27 June 2023

India’s Modi to leave Washington with host of defense, tech agreements in his wake


US President Joe Biden, left, and Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, toast during a state dinner at the White House in Washington, DC, US, on Thursday, June 22, 2023. (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be heading back from his high-profile US trip this week with a host of new defense-related arrangements, including plans to buy MQ-9B SeaGuardian drones, a “groundbreaking proposal” to jointly produce General Electric’s F414 Jet Engine in India, and a new ship repair deal, the White House announced.

The trip was billed as the catalyst for rolling out new defense collaboration opportunities between the two nations, especially in the realm of technology sharing, even if some details of the initiatives remain scarce.

“The US-India partnership is a cornerstone of a free and open Indo-Pacific and our deepening bonds show how technological innovation and growing military cooperation between two great powers can be a force for global good,” Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters on Thursday.

Modi, too, referenced a “free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific” during his address to Congress Thursday, in what appeared to be a dig at Beijing’s increased aggression there.

An announcement about co-production of General Electric’s F414 jet engine in India was among the most high-profile items anticipated to come out of this week’s meetings, and the White House did in fact announce that GE and Hindustan Aeronautics inked a limited memorandum of understanding, and that Congress had been notified of a manufacturing license agreement.

“This trailblazing initiative to manufacture F-414 engines in India — the first of its kind — will enable greater transfer of US jet engine technology than ever before,” the White House said.

Opinion Lecturing India’s leader on human rights is not the best path

As the Biden administration warmly welcomes Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Washington, some experts warn that the United States shouldn’t succumb to irrational exuberance about the two countries’ relations. My colleague Barkha Dutt writes that India will never be America’s ally, no matter how warm Washington’s embrace. India is intensely focused on its own national interests and will pursue them narrowly. The oft-cited example is India’s refusal to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The skeptics are right to note that India has long resisted the pull to become a full-fledged ally of the United States, a version of Britain in Asia. And it will continue to do so. Like any country, it does have its own interests to worry about.

But India is changing. In the past, the country has placed little emphasis on foreign policy, devoting its energies instead to managing the vast complexities of its own society, which is characterized by thousands of castes and communities, dozens of major languages and huge regional diversity.

Now, the rise of China has finally gotten India’s attention. The 2020 clash in the Himalayas — when Chinese and Indian soldiers fought bitterly over a disputed border area — was a wake-up call for India’s strategic elite and, to some extent, the entire country. Public sentiment shifted sharply, and today a large number of Indians regard China with hostility. For its part, Beijing has done little to try to solve the problem. It has actually reinforced its military infrastructure along the border, which would allow it to surge troops whenever it sees the need. Since the clash three years ago, India has constrained or outright banned many Chinese companies and technologies from operating in its market, including Huawei and TikTok. The threat from China will motivate India to strengthen its ties with the United States for decades to come.

Yet, as India emerges as a great power, it will have to adopt a more expansive vision of its interests around the world. It will need to define its attitude toward the international system itself, and how its own ideas and ideals should affect its stance. In the process, it might well decide that it values a rules-based international system, and see that, as the world’s largest democracy, it gains enormous soft power by adopting a foreign policy that is influenced by its democratic ideals, even if it won’t be feasible in every case to apply them. Such selectivity is, after all, true of most democratic countries, including the United States.

What Biden Wants From Modi’s State Visit


This week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to Washington for a state visit that includes an address to the U.S. Congress. Modi and U.S. President Joe Biden are expected to discuss a wide range of topics that span technology, China, and Russia’s war in Ukraine. For the second Pivotal States event, a new series that examines alternative U.S. foreign policy approaches to the world’s key nations, American Statecraft Program director Christopher S. Chivvis was joined by Carnegie Endowment senior fellow Ashley J. Tellis and Center for a New American Security senior fellow Lisa Curtis to discuss the state visit and its implications for U.S.-India relations.

This Q & A was adapted from a transcript of the event and has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Chris Chivvis: I like to start these discussions by thinking about U.S. interests. . . . Ashley, you wrote about “America’s Bad Bet on India.” What do you think?

Ashley Tellis: I would argue that the U.S. has three core interests in India, and they’re each of equal importance. The first is to see India thrive as a vibrant, liberal democracy, and that’s important because of the exemplary implications of India as a democratic success for the kind of global order that the United States has invested in for a very long time.

Christopher S. Chivvis is the director of the American Statecraft Program at the Carnegie Endowment.

The second interest is to see India’s power grow and, as a result of that growth in power, the deepening of the bilateral partnership. And I think that objective is important because it conduces toward strengthening the multipolar order in Asia, which the U.S. judges to be very important for its own strategic interests, especially vis-a-vis China.

The third interest is in deepened economic ties across the board, so that each country becomes the motor of prosperity for the other.

Modi’s U.S. visit sends a big, if quiet, signal to China

Ellen Nakashima

Joint statements issued by the United States and India over the last several years have condemned North Korea’s missile tests, called for the Taliban to respect human rights and appealed for an end to the violence in Myanmar. But never has there been an outright mention of India’s primary adversary: China.

Yet it is China in recent years that has supplanted Pakistan as India’s main security threat. While Delhi may wish to minimize accusations that can heighten tensions with leadership in Beijing, China’s clashes with India along its border have turned the world’s two most populous countries into rivals again in the Indo-Pacific.

It is the resurgence of that rivalry — after decades of détente — that has made for a convergence of strategic interests between the United States and India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in Washington this week, with the full pomp and circumstance of a state visit that comes on the heels of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s tense trip to China, followed by President Biden’s comments on Tuesday calling Xi Jinping a “dictator.”

Neither Biden nor Modi would frame their engagement as primarily being about containing the China challenge, but the subtext is plain. Rather, officials say, it is about lifting up a rising power — the world’s largest democracy, if an imperfect one — and showcasing the momentum in the relationship based on a set of shared interests.

Indian Science: Awakening the Sleeping Giant

Jayant Krishna

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ongoing state visit to Washington, there are high expectations for concrete outcomes. Undoubtedly, critical, and emerging technology cooperation will be featured heavily as the two leaders look for ways to jump-start the partnership. While promising, India needs to simultaneously address systemic challenges currently bridling its domestic science and technology (S&T) sector to ensure the continued success of such a bilateral partnership.

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan and his Indian counterpart, Ajit Doval, lead the new U.S.-India Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET). This initiative is aimed at expanding U.S.-India science and technology partnerships by leveraging expertise from governments, the private sector, and academia. Core domains of the partnership include strengthening the innovation ecosystem, defense technology, semiconductor supply chains, space, telecommunications, and STEM talent.

India was the first country to explicitly adopt “scientific temper” in its constitution. The 42nd amendment in 1976 declared that it shall be the duty of every citizen to develop a scientific temper, humanism, and the spirit of inquiry and reform. Despite such a constitutional focus, India did not usher in transformative reforms in its S&T space.

That contrasts with the People’s Republic of China, which began to open its economy in 1978. These initial reforms were followed by revitalizing its science ecosystem through systematic reforms in the 1990s. The strategy paid off. China competes with the United States and nations for global leadership in several domains, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and semiconductor manufacturing.

India needs to create new science and technology knowledge and translate it to economic and social goods, thereby enabling sustained economic growth. India has the economic scale, a large talent pool, huge market size, as well as a vibrant start-up ecosystem. All these factors provide a good bedrock for the development of the S&T space in the country.

Aid Is the Next Battleground Between China and the West

Agathe Demarais

When around 50 country leaders gather in Paris on Thursday and Friday for the Summit for a New Global Financing Pact, the main question on their agenda is a familiar one: how to tackle climate change and global poverty. Yet the summit is less conventional than it first appears: France and Barbados, the event’s co-organizers, seek to advance these goals through new rules for restructuring developing countries’ debt, a prerequisite for giving them more fiscal space to help their populations. This focus is unusual, and it shows that aid is becoming the next battleground in the competition for global influence between China and the West.

China’s Cloud Computing Firms Raise Concern for U.S.

David McCabe

In the digital cold war between the United States and China, American officials are increasingly turning their attention to a new target: Chinese cloud computing giants.

Over the last 18 months, the Biden administration and members of Congress have ramped up their exploration of what can be done to address security concerns about the cloud computing divisions of Chinese tech behemoths like Alibaba and Huawei, five people with knowledge of the matter said.

American officials have discussed whether they can set tighter rules for the Chinese companies when they operate in the United States, as well as ways to counter the companies’ growth abroad, three of the people said. The Biden administration has also spoken with the American cloud computing companies Google, Microsoft and Amazon to understand how their Chinese competitors operate, three other people with knowledge of the matter said.

By focusing on the Chinese cloud companies, U.S. officials are potentially widening the scope of the technological tensions between Washington and Beijing. In recent years, the United States has choked China’s access to crucial technologies while trying to limit the reach of Chinese tech and telecommunication companies abroad.

Former President Donald J. Trump directed his administration toward hindering Chinese telecom equipment makers like Huawei and ZTE from playing a role in next-generation 5G wireless networks. The Trump administration also targeted Chinese-owned apps like TikTok and Grindr, forcing the sale of the latter, and began working to restrict Chinese involvement in undersea internet cables. President Biden has continued some of these efforts.

Cloud computing companies, which operate vast data centers that provide computing power and software to businesses, would become a new technological front just as China has pushed back on the U.S. roadblocks. On Monday, Wang Yi, China’s top foreign affairs official, told Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken that the United States needed to stop interfering with China’s technological development.

De-Dollarization And Emergence Of Chinese Yuan – Analysis

Dr. Imran Khalid

This month Pakistan adopted a major departure from its long-standing reliance on the US dollar for export payments, as it utilized yuan to pay for its inaugural government-to-government purchase of 100,000 tons of Russian crude oil, which marks the country’s first international transactions in a currency other than the US dollar.

Similarly, Argentina’s Secretary of State for Trade, Matias Tombolini, also revealed recently on social media that his country has settled transactions worth a staggering $2.721 billion with China, using the yuan as the main instrument of transaction. Interestingly, 19% of Argentina’s imports were settled in yuan in the months of April and May, and Tombolini asserted that this strategic shift would fortify their foreign exchange reserves and enhance their control over the economic landscape. Consequently, on April 26, the Argentine government announced the adoption of the yuan for settling trade in Chinese-imported goods, symbolizing a potent blow to the dollar’s dominance.

The emergence of parallel currencies in international trade has fueled the on-going heated debate over de-dollarization, with recent events providing additional ammunition to those critical of US dominance. These two examples serve as poignant reminders of the growing trend toward alternative currencies and the potential erosion of the US dollar’s hegemonic status. As countries like Pakistan and Argentina embrace non-dollar payment systems in major transactions, the allure of diversification and reduced reliance on the American currency becomes all the more apparent. The global financial landscape is undergoing a subtle but significant transformation, one that challenges the long-standing supremacy of the US dollar.

Recently, in a significant development, China and Brazil unveiled a momentous agreement to conduct trade using their domestic currencies, effectively sidestepping the dominant influence of the US dollar. This move underscores this new shift in trade links between the two economic powerhouses, with China holding the position of Brazil’s largest trading partner, as bilateral trade soared to a remarkable $150 billion in 2022. Furthermore, the yuan has secured a prominent place as Brazil’s second-largest international reserve currency.

Chinese Firm Sent Large Shipments of Gunpowder to Russian Munitions Factory

Ana Swanson and John Ismay

On two separate occasions last year, railroad cars carrying tens of thousands of kilograms of smokeless powder — enough propellant to collectively make at least 80 million rounds of ammunition — rumbled across the China-Russia border at the remote town of Zabaykalsk.

The powder had been shipped by Poly Technologies, a state-owned Chinese company on which the United States had previously imposed sanctions for its global sales of missile technology and providing support to Iran. Its destination was Barnaul Cartridge Plant, an ammunition factory in central Russia with a history of supplying the Russian government.

These previously unreported shipments, which were identified by Import Genius, a U.S.-based trade data aggregator, raise new questions about the role China has played in supporting Russia as it fights to capture Ukrainian territory. U.S. officials have expressed concerns that China could funnel products to Russia that would help in its war effort — what is known as “lethal aid” — though they have not said outright that China has made such shipments.

Speaking from Beijing on Monday, Antony J. Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, said China had assured the United States that it was not providing lethal assistance to Russia for use in Ukraine, and that the U.S. government had “not seen anything right now to contradict that.”

“But what we are concerned about is private companies in China that may be providing assistance,” Mr. Blinken said.

Some experts said the shipments Poly Technologies had made to Barnaul Cartridge Plant since the invasion, which totaled nearly $2 million, according to customs records, constituted such lethal assistance. According to the customs records, Poly Technologies intended its shipments to be used in the kinds of ammunition fired by Russian Kalashnikov assault rifles and sniper rifles.

William George, the director of research at Import Genius, said that Poly Technologies “may be toeing the line on exactly what constitutes lethal aid to Russia,” but that the implications of the shipments were clear.

A ‘Third Way’ Of Moderate Muslim Politics Exists And Should Be Encouraged – Analysis

Dr. Matthew Godwin and Dr. Usama Hasan

Millions watched last month as the UK’s King Charles was crowned by the archbishop of Canterbury in a ceremony steeped in Christian tradition but attended by leaders of other faiths, who played prominent roles in the day’s events. Less than a week later, Archbishop Justin Welby was generating headlines again, this time for criticizing the government’s policies toward migrants from his place in the House of Lords.

As we argue in a new report released this week, faith plays a role in politics and public life in many countries. Hinduism in India, Buddhism in Sri Lanka and Judaism in Israel remain sources of both unity and division. And for the world’s more than 50 Muslim-majority countries, Islam has often been entwined with politics. Far from being static, countries where Islam is the largest religion have experienced immense change in their systems of government and the formal role played by Islam. However, for too long, Islamists have dominated the political discourse.

Representing a theologically warped and troubling ideology, Islamists believe that it is an obligation for Muslims to reestablish a clerocracy reminiscent of the rule of the Prophet in the early years of the faith. Overlooking centuries of pluralism and political evolution in Muslim polities, their extremist interpretation is now systemic in the Islamic Republic’s Iran and Afghanistan under the Taliban, while terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda, Daesh and others attack and seek to replace the state throughout the Middle East and Africa.

We make the case that confronting these ideologies needs to go beyond the battlefield, to the battle for ideas. Moderate Muslims are by the far the majority in every country, yet Islamists have for too long dominated Muslim thinking in politics. We argue that moderate Muslim voices must be strengthened and empowered as a “third way” between a secularism not in keeping with Muslim-majority states and violent Islamism.

Japan’s New National Security Strategy and Contribution to a Networked Regional Security Architecture

Tokuchi Hideshi

This commentary is part of the Exploring New Horizons: Japan’s Defense Priorities project, a CSIS Japan Chair initiative featuring analysis by leading Japanese and American scholars examining the implications of Japan’s new national security and defense strategies and opportunities for bilateral cooperation.

The new National Security Strategy (NSS), together with the National Defense Strategy (NDS) and the Defense Buildup Program (DBP), all released on December 16, 2022, entail a number of unprecedented and highly ambitious projects relevant to Japan’s own defense capabilities. Japan should urgently revamp its military force in light of today’s acute security environment, particularly due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, tension over the Taiwan Strait, and the nuclear and missile ambitions of a more provocative North Korea. The NSS constitutes a dramatic transformation of Japan’s national security policy and illustrates growing threat perceptions in the minds of the Japanese people.

However, the dramatic transformation is not about “fundamental principles and policies” but rather about execution of the initiatives in the strategy documents. In fact, the basic three pillars of national security policy remain essentially intact. The goals are clearly stated in the NDS: (1) “to strengthen Japan’s own architecture for national defense”; (2) “to further reinforce joint deterrence and response capability of the Japan-U.S. Alliance”; and (3) “to reinforce collaboration with like-minded countries.” The basic construct of the defense buildup also remains the same. The NDS states, “Japan will fundamentally reinforce the current Multi-Domain Defense Force through further accelerated efforts.” Thus, the course of Japan’s national security policy is not a fundamental shift of trajectory but an acceleration of the previous course of action, provoked by the recent deterioration of the security environment. In this sense, the dramatic transformation is not a revolution but an evolution with a giant leap.

This article discusses how the Japan-U.S. alliance and Japan’s security cooperation with other like-minded countries should proceed in accordance with the three national security documents and contribute to building a regional security architecture.
Promotion of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific

Ukraine’s reconstruction will depend on security guarantees

Maria Shagina

The Ukraine Recovery Conference will convene in London on 21–22 June 2023, but economic discussions about long-term reconstruction will only produce results if security conditions improve and can be guaranteed in some form by NATO members.

The mass destruction caused by Russia’s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine has created an opportunity to rebuild the country in ways that will make its economy and infrastructure more modern, resilient and sustainable. On 21–22 June, the United Kingdom will host the Ukraine Recovery Conference, which is meant to serve as a matchmaking platform for private-sector investors interested in forming long-term commercial relationships with Ukraine. This model differs from that of the Lugano and Berlin reconstruction conferences, held in July and October 2022, respectively, which focused on attracting immediate investment pledges.

The conference will launch a Business Compact that will ask signatory companies to agree that they will look for opportunities to trade and invest in Ukraine ‘when the time is right’. Indeed, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in a press release just before the conference’s start that funding Ukraine’s efforts to rebuild and recover is ‘its own form of counteroffensive against Russia’. Ultimately, however, the timing of foreign firms' decisions to invest in the country will be determined by security conditions.

Uncertainty around the duration of the war has discouraged many foreign companies from investing in Ukraine. For private investors, security concerns now far outweigh the country’s long-standing governance and corruption problems. Many are eager to engage, but only when the war is over. For example, BlackRock and JPMorgan Chase have discussed with Kyiv plans to open a reconstruction bank, but it is not expected to be launched fully until the war ends.

Japan: Making Defence Spending Sustainable – Analysis

Yuki Tatsumi

One of the key highlights of Japan’s three national security documents released on 16 December 2022 — the National Security Strategy, the National Defense Strategy and the Defense Build-up Plan (DBP) — is the commitment to increase defence spending.

The 2022 DBP revealed that the Japanese government will spend approximately 43 trillion yen (US$310 billion) from 2023–27 to fund the defence capability build-up. Japan’s Ministry of Defence (JMOD) budget will increase annually to reach 8.9 trillion yen (US$64.1 billion) in 2027. The 2023 defence budget demonstrates Tokyo’s determination to follow through on its five-year spending commitments under the DBP. The total budget of over 6.6 trillion yen (US$47.5 billion) is a 27.5 per cent increase from 2022 and the biggest defence budget in Japan’s post-war history.

But the ‘roughly 2 per cent of GDP’ goal that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida discussed in his press conference on 16 December 2022 following the announcement of these three documents is slightly misleading. The two per cent includes not only the JMOD budget but also other national security-related spending such as the Japan Coast Guard budget and national infrastructure investments.

Still, the JMOD’s 2023–27 budget plan is 60 per cent higher than the 2018–22 spending plan. As a country that historically spent roughly 1 per cent of its GDP on defence and resisted calls to spend more, Tokyo’s commitment to such a considerable increase marks a departure from the past.

Highlights from these new documents — such as Japan’s acquisition of counterstrike capabilities and a substantial defence spending increase — continue to grab news headlines. But funding remains a thorny issue. The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)–Komeito ruling coalition have been working on fiscal measures that will enable Tokyo to follow through on its defence spending commitments.

The Concept Of Russian Victory Against A Background Of Failure – Analysis

Ksenia Kirillova

Russian elites continue to assure the Russian population that there is no future without a victory over Ukraine; however, the image of this victory has been considerably modified in the face of the Ukrainian counteroffensive.

Ukrainian forces are slowly battling their way forward, liberating more and more Russian-occupied territory. On June 12, the Ukrainian Armed Forces announced that the villages of Blagodatnoye, Neskuchnoye and Makarovka had been successfully secured under the control of Ukraine (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, June 12). Against this backdrop, the “mouthpiece” of Russian propaganda, Margarita Simonyan, unexpectedly proposed to “stop the bloodshed right now,” freeze the conflict and hold referendums in the “disputed” territories (Rline.tv, June 7).

The head of RT was not the only one trying to prepare Russian society for negotiations. Back in February 2023, the deputy head of the administration of the Russian National Guard (Rosgvardiya) in the so-called Donetsk “people’s republic,” Aleksandr Khodakovsky, called negotiations with Ukraine the “only possible outcome of the conflict” (T.me/aleksandr_skif, February 15). Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin has also spoken in a veiled manner about the need to end the war (Telegra.ph, April 14).

Experts are inclined to think that such reasoning is nothing more than a test of public opinion on the possible decision to engage in peace negotiations (YouTube, June 11). And if so, this test has failed. Besides the extremely negative reaction of “Z-patriots,” the number of those supporting peaceful negotiations has diminished even among ordinary Russians. According to data from the Levada Center, in May 2023, the number of Russian citizens in favor of ending the conflict through negotiations was slightly fewer than those supporting the continuation of the “special military operation” (Levada.ru, June 1). For its part, Kyiv is adamant that negotiations can only begin following the complete withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukrainian territory (Оbozrevatel.com, June 3).

Global Trade Rebounds, But Outlook For 2023 Is Bleak – OpEd

Trade in goods and services rebounded between January and March 2023 after two consecutive quarters of decline. However, the outlook for the rest of the year is bleak.

According To UNCTAD‘s Latest Global Trade Update, published on 21 June, global merchandise trade rebounded both in volume and value in the first quarter of 2023.

Global trade in goods increased by 1.9% from the last quarter of 2022, adding about $100 billion. Global trade in services increased by about $50 billion, an increase of 2.8%.

For the second quarter of 2023, UNCTAD expects global trade growth to slow due to recently downgraded World Economic forecasts, financial vulnerabilities, the war in Ukraine, and geopolitical tensions.

Overall, the outlook for global trade in the second half of 2023 is pessimistic, as negative factors outweigh positives.

The geographical proximity of international trade has remained relatively stable over the last five quarters, suggesting no significant nearshoring or farshoring trends.

According to the report, “friend-shoring” is on the rise since late 2022, characterized by a reorientation of bilateral trade flows toward countries with similar values.

During this period, key bilateral trade trends have been shaped significantly by the war in Ukraine, the decoupling of the United States-China trade relationship, and the consequences of Brexit.

According to the report, global trade has become more concentrated among major trade relationships as a result of a decline in trade partner diversification.

European Overreach In Tech Regulation Is Becoming A Problem For US National Security

Loren Thompson

Last week, the European Parliament overwhelmingly endorsed legislation that would impose sweeping restrictions on the use of artificial intelligence.

The same day, European Union regulators joined US regulators in proposing a partial breakup of GoogleGOOG -0.7% to limit the company’s dominance of the digital advertising business.

In both cases, the actions by European Union bodies were aimed at curbing risks that for the most part have not yet arisen. In Google’s case, for instance, European competition chief Margrethe Vestager asserted that the company’s current advertising practices could “possibly harm” competitors.

That kind of thinking is similar to the Federal Trade Commission’s arguments for intervening in a number of proposed tech transactions. However, US courts generally have ruled that blocking behavior on the basis of speculation about what might happen someday is bureaucratic overreach.

Europe depends heavily on America for its security, but you would never guess that from some of its ... [+]WIKIPEDIA

Time will tell whether the European Union’s other bodies develop doubts about the parliament’s proposed restrictions on artificial intelligence. To date, the dangers caused by AI are largely imaginary.

However, the damage caused by such regulatory impositions is already apparent. Google, a contributor to my think tank, has delayed release of its Bard chatbot in Europe because of regulator concerns about privacy. OpenAI, developer of the rival ChatGPT, says it may have to exit the European market entirely.

By signing up, you accept and agree to our Terms of Service (including the class action waiver and arbitration provisions), and you acknowledge our Privacy Statement.

These are just the latest developments in an emerging pattern of European restrictions on US technology companies that raise profound concerns for national security.

The common refrain in mainstream media about EU regulation of tech is that the Europeans are way ahead of America in curbing the excesses of companies like MicrosoftMSFT -1.4%.

The Constant Fight: Intelligence Activities, Irregular Warfare, and Political Warfare

Philip Wasielewski

The study of intelligence and nontraditional warfare is essential to fully understand the various, and sometimes indirect, means by which the United States can solve or manage national security threats beyond the traditional tools of diplomacy and military power.

Intelligence and nontraditional warfare activities are conducted daily to bring policymakers information necessary for decision-making, protect secrets, and implement policy decisions below the threshold of significant military action

Unfortunately, the constant fight of intelligence and nontraditional warfare are often not as well studied or understood as other traditional statecraft tools. Therefore, this new center at the Foreign Policy Research Institute will conduct scholarly research on intelligence and nontraditional warfare to facilitate understanding by the general public, as well as government and academic experts, on how these specialties provide for the nation’s security, caveats in their application, and lessons learned from past actions to inform future policy decisions.

Editor’s Note: This is the inaugural article for Foreign Policy Research Institute’s new Center for Intelligence and Nontraditional Warfare.

– Wisdom is better than weapons of war.

Ecclesiastes 9:18

With the war in Ukraine and fears of war over Taiwan, America’s national security focus has turned from the threat of terrorism to the more traditional threats of inter-state competition and conventional or even nuclear war. The concern about threats posed by major state competitors, particularly Russia and China, is understandable. Both are nuclear-armed revisionist powers. Russia’s war in Ukraine aims to overturn the rules-based order in Europe and establish regional hegemony over its former Soviet empire; China’s growing capability to seize Taiwan possibly presages a similar effort in East Asia. Hence, efforts to revive and strengthen America’s strategic and conventional warfighting capabilities and industrial base are wise and overdue.

Task Force for a Trustworthy Future Web

The Task Force for a Trustworthy Future Web will chart a clear and action-oriented roadmap for future online ecosystems to protect users’ rights, support innovation, and center trust and safety principles.

The underpinnings of our digital future are currently being molded by the decisions of technology companies, service providers, and governments across the globe. At the same time, a dedicated multistakeholder community has been working tirelessly for decades to understand and mitigate the known harms of our digital age, and illuminate paths forward. To build a digital future designed to scale human dignity and societal progress, it is essential that we facilitate collaboration now between the expanding community dedicated to understanding and protecting trust and safety, the trailblazers envisioning the next frontier of digital tools and systems, and the wider range of rights holders whose futures are at stake.

The Atlantic Council’s Democracy + Tech Initiative at the Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) has launched a multi-sector Task Force for a Trustworthy Future Web specifically to support such collaboration in 2023 and beyond. Designed to lay the groundwork for stronger cross-sectoral ideation and action in the years to come, the Task Force will set a clear and action-oriented agenda for future online ecosystems that can protect users’ rights, support innovation, and incorporate trust and safety principles.

The Task Force’s leadership comprises a diverse cohort of experts, who bring not only a wealth of subject matter expertise, but also a rare gift for perceiving broad-reaching themes and forecasting future advancements in the dynamic arenas of trust and safety, the evolution of the web, and the interconnected nature of our digital future with societal health and human progress. Reflecting a focus on broad ecosystems, the Task Force will also collaborate with key expert organizations to feed their work and organizational knowledge into the Task Force’s analysis, findings, and recommendations, as well as creating pathways for engagement on targeted areas of inquiry.

The world’s regulatory superpower is taking on a regulatory nightmare: artificial intelligence

The humans are still in charge—for now. The European Parliament, the legislative branch of the European Union (EU), passed a draft law on Wednesday intended to restrict and add transparency requirements to the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the twenty-seven-member bloc. In the AI Act, lawmakers zeroed in on concerns about biometric surveillance and disclosures for generative AI such as ChatGPT. The legislation is not final. But it could have far-reaching implications since the EU’s large size and single market can affect business decisions for companies based elsewhere—a phenomenon known as “the Brussels effect.”

Below, Atlantic Council experts share their genuine intelligence by answering the pressing questions about what’s in the legislation and what’s next.
1. What are the most significant aspects of this draft law?

The European Parliament’s version of the AI Act would prohibit use of the technology within the EU for controversial purposes like real-time remote biometric identification in public places and predictive policing. Member state law enforcement agencies are sure to push back against aspects of these bans, since some of them are already using these technologies for public security reasons. The final version could well be more accommodating of member states’ security interests.

Kenneth Propp is a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Europe Center and former legal counselor at the US Mission to the European Union in Brussels.

The most significant aspect of the draft AI Act is that it exists and has been voted on positively by the European Parliament. This is the only serious legislative attempt to date to deal with the rapidly evolving technology of AI and specifically to address some of the anticipated risks, both due to the technology itself and to the ways people use it. For example, a government agency might use AI to identify wrongdoing among welfare recipients, but due to learned bias it misidentifies thousands of people as participating in welfare fraud (this happened in the Netherlands in 2020). Or a fake video showing a political candidate in a compromising position is released just prior to the election. Or a government uses AI to track citizens and determine whether they exhibit “disloyal” behavior.

Kendall: Air Force studying ‘military applications’ for ChatGPT-like artificial intelligence


WASHINGTON — Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said today that he has asked the service’s Scientific Advisory Board to rapidly kick out a study of the potential impacts of “generative” artificial intelligence, such as the increasingly popular AI program ChatGPT.

“I’ve asked my Scientific Advisory Board to do two things really with AI. One was to take a look at the generative AI technologies like ChatGPT and think about the military applications of them, to put a small team together to do that fairly quickly,” he said during an online interview with the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). “But also to put together a more permanent, AI focused group that will look at the collection of AI technologies, quote, unquote, and help us understand them and figuring out how to bring them in as quickly as possible.”

The board met June 15 to look at progress in its ongoing studies, due to be wrapped up next month.

Kendall stressed that at the moment ChatGPT and other generative artificial intelligence systems, which can create entirely new text, code or images rather than just categorizing and highlighting existing ones, are not ready for primetime.

“I find limited utility in that type of AI for the military, so far. I’m looking, and we’re all looking, right? But having it write documents for you, which is what ChatGPT does? [It] is not is not reliable, in terms of the truthfulness of what it produces,” he said. “We got ways to go, before we can rely on tools like that to do operational orders, for example.”

Former AI officers in the Pentagon previously expressed their concerns about generative AI to Breaking Defense, especially the current tech’s proclivity for “hallucinating” information. And in May, Pentagon Chief Officer for Digital and AI, Craig Martell, said he too was “scared to death” about the potential for AI to be used for extremely effective disinformation.

Military AI’s Next Frontier: Your Work Computer


IT’S PROBABLY HARD to imagine that you are the target of spycraft, but spying on employees is the next frontier of military AI. Surveillance techniques familiar to authoritarian dictatorships have now been repurposed to target American workers.

Over the past decade, a few dozen companies have emerged to sell your employer subscriptions for services like “open source intelligence,” “reputation management,” and “insider threat assessment”—tools often originally developed by defense contractors for intelligence uses. As deep learning and new data sources have become available over the past few years, these tools have become dramatically more sophisticated. With them, your boss may be able to use advanced data analytics to identify labor organizing, internal leakers, and the company’s critics.

Gabriel Grill is a researcher at the Center for Ethics, Society, and Computing at the University of Michigan.

Christian Sandvig is Director of the Center for Ethics, Society and Computing and the McLuhan Collegiate Professor of Information at the University of Michigan.

It’s no secret that unionization is already monitored by big companies like Amazon. But the expansion and normalization of tools to track workers has attracted little comment, despite their ominous origins. If they are as powerful as they claim to be—or even heading in that direction—we need a public conversation about the wisdom of transferring these informational munitions into private hands. Military-grade AI was intended to target our national enemies, nominally under the control of elected democratic governments, with safeguards in place to prevent its use against citizens. We should all be concerned by the idea that the same systems can now be widely deployable by anyone able to pay.

A New Kill Chain Approach to Disrupting Online Threats

Ben Nimmo, Eric Hutchins 

If the internet is a battlefield between threat actors and the investigators who defend against them, that field has never been so crowded. The threats range from hacking to scams, election interference to harassment. The people behind them include intelligence services, troll farms, hate groups, and commercial companies of cyber mercenaries. The defenders include investigators at tech companies, universities, think tanks, government agencies, and media outlets.

This is a seismic change from the 2016 U.S. presidential election cycle, when Russian attackers from GRU military intelligence and the Internet Research Agency exploited an environment that was not only largely undefended but also largely undefined. As we look ahead to 2024 and the many elections it brings, one great improvement is that there are now defenders who specialize in understanding and thwarting many different types of threats.

Increasingly, however, threat actors do not work in one threat area alone. An online network from Azerbaijan that Meta took down in 2022 combined hacking with influence operations. A Bolivian network combined influence operations and mass reporting, trying to get the social media accounts of news organizations and opposition members shut down for nonexistent violations. Threat actors routinely work across many different platforms, from the European anti-vaccine group that coordinated on Telegram to harass people across social media and in real life, to the Iranian cyber espionage operation that created malicious applications disguised as a VPN app, a salary calculator, an audio book reader, and a chat app.

As long as the defenders remain siloed, without a common framework to understand and discuss threats, there is a risk that blended and cross-platform operations like these will be able to find a weak point and exploit it.

A Kill Chain for Online Operations

An Economic Model for the AI Age


As artificial intelligence reduces demand for labor and boosts productivity, governments and businesses are going to have to adjust. While governments might want to raise taxes and redistribute the revenues in order to mitigate the short-term disruption, in the long term, they will need to think bigger.

LONDON – In April, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai predicted that artificial intelligence would have an impact “more profound” than any other human innovation, from fire to electricity. While it is impossible to know precisely what that impact will be, two changes appear particularly likely: demand for labor will fall, and productivity will rise. In other words, we appear to be moving toward a labor-less economic model, in which fewer human workers are needed to sustain growth.

Jobs in back-office support, legal services, and accountancy seem to face the most immediate risk from new generative AI technologies, including large language models like ChatGPT-4. But every sector of the economy is likely to be affected. Because language tasks account for 62% of employees’ time, a recent report by Accenture notes, large language models could affect 40% of all working hours.

Accenture estimates that 65% of the time spent on these language tasks can be “transformed into more productive activity through augmentation and automation.” And a new McKinsey report predicts that the AI-driven productivity boost could add the equivalent of $2.6-4.4 trillion in value to the global economy annually.

But, even as higher productivity boosts economic growth, the diminution of labor would undermine it, meaning that, ultimately, growth could well stagnate. Reduced demand for human workers implies a steep rise in unemployment, especially since the world population is set to continue growing.

Unemployment is already a persistent problem. According to the International Labor Organization, the total number of unemployed young people (15-24 years old) has remained around 70 million for more than two decades. And the global youth unemployment rate has been trending up, from 12.2% in 1995 to just under 13% percent after the 2008 global financial crisis to 15.6% percent in 2021.

ASEAN Cyber-security Cooperation: Towards a Regional Emergency-response Framework

Kai Lin Tay
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Since 2016, ASEAN has made significant progress towards establishing a framework for unified declaratory approaches to cyber threats. Yet further work is needed before regional structures will be adequately robust to provide mutual assistance in a national cyber emergency. Such reform will become more urgent given the risks to regional critical information infrastructure posed by accelerating digitalisation, escalating cyber crime and deteriorating geopolitical circumstances. This report discusses how ASEAN might improve joint-response mechanisms through deeper political, technical and operational coordination, and suggests how it could adapt existing approaches to cyber-emergency response developed by the EU and the US.

Cyber threats in Southeast Asia have been increasing in quantity and sophistication for at least the last decade. This is driven by a number of factors, ranging from the rise in connectivity accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, greater adoption of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and cloud computing, and the growing status of the region as a cyber-espionage target due to its rising geopolitical significance.

This report seeks to provide an overview of the current state of cyber-security cooperation between countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and to address the issue of regional response to cyber emergencies in the Southeast Asian context. By examining cyber-emergency-response models in the European Union and the United States, the report identifies gaps in ASEAN’s current cyber-security-cooperation architecture and proposes key areas of development required in order to establish a cyber-emergency framework for the region. The report’s findings also support ASEAN’s long-term goal of implementing United Nations (UN)-recommended norms in the area of mutual assistance during a cyber attack.

There are high levels of cooperation among ASEAN member states on computer emergency response teams (CERTs) thanks to efforts made in the early 2000s to boost the region’s ICT sector. However, only in recent years has ASEAN moved towards formalising existing CERT cooperation. While cyber-security issues used to be treated under broader economic and political-security platforms, there are now dedicated platforms established to discuss cyber-security intra- and extra-regionally.

Norwegian defence chief sounds alarm and raises sights

Norway’s defence chief warns about his country’s military shortfalls and points to his priorities for investing extra defence funds, as Karl Dewey and Tom Waldwyn explain.

The latest Military Advice document from Norway’s chief of defence, currently General Eirik Kristoffersen, is striking in its tone compared with earlier reports. Whereas previous documents have outlined a range of force structure options, this report, published on 7 June, provides a stark assessment of the armed forces’ deficiencies and weaknesses, with some notable calls for enhancements.

Worries and weaknessesKey to the general’s tone is the changed strategic circumstances he perceives in Norway’s neighbourhood, with an unpredictable and weakened Russia that sees the Arctic and High North as increasingly important. NATO’s presence is being strengthened with the accession of Finland, expected soon to be followed by Sweden. At the same time, this Alliance enlargement increases Norway’s significance as a likely reception area for NATO reinforcements. Kristoffersen also notes the growing potential of China as a factor in the region, with Moscow perhaps forced to make concessions to Beijing in the High North.

The document identifies three primary weaknesses of Norway’s military: inadequate air defence to cover both civilian and military infrastructure and forces, a lack of long-range fires and insufficient presence in maritime areas of interest. The report also highlights an overall lack of mass in the armed forces as well as weaknesses in personnel recruitment and retention, infrastructure, materiel stocks and IT. However, there appears to be some good budgetary news on the horizon.

At present, Norway spends approximately 1.35% of its GDP on defence. However, on 2 May 2023 – ahead of the release of the general’s report – the government announced plans to spend up to 2% of GDP on defence by 2026.