23 June 2023

Heat Waves Are Unleashing a Deadly but Overlooked Pollutant


LUTYENS’ DELHI IS one of the most iconic neighborhoods of India’s capital. Home to the country’s parliament, numerous embassies, and a lush, 90-acre Mughal-era park, it’s an architectural paradise, connected by tree-lined streets and roundabouts with mini-gardens. Yet despite being one of the city’s most refined districts, this clean, green neighborhood is home to something sinister. It is a hot spot for a dangerous and overlooked air pollutant: ozone.

India is no stranger to pollution, with many of its cities reporting some of the worst air quality in the world. Every winter, New Delhi gets shrouded in smog for days. But discussions about air pollution and policies to mitigate it mostly focus on particulate matter: PM2.5 and PM10—small particles or droplets that are only a few microns in diameter. However, scientists are increasingly raising the alarm about surface ozone. It’s a secondary pollutant that isn’t released from any source, forming naturally when oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds—such as benzene, which is found in gasoline, or methane—react under high heat and sunlight. This makes ozone a particularly ugly modern threat—a problem that arises where pollution and climate change coincide.

“Even an hour of exposure can give you very poor health outcomes,” says Avikal Somvanshi, a researcher at the Center for Science and Environment in New Delhi. While ozone is beneficial in the high atmosphere, where it absorbs ultraviolet radiation, down on Earth’s surface, concentrations of it can be deadly. Data on its impacts is patchy, but a 2022 study estimates that ozone killed more than 400,000 people worldwide in 2019, up 46 percent since 2000. And according to the State of Global Air Report 2020, it is in India where the number of ozone deaths has increased the most over the past decade.

Ozone wreaks havoc in the respiratory tract. The gas can “inflame and damage airways” and “aggravate lung diseases like asthma,” warns the US Environmental Protection Agency. It does this by affecting the cilia, the microscopic hair-like structures that line the airways to help protect them, explains Karthik Balajee, a clinician and community medicine specialist based in Karaikal, India. After exposure “we are more prone to respiratory infections,” he says, adding that inhaling ozone also affects lung capacity. Studies show that long-term exposure is associated with an increased risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a lung disease that makes it hard to breathe, and increases the risk of dying from other cardiovascular or respiratory conditions. Even short-term exposure can land you in the emergency room. “One or two days following a peak in ozone, there have been increases in hospital admissions due to respiratory problems,” says Balajee.

Biden seeks closer defense ties with New Delhi

Washington and New Delhi will unveil a string of new arms deals and security arrangements when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits the U.S. this week, part of the Biden administration’s efforts to counter Beijing’s influence in Asia.

Chief among these is expected to be a major technology-transfer agreement that will allow General Electric to jointly build jet engines with India defense companies for New Delhi’s next generation light combat aircraft. Such a sharing of advanced U.S. defense technology is rare, according to defense industry executives and analysts briefed on the trip, and signals Washington’s desire to transform India into a major strategic partner in Asia.

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan visited New Delhi last week to finalize the details concerning Modi’s visit. And he stressed to the Indian media that the “deliverables” from the meeting “are fundamentally designed to remove those obstacles in defense trading, in high tech trade, in investment in each of our countries."

Modi’s visit comes against a backdrop of tense relations between Washington and Beijing, even as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a much-delayed trip to China over the weekend. Both countries have jockeyed for influence and strategic advantage on each other’s doorsteps.

The Biden administration is seeking to put in place concrete systems to permanently reorient New Delhi away from its historic dependence on Russian arms. Other military transactions that could be finalized this week include the U.S. sales of unarmed and armed drones to India that will help the country better police its borders and waters against increasing Chinese incursions.

The Folly of India’s Neutrality

Sumit Ganguly and Dinsha Mistree

Narendra Modi is preparing to make his eighth visit to the United States as India’s prime minister. Although previous U.S. administrations have received Modi warmly, the fanfare surrounding this trip—the Indian prime minister’s first official state visit to Washington—will be unparalleled. He is scheduled to address a joint session of Congress. And as a parting gift, Modi will likely leave the United States having secured a long-coveted deal for General Electric to share technology and jointly produce military jet engines with India.

Such an enthusiastic reception is undoubtedly intended to reset relations with India. Although both countries are ostensibly committed to a partnership, the U.S.-Indian relationship has not lived up to its potential in recent years. The United States must shoulder some of the blame for this failure. Successive U.S. administrations ignored India’s warnings about negotiating with the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the Biden administration has continued to pursue a relationship with India’s rival Pakistan even after U.S. priorities in Asia have shifted toward dealing with China. Washington has also flubbed more routine diplomatic issues such as visa processing, with record backlogs in U.S. consulates in India that only recently ebbed. And it took more than two years for the U.S. Senate to confirm former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti as ambassador to India, hampering Washington’s ability to advance its interests in New Delhi.

For their part, U.S. officials seem to be waking up to the promises—and the limits—of a strong relationship with India. It is unclear whether the same can be said for Indian leaders. New Delhi continues to harbor a variety of misgivings about forging a genuine partnership with the United States. Despite ongoing clashes at the disputed border with China, India has resisted embracing its security partnership with Australia, Japan, and the United States—known as the Quad, or Quadrilateral Security Dialogue—designed to protect the Indo-Pacific from Chinese aggression. At the same time, both Modi and his foreign minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, have been praised at home for their staunch refusal to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This stance of neutrality, they have argued, best serves India’s interests. Since the invasion in February 2022, India has undoubtedly benefited from a steady supply of cheap Russian oil as the Kremlin has scrambled to secure alternative buyers for its energy commodities. But New Delhi’s relations with Moscow occupy a shrinking portion of Indian foreign policy. In the long run, Russia’s growing dependence on China will make it an unreliable partner.

India's Model for the Middle East

Jon B. Alterman

Middle Eastern governments’ interest in the so-called China model is real, but it is superficial. They admire China’s three-decade record combining an authoritarian system with the use of state capital to achieve profound economic change while tightly managing social and political change. China’s experience challenges Western insistence that only liberal systems can produce economic growth and stability. Still, while Middle Eastern states like the idea of following the Chinese path, they are often indifferent to the details.

What governments are paying much closer attention to is the “India model.” That model shows that a country can successfully combine diplomatic nonalignment with intimate ties to all of the world’s biggest economies. India has arguably been pursuing a version of the policy since winning independence more than 75 years ago but has refined it in recent years. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to Washington next week is another sign that the India model is working, and Middle Eastern rulers will be watching closely to see exactly how it is done.

China’s Rebound Hits a Wall, and There Is ‘No Quick Fix’ to Revive It

Keith Bradsher, Daisuke Wakabayashi and Claire Fu

After a flurry of activity in late winter, investment in China has stagnated this spring.Credit...Qilai Shen for The New York Times

When China suddenly dismantled its lockdowns and other Covid precautions last December, officials in Beijing and many investors expected the economy to spring back to life.

It has not worked out that way.

Investment in China has stagnated this spring after a flurry of activity in late winter. Exports are shrinking. Fewer and fewer new housing projects are being started. Prices are falling. More than one in five young people is unemployed.

China has tried many fixes over the last few years when its economy had flagged, like heavy borrowing to pay for roads and rail lines. And it spent huge sums on testing and quarantines during the pandemic. Extra stimulus spending now with borrowed money would spur a burst of activity but pose a difficult choice for policymakers already worried about the accumulated debt.

“Authorities risk being behind the curve in stimulating the economy, but there’s no quick fix,” said Louise Loo, an economist specializing in China in the Singapore office of Oxford Economics.

China needs to right its economy after closing itself off to the world for almost three years to battle Covid, a decision that prompted many companies to begin shifting their supply chains elsewhere. Xi Jinping, China’s leader, met on Monday with the secretary of state of the United States, Antony J. Blinken, in an attempt by the two nations to lower diplomatic tensions and clear the way for high-level economic talks in the weeks ahead. Such discussions could slow the recent proliferation of sanctions and counter measures.

Forecasts From ‘The Next 100 Years’: Al-Qaida and China

George Friedman

“The Next 100 Years” is the first book I wrote that was intended to be a serious forecasting book. Others followed, but this perfected my method to the extent that it could be perfected. It contains many forecasts I am proud of and many I regret. Such is life. Written over the course of a few years, it was published in 2009, so it is about 15 years old and can now begin to be judged. The hardest part was determining how long it would take an event to occur, but the things I thought would happen by this time have, for the most part, taken place. I want to use this book and the others that followed to build the foundation for my next forecasts, which will have at least a 25-year horizon. As the cliche goes, the future is rooted in the past.

I wrote my first forecasting books without anyone being aware or even interested. I want to lay out the next set of forecasts in front of you, my readers, both to demonstrate that there is a method at work and to show you what it is. Criticism early in the process is the most useful. I will also savor agreement and praise. For now, I will select predictions from the different methods of forecasting I use. Some are long past and some still in the future.

I’ve realized this can’t be dealt with in one article about each book. My goal is to select two or three forecasts a week and lay out the method I used to get them right or, alas, how I screwed the pooch. I will discuss my good calls and my bad ones – the truth is the truth, and there is much to learn from errors. I will include forecasts on nation-states, non-state forces and the development of social and cultural mores. I will first state the forecast as simply as possible and then explain my reasoning for making the forecasts. I welcome discussion or comments. I will try to respond to them all, although the number of readers has made this obligation difficult to honor. The explanation will seem terse, but my intention here is to give you a sense of how forecasting is done. Later, if desired, I will go deeper, although reading the whole should be done only by those of you without other lives.

9/11 and the Threat From al-Qaida

My first forecast concerned what would happen in the war against jihadists. This section was written circa 2005, not many years after Sept. 11, 2001, in an atmosphere of fear and anger in our nation. My forecast was that the ability of al-Qaida to strike the United States was rapidly declining. Remember that this is not a forecast about the Muslim world but about jihadists, al-Qaida and attacks like 9/11.

China’s blueprint for the new world order

The Atlantic Council’s Global China Hub is pleased to host the launch of a new report, “Global Development Initiative and Global Security Initiative: China’s blueprint for the new world order”, authored by nonresident senior fellows Michael Schuman and Jonathan Fulton, as well as nonresident fellow Tuvia Gering. This virtual public event will take place on Wednesday, June 21, at 9:00am ET on Zoom.

In March 2023, China stunned the world by achieving an unexpected diplomatic breakthrough – the brokering of an agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran to restore diplomatic relations. The deal was hailed by Beijing as a successful application of the Global Security Initiative (GSI). First proposed by Xi Jinping in April 2022 and further articulated in a February 2023 concept paper, the GSI is a manifesto for an alternative system to the current “rules-based” international order led by the US and its partners.

The GSI has a twin, the Global Development Initiative (GDI), which was first outlined at the UN in 2021. But just as the GSI aims to guide discourse on global governance, the GDI’s goal is to usurp the international dialogue on the global development agenda. Together, these initiatives are Xi’s first attempt to present a more comprehensive vision of a new world order and formulate the ideological backbone for a global governance system that elevates Chinese influence at the expense of American power. How, then, should US policymakers and European and Indo-Pacific partners better understand these crucial features of Chinese foreign and security policy to meet this rising competition?

PLA modernization reflects China’s aggressive posturing

Hong Kong, June 19 (ANI): Former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping said in a United Nations General Assembly speech on 10 April 1974: “If one day China should change her color and turn into a superpower, if she too should play the tyrant in the world, and everywhere subject others to her bullying, aggression and exploitation, the people of the world should identify it as social-imperialism, expose it, oppose it and work together with the Chinese people to overthrow it.”

Alas, that fateful day gradually appeared a number of years ago under Chairman Xi Jinping. Tyranny at home and abroad, bullying, aggression and exploitation are the Chinese government’s modus operandi. Unfortunately, such is Xi’s dominion over China that none at home can resist him. In fact, hyper-nationalistic fervor is rampant, as many Chinese celebrate Xi’s conceits with this dictum, “Under Mao, China stood up; under Deng, China grew rich; under

Xi, it has grown strong.” Furthermore, China has become such a global power that it

does not listen to what neighbours are saying, and it deliberately opposes the USA in

every possible way.

Uttered just before the earlier words, Deng also said: “China is not a superpower, nor will she ever seek to be one. What is a superpower? A superpower is an imperialist country which everywhere subjects other countries to its aggression, interference, control, subversion or plunder, and strives for world hegemony.” On a daily basis, China is displaying aggression in the waters of and skies over the South and East China seas. It attempts to bully and cudgel Taiwan into submission.

China interferes in the democratic, societal and governmental processes of the West, and seeks to control ethnic Chinese anywhere in the world. Beijing routinely subverts international norms by its truculent rejection of current regulations such as the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. It also seeks to plunder profits, steal intellectual property and grab technologies from the West by hook or by crook. Unfortunately, all the hallmarks listed by Deng are key characteristics defining China under Xi’s rule.

China Says Its DF-27 Hypersonic Missile Can Travel 8,000km

Kris Osborn, President, Center for Military Modernization

(Washington DC) China’s long-range DF-27 hypersonic missile may be as mysterious as it is lethal, given how little is known or confirmed about its performance parameters. The Pentagon documented and reported existence of the Chinese missile has been documented and reported by the Pentagon, according to its 2021 annual China military report.

Several years ago, the Pentagon was clear that the missile was “in development,” yet very little information is known about the potential extent to which the DF-27 is, in fact, a “hypersonic weapon.”

“Sources indicate a “long-range” DF-27 ballistic missile is in development. Official PRC military writings indicate this range-class spans 5,000-8,000km, which means the DF-27 could be a new IRBM or ICBM,” the report says.

A report from May 2023 in the South China Morning Post says the weapon is hypersonic and has been in existence for several years.

Regardless, what is clear about the emerging Chinese weapon, as specified by the Pentagon report, is that Chinese writings explain the missile can travel as far as 8,000km, a distance which can not only put Taiwan at risk but also threaten other key U.S. and allied areas throughout the Pacific.

This range of 8,000km, which can generally be thought of as just under 5,000 miles, places South Korea, Japan, and Guam at risk of long-range ballistic missile attack. Guam, for example, is reported to be roughly 4,751km from mainland China and Japan is a similar distance of 4,518km. These distances place both Japan and Guam well within direct reach of China’s DF-27, a weapon that could fire from pretty much anywhere within mainland China, given the PRC’s well-known use of mobile launchers.


What their problem-solving solutions mean for AUKUS and the US

“Chess has only two outcomes: draw and checkmate. The objective of the game…is total victory or defeat – and the battle is head-on, in the center of the board. The aim of Go is relative advantage; the game is played all over the board, and the objective is to increase one’s options and reduce those of the adversary. The goal is less victory than persistent strategic progress.”

~Dr. Henry Kissinger, On China

Mentally pin the quote above to your sub-conscious, as you read this essay.

This is the second essay in our series addressing Unrestricted Warfare[1]. How far we will take this series is yet to be determined. It will likely form the basis of a 4Sight seminar or roundtable. The previous essay stressed the need to accurately define and contextualize problems, in order to develop a common operating picture. We provided a brief caution on mirroring and introduced the concept of the Cognitive Domain, as it relates to Irregular Warfare. This and the previous essay are primers for understanding and responding to Unrestricted Warfare. As we begin to examine Unrestricted Warfare, it is essential to understand what drives its application.

David Maxwell presented his China thesis in two pieces written in 2020 and 2023 and multiple speaking engagements. It should be clear to everyone reading this: “China exports its authoritarian political system around the world in order to dominate regions, co-opt or coerce international organizations, create economic conditions favorable to China alone, and displace democratic institutions.”[2]

Blinken and Xi pledge to stabilize deteriorated US-China ties, but China rebuffs the main US request


BEIJING (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met on Monday with Chinese President Xi Jinping and said they agreed to “stabilize” badly deteriorated U.S.-China ties, but America’s top diplomat left Beijing with his biggest ask rebuffed: better communications between their militaries.

After meeting Xi, Blinken said China is not ready to resume military-to-military contacts, something the U.S. considers crucial to avoid miscalculation and conflict, particularly over Taiwan.

Still, China’s main diplomat for the Western Hemisphere, Yang Tao, said he thought Blinken’s visit to China “marks a new beginning.”

“The U.S. side is surely aware of why there is difficulty in military-to-military exchanges,” he said, blaming the issue squarely on U.S. sanctions, which Blinken said revolved entirely around threats to American security.

Yet Blinken and Xi pronounced themselves satisfied with progress made during the two days of talks, without pointing to specific areas of agreement beyond a mutual decision to return to a broad agenda for cooperation and competition endorsed last year year by Xi and President Joe Biden at a summit in Bali.

And, it remained unclear if those understandings can resolve their most important disagreements, many of which have international implications. Still, both men said they were pleased with the outcome of the highest-level U.S. visit to China in five years.

The two sides expressed a willingness to hold more talks, but there was little indication that either is prepared to bend from positions on issues including trade, Taiwan, human rights conditions in China and Hong Kong, Chinese military assertiveness in the South China Sea, and Russia’s war in Ukraine.

U.S.-China ties are no longer in freefall, but it’s a rough road ahead

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on Monday. (Leah Millis/AP)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s two-day trip to China arguably went about as well as it could. The United States’ top diplomat said he had “constructive” and “substantive” conversations with Chinese President Xi Jinping and his other interlocutors in Beijing, which included top foreign policy official Wang Yi and foreign minister Qin Gang. Both sides indicated their desire to stabilize a relationship that seems to be locked in a “downward spiral,” as Wang put it. They put out readouts of the many hours of discussion that spotlighted a shared desire to find ways to get along, despite the roiling ocean of tensions between the two countries.

Given the deterioration in U.S.-China ties in recent months, that Blinken received an audience with Xi at all was a welcome development. The Chinese president customarily meets with a visiting U.S. Secretary of State, as was the case in 2018, the last time such a senior-level mission happened. But Blinken’s meeting with Xi on Monday was only announced 45 minutes before it took place, a sign of the high-wire choreography surrounding the visit, my colleagues noted.

Blinken canceled a scheduled trip to Beijing in February after a Chinese surveillance balloon floated over the continental United States, provoking an uproar in Washington. Chinese officials were displeased with the decision and the broader American reaction to the balloon incident, given the vast footprint of military and surveillance assets that the United States deploys around the world. In the months that followed, Beijing’s foreign ministry published a treatise about the global harms caused by U.S. “hegemony” and Chinese officials hardened their rhetoric about Washington’s “Cold War mentality.”

On Monday, Xi seemed somewhat upbeat, suggesting the two sides “made progress and reached agreement on some specific issues.” Speaking in the Great Hall of the People alongside Blinken, Xi said what happened between the two countries has a “bearing on the future and destiny of mankind” and that their two governments “should properly handle Sino-U. S. relations with an attitude of being responsible to history, the people and the world.”

Build the Yards Now


Today is a busy day at the paying gig for ‘ole Sal, so I’m going to take what really should be a long post and cut it to the core. Of course, it will still be too long

Yes, we are enjoying the harvest of our long discussed wages of happy talk when it comes to our maritime industrial base. It is, in a fashion, rather sad to watch our own deliberate and chosen decline.

Enough “problem admiration” and waiting for something to be extruded by the janissaries in the Potomac Flotilla. They have lost their right to demand deference. The last couple of decades have measured them and found them wanting. We should put them in some kind of bureaucratic quarantine until the right Congress and Chief Executive can put them in hospice.

Our problem did not happen overnight and won’t be fixed overnight. It does not have one cause and it won’t have one solution. This was all plain to see well over a decade ago. Hell, two decades ago.

The old phrase, "there's a lot of ruin in a nation" - well, there is a lot of ruin in a navy. One generation can feast on the hard won capital of the previous generation for quite awhile until there is but a skeleton left of what was once a mighty host.


I’m not sure who if anyone in Congress is willing to take this on, but I have an offer to all: for the next few POM cycles, stop chasing more ship numbers, we have to fix a larger problem first.

We cannot build a larger fleet until we rebuild the infrastructure to properly maintain the one we have.

Yards. Build more; expand the ones we have; reactivate retired yards if able.

'Iron General': Putin hints that Ukraine's top general may be abroad

Abhishek Awasthi 

In a report by Russia's RIA Novosti news agency last month, citing a security source, it was claimed that Zaluzhny had suffered severe injuries in a Russian missile strike near Kherson in early May

During a meeting with Russian military correspondents and bloggers, President Vladimir Putin suggested that General Valery Zaluzhny, the commander-in-chief of Kiev’s armed forces, could be outside of Ukraine.

Speculation about Zaluzhny’s whereabouts arose after he missed a high-profile NATO meeting and reports claimed he was gravely wounded in a Russian missile strike.

While the Ukrainian Defense Ministry denies these allegations, Putin stated that he believes Zaluzhny is abroad, although he admitted that he could be mistaken.

The Western media has dubbed Zaluzhny the ‘Iron General’ and he has been a prominent figure in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Uncertainty also surrounds the fate of Kirill Budanov, the head of the Ukrainian military’s Main Intelligence Directorate, who made controversial statements regarding targeting Russians.

Putin’s statement was captured in a clip published by Rossiya 1 broadcaster on Sunday.

Putin advised the reporters to inquire about Zaluzhny’s whereabouts directly from the general himself but jokingly mentioned that they might need to switch to a foreign language to do so.

While the Russian president stated that he believes Zaluzhny is abroad, he acknowledged the possibility of being mistaken.

Speculation surrounding Zaluzhny’s location arose when he was absent from a prominent NATO meeting on May 10.

Ukraine’s counteroffensive has been brutal and slow. But Kyiv has many cards left to play

Nick Paton Walsh

The footage is grainy and disturbing. A Ukrainian soldier from the 73rd Naval Special Operations Center fights his way through a trench, apparently on the southern front, shooting Russian soldiers repeatedly at point-blank range. The dust kicked up adds to the sense of chaos, and the dense panic and brutality of this counteroffensive’s start.

It was never going to be simple, and would always involve the sort of ghastly, face-to-face combat shown in the special forces video. But the success of Ukraine’s onslaught still rests on whether it can surprise and outwit Moscow’s forces – not in grinding close combat, but on a larger strategic level. And this is likely why we are seeing a slow – and at times incremental – start to this first phase of open operations.

“We would definitely like to make bigger steps,” Ukraine’s President Zelensky acknowledged in a BBC interview. “But nevertheless, those who fight shall win and to those that knock, the door shall be opened.”

For months, we have seen a patient bid by Ukraine to erode the readiness of Russian defenses. The slow drip of explosions at fuel depots, headquarters and on railway lines has been about weakening Russia’s ability to withstand and adapt to the first major assaults.

This painstaking work continues, with a reported blast Sunday in the occupied village of Rykove, in the Kherson region, that leveled an apparent ammunition dump. Open-source analysts have noted the huge blast pattern suggests significant secondary explosions. The attack is also, they noted, more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) inside enemy territory, suggesting either an acute lack of awareness among Russian ranks of the new dangers they face from longer-range NATO-supplied missiles, or an inability to adapt and alter their presence accordingly.

Allies Are Uneasy

Niall Ferguson

Niall Ferguson is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is the Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and the author, most recently, of “Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe.” He is the founder of Greenmantle, an advisory firm, FourWinds Research, Hunting Tower, a venture capital partnership, and the filmmaker Chimerica Media. 

On recent visits to Lisbon and Paris, I heard much discussion of American leadership. I was reminded of what Mahatma Gandhi supposedly said when he was asked for his view of Western civilization — that it would be a very good idea. I feel the same way about American leadership: It would be a very good idea.

It’s a view that seems to be quite widely shared within the European elite, though few of the continent’s leaders dare to say so out loud.

An essential ingredient of leadership is an inspiring destination. Where exactly is it that the US would like its allies to follow? A good answer to that question can be found in the National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends 2040 report, which envisions five scenarios for 17 years hence.

The desired one is obviously “Renaissance of Democracies,” in which the US leads a resurgence of what used to be called the free world. But it is worth reviewing the other four destinations — the ones to be avoided:In “A World Adrift,” China is the leading but not globally dominant state.

In “Competitive Coexistence,” the US and China prosper and compete for leadership in a bifurcated world.

“Separate Silos” portrays a world in which globalization has broken down, and economic and security blocs emerge to protect states from mounting threats.

“Tragedy and Mobilization” is a story of bottom-up, revolutionary change on the heels of devastating global environmental crises.

The striking thing to me is that, just two years after the document was published, we are already in Scenario 3:

The Truth About Ukraine’s Failing Counteroffensive And The Peace That Could Have Been


With each passing day, it’s becoming clear that the Ukrainian counteroffensive is failing to achieve any of its originally stated objectives. Recall: The Biden administration’s bet was that the counteroffensive would roll back Russian territorial gains, cut the land bridge to Crimea, and force Russia to the negotiating table. That is almost certainly not going to happen. On the contrary, a stalemate is more likely, or even that Russia will take more territory and win the war, as John Mearsheimer has predicted.

What are President Biden’s options now? Either escalate or admit defeat. In preparation for NATO’s Vilnius Summit, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been floating a proposal to give “Israel status” to Ukraine. This means multi-year security guarantees including weapons, ammunition, and money that would continue even if Biden loses the next election.

This is not what the American people signed up for. Many Americans supported the $100-plus billion in appropriations for Ukraine, believing it was a one-time deal to reverse Russian territorial gains. If they had been told it was the basis for an annual appropriation in a new Forever War, they would have preferred an alternative, especially if they had known that one was available.

The Peace that Could Have Been

New evidence is emerging that a peace deal was achievable at the beginning of the war. At a recent meeting with the African delegation, Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly showed the draft of an outline or preliminary agreement signed by the Ukrainian delegation in Istanbul in early 2022. It allegedly provided that Russia would pull back to pre-war lines if Ukraine would agree not to join NATO (but Ukraine could receive security guarantees from the West).

Putin’s ‘Big Lie’ Might Be A Scheme To Exit The Ukraine War

Alexander Motyl

You may recall that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin launched his second invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022 with two goals in mind: Ukraine’s “demilitarization” and “de-Nazification.”

Both goals were absurd, as Ukraine posed absolutely no military threat to Russia and the number of bona fide Ukrainian Nazis could be counted on the fingers of one hand. Both goals were especially absurd as it was Putin’s Russia that threatened Ukraine militarily and adopted all the earmarks of a fascist regime: authoritarianism, chauvinism, a bloodthirsty dictator, and a cult of personality.

Whatever the case, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov recently announced the good news: Ukraine has been demilitarized! Here are his exact words:

“Indeed, Ukraine was heavily militarized at the time of the beginning of the Special Military Operation. And, as Putin said yesterday, one of the tasks was to demilitarize Ukraine. In fact, this task is largely completed. Ukraine is using less and less of its weapons. And more and more it uses the weapons systems that Western countries supply it with.”

Peskov’s is a strikingly bizarre interpretation of demilitarization. True, Ukraine has used up much of the equipment and ammunition that hailed from Soviet days. Equally true, it’s been the recipient of far more effective and modern and NATO-compatible weapons systems from the fifty-plus countries in the Ramstein group.

Just how this amounts to demilitarization, especially at a time when Ukraine has launched what appears to be a successful counteroffensive, is unclear.

By the same logic, Peskov could claim that NATO enlargement has been stopped because Finland joined the alliance and there’s no one to its east.

The Treacherous Path to a Better Russia

Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Erica Frantz

“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” U.S. President Joe Biden said of his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, a month after Russia launched a brutal invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Biden’s off-the-cuff remark, which his administration swiftly sought to walk back, did not merely reflect anger at the destruction unleashed by Putin’s war of choice. It also revealed the deeply held assumption that relations between Russia and the West cannot improve as long as Putin is in office. Such a sentiment is widely shared among officials in the transatlantic alliance and Ukraine, most volubly by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky himself, who last September ruled out peace talks until a new Russian leader is in place.

There is good reason to be pessimistic about the prospects of Russia’s changing course under Putin. He has taken his country in a darker, more authoritarian direction, a turn intensified by the invasion of Ukraine. The wrongful detention of The Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich in March and the sentencing of the opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza to a 25-year prison term in April, for example, are eerily reminiscent of measures from Soviet times. Once leaders grow to rely on repression, they become reluctant to exercise restraint for fear that doing so could suggest weakness and embolden their critics and challengers. If anything, Putin is moving Russia more and more toward totalitarianism as he attempts to mobilize Russian society in support of not just his war on Ukraine but also his antipathy to the West.

If the West’s relations with Russia are unlikely to change while Putin is in power, perhaps things could improve were he to depart. But the track record of political transitions that follow the exits of longtime authoritarian leaders offers little room for optimism. The path to a better Russia is not just narrow—it is treacherous. Authoritarian leaders rarely lose power while still waging a war they initiated. As long as the war continues, Putin’s position is more secure, making positive change less likely. What is more, authoritarian regimes most often survive in the wake of the departure of longtime leaders such as Putin; were Putin to die in office or be removed by insiders, the regime would most likely endure intact. In such a case, the contours of Russian foreign policy would stay largely the same, with the Kremlin locked in a period of protracted confrontation with the West.

Is the Ukrainian offensive another Kursk?


Some observers say that the battle now taking place in the Zaporizhzhya area of Ukraine is like the 1943 Battle for Kursk. Is that the case? Why does it matter?

The Nazi attempt to capture and defeat the Soviet forces at Kursk in western Russia was a massive undertaking, one that bears, in terms of armor, artillery, aircraft and manpower, no real resemblance in scale to the battle now raging in the Zaporizhzhya area. But by other measures there is a comparison to be made.

In Zaporizhzhya the Ukrainians are trying to establish bridgeheads with the ultimate goal, if they have success, of splitting Russian forces and gaining a position on the Sea of Azov.

The Ukrainians have some 12 brigades trained by NATO for this purpose. Nine of those brigades have Western tanks, infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), armored personnel carriers (APCs), mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles and plenty of other equipment.

The front is a long one and there are multiple battles going on as the Ukrainians are seeking a breakthrough against dug-in Russian forces arranged in defensive lines with significant depth.

In the Kursk battle, both sides deployed their air forces. Overall, the Luftwaffe had significant success on the battlefield – but at a very high cost. The Luftwaffe deployed fighters, ground attack aircraft and bombers.

The Russians also put up a good fight deploying hundreds of aircraft including the storied IL-2 Stormovik and the Lavochkin LA-5. In all, Russia lost 1,130 aircraft compared with German losses of 711. But Germany would have major problems replacing aircraft and having enough fuel to keep them in the air. Germany also lost some of its best pilots while, at the same time “green” Russian pilots learned from combat.

The Dollar at the End of History

Philip Pilkington

Recent machinations in the world of international finance have given Francis Fukuyama’s thesis, or something resembling it, a short new lease on life. The political philosopher published The End of History and the Last Man in 1992. The book argued that history had decided that liberal democracy was the superior mode of government after the fall of the Soviet Union.

It appeared to logically follow that, moving into the future, the rest of the world would adopt this mode of government and, when the entire world had been converted, the historical process would come to a close. We would all be liberal democrats from here to eternity.

In retrospect, Fukuyama’s thesis looks both arrogant and naive. With the rise of alternative regimes in countries like Russia and China it has become clear that liberal democracy is not the logical end point of historical development. Moving into the 21st century it looks like political evolution—and perhaps, in some instances, devolution—will continue on as it always has.

The historical process, at least insofar as it applies to governmental regimes, is cyclical rather than linear. In February of 2022, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the United States government, together with the governments of its allies, froze Russian foreign exchange reserves. In doing so, the American government started a chain reaction of events that may ultimately result in the end of U.S. dollar dominance in the world economy.

By seizing Russian foreign exchange reserves, the United States signalled to the rest of the world that U.S. dollar reserves—until then thought to be as good as gold—were only safe insofar as a country’s foreign policy was not disapproved of by the United States. Countries around the world realized that holding U.S. dollar reserves and assets now came with serious risks and started to look for alternatives. Soon thereafter discussions started about the creation of a BRICS currency.

History Points to the Most Probable Conclusion in Ukraine: Scorched Earth or Regime Change

Robert Umholtz

Russia and Ukraine are locked in a war that has outlasted any realistic forecast. Why are these nations still engaged in a conflict that is so detrimental to both sides? Because these two countries have a shared history that includes scorched earth and the willful destruction of personal property rather than forfeiture, the most likely outcome is either complete victory for one party, or regime change that brings the war to a rapid conclusion. Over a thousand years of invasions, occupation, and suffering have influenced the psyches of both the Ukrainians and Russians in ways that make only these two outcomes likely. Analyzing Russian and Ukrainian history through invasions, scorched earth policies, and popular uprisings provides a clear understanding that control of Crimea is the ultimate objective of each nation, and the endgame will be determined by whoever is willing to suffer the most to achieve their goal.

To understand the current conflict in Ukraine, it is important to first acknowledge that Russia and Ukraine each claim Kiev as the birthplace of their respective cultures. The origins of each culture have been lost to history and were first documented centuries later by monks, but the fact remains that each country has rooted their identity and origin in what is known as Kievan Rus. Rus refers to the people loosely united in principalities across Ukraine and Western Russia prior to the invasion of the Mongols and subsequent rise of Moscow and a unified Russian state. Following the victory of Muscovy over the Mongols, Ukraine often enjoyed long periods of freedom from Russia intermixed with Russian conquest of Ukrainian territory. During Russian domination, Ukrainian culture was squashed by Russian officials and laws that prohibited printing in the Ukrainian language. Ukrainians at times welcomed and accepted Russian culture and protection while tsars often employed the Ukrainian Cossacks to safeguard the borderlands as well as pacify indigenous peoples of the steppe as the Russian Empire expanded east into Siberia. The Cossacks, as fierce defenders of the border, were appreciated by tsars, when they weren’t rebelling or supporting foreign incursions into Russia, because Russia and Ukraine share a history of invasions.

Myanmar and Russia Sign Energy Deals, Establish Direct Flights

Sebastian Strangio

Myanmar’s military junta signed deals on wind energy projects and direct flights during meetings with Russian officials last week, marking the latest sign of convergence between the two pariah states. According to a report in The Irrawaddy, the agreements were signed during the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg, sometimes referred to as the “Russian Davos,” last week.

The publication reported that Thaung Han, the junta’s minister of electric power, met with Alexey Likhachev, the director general of Russia’s state-owned nuclear firm Rosatom, to discuss possible power projects. He then signed a memorandum of understanding on June 15 with Rosatom subsidiary NovaWind, and agreements with two Russian companies about conducting feasibility studies into the creation of two wind power projects in Mandalay and Magway regions.

Kan Zaw, the junta’s investment and foreign economic relations minister, told forum attendees that Myanmar Airways International will establish a symbolic direct air link to Russia beginning next month, with direct flights from Yangon and Mandalay to Moscow and Novosibirsk. He also said the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism will introduce a goodwill scheme with Russia in a bid to revive the country’s moribund tourism sector, including visa exemptions for Russian nationals.

The nature of the agreements is in many ways less important than how they reflect the steady strategic convergence between the two nations, at a time when both are under growing international pressure.

While relations have been on the up for years – for instance, Myanmar purchased an estimated $1.5 billion in military hardware from Russia from 1999 to 2018, accounting for 39 percent of its total arms imports – the Myanmar military’s coup in February 2021 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine a year later have seen the two nations huddle together to fend off challenges from the West.

Air Force’s 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing tries some-fin special on EW


WASHINGTON — After the commander of the Air Force’s 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing asserted that personnel are key to closing a gap with China in electronic warfare capabilities, the 350th held an unconventional event to answer their commander’s call: a “shark tank” style competition, where military and civilian members alike could pitch ideas to improve the wing’s operations.

The shark tank faceoff was held earlier this month at the 350th’s home of Eglin Air Force Base, where a panel of five judges with backgrounds ranging from cybersecurity to aircraft expertise selected a total of seven new ideas to fund based on airmen’s pitches.

“Our boss, Col. [Joshua] Koslov, understands that innovation can come from any level,” Chief Master Sgt. Michael Sterling, who served as one of the judges on the panel, told Breaking Defense in a June 13 interview. “Whether young or old, experienced or novice, we encourage that culture and environment. We’re trying to build airmen to meet their full potential.”

The competition was open to all, with a focus on how to make both defensive and offensive electronic warfare operations more effective.

“Sometimes we get kind of immersed in the mission, and we think that our problems are either smaller or larger than they are,” Sterling said. Providing a forum like the shark tank event allows younger airmen to share fresh perspectives on those problems, he said, and foster a more innovative culture that enables ideas from lower ranks to rise to leadership.

Activated in 2021, the relatively nascent 350th is “still understanding where our expertise comes from,” Sterling said, and is working hard to recruit the workforce it needs to support its objectives. Beyond improving the wing’s internal workings, bringing new ideas to the fore through events like the shark tank competition are also meant to demonstrate to potential recruits that the 350th can be their home, Sterling said.

Inside Phoenix Challenge — the conference series seeking to shape and bolster information operations


Next week, members of government, industry and academia will gather in Atlanta for the latest iteration of an ongoing conference series aimed at bringing professionals together to tackle difficult challenges within the information environment.

Phoenix Challenge, which kicks off June 20 at the Georgia Tech Research Institute, is sponsored by the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy — who the Department of Defense appointed as the statutorily mandated principal information operations adviser — and the Office of Information Operations under the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict.

The conference seeks to provide a forum for information professionals to get together, discuss and devise solutions through working groups.

As the information environment becomes significantly more important with adversaries seeking to use subterfuge and influence from halfway across the globe to achieve their objectives and influence local populations, Phoenix Challenge has sought to gather experts from across the community to devise solutions and policies to combat malicious activity.

“We see that the competition in the information environment is acute, our threats are increasing and even more sophisticated in this space,” Austin Branch, professor of practice at the University of Maryland’s Applied Research Lab for Intelligence & Security and Technology (ARLIS), told DefenseScoop.

ARLIS supports the conference by providing expertise, content and follow-up with applied research.

There is a prevailing narrative that the U.S. is losing the information fight, as adversaries have invested heavily in these tactics while America was busy combating technologically inferior and more parochial counterterrorism threats in the Middle East.