3 July 2023

The Geopolitics of the Semiconductor Industry and India’s Place in It



For some time now, it has been almost conventional wisdom that states that trade with each other have less of an incentive to act with hostility toward each other. It was believed that economic interdependence would help prevent aggression.1 This argument is being severely tested when it comes to relations between China and the United States. While the prospect of any military conflict between them is low, there has been an undeniable surge in tension in their trade relationship.

Rising tensions have set China and the United States on a gradual economic decoupling. The technology export-control measures that were unveiled by former U.S. president Donald Trump’s administration in May 2019 and May 2020 have not been rolled back by the subsequent Joe Biden administration, and they have set both countries striving for self-sufficiency. Nowhere is this more evident than in the semiconductor industry.

The last few years have seen a pressing shortage of semiconductors, which matters greatly since the industries of the future will be heavily reliant on chips. Semiconductors will be critical to the foundational technologies of artificial intelligence (AI), 3D printing, the Internet of Things, and advanced robotics, and any shortage in them will hurt not only the economic prospects of technology companies but also of countries that hope to deploy such technology. Semiconductors have long been critical to the functioning of various industries, ranging from aerospace to automobiles. An estimate put the number of industries impacted by the recent global semiconductor shortage at 169.2

Modi’s US Visit Illustrates Growing Complexities Of The Indo-Pacific – OpEd

Dr. Imran Khalid

The pomp and grandeur displayed by the Biden administration during Indian Prime Minister Modi’s first-ever state visit to the United States, which included an address to the joint session of Congress and a state dinner, reeked of desperation.

Eager to entice Modi, the Biden administration went to extraordinary lengths to convey an exaggerated sense of India’s strategic importance. Their apparent courtship of Modi is driven by a desperate desire to establish a tangible alliance aimed at countering China’s growing influence on the global stage, while simultaneously driving a wedge between New Delhi and Moscow. Through lavish ceremonies and diplomatic pleasantries, Washington left no stone unturned in its portrayal of India as an “indispensable friend” in today’s geopolitical landscape. With a raft of agreements and deals, spanning from defense, semiconductors, space, telecommunications, critical minerals and core technologies, Modi’s visit is perhaps one of the most important foreign policy venture in India’s recent history.

Echoes of the Past: The Burma Campaign and Future Operational Design in the Indo-Pacific Region

Shane Williams, John Green, Richard Kovsky, and Edwin Sumantha 

Lieutenant Colonel Shane Williams, USAF, is the Executive Officer of U.S. Transportation Command J3, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. Captain John Green, USN, is the U.S. Special Operations Command J8 Lead Assessment Director, Tampa, Florida. Colonel Richard Kovsky, USAF, is Chief of the Open Skies Department at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. Colonel Edwin Sumantha, Indonesian Army, is the Staff Director of the Indonesian Army Command and General Staff College.

U.S. Army barge, powered by outboard motors, crosses Irrawaddy River near Tigyiang, Burma, with Soldiers, ammunition, and truck, December 30, 1944 (U.S. Army/William Lentz)

When you go home, Tell them of us and say, For your tomorrow, We gave our today.

—War Memorial at Kohima

The literature, personal accounts, and films documenting World War II over the past 80 years have generally overlooked a pivotal chapter of that conflict: the 1942–1945 Burma campaign. The few accounts that exist describe this “forgotten war” as one of the most remote, demanding, lengthy, and heroic struggles of the war.1 They tell stories of overcoming catastrophe to reach triumph, replete with leadership failures and successes, innovations in warfare and operational art, and astonishing endurance and courage. These stories offer poignant lessons for the U.S. joint force today. The interaction of technology, readiness, and tactical concepts in Burma provides inferences for the contemporary relationships among these factors. These inferences lead to implications for joint force operational design. Future Indo-Pacific battlefields require operational designs that stress proficiency over mass and firepower, emphasize maneuver and sustainment in contested environments, and leverage allies and partners against monolithic opponents. Joint force leaders must actively practice operational art and continually adapt these designs to recover quickly from losses and capitalize on success. Despite the passage of time, the Burma campaign provides penetrating insights into how the joint force may prevail in a contemporary conflict in the Indo-Pacific region.

In the Name of Energy Security, China Is Doubling Down on Both Renewables and Coal

Zoe Leung

With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine disrupting fossil fuel supplies and prices, global attention to energy security has heightened. Ensuring affordable and secure supplies of energy resources, or energy security, is an uphill battle for China, which has massive energy demand but constrained domestic supply. With climate change and geopolitics worsening, coupled with the need to maintain economic growth, balancing climate goals and energy security is increasingly a paradox for Beijing.

China is simultaneously the world’s largest producer of renewable energy (solar, wind, and hydropower) and coal power, the dirtiest fossil fuel. Last year alone, new renewables projects were added faster in China than the rest of the world combined. But the building of new coal projects has proceeded at a similarly rapid clip, with China’s added capacity reaching six times more than the rest of the world. Can renewables in China scale up fast enough to help the world’s largest carbon emitter transition away from fossil fuels? To answer this question, one must consider the government’s confidence in renewables capacity to meet growing energy needs and its source of political legitimacy.

In recent years, China accounted for around 40 percent of global renewable capacity growth, more than triple that of the United States, the second largest producer. Renewables have received a significant boost from favorable policies over the last two decades. Renewable energy was mentioned for the first time in China’s 10th Five Year Plan (2001-2005) where the government offered incentives for investment in and commercialization of photovoltaic and wind technologies and battery systems to reduce reliance on coal production and consumption. The 2005 Renewable Energy Law (amended in 2009) recognized renewable energy as a preferential area for high-tech industrial development at the national level.

Moreover, the recent language shift from “renewable energy development” to a “modern energy system” in the 14th Five Year Plan (2021-2025) suggests China has attained certain milestones in the energy transition and clean technology. The country is on track to exceed its consumption target for renewables of 33 percent by 2025.

Why war with China over Taiwan could ruin the global economy

Richard Engel, Charlotte Gardiner, Jennifer Jett and Alexander Smith

HSINCHU, Taiwan — A military conflict over Taiwan would set the global economy back decades because of the crippling disruption to the supply chain of crucial semiconductors, according to the head of one of the island’s leading makers of microchips.

Taiwan, a self-ruling democracy about 100 miles off China, makes the world’s most advanced microchips — the brains inside every piece of technology from smartphones and modern cars to artificial intelligence and fighter jets.

China claims Taiwan as its territory and has said it would be prepared to use force to take control of the island, although it has not laid out any timeline for doing so. Officially, the U.S. discourages conflict but takes a neutral stance, although President Joe Biden has repeatedly suggested he would step in to defend Taiwan.

If the industry were to be disrupted by military conflict, the impact on the global economy would be “huge,” said Miin Wu, the founder and chief executive of the Taiwanese chipmaker Macronix.

“My opinion is, you will be set back at least 20 years,” he told NBC News on Monday in the company’s showroom at Hsinchu Science Park in northwestern Taiwan.

The island is a microchip fabrication hotbed, producing 60% of the world’s semiconductors — and around 93% of the most advanced ones, according to a 2021 report from the Boston Consulting Group. The U.S., South Korea and China also produce semiconductors, but Taiwan dominates the market, which was worth almost $600 billion last year.

These technological wonders consist of tiny patterns, measured in nanometers, that are etched onto thin slices of silicon called “wafers.”

China unlikely to be worried by ‘weaker Putin’ post Wagner revolt

Erin Hale

Taipei, Taiwan – Ties between China and Russia will remain strong even after the failed mutiny by the Wagner Group last weekend, but analysts say Beijing is likely to become increasingly cautious about Russian leader Vladimir Putin and the future stability of his government.

Beijing, like many governments, remained largely silent on Saturday as Yevgeny Prigozhin’s mercenary troops marched towards Moscow after seizing the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.

The following day, as the dust settled and Prigozhin agreed to exile in Belarus, China released a statement. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the incident “Russia’s internal affair” and said it supported Russia’s attempts at “maintaining national stability and achieving development and prosperity”.

State media, which spent little time on Saturday’s events, also picked up on the theme of stability, noting the speedy resolution to the crisis by Putin’s government.

Still, despite the public messaging downplaying the weekend’s events, the mutiny probably did unnerve top Chinese officials, including President Xi Jinping, said Elizabeth Wishnick, a senior research scientist at Columbia University’s Weatherhead East Asian Institute.

“For Xi Jinping, developments in Russia this weekend would have had to be very concerning, as they raised questions about regime security, a top concern for the Chinese leader,” she said.

For a government that emphasises stability at all costs, even locking down tens of millions for COVID-19 and overturning the economy to achieve it, a situation such as that faced by Putin as the Wagner Group advanced on Moscow would have been Xi’s worst nightmare.

“I think China will become more cautious in understanding that Mr Putin’s control of his country may not be as solid as people used to think. The perception that he is strong man in command of his country now has cracked,” said Shen Dingli, a Shanghai-based international relations scholar.

Senators pushing for annual briefings on Chinese political influence ops


The Senate Intelligence Committee wants yearly briefings on China’s influence operations aimed at the American public.

A provision in the panel’s annual authorization bill, which passed the committee last week, requires an annual classified briefing by the intelligence community on how it is working to coordinate across the agencies to “identify and mitigate the actions of Chinese entities engaged in political influence operations and information warfare against the United States, including against United States persons.”

In recent years, China has stepped up its global influence campaign, to include in the U.S., as a means of sowing discord and making itself look more favorable relative to Western nations.

The briefings on China’s political influence ops and information warfare should focus on all elements of China’s government focused on coordinated and concealed application of disinformation, press manipulation, economic coercion, targeted investments, corruption and academic censorship, intended to coerce and corrupt U.S interests, values, institutions, or individuals as well as foster attitudes, behavior, decisions or outcomes in the U.S. that support the interests of the China’s communist party, according to the bill’s text.

The annual updates should include the Chinese tactics, tools and entities that conduct such malign influence; the actions of the U.S. Foreign Malign Influence Center related to early-warning, information sharing and proactive risk mitigation systems to detect, expose and deter such political influence operations; and the actions of the U.S. Foreign Malign Influence Center to do outreach to identify and counter tactics and tools of entities conducing political operations.

The bill must still pass the full Senate, be reconciled with the House version of the intelligence bill, and be signed by the president for the provision to become law.

Can China Help Bring Peace To Myanmar? – Analysis

Nicholas Farrelly

The ASEAN Summit in Indonesia in May 2023 saw, once again, the problem for Southeast Asian leaders seeking better outcomes to Myanmar’s political and humanitarian crises. Pleas for giving greater attention to the fading Five-Point Consensus from 2021 jostled with growing disdain for the self-destructive tendencies of Myanmar’s military leadership.

Part of the deal for respectability in ASEAN is to focus on practical and reasonable steps to achieve agreed outcomes. Myanmar now fails every time.

Such failure means Myanmar is a problem for China’s leaders too, who have been watching closely since the 2021 military coup. China’s foreign policy establishment and analysts think deeply about the opportunities and risks of future scenarios across Southeast Asia.

It should not be forgotten that former leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s deposed government in Myanmar was in key respects a useful partner for China’s regional ambitions. The coup was probably judged an unhelpful complication.

For Chinese strategists, a primary consideration is access to the Indian Ocean. That access made it possible for China to import around US$1.5 billion of natural gas in 2022 from the Rakhine State coast, across central Myanmar, up through Myanmar’s mountainous Shan State and to Yunnan province in China. In a future regional security crisis, where maritime access was in doubt, Myanmar might also allow valuable ‘back door’ access for China to friendly ports on the Bay of Bengal.

With such scenarios in mind, the economic relativities of the Myanmar–China relationship are worth considering. According to 2021 World Bank data, Myanmar’s nominal GDP was US$65 billion (US$1200 per capita), while China’s was US$17.73 trillion (US$12,200 per capita). To put Myanmar’s poverty in perspective, if it were a Chinese province, its economy would be the third smallest. It would only best two of China’s remote landlocked regions, Tibet and Qinghai — which are both still at least five times richer per capita.

The Challenge of Defending Underwater Communication Infrastructures

Yuval Eylon

Israel is connected to the world through a single-digit number of underwater cables, providing the main communication channel with the world for all civil and defense-related information. How should this critical infrastructure be defended?

Underwater infrastructures are a rapidly evolving domain – worldwide, as well as in Israel. This developing phenomenon stems from the need to define and address the emergence of potential threats and disruptions endangering worldwide communication infrastructure. Such infrastructure can be differentiated by the depth of its deployment, and thus the investment in force buildup differs accordingly. Shallow water defense, up to 50 meters, draws most of the attention, while deeper deployed assets should be dealt with by intelligence and alert, prevention, and deterrence, damage containment, reconstruction, if necessary, and redundancy. At the same time, intelligence and technological efforts are required to cope with the accelerated development of autonomous unmanned underwater vehicles in recent years. The world of underwater infrastructures in general, and underwater communication infrastructures in particular, is fertile ground for international cooperation, since these infrastructures are submerged in national and international territorial waters. The challenges evolving from the need to protect and maintain such infrastructures, along with the complexity and costs involved in developing the relevant capabilities, are shared by many states, especially those near the Mediterranean.
Underwater Communication Infrastructure

The vast majority of global communication is supported and provided by underwater cables. More than 95 percent of global communications (voice and data) pass through these cables, while the remaining 5 percent are satellite-based. More than 500,000 miles of underwater communication cables are positioned on the ocean floor providing communication for globalization networking. These cables are primarily fiber optic, with data rate roughly equal to 150 million simultaneous phone calls. Israel is connected to the world through a single-digit number of underwater cables, providing the main communication channel with the world for all civil and defense-related information.

Displaced to Cities: Conflict, Climate Change, and Rural-to-Urban Migration

Gabriela Nagle Alverio; Jeannie Sowers; Erika Weinthal

Countries as geographically diverse as Honduras, Jordan, and Pakistan are experiencing a common challenge—rapid growth in urban populations as conflict and climate-induced disasters push people from rural areas into cities. This report examines the effects of this increased urban migration on both the migrants and the urban environment, as well as the challenges policymakers face. It offers recommendations to help meet the needs of growing urban populations and develop adaptive, resilient systems to better withstand the impacts of climate change and conflict.Victims of flooding from torrential monsoon rains use a makeshift barge to carry hay for cattle in Jafarabad, Pakistan, on September 5, 2022. 

Cities increasingly bear the brunt of climate-induced migration, particularly in conflict-affected countries. Armed conflict and the climate crisis interact in complex and reinforcing ways to undermine human security, leading to increasing trends in rural-to-urban migration and the rapid growth of informal or peri-urban settlements in many low- and middle-income countries. In the 25 years leading up to 2015, the population living in informal areas increased by 28 percent according to UN-Habitat. The World Bank estimates that by 2050, climate change could force the internal migration of over 200 million people, most of whom would move to these already densely populated urban areas. In addition, more than 100 million people were internally displaced in 2022 alone due to conflict, with most conflict-driven migrants also moving to urban areas.

This report focuses on elucidating linkages between climate, conflict, and rural to-urban migration in three countries: Honduras, Jordan, and Pakistan. The case studies draw upon expert interviews, fieldwork by the authors, and a review of secondary sources.

Jamestown Foundation China Brief

Mapping Everything, Everywhere at Once: Examining New Advances in PLA Battlefield Reconnaissance Capabilities

“Rural Managers” Spark Online Outrage

PLA Airborne Capabilities and Paratrooper Doctrine for Taiwan

The Long Arm of the Law(less): The PRC’s Overseas Police Stations

The Future of NATO’s European Land Forces: Plans, Challenges, Prospects

Russia's war against Ukraine has put the recapitalisation of European land forces high on the agenda for NATO's European allies. This study examines the emerging plans and implementation challenges of select European land forces. Progress thus far has been mixed. While some positive steps have already been taken, major challenges persist and it is uncertain whether the current momentum will be maintained.

Executive SummaryThe prospect of major land warfare involving NATO forces has returned to Europe. Russia’s full-scale inva­sion of Ukraine in February 2022 has provided a wake-up call in European capitals. Before then, many held the view that major land forces and land manoeuvre capabilities, including heavy armoured formations, would not be a dominant feature of future conflict. This view persisted even after Russia seized Crimea in early 2014 and subsequently fomented and sup­ported separatist activity in Eastern Ukraine. After decades of downsizing capabilities, some European armies drew up plans after 2014 to once again build forces for major land operations; they continued, however, to fall short in many areas important for high-intensity war.

The June 2022 NATO Summit in Madrid saw allies agree on a new Strategic Concept. This not only identi­fied Russia as ´the most significant and direct threat to allies´ security´, but also provided a mandate to improve NATO´s deterrence and defence posture. NATO´s New Force Model (NFM) is intended to provide a larger pool of high-readiness forces than envisaged under the NATO Response Force (NRF). The recapitalisation of European land forces is now high on the agenda for NATO´s European allies.

However, an important question is whether European allies are more serious now, in regard to the investments needed to develop more capable and integrated land forces, than they were after Ukraine was first invaded in 2014. To help answer this question, this paper assesses important elements of the emerging plans and capabil­ity developments in key European ground forces. It focuses on those allies most likely to be directly affected by a contingency on NATO´s northern and eastern flanks. The paper identifies strengths and shortfalls in the development of European land warfare capability, and looks at the implications for the NFM. It recognises that any high-intensity conflict in Europe will likely be a multi-domain fight; this is the eventuality for which Europe’s future land forces need to prepare.

The wartime weaponisation of nuclear power stations

The risks of a nuclear disaster remain high at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant as Russia continues to threaten the health and safety of the entire region through its reckless behaviour.

It would be easy in the aftermath of the abandoned Wagnerian mutiny in Russia to lose sight of one of the most worrisome developments in the war on Ukraine – namely, that a nuclear-weapon state has decided that nuclear power reactors are legitimate targets and tools of coercion in war. Russia’s decision to attack Ukraine’s civilian energy infrastructure puts all four of its nuclear power plants at risk. In particular, its reckless behaviour at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, home of six out of Ukraine’s 15 nuclear reactors, has threatened regional catastrophe. Its behaviour towards nuclear power plants is a departure from history and a grave violation of international norms and principles.

In 1988, India and Pakistan recognised the nuclear risk that might result from a war between them and agreed to exclude nuclear installations and facilities – including all facilities that use or store large amounts of radioactive materials – from attack. They have exchanged lists of these facilities every year since 1992 despite tensions and even hostility in other areas. Article 56 of the 1977 Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions states that nuclear power plants ‘shall not be made the object of attack, even where these objects are military objectives’ unless the generation of the electrical power provides direct support to military operations. Russia – which is a signatory to the Additional Protocol and is bound by its rules – has not claimed that nuclear-energy infrastructure supports Ukraine’s armed forces. It also consented to a 2009 decision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that ‘any armed attack on and threat against nuclear facilities devoted to peaceful purposes constitutes a violation of the principles of the United Nations Charter, international law and the Statute of the Agency’.

Israeli firm Smartshooter unveils remote weapon station-radar combo to hunt drones


MODERN DAY MARINE 2023 — Smartshooter, an Israeli firm that makes fire control systems for rifles and remote weapon stations, unveiled a new tech combination to combat small UAVs at the Modern Day Marine event this week, joining its Hopper Light Remotely Controlled Weapon Station with DRS RADA Technologies’s MHR radar. Both systems are already operational separately, but Smartshooter hopes by combining them, they can offer a new c-UAS system amid rising global interest in the capability.

“The integration of our Hopper with the RPS-42 radar provides a very effective end-to-end solution to neutralize drones swiftly, ensuring the protection of personnel and critical assets,” said Michal Mor, Smartshooter CEO, in a statement. “Shortening the sensor-to-shooter cycle, this advanced solution enhances the force’s situational awareness and survivability and takes air defense to a new level.”

Sharone Aloni, the vice-president for research and development at the company, said that though they worked on this combination over time and it’s not yet operational, this is the first time they are revealing it to potential customers.

The Smash Hopper is essentially a rifle and mounting system that the company says can be fitted to a tripod, vehicle or maritime vessel, and can engage targets based on a remote operator’s commands. The radar made by Rada, another Israeli firm, is designed to detect drones at a distance of several kilometers and then alert a combat unit, for instance, that there is a threat.

Combined, the gun can “slew and cue” in a hand-off from the radar. “In such a way the weapon is pointed in the right direction and ready to engage when [the drone] reaches the [rifle’s] range. It is a kind of early warning system so the system can be ready to engage the target,” said Aloni in an interview. But there is always a person in the loop, Aloni said.

Enough ‘one trick ponies’: Marine special ops specialists want industry help to fuse tech


Sgt. Steven McKay, a data communications operator with 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, communicates with operators in the field during the final exercise of the Marine Network Operators Course. This was the fourth iteration of the 13-week course.

MODERN DAY MARINE 2023 — If they could have just one piece of technology to overcome operational challenges, two Marine Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) specialists said today it wouldn’t be a shiny next-gen weapon or vehicle, but hardware or software that would allow them to fuse the deluge of data into a single system and display.

“The back-end analysis, and the complexities of having multiple systems up and multiple applications, that’s definitely one of our biggest shortfalls,” a MARSOC special capability specialist told the audience here at the Modern Day Marine conference. “As we get into the operational use of some of these technologies, we have a plethora of them, most of which are one-trick ponies, per se — really good at doing one thing.”

A second specialist, this one in communications, agreed, saying sometimes they’ll have a single laptop that only works with a single other piece of gear. (Three MARSOC panelists were not identified due to operational security concerns.)

“From servers to nodes to radios to what have [you], there are so many pieces of gear that we could be in charge of at any time, and it makes it 10 times harder when that gear just doesn’t communicate with other things well,” the second specialist said.

The second specialist envisioned a single graphical user interface (GUI) that would show everything at once. “If we had something like that, where all of these programs could talk and we didn’t have to jump from screen to screen to screen or device to device…”


Alice Speri

LONG BEFORE HE plunged Russia into its most significant political crisis in three decades, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Kremlin caterer turned mercenary warlord and then mutineer, had built a profitable empire interfering in the politics and crises of countries around the world.

Prigozhin’s sprawling businesses include not only the Wagner mercenary group that became a household name when it joined Russian forces in Ukraine — before launching an armed insurrection against Moscow last week — but also an online army that has fought wars over information from Sudan to the United States, where Prigozhin remains under federal indictment over his alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.

“The misinformation piece is a huge part of the narrative,” Raphael Parens, a fellow in the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Eurasia Program who has long researched Prigozhin and Wagner, told The Intercept. He added that influencing public discourse is one of Wagner’s “top tools.”

Prigozhin’s brief rebellion and ongoing rhetoric against the government of his once close associate Vladimir Putin played out online as much as on the ground, as he successfully utilized the messaging service Telegram to communicate with the public. Social media’s prominent role in the rebellion echoed Prigozhin’s earlier online battles, where he often seized on a vacuum of reliable information to seek to control the narrative or actively worked to sow doubt and chaos around what was happening.

Over the weekend, as the world’s intelligence agencies and pundit classes scrambled to analyze rapidly shifting developments, Prigozhin himself was often the source of the little information around the attempted coup, which he said was not a coup but a “march for justice.”

Elon Musk Seeks Support Against Rules on Free Speech Online


WHEN ELON MUSK arrived at VivaTech, a leading technology conference in France, his presence had an immediate effect, as event founder Maurice Levy of Publicis Groupe was quick to point out. Suddenly everyone wanted to be there. Musk’s visit represented a substantial investment for the organization, with rumors of a fee of around a million euros, private plane excluded. The tech star’s dazzle may have dimmed somewhat, but innovators still welcome him with open arms.

New Hope for Neurological Patients

An admitted introvert who can also be eloquent and at times even poetic, Musk answered every question he was asked. But the only real news he had to share concerned Neuralink, the biotech company he cofounded to develop implantable neural interfaces. “Hopefully later this year, we’ll do our first human device implantation on someone who has quadriplegia and potentially restore full body function,” Musk said. “You can imagine if Steven Hawking were alive today, what a profound change that would be.

Neuroprosthetics could offer hope for people affected by incurable neurological conditions. The San Francisco-based company shares a building with OpenAI, a venture Musk also cofounded that has made headlines for its generative artificial intelligence algorithm, ChatGPT. France has also been pursuing Musk to open a second Tesla factory in the country, but he did not reveal anything regarding those plans.
“Potentially Catastrophic”

On the topic of artificial intelligence, Musk reaffirmed his position that a moratorium on AI development is necessary (at the end of March he called for such a pause, along with other tech leaders). “I think there’s a real danger for digital super intelligence having negative consequences. If we are not careful, it could have a potentially catastrophic outcome. So we need to minimize the probability that something will go wrong. I’m in favor of AI regulation because I think advanced AI is a risk to the public. And anything that’s a risk to the public, there needs to be some kind of referee, and that referee is the regulator,” Musk said.
Freedom of Speech

The World’s Most Important App (For Now)

Charlie Warzel

On Monday, in an 11-minute speech, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the convicted criminal who leads the Wagner mercenary group, reflected on his brief revolt against the Russian government. It was the capstone to a tense and confusing geopolitical crisis—and it took the form of a voice memo on the popular app Telegram, where it was subject to a form of instant feedback. Reviews have been mixed: 155,600 fire emoji to 131,900 clown emoji.

For close followers of the ongoing conflict in Russia and Ukraine, it’s not unusual to see playful reaction emoji sitting just beneath pictures, videos, and text documenting the horrors of war in real time. Since Russia’s invasion, one of the quickest ways to follow the chaos on the ground has been to download Telegram and wade through live updates from citizens, soldiers, and the government—a digital morass of confusing, contradictory information. Just weeks into the Ukraine war, Time proclaimed that the decade-old app was “the digital battle space,” a moniker that held up over the weekend as onlookers used Telegram to try to suss out whether Russia was heading into civil war.

“The RU/UA war is 99% Telegram,” Aric Toler, an investigative journalist for Bellingcat, which has reported extensively on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, told me this week over direct message. “Prigozhin broadcasted, organized, and orchestrated this all from the platform.” The app and individual channels within it—Prigozhin’s has grown to 1.3 million followers since it launched last November—are effectively feeders for the rest of the internet, according to Toler, who monitors, verifies, and reports on Russian and Ukrainian Telegram channels: “Almost every bit of information about the war on Twitter, [Instagram, Facebook, and others] is downstream of Telegram.” Many popular accounts on these social platforms merely repackage what they see on Telegram, often using unreliable programs to translate the channels.

Three Scenarios for Ukraine’s Future and the Implications for Taiwan

Michael Mazza

The much-anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive is underway. Throughout much of the world, observers surely hope that upcoming developments on the battlefield will bring the war closer to a conclusion. But just as the war itself has had global implications, how it ends (or doesn’t) will have global implications as well—including for Taiwan. This article considers three broad potential scenarios, and their potential consequences for Taiwan: (1) some manner of Ukrainian victory; (2) some manner of Russian victory; and (3) a prolonged stalemate, or “frozen conflict.” These three scenarios are not exhaustive of all possible outcomes in the war, but they do illustrate why the conflict is relevant to Asia—and why Ukrainian victory is in Taiwan’s interests.

Scenario 1: Ukrainian Victory

When the Ukrainian counteroffensive culminates in the weeks to come, it may represent the beginning of the end for Russia’s war of aggression. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been clear that his government’s goal is to restore Ukraine’s pre-2014 borders, with Russian forces removed from Donetsk, Luhansk, and Crimea. It is conceivable that Kyiv may be willing to declare victory short of achieving those goals, with the retaking of Crimea largely seen as a particularly difficult objective.

Whatever the precise borders of a victorious Ukraine, victory is most likely to come about in the relative short-term—perhaps during the next two years—while foreign, and especially American, support for the Ukrainian war effort and for the government’s functioning remains robust. In this scenario, that support allows sustained Ukrainian battlefield successes, thus opening two potential paths to peace. On the one hand, those successes could lead the leadership in Moscow to change its political calculus: Russian President Vladimir Putin might conclude that the benefits of continuing to fight no longer outweigh the benefits of suing for peace.

The dangers of Europe’s blindness to a long war in Ukraine

Matthew Blackburn

For over 15 months, Western leaders have insisted Ukraine’s victory is written in the stars. There are constant reminders of the high stakes: Ukraine defeating Russia is Europe’s guarantee of a peaceful and prosperous future. Volodymyr Zelensky claims that Ukraine is protecting the continent from “the most anti-European force of the modern world.” According to the dominant binary interpretation of the conflict, the alternative to Ukrainian victory is a sordid capitulation to Russian aggression that would drag Europe into a new dark age.

This Manichean vision of present and future is sustained by “war optimism” — the insistence that Russia is on the road to economic, political, and military collapse; and the bright future will come. Recent statements at the G7 in Tokyo and by Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Helsinki show little change: negotiations are still rejected, more weaponry is promised, and assurances are made about final victory. The recent abortive mutiny of mercenary maverick Yevgeny Prigozhin will shore up the narrative of Russia as a fragile state barely holding it together.

Behind the scenes, however, there must be concerns. Russia has not been broken economically, and for all the noise around the Prigozhin incident, no serious political fragmentation occurred, and the regime held firm. Partial mobilization has stabilized Russian defenses, and the Russian army has successfully adapted its anti-drone, infantry and artillery tactics. Russia retains an advantage in artillery production as NATO countries struggle to ramp up military-industrial capacity. The successful expansion and reorganization of the Russian army is part of the reason Prigozhin’s Wagner Group is no longer needed; the regular Russian army has been quite capable of coping with the Ukrainian counter-offensive without them.

If Russia is now strong enough to withstand a NATO-backed Ukraine, Europe faces a long war on its eastern flank. The Biden administration promises it is in for the long haul. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Mark Milley expects “a very violent fight” that would “take a considerable amount of time and at high cost.” While Blinken dismisses the idea of a ceasefire, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg recently framed the Ukrainian counter-offensive as a means to strengthening Kyiv’s position at the negotiating table. Yet, given the huge distance between both sides’ positioning on territory, neutrality, and security guarantees, it is hard to see a plausible basis for a negotiated peace.

There’s No Such Thing as a Great Power

Phillips P. O’Brien

In the lead-up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, most Western analysts saw Moscow as a great power and Kyiv as a lesser one. Diminished though it was from its Soviet heyday, Russia still retained a large conventional military and a vast nuclear arsenal, earning it a spot in the top echelon of global powers. In January 2022, as Russian troops massed on Ukraine’s borders, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley warned that Moscow was capable of dealing a “horrific” blow to Ukraine. Michael Kofman, head of the Russia Studies Program at the Center for Naval Analysis, argued that Russia had “the power to challenge or violently upend the security architecture of Europe” and “the conventional military power to deter the United States.”

This view of Russian power was widely held in the United States and Western Europe, and it prompted many analysts to argue that the United States and NATO should either stay out of a conflict between Russia and Ukraine or strictly limit military aid to Kyiv. For instance, the realist scholars John Mearsheimer, Barry Posen, and Stephen Walt all labeled Russia a great power and argued that Moscow’s need to dominate Ukraine should be indulged. Posen went even further, suggesting that Russia had the military might to impose its desired outcome. As he put it just days before the Russian invasion began, “Ukrainian units would no doubt fight bravely, but given the geography of the country, the open topography of much of its landscape, and the overall numerical superiority that Russia enjoys, it is unlikely that Ukraine will be able to defend itself successfully.”

But once Russian President Vladimir Putin unleashed his war machine, that narrative of Russian power swiftly unraveled. The Ukrainian army, supposedly outgunned and with little chance of resisting conventionally, fought back with brains and ferocity. And Ukrainian civilians, whom many experts thought to be divided over the question of the country’s relationship to Russia, rallied to defend their homeland. Meanwhile, Putin’s military floundered. Its weapons and doctrine proved to be lackluster at best, and its soldiers performed far worse than expected, thanks in part to corruption and poor training. Hundreds of thousands, maybe more than a million, Russian men of military age fled the country to avoid conscription. And just last week, the Wagner paramilitary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin briefly seized control of the southern city of Rostov-on-Don and threatened to plunge the country into civil war, sending his mercenary fighters to within 120 miles of Moscow.

Russia Isn’t Going to Run Out of Missiles

Ian Williams

Long-range missile strikes against Ukrainian cities and infrastructure have been a prominent and persistent aspect of the Kremlin’s war against Ukraine. Earlier this year, the CSIS report Putin’s Missile War found that Russian missile attacks in 2022 had caused major damage to Ukraine’s economy and infrastructure but had failed to achieve the kind of decisive strategic effects that Moscow had likely sought. Into 2023, Russia has persisted in expending expensive, long-range missiles in regular attacks against a variety of civilian and military objects across Ukraine. The focus of these strikes regularly shifts and their intensity has ebbed and flowed, as has the quality of employed munitions.

However, Russia’s continued strike campaign in 2023 has made one thing quite clear: it is unrealistic to expect Russia to ever “run out” of missiles. Despite sanctions and export controls, it appears likely that Russia will be able to produce or otherwise acquire the long-range strike capacity necessary to inflict significant damage upon Ukraine’s people, economy, and military. Ukraine’s air defenses have performed remarkably well under challenging circumstances. Nevertheless, the Russian military has continued trying to identify gaps and seams to exploit to gain an advantage.

There is no one-off fix for this problem. Sanctions and export controls can, at most, limit the quantity and quality of strike assets Russia can acquire. The most reliable counter is sustained Western support for Ukrainian air defense forces for the duration of the conflict. The continued, steady provision of air defenses into the foreseeable future will save lives, reduce costs of future reconstruction, and help end the war more quickly by enabling Ukraine’s counteroffensive in the face of superior Russian airpower. Moreover, providing air defenses has also forced Western countries to scale up production of these systems, which could have long-term benefits for Western defense readiness.

Russia’s Latest Assault

What Does Lukashenka’s Role As Mediator In Russian Crisis Imply? – Analysis

Yauheni Preiherman*

As the entire world watched in disbelief during the rapidly unfolding mutiny in Russia organized by Yevgeny Prigozhin and the Wagner Group on June 23 and 24, hardly anyone could imagine how its endgame would ultimately play out. In particular, the factor of Belarus seemed nowhere close to the conflict’s equation and, yet, in the end, it suddenly proved decisive for how tensions deescalated. The role that Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka played in this context carries several key implications that the West would do well to take seriously.

On the morning of June 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued an ominous video address to the nation calling the rebellion an act of “treason” and “a deadly threat to our statehood” (Kremlin.ru, June 24). He promised that “all those who prepared the rebellion” would “suffer inevitable punishment.” In response, Prigozhin released an audio message in which he asserted that “the president was deeply wrong” and that “no one is going to turn themselves in at the request of the president, the FSB [Federal Security Service] or anyone else” (RTVI, June 24). He added that the Wagner fighters “do not want the country to live on in corruption, deceit and bureaucracy.” This indirect exchange made things clear: The conflict was no longer just between Prigozhin and the top brass of the Russian Ministry of Defense (as had been portrayed by all sides beforehand); it had effectively transformed into Wagner’s “deadly threat” to the Putin regime.

At that point, as the rebel troops were marching toward Moscow, it appeared inevitable that the confrontation would result in intense fighting and bloodshed. However, when their most advanced units were only about 200 kilometers away from the Russian capital, a breaking news statement came from the press service of the Belarusian president (President.gov.by, June 24). It announced that Lukashenka had been in talks with Prigozhin “for the entire day” and that the latter accepted Lukashenka’s “proposal on stopping the advance of Wagner’s armed units in Russia’s territory and on further steps meant to deescalate tensions.” The statement underlined that “an absolutely advantageous and acceptable variant to defuse the situation is available, including safety guarantees for fighters of the private military company Wagner.”

Something Was Messing With Earth’s Axis. The Answer Has to Do With Us.

Raymond Zhong

For decades, scientists had been watching the average position of our planet’s rotational axis, the imaginary rod around which it turns, gently wander south, away from the geographic North Pole and toward Canada. Suddenly, though, it made a sharp turn and started heading east.

In time, researchers came to a startling realization about what had happened. Accelerated melting of the polar ice sheets and mountain glaciers had changed the way mass was distributed around the planet enough to influence its spin.

Now, some of the same scientists have identified another factor that’s had the same kind of effect: colossal quantities of water pumped out of the ground for crops and households.

“Wow,” Ki-Weon Seo, who led the research behind the latest discovery, recalled thinking when his calculations showed a strong link between groundwater extraction and the drifting of Earth’s axis. It was a “big surprise,” said Dr. Seo, a geophysicist at Seoul National University.

Water experts have long warned of the consequences of groundwater overuse, particularly as water from underground aquifers becomes an increasingly vital resource in drought-stressed areas like the American West. When water is pumped out of the ground but not replenished, the land can sink, damaging homes and infrastructure and also shrinking the amount of underground space that can hold water thereafter.

Latest News on Climate Change and the Environment

Risks in mountain zones. A new study warns that mountain regions will get more extreme rainfall than previously thought as the climate warms. The distinction is important because rain tends to produce more hazards for humans than snow does, including floods, landslides and soil erosion.

Driving innovation in air power: the cold war’s four generations of fighter jets

Ilan Shklarsky & Eitan Shamir

The aim of this article is to add an air power perspective to the innovation field, with emphasis on the development of jet fighters. Contemporary theory has not adequately addressed air power-related significant innovation, a shortcoming this article addresses. Using in-depth qualitive research methodology with eight diverse case-studies in the Cold War period, we show that innovation of jet fighters was typically initiated in response to hegemonic tensions, immediate threats and organsational factors such as civil–military relations, bureaucratic politics, and air force innovation culture. Moreover, through a comparative analysis we argue that significant and successful air power innovation is achieved through proficiency and knowledge gained by constant learning of air power theory and bottom-up innovation mechanisms. Looking forward, this study may be significant for assisting military professionals in making better-informed decisions about the use of fifth-generation air power by implementing past lessons learned into contemporary theory and future plans.


The presented work aims to add new perspectives to the area of military-related innovation. The field of military innovation is composed of various theories of why and how military organisations innovate. Yet, a broad framework for air power innovation is lacking. Theory explaining the variables influencing the development of significant air power innovations is contemporarily insufficient although it is a critical factor of military development. We aim to contribute to the innovation field by exploring airpower innovation with emphasis on the progress in the generations of jet fighters in a comprehensive historical perspective.

The term “innovation” typically refers to a new idea, device, or method and is part of the military force build-up phase. It is ultimately a change in operational praxis that produces a significant increase in military effectiveness, usually in peacetime and typically is a lengthy procedure. The “leap” of a generation in jet fighters is a significant and disruptive advancement and is a central characteristic in categorising jet fighters. The aerial generation categories were basically created in order to define major technology leaps in the development of jet fighters. A generational shift occurs when a technological innovation cannot be incorporated into an existing aircraft through upgrades – called in the literature as incremental innovation.Footnote1 This type of innovation requires a new-generation jet fighter, or radical innovation.Footnote2 Therefore, it is an adequate basis to analyse air power innovation.

“No end of a lesson:” observations from the first high-intensity drone wa

Marc R. DeVore

The Russo-Ukrainian War can rightfully lay claim to being the world’s first “drone war” in the same way that the First World War proved the first air war. If this analogy holds, then we ought to scrutinise the present war for lessons as to the future impact of unmanned systems. After all, the First World War provided the creative spark for: terror bombing enemy cities; dedicated fighter aircraft; independent air forces; aircraft carriers; all-metal monoplanes; and armoured ground-attack aircraft. In a similar fashion, the Russo-Ukrainian War proffers the first real lessons as to the character of unmanned warfare.

This call to study the Russo-Ukrainian War for its insights on drone warfare might sound strange. Drones have been used extensively for the past half century. Prior usage, however, featured drones’ extensive employment by only one party and usually in auxiliary roles. In a sense, drones’ use in these wars is analogous to the use of aerial platforms prior to the First World War – ranging from balloons in the US Civil War (1860–65) to Italian pilots dropping improvised bombs in the Italo-Turkish War (1911–12) – where aerial platforms’ employment by one side and in auxiliary roles revealed little about their ultimate potential.

Despite the limited data available about the present war, two clear insights about drones can be induced: 1) the centrality of attrition rates and cost factors; and 2) the importance of rapid adaptation cycles over exquisitely engineered weapons.

Attrition rates and system costs

The years preceding the Russo-Ukrainian War witnessed the development of drones that appeared ever more capable and sophisticated. What the Russo-Ukrainian War is demonstrating, however, are the virtues of low-costs and disposability.

Drones since this war’s beginning have experienced high-levels of attrition. According to open source reporting, Russia lost at least 148 reusable (non-kamikaze) drones and Ukraine 40 during the war’s first nine months.Footnote1 Likely actual losses are higher. The reasons for high drone losses are manifold. From a technical perspective, drone’s data-links are susceptible to jamming and drones tend to fly at lower- and medium-altitudes where they are vulnerable to short-ranged air defences. Operationally, both the Russians and Ukrainians are also sending drones to conduct missions in zones where enemy air defences are too dense to risk manned pilots, meaning that drones are being employed for missions that would not be otherwise undertaken.

The Huge Power and Potential Danger of AI-Generated Code


IN JUNE 2021, GitHub announced Copilot, a kind of auto-complete for computer code powered by OpenAI’s text-generation technology. It provided an early glimpse of the impressive potential of generative artificial intelligence to automate valuable work. Two years on, Copilot is one of the most mature examples of how the technology can take on tasks that previously had to be done by hand.

This week Github released a report, based on data from almost a million programmers paying to use Copilot, that shows how transformational generative AI coding has become. On average, they accepted the AI assistant’s suggestions about 30 percent of the time, suggesting that the system is remarkably good at predicting useful code.

The striking chart above shows how users tend to accept more of Copilot’s suggestions as they spend more months using the tool. The report also concludes that AI-enhanced coders see their productivity increase over time, based on the fact that a previous Copilot study reported a link between the number of suggestions accepted and a programmer’s productivity. GitHub’s new report says that the greatest productivity gains were seen among less experienced developers.

This is an edition of WIRED's Fast Forward newsletter, a weekly dispatch from the future by Will Knight, exploring AI advances and other technology set to change our lives.

On the face of it, that’s an impressive picture of a novel technology quickly proving its value. Any technology that enhances productivity and boosts the abilities of less skilled workers could be a boon for both individuals and the wider economy. GitHub goes on to offer some back-of-the-envelope speculation, estimating that AI coding could boost global GDP by $1.5 trillion by 2030.

How to Tackle AI—and Cheating—in the Classroom


THIS PAST SPRING, as I closed out my 18th year of teaching, I felt anxiety that I’d never before felt at the end of a school year. By the time grades are submitted and signs of summer arrive, teachers are typically able to breathe for the first time in nine months. Instead of the relaxation, joy, and accomplishment that typically awaits the end of an academic year, I was consumed with worry that this might be the last time in a nearly two-decade career that I taught a class without having to worry about AI.

I get it–AI has technically been around forever, and natural language processing tools such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT are built on decades of research. Anyone who has used spellcheck or language translation apps or heard a spoken text message has used language processing tools driven by AI technology. But many of the teachers with whom I’m acquainted haven’t been too concerned about the extent to which AI might infiltrate our classrooms until now.

Most teachers keep up with technology to a reasonable extent and do our best to teach our students how to use it responsibly. Many view technology as a teaching asset, and I’ve long believed that students are more engaged when their lessons make ample use of it.

However, as the old Latin saying goes, all things change, and we change with them. No one knows this reality better than teachers. When ChatGPT exploded onto the mainstream last November, we could not have anticipated how our work might be impacted.

As it turned out, ChatGPT was the fasting-growing consumer application in history, reaching 100 million active users a mere two months after launch, according to a report by Reuters. For context, it took TikTok nine months and Instagram two years to achieve the same milestone, according to data from Sensor Tower, a digital data analysis firm.

Russian Cyber War: An Elite Russian Hacker Spells Out His Vision for “Information Confrontation in World Politics”


Editor’s note: This post by Dr. Bilyana Lilly provides insights into an aspect of Russia’s information warfare activities. Dr. Lilly, part of the OODA Network, is the author of the book Russian Information Warfare: Assault on Democracies in the Cyber Wild West and a frequent contributor to our network membership meetings (see this summary).

Hakan Tanriverdi is an open-source intelligence-assisted reporter known for reporting and analysis on criminal and state-sponsored hackers in Europe. Recently, Tanriverdi was working on an investigative report on what are known as the “Vulcan Files”: leaks that reveal Putin’s cyber strategy, including Russian Secret Services’ plans for disinformation and attacks on civilian infrastructure using software from the Moscow company Vulkan.

While reporting on the leaked Vulkan files, Tanriverdi “received a tip: an interesting file had been dropped on Virustotal. It turned out to be the master’s thesis (titled “Information Confrontation in World Politics”) by Evgenii Serebriakov, the person who’s heading the infamous Sandworm team, part of Russia’s military agency GRU.”

OODA Loop Sponsor