14 June 2023

A third of India's most sought after engineering graduates leave the country

Mimansa Verma

One-third of those graduating from the country’s prestigious engineering schools, particularly the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), migrate abroad.

Such highly-skilled persons account for 65% of the migrants heading to the US alone, a working paper (pdf) of the US-based National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) has concluded.

Nine out of 10 top scorers in the annual joint entrance examination held nationally for admission to the IITs and other reputed engineering colleges have migrated. Up to 36% of the top 1,000 scorers, too, have taken this path, according to the paper published this month.

In the US, there is a long list of IIT graduates now leading executives and CEOs. However, most immigrants move to the US as students and eventually join the US workforce. The NBER paper found that 83% of such immigrants pursue a Master’s degree or a doctorate.

“...through a combination of signaling and network effects, elite universities in source countries play a key role in shaping migration outcomes, both in terms of the overall propensity and the particular migration destination,” the report said.

India has 23 IITs across the country. The acceptance rates at most these hallowed institutions are lower than those of Ivy League colleges, especially at the most sought-after IITs at Kharagpur, Mumbai, Kanpur, Chennai, and Delhi. In 2023 alone, 189,744 candidates registered for the JEE, competing for only 16,598 seats.
Global economies are keen on highly skilled Indians

The US graduate program is a key pathway for migration, to recruit the “best and brightest,” the NBER report said.

Similarly, the UK’s High Potential Individual visa route lets graduates from the world’s top 50 non-UK universities, including the IITs, stay and work in the country for at least two years. For doctoral qualification, the work visa is for at least three years.

The Growing Threat of the Islamic State in Afghanistan and South Asia

Abdul Sayed

When the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in 2021, counterterrorism experts were alarmed at the possible resurgence of Islamist terrorist groups within the country. This Special Report lays out why those concerns, particularly about the regional Islamic State affiliate known as Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), were well-founded. The report discusses the likely trajectory of ISKP’s activities in South Asia and recommends measures to minimize potential threats to the West and build regional resilience to extremism.People fill the Bibi Fatima Mosque in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on October 18, 2021, after a deadly attack claimed by Islamic State Khorasan Province. (Photo by Jim Huylebroek/New York Times)
SummarySince the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan in August 2021, the threat posed by terrorism in the region has grown. The primary threat, however, is neither the Taliban nor their close ally al-Qaeda, but the Islamic State’s regional affiliate the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP).

ISKP’s “core” territory remains Afghanistan and Pakistan. Although ISKP first emerged as a Pakistani-dominated network, it soon focused on Afghanistan. It has switched its strategy there from controlling territory to conducting urban warfare. It posed a serious security threat to the former Afghan government and now seeks to disrupt the Taliban’s efforts to govern.

The Islamic State’s presence in South Asia is not limited to Afghanistan and Pakistan but extends to include “periphery” territory, including India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, the Maldives, and Sri Lanka. In these periphery states, however, the Islamic State faces a struggle for relevance in the face of competition with rival militant groups and strong counterterrorism pressure.

ISKP poses a growing threat to the West and its South Asian partners, and ISKP’s alarming potential calls for the West to take a variety of countermeasures, including even limited counterterrorism cooperation with the Taliban.

Al Qaeda leaders are prominently serving in Taliban government


Several members of Al Qaeda are serving as leaders and key functionaries within the Taliban’s government, which it calls the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Among them are two provincial governors, the Deputy Director of the General Directorate of Intelligence, and a training director in the Ministry of Defense.

The details of the Al Qaeda leaders working in the Taliban government were disclosed by the United Nations Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team, which issued its latest report on Afghanistan on June 9.

The Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team assessed that “the relationship between the Taliban and Al Qaeda remained close and symbiotic, with Al Qaeda viewing Taliban-administered Afghanistan a safe haven,” while Al Qaeda provides support for the Taliban regime. This assessment jibes with continued reporting from FDD’s Long War Journal, which has maintained that ties between the Taliban and Al Qaeda have only strengthened since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan after the U.S. withdrawal in Aug. 2021.

The presence of Al Qaeda leaders in government and administrative positions is far from surprising. The Taliban began integrating members of foreign terrorist groups within its shadow governance and military in the early 2010s.

The U.S. military began identifying and targeting what it called “dual hatted” Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders and facilitators, as well as members from groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. These dual hatted operatives were often appointed to district level administrative and military positions, however some have held high level positions within the Taliban, such as Fazeel-a-Tul Shaykh Abu Mohammed Ameen al Peshwari (a.k.a. Sheikh Mohammed Aminullah), who commanded the Taliban’s Peshwar Regional Military Council, and Qari Zia Rahman, who commanded regional forces in northeastern Afghanistan. Many leaders of the Haqqani Network, including its leader Sirajuddin Haqqani, who serves as one of two deputy Taliban emirs as well as the interior minister, are considered dual hatted leaders with intricate and long-standing ties to Al Qaeda.

Key dual hatted leaders serving in the Taliban government

From Deployment to Withdrawal: The C-17 Transport Plane in the Afghanistan War

Aineias Engstrom

This content was originally written for an undergraduate or Master's program. It is published as part of our mission to showcase peer-leading papers written by students during their studies. This work can be used for background reading and research, but should not be cited as an expert source or used in place of scholarly articles/books.

“I was the lucky person,” one Afghan refugee said in August 2021 after disembarking from the plane that had taken him out of Kabul to a refugee camp in the United States (U.S.) (Salim as cited in Seddiq, 2021). His work as a translator had earned him one of the coveted spots on a C-17 military transport plane evacuating civilians from Afghanistan as part of the hurried U.S. withdrawal from the country. The translator recognized that many of his compatriots had been left behind to face the uncertainty of Taliban rule: they had not made it onto one of the planes, which had come to symbolize security for many Afghans.

This paper examines the C-17’s role as an object of security in the Afghanistan War. Whose security the C-17 promoted or endangered varied, depending on U.S. political objectives and other components of the war’s security assemblage. Consistent throughout its shifting roles, however, was the plane’s ability to act as a material expression of the dividing line between security and insecurity — an observation that invites a conceptualization of the plane’s role as a boundary. The analysis makes a twofold argument: (1) the C-17 was a liminal space that constituted an objectified boundary between security and insecurity in the Afghanistan War; (2) how this boundary was “drawn”— in what contexts and dividing which sides — was determined by U.S. security politics and fraught with political implications.

After outlining key theoretical concepts, this paper undertakes an empirical analysis of the C-17 as an object of security in the Afghanistan War. It then reflects on the implications of this analysis, specifically the conceptualization of the C-17 as an object that enacts politics by delineating a boundary between security and insecurity.

Theoretical Review

China–Taiwan–United States: The Threat Triangle

Ori Sela

Relations between Beijing and Taipei are increasingly strained, and with the war in Ukraine in the background, some claim that “Taiwan is China’s next step.” How is “threat diplomacy” expressed vis-à-vis the contested island; how does the struggle between China and the US influence the issue of Taiwan; and how should Israel act in the face of developments?

Over the past decade, China has stepped up its “threat diplomacy” toward Taiwan, including military signals by air and sea, and even missile launches close to Taiwan; economic threats, including sanctions, tariffs, blockades on exports/ imports; cyber and cognitive attacks, and constant efforts to reduce global recognition of Taiwan. In addition to these threats, economic enticements are offered to those who follow China’s lead. The “threat diplomacy” intensified as Taiwan enhanced its relations with the United States, which strengthened its support for and commitment to Taiwan through legislation, economic agreements, arms deals, and mutual senior official visits; all while tensions between the United States and China have grown in recent years. While it is claimed that China is acting in this way because of its growing self-confidence and greater military power, the “threat diplomacy” also is the result of what China perceives as a threat: that Taiwan distances itself from the vision of unification with China. For Israel, the right course is to continue developing a wide range of unofficial contacts with Taiwan, while also continuing to foster its relations with China. However, as tensions between China and the United States become exacerbated over Taiwan, Israel’s room to maneuver could become limited, with the United States expecting Israel to stand unambiguously by its side.

Over the past decade, China has intensified its “threat diplomacy” toward Taiwan, including military signals by air and sea, and even launching missiles close to Taiwan; economic threats, including sanctions, tariffs, blockades on exports/imports; cyber and cognitive attacks; and constant efforts to reduce global recognition of Taiwan. Beyond these threats, economic enticements are offered to those who follow China’s lead. The “threat diplomacy” actually grew stronger just as China and Taiwan had strengthened their relations through trade, mutual investment, visits, tourism, and more, and especially as Taiwan intensified its relations with the United States, which increased its commitment to Taiwan through legislation, economic agreements, arms deals, and mutual senior official visits; all while tensions between the United States and China had intensified in recent years. Many commentators have claimed that China is acting this way because of its growing self-confidence, perhaps over-confidence, and as a result of its considerable military buildup; yet the “threat diplomacy” also stems from what the Chinese perceive as a threat: Taiwan’s moving further away from the vision of unification with China – a core element in China’s ideology, certainly under its president for over a decade, Xi Jinping – and developing into an “threshold-independent state.”


Shangri-La-Summit + Trade and Technology Council + Extreme weather conditions

Speaking at Asia’s main annual defense summit, the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, China’s new defense minister Li Shangfu dashed any hopes of a US-China thaw in the security sphere. Taking a hostile tone, his speech mainly focused on criticizing the US and its presence in the region – without ever mentioning the US by name. Defense ministers and policymakers from across the Indo-Pacific and Europe, including US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, shared the stage with Li, who made his first international public appearance at the conference held on June 2-4.

Washington has recently angled for a partial reset in relations with Beijing, seeking meetings with Chinese officials across policy fields. CIA Director Bill Burns was the highest-ranking US official to visit China since 2021, according to reports, with a secret trip to China last month to meet with counterparts. At the conference, Lloyd Austin gave a relatively toned-down speech. While criticizing China’s aggressive behavior in the region, he emphasized the need for guardrails against conflict and better crisis management mechanisms and communication channels between the countries’ two militaries. Calling out China for suspending military dialogues since August 2022, he spoke of dialogue as a necessity, not a reward.

Most regional countries at the event echoed this message, despite their broad span of priorities – whether the Philippines’ South China Sea dispute or Fiji’s concerns over climate change. All speeches by Indo-Pacific defense ministers expressed concern that a lack of communication and political will could escalate US-China competition, with disastrous consequences for the region and the world. These fears were reinforced by reports of a near-collision between a US and Chinese vessel in the Taiwan Strait after an aggressive maneuver by a Chinese navy ship.

Calls for reopening communication channels between the Chinese and American militaries have fallen on deaf ears in Beijing, however. Li Shangfu declined to meet with Austin on the sidelines of the event, a signal of a stalemate until the US lifts sanctions on China’s defense minister. When asked about restarting communication between the two sides, Li said mutual respect is the prerequisite for dialogue – echoing Beijing’s message that Washington must first change its ways if it wants to stabilize relations with China.

How China imposes sanctions A guide to the evolution of Beijing’s new policy tool

Key findings

Geopolitical changes have led China to strengthen own unilateral sanctions. The trade conflict with the US and the sanctions imposed in 2021 by the EU, the UK, and the US for human-rights abuses in Xinjiang and the imposition of sanctions on Russia were three pivotal moments in the shaping of China’s approach to sanctions.

The 39 cases of sanctions imposed by China between 2012 and 2023 analyzed in this report show that Chinese sanctions and countersanctions have been following a clear path.

The number of sanctions unilaterally adopted by China has risen sharply since 2018. The great majority target US individuals, groups of people or companies and have come in response to the perceived meddling in Beijing’s internal affairs, specifically Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Taiwan. This clear trend in the Chinese sanction regime is unlikely to change much in the future.

The measures most frequently adopted are closely connected to the type of targets: asset freezes, visa bans and bans on cooperation with Chinese entities mainly target individuals; export and import controls are used for companies. China’s ability to develop financial sanctions remains limited for now, ongoing policy debates in China show a keen interest in developing a legal basis for them.

The Unreliable Entity List and the Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law are the two main policies used by China to impose official sanctions. But China’s sanctions often came as a mix of official and unofficial measures.


As the EU considers imposing sanctions against Chinese companies that have violated the sanctions imposed on Russia, it is vital to understand how China may respond to such measures. There are two recent examples of a growing number of sanctions that China has been imposing against entities and individuals in the US and the European Union: In August 2022, China sanctioned Lithuanian Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications Agnė Vaiciukevičiūtė for visiting Taiwan. Eight months later, it sanctioned US Congressman Michael McCaul after he met Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen. It froze any assets and property he might have had in China and forbade organizations and individuals in the country from carrying out any transactions with him.

China Hacks US Critical Networks in Guam, Raising Cyberwar Fears

AS STATE-SPONSORED HACKERS working on behalf of Russia, Iran, and North Korea have for years wreaked havoc with disruptive cyberattacks across the globe, China's military and intelligence hackers have largely maintained a reputation for constraining their intrusions to espionage. But when those cyberspies breach critical infrastructure in the United States—and specifically a US territory on China's doorstep—spying, conflict contingency planning, and cyberwar escalation all start to look dangerously similar.

On Wednesday, Microsoft revealed in a blog post that it has tracked a group of what it believes to be Chinese state-sponsored hackers who have since 2021 carried out a broad hacking campaign that has targeted critical infrastructure systems in US states and Guam, including communications, manufacturing, utilities, construction, and transportation.

The intentions of the group, which Microsoft has named Volt Typhoon, may simply be espionage, given that it doesn’t appear to have used its access to those critical networks to carry out data destruction or other offensive attacks. But Microsoft warns that the nature of the group's targeting, including in a Pacific territory that might play a key role in a military or diplomatic conflict with China, may yet enable that sort of disruption.

"Observed behavior suggests that the threat actor intends to perform espionage and maintain access without being detected for as long as possible," the company's blog post reads. But it couples that statement with an assessment with "moderate confidence" that the hackers are “pursuing development of capabilities that could disrupt critical communications infrastructure between the United States and Asia region during future crises.”

Google-owned cybersecurity firm Mandiant says it has also tracked a swath of the group's intrusions and offers a similar warning about the group's focus on critical infrastructure “There's not a clear connection to intellectual property or policy information that we expect from an espionage operation,” says John Hultquist, who heads threat intelligence at Mandiant. “That leads us to question whether they’re there because the targets are critical. Our concern is that the focus on critical infrastructure is preparation for potential disruptive or destructive attack.”

Venezuela Has More Than Just Oil and China Knows It

Juan P. Villasmil

On May 17, Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro received a delegation group led by Lin Mingxiang, vice minister of the International Department of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee, and discussed ways to further strengthen the strategic partnership between the two countries.

Weeks before this happened, after Maduro met with Chinese ambassador Li Baorong, Bloomberg’s Patricia Laya and Fabiola Zerpa suggested that the two were “re-establishing connections after years of cooling ties, with government contacts resuming.”

While the authors are correct to note that the public nature of these meetings is partly a reaction to intensifying U.S.-China rivalry, calling it a “rapprochement” is far from true.

China’s collaboration with the Maduro regime has been persistent, even when not displayed on TV screens. This is not just because of China’s need for oil; it also has to do with minerals, a sector where Venezuela is quietly expanding—with Beijing’s backing.

According to Freedom House’s Gerardo Berthin in a video conference two years ago, “In this moment, Venezuela is the country in the western hemisphere with the most Chinese investment.” More strikingly, Berthin suggested that according to estimates put forward by civil society organizations, close to $68 billion in loans has been given to Venezuela by China since 2007, plus around 490 agreements have been signed in “diverse areas of investment.” Berthin added that of these known agreements, 65 percent of them contained deal terms that are not publicly known, while another 22 percent contained only partial information.

Considering the evident involvement of the Asian giant in the South American country, the vast natural resources in Venezuelan lands, and the nature of the Maduro regime, it certainly isn’t unfair to posit that China is making moves to secure some of Venezuela’s mineral wealth.

Venezuelan journalists and academics have echoed this belief by claiming that Chinese companies are behind massive investments in Venezuela’s Arco Minero—an area that, according to Venezuela’s former Minister for Ecological Mining Development Roberto Mirabal, has a potential mineral value of $2 trillion.

When Dragons Watch Bears: Information Warfare Trends And Implications For The Joint Force – Analysis

Christopher H. Chin, Nicholas P. Schaeffer, Christopher J. Parker, and Joseph O. Janke*

The predominance of the psychological over the physical, and its greater constancy, point to the conclusion that the foundation of any theory of war should be as broad as possible. —B.H. Liddell Hart, Strategy1

Over the past decade, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has watched Russia’s employment of information warfare (IW) with great interest. With the recent conflict in Ukraine and the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea, the PRC is actively gauging Western nations’ response and associated global implications should it choose to forcefully reunify Taiwan. As the current pacing threat, the PRC seeks to rewrite global norms with the intent to assert supreme influence over Taiwan and the Asia-Pacific region. The parallels between these two Great Powers and their associated aggression toward breakaway republics present an opportunity for the United States and the joint force to map the contours of an evolving Chinese information warfare strategy to build a more comprehensive U.S. response prior to a future conflict in the region. Given the scope, sophistication, and scale of modern information warfare activities, thwarting Chinese information confrontation tactics during crisis and conflict will require a comprehensive approach, one that boldly marshals increased unity of effort from across the whole of government. To compete and win in the 21st-century information environment, the Department of Defense (DOD), in partnership with the interagency community, should endeavor to lead three initiatives across upcoming joint force time horizons:increase the scope and scale of irregular and information warfare to better fit within the modern competition continuum below the threshold of armed conflict (next 1 to 3 years)
advocate to establish a central organization responsible for synchronizing U.S. whole-of-government information-related activities to counter foreign malign influence (next 3 to 5 years)

revive service to the Nation in the digital age with the establishment of a Civilian Cyber Corps as a precursor to a seventh military branch, U.S. Cyber Force, to build the force capacity necessary to execute cyber effects operations at a scale necessary to defend the Nation, its networks, and its traditional military operations (next 5 to 7 years).

Chinese Reflections on Russian IW Activities

Much like their Chinese counterparts, Russian leaders today believe that Western democratic economic prosperity has come at their expense. The concept of maskirovka, or military deception, is not simply a strategic approach to conflict—rather, it is a Russian whole-of-government approach to control international perception of Russian activities to set the conditions necessary to achieve national interests.2 Central to the concept of maskirovka are IW activities designed to distract, overload, paralyze, exhaust, deceive, divide, pacify, deter, provoke, overload, and pressure an adversary.3 These tactics can be employed individually; however, what is compelling is the seamless orchestration of Russian IW activities with military maneuvers designed to seize the initiative, secure the element of surprise, obfuscate malicious intent, and ultimately deflect Russian attribution, thus delaying strategic consequences until it is too late for organized international response.4 Among the most prevalent means by which maskirovka has been executed are false flag operations, employment of proxies to engage in disinformation activities, use of private military/mercenary firms such as the Wagner Group, and employment of third-party hacktivists to obfuscate direct attribution to the Russian government across parts of Eastern Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the United States. These efforts are often used in concert to prepare the environment prior to exercise or conflict.

Europe Follows Macron’s Lead on China


As conflict rages in Ukraine and tensions in the Indo-Pacific region rise, the conversation regarding Europe’s involvement in a potential U.S.–China conflict has grown more public. The
actions and comments of European leaders such as French president Emmanuel Macron in recent months have hinted towards an attitude of indifference about whether Europe would back the U.S. and Taiwan in a conflict with China. A recent poll seems to confirm that theory.

According to a recent survey conducted by the European Council of Foreign Relations, a clear majority of Europeans (62 percent on average) polled in eleven countries answered that, in a potential conflict between the United States and China over Taiwan, they would want their country to remain neutral. Of the eleven countries from which respondents were selected, only one (Sweden, at 49 percent) fell short of an outright majority for neutrality. As Lauren Chadwick of Euronews wrote:

It shows that the European public’s view of China is more in line with French President Emmanuel Macron than European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the report’s co-authors argued in a policy brief.

It is not surprising that Macron and France have taken this approach. As Andrew Struttaford reflected in a recent issue of National Review magazine, France has a long history of bucking American preferences and charting its own path. It is also true, as Andrew wrote, that Macron’s position has not gone unchallenged within the EU itself. If this poll is reflective of reality, however, most Europeans lean toward France here, not against it. The weight of reality in eastern Europe has ginned up support for the Ukrainian cause, but the U.S. cannot assume support for any cause of ours in the Indo-Pacific.

Our moral and geopolitical obligations require us to (rightfully) support Europe and Ukraine today, but if Europe is not committed to the current set of arrangements, it may be worth reconsidering them tomorrow. Any future conflict with China will require undivided U.S. attention, and we cannot afford to lean on unreliable allies. The Europeans, with leaders like Macron and their desire for autonomy from the U.S., may be such allies. If their minds cannot be changed, the U.S. might have to put its faith elsewhere.

On the brink: Unpacking Israel’s unilateral strike threat against Iran


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeated his threats against Iran on Sunday during a cabinet meeting held as part of a national war drill.

“The reality in our region is changing rapidly. We are not stagnating. We are adapting our combat doctrine and our possibilities for action in keeping with these changes,” Netanyahu said at the meeting, which was held at an underground military bunker in Tel Aviv. “We are committed to acting against the Iranian nuclear program, against missile attacks … and against … what we call a multifront campaign.”

The statement came hours after the Israeli prime minister accused the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of “capitulation” to Iran. Last week, the IAEA closed a case investigating heavily enriched uranium particles that had been discovered in Iran. The agency reported that it had received a satisfactory answer explaining the presence of the particles, which had been enriched to 83.7%, worryingly close to the 90% needed to produce a nuclear weapon.

Netanyahu characterized the agency’s decision as political, criticizing the IAEA for failing to confront the Islamic Republic.

In context: Under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal, Iran agreed to limit its uranium stockpile and to enrich uranium only to 3.67%, the purity needed to run nuclear power plants. In return, Iran received relief from sanctions imposed by the US, the EU, and the UN Security Council. Since the US unilaterally withdrew from the deal in 2018, Iran has said that it is enriching uranium up to 60% purity. Iran’s uranium stockpile has also grown tenfold since the fall of the nuclear deal.

Iran’s Mojaher-6 Drones May Tilt the Battlefield Balance in Ukraine

Sine Ozkarasahin

While the West is still contemplating sending sophisticated unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to Ukraine, such as the Reaper and the Predator, Moscow and Tehran are taking a step further to bolster Russia’s unmanned aerial capabilities and tip the balance of power in Russia’s favor on the battlefield. Through an “outside-the-box” approach and carefully designed logistics that exploit the West’s vulnerabilities and blind spots, Tehran and Moscow’s partnership is rapidly developing into a threat that could become a permanent fixture in NATO’s backyard. As Russia embarked on its summer offensive, open-source intelligence reported that Moscow’s strike package in Ukraine now includes Iran’s Mohajer-6s (Twitter/@clashreport, June 6).

In February, Western sources argued that Iran had been smuggling drones to Russia in order to aid in its ongoing invasion of Ukraine. These allegations were also echoed in the Iranian press (Iran International, February 13). Tehran’s generous package allegedly included at least 18 advanced UAVs, including Mohajer-6s, with all 18 enjoying air-to-ground strike capabilities (Iranwire, February 13). Equipped with much more sophisticated features than the Iranian single-attack kamikaze drones, these UAVs can rapidly become highly lethal assets in the hands of the Russian Armed Forces, which may significantly change the trajectory of the war in Ukraine in Russia’s favor.

Produced by the state-owned Qods Aviation Industries, the Mohajer-6 is a mid-range (1200 miles) combat drone with intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities (Iribnews.ir, January 7, 2022). It can carry laser-guided munitions and offer its operator sophisticated air-to-ground strike capabilities. As opposed to the single-attack Shahed-136s actively used by the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine, the Mohajer-6 is a multipurpose drone that can return to its base after each strike. This provides a much more sustainable and flexible concept of operations (CONOPS). In addition, with its low production price and high effectiveness, the Mohajer-6s are a significant asset to any force that needs cheap and high-performance UAVs—with Russia serving as a prime example (Iran Press, January 1, 2022).

A Force Multiplier for Iranian Proxies

A New Strategy for the Black Sea

Bradford Dismukes, Barry Blechman 

Editor’s Note: Since the war began in 2022, Ukraine has fitfully exported its grain to the world market, with Russia often interrupting, or threatening to interrupt, this flow. Foreign policy experts Bradford Dismukes and Barry Blechman argue that the United States and its allies should work with Ukraine to establish a Black Sea shipping corridor, counter-blockade Russian forces, and create an international convention to ensure the region's food products will reach world markets.

Roughly 40 percent of Ukraine’s exports are agricultural products, especially grain, the vast majority of which move by ship over the Black Sea. At the start of its invasion in early 2022, Russia attempted to stop these shipments, which prompted an outcry from developing nations, such as Egypt and Lebanon, that are dependent on Black Sea food and fertilizer to feed their populations. In response, Russia agreed in July 2022 to a “grain initiative” brokered by the United Nations and Turkey. The initiative permits Russia to inspect ships arriving at three Ukrainian ports to ensure they are not delivering arms, and then—once loaded—move through a specified maritime corridor to exit the Black Sea. Russia manipulates the initiative frequently and at will, slow-rolling its inspections and approvals. It also has threatened repeatedly to suspend the initiative, most recently in May. Although negotiations succeeded in extending the current arrangement, since November Russia has only permitted renewals to last for 60 days. Russia’s frequent delays of incoming ships and continuing threats to suspend the initiative have driven up Ukraine’s costs and reduced the country’s earnings significantly.

Ukraine should seek an alternative to bypass these problems and reinforce its maritime security. An effective political and military strategy would have three key components: 1) establish a near-shore shipment corridor in the Black Sea defended by Ukraine and NATO; 2) initiate a Ukrainian counter-blockade of Russian naval forces; and 3) propose an international convention to guarantee the unfettered export of all the region’s grain and other foodstuffs. These synergistic plans reflect enduring geopolitical and economic realities. Their combined effect is greater than the sum of the parts, but each prong of the strategy stands on its own and should be pursued on its own right.

What are the Classified Documents in the Trump Indictment?

Matt Tait 

A picture from the indictment, showing boxes of classified documents recovered by the FBI from a bathroom at Mar-a-lago.

Donald Trump has been indicted for a second time, but for the first time by the Department of Justice on federal offenses, with charges relating to his mishandling of classified documents, and his subsequent attempts to cover-up that fact from government investigators and the Grand Jury.

The indictment itself is available to read here.

Trump’s valet Waltine (“Walt”) Nauta is also indicted too, presumably with a view to persuading him to cooperate as a witness against Mr. Trump.

Note that this indictment only covers alleged crimes that happened within the jurisdiction of the Southern District of Florida (in other words, at Mar-a-lago). The Office of Special Counsel may bring additional charges in D.C. or in New Jersey (for the Bedminster search) if it believes there are prosecutable crimes committed in those jurisdictions. It can also add or remove additional charges in Florida at a later date too via superseding indictments.

Like all indictments, this indictment includes some mandatory redactions (names of countries and individuals not charged), as well as listing 31 specific classified documents obliquely. We can do a bit of digging to de-anonymize or reasonably guess the contents of some of those.

The Charges

31 counts of Wilful Retention of National Defense Information — 18 USC 793(e)

Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice — 18 USC 1512(k)

Withholding a Document or Record — 18 USC 1512 (b)(2)(A), and abetting

Corrupting concealing a Document or Record — 18 USC 1512[c](1), and abetting

Concealing a Document in a Federal Investigation — 18 USC 1519, and abetting

Scheme to Conceal — 18 USC 1001(a)(1), and abetting

What International Humanitarian Law Says About the Nova Kakhovka Dam

Tom Dannenbaum 

On June 6, a Ukrainian dam in Russian-occupied Kherson suffered a massive breach, draining the enormous Kakhovka reservoir into the surrounding region at a rapid rate and reportedly “fully destroy[ing]” the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant. The breach of the Nova Kakhovka dam has already caused catastrophic flooding, displacing tens of thousands, with multiple villages and thousands of hectares of agricultural land submerged or flooded up to their roofs. The longer-term impacts are no less severe. The reservoir is a critical drinking and irrigation water source for the region. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reported on Wednesday morning that hundreds of thousands of people already lack normal access to drinking water, while the agricultural ministry announced that 94% of irrigation systems for agriculture in Kherson region, 74 percent in Zaporizhzhia, and 30 percent in Dnipropetrovsk would be left without a water source. Meanwhile, 150 tons of toxic industrial lubricant have reportedly been released into the Dnipro river (with double that still at risk), while the flooding is drawing contaminants from sewage pits, gas stations, cemeteries, and agrochemical and pesticide stores in addition to dislodging landmines. The reservoir is also the primary source of cooling water to the Zaporhizhzhia nuclear power plant, increasing safety concerns there, despite the existence of alternative sources and “no immediate risk” to the plant.

The proximate cause of the dam’s breach has yet to be determined. Ukraine and Russia have accused one another of attacking the dam, although not equally plausibly. Despite declining to attribute the act at this stage, the Biden administration is reportedly working to declassify and share intelligence that “lean[s] towards” Russian responsibility and at least eighteen states have explicitly backed Ukraine on this point, with only Syria and Belarus supporting Russia’s account. Given Russian control of the dam during the breach, it is notable that engineering and munitions experts consider it more likely that the damage was the result of an internal explosion, rather than an external attack or a structural failure. Even expert commentators in Russian media seem unconvinced by the Kremlin’s narrative.

International Humanitarian Law and War Crimes

New Technologies Could Spark Global Uprisings

Aden Magee

Since the United States decided to go all-in with a focus on the great power competitions, terms such as irregular warfare, counterinsurgency, and small wars have lost vogue. However, while military theorists would like to return to a more conventional mindset, it is important to understand that a new era of “dirty wars” is on the horizon. This is relatively intuitive for those who understand the causes of unrest leading to instability and insurgency, but it is not clear that the geopolitical or military strategists who could make a difference see it coming.

The majority of insurgencies over the past century were rooted in societal discord in countries that were unable to effectively evolve from the agrarian age to the industrial age. The next such evolution is ongoing—and this one promises more of the same—but much faster and wider.

The metaverse, block chain, artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing, machine learning, augmented/virtual reality, and quantum, cloud, edge, and spatial computing are foundational elements of the emergent global world order. The possibilities are limitless, but not all are positive. With one foot in the industrial age and one in the virtual age, the risks are daunting. There is much debate about the risks of technologies such as AI eventually outsmarting and overtaking humans, but the risk addressed herein is more comparable to concerns during the Cold War that nuclear weapons would take the world back to the “stone ages.”

Technology is changing (virtually) everything. The traditional constraints of human labor are no longer a limiting factor in the global market. Corporations and governments are the benefactors of cost-cutting and labor-reducing innovations. Rapid technological advances will continue to reduce the demand for jobs. Thousands of people are losing their jobs every week—not because they failed to perform—but because the skills they developed through education, training, and experience are no longer relevant. Labor statistics are not just numbers—they are “hearts and minds.”

Asian Economic Heft Keeps Russia’s Economy Afloat – Analysis

Nicholas Mulder*

Thirty-seven countries have imposed economic sanctions on Russia since its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The breadth of this campaign has few precedents in recent history. The sanctions covering finance, energy, technology, travel, shipping, avionics and commodities are aimed at one of the 10 largest world economies.

Yet the economic pressure on Moscow is by no means as hermetic as previous anti-war sanctions campaigns, such as the UN sanctions against Iraq after Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

One year after their imposition, several things are clear. Sanctions have damaged the Russian economy and its future growth prospects. But they have neither caused its collapse nor helped to end the war in Ukraine.

There’s been a lot of focus on how US dollar dominance facilitates Western financial sanctions. But the mixed results of the economic campaign against Russia demonstrate that a powerful countervailing trend has gone largely unnoticed: the rise of Asian commercial power as a facilitator of trade diversion that blunts Western sanctions.

Modern economic sanctions were created in the early twentieth century at a time of undisputed European mastery of the world economy, a mantle subsequently passed to the United States. This Western economic dominance lay behind the expansion of sanctions during the Cold War period. But the global economic centre of gravity has since moved towards the East.

In 2021 Asian economies constituted 39 per cent of global nominal GDP, making them the single largest continental bloc. Asian exports constituted 36 per cent of global exports, while the five largest Asian economies together — China and Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and India — accounted for a quarter of all global imports. Asia today constitutes three-quarters, and China and India fully half, of global year-on-year GDP growth.

Solving the Mystery of Henry Kissinger’s Reputation

Stephen M. Walt

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has celebrated his 100th birthday several times over the past month, including at private events at the Economic Club of New York and the New York Public Library attended by dozens of A-list VIPs. The spectacle is eloquent evidence of Kissinger’s unique status. Few equivalent statesmen have received quite the same treatment while they were alive—not diplomats Dean Acheson, George Kennan, and George Shultz, nor even some former presidents.

The Kakhovka CatastropheWar-Weary Ukrainians Reel under Massive Flooding

Ann-Dorit Boy, Alexander Chernyshev, Christina Hebel, Oliver Imhof, Katja Lutska, Thore Schröder, Alexander Sarovic und Fedir Petrov

When the water out in front of their homes receded further than it ever had before, the people of Osokorivka sensed that something wasn’t right. They know the river well, but they didn’t fully understand what was going on. In the first months of the year, the lakeshore receded bit by bit, leaving behind grayish-brown mud and docks that ended far from the water’s edge. In February, the level of the reservoir was two meters lower than normal.

The village of Osokorivka lies on the right bank of the Dnieper River, the side under Ukrainian control, around 90 kilometers (56 miles) northeast of the Kakhovka Dam. The people here live with and from the water stored in the gigantic, Soviet-era Kakhovka Reservoir. They refer to it reverently as their "sea." Osokorivka Mayor Serhii Kunez, a stoic 58-year-old, is fond of talking about how he would catch crabs in the lake as a youth.

Kunez didn’t really have an explanation for the historically low water levels at the beginning of the year, but figured the dam had been damaged by artillery strikes. Few came to the conclusion that the Russians, who have controlled the dam and its power plant since early on in the war, might have been intentionally releasing water. Or that they weren’t regulating the reservoir at all – perhaps because they had no idea how to.

Sam Altman is expanding his road show to shape AI regulation around the globe

Michelle Cheng

Scroll through Sam Altman’s Twitter page, and you’ll see a feed filled with photos of the OpenAI CEO posing with world leaders.

Altman has exchanged words with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and sat down with South Korean president Yoon Suk Yeol. He’s traveled to Israel, Jordan, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates. And that’s all just this week.

These meetings come on the heels of Altman’s European world tour last month, during which he met with French president Emmanuel Macron and EU president Ursula von der Leyen.

Why all this schmoozing with world leaders? For one, the breadth of Altman’s world tour illustrates that he is determined to shape the debate on regulating AI following the release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT late last year. There’s also a real need to educate national leaders and lawmakers about AI. Altman, who holds the position of running a leading artificial intelligence company—one that’s helping usher in a new era in AI—is just the person to handle that task.

Of course, that’s not to say he’s the only CEO holding AI-related meetings with lawmakers. Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, met with EU regulators in Brussels in May to discuss the technology. Meanwhile, Anthropic CEO Dario Amodei met with US president Joe Biden in May to discuss the potential dangers of AI. Clearly, AI CEO want to act.

It’s a reversal of a previous era of Big Tech during which tech CEOs—such as Pichai and Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg—had tended to remain on the sidelines rather than proactively engage with regulators.
The EU is at the forefront of AI regulation

During his meetings with regulators in Europe, Altman threatened to cease OpenAI’s operations there in response to how lawmakers are handling AI regulation. He later backtracked.

The EU’s legislation would be the first in the world to regulate the use of AI. The proposed AI Act would classify AI systems into categories of various levels of risk. High-risk candidates, which include recruitment tools and medical devices, would face compliance such as data requirements. Meanwhile, those classified under “unacceptable risks,” such as social scoring—or risk profiles of individuals based on surveillance—would be prohibited. Even those considered to pose “minimal or no risk” must notify humans that they are interacting with an AI system unless it is evident, and labels must be applied to deepfakes.

Neuroscience says these five rituals will help your brain stay in peak condition

Vivian Giang

Thanks to improvements in medicine, more of us are living longer. That makes we have a heightened investment in making sure our brains stay in shape as we age, too. While an increased life expectancy will not necessarily lead to a higher incidence of cognitive disorders, Alzheimer’s alone is expected to affect over seven million American seniors by 2025.

Lucky for us, advanced technologies have enabled researchers to understand how the brain works, what it responds to, and even how to retrain it. For instance, we know our brains prefer foods with high levels of antioxidants, including blueberries, kale, and nuts. We know that a Mediterranean diet, which is largely plant-based and rich in whole grain, fish, fruits, and red wine, can lead to higher brain functions. And we know that smiling can retrain our brains to look for positive possibilities rather than negative ones.

Whether you’re 25 or 65, consider adopting these five simple rituals that cognitive scientists say can help your brain grow new cells, form new neural pathways, improve cognition, and keep your outlook positive and sharp.
Congratulate yourself for small wins

The frequency of success matters more than the size of success, so don’t wait until the big wins to congratulate yourself, says B.J. Fogg, director of the Persuasive Tech Lab at Stanford University. Instead, come up with daily celebrations for yourself; your brain doesn’t know the difference between progress and perceived progress.

Both progress and setbacks are said to greatly influence our emotions. So the earlier in the day you can feel successful, the better—feelings of excitement help fuel behaviors that will set you up for successes. For instance, a productive morning routine can be used to motivate you through the rest of the day. We feel happier and encouraged as our energy levels increase, and feel anxiety or even depression as our energy levels go down.

Keep your body active

Hypersonic Missiles: Threat and Deterrence?

Yehoshua Kalisky

The importance of hypersonic missiles has led the superpowers to invest considerable sums in order to achieve a strategic advantage. The article surveys different types of maneuvering hypersonic missiles, the geostrategic significance of these missiles in the battlefield, and possible means of defense by Israel against them

The operational use of maneuvering hypersonic missiles by Russia in the war in Ukraine has demonstrated the threat inherent in such weapons. Maneuvering hypersonic missiles travel on an aerodynamic trajectory at a speed that is 5-10 times the speed of sound (Mach 5-10), and have excellent navigation and maneuvering capabilities that make it difficult to detect and track their trajectory, and consequently to intercept them. Such missiles can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads, and have the ability to strike moving targets precisely, such as aircraft carriers. This article surveys the various kinds of maneuvering hypersonic missiles and the leading countries developing them. In addition, it discusses the geostrategic implications of hypersonic missiles on the battlefield and possible ways of defending against them.

What is a maneuvering hypersonic missile, and why the deep concern about its potential use? This is a missile equipped with a powerful engine that can reach speeds of 5-6 times the speed of sound. There is speculation that the Russians have overcome the problems inherent in alleviating the heat from the missile's shell while in flight, the endurance of the engine's components to high temperatures and pressures, and control and navigation problems, and have succeeded in developing a hypersonic missile that travels at a speed of Mach 10. In addition to speed, a hypersonic missile has a long range and cruise and control capabilities (controlled flight): unlike a ballistic missile, whose ability to maneuver to a target is limited as it travels on a predetermined ballistic trajectory, a hypersonic missile can maneuver in flight and can navigate precisely until hitting its target. This is in contrast with various kinds of ballistic missiles that reach hypersonic speeds when traveling toward the target on a ballistic trajectory but lack maneuverability. Moreover, a hypersonic missile can carry a nuclear warhead.
Types of Maneuvering Hypersonic Missiles

There are two types of maneuvering hypersonic missiles:

Hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV), also known as tactical boost glide (TBG): a hypersonic missile that is launched from a strategic or tactical ballistic missile. The hypersonic missile receives its speed from the ballistic missile or the aircraft that is carrying it; it exits the atmosphere at a height of 80,000 feet, gains great speed – in the range of Mach 20-25 – and afterwards glides long distances, while navigating precisely and maneuvering to the target, lowering speed while gliding but still in the range of hypersonic speeds, that is, above Mach 5. Its navigation and maneuvering capabilities while gliding make the hypersonic glide vehicle a weapon system that is difficult to detect and intercept. Because of its great speed, the amount of time available for the interceptor is very short (Figure 1).

Ukraine War: US-Supplied Bradley ‘Bites The Dust’ As First Destruction Of Tanks, IFVs Is Reported Along The Frontlines

Sakshi Tiwari

Just a day after reports indicated that Russia had successfully destroyed at least one Leopard 2 tank on June 7, an American Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) was also annihilated, marking the first loss of the IFV in Ukraine.

Online OSINT accounts and weapon tracker groups revealed in an update on June 9 that the Russian army destroyed the first Ukrainian M2A2 Bradley ODS-SA IFV in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast. The photo of the wrecked vehicle was widely shared on social media.

According to the updates posted on social media, there were three more Bradleys, a Leopard 2A6 tank, and a BMR-2 armored demining equipment which could be seen damaged and abandoned nearby the first destroyed Bradley. At least 4 Bradley IFVs have been destroyed so far.

The report comes after Oryx, a Dutch open-source intelligence (OSINT) defense analysis website, verified the destruction of the German-made Leopard 2 tank by the Russian forces.

The destruction of the German-origin tank was confirmed after the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) released footage showing a convoy of Leopard 2 and other Ukrainian armored vehicles traversing an unpaved road outside occupied Novopokrovka or the neighboring Mala Tokmachka. One of the tanks, in the footage, can be seen falling victim to a devastating Russian artillery strike.

The destruction of Ukraine’s vaunted Western-grade equipment – Leopard-2 and Bradley IFV – comes at a time when Kyiv’s much-anticipated counteroffensive is underway with forces marching across the battlefield on several fronts, aided by NATO-donated Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) and Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs).

On June 9, subsequent visuals posted to social media depicted further losses of Western equipment incurred by the advancing Ukrainian army. In a set of images shared by an online war tracking group, another abandoned Leopard 2A6 tank and Bradley IFV with abandoned bodies of Ukrainian soldiers could be seen.

Meanwhile, an unverified video doing rounds on social media depicted a Russian Ka-52 Alligator chopper firing Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs) on a suspected Bradley IFV. The veracity of the video cannot be independently verified by EurAsian Times.

After the first destroyed Bradley IFV was documented, a flurry of visual evidence of several other Bradley vehicles has proliferated on social media.

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Big Tech Isn’t Prepared for A.I.’s Next Chapter


In February, Meta released its large language model: LLaMA. Unlike OpenAI and its ChatGPT, Meta didn’t just give the world a chat window to play with. Instead, it released the code into the open-source community, and shortly thereafter the model itself was leaked. Researchers and programmers immediately started modifying it, improving it, and getting it to do things no one else anticipated. And their results have been immediate, innovative, and an indication of how the future of this technology is going to play out. Training speeds have hugely increased, and the size of the models themselves has shrunk to the point that you can create and run them on a laptop. The world of A.I. research has dramatically changed.

This development hasn’t made the same splash as other corporate announcements, but its effects will be much greater. It will wrest power from the large tech corporations, resulting in both much more innovation and a much more challenging regulatory landscape. The large corporations that had controlled these models warn that this free-for-all will lead to potentially dangerous developments, and problematic uses of the open technology have already been documented. But those who are working on the open models counter that a more democratic research environment is better than having this powerful technology controlled by a small number of corporations.

The power shift comes from simplification. The LLMs built by OpenAI and Google rely on massive data sets, measured in the tens of billions of bytes, computed on by tens of thousands of powerful specialized processors producing models with billions of parameters. The received wisdom is that bigger data, bigger processing, and larger parameter sets were all needed to make a better model. Producing such a model requires the resources of a corporation with the money and computing power of a Google or Microsoft or Meta.

But building on public models like Meta’s LLaMa, the open-source community has innovated in ways that allow results nearly as good as the huge models—but run on home machines with common data sets. What was once the reserve of the resource-rich has become a playground for anyone with curiosity, coding skills, and a good laptop. Bigger may be better, but the open-source community is showing that smaller is often good enough. This opens the door to more efficient, accessible, and resource-friendly LLMs.