12 June 2023

India and China are kicking out each other’s journalists in the latest strain on ties

Simone McCarthy

Members of the media wait ahead of the unveiling of the Communist Party of China's new Politburo Standing Committee at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022.

India and China are fast heading toward having few or no accredited journalists on the ground in each other’s country – the latest sign of fraying relations between the world’s two most populous nations.

New Delhi on Friday called on Chinese authorities to “facilitate the continued presence” of Indian journalists working and reporting in the country and said the two sides “remain in touch” on the issue.

Three of the four journalists from major Indian publications based in China this year have had their credentials revoked by Beijing since April, a person within India’s media with first-hand knowledge told CNN.

Meanwhile, Beijing last week said there was only one remaining Chinese reporter in India due to the country’s “unfair and discriminatory treatment” of its reporters, and that reporter’s visa had yet to be renewed.

“The Chinese side has no choice but to take appropriate counter-measures,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at a regular briefing when asked about an article on the recent ejections of journalists in the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the story.

The situation is the latest flashpoint in the fractious relationship between the nuclear-armed neighbors, which has deteriorated in recent years amid rising nationalism in both countries and volatility at their contested border.

The reduction of journalists – which includes both those from China’s government-run state media and major Indian outlets – is likely to further degrade those ties and each country’s insight into the other’s political and social circumstances, at a time when there is little room for misunderstandings.

Private Eyes: China’s Embrace of Open-Source Military Intelligence

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is using new collection, processing, and analysis technologies to exploit the massive amount of open-source information available from the internet and other sources for military intelligence purposes. A growing ecosystem of private companies, state-owned enterprises, state-run research organizations, and universities is supporting the PLA’s push to leverage open-source intelligence (OSINT) by providing research services, platforms, and data. The PLA almost certainly views OSINT as an increasingly valuable source of military intelligence that can support decision-making and necessitates the use of new collection, processing, and analysis technologies, which the PLA and China’s defense industry are actively developing.

The PLA and China’s defense industry almost certainly take advantage of other countries’ open information environments to extract OSINT from foreign governments, militaries, universities, defense industry companies, scientific research organizations, think tanks, news media outlets, social media platforms, forums, individuals, commercial data providers, print media, radio broadcasts, satellites, and other sources. This OSINT almost certainly provides the PLA insight into foreign military capabilities, facilities, doctrine, decision-making, weapons, equipment, science and technology, exercises, training, intelligence, and deployments, providing a clear intelligence advantage.

In addition to supporting decision-making, Chinese observers have suggested more specific uses for military OSINT as well, such as carrying out long-range maritime target tracking, enabling early warning of crises, supporting precision strikes, countering enemy propaganda, facilitating domestic science and technology innovation, and supporting training and talent development.

This report profiles 5 private Chinese OSINT providers that serve the PLA, including providers that mainly sell platform and database products, providers that primarily offer research and analysis services, and providers that specialize in remote sensing data. The PLA very likely uses this data to support decision-making and better understand potential foreign adversaries in preparation for future conflicts. Given that China is very unlikely to open up its information environment, and that Western countries are very unlikely to close off their information environments, the PLA will very likely maintain its advantage over Western militaries in OSINT.

China Is Doubling Down on its Digital Currency

Thai-Binh Elston

BOTTOM LINEChina’s central bank continues to take aggressive steps toward assimilating the digital yuan within its domestic financial system. Despite these efforts, less than a fifth of the Chinese population have utilized it.

While China continues to be a pioneer in digital currency development, the United States is yet to even pilot a digital dollar.

China, the world’s largest bilateral creditor and leading trading partner, could use the digital yuan to elevate the status of the renminbi and challenge the dominance of the US dollar.

The United States is at risk of losing economic leverage and international financial power if Beijing continues to dictate the norms and regulations of digital currencies.

Since 2014, the People’s Republic of China has been developing a digital currency called the digital yuan—also known as e-yuan, e-CNY, digital renminbi, or digital RMB. This new technology provides an array of options for overseeing China’s colossal and fragile financial system, as well as opportunities for economic influence abroad. Ultimately, the Chinese Communist Party seeks to make the digital yuan the go-to payment means for its 1.4 billion population, as well as advance China’s technological prowess on the international stage.

The United States has enjoyed global economic influence in part thanks to the US dollar being the dominant currency for trade, foreign exchange reserves, and cross-border transactions. However, China’s digital yuan has the potential to weaken the ability of the United States to retain trading partners, enforce sanctions, and monitor financial flows. Moreover, the digital yuan raises cybersecurity concerns related to data protection, espionage, and financial stability. With each year that China pilots its digital currency and the United States does not, Beijing becomes better positioned to dictate the norms and regulations of this new technology and Washington becomes a weaker competitor.

What Is the Digital Yuan?

China’s digital yuan is a central bank digital currency (CBDC) issued by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) and valued the same as the standard renminbi (RMB). It is a legal tender since it is a digitized version of physical RMB. As FPRI Fellow Bob Murray has explained, CBDC transactions are “faster, cheaper, and theoretically more secure” than conventional methods such as e-payments or e-banking.

What is China Doing at the Lunar Distant Retrograde Orbit?

China’s Chang’e 5 (CE-5) orbiter, which as of January 2022 has likely moved to the lunar Distant Retrograde Orbit (DRO), is probably conducting enabling telemetry, tracking and control and Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) tests to support Chinese preparations for the next stage of China’s Lunar Exploration Program (CLEP), according to Chinese government information and Chinese academics.[i],[ii],[iii],[iv],[v] According to western space watchers, if CE-5 is indeed in DRO, it would be the first man made object there.[vi] In 2020, China invited domestic and international payload proposals for its next CLEP mission, the Chang’e 7 (CE-7), and specifically requested a VLBI payload for the relay satellite and a test laser communications payload for the orbiter.[vii] However, in advance of, and even after this solicitation, Chinese researchers have continued to publish competing proposals for the ultimate navigation and communications architecture which CE-7’s relay satellite will eventually support.[viii],[ix],[x] Among these competing proposals are architectures which include communications relay satellites in DRO, indicating CE-5’s tests in this orbit are a key component to Chinese planners’ decisionmaking.

China intends to launch the CE-7 probe between 2024 and 2025 to the lunar south pole. CE-7 is composed of five separate spacecraft, namely an orbiter, lander, rover, hopping probe, and a polar relay satellite. CE-7 cannot use China’s current lunar relay satellite, Queqiao, orbiting the Earth-Moon Lagrange Point 2 (E-M L2) because Queqiao’s specific E-M L2 position isn’t able to support a landing closer to the lunar south pole, according to a detailed Chinese media report.[xi] To achieve precise landing determination, CE-7 will release its relay satellite before the other 4 components move into lunar orbit. Chinese academic articles describe that CE-7’s relay satellite will eventually be networkable with Queqiao and probably become the first components of China’s future lunar communications and navigation architecture for deep space exploration, and robotic and crewed missions. [xii],[xiii]


Kevin Pollpeter Elizabeth Barrett Jeffrey Edmonds Amanda Kerrigan Andrew Taffer

Over the past two decades, the relationship between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Russia has transitioned from what some described as a relationship of convenience to what both countries now call a “comprehensive strategic partnership.” The growing strategic partnership between China and Russia is reflected in a burgeoning China-Russia space relationship. Once the dominant power in the space relationship, Russia now appears to be taking a secondary role. China’s growing expertise in space, matched with the financial capabilities to sustain a large and growing space enterprise, signals not only China’s rise as a major space power but also the geopolitical transition taking place between China, Russia, and the United States.


China-Russia space relations are indicative of a broader effort to build mutual trust, further Chinese and Russian influence and counter Western political and economic pressure, facilitate multipolarization, and achieve common national security goals.
Any limitations of the China-Russia relationship do not appear to be significant enough to derail the broader relationship. Indeed, not only do Beijing and Moscow seem to have successfully compartmentalized such irritants, but bilateral cooperation in sensitive dual-use areas of scientific and technological research suggests that they may be gradually overcoming—or are working to overcome—their mutual mistrust.

In this context, China-Russia space cooperation is intended to enhance each country in several ways:Strategically, through joint efforts that balance against U.S. dominance

Militarily, through combined military exercises, technology transfer, coordinated actions, and confidence-building measures

Diplomatically, through proposed activities that demonstrate Chinese and Russian space leadership separate from U.S. cooperative space frameworks

Economically, through technology transfer agreements and joint development efforts that reduce the technological and budgetary risk of space programs and promote space products and services

How China Uses WeChat to Influence American Elections

Seth D. Kaplan

Russian efforts to manipulate American elections have made headlines in recent years. But China’s attempts at such have achieved more—largely because they have been overwhelmingly conducted via WeChat, an application popular among Chinese-Americans. As the 2024 presidential election heats up, campaigns, voters, and the federal government must be vigilant against CCP efforts to use the platform to influence American elections.

In February 2016, Chinese-Americans erupted in nationwide protests in support of Peter Liang, a Chinese-American cop convicted of manslaughter following the fatal shooting of an unarmed man in a dark stairwell in Brooklyn. The Los Angeles Times noted that the protests were organized through WeChat and reflected “a rare instance of collective political action by Chinese Americans.”

But far from being organic expressions of anger, significant evidence suggests Beijing’s involvement. David Tian Wang, one of the principal protest organizers, is a Chinese green card holder and activist who has long been associated with people and groups affiliated with the Chinese government. In February 2016, Wang used WeChat to help organize protests in dozens of American cities within one week, taking the lead in rallying as many as 100,000 people from, he claimed, forty-eight different states. “This is how powerful WeChat is,” said Wang. The fact that Chinese state-backed media outlets such as the Global Times and the United Front-linked China Qiaowang promoted Wang’s efforts suggests a relationship with Beijing.

Later that year, whether out of concern over the consequences of a Hillary Clinton presidency for China, or a belief that Donald Trump could be bribed or manipulated, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) threw its weight behind Trump’s candidacy. In March, Wang converted the numerous pro-Peter Liang WeChat groups into pro-Donald Trump groups. In the process, he established what would become the largest pro-Trump Chinese-American organization, Chinese Americans for Trump (CAFT). This group, which would eventually grow to over 8,000 registered members, started canvassing for the future president in battleground states such as Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Ohio as early as March 2016, eventually reaching 10,000 to 15,000 households in each of these states. Other groups, similarly organized on WeChat, sprouted up in places such as Missouri, where 300 Chinese-Americans canvassed for Trump. CAFT and these other Chinese-Americans groups also spent significant sums of money on the race.

Pivot to Offense: How Iran Is Adapting for Modern Conflict and Warfare

Nicholas Carl

Key PointsIran has embraced an offensive regional strategy to adapt for modern conflict and pursue external objectives more effectively. This shift means more aggressively empowering the so-called Axis of Resistance and expanding Iranian regional influence.

Regime officials are responding to their evolving threat perceptions and acting on their growing confidence in their defensive capabilities. They now view their conflict against the US as hybrid in nature, rather than conventional.

Iran is building an increasingly capable and cohesive coalition of state security services and foreign militias to execute its rulers’ offensive concepts. This coalition fuses conventional and unconventional means to threaten enemies.

The US must develop its Iran policy past just nuclear negotiations. The US needs a comprehensive strategy that contains the growing threat from the Axis of Resistance while maintaining deterrence and preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Executive Summary

Iran has adopted in recent years an offensive regional strategy that emphasizes strengthening its so-called Axis of Resistance and expanding its regional influence more aggressively than in past decades. Iranian lead­ers assert that going on the offensive is necessary to counter alleged Western hybrid warfare against them. They have also concluded that they have deterred the US conventionally, allowing them to pursue this risk­ier approach against the US and its partners without fear of provoking a serious American response. This pivot toward an offensive strategy is thus fundamen­tally changing how Tehran interacts with the rest of the Middle East and pursues its grand strategic objec­tives (i.e., attaining regional hegemony, destroying the Israeli state, and expelling American influence from the region).

The Battle for Eurasia

Hal Brands

The war in Ukraine may have many positive outcomes: a Russia bled white by its own aggression, a United States that has rediscovered the centrality of its power and leadership, a democratic community that has been unified and energized for the dangerous years ahead. There will also be one very ominous outcome: the rise of a coalition of Eurasian autocracies linked by geographic proximity to one another and geopolitical hostility to the West. As Russian President Vladimir Putin’s folly rallies the advanced democracies, it hastens the construction of a Fortress Eurasia, manned by the free world’s enemies.

Ukraine’s Big Counteroffensive Gets Underway

Jack Detsch

For weeks, Ukrainian officials have had a one-word answer for journalists and Western counterparts to the nagging question of when their spring offensive into Russian lines would begin: Hush. Just days before Ukraine began sending U.S.-provided Bradley infantry-fighting vehicles toward Russian-occupied territory, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry put out a video of troops staged along the nearly 700-mile front line, clad in masks, instructing viewers to hush.

What do higher education students want from online learning?

Felipe Child, Marcus Frank, Jonathan Law, and Jimmy Sarakatsannis

McKinsey surveyed more than 7,000 students in 17 countries to find out which elements of online higher education they value most.

Online programs, both remote and hybrid, are capturing a wider share of higher education across the world. Much of the growth in recent years was driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced campuses to close suddenly and switch to remote classes. But many students, especially those trying to balance work with study, are gravitating toward online learning because of its greater convenience and accessibility compared with traditional classroom instruction. Indeed, new McKinsey research finds that most higher education students want to continue to incorporate at least some aspects of online learning into their education. However, a significant share of students are dissatisfied with the online experiences their universities offer, signaling that higher education institutions could benefit by evolving their online learning models.

To ascertain which learning models higher education students prefer and why, as well as what they find satisfying about online education and which elements of the online learning experience they value most, we surveyed 7,000 students across 17 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East (see sidebar “About our research”). The research covers eight dimensions of the online learning experience encompassing 24 attributes, thereby providing a broad view of what higher education students want (Exhibit 1).

We strive to provide individuals with disabilities equal access to our website. If you would like information about this content we will be happy to work with you. Please email us at: McKinsey_Website_Accessibility@mckinsey.com

The mighty Dnieper’s war stories

The devastation of Ukraine's Nova Kakhovka dam is reminiscent of an incident that occurred during the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. This river has been a major player in the history of warfare.

The world woke up to horrific scenes of devastation on June 6: a raging torrent pouring through a gap in the dam at Nova Kakhovka, Ukraine. Russia’s invasion had produced a rich harvest of unspeakable tragedies. The breach of the dam, and the ensuing inundation downstream of Nova Kakhovka, stands in a category of its own as a grim reminder of the costs of war.

Kyiv and Moscow were quick to blame each other: the Ukrainians have accused Russia of blowing up the dam, while the Russians have cited alleged Ukrainian artillery strikes. Seeing that Russia’s occupying army was in control of the dam at the time of breach, Kyiv’s story appears more credible, though it is not yet clear whether the dam was deliberately blown up by the Russians, or whether the breach was an accident. Given that the dam failure coincided with the beginning of a Ukrainian offensive against heavily defended Russian positions, the theory of an accidental breach stretches credulity, but stranger things have happened.

The Dnieper – one of Europe’s mightiest rivers, which flows out of the murky depths of Russian forests through Belarus and finally Ukraine before it empties out in the Black Sea – has suffered such calamities before. The earlier episodes occurred during the Second World War, when first the retreating Soviet army, and then the retreating Germans, blew up dams in the hope of slowing their enemy’s pursuit.

The first time this happened was in 1941. Ukraine bore the brunt of the German invasion of the Soviet Union that summer. Just days after the invasion, the Germans captured Lviv, days later, Zhitomir, and by the end of July, Vinnytsia. Kyiv faced encirclement (its Soviet defenders would abandon the Ukrainian capital in September). By mid-August 1941, the Wehrmacht had reached Zaporizhzhia, site of the Dnieper Hydroelectric Power Station (known by its Soviet acronym Dneproges). Built in 1927-39, amid much Stalinist fanfare but to an American design, it was briefly the largest hydropower station in the world, and a celebrated symbol of socialist modernity.

A Critical Juncture: EU’s Venezuela Policy Following the War in Ukraine

Anna Ayuso Tiziano Breda Elsa Lilja Gunnarsdottir Marianne Riddervold

The war in Ukraine accelerated a global energy crisis just as the world was beginning to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. Venezuela has the largest crude oil and the eighth largest gas reserves in the world and can therefore offer an alternative for Europe to replace its fossil fuels imports from Russia. The problem is, of course, that EU–Venezuela relations have been in a sorry state since the EU denounced President Nicolás Maduro’s re-election in 2018 as neither free nor fair. Since then, the EU has adopted targeted sanctions against the Venezuelan government, thus adding to the maximum economic pressure that former US President Donald Trump imposed on Caracas in an attempt to fatally weaken Maduro. This approach has yielded no result in that respect, and the war in Ukraine, and its energy security implications for the EU, creates the occasion for a revision of EU and US strategies. The hope is that a “more carrots, less sticks” approach could convince Maduro to engage in meaningful dialogue with the opposition. The EU must seize this opportunity of rapprochement and readiness and push forward the recommendations put forth in its electoral observation mission’s report of 2021, reconcile internal disputes to focus on the big picture, give momentum to dialogue efforts, consolidate support among regional allies and rekindle its efforts towards humanitarian relief.

A failed pressure strategy

Venezuela used to be among the most prosperous countries in Latin America, but is now home to one of the largest external displacement crises in the world next to Syria and Ukraine, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.[1] When he came into power in 2013, President Maduro inherited from his predecessor Hugo Chávez a country in economic turmoil, high in debt and on an increasingly authoritarian track. The slump in oil prices in 2014 added fuel to the fire, prompting a wave of unrest to which Maduro responded with repression. He then tried to replace the democratically elected National Assembly, which had an opposition majority, with a loyalist Constituent Assembly in 2017. But it was after the 2018 presidential election, when Maduro secured a second term in what are widely considered rigged elections, that Venezuela descended into a full-blown political crisis. Juan Guaidó, speaker of the National Assembly, used a constitutional clause to declare himself interim president until new elections could be held, backed by more than 60 countries worldwide.[2] In the following years, various negotiations attempts between Maduro and the opposition failed to solve the country’s political dispute, prompting fatigue in the opposition ranks while eventually consolidating Maduro’s authoritarian grip.

Data Isn’t the New Oil; That Might Be a Good Thing

David Moschella

If only people didn’t need to worry about heating their homes, buying food, getting to work, and the overall cost of living. If only modern nations didn’t rely on fragile energy supply chains and messy things like plastics, fertilizers, batteries, cement, steel and internal combustion engines. If only governments didn’t feel the need to compete for resources, and worry about their self-sufficiency, resiliency, and economic security. If only we could end pollution, and the climate would just stay the same. Imagine.

We could then live in a world defined more by our mental needs than our physical ones. We could prioritize having information at our fingertips, personalizing our health care and education, enjoying virtual and augmented realities, exploring the wonders and possibilities of artificial intelligence, and addressing technology’s cultural downsides. We could then say with confidence that data is indeed the new oil, and that the digital economy has superseded the dirty demands of the industrial world.

Maybe someday. But today we can’t plausibly say such things. Although AI and large language models show us what a data-driven world might someday look like, the physical world is still pre-eminent, and from food to batteries to military equipment and inflation, it dominates the political agenda. Perhaps the most we can say today is that energy is the new oil. But whether this energy comes from fossil fuels or alternatives (like renewables and nuclear), it’s uniquely vital to the modern world. Data doesn’t come close in necessity. One can imagine a world where reliable, clean, storable, and inexpensive power is taken as a given, but Putin’s horrible war has shown us that this goal won’t be achieved anytime soon.


It’s easy to see why the “data is the new oil” meme once spread so widely. The phrase goes back to at least 2006 and is widely credited to the British mathematician and entrepreneur Clive Humby. It accurately reflects the enthusiasm of the developing Internet economy. Then and now, the parallels are numerous, most prominently the Rockefeller-like wealth and Standard Oil-like market shares within many tech sectors. There is also the general-purpose nature of both oil and information; each provides foundational capabilities for new and existing businesses alike. Then there are the less direct but aesthetically uncanny similarities. Both oil and data need to be extracted and refined. Both can also have negative externalities. Just as fossil fuels can affect the climate and the air we breathe without us necessarily knowing it, data exhaust might potentially harm society and individuals in indirect ways.

Here’s what to expect on China, AI, green energy, and more when EU and US officials meet in Sweden

Annika Hedberg , Georg E. Riekeles , Andrea G. Rodríguez , Philipp Lausberg , Frances G. Burwell , Olga Khakova

The United States (US) and the European Union (EU) appear poised to take joint action on some of their biggest common challenges in trade and technology, including export controls, China’s non-market practices, and possibly even artificial intelligence (AI).

Those actions are set to be unveiled on May 30-31, when US and EU officials convene in Luleå, a small city in northern Sweden, for the fourth meeting of the US-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC). What can Europeans and Americans expect to see at this meeting? And can Brussels and Washington surmount lingering obstacles to transatlantic cooperation on trade and technology? We gathered rapporteurs from the TTC Track 2 Dialogues series—a forum for policy debate and stakeholder dialogue organised jointly between the Atlantic Council’s Europe Center and the European Policy Centre—to share their insights.

The TTC must help the US and EU confront their geopolitical challenges

When the TTC was announced in June 2021, many analysts and stakeholders believed it could usefully address the severe asymmetries between US and EU approaches to trade and technology, while also repairing the transatlantic rifts that had emerged during the Trump administration. That optimism was almost immediately challenged as the TTC leadership agreed that pending legislation was excluded from the discussion agenda, and negotiations over data privacy and green steel were put on separate tracks. Instead, the TTC focused on laying small stepping stones toward future cooperation on AI, standards setting, supply-chain transparency, small and medium-sized enterprises, and external trade issues such as the use of forced labour.

Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the TTC turned from a moderately useful mechanism for coordinating US-EU standards-setting efforts to an important forum for dealing with challenges posed by China and Russia. The TTC quickly became the transatlantic forum for coordinating export controls on Russia, dove deeper into tracking supply chains, focused more intensely on tech and democracy issues, and began to experiment with countering Chinese influence in the Global South through small projects in Kenya and Jamaica.

These new priorities are not, however, the ones most valued by stakeholders from the business community, whose support for the TTC has become rather tepid. Those stakeholders focus on instances of potential protectionism or overly intrusive regulation, such as the possible forced sharing of data under the EU Digital Services Act. The TTC has increased its stakeholder engagement in recent months, with a focus on standards for 6G rollout, digital trade, e-mobility, AI taxonomy, and other issues. These are important and will help the US and the EU develop a foundation for future technical and economic cooperation.

Water Weaponization: Its Forms, Its Use in the Russia-Ukraine War, and What to Do About It

Marcus King and Emily Hardy

Water has been associated with conflict and cooperation between states since the beginning of recorded history. In ancient Mesopotamia, a conflict over the Euphrates River between two Sumerian cities yielded the world’s first recorded treaty.1 However, water has just as often been weaponized during conflict—water weaponization being the exploitation of the human need for water, by deliberately rendering it scarce and/ or insecure. During World War Two, for example, the Royal Air Force Squadron 617—nicknamed the “American Dambusters”—conducted “Operation Chastise” to destroy three German-controlled dams in Germany’s industrial core.2 Two of the three targeted dams, Möhne and Eder, collapsed, significantly damaging hydroelectric infrastructure in the country. This is a classic case of water weaponization, and the practice has continued through to this day—all while climate change continues to place serious stress on water resources. This briefer will highlight the core elements of water weaponization, and then assess its practice in the Russia-Ukraine war to date.
Classifying Water Weaponization

In a study assessing the issue in Africa and the Middle East, one of the authors of this briefer, Marcus King, developed a six-category matrix of water weaponization, including Strategic, Tactical, Coercive, Unintentional, Instrument of Psychological Terror, and Instrument of Extortion or Incentivization.3

Table 1: Categories of Water Weaponization


The use of water to destroy large or important areas, targets, populations, or infrastructure The use of water against targets of strictly military value within the battlespace The use of water provision to fund territorial administration or weapons acquisition with aspirations of achieving legitimacy Attempted water weaponization causes collateral damage to the environment or its human component The use of the threat of denial of access or purposeful contamination of the water supply to create fear among noncombatants The use of water provision to reward the behavior of subject populations and support legitimacy of the perpetrator

Marine Corps University Press

Journal of Advanced Military Studies, 2023, v. 14, no. 1 PART I: 

The Singleton Paradox: On the Future of Human-Machine Teaming and Potential Disruption of War Itself

PART II: Whale Songs of Wars Not Yet Waged: The Demise of Natural-Born Killers through Human-Machine Teamings Yet to Come

Future Warfare and Responsibility Management in the AI-based Military Decision-making Process

Colonel John Boyd’s Thoughts on Disruption: A Useful Effects Spiral from Uncertainty to Chaos

Future Bioterror and Biowarfare Threats for NATO’s Armed Forces until 2030

Sovereignty, Cyberspace, and the Emergence of Internet Bubbles

The Nationalization of Cybersecurity: The Potential Effects of the Cyberspace Solarium

Commission Report on the Nation’s Critical Infrastructure

Including Africa Threat Analysis in Force Design 2030

The Deficiency of Disparity: The Limits of Systemic Theory and the Need for Strategic Studies in Power Transition Theory

Intermediate Force Capabilities: Countering Adversaries across the Competition Continuum

The Human Weapon System in Gray Zone Competition

"Trying Not to Lose It": The Allied Disaster in France and the Low Countries, 1940

Bad for the Goose, Bad for the Gander: Drone Attacks in Russia Underscore Broader Risks

Brianna Rosen

“What do ordinary people do when drones with explosives crash into their windows?”

This is the question that civil society groups have been asking for decades, pointing to civilian harm resulting from U.S. drone strikes in the Middle East. It is also the question now posed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, chief of the U.S.-sanctioned paramilitary Wagner Group, about Ukrainian drone strikes in Moscow.

Drones have been used by both sides throughout the Russia-Ukraine War, representing an uptick in drone use in conventional conflicts. In May, Russia accused Ukraine of launching a series of drone strikes in its territory, including attacks targeting President Vladimir Putin’s residence and apartment buildings in a neighborhood in Moscow. The latter strikes, which occurred on May 30, reportedly targeted the homes of senior Russian intelligence officials for the first time in the war.

Ukraine has denied any direct involvement in the attacks. As President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, “We don’t attack Putin or Moscow. We fight on our territory. We are defending our villages and cities.”

But as Kyiv’s Spring counteroffensive begins, recent reports suggest a network of pro-Ukrainian agents and sympathizers may be responsible for the attacks inside Russia, raising thorny legal and policy questions.

The Biden administration has repeatedly stated it does not want U.S.-provided weapons, including drones, to be used in attacks inside of Russia. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby reiterated this stance on May 31, affirming that the U.S. government “communicated privately to the Ukrainians, as recently as last week or so, that we don’t want to see U.S.-supplied equipment used to strike inside Russia, that we don’t support attacks inside of Russia and that we are not going to change our policy about not enabling or encouraging those attacks.”

Allied governments in Europe have raised similar concerns, fearing that such attacks could lead to broader escalation and nuclear brinkmanship.

Ukraine’s Offensive Operations: Shifting the Offense-Defense Balance

Seth G. Jones , Alexander Palmer , and Joseph S. Bermudez Jr.

Russian fortifications in Ukraine are the most extensive defensive works in Europe since World War II, according to new CSIS analysis. The Russian military has constructed trenches, minefields, dragon’s teeth, and other barriers to slow Ukrainian forces during offensive operations. But as a review of previous wars shows, fortifications and other measures do not guarantee that the defender has the advantage. The Ukrainian military could effectively use a combination of strategy, technology, geography, and other factors to retake territory illegally seized by Russia.


Russia has constructed formidable defensive fortifications in eastern and southern Ukraine. These defenses consist of an extensive network of trenches, antipersonnel and anti-vehicle mines, razor wire, earthen berms, and dragon’s teeth—truncated pyramids made of reinforced concrete used to impede the mobility of main battle tanks and mechanized infantry. As one UK defense intelligence report concluded, “Russia has constructed some of the most extensive systems of military defensive works seen anywhere in the world for many decades. These defences are not just near the current front lines but have also been dug deep inside areas Russia currently controls.”[1]

Russia’s goals in building these defenses are to solidify its territorial gains in Ukraine and to prevent Ukrainian forces from liberating additional territory. Despite Russian efforts, however, it is unclear whether the defender has the advantage in Ukraine (as the Russians hope) or the Ukrainians can shift the advantage to the offense.

To assess the impact of Russia’s fortifications, this analysis asks several questions. How is the Russian military attempting to strengthen its defenses in Ukraine? How are these efforts likely to impact the offense-defense balance? What are Ukrainian options to shift the advantage to the offense? To answer these questions, this analysis utilizes several sources of information. It analyzes open-source data on Russian fortifications and assesses satellite imagery of Russian fortifications in eastern and southern Ukraine. It is also informed by extensive interviews with senior Ukrainian, U.S., and European military officials in Eastern Europe in May 2023. Finally, this analysis leverages an extensive literature on the offense-defense balance, including lessons from previous wars.

448. Applying Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning to the Target Audience Analysis Model

[Editor’s Note: Our regular readers know the Mad Scientist Laboratory continues to explore the potential benefits Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) bring to the future of warfighting and the Operational Environment. As Dr. James Mancillas so eloquently stated, “The integration of future AI systems has the potential to permeate the entirety of military operations, from acquisition philosophies to human-AI team collaborations.” Warfighting is a process-rich endeavor, where speed is oftentimes the decisive factor. AI/ML can overcome limits in human cognitive abilities to provide our Warfighters with a battlefield “edge.”

Today’s post adds to our compendium of understanding with MSG Casey A. Kendall‘s submission exploring how AI/ML could complement (but not replace!) human instinct and intuition in Psychological Operations (PSYOPS) by applying its sheer information processing power and machine speed to analyze Target Audiences (TA) in our on-going endeavor to “Persuade, Change, Influence” our competitors and adversaries. MSG Kendall’s submission was the first runner up in our fourth annual Army Mad Scientist / U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy (SGM-A) Writing Contest — Enjoy!]

The topic of artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) increasingly headlines conversations throughout a variety of professions. From law firms to academia, experts attempt to identify how the use of AI/ML can benefit their field; conversely, these experts are also examining the potential for AI/ML to circumvent or corrupt processes within their field. Regardless of the viewpoint, all understand that AI/ML is a powerful tool and in one way or another it is the way of the future. Within the Psychological Operations (PSYOP) regiment, planners are continuously evaluating their own processes to ensure they incorporate new innovations and technologies to outpace our adversaries; however, far too often the speed of innovation and the bureaucracy of applying new techniques keeps the field two steps behind. AI/ML is a technology that PSYOP cannot live

How to Regulate AI

Ravi Agrawal

A strange thing is happening in the world of artificial intelligence. The very people who are leading its development are warning of the immense risks of their work. A recent statement released by the nonprofit Center for AI Safety, signed by hundreds of important AI executives and researchers, said: “Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war.”

The Cyber War is here. Are we prepared?

This opinion piece by Patrick Wright, Group Executive Tech and Enterprise Operations, NAB, was first published in The Australian Financial Review on 5 June 2023.

Masses of data, the privacy of millions of Australians and the stability of our biggest businesses are disappearing in seconds. If the recent high-profile cyber breaches taught us anything, it’s that cyber-attacks are increasingly devastating to our community. The importance of a national cyber security response cannot be overstated.

Cyber criminals are organised, trans-national gangs; often basing their operations in countries beyond the legal reach of their victims and law enforcement agencies. They target households, governments and businesses and sometimes are more appalling than we can imagine, such as the recent attack on the Crown Princess Mary Cancer Centre.

These are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what cyber criminals are capable of. They serve as a poignant reminder that cyber security can’t be achieved as a solitary endeavour. It requires coordination, communication and a shared commitment to protecting our digital infrastructure and our fellow citizens.

The Government is rightly preparing for more of these injurious breaches. Its announcement in April to conduct a series of cross-sector cyber war games is a welcome step. It’s another important example of how we’re working with Government – alongside our own investment and preparedness – to tackle the challenge. Efforts like these place Australia among countries showing the greatest progress and commitment to enhancing cyber security, according to a new Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) report.

Yet our smallest businesses continue to be relentlessly targeted by criminals. Last year, they were the number one victims of cyber-crime with a reported loss of $33 billion. This adds to the pressure small business owners are already under as they face continued cost pressures, labour skills shortage and rising inflation.

IP23042 | Cyberspace and American Power – The US Cybersecurity Strategy 2023

Kevin Chen Xian An

The authors’ views are their own and do not represent the official position of the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, NTU. These commentaries may be reproduced with prior permission from RSIS and due recognition to the authors and RSIS. Please email to Editor IDSS Paper at RSISPublications@ntu.edu.sg.

In response to mounting concerns about cyberattacks, the Biden administration launched its National Cybersecurity Strategy on 2 March 2023. The 2023 strategy echoes numerous aspects of its predecessors but also diverges from them in significant ways. KEVIN CHEN XIAN AN traces the evolution of these strategies to give a sense of where US strategic thought on cybersecurity is heading and how Washington increasingly views cyberspace.

The United States has come under increasing threat from online actors in recent years. The Federal Bureau of Investigation reported that ransomware attacks, in which cybercriminals block access to a network until a sum of money is paid, affected at least 649 organisations across 14 of America’s 16 critical infrastructure sectors in 2021. One such attack on Colonial Pipeline in May 2021 forced the company to temporarily shut down all its pipeline operations, resulting in widespread fuel shortages.

Given the rising threat of cyberattacks, the launch of the National Cybersecurity Strategy on 2 March 2023 by President Joe Biden was a welcome development. At first glance, the document shares numerous aspects with its predecessors, but observers should view these similarities – as well as differences – in context. From market-driven to government-regulated, and defensive to aggressive, the 2023 strategy is not old wine in a new bottle, but the next stage in US strategic thought.

The Evolution of US Cybersecurity Strategy

Science & Tech Spotlight:Directed Energy Weapons

Directed energy weapons—such as lasers—use energy fired at the speed of light. These weapons can produce force that ranges from deterrent, to damaging, to destructive. Many countries, including the U.S., are researching their use.

Because they use energy instead of bullets or missiles, directed energy weapons could be less expensive per shot and have virtually unlimited firing power.

However, the long-term health effects of these weapons are unclear. They also generally have a shorter range than conventional weapons, and weather conditions—such as fog and storms—can make certain directed energy weapons less effective.

Demonstrator Laser Weapon System at the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico

There is a surge in interest in directed energy weapons from several nations—including the U.S.—primarily for counter drone missions. These weapons use electromagnetic energy to cause effects ranging from deterrence to destruction. They offer capabilities that conventional weapons may not, but challenges have so far prevented widespread operational use.
The Technology

What is it? Directed energy weapons (DEW) use concentrated electromagnetic energy to combat enemy forces and assets. These weapons include high energy lasers and other high power electromagnetics—such as millimeter wave and high power microwave weapons. Unlike weapons that fire bullets or missiles, DEWs can respond to a threat in different ways. For example, they can temporarily degrade electronics on a drone or physically destroy it. See our 2022 Spotlight for more information on counter-drone technology.

Exclusive: Google lays out its vision for securing AI

Sam Sabin

Google has a new plan to help organizations apply basic security controls to their artificial intelligence systems and protect them from a new wave of cyber threats.

Why it matters: The new conceptual framework, first shared with Axios, could help companies quickly secure the AI systems against hackers trying to manipulate AI models or steal the data the models were trained on.

The big picture: Often, when a new emerging tech trend takes hold, cybersecurity and data privacy are an afterthought for businesses and consumers.One example is social media, where users were so eager to connect with one another on new platforms that they paid little scrutiny to how user data was collected, shared, or protected.
Google worries the same thing is happening with AI systems, as companies quickly build and integrate these models into their workflows.

What they're saying: "We want people to remember that many of the risks of AI can be managed by some of these basic elements," Phil Venables, CISO at Google Cloud, told Axios."Even while people are searching for the more advanced approaches, people should really remember that you've got to have the basics right as well."

Details: Google's Secure AI framework pushes organizations to implement six ideas:Assess what existing security controls can be easily extended to new AI systems, such as data encryption;

Expand existing threat intelligence research to also include specific threats targeting AI systems;

Adopt automation into the company's cyber defenses to quickly respond to any anomalous activity targeting AI systems;

Conduct regular reviews of the security measures in place around AI models;

Constantly test the security of these AI systems through so-called penetration tests and make changes based on those findings;

Journal of Advanced Military Studies

The Next Generation of Warfare

In this issue, the authors explore how the United States can remain competitive in various next-generation conflicts, including gray zones; cyber, hybrid and irregular warfare; biological warfare; rethinking doctrine to align with twenty-first-century technologies; and other emerging types of conflict and strategies employed by both state and non-state actors. The authors offer their views from historical, contemporary, and forward-looking perspectives in an effort to encourage discussion but also offer an honest assessment of military capabilities for today and tomorrow.