9 July 2023

China-India Border Escalations: A Triangular Explanation

Ghulam Ali

In this Sept. 9, 2020, file photo, an Indian army convoy moves on the Srinagar- Ladakh highway at Gagangeer, northeast of Srinagar, Indian-controlled Kashmir.Credit: AP Photo/ Dar Yasin, File

The number of Sino-Indian border escalations in the past decade has outnumbered those that occurred in the five decades after the 1962 border war. These recent escalations shattered the stability that both sides had achieved through agreements signed in 1993, 1996, and 2005.

The unresolved border disputes, the rise of nationalist leaders in both countries, and the impact of international politics have all contributed to the tensions. These three factors did not operate simultaneously in the past, but have interplayed and reinforced each other in the recent period.

Territorial Disputes

History informs us that more wars break out over contested territories than for political, ideological, or economic reasons. China and India inherited the world’s longest unmarked border. The strategic significance of the disputed border, the animosity that they developed over decades, militarization, and resultant nationalism together compound the border issues.

Meanwhile, other factors help incentivize escalation. These include the strategic value of the disputed territories, prior military confrontations between the contenders, incompatible regimes in the disputant countries (as different regime types pursue different objectives during negotiations), a perception that others’ actions will change the status quo, and the breakdown of established norms as happened after the Galwan incident.

While these conditions have the potential for conflict, escalation is not automatic. The escalations were triggered by the policies of new nationalist leaders in both countries and the impact of international politics.

Role of Leaders

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.

ISIS Targets China And Pakistan In Afghanistan: A Growing Threat – OpEd

Dr. Sahibzada Muhammad Usman

In recent years, the Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K) has emerged as a significant threat in Afghanistan. Since the Taliban’s takeover of the country, ISIS-K has been escalating its attacks, particularly targeting high-profile locations, symbols, and Shia Muslim minorities. However, there is also evidence to suggest that ISIS-K has turned its attention towards China and Pakistan, posing a new challenge in the region.

ISIS-K has intensified its attacks in Afghanistan, capitalizing on the vulnerabilities resulting from the Taliban’s reestablishment of control. The group has targeted urban areas, carrying out attacks on civilians, high-profile targets, and even the Taliban itself. Employing strategies such as sectarianism and attacking crowded public spaces, ISIS-K aims to create instability and sow fear among the populace.

ISIS-K have different reasons to target China’s interests in Afghanistan. Despite the Taliban’s assurances of security for Chinese nationals, militant attacks continue to pose a significant risk. China’s economic presence in Afghanistan, although limited, makes it a potential target for ISIS-K’s attacks. The targeting of Chinese nationals and facilities by terrorist organizations poses security risks to Chinese investments in Afghanistan and Pakistan. These risks have the potential to deter further Chinese economic engagement in the region. The safety and protection of Chinese personnel and infrastructure become paramount for sustaining economic activities. The targeting of Chinese projects, such as the CPEC, can disrupt the implementation and progress of critical infrastructural initiatives. Attacks and security threats may lead to delays, increased costs, and decreased investor confidence, negatively impacting economic development and regional connectivity.

The permissive environment in Afghanistan has facilitated cooperation between ISIS-K and groups like the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP). There are reports of potential cooperation between ISIS-K and TIP in issuing propaganda, exchanging personnel, planning joint attacks, and purchasing weapons. This collaboration raises security concerns for China, as ISIS-K increasingly targets Chinese citizens and expresses interest in liberating Uyghurs.

Balancing Security, Trade, and Technology in Asia

Claude Barfield

Unlike its major Asian security partners—Australia, Japan, and South Korea—the US has no trade connection to the two major mega-regional Asian trade pacts. In the future, this failure could have important impacts on the ability to obtain key technology, materials, and components, including critical minerals for EV batteries and specialized chemicals for semiconductor production.Via Adobe Open Commons

On June 2, the 15-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) came fully into force after ratification earlier by the Philippines. Though RCEP is a relatively shallow liberalization agreement, it will, along with the other important “mega regional” Asian agreement, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) substantially augment shifting trade patterns throughout East Asia. The diverse members include Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and most of the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)—Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Singapore.

The pact represents some 30 percent of world GDP, and also of world population. Given the diversity of membership, RCEP represents no immediate leap into liberalization. Only 65 percent of tariffs will go to zero immediately, with the number rising to 90 percent over twenty years. On services, seven of the members agreed to a so-called negative list, that is service sectors open unless explicitly excepted; but eight members opted for a positive list, with only those explicitly listed are liberalized. For both goods and services, a number of special exceptions are included. RCEP members also agreed to a liberal set of rules of origin, that is, rules that govern what percentage of components of a final product must be produced with RCEP to qualify for tariff concessions or other benefits. Special exemptions are also included for the least-developed nations such as Laos and Cambodia. In some key areas such as intellectual property and e-commerce there is no provision for dispute settlement.

So with all the limitations, why is RCEP potentially a significant milestone? The answer comes from the increased legal and administrative certainty assured by the agreement. Clearly defined tariff rates and flexible rules of origin allow companies—particularly small businesses—to navigate complex supply chins that span the fastest growing manufacturing region in the world. Assuming a concomitant reduction in trade friction, the World Bank estimates that trade between RCEP economies could increase by 12 percent by 2035.

What exactly is the Global South?


The unwillingness of many leading countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America to stand with NATO over the war in Ukraine has brought to the fore once again the term “Global South.”

“Why does so much of the Global South support Russia?” inquired one recent headline; “Ukraine courts ‘Global South’ in push to challenge Russia,” declared another.

But what is meant by that term, and why has it gained currency in recent years?

The Global South refers to various countries around the world that are sometimes described as “developing,” “less developed” or “underdeveloped.” Many of these countries – although by no means all – are in the Southern Hemisphere, largely in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

In general, they are poorer, have higher levels of income inequality and suffer lower life expectancy and harsher living conditions than countries in the “Global North” – that is, richer nations that are located mostly in North America and Europe, with some additions in Oceania and elsewhere.

Going beyond the ‘Third World’

The term Global South appears to have been first used in 1969 by political activist Carl Oglesby. Writing in the liberal Catholic magazine Commonweal, Oglesby argued that the war in Vietnam was the culmination of a history of northern “dominance over the global south.”

But it was only after the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union – which marked the end of the so-called “Second World” – that the term gained momentum.

China’s military is leading the world in brain ‘neurostrike’ weapons: Report

Tom Basile, Tim Murtaugh

China‘s People’s Liberation Army is developing high-technology weapons designed to disrupt brain functions and influence government leaders or entire populations, according to a report by three open-source intelligence analysts.

The weapons can be used to directly attack or control brains using microwave or other directed energy weapons in handheld guns or larger weapons firing electromagnetic beams, adding that the danger of China‘s brain warfare weapons prior to or during a conflict is no longer theoretical.

“Unknown to many, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have established themselves as world leaders in the development of neurostrike weapons,” according to the 12-page report, “Enumerating, Targeting and Collapsing the Chinese Communist Party’s Neurostrike Program.” A copy of the study was obtained by The Washington Times.

The U.S. Commerce Department in December 2021 imposed sanctions on China‘s Academy of Military Medical Sciences and 11 related entities the department said were using “biotechnology processes to support Chinese military end-uses and end-users, to include purported brain-control weaponry.”

Few public studies or discussion, however, have been held regarding the new advanced military capability.

Will AUKUS Pay Major Dividends in a Taiwan Contingency?

Rupert Schulenburg

In March this year, the trilateral security partnership between Australia, the UK, and the U.S., known as AUKUS, unveiled its phased plan to provide Australia with nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs). This will involve the U.S. selling Australia Virginia-class SSNs in the early 2030s, followed by a new class, the SSN-AUKUS, being built for Australia in the late 2030s.

An important detail, however, remains unclear. In a Taiwan contingency, which of China’s forces would Australia be prepared to target with its SSNs?

While China has not been directly mentioned in AUKUS announcements, it is the clear target of the partnership’s declared aim to “strengthen deterrence and bolster stability in the Indo-Pacific." In Washington, there is growing concern that deterrence is eroding across the Taiwan Strait and that China may soon be confident enough to invade Taiwan. To bolster deterrence, the Biden administration has attempted to signal to China that there could be a combined allied defense to preserve the status quo; a strategy that could perhaps be termed ‘collective strategic ambiguity’. The administration has released a number of joint statements with numerous U.S. allies, including Australia, in which they reaffirm the importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and their shared opposition to unilateral changes to the status quo. That said, Australia has been non-committal as to whether it would actually help defend Taiwan.

Australia’s acquisition of SSNs through AUKUS will, however, make an Australian defense of Taiwan more plausible. This is because SSNs could actually reach the waters around the island. Compared to diesel electric-powered submarines (SSKs), which Australia originally planned to acquire from France, SSNs can be deployed for significantly more time because they do not have to vacate the deployment area to refuel. To put this into perspective, if an SNN were to operate out of Sterling Naval Base on Australia’s west coast, it could remain on station around Taiwan for approximately 73 days, while an SSK could last 0. In the South China Sea, an SSN could remain on station for approximately 77 days if it were to operate out of that same naval base, while an SSK could remain for just 11 days.

While acquiring SSNs would allow Australia to deploy submarines in a Taiwan contingency, this does not necessarily mean it will. A review of some of the operations Australia’s SSNs are well suited for in a conflict with China over Taiwan illustrates why the U.S. may be unable to firmly count on AUKUS to pay major dividends in a crisis. This is due to the confrontational nature of these operations, which could make Australia hesitate to make good use of its SSNs.

China strikes back against decoupling, restricts two rare earth minerals


SYDNEY — China slapped restrictions on the sale of gallium and germanium this week, in a move that is likely a tit-for-tat response to American efforts to restrict chips from partners and allies to Beijing.

Both metals are increasingly used in making computer chips because they can handle higher voltages than silicon. They are particularly notable for the defense sector due to their importance in the manufacture of Active Electronically-Scanned Array (AESA)) radars and some electronic warfare systems.

“In order to safeguard national security and interests, with the approval of the State Council, it is decided to implement export controls on items related to gallium and germanium,” China’s Ministry of Commerce and its General Administration of Customs (GAC) said July 3 in a joint statement. The restrictions take effect on August 1.

How big an effect will this have on defense, intelligence and related applications? “We doubt these moves add additional supply bottlenecks for U.S. defense primes, but they will spur more efforts to develop alternative sources of these metals,” analyst Byron Callan of Capital Alpha Partners wrote in a note for investors.

Raytheon’s LTAMDS, SPY-6, “Ghost-Eye” radars and Next Generation Jammer, Northrop Grumman’s TPY-5,, Lockheed Martin’s Q-53 and other radar products all use Gallium nitride (GaN) chips, Callan noted. Saab Group, Leonardo and Thales also use GaN chips.

The benefits of using GaN can be impressive. Raytheon has said that it can increase an existing radar’s range by 50 percent, improve its ability to discriminate between different kinds of targets or increase the volume it can search five-fold. It also can improve the reliability of these complex systems.

Pentagon Aims to Stop China and Russia from Spying on Academia

John A. Tirpak

The Pentagon is moving to block Chinese and Russian organizations from obtaining U.S. technology secrets through academia, according to a Department of Defense memo made public on June 30.

The memo, signed by Heidi Shyu, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, lists more than 80 Chinese and Russian academic, scientific, engineering, or cultural institutions that have engaged in “problematic activity” geared at improperly gaining access to classified U.S. research or influencing teaching staff or students. The memo is a response to the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, which sought a Pentagon response to foreign intelligence exploitation of U.S. academic institutions.

The memo requires a review of new research contracts and prohibits Pentagon money going to projects that involve one of the blacklisted entities, based on their previous track record in harvesting U.S. technology secrets, or simply having suspect relationships with Chinese and Russian intelligence organizations.

Those on the list have “been confirmed as engaging in problematic activity as described in Section 1286 of the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, as amended,” the Pentagon said. “These include practices and behaviors that increase the likelihood that DOD-funded research and development efforts will be misappropriated to the detriment of national or economic security or be subject to violations of research integrity or foreign government interference.”

The listing of “these foreign entities underscores our commitment to ensuring the responsible use of federal research funding and safeguarding our critical technologies from exploitation or compromise,” said Shyu in releasing the memo.

The goal of the memo and policy is three-fold, Shyu said:To ensure the security of DOD-funded fundamental research

To ensure that participants in sensitive research “fully disclose information that can reveal potential conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment”

Chip Wars: China Strikes Back

Christopher Cytera

US chip sanctions are hurting China. They cover not only direct sales from American and European companies. They extend to foreign-made products that use US software and technology. China is reeling – and striking back.

But beware. Democracies – Japan, Europe, and the US – need to ensure that additional moves designed to hurt Beijing do not “boomerang” and end up hurting their own industries.

Let’s look first at the impact on China. The Netherlands’ ASML agreed in 2018 to supply leading Chinese foundry SMIC with EUV lithography equipment. Under US pressure, the Dutch government has now ruled that this contract now will never be fulfilled.

Chinese lithography maker Shanghai Microelectronics Equipment Company (SMEE) will have to source key components locally. That will be difficult. No.1 Chinese foundry, SMIC, will need seven years to catch up with today’s technology leaders, according to IDTechX analyst Yu-Huan Chang.

Chinese companies face shrinking bottom lines. Memory-maker YMTC has downgraded projected growth from 60% year-on-year to a 7% decline. SMIC suffered a 5% quarterly revenue drop – the first in three years.

Both Chinese companies blame a global chip glut – and yet they are announcing plans to build four new domestic chip manufacturing plants. Chinese manufacturers Grace Semiconductor (originally founded to access US markets) and Hua Hong are investing in a giant $6.7 billion new facility to meet strong demand – with support from Chinese investors and the local municipality.

Not only are Chinese chip makers hurting, but the break from China is also hurting Western semiconductor makers. NVIDIA, for example, claims it could lose $400 million of sales in one quarter because of the ban on selling its AI chips. ASML earns 15% of its revenues in China – this will now diminish as it cannot sell its latest equipment to China, and legacy equipment is likely to be sourced locally.

China’s Focus on the Brain Gives it an Edge in Cognitive Warfare

Janna Mantua

In 2016, US diplomats and CIA officers in Cuba abruptly began reporting symptoms of dizziness, nausea, and cognitive difficulties. Individuals suffering from this ailment – termed “Anomalous Health Incidents” by the US government, but more commonly known as “Havana Syndrome” – believed they had been victims of a coordinated attack. Scientists gathered information and performed calculations suggesting the symptoms may have been caused by a concentrated microwave weapon. Follow-up studies using MRI scans found Havana Syndrome sufferers exhibited evidence of traumatic brain injuries, suggesting their brains may have been physically damaged by the incident. Though the true cause of these injuries remains unknown, and though intelligence assessments have suggested there was no coordinated attack against these individuals, the attention these reports received ushered an important new question into the US national security zeitgeist: do our adversaries have a weapon that can cause brain damage from a distance?

The concept of attacking the thought processes and emotions of an adversary is as old as war itself. Generations ago, commanders sought ways to attack the adversary’s morale and will to fight. Today’s military leaders seek to do the same while using different terminology: achieving cognitive overmatch, controlling the information space, pursuing decision dominance, and, of course, winning the hearts and minds of specific populations. Though the concept is not new, the ways by which we create effects on cognition and emotion have changed due to new technologies and the pervasiveness of information.

The DoD does not have a definition for Cognitive Warfare (CW), though NATO’s Allied Command Transformation defines it as “the activities conducted in synchronization with other instruments of power, to affect attitudes and behaviors by influencing, protecting, and/or disrupting individual and group cognitions to gain an advantage.” On the surface, this definition may look similar to the definition for Information Operations (now known as Operations in the Information Environment [OIE]), but a side-by-side comparison (Table 1) suggests CW is in fact a broader concept that contains a reference to “activities” outside of the information domain. Still, CW and OIE are often conflated. As recent as April of 2023, a NATO working group (the same group that created the definition for CW) published an article on CW that exclusively described threats from OIE without mentioning other CW-related adversarial activities.

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

Biden approves cluster munition supply to Ukraine

Karen DeYoung, Alex Horton, Missy Ryan 

President Biden has approved the provision of U.S. cluster munitions for Ukraine, with drawdown of the weapons from Defense Department stocks due to be announced Friday.

The move, which will bypass U.S. law prohibiting the production, use or transfer of cluster munitions with a failure rate of more than 1 percent, comes amid concerns about Kyiv’s lagging counteroffensive against entrenched Russian troops and dwindling Western stocks of conventional artillery.

It follows months of internal administration debate over whether to supply the controversial munitions, which are banned by most countries in the world.

Cluster weapons explode in the air over a target, releasing dozens to hundreds of smaller submunitions across a wide area.

More than 120 countries have joined a convention banning their use as inhumane and indiscriminate, in large part because of high failure rates that litter the landscape with unexploded submunitions that endanger both friendly troops and civilians, often for decades after the end of a conflict. The United States, Ukraine and Russia — which is alleged to have used them extensively in Ukraine — are not parties to the convention. Eight of NATO’s 31 members, including the United States, have not ratified the convention.

The principal weapon under consideration, an M864 artillery shell first produced in 1987, is fired from the 155mm howitzers the United States and other Western countries have provided Ukraine. In its last publicly available estimate, more than 20 years ago, the Pentagon assessed that artillery shell to have a “dud” rate of 6 percent, meaning that at least four of each of the 72 submunitions each shell carries would remain unexploded across an area of approximately 22,500 square meters — roughly the size of 4½ football fields.

“We are aware of reports from several decades ago that indicate certain 155mm DPICMs have higher dud rates,” said a defense official, one of seven Pentagon, White House and military officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive decision. The defense official used the acronym for Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions.

Putin’s Real Security Crisis

Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan

Among the many lingering questions about the Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin’s rebellion is why Russia’s vast security apparatus was so poorly prepared for it. The FSB, the Kremlin’s main internal security service, has long placed a heavy emphasis on “prevention” and taking aggressive steps to preempt any threats to the state before they occur. The security agency even had informants within the Wagner organization. Yet it seems to have taken no action to stop the mutiny before it started or to warn the Kremlin about Prigozhin’s plans.

Then, as Wagner forces made their move, both the FSB and Russia’s National Guard, the main body assigned to maintain internal security and suppress unrest in Russia, failed as rapid response forces. The National Guard made every effort to avoid a direct confrontation with Wagner; for its part, the FSB—which also has several elite special forces groups—did not appear to take any action at all. Instead, the most powerful security agency in the country issued a press release calling on Wagner’s rank and file to stay out of the uprising and to go arrest Prigozhin—on their own.

Equally startling was the reaction of Russia’s military intelligence, GRU, to the Wagner escapade. Consider that moment when Wagner forces marched into Rostov-on-Don, Russia’s main command center for the war in Ukraine. As Prigozhin sat together with Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, deputy minister of defense, and Vladimir Alekseyev, first deputy head of the GRU, Alekseyev seemed to agree with Prigozhin that there was a problem with Russia’s military leadership. When Prigozhin said he wanted to get Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and General Valery Gerasimov, the head of Russian forces in Ukraine, apparently to make them answer for their mistakes, Alekseyev laughed and replied, “You can have them!” Shortly after these comments were aired, a member of Russian special forces told us, “Alekseyev is right.”

In the wake of the Prigozhin crisis, Russian President Vladimir Putin faces a dilemma. It has become clear that the larger threat to his regime may not have been Prigozhin’s mutiny itself but the reaction of the military and the security services to that mutiny. Now, he needs to find a way to deal with that intelligence and security failure without creating new uncertainty about his grip on power. And unlike in previous crises, he may no longer be able to rely on the security agencies he has long used to ensure political stability.

Food Insecurity: Outlook for 2023

Geopolitical Futures

Over the course of 2022, global food prices gradually began to ease. However, this wasn’t necessarily reflected in prices at local markets in countries experiencing food insecurity. Countries that rely on food imports and have low foreign reserves are at greatest risk of seeing a lack of access to food. Costly agricultural input materials, labor and energy also contribute to high food costs.

Did US Media Confirm That CIA Gave Wagner Group US$6.2 Billion? – Analysis

Zhuang Jing and Rita Cheng

Following the Wagner Group’s short-lived insurrection in Russia last month, several verified users of the popular Chinese social media platform Weibo claimed that the Russian mercenary army had accepted US$6.2 billion from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. The users cited the Los Angeles Times as the source and circulated screenshots of the purported article in their posts.

Asia Fact Check Lab (AFCL) found this claim to be false. The LA Timespublished no reports on a U.S. allocation of funds to the Wagner Group.

The article that has been circulating actually reports on a $6.2 billion surplus in U.S. military funds that is expected to be sent to Ukraine, and does not mention the Wagner Group. The Weibo posts include an erroneous Chinese-language translation of the original article’s English-language headline and a photo of the Wagner Group’s leader that is not present in the original report.
In Depth

As the war between Russia and Ukraine entered its 16th month, the Russian private military company Wagner Group on June 24 launched a brief armed rebellion against the Kremlin. Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin ended the mutiny the next day following mediation by Belarus.

The dramatic turn of events attracted global attention. In China, the term “Wagner” was Weibo’s top-trending topic on June 24–25, with related posts generating a range of comments and speculation.

Verified Weibo users with hundreds of thousands of followers each soon set off a public frenzy by claiming U.S. media was reporting that Wagner had accepted $6.2 billion from the CIA before staging the rebellion. Their posts included screenshots of an LA Times article as alleged evidence.

What did the LA Times actually report?

US military aircraft could get jamming-resistant navigation systems


On June 27, defense giant Northrop Grumman announced that it had successfully flown a plane with a new navigation system. Designed to work in situations where GPS signals may be difficult or impossible to get, this Embedded Global Positioning System (GPS) / Inertial Navigation System (INS) Modernization, or EGI-M, is a tool that could someday help fighter jet pilots and other aircraft fight through the jammed skies of a future war.

For the May flight test, instead of trying the system on a fancy fighter or high-end military craft, the EGI-M was reportedly flown on a Cessna Citation V business jet.

“This flight test is a major step forward in developing our next generation airborne navigation system,” Ryan Arrington, a Northrop Grumman VP, said in a release. “The EGI-M capability developed by Northrop Grumman enables our warfighters to navigate accurately and precisely through hostile and contested environments.”

There’s many ways that a sky can be made inhospitable to intruding aircraft. Anti-aircraft weapons, primarily missiles and rockets but also fighter jets and sometimes anti-air guns, can all try to shoot a plane out of the sky. Jammers, or other tools and electronic warfare systems designed to interfere with signals in the electromagnetic spectrum, can block the information that pilots or drone operators need to operate their aircraft. The former kind of interference is referred to by the military as “kinetic” or physically destructive, the latter broadly is “electronic warfare.” Both kinds of interference can make for a hostile and contested sky.

The United States military has, for decades, operated in skies it could quickly and reliably control.

“Last time an American soldier died from an enemy aircraft was April 15th, 1953,” said James Hecker, a general in the U.S. Air Force, on a recent episode of the War on the Rocks podcast. “We’ve gotten a little bit spoiled, especially in the last 30 years. Desert storm, we had to fight for air superiority, but we got it really quick. Other wars that we’ve been in in the last 20 years, we got it uncontested.”

Ukraine Has No Chance Of A ‘Blitzkrieg’ Victory Over Russia

Robert Kelly

In short, the arguments to support Ukraine are strong, whereas the arguments to cut it off are so logically inconsistent and protean that they smack of Russian talking points. Give Ukraine a chance to win – if not this year, then eventually.

Ukraine recently launched a counter-offensive against Russia’s invasion. That push has not succeeded as well as many had hoped.

After several weeks, the Ukrainians are still poking and prodding Russian lines, looking for weak spots.

No dramatic breakthrough has been achieved.

This does not mean that Ukraine is losing the war suddenly or that Russia has a newly-opened path to victory.

The war is still a quagmire for Russia. There is still no obvious way for Russia to score a decisive win so that it can pull back, stop the bleeding, and reconstitute. That is what it really needs to do, rather than just hang on fighting indefinitely.

Even if Ukraine’s progress this summer is only moderate, Russia is still tied down in an expensive ‘forever war’ that will gradually exhaust it. In time, the constant strain will make withdrawal ever more attractive. This is how the Afghans defeated the Soviet army in the 1980s and is likely what will happen in this war.
Stop Demanding a Wildly Unrealistic Blitzkrieg Victory

It is a truism that wars are not won in a day, but critics of aid to Ukraine are using the current offensive’s slow progress to once again demand that Ukraine give up in order to end the war. The argument now is that Ukraine’s current struggles mean the war is in a deadlock. It will grind on, World War I-style, until the U.S. defunds Ukraine and forces it to make concessions. Variations of this argument have been floating around since last summer when longtime U.S. foreign policy observer Henry Kissinger counseled the same thing.

Imperialist Red Herring? NATO Expansion and the Ukraine war

Dr. Philip Dandolov

In the months preceding the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the topic of the increase in the number of European members of NATO received renewed attention among scholars of international relations. While a number of political realists have criticized the West for not taking sufficient measures to placate Russia due to supposedly adopting tone-deaf policies and failing to heed a purported warning pertaining to the military alliance’s continued eastward enlargement, which was issued by Putin in his 2007 speech at the Munich Security Conference, the actions undertaken and statements made by Russian officials since the start of the war have actually given further credence to the arguments of those experts on Russia, such as American historians Alexander Motyl and Timothy Snyder, who contend that the issue of NATO expansion is hardly tied to any legitimate Russian security concerns and largely constitutes a convenient “red herring” intended to justify other aims (quite likely inherently imperial in nature) that are to be achieved as a result of the war.

If we are to, as a starting point, briefly delve into the background when it comes to internal Ukrainian political dynamics in the late 2010s, it would be difficult to speak of a paradigm shift regarding Ukrainian approach to NATO membership after the inauguration of Volodymyr Zelenskyy in May 2019, which would have altered the international security landscape from the Russian perspective. Zelenskyy very much continued in his predecessor Petro Poroshenko’s footsteps, reiterating the latter’s commitment to put the issue to a referendum, so that Ukrainian citizens could make their own decision. One of the more decisive steps on the domestic scene that paved the way for Ukraine’s potential accession had in fact been taken in February 2019, three years prior to the invasion, at a time when Poroshenko (perceived to be more hardline than Zelenskyy in his attitude toward Russia) was still president – the Verkhovna Rada (the Ukrainian parliament) approved an amendment to the constitution that established membership in NATO and the European Union as strategic goals for Ukraine.

When examining the events after February 2022, one of the first major contradictions that emerges (if we are to accept Putin’s claim that preventing NATO expansion serves as the end-goal of the Russian policy aims) concerns the Russian leadership’s stark insistence to maintain control of the illegally occupied territories despite initial Ukrainian willingness to indulge Putin by abandoning the country’s quest for NATO membership.

What if Russia Is Winning America’s Proxy War in Ukraine?

Doug Bandow

Washington is a world apart. A war the United States supposedly isn’t waging hangs over the imperial city. Americans imagine they are at peace, but the Biden administration, backed by most members of Washington’s foreign policy elite, is waging a proxy war (and then some) against Russia in Ukraine.

Accurate information about the conflict is hard to come by in the nation’s capital. Ideology reigns triumphant, leaving Washington a bubble in which no one is supposed to doubt Kiev’s final victory. Even the media compliantly spins the U.S. government’s line. Yet Ukraine’s latest offensive appears to have consumed many men and much materiel, with little territorial result. What if Kiev, not Moscow, is lurching closer to defeat?

What do we know, and how do American policymakers regard the war? The Putin government bears responsibility for initiating hostilities. Nothing compelled Vladimir Putin to invade Russia’s neighbor and turn it into a country-wide charnel house. However, the West created the conditions for war. America and Europe excel at sanctimony while avoiding accountability for their actions. Alas, this is nothing new. Three decades ago Madeleine Albright spoke for the West in asserting that “we,” meaning America’s smug and arrogant leadership, get to decide whether hundreds of thousands of dead foreigners “is worth” the price.

The Ukraine tragedy is no different. Contra the allies’ prodigious propaganda, the war has nothing to do with autocracy, democracy, or aggression. The U.S. and West routinely, even enthusiastically, support murderous dictatorships when it suits them. For instance, the allies continue to arm the Saudi monarchy, one of the world’s most tyrannical states, and underwrite its horrific war against Yemen, which has consumed far more civilian lives than has the Ukrainian imbroglio. For Western officials, weapons sales trump Arab lives.

Not that the Biden administration is unique in this regard. The Reagan administration backed Iraq’s Saddam Hussein after he attacked Iran, a conflict in which hundreds of thousands of people died. That support encouraged him to believe Washington would acquiesce in his attack on Kuwait. The Nixon administration “tilted” toward Pakistan in its war with India despite the former’s genocidal conduct in what became Bangladesh. Then there were America’s own destructive interventions, such as the catastrophic Iraq war.

American support for Kiev concerns geopolitics more than casualties. Washington officials claim to oppose spheres of interest, but some unashamedly cite the Monroe Doctrine’s assertion of America’s hegemony in the Western Hemisphere; most unofficially believe the U.S. should dominate every other nation, including Russia, up to its border. To that end, successive American administrations ignored the many allied commitments to Moscow to not expand NATO.

America Is Living on Borrowed Money

The federal debt is as old as the nation, and adding to it is sometimes prudent. For governments confronting “existential crises” like wars or pandemics, borrowing makes sense as a way to mobilize national resources, as the economist Barry Eichengreen wrote in the 2021 book, “In Defense of Public Debt.” Government borrowing and spending are necessary to stimulate the economy during recessions. And Treasuries, safe and liquid, play a critical role in the global financial system — so much so that in the late 1990s, when a period of economic growth and reduced military spending allowed the government to sharply reduce borrowing, economists and bankers raised alarms about the consequences of too little federal debt.

The United States, however, now borrows heavily during periods of economic growth to meet basic and ongoing obligations. It’s increasingly unsustainable. Over the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office projects that annual federal budget deficits will average around $2 trillion per year, adding to the $25.4 trillion in debt the government already owes to investors.

Borrowing is expensive. A mounting share of federal revenue, money that could be used for the benefit of the American people, goes right back out the door in the form of interest payments to investors who purchase government bonds. Rather than collecting taxes from the wealthy, the government is paying the wealthy to borrow their money.

By 2029, the government is on pace to spend more each year on interest than on national defense, according to the Congressional Budget Office. By 2033, interest payments will consume an amount equal to 3.6 percent of the nation’s economic output.

Before the pandemic, a decade of very low interest rates meant that even as the federal debt swelled, interest payments remained relatively modest. Measured as a share of the national economy, the federal debt was roughly twice as large at the beginning of 2020 as it was at the beginning of 1990, but the burden of interest payments was barely half as large.

The era of low interest rates has ended, however. The cost of living on borrowed money is rising. It is imperative for the nation’s leaders to chart a new course.

Putin’s Real Security Crisis

Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan

Among the many lingering questions about the Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin’s rebellion is why Russia’s vast security apparatus was so poorly prepared for it. The FSB, the Kremlin’s main internal security service, has long placed a heavy emphasis on “prevention” and taking aggressive steps to preempt any threats to the state before they occur. The security agency even had informants within the Wagner organization. Yet it seems to have taken no action to stop the mutiny before it started or to warn the Kremlin about Prigozhin’s plans.

Then, as Wagner forces made their move, both the FSB and Russia’s National Guard, the main body assigned to maintain internal security and suppress unrest in Russia, failed as rapid response forces. The National Guard made every effort to avoid a direct confrontation with Wagner; for its part, the FSB—which also has several elite special forces groups—did not appear to take any action at all. Instead, the most powerful security agency in the country issued a press release calling on Wagner’s rank and file to stay out of the uprising and to go arrest Prigozhin—on their own.

Equally startling was the reaction of Russia’s military intelligence, GRU, to the Wagner escapade. Consider that moment when Wagner forces marched into Rostov-on-Don, Russia’s main command center for the war in Ukraine. As Prigozhin sat together with Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, deputy minister of defense, and Vladimir Alekseyev, first deputy head of the GRU, Alekseyev seemed to agree with Prigozhin that there was a problem with Russia’s military leadership. When Prigozhin said he wanted to get Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and General Valery Gerasimov, the head of Russian forces in Ukraine, apparently to make them answer for their mistakes, Alekseyev laughed and replied, “You can have them!” Shortly after these comments were aired, a member of Russian special forces told us, “Alekseyev is right.”

In the wake of the Prigozhin crisis, Russian President Vladimir Putin faces a dilemma. It has become clear that the larger threat to his regime may not have been Prigozhin’s mutiny itself but the reaction of the military and the security services to that mutiny. Now, he needs to find a way to deal with that intelligence and security failure without creating new uncertainty about his grip on power. And unlike in previous crises, he may no longer be able to rely on the security agencies he has long used to ensure political stability.


Mercenary chief Prigozhin back in Russia, Belarus's Lukashenko says

Guy Faulconbridge

MINSK, July 6 (Reuters) - Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Thursday that the mutinous chief of Russia's Wagner group was still in Russia with thousands of fighters, but dismissed speculation that President Vladimir Putin would have Yevgeny Prigozhin killed.

Lukashenko helped broker a deal to end last month's mutiny, the gravest challenge to Putin in his 23 years in power, under which Prigozhin was supposed to stand down his mercenaries and move to Belarus in exchange for Putin dropping charges.

But in comments that raised questions about the deal, Lukashenko said Prigozhin and his fighters were still in Russia, and that it was possible they would not move to Belarus.

Lukashenko nevertheless said the deal had been complied with, and that he stood by his offer to host Wagner - a prospect that has alarmed neighbouring NATO countries - and would speak to Putin shortly.

Prigozhin "is not on the territory of Belarus," Lukashenko told reporters in Minsk's vast Independence Palace. "He is in Petersburg ... perhaps he went to Moscow this morning."

Russian security services were presumably keeping a close eye on him, Lukashenko added.

Asked about earlier comments suggesting Putin had wanted to "wipe out" Prigozhin as the mutiny unfolded, Lukashenko said some in the Kremlin had wanted this, but that it would have unleashed civil war.

"If you think Putin is so malicious and vindictive that he will 'wipe him out' tomorrow - to say it in Russian - no, this will not happen," Lukashenko said.

"The fighters of the Wagner group are at their camps - their permanent camps - those where they have been located since they left the front."

Wagner's main camp is in southern Russia, at Molkino near Krasnodar.

Operationalizing integrated deterrence: Applying joint force targeting across the competition continuum

Gen James Cartwright, USMC (ret.), Lt Col Justin M. Conelli, USAF, Clementine G. Starling, and Julia Siegel

In these times, business as usual at the department is not acceptable.
                                                            — Lloyd J. Austin, Secretary of Defense

Traditional joint force deterrence is no longer sufficient: a near-singular focus on armed conflict and platform-based capability development fails to deter strategic adversaries like China and Russia from their pursuit of strategic objectives while simultaneously increasing the risk of war. Simply owning the most advanced weaponry, while ceding ground in the competitive space left of conflict, is not enough to meet US deterrence needs, nor is it sufficient to ensure the joint force prevails in conflict. Expanding the joint force’s construct for targeting and effects generation will enable the Department of Defense (DOD) to more effectively deter future conflict while simultaneously shaping the environment to the joint force’s advantage in conflict should deterrence fail.

Why the twenty-first century security environment merits an updated approach

Today’s security threats span the competition continuum, cut across theaters and domains, and are intensified through the application of emerging technologies. The joint force faces challenges spanning the full competition continuum from high-end conflict to gray zone competition, including cyber threats and economic coercion, to cooperation. Technological advancements have changed the character of threats, the types of activities that the DOD can conduct, the speed at which it can act, and expanded its notion of physical and non-physical tools and effects. Specifically, the evolution of the cyber domain has enabled the joint force to gain access to non-physical spaces and generate options to achieve effects in a matter of milliseconds. The realities of twenty-first century competition drive the need to confront adversaries across a global contact layer to counter malign activities and proactively advance US strategic objectives. In other words, actions in one theater or domain can generate options and lead to outcomes in distant corners of the globe.

Moreover, the joint force faces a far more sophisticated adversary in China—qualitatively and quantitatively—than it did in countering violent extremist organizations over the past two decades. Strategic competition requires a significant mindset shift to effectively harness the effects of multiple instruments of power in a global, multi-domain, and coherent manner. DOD doctrine acknowledges this, but the department and joint force have yet to fully operationalize it.

Fixing the Global Digital Divide and Digital Access Gap

Landry Signé

The digital divide was further thrown into the spotlight after the pandemic shifted all aspects of life—from work to education to socializing—online at an unprecedented pace. During this time, the world experienced an internet spike, with 466 million people using the internet for the very first time in 2020. The number of global internet users and the percentage of internet penetration continued to grow from 2021 to 2022 at 7% and 6% respectively. While this growth indicates that progress has been made in digital access, the fact remains that as of 2022, 2.7 billion people, representing a third of the world, do not have access to the internet and 53% of the world does not have access to high-speed broadband, leading to the risk of compounding negative effects in terms of economic, political, and social inclusion and equality. These trends make it plain that policymakers should care about addressing the global digital divide, and pay attention to the continental differences that exist around technology access and use.
The data

The area of digital access and divides is a complex and multifaceted issue. Like many current complex issues, digital divides do not have a single cause or linear effect, and they involve multiple dynamic variables. Furthermore, the challenges digital divides present are constantly changing as the social and economic use of technology continues to evolve.

Looking at access to internet and mobile devices alone, there are several layers of division. The geographic location of the 2.7 billion unconnected varies greatly by region: Internet penetration is 89% in Europe, over 80% in the Americas, and 70% in the Arab States, compared to 61% in Asia and 40% in Africa. Disparities in internet connectivity and use are not limited to geographic divides, but also include gaps based on gender, age, and, rural vs. urban populations. As of 2022, there are 264 million fewer women accessing the internet than men, with women 7% less likely to own a mobile phone and 16% less likely to use mobile internet than men. Younger populations are more likely to be online as well, with 75% of global youth (aged 15-24) connected to the internet, compared to 65% of the rest of the population. In 2021, the number of internet users in urban areas was double the number in rural areas. These disparities in access to internet and mobile devices are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the complexities and inequalities that exist within other areas of the digital divide.

Crypto crashes and job slashes: Lessons for local leaders on building an innovation ecosystem

Tonantzin Carmona, Mark Muro, Sifan Liu

As recently as last year, it seemed that everyone was talking about cryptocurrencies—from celebrities and athletes to news anchors and investors. Even elected officials were getting in on the action, as local governments turned to cryptocurrencies as a solution to job growth, income inequality, and more.

But today, the crypto hype cycle is over (although bitcoin has seen gains in recent days). After a major crash in the crypto industry, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists have moved on to generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools, such as those that power ChatGPT and other systems.

Which raises the questions: What’s the status of the crypto craze as the new AI systems dominate the headlines? Where has crypto-related job and startup growth recovered after the recent crash, and where hasn’t it? And what lessons can state and local officials take away to prepare themselves for the next big tech opportunity?

To consider these questions, this piece employs new data to examine the levels and locations of crypto activity in the U.S. Overall commercial activity is tracked through an analysis of job postings in the crypto and blockchain industry. Entrepreneurial dynamism is measured with data on startups in the field. From there, the discussion weighs these signals with an eye toward assessing the most advisable next policy moves for state and local lawmakers.
Crypto trends have been tumultuous in recent years

Even in comparison to the industry’s unstable longer-term past, crypto trends during the last few years have been tumultuous. During the peak of the most recent hype cycle, a number of state and local government leaders embraced cryptocurrencies. These officials jockeyed for crypto jobs by introducing bills or launching public relations stunts, such as announcing they would take their paychecks in crypto or promoting city-branded cryptocurrencies. In other cases, they explored ways to allow residents to pay for government services using cryptocurrencies or for their governments to mine bitcoin.