new work requirements on anti-poverty programs.

“The only way to move forward is with a bipartisan agreement. And I believe we will come to an agreement that allows us to move forward and that protects the hardworking Americans of this country,” Biden said on Thursday.

US Army receives mixed signals from industry on ‘radio as a service’

Colin Demarest

PHILADELPHIA — U.S. Army officials are considering what’s next for an initiative known as radio as a service, after receiving feedback from industry that swung from enthusiasm to skepticism.

The Army published a request for information regarding the as-a-service tack, a potential pivot away from the traditional means of buying and maintaining radios, and received 15 responses by March.

Input ranged from “folks wanting to be the the manager of the process, all the way to folks providing us everything that a lower tactical network needs,” Col. Shermoan Daiyaan, the project manager for tactical radios at the Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical, or PEO C3T, said May 24 at an industry conference in Philadelphia.

At the same time, other vendors came “back and said, ‘Nope, we’re not going to play,’” Daiyaan said. “That was a response, and that’s data. We’ll appreciate that and take that to heart.”

The Army has hundreds of thousands of radios — too many to quickly and cost-effectively modernize given security deadlines and constant competition with China and Russia, which have sophisticated signals intelligence that can cue onto communications. Service leaders have said the as-a-service method, while experimental, could drive down costs and boost adaptability.

As initially teased in December by Army Under Secretary Gabe Camarillo, radio as a service would be more akin to a subscription offered by some makers of consumer products. It could mirror other deals in which companies furnish goods and services on a rolling basis, keep them up to date and handle quality control.

“We left that RFI very open, very generic. We approached it from: We don’t want to shape your response,” Daiyaan said. “It’s such a novel idea that we didn’t want to take things off the table.”

The colonel expects to speak with senior leaders about the effort in the coming weeks. PEO C3T is tasked with overhauling the Army’s battlefield connectivity tools.

“What we’re trying to figure out is if there’s something in there to explore,” Daiyaan said. “I believe there’s something there to explore.”

Opinion: At 100, Henry Kissinger is still teaching us the value of ‘Weltanschaüng’

David A. Andelman

Editor’s Note: David A. Andelman, a contributor to CNN, twice winner of the Deadline Club Award, is a chevalier of the French Legion of Honor, author of “A Red Line in the Sand: Diplomacy, Strategy, and the History of Wars That Might Still Happen” and blogs at Andelman Unleashed. He formerly was a foreign correspondent for The New York Times and CBS News. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion at CNN.

Twelve years ago, invited to speak at a small gathering at New York’s cultural center 92nd Street Y, I ran a gauntlet of protesters who’d gathered for the arrival of the featured speaker on the main stage. It was Henry Kissinger and I watched in wonder as they gathered to protest “a talk given by the renowned war criminal.”

They were back three years later when Kissinger was speaking there again. This time demonstrators were targeting “his history concerning Timor-Leste (East Timor), West Papua, Vietnam, Cambodia, Chile, Cyprus, Bangladesh, Angola and elsewhere.”

The events they were protesting were decades in the past – at the peak of the Vietnam War and innumerable other crises that then-US Secretary of State Kissinger had done his best to drive to some rational conclusion.

Most of the demonstrators were only barely alive when these events were unspooling, when Kissinger was without question deeply affecting the outcome of each.

But the catalog of their grievances only testifies to the broad scope of people, places and events that he has influenced in the course of a remarkable career.

If there is one lesson, however, to take away from his years in office and the decades since, it is the sweep of his utterly rational and dispassionate view of the world and all that makes it tick. He called it “weltanschaüng” or worldview.

The cost of the global arms race

At the end of the cold war America’s president, George H.W. Bush, popularised the idea that cutting defence spending would boost the economy. “We can reap a genuine peace dividend this year and then year after year, in the form of permanently reduced defence budgets,” he declared in 1992. The world took note. America went from shelling out 6% of its gdp on defence in 1989 to roughly 3% in ten years (see chart 1). Then came the 9/11 attacks and conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, talk of war between America and China over Taiwan, and tensions concerning Iran’s nuclear ambitions, countries are tooling up as never before in this century.

Sad Reality: The Ukraine War Is Now Going Russia’s Way

Daniel Davis

From almost the opening days of the Russia-Ukraine War, a running theme among Western analysts has been that the Russian military has badly underperformed and the Ukrainian Armed Forces constantly exceeded expectations.

Few seem to have noticed, however, that the pendulum on the battlefield has shifted.
Shift for Russia in Ukraine

Recent evidence indicates the Russian side has made tactical and operational improvements that are having an impact on the ground in Ukraine.

Washington policymakers need to update their understanding of the current trajectory of the war to ensure the U.S. is not caught off guard by battlefield events – and that our interests don’t suffer as a result.

There has been no shortage of legitimate evidence to support the contention that throughout 2022 the Russian side performed much worse than most expected and that Ukraine performed better than anticipated. Russia’s initial battle plan was flawed at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels.

Moscow allocated an invasion force that was too small for the task, dispersed across four axes of advance (ensuring that none would be strong enough to succeed on its own), and was not equipped with supplies to sustain a long war.

Ukraine was more prepared for an invasion than many originally believed and took impressive action quickly to stem the Russian advance, blunting each axis, and imposing serious casualties on the invaders.

In contrast to Russian blunders, Zelensky’s troops initially performed well at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels such that Russia was forced into a major withdrawal of the bulk of its armored forces from Kyiv and Kharkiv barely a month into the war.

Russian Deployments

The Biden Administration’s New Vision for Global Trade and Investment


In two landmark speeches in recent weeks, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan articulated the core principles of a new international economic order centered on industrial policy. In this vision, the U.S. government will take an active role in reshaping supply chains to ensure its national security, fight climate change, and reduce inequality. Contrary to common conception, Yellen and Sullivan argued, pursuing industrial policy at home is compatible with an open, fair, and cooperative global economic order.

The two speeches declared the intent of President Joe Biden’s administration to revise the rules and practices that drive global trade and investment. However, a number of questions surround the strategy and vision that Yellen and Sullivan tabled.


Industrial policy is any intentional government effort to bolster priority industries or create structural economic change. It has been an integral part of climate politics since China pushed to increase its market share of wind and solar manufacturing in the 1990s. Yellen’s and Sullivan’s speeches took industrial strategy global. They expressed a goal of drawing countries into new efforts to create rules and investments that will drive decarbonization and increase geopolitical resilience, among other aims.

Two kinds of global industrial policy are emerging: foreign industrial policy and joint industrial policy. Foreign industrial policy refers to countries using the tools of foreign policy to advance their domestic industrial policies abroad. Joint industrial policy is when countries align their domestic strategies through international coordination. Both varieties were highlighted in the speeches and are currently being advanced by U.S. officials and agencies.

U.S. foreign industrial policy involves using its existing foreign policy apparatus—diplomatic, financial, and trade tools—to friendshore global supply chains. One key goal is to strategically deploy finance so that other countries can contribute to U.S. industrial strategy goals, such as diversifying the battery supply chain. For example, Washington is seeking to focus its overseas financing through the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, which funds clean energy and semiconductor supply chain projects overseas. And Washington has used the International Development Finance Corporation to make an equity investment in a nickel and cobalt mining facility in Piaui, Brazil.

Europe’s Losers Have Become Its Winners Again

Caroline de Gruyter

One of the nicer stories doing the rounds in Brussels these days is about how Europe’s COVID-19 recovery funds are spent. We’re talking here about the roughly $869 billion in grants and loans the European Union’s 27 national leaders earmarked in 2020 for projects to kick-start their economies after the pandemic. By now, all member states have proposed dozens of different projects, with some of them already implemented. In Brussels, around 80 officials are working around the clock to process and evaluate these applications, and check project details against a list of criteria such as green transition, digital innovation, economic and social resilience, and so on.

A Moment of Truth for Russia's Wagner Group in Bakhmut

Christian Esch, Christina Hebel, Alexander Chernyshev, Fedir Petrov, Alexander Sarovic, Christoph Reuter, Fritz Schaap und Andrey Kaganskikh

The clip that Yevgeny Prigozhin recently posted to his Telegram channel could easily have been mistaken for a poorly made horror film. It shows a field at night, bloodied dead bodies lying in the light of Prigozhin’s flashlight. Also in the video is Prigozhin himself, a brawny, bald man wearing a pistol in a holster. "These are boys from Wagner who died today. Their blood is still fresh!" he growls. The camera pans further, and only now can viewers see that there are four grisly rows of bodies. Dozens of corpses in uniform, many of them with no boots.

Then Prigozhin steps directly in front of the camera and explodes. His face contorted in anger, he hurls insults at Russian military leaders who, he says, are failing to provide him with the munitions he needs. "You will eat their entrails in hell," he yells. "Shoigu, Gerasimov, where is the fucking ammunition?" It is an outburst of rage against Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, but staged for better effect and loaded with profanity and contempt. Prigozhin sounds like a bandit challenging his rivals on the outskirts of town at night. Like he would like to turn both Shoigu and Gerasimov into corpses that he could then lay next to his boys.

Russia last week celebrated its World War II victory over Nazi Germany with the usual military parade on Red Square, a speech by the president and marching music. But whatever uplifting images the Kremlin wanted to create in Moscow, they were overwhelmed by Prigozhin’s nighttime parade of corpses and his abuse, recorded in a field somewhere near Bakhmut in the Donbas, where he had sent the Wagner Group fighters to their deaths.

Prigozhin, a businessman from St. Petersburg, has good contacts within Putin’s closest circle and is the leader of a notorious mercenary unit that is active from Syria to Mali. Prior to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, he was very rarely in the public eye. Now, though, the war has given him a new role and a new stage.

His is the story of one man's rise to unimaginable power. Within Putin’s dictatorship, it appears that Prigozhin can do whatever he likes. He can promise people their freedom or send them to their deaths, he can humiliate powerful men and openly threaten his enemies. And his story is also that of an outfit that fights without mercy – and, in this war’s longest battle in Bakhmut, is sacrificed without mercy.

Russia-Ukraine war at a glance: what we know on day 455 of the invasion

Tom Ambrose, Martin Belam 

Washington is looking into reports that American vehicles were used by Ukraine inside Russia, the White House spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Wednesday. He said the US has been clear with Kyiv that it does not support any such use of US-made equipment.

It came as the Kremlin said the use of US-made military hardware by pro-Ukrainian fighters who conducted a raid on a Russian border region this week was testament to the west’s growing involvement in the Ukraine conflict. The Russian military said on Tuesday it had routed militants who attacked the border region of Belgorod with armoured vehicles the previous day, killing more than 70 “Ukrainian nationalists” and pushing the remainder back into Ukraine.

Ukraine will not be able to join Nato as long as the war is going on, the alliance’s chief, Jens Stoltenberg, said on Wednesday. “I think that everyone realised that, to become a member in the midst of a war, is not on the agenda,” Reuters reports he said at an event organised by the German Marshall Fund of the US thinktank in Brussels. “The issue is what happens when the war ends.”

Suspilne, Ukraine’s state broadcaster, reports that the police evacuated a family of four children and three adults from Toretsk in Donetsk after the latest round of shelling. The children’s mother says that they have already come under fire five times and run under mines. Suspilne says they lived 300 metres from the frontline and about 800 metres from the positions of the Russian army, but now plan to go to stay with relatives in Vinnytsia.

Russian private army Wagner lost more than 10,000 fighters in the drawn-out battle for Bakhmut, according to the group’s chief, Yevgeny Prigozhin. He said about 20% of the 50,000 Russian prisoners recruited to fight in the 15-month war died in the eastern Ukrainian city, Reuters reported. The figure was in stark contrast with claims from Moscow that it has lost just over 6,000 troops in the war, and is higher than the official estimate of the Soviet losses in the Afghanistan war of 15,000 troops between 1979 and 1989.

The World Health Organization assembly passed a motion on Wednesday condemning Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, including attacks on healthcare facilities. The motion passed by 80 votes to 9, with 52 abstentions and 36 countries absent, Reuters reported.

The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) expects to spend €1.5bn (£1.3bn) in Ukraine next year in support of infrastructure and the economy, a senior source at the bank has said. It comes on top of €3bn already projected for 2022 and the remainder of 2023. The funds have helped the economy continue to function, ensure there was no run on banks and civil servants continued to be paid.

New Cooperative Cybersecurity Models Needed In An Era Of Global Risk

Chuck Brooks

Cybersecurity risks to national security are evolving as hybrid wars are changing the threat landscape. There is an urgency to examine the scope and limitations of existing strategies and frameworks in the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance and identify the core cybersecurity challenges that the U.S. and its allies must overcome.

In 2010, President Barack Obama declared cybersecurity a top priority and announced the creation of a new White House office dedicated to cybersecurity issues. This decision responded to growing cyber-attacks against U.S. government agencies, critical infrastructure, and private sector entities. Since then, cybersecurity has remained a top national security priority for the United States with subsequent administrations continuing to prioritize cybersecurity issues and invest in efforts to improve the nation's cybersecurity posture.

In the past few years, a tense geopolitical environment and evolving technology have rapidly increased the complexity of cybersecurity risks and their implications for U.S. national security. Hybrid war and the changing threat landscape in cyberspace have increased the risks of confrontation between nation-states. The scope and limitations of cybersecurity strategies and cyber warfare doctrines developed by the United States and its allies needs more collaboration and implementation to address the core challenges that the United States and its allies are facing.

Society’s refusal to have enough babies is what will save it from the existential threat of A.I., Eric Schmidt says


Advocates of stronger regulation of artificial intelligence have a long list of concerns and possible dangers backing up their argument, from short-term threats such as spreading believable misinformation to more existential far-off risks of superintelligent A.I. taking over humanity (or “going Terminator,” in Elon Musk’s words). A more medium-term fear is that A.I. will be one of the biggest job disrupters in recent history, with Goldman Sachs calculating in March the technology could soon replace the equivalent of 300 million jobs in the U.S. and Europe. But the peril of losing our jobs to A.I. could be undermined by another existential risk afflicting society, says former Google CEO and executive chairman Eric Schmidt: the developed world’s rapidly declining birth rate.

“Here are the facts. We are not having enough children, and we have not been having enough children for long enough that there is a demographic crisis where people who are my age are going to be taken care of by younger generations,” Schmidt said at the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit in London Wednesday.

Schmidt pushed back against the “narrative” that new technologies are inevitably going to cause disruption and lead to widespread job loss, saying that when it comes to A.I., the net benefit will likely be positive because of enhanced efficiency and the technology’s ability to replace professions that are already getting harder to fill in a shrinking labor market.

In the U.S., a historically tight labor market could become even tighter in the coming decades as a result of fewer children being born. Aside from a pandemic-induced “baby bump” in 2021, U.S. fertility rates—the number of children each woman would be expected to have in her lifetime—has been on a mostly steady decline since the mid-2000s, including a record-breaking 4% drop in 2020.