7 July 2023

Understanding Biden’s Big Bet on India


PROVIDENCE – The unprecedented lovefest between the United States and India has been striking and, frankly, puzzling. Following the pageantry of US President Joe Biden hosting a state dinner for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and of US Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy inviting Modi to address a joint session of Congress for a second time, one wonders if America is giving away the store and getting very little in return.

After all, symbols such as these are the least of it. Among other things, the US is transferring sensitive military technology to a non-treaty partner, nudging its companies to invest in India, easing visa restrictions for Indian nationals, and desisting from publicly chastising Modi’s government for its democratic backsliding. In effect, America has drawn India into a one-sided quasi-alliance: it seems to have taken one, at most one-and-a-half, to tango. The strategic rationale, of course, is the need to counter-balance China. But what is the Indian quo for the American quid?

The former US diplomat Ashley J. Tellis believes the US is making a “bad bet,” because India will never participate in coalition warfare with the US against China unless its interests are directly threatened. In a Sino-American conflict over Taiwan, India would remain on the sidelines, despite the generosity the US has shown it. Even US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan has acknowledged this.

But India experts such as Pratap Bhanu Mehta, a former vice chancellor of Ashoka University, point out that the US will increasingly need India as its own hegemony erodes. The new axis of autocracies includes not only China, Russia, and Iran but also Saudi Arabia and even Turkey.

Faced with this geopolitical development, the US at least needs to forestall any potential cooling with India, lest it find itself more isolated. Not only is America’s adversary count rising, but its allies leave something to be desired. Europe is predictably inconsistent and ambivalent, especially when it comes to China; and though Japan and South Korea are reliable allies, their demographic decline deprives them of real heft.

India’s Statistical System: Past, Present, Future


The statistical system of a country acts as its mirror. It generates the statistics that allow observers to see how well a country is performing on key socioeconomic parameters such as per capita income, inflation, poverty, life expectancy, and average years of schooling. In most countries, a single agency or a handful of agencies produce the bulk of official statistics. The work of these and other peripheral agencies is typically regulated by a national statistical office that ensures statistical standards are in line with international norms. The statistical system provides citizens an impartial view of the state of their country’s progress. It enables policymakers and investors to make informed decisions.

India’s official statistical system, as we know it today, began taking shape during the British Raj (1858–1947). Colonial efforts to develop the statistical system were driven by an imperative to track a key market for English products; hence, trade statistics were much more well-developed compared to statistics on domestic economic production or socioeconomic development. Several official committees suggested reforms to correct the lopsided development of the official statistical system in British India, but most of their recommendations weren’t implemented.

It was only after India’s independence in 1947 that a serious effort was made to revamp India’s statistical infrastructure. The globally renowned statistician P. C. Mahalanobis led this drive and was backed by Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister. The Mahalanobis model of data collection relied largely on random sampling and inspired similar initiatives elsewhere in the developing world.

With Mahalanobis’s death in 1972, India’s statistical system lost a powerful champion who had ensured its relevance without compromising its autonomy. Other changes in the post-Mahalanobis era diminished the statistical system. Growing insularity, the lack of investments in computing resources, and the declining influence of the Planning Commission (which had earlier been a pillar of support for statisticians) eroded the statistical system’s effectiveness over time.

India as a Lender of Last Resort

Thilina Panduwawala

Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar waves to the media as he leaves with his Sri Lankan counterpart Dinesh Gunawardena after addressing a joint media briefing in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Jan. 6, 2021.Credit: AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena

In 2022, as Sri Lanka’s economy entered into its biggest crisis since independence, the emergency financing extended or facilitated by India amounted to about $4 billion. Sri Lanka used about $3.3 billion during the course of the year, especially in the tumultuous first seven months. India became Sri Lanka’s lender of last resort even as the island entered sovereign default.

A lender of last resort is the place a person, firm, financial institution, or country to which a country turns when in urgent need of funds. As the term suggests, a lender of last resort is the only chance once all other options have been exhausted. While the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is the global institution that is meant to be the lender of last resort for sovereign states, the delays in governments’ approaching the IMF and the length of the IMF’s processes can often mean that other countries or institutions need to step into provide emergency financing before IMF funding kicks in. For instance, the United States acted as a lender of last resort during Mexico’s 1994 crisis.

Sri Lankans headed into 2022 hoping for some support from both India and China in the face of mounting economic and financial woes. However, the magnitude of Indian financing – and the lack of anything in comparison from China – came as a significant surprise. In fact, Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s recent comments highlight that India perceives the significant emergency financial assistance it rendered to Sri Lanka in 2022 as a pivotal point in the expansion of its role within South Asia and the wider Indian Ocean region:

India Will Pay 70% Of Cost But Micron Will Own 100% Of Plant: A Curious Business Model – OpEd

Prabir Purkayastha

The deal with Micron during PM Modi’s visit to the United States has made headlines as a major technological breakthrough and a new dawn for India’s electronics chip-making industry. Implicit in this hurrah for the Micron deal is that India has completely missed the bus on the key technologies involved in electronic chip making.

And for those who know technology would realize that the Micron deal is only for packaging of the chips, their assembly and testing, a relatively low end of the electronics industry. It does not touch the core technologies of designing and fabrication of chips, let alone the holy grail of chip-making technology: the lithographic machines that are central to chip fabrication.

The U.S.-India ties had hit a rocky patch, with India refusing to sanction Russia or aligning with the West and G-7 on a “rule-based international order.” Where the West makes all the rules. With Prime Minister Modi and President Biden both facing what could be difficult elections soon, they both urgently needed a reset in U.S.-India ties. For India, it is getting technology for critical sectors in India and declaring a new dawn. For Biden, India is part of its derisking and long-term plan to disengage its industries and market from China.

Late as it already is, the Modi dispensation is finally beginning to understand that technology is not something that, if you have money, you can buy from the global market. It is the closely-held knowledge of companies and countries. Today, it is electronics that drive everything: from the battlefield to artificial intelligence, from your lowly washing machines to the most expensive fighter planes. In the Ukraine war, a few dollars worth of chips are at the core of cheap drones to the most expensive aircraft and missiles. In war, tanks and artillery are also integrated with missiles and drones, shaping the modern battlefield, with radar and satellites providing real-time information to those running the battles. Modern electronic chips are the “brains” of all of this equipment, just as it is in almost any industry and device.

Taiwan military holds live fire drills on strategic southern coast


FANGSHAN, Taiwan - Taiwan's military carried out live fire drills on its strategically-located southern coast on Monday, firing missiles from highly mobile armored cars to destroy targets close to shore in a simulation of repelling invading forces.

China, which views democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory, has ramped up military pressure over the past three years to try to assert its sovereignty claim, and the island's armed forces routinely practice seeing off a Chinese attack.

Camouflaged Taiwan army Humvees roared around the coastal drill area in Pingtung county's Fangshan near the far southern tip of the island, before firing off U.S.-made TOW anti-tank missiles to destroy static targets near the shoreline.

"Most of the drills we carried out today involved live artillery because the defense exercise needs to be similar to actual combat, allowing our army to be confident and have the capability to protect our homeland," Defense Ministry spokesperson Sun Li-fang told reporters.

Pingtung, which looks out on the Taiwan Strait, South China Sea, Pacific Ocean and Bashi Channel that separates Taiwan from the Philippines, is a highly strategic spot to watch Chinese military activity, and a potential landing site in an invasion.

Taiwan holds its most important drills, the annual Han Kuang exercises, at the end of this month, with a focus on combating a blockade and preserving the fighting ability of its forces.

Those drills are expected to see air force jets operating at civilian airports, including the island's main international airport at Taoyuan, to practice using their facilities in case air bases are rendered unusable in a war.

China practised precision strikes and blockading the island in drills around it in April after Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen met U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy in Los Angeles.

China to restrict exports of chipmaking materials as US mulls new curbs

BEIJING, July 3 (Reuters) - China will control exports of some metals widely used in the semiconductor industry, its commerce ministry announced on Monday, the latest salvo in an escalating war over access to high-tech microchips between Beijing and the United States.

The controls, which China said were aimed at protecting national security and interests, will require exporters to seek permission to ship some gallium and germanium products.

The move to manage exports of the rare elements that Beijing classifies as strategic, comes as Washington mulls new restrictions on the shipment of high-tech microchips to China, according to media reports.

The United States and the Netherlands are also set to deliver a one-two punch to China's chipmakers this summer by further restricting sales of chipmaking equipment, part of efforts to prevent their technology from being used to strengthen China's military.

China's controls, to take effect from August 1, will apply to eight gallium-related products: gallium antimonide, gallium arsenide, gallium metal, gallium nitride, gallium oxide, gallium phosphide, gallium selenide and indium gallium arsenide.

They will also apply to six germanium products: germanium dioxide, germanium epitaxial growth substrate, germanium ingot, germanium metal, germanium tetrachloride and zinc germanium phosphide.

Exporters will need to go through procedures to obtain export licences, China's commerce ministry said in a statement.

Anyone exporting these products without permission and those who export in excess of the permitted volumes will be punished, it said.

China’s military won’t talk to the US ー so what?


US officials keep asking China for mil-to-mil communications. But the Chinese military knows, if you want to make Americans uncomfortable, don’t talk to them.

During his recent visit to China, Secretary of State Antony Blinken repeatedly asked his hosts to set up a military-to-military crisis communications hotline. The Chinese declined.

USINDOPACOM commander Admiral John Aquilino complained earlier this year that the Chinese were ignoring his requests to establish direct communications channels with the Chinese military People’s Liberation Army (PLA) regional commands.

And Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was rebuffed when he sought a meeting with China’s Defense Minister Li Shangfu during the Shangri-La Dialogue in June.

Top United States civilian and military officials may be fretting. But they might better worry about having too few Navy ships and submarines or stocks of anti-ship cruise missiles instead of having their Chinese counterparts on speed dial.

China Knows How to Contact US Forces

The US military has been jousting with the Chinese military in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait for a number of years. And it’s a stroke of good luck nobody has gotten hurt or killed.

How critical is it to have designated communication lines with the PLA? It doesn’t matter that much. The PLA also knows how to get in touch with the United States military in the area if it wants to.

China Isn’t Losing Sleep Over ChatGPT

Micah Musser

During a hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services last month, Senator Mike Rounds mentioned that many prominent AI experts had just called for a six-month pause on “giant” AI experiments, largely in reaction to the announcement of GPT-4 (the current basis for ChatGPT). But Rounds had drawn a different conclusion.

“A greater risk is taking a pause while our near-peer competitors leap ahead of us in this field,” he said. “AI will be the determining factor in all future great power competition and I don’t believe that now is the time for the United States to take a break in developing our AI capabilities.”

Rounds isn’t the only person who has reached this conclusion. Ever since the meteoric rise of the new chatbot, this “AI race” frame has become increasingly common. And almost universally, China is seen as the United States’ lead competitor in the “race.”

But this narrative is wrong. It’s wrong not simply because China has a poor hope of leapfrogging the United States in the field of generative AI (though that’s true), but more importantly, because China isn’t particularly interested in leapfrogging the U.S. to begin with.

Let’s start with the immediate reaction to ChatGPT. It is true that a number of Chinese companies rushed to deploy similar products – though their actual performance has been disappointing, and their use cases sharply restricted. But at the same time, the Chinese government rapidly issued warnings about excessive hype around the technology and initiated new regulations that make it far more legally fraught to deploy similar AI systems.

Even before ChatGPT was announced, the Biden administration was making moves that could constrain China’s ability to create similar models by restricting the export of high-end computing hardware to China. According to outside experts, part of the rationale for this policy was likely that cutting-edge AI methods – in particular, the field of language modeling, which includes models like ChatGPT – are heavily dependent on advanced computing hardware.

Small Powers Caught In The US–China Chips Competition – Analysis

John Edwards

There was a time when government spending to support particular industries was widely deplored as wasteful interference in free markets. No longer. China, the United States and the European Union have vastly increased government subsidies to industries, frequently supporting the development of advanced technologies. These subsidies are sometimes complemented by policies designed to deny technological innovations to competitor economies.

A report by Global Trade Alert reveals that the three economic superpowers introduced 18,000 industry subsidy programs in the years following the 2008 financial crisis, roughly split evenly. Now in the order of US$361 billion a year, the industry subsidy programs of the big three are collectively bigger than the GDP of four-fifths of the world’s nations. As the international institutions argued, these huge programs pose a particular problem for smaller economies, which cannot begin to match them.

In contrast to earlier protectionist programs for import-competing domestic industries, today’s subsidies are more likely to support industries focused on a global market — particularly high-technology businesses.

Increasingly, subsidy programs are entangled in national security concerns, often justified by a declared requirement to maintain a lead against rival countries or achieve independence from them in new technologies.

While WTO agreements discipline certain subsidies where a harmful effect on competitors can be demonstrated, the new subsidies are often beyond the reach of international agreements.

The most expensive and spectacular example of the new subsidies is the intense battle between the United States and China over advanced chips. Beijing has long been determined to catch up in chip technology, while Washington strives to stay ahead. Both China and the United States now lavishly support the development and production of advanced chips, though neither produces leading-edge chips on their own territory in commercial quantities.

Peak China, A Declining USA And The Future Of Africa – Analysis

Jakkie Cilliers

Indices to measure soft, hard and smart power are back in vogue to the extent that the Economistmagazine devoted two recent editions to its forecasts of China’s power potential (finding that it will shortly peak) and that of the United States (which it argued would remain globally dominant).

At the Institute for Security Studies’ African Futures and Innovation programme, we come to somewhat different conclusions using the integrated International Futures forecasting platform (IFs). Using IFs, we recently published a set of global forecasts on how events in the rest of the world could unfold and the impact on Africa two decades into the future. We discussed these alternative scenarios at SIPRI’s 2023 Stockholm Forum on Peace and Development.

Again, Africa has become an area of competition, this time primarily between China and the West, with important implications for the continent’s development potential given the dire impact of superpower competition previously. Russian destabilization also affects Africans through the activities of the Wagner Group and election interference, among others. A long-term view is, however, that its war on Ukraine will inevitably diminish Russia’s status globally, including its role in Africa.

Instead of the dramatic reductions in Chinese growth in the years ahead and a future of parity in economic size between China and the USA, we foresee the Chinese economy overtaking the USA’s in size within about a decade. By the early 2040s, China will surpass the USA in hard power potential. At that point, China will be the single most powerful country in the world. This delay between becoming the largest kid on the block and the strongest kid is down to the considerable time it will take China to match the stock of historical investments the USA has made in its military and to displace the dollar as the global reserve currency.

China uses laser for 10 times faster satellite-to-ground communication in major breakthrough

Zhang Tong

An image of Doha, the capital of Qatar, transmitted by China’s Jilin-1 MF02A04 satellite, part of a 108-strong constellation. Photo: Aerospace Information Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences

China has successfully deployed laser-based high-speed communication technology on commercial satellites, increasing space-to-ground data transfer speed tenfold to 10 gigabytes per second (Gbps).

“Using a ground-based 500mm (19.7 inches) aperture, researchers received laser signals emitted from a transmitter on the Jilin-1 MF02A04 satellite,” the official Science and Technology Daily reported earlier this week.

The 108-strong Jilin-1 constellation in lower Earth orbit is the world’s largest imaging satellite network, and sends back commercial remote sensing data for sectors including land resource survey, urban planning and disaster monitoring. The latest breakthrough is forecast to significantly enhance ground communication with the satellites.

Traditionally, satellite-to-ground links have primarily relied on microwave technology. However, as the range of microwave frequencies is restricted, so is the speed of data transfer.

Lasers, by contrast, have a much wider spectrum. Therefore, using lasers as data carriers can help pack more data into each transmission, with the bandwidth potentially reaching several hundred gigahertz.

A team from the Aerospace Information Research Institute (AIR), under the country’s premier research institute – the Chinese Academy of Sciences – set up a satellite-to-ground link using lasers, for what is formally known as “optical communication”.

Their system, sent into orbit with the Jilin-1 MF02A04 in December, was successfully tested on Wednesday, opening the doors to more efficient data exchange.

Li Yalin, the leader of the ground system at AIR, compared the technology to city roads.

What the U.S. Military Still Hasn’t Learned From Iraq

Isaiah Wilson III

By the summer of 2003, it had become clear to even its most ardent proponents that the U.S. invasion of Iraq had, at the very least, not gone as planned. After Washington disbanded the Iraqi military at the end of May, hundreds of thousands of armed men began protesting across the country. Fighters began regularly attacking U.S. and allied soldiers, prompting the American military to spend June carrying out a series of operations to find and kill armed groups. As the weeks went by, these groups began carrying out even bigger and bolder attacks. In August, they bombed the Canal Hotel, killing the UN special envoy to Iraq.

That, of course, was just the beginning. Twenty years later, it is clear that in the post–Cold War era no conflict has been more consequential to the U.S. military than the war in Iraq. The U.S. military spent nearly $2 trillion deposing Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and fighting the insurgencies that arose in his wake. The United States lost 4,000 soldiers in combat, and it has spent more than $200 billion caring for those who were permanently injured. The United States still has troops in Iraq, and so these costs continue to mount. Approximately four million Americans fought in the war, people who spent the formative years of their lives battling for control of a country more than 6,000 miles from where they grew up.

It is now obvious that the war was a strategic disaster. Despite its investment in Baghdad, the United States ultimately created a fragile state with deep ties to Iran—one of Washington’s main antagonists. All over the world, the invasion engendered tremendous ill will toward the United States. It gave birth to new terrorist groups, including the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). And it ended Washington’s moment of unquestioned dominance, illustrating that even the world’s most powerful country could not get away with whatever it wanted.

These sweeping failures have been endlessly dissected by journalists, academics, and politicians. But 20 years later, as it continues to reflect on the invasion, the United States must think about more than just how its overarching plans failed, or where its intelligence was wrong. It must also consider how the military—despite its many resources and great sophistication—could not create lasting peace in Iraq.

Russia’s toxic military politics


No group in history has posed as many dangers as soldiers who feel abandoned by their leaders. Whether they are conscripts, volunteers or mercenaries, officers or rank-and-file, the men who fought for a cause that later became reviled as failed or wrong are neglected at great peril. History is littered with examples of rogue militias, mutinous guard regiments and brigades-turned-brigands, who have escaped their leash and gone on to wreak havoc and commit worse crimes than their creators ever imagined.

A product of Russia’s mafioso imperium, neither fully of the state nor a market mercenary, the Wagner Group threatens to become our latest example. But in the contest between Vladimir Putin and Yevgeny Prigozhin, there is are clear winners — aggrieved frontline soldiers who demanded better conditions, and their non-commissioned officers (NCOs) who nurse a cult of militarist ultra-nationalism mixed with toxic masculinity. The two men were competing for the allegiances of these soldiers.

Indeed, commentaries on the Wagner Group mutiny against the Russian high command have focused on what it tells us about Putin’s political frailty and the balance of forces in Ukraine. Few have fastened onto the point that Prigozhin channelled the anger of neglected soldiers, and Putin neutralised him by appeasing their grievances.

As it turned out, Prigozhin’s appeal didn’t ignite a wider mutiny and Putin’s counter-offer was better on the day, but the bidding isn’t over. Russia’s soldiers — in the regular army and in the half-dozen private military companies — have tasted power and will be asking for more. Whether they will settle for a material payoff, or whether their demands will be overtly political, remains to be seen. Probably it will be both.

Like forgotten soldiers throughout history, Wagner’s grievances are easy to understand. Shared experience of combat generates heightened emotions and deep bonds of solidarity. Low wages paid late, poor rations, worse sanitation and medical care, are the topic of resentful gossip during the interminable hours of boredom, alongside stories of generals who care only for their own comforts. When the war is over, their skills are no longer in demand. All of this breeds feelings of collective victimhood. Bitter veterans often despise civilian political leaders; they are commonly misogynistic and conspiracy-minded. Theirs is an infectious sentiment that can be eagerly adopted by other men who missed out on the war and crave to join the club.

Russia destroyed all Leopard tanks supplied to Ukraine by Poland, Portugal: Shoigu

Tuqa Khalid

Russian forces destroyed 16 German-made Leopard tanks or actually 100 percent of the tanks supplied to Kyiv by Poland and Portugal, Russia’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu claimed on Monday.

“In the south Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk directions alone where Ukrainian armed formations are undertaking unsuccessful attacks, the groupings of Russian forces destroyed 15 aircraft, three helicopters and 920 pieces of armor, including 16 Leopard tanks. This is actually 100 percent of the tanks of this type supplied by Poland and Portugal,” Shoigu said as cited by state news agency TASS.

He added: “The Russian armed forces continue effectively inflicting damage on the enemy by firepower, which considerably diminishes its offensive potential.”

Poland had said in March it delivered an additional 10 German-made Leopard 2A4 tanks to Ukraine after four were delivered earlier in February. Also in March, Portugal said three German-made Leopard 2A4 tanks were delivered to Ukraine.

In June, Ukraine requested more Leopard tanks from Germany to help its ground forces in the counter-offensive battles against Russian forces, after Moscow said it had destroyed at least a dozen of Kyiv’s tanks.

Later that month, Denmark and the Netherlands purchased 14 Leopard tanks for Ukraine expected to be delivered in January 2024.

Analyst sheds light on Ukraine and challenges in OSINT

George Allison

The recent episode of the OSINT Bunker Podcast revealed key insights about the current state of the Ukraine war and the future of open-source intelligence (OSINT).

In their latest episode, the panel discuss the Russian Wagner PMC march towards Moscow and the possible fall-out of that incident, the ongoing fighting in Ukraine and the Oryx Team’s OSINT work tracking equipment losses on both sides in the conflict.

The panel includes @DefenceGeek, @geoallison and @AnAustinThing2 with a guest appearance from Jakub Janovsky of the Oryx Project (@Rebel44CZ)

In this podcast episode, Jakub Janovsky, a member of the Oryx project, joins the hosts to discuss the conflict in Ukraine.

The Oryx project, which Jakub mentions is “planning to document Ukrainian and Russian losses until the end of the war,” and that they “don’t intend to continue the Oryx blog,” due to the workload and “the reality of burnout,” is a massive open-source intelligence (OSINT) effort that analyzed military equipment losses during conflicts, with a focus on the Ukraine war.

Jakub gives insights into the situation on the ground in Ukraine, highlighting that “Ukraine has a chance to break the stalemate, but it will be slow and bloody.” He believes it’s unlikely that all occupied Ukrainian territory will be liberated by force in the near term, with progress dependent on “how much further support the West is willing to provide.”

Jakub and the hosts discuss an interesting new trend they’ve observed: older, less effective military equipment being converted into vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs).

Jakub notes, “We’ve seen a lot of T-55 tanks, very old Soviet equipment, being converted into VBIEDs.” This trend may reflect “the condition of these vehicles and lack of immediate prospects for repair,” or the simple fact that repairing or maintaining old equipment can be logistically challenging, particularly for equipment like the Soviet-era T-55 tanks, which were last manufactured in the 1970s.

With an eye on Ukraine, head of British Army says ‘mass is still indispensable’


BELFAST — The British Army’s most senior leader has hailed the need for combat mass as one of the major lessons to be drawn from the Ukraine war and strongly advised against any further cuts to UK land capabilities.

Gen. Patrick Sanders, British Army Chief of the General Staff, said that the war has shown “mass is still indispensable” and called those that argue for the service to receive reduced funding, based on the geography of the UK, “wrong.”

He also said that the UK would need greater capacity itself and should not “simply hide behind the armies of other NATO contributors” — comments that come amid a wider debate over the British Army’s ability to independently carry out high intensity warfare campaigns at scale.

Making the remarks at the Royal United Services Institute’s (RUSI) Land Warfare Conference on Monday, Sanders, however, also cautioned against taking other insights from the fight in Ukraine too far.

“We should treat many of these lessons with caution; one wonders what shape we would be in if, in the first few days after the Russian invasion, we had sold off our armor to invest in [Turkish made Bayraktar] TB2 or one-way attack drones,” he said.

Capability In Question, But Sanders Awaits Transformative Modernization

The question of UK land capability credibility rose to the surface recently when reports emerged that Germany was asked by NATO to consider an assessment into whether it could take control of the alliance’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF] for an additional year — beginning in 2024 — undoing an original plan for the UK to lead the mission. The UK Ministry of Defence has since denied the reports and said it is committed to undertake the VJTF role from January 2024.

Is The U.S. Military Losing Its Stealth Fighter Edge?

Kris Osborn

China has started to assemble a force of stealthy, heavily armed fifth-generation fighter aircraft such as the J-20 and the carrier-launched J-31. The emergence of these aircraft raises the critical question of how the Chinese force would perform against the U.S. Air Force’s world-leading fifth-generation aircraft, the F-22 and F-35.

Much remains unknown about the performance parameters of China’s new aircraft. There is widespread concern, however, that both the J-20’s and J-31’s external configurations appear to be straightforward copies of American fifth-generation stealth technology. Reports from Congress, the Pentagon, and the media highlight the obvious similarities between Chinese and U.S. fifth-generation aircraft.

The People’s Liberation Army Air Force has already produced a fleet of J-20s and has announced plans for many more. The carrier-launched J-31 seems to be at a much earlier stage in its development. These aircraft are technically newer than the F-22 and F-35, and they do appear to replicate some design specs, but it is far from clear whether Chinese aircraft can rival the computing, sensing, weapons delivery, or networking capabilities of the F-35 and F-22.

China’s J-20 and J-31 Stealth Fighters

Certainly the J-20 and J-31 are an attempt by a great power rival to match or even outperform the F-35. To do so, a rival aircraft would need to display a handful of specific attributes. Perhaps first among these is the simple existence of three F-35 variants. At the moment, it does not appear that any rival nation operates an F-35B-like vertical take-off and landing fifth-generation aircraft able to operate from smaller-deck amphibious assault ships. Nor is it clear any rival nation operates a carrier-launched F-35C equivalent. The Chinese are of course engineering the J-31 for carrier-launch operations, but we do not know how far along this aircraft is.

Beyond mere configuration, there is a number of key technological attributes Chinese offerings might be challenged to replicate, such as sensor range and fidelity, AI-enabled computing, threat library mission data files, flight automation, weapons envelope, manned-unmanned teaming and fleet-wide data link networking.

Russia says Ukraine attacked Moscow with at least five drones

Guy Faulconbridge and Lidia Kelly

MOSCOW, July 4 (Reuters) - Russia said on Tuesday that Ukraine had attacked Moscow with at least five drones that were all either shot down or jammed, though one of the capital's main airports had to reroute flights for several hours.

Four Ukrainian drones were shot down by Moscow air defences while a fifth was jammed and crashed into the Odintsovo district of the Moscow region, the Russian defence ministry said. No one was injured.

Russian news agencies reported that two drones were intercepted near a village 30 km (19 miles) southwest of the Kremlin. One drone was detected in the neighbouring Kaluga region.

Landings and takeoffs at Moscow's Vnukovo were restricted for several hours early on Tuesday before normal operations resumed after 0500 GMT. A number of flights from Russia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt were diverted.

One drone was shot down in the area of the town of Kubinka, some 63 km (40 miles) west of Moscow, RIA reported. A Russian air base is near Kubinka.

Russia's foreign and defence ministries denounced the attack as terrorism.

"The Kyiv regime's attempt to attack an area where civilian infrastructure is located, including the airport, which incidentally also receives foreign flights, is yet another act of terrorism," said foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

"The international community should realise that the United States, Britain, France - permanent members of the UN Security Council - are financing a terrorist regime," she said.

There was no immediate comment from Kyiv. Ukraine almost never publicly claims responsibility for attacks inside Russia or on Russian-controlled territory in Ukraine.

Grand Strategy is What States Make of It: #Reviewing Wars of Revelation

Christi Siver

Reconsideration of U.S. grand strategy is critical in the context of the ongoing war in Ukraine alongside rising tensions with China. Rebecca Lissner’s Wars of Revelation makes a compelling argument that past U.S. military interventions have played an important role in shaping U.S. grand strategy. Grand strategy is a broad concept encompassing both threats to national security and possible responses. Drawing on extensive archival research, she examines events around the U.S. interventions in Korea, Vietnam, and Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait and argues past wars are formative in that they reveal foreign policy objectives, the ability to apply military power, the capabilities of militaries of certain profiles, and the relative will of polities to achieve their aims.[1] Wars of Revelation provides a rich description of the information gained through military intervention but lacks a generalizable explanation of how actors use that information to change U.S. grand strategy.


Lissner begins at the outset of the Cold War in Korea, concluding the Korean War reframed the threat posed by Communism in the minds of American policymakers.[2] Rather than major wars between the great powers, the more likely threats were smaller, low-intensity conflicts.[3] This persuaded President Truman to reassess U.S. reliance on nuclear weapons as a deterrent. The uneven performance of U.S. forces also provided information about the limits of the military’s capabilities and led to an inward reassessment, elevating the importance of conventional means suitable for conducting limited war.[4] Lissner provides archival evidence that construction and support for overseas military bases increased in response to the Korean war.

According to Lissner, the U.S. engagement in Vietnam, on the other hand, demonstrated the United States had perhaps overestimated the threat from communist forces. U.S. policymakers had committed themselves to repelling any Communist advance in the region, embracing the so-called Domino Theory.[5]

To decouple or to de-risk – that is the question


As often happens in diplomacy, the communique the G7 leaders issued in May from their meeting in Hiroshima ducked a key question: What is the difference between “de-risking,” which the communique expressed approval of, and “decoupling,” which it disapproved?

The G7 statement didn’t define those terms. It didn’t even mention that the foremost object of both decoupling and de-risking is China. That’s diplomacy for you.

The leaders of the seven countries (the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Germany, France and Italy) simply said they were coordinating their approaches to economic resilience and economic security “based on diversifying partnerships and de-risking, not decoupling.”

As often happens in diplomacy, the vagueness was intentional. It conveniently papered over differences between the US and some of its allies. “Economic resiliency” and “economic security” are diplo-speak for avoiding overreliance on China (and to some extent Russia) for key products and avoiding supplying those countries with strategically sensitive technologies.

On the surface, decoupling (the trendy word until recently) implies taking separation from China further than de-risking (the European Commission president’s word). De-risking suggests diversifying, ending exclusive reliance on China, rather than withdrawal.

In practice, though, much of the decoupling to date has also been diversification. For communique purposes, the difference between decoupling and de-risking is semantics. That’s why the US could agree to the communique even though there are real differences between the US and its allies in their concerns about reliance on China.

Wagner Mutiny Puts Russia’s Military Bloggers on a Razor’s Edge

THE MOURNERS CARRIED armfuls of red roses. There was a military gun salute. Hundreds of people crowded to watch the coffin be lowered into the ground. This wasn’t the funeral of a celebrity or a government official. This was the send-off for Vladlen Tatarsky, a Russian nationalist Telegram blogger who was killed in April in a mysterious bomb blast in a St. Petersburg café.

Tatarsky’s funeral was emblematic of the influence that Russia’s nationalist bloggers have accrued during the war in Ukraine. Known as the voenkory, or military correspondents, they have stepped in to fill the information vacuum left by the government around what’s actually happening on the front lines. Many have accumulated giant followings, overseeing teams of people posting footage of the war. Pro-Russian Ukrainian blogger Yuri Podolyaka’s Telegram channel has 2.8 million followers. Former TV journalist Semyon Pegov, who posts as WarGonzo, has 1.3 million. Rybar, an account run by a former military Arabic translator named Mikhail Zvinchuk, has 1.2 million.

That influence means many people in Russia turned to Telegram when Yevgeny Prigozhin, longtime Putin ally and chief of mercenary group Wagner, launched an abortive march on Moscow on June 23 in a challenge to Russia's defense minister Sergei Shiogu. But instead of receiving their usual stream of updates, the pro-war group of Telegram bloggers havered.

“The reaction across the war blogger community was very, very cautious,” says Eto Buziashvili, a research associate at the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab. “They were searching for a side to take that would be beneficial for them.”


James Risen

Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin addresses his units withdrawing from Bakhmut, the city captured from the Ukrainian Armed Forces. May 25, 2023, Bakhmut, Ukraine.

ONE OF THE most subversive things that Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin did during his brief rebellion last weekend was to tell the truth.

Prigozhin is a pathological liar, a professional disinformation artist who was indicted in the United States in connection with the internet troll farm he ran, which was at the forefront of Russian efforts to intervene in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to help Donald Trump win.

But as the mercenary boss began his mutiny in late June, he experienced a brief and surprising bout of honesty when he launched into an online tirade against what he said were the lies used by Moscow to justify the brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine. His comments were so candid and off-message for a Russian leader that it seemed as if someone had mistakenly handed him a speech meant for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The invasion was nothing more than a massive land grab by the Russian oligarchy, Prigozhin charged, designed to enrich the country’s powerful elites while poor Russians served as cannon fodder. Russian claims that a Nazi regime in Ukraine, backed by NATO, was about to attack Russia were lies, Prigozhin said. The war was started by the Russian oligarchy to benefit themselves and gain power. In his rant, Prigozhin did not criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin by name, focusing instead on the broader Russian elite, and specifically on his personal enemy Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

“The Ministry of Defense is trying to deceive the public and the president and spin the story that there were insane levels of aggression from the Ukrainian side and that they were going to attack us together with the whole NATO bloc,” Prigozhin said on his Telegram channel on June 23. The truth, he said, was that “there was nothing extraordinary happening on the eve of February 24,” the day last year when Russian invaded. Ukraine was not planning any kind of attack against Russia, he added.

How will AI change work? A look back at the ‘productivity paradox’ of the computer age shows it won’t be so simple


The explosion of interest in artificial intelligence has drawn attention not only to the astonishing capacity of algorithms to mimic humans but to the reality that these algorithms could displace many humans in their jobs. The economic and societal consequences could be nothing short of dramatic.

The route to this economic transformation is through the workplace. A widely circulated Goldman Sachs study anticipates that about two-thirds of current occupations over the next decade could be affected and a quarter to a half of the work people do now could be taken over by an algorithm. Up to 300 million jobs worldwide could be affected. The consulting firm McKinsey released its own study predicting an AI-powered boost of $4.4 trillion to the global economy every year.

The implications of such gigantic numbers are sobering, but how reliable are these predictions?

I lead a research program called Digital Planet that studies the impact of digital technologies on lives and livelihoods around the world and how this impact changes over time. A look at how previous waves of such digital technologies as personal computers and the internet affected workers offers some insight into AI’s potential impact in the years to come. But if the history of the future of work is any guide, we should be prepared for some surprises.
The IT revolution and the productivity paradox

A key metric for tracking the consequences of technology on the economy is growth in worker productivity – defined as how much output of work an employee can generate per hour. This seemingly dry statistic matters to every working individual, because it ties directly to how much a worker can expect to earn for every hour of work. Said another way, higher productivity is expected to lead to higher wages.

Generative AI products are capable of producing written, graphic and audio content or software programs with minimal human involvement. Professions such as advertising, entertainment and creative and analytical work could be among the first to feel the effects. Individuals in those fields may worry that companies will use generative AI to do jobs they once did, but economists see great potential to boost productivity of the workforce as a whole.

10 Best Open-Source Deep Learning Tools to Know in 2023

Nitesh Kumar

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and deep learning have emerged as transformative technologies, revolutionized various industries, and unlocked new possibilities. As the demand for deep learning solutions grows, open-source tools have played a pivotal role in democratizing access to these powerful technologies. In this article, we present the top 10 open-source deep learning tools that are poised to make a significant impact in 2023. These tools provide developers and researchers with the means to harness the potential of deep learning and push the boundaries of AI innovation.


TensorFlow is a widely-used open-source deep learning framework developed by Google Brain. Known for its flexibility and scalability, TensorFlow supports various applications, from image and speech recognition to natural language processing. Its ecosystem includes TensorFlow 2.0, TensorFlow.js, and TensorFlow Lite, making it a versatile tool for developing and deploying deep learning models.


PyTorch, developed by Facebook’s AI Research lab, is a popular open-source deep learning library. It provides a dynamic computational graph that enables intuitive model development and efficient experimentation. PyTorch’s user-friendly interface, extensive community support, and seamless integration with Python have contributed to its rapid adoption among researchers and developers.


How to Use Google Bard to Find Images Faster

AI TOOLS ARE here to stay, helping us search the web or decide what to wear, improve visual effects in movies, land a better job, and more. As time goes on, these tools will of course get smarter and bolt on more functions—such as being able to scour the web for images.

That's a feature that just got added to the ChatGPT rival Google Bard. You can ask for pictures directly, as you might already do in a standard Google web search, and you can also get pictures in line with your text.

In its updates log, Google says that images can “bring concepts to life, make recommendations more persuasive and enhance responses when you ask for visual information.” In other words, it can add a little more oomph to the text produced by Bard, whether it's explaining scientific concepts or recommending restaurants.

At the time of writing, producing pictures isn't something ChatGPT is able to do—the OpenAI bot is completely text-based, though it can display text in a variety of formats, including tables.
Images Appear in Answers

For the moment at least, there's no toggle switch to turn images on or off in the regular results that Bard produces when you ask it a question: The bot will simply include pictures if it thinks they'll be helpful.

Some of the searches we've run that have come with pictures attached are for bar recommendations, an explanation of how optical illusions work, and a query about the first working aircraft.