16 June 2023

China, Pakistan and Turkey Eyeing Kashmir

Uzay Bulut
The history of the Islamization of indigenous non-Muslim populations of Kashmir is similar to that of the Middle East and North Africa: native non-Muslim peoples were first conquered by Islamic armies and then subjected to discrimination and persecution, which led to either death, conversion to Islam or departure/flight.

Due to killings and forced conversions, there are no Hindus remaining in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, although it is still home to ancient Hindu sacred sites.

The anti-Hindu violence culminated in 1989-1990 when Pakistan-sponsored insurgents carried out an ethnic cleansing campaign against the approximately 95% of the Hindus living in the Valley of Kashmir.

Meanwhile, Pakistan remains a major sponsor of global terrorism.

Jihad is a global threat targeting the entire international community. For the safety and stability of the region and beyond, it is crucial not to let jihad succeed. India's sovereignty over Kashmir and the international community's support for hosting international events, as well as tourism in Kashmir, are critical for the global fight against terrorism. It is also beneficial to the residents of Kashmir – particularly women, peaceful Muslims, indigenous Hindus and other non-Muslim minorities.

Those countries that oppose Kashmir as part of India and attempt to dissuade international events such as the G20 conference to promote tourism are hardly advocating the establishment of a secular, pluralistic democracy in Kashmir.

Their goal, rather, is to create an Islamist state in Kashmir where women, religious minorities, and moderate Muslims would be persecuted – just as in anyplace else taken over by Islamic theocracy.

Such a state would also be a center of terrorism and instability in the wider region. The civilized world needs to support India's sovereignty in Kashmir against foreign interference from oppressive states -- such as China, Turkey and Pakistan.
A street in in Srinagar, in the Jammu and Kashmir region of India on May 23, 2023, during a G20 tourism meeting. (Photo by Tauseef Mustafa/AFP via Getty Images)

When India hosted a key G20 conference in Srinagar, the capital of the Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory of India, on May 22 and 23, even though the conference was reportedly attended by around 122 delegates, including 60 foreigners, it was boycotted by Pakistan as well as its longtime allies, China and Turkey.

The Militarisation Of Politics

Group Captain AG Bewoor (Retd)

The Armed Forces are being politicised is a complete falsification of what is truly transpiring in India. Whenever a senior military officer is appointed to a higher post and supersedes a few, this pretentious rant blossoms across media forums. Poorly informed journalists, including retired officers; scurrilously with evil intent try to frighten their readers and the public, regurgitating words that are patently fictitious. Whenever senior military officers address their troops and say salutary things about the government of the day, they are branded ‘politicised generals’. It is the sacred duty of officers to educate the men under their command about what today’s government is doing and why.

They do it irrespective of the political party that forms the government and have been doing so since 1947. The hesitation and fear of being accused of being politicised stopped officers from discussing pertinent matters with their troops before and after Blue Star causing terrible, avoidable damage in our Army. We must not make that mistake ever again. The onslaught of many times false, misleading, fearsome information that is bombarded across the media and received by our Officers and ORs has a deleterious impact on them and their families. Such deceptive data saturates the wives, children and parents of soldiers, sailors, and airmen of our Armed Forces, which in turn has a ripple effect on the serving combatants.

If this reality is not addressed by senior officers, it will adversely affect the fighting potential of the Indian Armed Forces, and to let that happen is gross sacrilege and failure of command. Preventing such an outcome is not being political, but is the protection of our Armed Forces, the one precious entity in India that remains our last bastion of security and integrity of India. The routine netas we have elected in the last 75 years are generally a lawyer, union leaders, activists, land owners, rich businessmen, and that unique entity called the entitled inheritor of political fiefdom.

Most have never worked in an environment where merit, hard work, coordination, accepting orders and obeying them are the norm. Their experience of rising within an organisation with selfless dedication and being worthy of promotion is extremely unlikely, given their predilection to demand advancement on filial connections. On the other hand, fauji officers or Other Ranks (OR), are impregnated with a pure merit-based value system because that is the only method to operate a military unit. The exchange of views through this article is not to worry about the Armed Forces being politicised but to militarise the political culture of India. We thus must examine why these faujis would make that critical difference to the quality of netagiri.

India Harnesses The Soft Power Of Yoga For Strategic Ends – Analysis

P. K. Balachandran

This year, Yoga sessions will be held in select port locations of the world “to connect people in the common pursuit of wellness.”

During this year’s International Day of Yoga (IDY), June 21, Indian missions abroad will hold Yoga sessions in select port locations across the world to form a ‘Global Ocean Ring’ connecting people in the common pursuit of wellness.

The Indian High Commission here said in a press release on Monday, that the IDY 2023 will resonate with the theme of India’s ongoing Presidency of the G20 and the motto Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (One Earth, One Family, One Future). One of the events planned to mark the day will be Yoga sessions in select port cities of the world “to connect people in the common pursuit of wellness.”

The strategic importance of this cultural exercise is apparent. The soft power of Yoga can be harnessed for strategic purposes.

Although it is well known that India is using Yoga to extend its soft power across the world, this will be the first time that there is an emphasis on “port locations in select parts of the world.”

It is an indication that the Indian “Global Ocean Ring” is the beginning of a bid to counter China’s “Ring of Pearls” which are Chinese-built ports in geo-politically important parts of the world.

The Indian approach is likely to be built on the 2015 concept of SAGAR.

Is the Worst Yet to Come for Imran Khan?

Umair Jamal

Rioting and attacks by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) activists on army installations on May 9 so enraged the country’s powerful military that it seems that the party has been all but wiped out in the ensuing crackdown.

PTI workers went on a rampage on May 9 following the arrest of party leader and former prime minister Imran Khan. Those involved in the violence have either been arrested or have become silent, fearing action.

It is clear to the PTI’s top leaders and supporters that the military is not in the mood to forgive and forget the damage Khan has done to undermine the army’s institutional interests. In an attempt to escape responsibility, many PTI leaders have either gone into hiding or abandoned Khan’s party to join other political parties.

For several months, Khan refused to appear before the courts in connection with different cases as he believed that due to his massive support base, the courts would not dare to act against him. He provoked the military leadership, warning them of severe consequences if he was arrested or his party was sidelined. His high-risk political maneuvering backfired in such a way that he is now cooped up in his Lahore residence and attends court hearings every day.

Post-May 9, Khan continues to create problems for himself. He has refused to accept that his months-long campaign inciting his supporters against the military may have led to the violent rioting in May. Even after the May 9 violence, the PTI chief did not stop the party’s social media campaigns against the military leadership and even went as far as accusing the law enforcement agencies of carrying out human rights violations. For weeks, he has been trying to shift blame and downplay the severity of the violent demonstrations by engaging in conspiracy theories. He has openly called on the international community to condemn the government and law enforcement agencies’ punitive actions against his party.

The Age of Slow Growth in China

Daniel H. Rosen

In December 2017, the United States updated its National Security Strategy, making two notable modifications: labeling China and several other illiberal countries as strategic competitors and recognizing economic competition as central to great-power rivalry. Since then, Washington has used economic tools with increasing boldness in its commercial and national security dealings with China—and even more forcefully in response to Russia’s war on Ukraine. This new willingness to contemplate decoupling from other major powers—a reversal in what had seemed an inexorable trend toward deeper connectedness—marked the end of permissive engagement with them as the default U.S. posture,

What Does the West Really Know About Xi’s China?

Odd Arne Westad

Figuring out how policy decisions are made in authoritarian regimes has always been hard. Winston Churchill famously referred to Soviet policymaking as “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma”—and he was not much wrong. Observers in the West could see the policy output of the Soviet Union, be it under Joseph Stalin or Leonid Brezhnev, by what those leaders said publicly and how they acted. But it was not easy to figure out what was going on inside their regimes, because access to information was so limited and fear prevented insiders from communicating even what they thought outsiders ought to know. In spite of occasional intelligence breakthroughs, U.S. policymaking was severely handicapped by a lack of understanding of how policy was made on the other side.

A similar situation is now taking shape with regard to China. Insights into decision-making in Beijing are harder to get than they have been for 50 years. The main reason for this is that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is more authoritarian and less open than it has been at any point since Mao Zedong was in charge. People close to power are more fearful, and access to information is less widespread, even within the higher echelons of the regime. Outside observers therefore know much less than they did in decades past about how the party’s leaders arrive at their conclusions with regard to foreign policy. People in China are not yet experiencing the degree of fear and secrecy that they did under Mao, but they are getting there.

The big issue for foreign policy analysts is to figure out what they can know with some certainty about Chinese decision-making and what they cannot. And in establishing this knowledge, they need to watch out for common analytic errors, including forms of “past dependency” and mirror imaging. The former relates to the belief that patterns of the past will somehow be repeated in the present. The latter assumes that all governments and all politics tend to function in the same way, although within different settings. Some U.S. presidents have assumed that Chinese leaders’ view of the world will change very little and that they therefore will make decisions consistent with those of the past. Other U.S. leaders have tried to deal with their Chinese counterparts as if they were senators from the opposing political party or reluctant business partners. Such approaches have generally ended very badly.


Watchdog: Nuclear States Modernize Their Weapons, Chinese Arsenal Is Growing

Associated Press

STOCKHOLM (AP) — The nine nuclear-armed states continue to modernize their arsenals and several deployed new nuclear-armed or nuclear-capable weapon systems in 2022, a Swedish think tank said Monday.

“We are drifting into one of the most dangerous periods in human history,” said Dan Smith, director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, or SIPRI.

“It is imperative that the world’s governments find ways to cooperate in order to calm geopolitical tensions, slow arms races and deal with the worsening consequences of environmental breakdown and rising world hunger,” he said in a statement.

SIPRI estimated that of the total global inventory of 12,512 warheads in January 2023, some 9,576 were in military stockpiles for potential use which was 86 more than in January 2022.

The independent institute listed the nuclear-armed states as the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel.

In its yearbook, the Swedish watchdog wrote that the United States and Russia each hold more than 1,000 warheads previously retired from military service, which they are gradually dismantling.

As for China, SIPRI said the size of country’s nuclear arsenal had increased from 350 warheads in January 2022 to 410 in January 2023 and it is expected to keep growing.

“Depending on how it decides to structure its forces, China could potentially have at least as many intercontinental ballistic missiles as either the USA or Russia by the turn of the decade,” SIPRI wrote.

The institute said that nuclear arms control and disarmament diplomacy had suffered major setbacks following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Washington suspended its bilateral strategic stability dialogue with Russia, and Moscow announced in February that it was suspending its participation in the New START nuclear treaty.

Sunk Costs: The Difficulty of Using Sanctions to Deter China in a Taiwan Crisis

Gerard DiPippo and Jude Blanchette

In the wake of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, policymakers in the United States have turned to how, in concert with allies, they can deter Chinese military action against Taiwan. The foundation of this discussion is how to provide Taiwan with the necessary defensive capabilities, as well as what investments the United States must itself make to ensure that its military can repel an attack by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

Increasingly, policymakers are looking at expanding the deterrent toolkit to include nonmilitary tools, including the threat and use of sanctions. Earlier this year, several U.S. lawmakers introduced a bill that would mandate a broad set of sanctions against Beijing if it launched an invasion. According to Representative Mike Gallagher (R-WI), one of the bill’s cosponsors, the legislation “makes clear that should [Chinese leader Xi Jinping] choose to invade, the U.S. will not hesitate to respond with crippling and comprehensive economic sanctions on any person or company supporting a [Chinese Communist Party (CCP)] invasion of Taiwan.”

This shift to emphasizing the nonmilitary dimensions of a possible Taiwan conflict is welcome, given both the potential global economic costs of a conflict and the key deterrent role these potential costs play in shaping Beijing’s calculations. The focus on sanctions signals that policymakers understand that meaningful deterrence requires signaling to the Chinese leadership that any attack on the island will result in significant military and economic costs.

Yet effectively using economic coercion to shape China’s decisionmaking begins with accepting its limitations, of which there are many:Western leaders would likely be wary of using crippling sanctions until it is too late for them to deter Beijing, Beijing likely already believes sanctions would be used in a conflict and would therefore have incorporated these costs into its decision to pursue military actions, the economic implications of any blockade or conflict could be so dire as to make sanctions potentially moot, and calibrating and coordinating sanctions in response to Chinese activities that fall short of an outright invasion or blockade would be particularly difficult.

Syria’s Readmission To Arab League: Another Diplomatic Breakthrough In Middle East – OpEd

S. M. Saifee Islam

Over the past few months, there has been a surge of diplomatic endeavours in the Middle East, which includes an effort by certain nations within the region to establish normalized relations with Syria. A number of Arab nations have endeavoured to reintegrate the conflict-ridden nation into their collective with the aim of ameliorating historical grievances and re-establishing stability in the region. The current geopolitical landscape of global politics has led to a noteworthy diplomatic advancement in the Middle East, as evidenced by the decision.

At an emergency meeting held in Cairo, Arab foreign ministers cast their votes in favour of the reinstatement of Syria’s membership, thereby indicating a burgeoning momentum in the ongoing efforts towards reconciliation with Damascus. Syria has been reintegrated into the Arab fold by regional powers, with measures such as the restoration of diplomatic relations and high-level visits, spearheaded by Saudi Arabia.

Nonetheless, there are still obstacles to be addressed as the extent of Damascus’ willingness to make concessions on crucial matters, including the trade of Captagon, the repatriation of refugees, and the political process, remains ambiguous. Conversely, the act of reinstating Syria’s membership in the Arab League was met with resistance from certain Arab nations and was viewed with doubt by the United States and Europe. However, Iran received it with approval as a component of a more extensive regional restructuring.
Why this is a significant diplomatic breakthrough?

The determination pertaining to re-admittance carries significant weight from multiple standpoints and is unquestionably a distinctive diplomatic accomplishment, particularly given the recent geopolitical shifts in worldwide politics. The contemporary geopolitical terrain is distinguished by the participation of substantial international group of actors, including Russia, USA, the West, and China, in a complex and ornate setting that evokes memories of the Cold War. On the contrary, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and the current global economic and energy crisis have curtailed the projected global growth. Moreover, the crisis in Sudan has incited a new surge of tension in the Arabian Peninsula.

How to leverage America’s software advantage in the decisive decade


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

In April, the Atlantic Council released a major new report outlining steps the Department of Defense and its partner agencies should take in order to speed up technology acquisition. In the following op-ed, two of the authors of that report — Michèle A. Flournoy and Wendy R. Anderson — go into more depth on how to get at the issues around software acquisition.

President Joe Biden’s National Security Strategy calls the 2020s a “decisive decade” [PDF], which has been underscored by Russian aggression in Ukraine and increasing Chinese threats to Taiwan. Yet many major defense acquisition programs, necessary for US national security, are not slated to be delivered in the next ten years and each military service will continue to rely on legacy platforms well into the 2030s.

One way to bridge this gap is by adopting and leveraging innovative software across the Department of Defense. Software can help the US military unlock new capabilities from existing platforms while increasing the speed of trusted, secure decision making and the efficiency of resource allocation.

However, current acquisition systems designed for large and exquisite weapons systems are poorly optimized for software development or leveraging a “software as a service” model. And traditional DoD software acquisition is often painfully slow, disconnected from end-users, and outdated on arrival.

It’s time to move beyond the legacy systems for how the Pentagon approaches software. Moving forward, DoD should put in place processes that allow the military to field software rapidly and continuously improve it with testing and user feedback. Software intensive systems should be updated rapidly to respond to operational needs and threats as they arise.

Dumb and cheap: When facing electronic warfare in Ukraine, small drones’ quantity is quality


WASHINGTON — Ukraine is on the march with a motley mix of weapons, from 70-ton Leopard II tanks to two-pound mini-drones. And while the war has been a brutal proving ground for a wide range of technology and tactics, arguably nothing has defined the Ukrainian conflict more than the ubiquity of drones.

Cheap flying robots, like the Chinese DJI Mavic, with even high-end models costing just a couple thousand dollars, can pinpoint targets for artillery, alert troops to lurking ambushes, drop improvised bombs like a flying IED, and even capture video for online propaganda.

These drones are too small, slow, and low for jet fighters or anti-aircraft missiles to take out, but Ukraine is still losing an estimated 5-10,000 a month — over 160 every day. While gunfire from the ground accounts for some, they’re going down in droves to electronic warfare (EW), which can scramble their GPS navigation systems or jam the radio-control links to their distant operators. Without constant human guidance, the drones’ tiny computer brains may crash them into trees, or just hover safely in mid-air, awaiting new commands, until the batteries run out and they fall to the ground.

In place like Bakhmut, which saw some of the fiercest fighting of the war, Russian jamming became so intense that DJI Mavics and similar off-the-shelf drones could only venture a few hundred yards from their operators without losing the link. “In December, we were able to fly three kilometers [1.8 miles],” a Ukrainian drone operator told the Guardian in April. “Now the guys are saying they cannot fly further than 500 meters.”

It might seem that the logical next step in this mini-drone arms race is to harden the drones against electronic warfare attacks — but several experts told Breaking Defense it’s probably not worth it. Instead, the answer is just to buy and fly more.

Once again, in war quantity has a quality all its own. In particular, as an asset gets cheaper and more numerous, you can use it for more and riskier missions, because losing one, or thousands, doesn’t hurt the way losing a more expensive system does.

Vietnam Is Doubling Down on Its ‘Multi-Alignment’ Strategy

Richard Javad Heydarian

The war in Ukraine has served as the geopolitical equivalent of an X-ray machine, revealing a range of dynamics that currently characterize the international system. The conflict has demonstrated the depth of solidarity among the U.S. and it trans-Atlantic allies, which quickly mobilized comprehensive sanctions against Russia while arming Ukraine with state-of-the-art weaponry. It has also exposed the limits of China’s willingness to fully consummate its “no-limits partnership” with Russia, with Beijing providing Moscow with diplomatic and especially economic cover, while insisting on its “neutrality” in the war to appease Europe.

Crucially, the crisis has also made clear the preference among many postcolonial states of the Global South for conducting foreign policies based on what can be called multi-alignment. India, for instance, has unabashedly championed this approach in justifying its refusal to align with fellow democracies against Moscow, a top defense partner and major source of energy; to the contrary, new Delhi has ramped up its purchase of deeply discounted Russian oil since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Similarly, the war in Ukraine has been particularly disruptive for Vietnam. Hanoi has been heavily dependent on Russian weapons systems for its decades-long military modernization program. At the same time, Vietnam has also courted closer security ties with the U.S. and Europe, amid booming trade relations over the past decade. This approach has paid off in recent years, as both Russia and the West have proved to be crucial partners for Vietnam with regard to growing tensions with China in the South China Sea. But even as Hanoi keeps a wary eye on China, it seeks to push back against Beijing’s newfound assertiveness without jeopardizing lucrative economic ties or risking conflict with its neighbor.

Ukraine’s Counteroffensive Begins: Shall the Leopards Break Free?

Dr Jack Watling

Ukrainian forces are making gains, but the offensive is some way from its decisive phase; we must refrain from premature pronouncements of success or failure.

Ukrainian forces have launched their long-anticipated offensive in an attempt to break through Russian defence lines to liberate the occupied territories. Ukrainian troops have broken through initial fighting positions along a broad part of the front, but remain some distance from Russia’s main defence line. Kyiv has yet to commit the bulk of its forces as its lead elements try to set the conditions for a breakthrough.

The fighting so far has been tough. Russia’s initial fighting positions constituted fox holes and hand-dug trenches, but behind these were complex minefields of anti-tank and antipersonnel mines, covered by Russian UAVs and artillery. The main defence line, still 15–20 km from Ukrainian positions, has properly dug trenches and concrete-reinforced firing posts, tank obstacles, ground-laid cable to coordinate artillery strikes, and even more mines. Behind that are the reserve fighting positions of the third defence line.

The fighting will likely get tougher. As Ukrainian forces penetrate deeper into the defences, they will come into range of more Russian artillery firing posts. Moreover, their own artillery will be able to deliver fewer counterbattery missions, and the Ukrainian lines of advance will become more predictable, as they must follow the breaches identified in the minefields. As Ukrainian troops push forwards, they will also be covered by fewer air defences, and will likely come under greater attack by the Russian Aerospace Forces and aviation.

Given these threats, the Ukrainian military is currently trying to achieve three things. Firstly, there is an intense counterbattery duel being fought, with both sides trying to strike each other’s logistics, command and control, reconnaissance, and artillery systems. The Russians are hunting for Ukraine’s artillery with Lancet UAVs. The Ukrainians are utilising Storm Shadow and GMLRS to try to destroy Russian command and control and munitions stockpiles.

How Russia Went from Ally to Adversary

Some of America’s actions, after the Soviet Union dissolved, were selfish and malevolent. Others were well-meaning but ineffectual. And sometimes policymakers were simply faced with impossible choices.Illustration by Eduardo Morciano; Source photograph from Getty

In early December of 1989, a few weeks after the Berlin Wall fell, Mikhail Gorbachev attended his first summit with President George H. W. Bush. They met off the coast of Malta, aboard the Soviet cruise ship Maxim Gorky. Gorbachev was very much looking forward to the summit, as he looked forward to all his summits; things at home were spiralling out of control, but his international standing was undimmed. He was in the process of ending the decades-long Cold War that had threatened the world with nuclear holocaust. When he appeared in foreign capitals, crowds went wild.

Bush was less eager. His predecessor, Ronald Reagan, had blown a huge hole in the budget by cutting taxes and increasing defense spending; then he had somewhat rashly decided to go along with Gorbachev’s project to rearrange the world system. Bush’s national-security team, which included the realist defense intellectual Brent Scowcroft, had taken a pause to review the nation’s Soviet policy. The big debate within the U.S. government was whether Gorbachev was in earnest; once it was concluded that he was, the debate was about whether he’d survive.

On the summit’s first day, Gorbachev lamented the sad state of his economy and praised Bush’s restraint and thoughtfulness with regard to the revolutionary events in the Eastern Bloc—he did not, as Bush himself put it, jump “up and down on the Berlin Wall.” Bush responded by praising Gorbachev’s boldness and stressing that he had economic problems of his own. Then Gorbachev unveiled what he considered a great surprise. It was a heartfelt statement about his hope for new relations between the two superpowers. “I want to say to you and the United States that the Soviet Union will under no circumstances start a war,” Gorbachev said. “The Soviet Union is no longer prepared to regard the United States as an adversary.”

Is Arms Control Terminally Ill?

Peter Huessy

The United States is now approaching a geostrategic environment in which not a single nuclear warhead, anywhere in the world, is covered by an arms control treaty.

Anew and more dangerous nuclear era has now dawned. The United States is now approaching a geostrategic environment in which not a single nuclear warhead, anywhere in the world, is covered by an arms control treaty. Indeed, new treaties are needed to strengthen strategic stability and deterrence in this new era.

As recently described by Senator Debra Fischer of Nebraska and Representative Doug Lamborn of Colorado, two top leaders in Congress on nuclear matters, five major developments promise to undermine strategic stability and credible deterrence for the United States and its allies.

These include: (1) Russia’s continued and multiple threats to use nuclear weapons in Moscow’s war against Ukraine; (2) China’s breathtaking projected increase in nuclear weapons deployments including the building of 360 new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) silos, placing China’s ICBM launcher count above that of the United States; (3) the Iranian government, which controls the largest ballistic missile arsenal in the Middle East, being on the cusp of building nuclear warheads as it enriches uranium well within the range of having weapons-grade material; (4) North Korea’s massive increase in missile testing; and (5) Russia’s on and off again compliance with the New START Treaty that is set to expire in 2026 if not renewed or replaced.

Note also the connection between the current armed conflicts in the world and these four “brothers in mayhem,” as one could describe China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran. The war against Ukraine is solely Russia’s design, while the other three either send Russia armaments or financial assistance including drones and missiles.

China and Russia now routinely exercise their militaries together including in the South China Sea, the Sea of Japan, and the Arctic, working together to intimidate Japan, Australia, and the Republic of Korea, as the region also worries about the invasion or blockade threats to Taiwan.

Similarly, the deployment and launch of hypersonic weapons by Russia or China from the Arctic, when taking into account ice shrinkage for part of the year, would bring such missile threats to within a few minutes of the continental United States.

The Great Convergence Global Equality and Its Discontents

Branko Milanovic

We live in an age of inequality—or so we’re frequently told. Across the globe, but especially in the wealthy economies of the West, the gap between the rich and the rest has widened year after year and become a chasm, spreading anxiety, stoking resentment, and roiling politics. It is to blame for everything from the rise of former U.S. President Donald Trump and the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom to the “yellow vest” movement in France and the recent protests of retirees in China, which has one of the world’s highest rates of income inequality. Globalization, the argument goes, may have enriched certain elites, but it hurt many other people, ravaging one-time industrial heartlands and making people susceptible to populist politics.

There is much that is true about such narratives—if you look only at each country on its own. Zoom out beyond the level of the nation-state to the entire globe, and the picture looks different. At that scale, the story of inequality in the twenty-first century is the reverse: the world is growing more equal than it has been for over 100 years.

The term “global inequality” refers to the income disparity between all citizens of the world at a given time, adjusted for the differences in prices between countries. It is commonly measured by the Gini coefficient, which runs from zero, a hypothetical case of full equality in which every person earned the same amount, to 100, another hypothetical case in which a single individual made all the income. Thanks to the empirical work of many researchers, economists can draw the overall contours of the change in estimated global inequality over the past two centuries.

Ukraine’s Winnable War Why the West Should Help Kyiv Retake All Its Territory

Gideon Rose

In February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine in an attempt to conquer the country and erase the independence it had gained after the collapse of the Soviet Union three decades earlier. Given the vast disparities in size and strength between the belligerents, almost nobody gave the defenders much of a chance. Pessimists thought Kyiv would succumb in days or weeks. Optimists thought it might take months. Few believed Ukraine could ever beat back its attacker.

“A satisfying victory is likely out of reach,” wrote the Russia experts Thomas Graham and Rajan Menon in Foreign Affairs a month after the invasion began. “Ukraine and its Western backers are in no position to defeat Russia on any reasonable timescale.” Around the same time, the political scientist Samuel Charap agreed: “Ukraine’s brave resistance—even combined with ever-greater Western pressure on Moscow—is highly unlikely to overcome Russia’s military advantages, let alone topple Putin. Without some kind of deal with the Kremlin, the best outcome is probably a long, arduous war that Russia is likely to win anyway.” Three months into the war, the historians Liana Fix and Michael Kimmage argued that “a full-scale Ukrainian military defeat of Russia, including the retaking of Crimea, verges on fantasy.” Four months after that, the political scientist Emma Ashford upgraded a Ukrainian victory to a “dangerous fantasy.”

Just as Russia has surprised everyone by its poor military performance, however, Ukraine has surprised everyone, as well, punching far above its weight throughout the conflict. Russia’s attempt to take the capital was thwarted, and then its attempts to consolidate gains in the east and the south were disrupted. Russian troops were forced to withdraw from the Kharkiv region and Kherson. A brutal Russian air campaign against civilian infrastructure stiffened Ukraine’s will instead of breaking it. Recent Russian offensives in Bakhmut and elsewhere gained little ground at vast cost. And now, with Russian forces softened, Ukraine is launching a counteroffensive to take back more territory.

A common view of the war sees it as a military deadlock destined to end with a negotiated settlement far short of each side’s original goals. “Later this year, a stalemate is likely to emerge along a new line of contact,” argued the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Richard Haass, and the political scientist Charles Kupchan in April, and at that point the United States should nudge Ukraine into recognizing that “pursuing a full military victory” would be unwise. “An end to the war that leaves Ukraine in full control over all its internationally recognized territory . . . remains a highly unlikely outcome,” asserted the political scientists Samuel Charap and Miranda Priebe in January, and so Washington “could condition future military aid on a Ukrainian commitment to negotiations” involving territorial compromise.

America’s Allies Are More Dependent on Washington Than Ever Before

Grant Golub

At the latest G-7 summit in Japan, President Biden signaled he would allow Ukrainian pilots to be trained on American-made F-16 fighter jets, moving toward permitting other countries to transfer the planes to Ukraine in its ongoing war with Russia. It was the latest in a series of policy decisions his administration has made this spring to apparently bolster America’s international partners as they face potential threats.

However, the Biden administration’s actions over the last several months show U.S. allies are still overwhelmingly reliant on Washington. This dependence hurts America’s ability to focus on its core national interests and to invest its limited resources in the American people at home.

Washington’s alliance network is often praised for ostensibly helping to strengthen America’s global influence, to enhance U.S. credibility, and to reduce the costs incurred for accomplishing national foreign policy objectives.

U.S. allies’ growing dependency, however, is revealed through several of the Biden administration’s recent undertakings: it sold nuclear-powered submarines to Australia as part of the AUKUS security pact, agreed to supply Ukraine with battle tanks despite Pentagon resistance, and recommitted to using the U.S. nuclear arsenal to deter a North Korean attack on South Korea. Finland finalized its NATO membership in April, but instead of its supposedly capable military guarding its border with Russia, it appears U.S. forces will be shouldering that burden instead.

American partners in Europe and the Indo-Pacific initially reacted to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by pledging to rapidly increase their defense spending and expand their military capacities, but over a year later, there is little evidence this has occurred.

Three days after the invasion began, Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany, Europe’s wealthiest country, proclaimed a Zeitenwende in German defense policy and committed 100 billion euros to significantly expand Germany’s military budget. Yet since then, Berlin has slowly backtracked on this commitment for several reasons: Russia poses a much more limited threat to European security than initially feared and Washington has sent additional U.S. troops to Europe and provided the bulk of military aid to Ukraine.

Five urgent steps to prevent American military defeat in the Pacific

RADM (Ret) Mark Montgomery, Bradley Bowman

As lawmakers in Washington move this month to consider the fiscal 2024 defense budget and annual defense authorization bill, the United States is on a path toward military defeat in the Pacific.

China’s strategic investments threaten to outpace the Pentagon’s ability to expand munitions stocks, integrate emerging technologies and weapon systems, and maintain the ability to fight at long distances from America’s shores.

Repeated wargaming of Taiwan conflict scenarios in the 2027 time frame demonstrates that even if the United States acts promptly and decisively once the conflict begins, American military forces would often be stretched too thin to support Taiwan quickly enough to prevent a fait accompli.

The good news is that such an outcome is not inevitable if Washington takes several steps this year.

Retired U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Mark Montgomery is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank. He previously served as policy director of the Senate Armed Services Committee under Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and as director of operations (J3) at U. S. Pacific Command. Bradley Bowman is senior director of the Center on Military and Political Power at FDD. He previously served as a national security adviser to members of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, and was an officer in the U.S. Army.

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.

Ukraine offensive: What will it take for military push to succeed?

Frank Gardner

"Don't call it a counter-offensive," say the Ukrainians. "This is our offensive, it's our chance to finally drive out the Russian army from our land."

All right, but what will it take to actually succeed?

First off, let's not get distracted by the recent hard-fought but tiny territorial gains Ukraine has been making as it retakes obscure, half-abandoned villages in the eastern Donetsk and south-eastern Zaporizhzhia regions.

After months of stalemate, images of victorious, battle-stained Ukrainian soldiers holding up their country's blue and yellow flag in front of a bullet-ridden building is a welcome morale boost for Ukrainians.

But in the big strategic picture, this is a sideshow.

The area of Russian-held territory that matters most in this campaign is the south: the area between the city of Zaporizhzhia and the Sea of Azov.

This is the so-called "land corridor" that connects Russia to illegally annexed Crimea, the central part of that purple-shaded strip on the map below that has barely changed since the early weeks of the invasion last year.

If Ukraine can split that in two and hold the ground it's retaken, then its offensive will have largely been successful.

It would cut off Russia's troops in the west and make it hard to resupply their garrison in Crimea.

It would not necessarily spell an end to the war - which some are now predicting could drag on for years - but it would put Ukraine in a strong bargaining position when the inevitable peace talks finally take place.

What attacks have there been on dams in Ukraine?

The damaged Kakhovka dam as seen in a satellite image

Ukraine has accused Russian forces of blowing up a major dam in the Kherson region, in the south of the country. The Russian authorities have accused Ukraine of shelling it.

The destruction of the Kakhovka dam on 6 June affected hundreds of thousands of people, with drinking water supplies threatened and agricultural land deluged.

Ukraine says Russia has attacked a number of other major dams, and has recently destroyed a small dam in Luhansk, in the south-east of the country.

How many dams does Ukraine have and what are they for?

In the Soviet era, engineers built a series of six dams along the Ukrainian part of the Dnipro river, which stretches from its border with Belarus 680 miles (1,095km) south to the sea.

The Kakhovka dam is the last one in the chain.

The Key Lessons of America’s Recent Wars: Failing or Losing in Grand Strategic Terms

Anthony H. Cordesman

America’s defeat in Afghanistan has launched another round of official studies of the lessons of war. Such efforts have had value in the past by examining the military lessons of a given war and some of the major political decisions and programs that shaped its course. At the same time, most such efforts have understated or ignored critical failures in conducting the broader course of the war and in moving to a successful and stable peace. They have ignored U.S. failures to set meaningful grand strategic goals for engaging in a given war to properly evaluate the value of sustaining America’s role in combat, and to terminate the war in ways that could credibly result in lasting and meaningful peace.

This analysis examines each of America’s grand strategic failures in warfighting since 1945 and its failures to learn the right lessons from these wars. It indicates that other failures included a common tendency to define strategy in terms of broad goals rather than as a practical process that justified such goals, created practical plans to achieve them, and allocated the needed resources with proper management and honest and objective measurements of their effectiveness.

It shows that the United States failed to adequately perform strategic triage in assessing the costs and risks of engaging in combat and sustaining this role over time. The United States often began what became a major military engagement by using U.S. forces in advisory roles or low levels of combat. It then escalated to full-scale warfare without properly assessing the costs and risks of escalating U.S. involvement and the probability of ending a conflict with a lasting grand strategic victory.

It also shows that the United States failed to properly address the risks created by failed host-country governance, a lack of effective host-country political leadership and unity, and deep divisions that existed at an ethnic, tribal, and religious level. It underestimated the problems in creating effective host country forces as well as creating an effective rule of law and local security. It treated corruption and authoritarian self-interest as secondary problems rather than as major challenges to success. In the cases of Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, it also attempted to create the shell of a democratic government as a potential solution to nation-building problems regardless of real-world political divisions, inexperienced leaders, and weak overall structure of governance.


William Alan Reinsch

This week’s topic is Europe, so those of you entirely fixated on China can take a break and go read something else. Don’t go away for good, though. China will be back in this column soon. Europe, however, is also an interesting topic because it has long been a case where we seem to be able to get the big things right but have much less luck with the small things, even when they turn out to be important.

Geopolitically, countries on both sides of the Atlantic are often in alignment. There are periodic flares of uncooperative activity and occasional grumbling on both sides, usually about lack of consultation on some important decision, but for the most part, the United States, EU member states, the United Kingdom and the various unaffiliated states like Norway share a common view about the world and the challenges we collectively face, and, more often than not, agree on what to do about them. The most obvious and recent case in point is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, where Europe, the United States and Canada and others) rallied to take a common approach in resisting Russia and imposing severe sanctions. Cynics might say that one was easy for Europe, since it’s next door, and they would point to the parallel debate over aligning our China policies as a sign that the relationship is more complicated than we would like. Even there, however, I see the various viewpoints slowly converging on the tougher line the United States has been advocating.

We have had less luck on the smaller things, particularly trade issues, where the United States and the European Union have been at loggerheads on everything from chickens to cheese to chips (the ones you put in computers) for at least 40 years. While each issue has its own unique aspects, there is one theme that runs through all of them—a fundamentally different approach to regulation. To oversimplify, the U.S. approach tends to be descriptive and ex post. We define a standard or goal and leave it to the private sector to figure out how to comply, with the threat of punishment hanging over their heads if they do not. This has not been our approach in every case, and there are signs now of greater interest in European methods, but in general that has been the U.S. approach.

Plagiarism Engine: Google’s Content-Swiping AI Could Break the Internet

Avram Piltch

Search has always been the Internet’s most important utility. Before Google became dominant, there were many contenders for the search throne, from Altavista to Lycos, Excite, Zap, Yahoo (mainly as a directory) and even Ask Jeeves. The idea behind the World Wide Web is that there’s power in having a nearly infinite number of voices. But with millions of publications and billions of web pages, it would be impossible to find all the information you want without search.

Google succeeded because it offered the best quality results, loaded quickly and had less cruft on the page than any of its competitors. Now, having taken over 91 percent of the search market, the company is testing a major change to its interface that replaces the chorus of Internet voices with its own robotic lounge singer. Instead of highlighting links to content from expert humans, the “Search Generative Experience” (SGE) uses an AI plagiarism engine that grabs facts and snippets of text from a variety of sites, cobbles them together (often word-for-word) and passes off the work as its creation. If Google makes SGE the default mode for search, the company will seriously damage if not destroy the open web while providing a horrible user experience.

A couple of weeks ago, Google made SGE available to the public in a limited beta (you can sign up here). If you are in the beta program like I am, you will see what the company seems to have planned for the near future: a search results page where answers and advice from Google take up the entire first screen, and you have to scroll way below the fold to see the first organic search result.

For example, when I searched “best bicycle,” Google’s SGE answer, combined with its shopping links and other cruft took up the first 1,360 vertical pixels of the display before I could see the first actual search result.

For its part, Google says that it’s just “experimenting,” and may make some changes before rolling SGE out to everyone as a default experience. The company says that it wants to continue driving traffic offsite.