6 July 2023

Can India Rupture the Semiconductor Market?

Jagannath Panda 

In June 2023, India announced its decision to reopen the application process for businesses interested in constructing new semiconductor fabrication plants (commonly called fabs). The process will be undertaken by a new government agency, the India Semiconductor Mission (ISM), within the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY). The ISM is designated to implement a “long-term strategy” for developing semiconductors and display manufacturing “ecosystem.”

This “modified” government-approved $10 billion incentive program that aims to support (up to 50 percent) project costs will increase India’s attractiveness as a globally competitive partner. India is not yet comparable to major global semiconductor producers (and consumers) with deeper pockets (e.g., the United States, whose CHIPS Act provides $52 billion in subsidies for domestic semiconductor manufacturing). India’s wooing of the semiconductor industry notwithstanding, this is the second round: the government approved its first incentive policy in December 2021, and the application process closed in early 2022. Only a handful of companies applied, and little progress has yet occurred.

Things were looking up when the Indian conglomerate Vedanta signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Taiwanese technology giant (also a key Apple supplier) Foxconn for a $19.5 billion fab investment in Gujarat. But reportedly, the government will deny the project funding for not fulfilling its requirements.

In the wake of the new reapplication announcement, the speculation about funding rejection seems increasingly likely, and the joint venture might reapply. In addition, the chipmaking plans of the ISMC consortium, including Israel’s Tower, are similarly stuck owing to Tower’s delayed merger with Intel. The third applicant, a Singapore-based consortium led by IGSS Ventures, has also decided to resubmit its case.

India, the US and the global balance of power

Joseph S. Nye

When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with US President Joe Biden in the White House last month, many observers saw the makings of an evolving alliance against China. But such expectations are overwrought. As Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar has made clear, a formal alliance is not in the cards, even if it is still possible to maintain long-term partnerships in a multipolar world of ‘frenemies’.

India has a long history of post-colonial mistrust of alliances. But it has also long been preoccupied with China, at least since the Himalayas border war the two countries fought in 1962. While serving in President Jimmy Carter’s administration, I was sent to India to encourage Prime Minister Morarji Desai to support a South Asian nuclear-weapons-free zone, lest the burgeoning nuclear race between India and Pakistan get out of hand. As my Indian hosts told me at the time, they wanted to be compared not to Pakistan in South Asia, but to China in East Asia.

After the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, the United States and India began 20 years of annual ‘track 2’ talks between former diplomats who were still in close contact with those in government. (The American delegation, for example, included figures such as Henry Kissinger and Richard Holbrooke.) The Indian participants shared their US counterparts’ concerns about al-Qaeda and other extremist threats in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but they also made clear that they objected to the Americans’ tendency to think about India and Pakistan as ‘linked by a hyphen’.

The Indians were also concerned about China, but they wanted to maintain the appearance of good relations—and access to the Chinese market. China has long been one of India’s largest trading partners, but its economy has grown much more rapidly than India’s. Using market exchange rates, China represented 3.6% of world GDP by the turn of this century, but India didn’t reach that level until the 2020s.

After Action Review on Afghanistan

At the direction of Secretary Blinken, this 90-day After Action Review (AAR) has focused on the Department of State’s execution of its duties directly related to the process of ending the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan from January 2020 to August 2021. The decisions of both President Trump and President Biden to end the U.S. military mission posed significant challenges for the Department as it sought to maintain a robust diplomatic and assistance presence in Kabul and provide continued support to the Afghan government and people. As conditions on the ground deteriorated and the prospects for successful peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban grew dimmer, leadership in the Department and at Embassy Kabul faced the dilemma that significantly reducing the remaining U.S. presence in Afghanistan and accelerating the departure of at-risk Afghans risked undermining confidence in the Afghan government and triggering the very collapse the United States hoped to avoid. 

With the sudden collapse of the Ghani government and the Taliban’s entry into Kabul on August 15, 2021, the Department of State confronted a task of unprecedented scale and complexity. Working with other U.S. government agencies, partner nations, and Afghan allies, Department personnel helped coordinate and execute a massive humanitarian airlift and evacuation from a dangerous and often chaotic environment in barely more than two weeks. The stress, demands, and risks of the situation are hard to exaggerate and placed tremendous burdens on the Department’s personnel and its crisis response structures. Overall, the Department’s personnel responded with great agility, determination, and dedication, while taking on roles and responsibilities both domestically and overseas that few had ever anticipated.

Special report: Russia buying civilian drones from China for war effort


Russia has for months been importing drones from Chinese companies explicitly for use in its invasion of Ukraine, despite denials from Beijing that such equipment is being deployed in the war, a Nikkei Asia investigation has found.

Between December 2022 and April 2023, Russian companies imported at least 37 Chinese unmanned aerial vehicles worth around $103,000 that were designated in customs clearance records as being "for use in the special military operation," the Russian government's name for the Ukraine war.

Since the beginning of the invasion 16 months ago, Beijing has repeatedly denied providing weapons to Moscow for use in the invasion. And while previous reporting has shown that Russia stepped up its imports of Chinese drones after the war began, Beijing has denied that China is exporting drones to the battlefields of Ukraine.

"China calls on all relevant parties to work together to strengthen controls, prevent all types of drones from being used on battlefields in conflict areas, and jointly promote international peace and regional stability," a spokesperson for China's Ministry of Commerce said in April.

But Nikkei's reporting shows that for months, Russian companies have been quietly filling out customs paperwork for the import of drones, including machines manufactured by U.S.-sanctioned DJI, China's biggest drone maker, marking them for use in the war. It is unclear whether the Chinese companies or government is aware of Russia's customs records regarding the drones.

Nikkei obtained the Russian customs records from multiple sources, including Indian companies Exim Trade Data and Export Genius, and analyzed shipments from China to Russia.

Beijing Hosted the VIII International Conference “Russia and China: Cooperation In The New Era”

On June 26–27, 2023, the VIII International Conference of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) “Russia and China: Cooperation in the New Era” was held in Beijing. The conference is organized in Moscow and Beijing under the Memorandum of Cooperation between RIAC and CASS, signed on June 25, 2016 during the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to China.

The conference lasted for two days. On the first day, during a closed-door meeting, members of the RIAC delegation and CASS experts discussed the most sensitive issues of the bilateral and multilateral agenda, including ways to boost Russia-China partnership. On the second day, Russian and Chinese participants focused on diplomatic, trade, economic and humanitarian contacts between Moscow and Beijing in the course of three open plenary sessions.

Sergey Lavrov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Chairman of RIAC Board of Trustees, and Qin Gang, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China, greeted the participants during the conference opening in a video message format.

Sergey Lavrov noted that Russia aims to build mutually beneficial cooperation with China in all areas. He also added that Moscow and Beijing are ready to invest joint efforts to ensure global security and sustainable development at the global and regional levels.

His Chinese counterpart Qin Gang also underscored the ambition of both countries to bring more justice to the international order, in the context of indivisible security, Russia and China are ready to cooperate with each other on a mutually beneficial basis, to coordinate the conjugation of the EAEU and the OBOR so that Moscow and Beijing can ensure stable value and supply chains and promote the prosperity of the region.

Igor Ivanov, RIAC President, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (1998-2004), Gao Xiang. CASS President, Zhang Hanhui, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the PRC to the Russian Federation, and Igor Morgulov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the PRC, RIAC Presidium Member, also delivered opening remarks.

The Quad is key to countering China’s aggressive expansion

Mike Pompeo

The Chinese Communist Party’s recent passage of its new foreign relations law underscores the threat to free nations dedicated to preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific.

The new law will strengthen CCP Chairman Xi Jinping’s ability to impose “countermeasures” on actions he deems threatening to his interests, furthering his goal of establishing a CCP-centric, CCP-led order in opposition to nations that wish to preserve peace, stability and freedom.

For four years, the Trump administration kept the Chinese communist threat at bay, principally by working with our partners in Japan, India and Australia to revitalize the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad). At this time in history, embracing the Quad‘s model is even more important as we seek to oppose the CCP’s ambitions and maintain a truly free and open Indo-Pacific.

Since the end of the Cold War, a troubling trend of pursuing multilateralism purely for its own sake has developed.

This pursuit has led to entirely predictable outcomes: Multilateral entities initially founded to safeguard shared interests and secure common objectives — such as the World Health Organization and the U.N. Security Council — have become corrupted by nations whose goals are hostile to those of free nations.

For instance, China used its power within the WHO to cover up its responsibility for unleashing the COVID pandemic on the world. Russia occupies the U.N. Security Council’s presidency, despite its currently waging a war of aggression against a sovereign nation.

These problems illustrate a crucial point: When nations do not share our values and oppose our interests, we cannot expect them to be restrained by multilateral agreements or institutions.

China May Face Looming Agricultural Disaster

Ben Solis

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s revival of Maoist agricultural policies could soon spell disaster for the world’s second-most populous country.

Last month, on Chinese Youth Day, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) state media published a response from Xi to a letter written by students at the China Agricultural University. In it, Xi calls on students to “go deep into the fields and villages to seek hardships and cultivate a love for farmers as well as the ability to promote agriculture, contributing on the big stage of rural revitalization.”

That call echoed the words of Xi’s most notorious predecessor, Mao Zedong, who similarly believed the Party should dispatch Chinese youth to the countryside. “Youth should seek hardships to master themselves,” Mao once declared.

Notably, Xi’s letter comes as China faces an unprecedented crisis of youth unemployment. The jobless rate for young people recently topped 20 percent, and is expected to grow in the months ahead.

Around 11.5 million more students are expected to graduate from Chinese universities this year. Most of them face dim job prospects amid a continued slowdown of China’s economy.

Western media outlets have reported that the jobless rate inside China is high, but most have failed to make the connection between the economic struggles and Xi’s commitment to communist ideology – or how Xi’s remedy of flooding the countryside with CCP zealots will likely prove catastrophic.

Like Mao during the Cultural Revolution, Xi is pushing a new program of “agricultural management.” In practice, this means hundreds of thousands of party bureaucrats or simply average job seekers turned into state-sanctioned “agriculture managers” (effectively rural “enforcers” for the CCP) descending on villages and small towns – a nightmare scenario for farmers.

Why won’t China Admit that it’s Competing with the United States?


This Q&A was adapted from a Carnegie live event assessing U.S.-China relations following U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to China. It has been edited for clarity.

Paul Haenle holds the Maurice R. Greenberg Director’s Chair at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and is a visiting senior research fellow at the East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore. He served as the White House China director on the National Security Council staffs of former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Paul Haenle: Our friend, Bonnie Glaser, put out a Tweet shortly after Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to China, focusing on the readout of his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. She noted with concern that Xi stated “competition among major powers does not conform to the trend of the times.” The Biden administration has been trying to convince the Chinese side to accept its framework of competition as the mainstay of the relationship, while also recognizing that it is essential to work together and to prevent competition from veering into conflict. Part of the reason that China may not be willing to reopen military-to-military channels may be related to this philosophical disagreement between China and the United States. Clearly, China is competing with the United States. You and I can come up with a dozen examples of how Beijing is competing quite intensively. But why are Chinese officials so unwilling to accept the notion of competition in U.S.-China relations?

Dennis Wilder is a senior fellow for the Initiative for U.S.-China Dialogue on Global Issues at Georgetown University, where he previously served as the managing director.

Dennis Wilder: We all know about the idea of American exceptionalism—our belief that we are a shining city on a hill; that democracy is a far better system of government than autocracy. This has been part of our narrative throughout American history. John Kennedy and other presidents referred to it. China also has a version of exceptionalism. It can be seen in what Xi Jinping calls the “Global Civilization Initiative.” Beijing views itself as the world’s first ancient civilization with a 5000-year continuous history. China is starting to say that its model can be one for the world in a way that it hasn’t said in recent history. In not only the “Civilization Initiative” but also the “Global Security Initiative,” China has put forward a notion of win-win cooperation, common humanity, and a peaceful world. So, for Xi Jinping it is very difficult to accept the notion of competition. For him, competition is an American idea, and in a competition, there can only be one winner. They see it as a race where there is going to be a loser and there’s going to be a guy that gets the medal. The Chinese don’t like that metaphor. So I think that what you saw in the recent visit between Antony Blinken and Xi Jinping was partially this philosophical position; that we need to find a way for us all to win in this competition. To some degree, this framework of competition would better serve China’s interests.

With eye on China, Japan to deepen ties with NATO at key leaders' summit


More support for Ukraine, a new NATO office in Tokyo and a new partnership agreement with the world’s most powerful military alliance are set to top Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s agenda when he attends the NATO leaders’ summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, next week.

Kishida, who last year became the first Japanese prime minister to attend such a gathering, is set to join the summit on July 11 and 12 with the leaders of South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. Informally known as the Asia-Pacific Four, these countries, which have been part of NATO’s “global partners” group since the early 2010s, are also expected to enter deeper partnerships with the trans-Atlantic alliance.

The planned transition to NATO’s new Individually Tailored Partnership Program (ITPP) later this year also appears far more advanced than initially reported, with the Vilnius summit likely to see the new partnerships approved for each of the four countries, Jamie Shea, a former deputy assistant secretary-general for emergency security challenges at NATO, told The Japan Times.

“The ITPPs have been negotiated and approved at the ambassador level,” said Shea, who is now a professor at the University of Exeter in England, adding that the leaders would use the summit to “endorse and highlight them as a mark of progress.”

What exactly the ITPPs will mean for each of the Asia-Pacific countries is not entirely clear, as few details have emerged. In general, however, these engagement frameworks — based on a partner’s individual capacities, needs and interests — provide opportunities to develop interoperability with NATO militaries as well as a platform for engaging and sharing information about a variety of security issues.

"Adopting the ITPPs will surely be an important development, but it is mainly a bureaucratic innovation," said Michito Tsuruoka, an international security expert and associate professor at Keio University, adding that what will matter most is what new kinds of cooperation will become possible under the framework.

A world where China is Number One


The three key things about China we need to keep in mind are thatit is strong, not weak; it has become a sea power; and its values are both different from those of the West and not necessarily what Europe and America think they are.

“When we are discussing anything to do with the People’s Republic of China in the contemporary context, therefore, these three factors are good places to start,” writes Kerry Brown, professor of Chinese Studies and director of the Lau China Institute at King’s College, London, in the first chapter of his new book, “China Incorporated: The Politics of a World Where China is Number One.”

The title reminds us of Japan Inc, the words used to describe Japan’s combination of industrial policy and mercantilism since the 1980s; and “Japan as Number One: Lessons for America”, the popular book by Ezra Vogel published in 1999. Brown’s book even has a chapter entitled “The Enigma of Chinese Power,” which echoes Karel Van Wolferen’s “The Enigma of Japanese Power: People and Politics in a Stateless Nation,” published in 1990.

But the book does not explain Chinese industrial and trade policies; it does not tell us what the West can learn from China’s rapid modernization; and it is certainly not about what the writer imagines is the hollow political center of a great economic power.

Rather, Brown examines the more important issue of how Western misunderstanding of Chinese thinking about the role of government and international relations has magnified the problem of dealing with a different civilization that has grown big and strong enough to reject our criticism and push back.

The misunderstanding has historical, cultural and political roots but fundamentally it can be attributed to the universalist, Manichean (good vs evil) worldview of what Brown refers to as the Enlightenment West – and the projection of that attitude onto a civilization that doesn’t share the same history.

Burgeoning Azerbaijani-NATO Relations – Analysis

Rusif Huseynov and Samir Hajizada

“Azerbaijan has proven to be a reliable partner of NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization],” declared President Ilham Aliyev in December 2021 during his visit to NATO Headquarters in Brussels. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed this statement by referring to Azerbaijan as “a valued partner.” Stoltenberg supported his assertion by referencing Azerbaijan`s strong military cooperation with Turkey, its gas supplies to several NATO member states, as well as the country’s contribution to the NATO mission in Afghanistan (President.az, December 14, 2021).

August 2021. Afghanistan. As the United States and its allies evacuate the war-torn country during the Taliban’s subsequent takeover, soldiers of two countries—Turkey and Azerbaijan, both Muslim-majority nations—defend the critical Hamid Karzai airport and secure the successful exodus of government personnel and nongovernmental organization, dubbed the “Kabul airlift” (Caspian Post, August 16, 2021). Azerbaijani and Turkish soldiers stay in the country until the end and are among the last military personnel to depart. In offering his gratitude, Stoltenberg thanks Azerbaijan—in addition to the United States, the United Kingdom and Turkey—for its central role in securing the airport (Azernews, August 21, 2021).

Azerbaijan’s contributions to the NATO effort started in 2002 with 22 peacekeepers and rose to 120 by the time of the withdrawal. In addition to ground support, Azerbaijani units had facilitated the Afghanistan-bound supply logistics for the allied forces by securing the transit routes for around 40 percent of the needed military cargo (Caspian News, August 26, 2021).

Established in 1992, relations between Azerbaijan and NATO have evolved over the decades, with the former having participated in various programs of the military bloc, including the Partnership for Peace program and the NATO-led missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo (Nato.int, August 25, 2021). At some point, especially when other states in the post-Soviet space, such as Georgia and Ukraine, actively aspired to become members of the alliance, Azerbaijan`s path seemingly diverged from its fellow GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova) partners: In truth, Baku never sought NATO membership and instead opted for “equidistance” from rivaling blocs (Top-center.org, March 18, 2021).

Lessons for the Next Arab Spring

Shadi Hamid

On July 3, 2013, the Arab Spring ended. A military coup ousted the democratically elected government of Mohamed Morsi, the Egyptian president who was a leader in the Muslim Brotherhood. Today, a decade later, the role the United States played in the events leading up to the coup, and the coup itself, is still contentious.

Putin’s Missile War Russia’s Strike Campaign in Ukraine

Ian Williams

Russia’s missile campaign against Ukraine has severely underperformed expectations. In the invasion’s early days, Russia underestimated the necessary scale and effort of its missile campaign. Since then, Russia has changed course multiple times, most recently moving to target Ukrainian electrical grid and civilian infrastructure during the winter months. Russia’s haphazard missile campaign reflects both internal strategic failures and Ukraine’s critical forward thinking in the days prior to the invasion. Early Russian failures also gave time for Ukraine to develop its air defense strategy and capabilities which have only grown in effectiveness, thanks in large part to Western aid. This report provides an in-depth review of these and related “missile war” dynamics.

This report is made possible by general support to CSIS. No direct sponsorship contributed to this report.

Illegal Drug Trade: The Most Sinister Disease Of Modern Humanity – Analysis

Matija Šerić

Until recently, when people talked about the vices facing European society, they would first think of alcohol, nicotine, gambling or prostitution. Although the drug was mentioned both in schools and in public, there was a widespread opinion that it was some exotic vice that came from South America and was reserved for the financially savvy minority.

However, the reality is much darker. In recent times, drugs, or narcotics, have reached the leading place of vice in the world, including Europe. It is surely the most destructive vice. For all of us who are not involved in the use, cultivation or distribution of drugs, it sounds amazing how narcotics are present in the life of the community, especially the youth.

It is an open secret that occasional drug users and permanent drug addicts in medium-sized and larger European cities can easily find drugs every night during a night out. Illegal drug trade has become the most sinister disease of modern humanity, especially the disease of the young population. Drugs are a disease of society and individuals. It is more dangerous than the coronavirus, HIV, tumors, terrorist groups or any country. There are no borders for drugs, but they destroy societies from the inside and very efficiently.
Definition of narcotics

According to the definition of the Croatian Encyclopaedia, “narcotics are associated with narcotic drugs, substances of natural or synthetic origin with repeated use that cause psychological and physical dependence, such as narcotic analgesics: opium, morphine, codeine, heroin, methadone, and opioids – non-morphine and endogenous analgesics such as endorphins, enkephalin and dimorphin.”

According to their effect, narcotics are divided into three groups: 1) agents dangerous to human health that are not used in medicine (heroin, mescaline, psilocybin, cannabis, LSD, crack, ecstasy); 2) substances that are dangerous for human health and are used in medicine (cocaine, methadone, amphetamine, methamphetamine, etc.); 3) agents that can endanger human health and are used in medicine (diazepam, lorazepam, meprobamate, etc.). Narcotics are consumed by injection, oral route, smoking or snorting.
Illegal drug trade – a lucrative and widespread activity

UN Security Council Terminates Mali Peacekeeping Mission

The Security Council on Friday unanimously approved the complete withdrawal of UN peacekeeping forces in Mali, although it will take six months for the final “blue helmets” to depart.

Security Council members reiterated strong support for the full withdrawal of the decade-old UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), and the transfer of security responsibilities to the country’s transitional Government, which has been in power since a coup in 2021.

Commending the peacekeeping operation and its staff, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for the “full cooperation of the transitional Government for an orderly and safe withdrawal of the mission’s personnel and assets in the coming months”, said Farhan Haq, his deputy spokesperson.

The UN chief also urged all the signatory parties to the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali “to continue honouring the ceasefire as MINUSMA withdraws”, Mr. Haq said.

However, the UN chief remains concerned by the fact that the level and duration of the financial commitment authority required to facilitate the drawdown process have been significantly reduced during budget negotiations in the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee, the deputy spokesperson said, adding that “this increases the complexities and risks of the drawdown operation”.

Meanwhile, the Secretary-General will continue to engage with the transitional Government on how best to serve the interests of the people of Mali in cooperation with the UN Country Team in Mali, the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) and other partners.
Security Council’s unanimous support

On Foreign Policy, the New Populists Are Old Declinists


On Foreign Policy, the New Populists Are Old DeclinistsLeft: Then-Republican Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas, Texas, August 5, 2022. Right: Sen. Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Washington, D.C., April 28, 2021. 

The national-security threats to the United States are growing more numerous and varied, and Americans sense it. Even after last weekend’s attempted coup, Russia continues its unprovoked war on Ukraine and seeks to splinter NATO. China audaciously flew a spy balloon over the United States, and still threatens to invade Taiwan. Moreover, these nuclear-armed dictatorships are increasingly working together in a “no limits” partnership to threaten American interests. Despite the Biden administration’s appeals for de-escalation with Russia and a “thaw” in the frozen tensions with China, our adversaries respond with more aggression.

Republicans are the party of President Ronald Reagan, who won the Cold War by embracing the maxim of “peace through strength.” Reagan invested in American military power, armed those fighting our shared enemy, and rallied the free world to defeat the Soviet Union — all while avoiding a catastrophic hot war. These strategies would work well today.

But there is a new vision that threatens to take the GOP and America down a different path. The “Asia First” approach maintains that Washington should focus on Asia, because America is overburdened and it must husband its resources to confront its most capable adversary — China. Prominent members of this group include Senators Josh Hawley and J. D. Vance. They oppose sending weapons to Ukraine because they argue these arms are needed to deter a Chinese assault on Taiwan. For them, leading the free world is the naïve stuff of Reagan and an optimistic, bygone era.

The necessary assumption undergirding this “Asia First” foreign-policy position is that Washington can no longer do it all, that America is in decline. But like past declinists and doomers, “Asia First” proponents are mistaken.

America’s front line of missile defense is straining under the demand of global threats

Haley Britzky

Patriot missile batteries from the 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery Regiment stand ready at sunset in Poland on April 10, 2022.Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Smith/U.S. Department of Defense

The US Army’s air defense units are among the most overworked in the US military, manning missile systems across the globe to provide around-the-clock deterrence against adversaries including North Korea, China, Iran and Russia.

In describing the problem to CNN, the Army’s most senior air defense officer, Lt. Gen. Dan Karbler, recounted something an Army sergeant told him recently: “Sir, it’s simple, pure math. We have more missions than we have air defense capability.”

As demands stack up with the war in Ukraine and amid looming concerns over a potential conflict with China, service leaders have been sounding the alarm that these critical missile defense units could be stretched too thin.

“It could get out of whack in a hurry if it’s not managed properly,” Maj. Gen. Brian Gibson, commander of the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command in Hawaii, told CNN.

The situation became so severe that in 2020, the service conducted a survey of air defense soldiers and families, and have recently been working to implement changes to offload some of the pressure those soldiers and families are feeling.

The Army is offering $47,500 enlistment bonuses to attract more candidates for certain air defense jobs, including operating Patriot missile batteries. It’s also embedded mental health specialists into air defense units around the world in an effort to address what has emerged as a troubling side-effect of manning the front lines of America’s missile defense systems: burnout.

The politics of the French riots


This is largely an insurrection without aims: a scream of fury, an anarchic rejection of government; an act of gang-warfare writ large; a competition in performative destruction.

John Lichfield is a former foreign editor of the Independent and was the newspaper’s Paris correspondent for 20 years.

Beware of those who offer a simple explanation of the riots that have exploded in multi-racial suburbs across France.

These are not, for the most part, political riots — although they are influenced by, and will dangerously inflame, the poisonously divided politics of France.

They are not religious riots. Many of the very young rioters may have a sense of besieged Muslim identity, but they are driven by anger rather than their religion. This is an insurrection, not an intifada.

They are not, properly speaking, truly race riots. The great majority of the many millions of hard-working residents of the racially mixed suburbs which surround French cities are not involved.

Rather, they are the main victims of the destruction of cars, buses, trams, schools, libraries, shops and social centers which began after a 17-year-old boy was shot dead by a traffic cop in Nanterre, just west of Paris, last Tuesday. Parents and other adults are now beginning (belatedly) to try to contain this explosion of violence by young men and boys as young as 12.

The riots are, in a sense, anti-France; but they are also, in part, mimetically French. Grievances go more rapidly to the street in France than in other countries. The worst excesses of the largely white, provincial Yellow Vests movement in 2018-19 came close in blind violence to what we have seen in the last week.

The riots are, for sure, anti-police and anti-authority.

As France burns, the far-Right rises


What the street barricade was to France in the 19th century, the burning car has become in the 21st: a preferred means of violent protest, and a key theatrical symbol of political defiance. In 2005, after two boys named Zyed Benna and Bouna Traoré died while running from police, rioters burned close to 9,000 cars across France in unrest that ultimately led President Jacques Chirac to declare a state of emergency. This year, after an officer shot and killed a boy named Nahel who was trying to drive away from a police stop in the Paris suburb of Nanterre, thousands more cars have gone up in smoke, while shops and police stations have been attacked in hundreds of cities and towns across the country. The wave of violence has swept through the weekend.

But if the barricade remains a symbol of revolution, the burning car mostly represents impotent rage — and France’s political petrification. Street barricades had an important and clear purpose — to take control of neighbourhoods and to prevent the forces of public order from circulating through cities. True, the builders of 19th-century barricades usually went down to defeat, at least in the short term. In June of 1848, the army killed thousands in Paris, spelling an end to the radical phase of the short-lived Second Republic. In the spring of 1871, conservative republican forces slaughtered thousands more as they crushed the radical Paris Commune. But, in both cases, the people had shown their power, and in subsequent decades French governments moved to grant at least some of their demands. In the decades after the Commune, French workers gained paid vacations, a minimum wage, old-age pensions, the right to strike, and public works programs. Church and state were separated, and the educational system put under state control.

By contrast, the burning car of the 21st has done little for the communities in question, or to help advance the rioters’ professed goals. Quite the contrary, in fact. Most immediately, the cars themselves belong overwhelmingly to members of the same communities as the rioters. And in the longer term, the events of the past week are most likely to benefit the far-Right, possibly even bring it to power in the next presidential election. This is not the fault of the rioters, who have desperately few options for constructive action. It is rather the product of France’s changing political landscape in the 21st-century.

The Iron Cross Returns to the East

Sumantra Maitra

“Germany is prepared to permanently station a robust brigade in Lithuania,” Germany’s Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said in a visit to Vilnius for a summit. Germany is apparently planning to send around 4,000 troops to a permanent base in the Baltic Country.

“We as the Federal Republic of Germany explicitly acknowledge our responsibility and our obligation as a NATO member state, as the largest economy in Europe, to stand up for the protection of the eastern flank,” Pistorius added, hinting at Germany’s historic role and diminished force posture since the end of the Cold War. In 1989, West Germany was the frontier, and had around twelve divisions of troops ready for the radio announcement that the Soviet Union’s core 3rd Shock Army was rumbling across the Baltic front.

The historic Eisernes Kreuz, it appears, is ready to return east.

Keen readers of NATO military force posture and other relevant esoterica would find the proposal familiar, written by a certain writer of these pages recently arguing for the same:

Similarly, there are Polish-British security arrangements and talks of the German army permanently stationed in Lithuania. While premature, these provide opportunities for the United States to partially retrench.

Following the degradation of Russian conventional forces, there is no need for the United States to deploy any armored infantry or combat support units to Eastern Europe. All infantry brigades and logistics permanently deployed in East Europe should be European in combination and command. Poland is on its way to being the largest European NATO force after Turkey. At the same time, Finland has large infantry reserves, and Germany can resume its Cold War-era role as NATO’s armored backbone.

So how does this make me feel?

Washington Needs a New Economic Security Framework for the Americas

Elaine Dezenski

Washington must bring powerful answers to pressing issues in the region: populism, political unrest, and disinformation; water and food insecurity; extreme weather; mass migration; the evolving drug trade; money laundering and corruption; and weakened democratic institutions.

The Western hemisphere is home to some of the world’s largest economies—the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico—and boasts countries with long-standing democratic traditions. Yet a lack of U.S. leadership and vision has left the hemisphere vulnerable to authoritarian encroachment, weak economies, and populations at risk. A new regional economic security framework is badly needed.

America’s backyard, instead of being filled with democratic friends and booming economies, is home to Russian bombers and mercenaries, twenty-nine Chinese-owned ports and port projects, a widespread Iran and Russia-fueled anti-U.S. propaganda machinery, Chinese-enabled fentanyl and money-laundering operations, wobbling and fallen democracies, and widespread economic and political instability. Soon, it may also be home to yet another Chinese surveillance outpost.

Over the last two decades, Latin America has seen wild swings from left-wing populists to right-wing populists and back, all of which have enabled corruption, disappointed their populations, and left the United States without stable partnerships across the region. In response, Washington has settled into a hands-off approach to the region—allowing Venezuela and Nicaragua to slide into dictatorships and largely ignoring chaos in Bolivia, Peru, Argentina, and El Salvador.

In addition to rising internal hardline forces within Latin America, external autocratic forces are imposing their will upon the region with little in the form of a coordinated American response. Russia and Iran are also increasingly active throughout the Americas, providing military assistance to Venezuela, evading sanctions in Cuba, or pushing misinformation and destabilizing democracy. The rising influence of authoritarianism throughout Latin America is pushing the region away from the stable and interdependent democracies that would benefit both local citizens and the hemisphere at large.

America Needs a Strategy for Space-Based Solar Power

Alex Gilbert Leet W. Wood

In a scientific first, researchers from Caltech beamed power generated in outer space back to Earth. The Space Solar Power Demonstrator proves the scientific basis for a new, long-hoped for energy source: space-based solar power (SBSP). By capturing solar energy in outer space, without the many factors that make terrestrial solar intermittent, SBSP can unlock a whole new class of baseload energy technologies to provide clean energy and reduce carbon emissions. The rapid reduction in launch costs enabled by the growing commercial space sector means that it could be economic within the next couple of decades. Among other entities, the European Space Agency, China, Japan, and the U.S. Department of Defense are all actively pursuing research and development in this area. However, Caltech’s achievement is overshadowed by an uncomfortable fact: despite being the world’s leader in space activities, the United States is in danger of falling behind on SBSP and may lose this emerging sector to geopolitical competitors. In short, the United States needs a comprehensive strategy to develop and commercialize space-based solar power by combining the public and private sectors to solve complex engineering, economic, and regulatory challenges.

After a relatively stable decade in energy markets, major global changes are underscoring the dependence of modern economies on energy services. Pandemic-driven disruptions in energy markets, including an accelerated oil boom and bust, undermined near-term investment in energy supply. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has further exacerbated energy price volatility, raising the prospect of Europe losing its larger supplier of energy and the world losing its second-largest oil supplier. More broadly, the reemergence of global geopolitical competition, particularly between the United States and China, is leading to escalating competition over strategic industries, including energy and space. Finally, all of this is occurring against the backdrop of ever-worsening climate change and the ever-pressing need to reduce carbon emissions as much as possible as fast as possible. Even with the growth of wind and solar, and the emergence of other advanced energy technologies, the world needs all of the clean energy it can get. Further, as legacy thermal powerplants are retired at an increasing rate, the need for dispatchable and baseload power systems is becoming ever more acute.

Space-based solar power speaks to all of these needs in one package: it can be dispatched quickly to support system ramping, it can provide baseload power at very high capacity factors, it produces zero direct emissions, it is resilient, and it can achieve all of this simultaneously. The scientific first principles are simple. Solar power in space is about eight times more powerful than on the Earth’s surface because it does not need to go through the atmosphere, it is not blocked by clouds, and does not experience nighttime. If this solar power could be collected and beamed back to Earth, namely with long wavelength microwaves, terrestrial markets could gain access to a 24/7 clean energy source. Of course, the complexity of such an undertaking is not trivial. SBSP was first popularized by astrophysicist Gerard O’Neill in the 1970s, but progress has only occurred in fits and starts, in large part because costs remained prohibitive.

The F-35 for Close Air Support - Finally Sends A-10 to Boneyard

Kris Osborn

The A-10 warthog has earned a permanent place in history.

The aircraft is revered as a lifesaving “flying tank” able to support soldiers in a close-in ground fight under enemy fire. Despite the emotional allegiance the aircraft inspires, it might at last be flying into the sunset.

In what could be seen as a defining moment for the A-10, U.S. Air Force leaders recently announced they will be closing out or stopping A-10 operations at two key bases and replacing the A-10’s missions in one location with F-35s.

For many years, the Air Force has wanted to fully retire the A-10 and let the F-35 perform critical Close Air Support (CAS) missions. Pentagon weapons developers, Army and Air Force service members, ground troops, and many prominent members of Congress have fought to make sure the A-10 keeps on flying.

But despite the A-10’s success and combat record, some senior Air Force weapons developers have long believed the F-35 is better suited for CAS. The interest in the F-35’s ability to perform these missions, and the strength of the Congressional, Air Force, and Army support for the aircraft, led the Pentagon to conduct a fly-off between the two aircraft.

A-10 vs. F-35 Fly-Off

Despite their differences, the A-10 and F-35 can both perform CAS missions in distinctive and impactful ways. Ground troops who have benefited from protective fire coming from the A-10’s cannon while it hovers low over the ground are likely to insist the A-10 is superior.

So why might the F-35 be better? Certainly MANPADs, Stingers, and other shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons have gotten much more advanced. An A-10s titanium hull and built-in redundancy might now be much more vulnerable to destruction by enemy ground fire than they once were. The Warthog is engineered for redundancy — if one critical element such as an engine or electrical system is damaged or destroyed by enemy fire, the A-10 can keep flying. This attribute, while still critical, may not be as impactful in a modern threat environment where enemies have new generations of targeting technology and ground-fired munitions, as well as longer-range precision targeting.

The F-35 brings a series of key attributes not woven into the A-10’s mission scope. It brings a new generation of speed, thrust, and maneuverability capabilities. The aircraft could quickly enter and exit high-threat areas while maneuvering into position to support ground troops with suppressive or lethal fire at the enemy.

The Ukrainian Nuclear war of 2023 and its Aftermath

Martin N. Stanton

Ukraine, July 2023: Russia’s only option for quick victory – Break a Taboo / Change the World.

The Ukrainians long promised summer offensive has begun and is slowly inching its way into the Russian defensive belts. The Ukraine conflict has already surpassed anyone’s expectations for duration and losses suffered. Since February of 2022 the Russians have been bloodied and embarrassed in Ukraine. The Ukrainians have proved surprisingly resilient but have suffered substantial losses as well and only survive through massive infusions of western aid. By the middle of June 2023 each side had evolved. The Ukrainians have become marginally less effective due the attrition of their most trained forces but also managed to husband significant operational reserves which now form the core elements of their summer counteroffensive. The Russians on the other hand became slightly more capable while at the same time continuing to exhibit many of the deficiencies in training and planning that have hobbled their efforts since the beginning of the war. If the recent fighting around Bakhmut is anything to go by the Russians may be able to win exhaustive battles of attrition in single localities but haven’t demonstrated the ability to translate this into a war winning general offensive. Meanwhile the Ukrainians have conducted their largest drone attack on Moscow to date and are grinding into the Russian defensive belts towards Melitopol and Mariupol. How this will play out is hard to predict, but even if the Russians manage to blunt the Ukrainians offensive (no sure thing), they will only do so after suffering significant attrition in another series of bloody, drawn-out battles.

Putin may not have begun the war understanding that he was playing for existential stakes (his own survival in power), but he knows that he is now. His conventional forces have shown themselves to be surprisingly incapable and aren’t getting better fast enough. The impact of the war on Russia’s home front is increasing with Ukrainian strikes on Russian border towns like Belgorad. Additionally, Putin has just seen the first shots in what promises to become a drone “War-of-the-cities” like the Scud exchanges on population centers during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. Even with government control of the media it’s getting harder to convince the Russian man-in-the-street the war is going well. The recent “Wagner” mutiny led by Prigozhin with its abortive march on Moscow is another clear indicator that many of Russia’s power elite are becoming increasingly restive under Putin’s leadership.

The Ukrainian Nuclear war of 2023 and its Aftermath

Martin N. Stanton

The Ukraine, July 2023: Russia’s only option for quick victory – Break a Taboo / Change the World.

The Ukrainians long promised summer offensive has begun and is slowly inching its way into the Russian defensive belts. The Ukraine conflict has already surpassed anyone’s expectations for duration and losses suffered. Since February of 2022 the Russians have been bloodied and embarrassed in Ukraine. The Ukrainians have proved surprisingly resilient but have suffered substantial losses as well and only survive through massive infusions of western aid. By the middle of June 2023 each side had evolved. The Ukrainians have become marginally less effective due the attrition of their most trained forces but also managed to husband significant operational reserves which now form the core elements of their summer counteroffensive. The Russians on the other hand became slightly more capable while at the same time continuing to exhibit many of the deficiencies in training and planning that have hobbled their efforts since the beginning of the war. If the recent fighting around Bakhmut is anything to go by the Russians may be able to win exhaustive battles of attrition in single localities but haven’t demonstrated the ability to translate this into a war winning general offensive. Meanwhile the Ukrainians have conducted their largest drone attack on Moscow to date and are grinding into the Russian defensive belts towards Melitopol and Mariupol. How this will play out is hard to predict, but even if the Russians manage to blunt the Ukrainians offensive (no sure thing), they will only do so after suffering significant attrition in another series of bloody, drawn-out battles.

Putin may not have begun the war understanding that he was playing for existential stakes (his own survival in power), but he knows that he is now. His conventional forces have shown themselves to be surprisingly incapable and aren’t getting better fast enough. The impact of the war on Russia’s home front is increasing with Ukrainian strikes on Russian border towns like Belgorad. Additionally, Putin has just seen the first shots in what promises to become a drone “War-of-the-cities” like the Scud exchanges on population centers during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. Even with government control of the media it’s getting harder to convince the Russian man-in-the-street the war is going well. The recent “Wagner” mutiny led by Prigozhin with its abortive march on Moscow is another clear indicator that many of Russia’s power elite are becoming increasingly restive under Putin’s leadership.

Don’t Ask Ukraine To Lose The War For ‘Peace’

Robert Kelly

One of the most curious aspects of the Ukraine war is the steady effort by some actors to push Ukraine to negotiate the war’s end, and essentially lose.

This is bizarre. Ukraine did not start the war, and none of the countries making these entreaties would accept such an outcome for itself.

Yet just this year, the Pope, French President Emmanuel Macron, China, and a delegation of African leaders have all sought to push Ukraine toward peace talks.

The unstated assumption of each effort has been that Ukraine must submit — that it must accept Russia will permanently control Crimea or the Donbas, that Kyiv may not join NATO or the European Union, and that it should not try to fully defeat Russia on the battlefield. Last year, former U.S. diplomat Henry Kissinger made a similar suggestion.
Why Would Ukraine Agree to Lose?

The core argument behind all of these efforts is that Ukraine should accept defeat and partial dismemberment for the wider good of the world. It would benefit European stability, stabilize food prices and the global economy, and so on. But this argument often seems to mask the actors’ actual interests.

Macron wants Europe to increase its autonomy from the U.S. But the war is reinforcing U.S. primacy in European security, because Washington is the prime driver of Western aid to Ukraine. China has tied itself to Russia as a partial ally, a bet that looks worse all the time. A Russian defeat would be terrible for Chinese hopes to challenge the U.S.-led world order with Russian help. African states have seen food costs explode as the war disrupts exports.

The Ukrainians can see these parochial interests masquerading as the common good, and they have predictably rejected such overtures.

CIA director, on secret trip to Ukraine, hears plan for war’s endgame

John Hudson and Shane Harris

During a secret visit to Ukraine by CIA Director William J. Burns earlier this month, Ukrainian officials revealed an ambitious strategy to retake Russian-occupied territory and open cease-fire negotiations with Moscow by the end of the year, according to officials familiar with the visit.

The trip by Burns, which has not been previously reported, included meetings with President Volodymyr Zelensky and Ukraine’s top intelligence officials. It came at a critical moment in the conflict as Ukrainian forces struggle to gain an early advantage in their long-awaited counteroffensive but have yet to deploy most of their Western-trained and -equipped assault brigades.

“Director Burns recently traveled to Ukraine, as he has done regularly since the beginning of Russia’s recent aggression more than a year ago,” said a U.S. official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the unannounced visit.

Its purpose was to reaffirm the Biden administration’s commitment to sharing intelligence meant to help Ukraine defend itself, the official added.

Publicly, Ukrainian officials have expressed frustration with critics of the pace at which the counteroffensive has played out thus far. But in private, military planners in Kyiv have relayed to Burns and others bullish confidence in their aim to retake substantial territory by the fall; move artillery and missile systems near the boundary line of Russian-controlled Crimea; push further into eastern Ukraine; and then open negotiations with Moscow for the first time since peace talks broke down in March of last year, according to three people familiar with the planning.

“Russia will only negotiate if it feels threatened,” said a senior Ukrainian official.

Whether Ukraine can deliver on those plans, on such a truncated timeline, remains to be seen. The CIA declined to comment when asked for Burns’s assessment of the offensive’s prospects.

Burns’s trip occurred just before the aborted rebellion by Russian mercenary leader Yevgeniy Prigozhin against Russia’s defense establishment. Although the U.S. intelligence community had detected in mid-June that Prigozhin was plotting an armed assault of some kind, those findings were not discussed during the meetings with Zelensky and others, the U.S. official said.