21 July 2023

Can Iran balance dependence on China with economic openness on India?

Sabena Siddiqui

The International North-South Transport Corridor project has become a matter of urgency for Russia, India and Iran, as it would help Moscow and Tehran develop new markets and evade sanctions.

This handout photograph released by the Indian Ministry of Defense shows India's Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, Kazakhstan Defense Minister Col. Gen. Ruslan Zhaxylykov (C) and Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Li Shangfu (R) attending the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting in New Delhi, India, April 28, 2023. - -/Indian Ministry of Defence/AFP via Getty Images

This month, even as Tehran took one step further toward Beijing with the formalization of its membership of the China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), its projects with Russia and India also moved ahead. Since Tehran will be working closely with India as well as China and Russia, balancing ties may not be that simple anymore.

A trilateral meeting took place July 3 between Iran, Russia and India in Tehran on the development of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC). Established by Moscow, New Delhi and Tehran in 2000, the INSTC project can connect the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea via Iran once it is completed.

Acting as a transport corridor between South Asia, the Middle East, Iran, Azerbaijan onto Russia, the INSTC can help Moscow and Tehran develop new markets and evade sanctions. Since trade between Russia and Iran increased by 20% in 2022, reaching around $4.9 billion, the implementation of this project has acquired some urgency.

But the Rasht-Astara railway passing through Azerbaijan, crucial for connecting the land-locked sections of the INSTC, remains a missing link. Trying to speed up this railroad, Moscow and Tehran signed an agreement early this year and Russia will be investing 1.6 billion euros ($1.75 billion) for it to be constructed within 48 months.

India’s New Geopolitics

“Washington is overlooking one of the most interesting geopolitical developments in the region in years: the emergence of India as a major player in the Middle East,” FP’s Steven A. Cook wrote last month.

Fueling Failure: A Global Power Shift from the West to China

Don Ritter

Autocratic producers, largely Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Venezuela, and China, and democratic consumers, fossil fuel-dependent nations, largely the so-called Global South, are convening and uniting over oil, gas, coal, petrochemicals, natural gas-derived fertilizers, and mined raw materials. This trend is detrimental for both the global climate and the United States.

China straddles both worlds as the largest producer and consumer of coal in the world and the second-largest consumer of all fossil fuels after the United States. The United States is the largest producer of oil and gas for now, but while government policies tamp down investment in future domestic production, U.S. energy companies scour the world to increase production to serve global markets.

It’s the autocratic countries who produce the fossil fuels that benefit from American production decline. This is due to the fact that the major democratic countries of the Global South— including India, Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa, etc.—who buy oil and gas products, need to feed their people, fuel their vehicles, and, in general, sustain, grow, and develop their economies at reasonable cost.

Autocratic Russia, a giant energy producer, continues to sustain its economy and finance its war in Ukraine, playing defense and waiting for Western electorates to lose patience. Moscow counts on continued fossil fuel sales to consumer countries. Meanwhile, China is importing record amounts of oil and gas from Russia which makes China the largest financier of Russia’s war in Ukraine by far. China, courtesy of Saudi Arabia’s Aramco, is on the upswing in building new refineries, becoming a major petrochemical producer while U.S. energy policy to phase out fossil fuels has curtailed U.S. companies from making such investments.

The Indo-Pacific Strategy’s Missing Continental Dimension

Naoki Nihei and Marin Ekstrom

As China continues on its global superpower trajectory, policymakers in Beijing have taken increasingly aggressive measures to affirm their nation’s clout. These efforts have included attempts to expand China’s territorial claims in the East and South China Seas and discussions about a potential annexation of Taiwan. Additional issues include Beijing’s pursuit of partnering countries for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project – which has been marred by frequent allegations of “debt trap diplomacy” – as well as the recent Global Development Initiative (GDI) to provide aid for projects in developing countries that promote the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The leading democratic countries that uphold the liberal international order have expressed concerns over China’s attempts to garner international influence. Prominent government and business officials in these countries have accused China of attempting to overturn the current world order in favor of an authoritarian alternative. Consequently, China has emboldened other authoritarian regimes, most notably Russia, to take more forceful action in upending liberal democratic hegemony – with the Russian invasion of Ukraine bringing this growing brazenness to the forefront.

Anxiety over the rise of China and the authoritarian threat to the status quo has driven the G-7 and the world’s other leading democracies to collaborate on an “Indo-Pacific Strategy” to contain China while simultaneously bolstering their authority in Asia as a whole. Notable efforts include the EU’s renewed plan of Indo-Pacific engagement; the Quad, a loose security alliance composed of the United States, Japan, India, and Australia; and the Blue Dot Network, a U.S, Japan, and Australia-led challenger to the BRI.

China’s Export Restrictions on Germanium and Gallium Shake Up Global Order

Marina Yue Zhang

Two metallic elements, tucked deep within the periodic table, have emerged as key drivers of world politics. On July 3, China’s Ministry of Commerce and China Customs announced export controls on gallium and germanium products (including compounds), effective August 1. This action, aimed at “safeguarding national security and interests,” according to Chinese officials, has stirred global panic within various industries, governments, and media outlets.

Although these two rare metals only account for several hundred million dollars in global trade—a figure that pales in comparison with the chipmaking industry’s value of over $600 billion—they are critical strategic resources in the defense and high-tech sectors. Infrared optics, fiberoptic communications, solar cells, and compound semiconductors are useless without them. Any disruption in the supply of these metals would therefore unsettle downstream markets valued in the trillions of dollars.

Further exacerbating the anxiety is China’s dominance in the global supply of these metals. In 2022 alone, China manufactured 90 percent of gallium-related products and 68 percent of germanium-related products. Chinese authorities argue that export restrictions on products involving these metals are standard international practice and not targeted at any specific country.

Weaponizing Critical Minerals

China’s role in the technological competition with the United States bears similarities to an apprentice learning from its master by leveraging its dominance in critical technologies or resources. China appears to be employing a “chokepoint strategy”—weaponizing its stronghold over these critical rare metals.

How Xi Jinping’s Policies Could Lead China to Economic Implosion

Elaine Dezenski

Chinese president Xi Jinping, speaking to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) 19th Congress in October 2017, announced: “It is time for us to take center stage in the world.” Yet a funny thing happened on the way to China’s coronation as a superpower: the very policies Xi implemented to transform his country into a global juggernaut are precisely what is gradually driving China toward an economic implosion.

For certain, Xi had help. The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown slowed domestic growth in China, much like it did for the rest of the world. And China is still the top trading partner for more than 120 countries—so it may seem premature to predict China’s economic decline. But the signs are there.

The Signs

First, China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)—a trillion-dollar infrastructure push that was supposed to cement China’s role throughout the Global South—has unleashed a flood of unbridled corruption, pointless airports, failing dams, deep debt dependency, and widespread backlash. Instead of building loyalty to Beijing among leaders around the world, Chinese corruption has led opposition candidates to rise to power in unexpected places like Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia—all while riding a wave of anti-Chinese sentiment. China is now far less popular around the world than it used to be.

Second, Xi has implemented a series of “national security” laws that make investment and business operations in China increasingly difficult. For example, Chinese “anti-espionage” laws make it illegal for international companies to collect even basic information about China or Chinese citizens. As a practical matter, this criminalizes basic corporate due diligence and know-your-customer safeguards—protocols whereby multinational companies look into their counterparties for risks of corruption, sanctions evasion, or human rights abuses. American laws, like the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, mandate that companies conduct robust due diligence and that such information is directly shared with corporate leadership. Firms that learn about the use of bribes or modern slavery would need to either violate Chinese law, by reporting the information to their leadership, or violate American law by not engaging in customary due diligence. U.S. counterintelligence officials have issued fresh warnings to American businesses about the risks these laws pose to basic operations and safety for companies and executives operating in China.

Taiwan Situation Going From Bad To Worse As China Preps For War

Decoding Politics

Taiwan made big headlines last August and earlier this year when China did mini blockades and US officials met with Taiwanese leaders. Since then, it’s largely been out of the news. But the situation is deteriorating at an alarming rate. The US has essentially thrown its official policy since 1979 in the trash can and is provoking China in the worst possible way. Meanwhile, China has shown every possible indication of preparing for war in the next 18 months, with three identifiable windows for action. China will HAVE to act to secure its interests and save face. It has gotten so dangerous for them that there is no way they will let this continue.


First, a quick reminder of what the US and China’s actual positions are on the island of Taiwan. Taiwan was a province of China for hundreds of years. In 1949, the communists took over China, and Taiwan seceded to become its own country, officially protected by the USA. In the 1970’s China and the US re-opened ties, and one outcome of that was a new policy on Taiwan.

As of 1979, the US’s official policy is that Taiwan is a part of China, and that one day they will sort out their re-unification. Sort of like recognizing a couple is separated, won’t divorce, and will eventually reconcile. The US has zero official defense guarantees to Taiwan. It does not recognize Taiwan, has no embassy or diplomatic relations with Taiwan, and communicates via intermediaries. The US also has agreed not to have its leaders meet Taiwanese leaders. Biden earlier this year gaffed that we would defend Taiwan- Blinken had to go to Beijing and the administration back on script.

China’s view is resolute that Taiwan is a part of China. It wanted to achieve a re-unification before 2049 (100th anniversary of the PRC). They have proposed for decades a system similar to Hong Kong. The last few years have effectively seen this solution discarded by Taiwan and now China too. The rhetoric the past 18 to 24 months has been very hawkish and China has been threatening reunification by force. They believe that the US is arming Taiwan and is pushing for independence. It has to stop them both before it poses a military threat to China’s Belt and Road and its facilities in the South China Sea.

JUST IN: U.S. Falling Behind China in Critical Tech Race, Report Finds

Josh Luckenbaugh

The United States risks losing the technology competition with China if it doesn’t take significant steps to shore up its defense industrial base and integrate advanced capabilities into its military systems, according to a new report from commercial data company Govini.

In its 10th annual “National Security Scorecard” released July 17, Govini evaluated 12 technologies critical to national security using its Ark.ai commercial data platform, which the report described as “the first digital twin of the U.S. industrial base.”

Using artificial intelligence and machine learning to continuously enrich its dataset, Ark.ai “presents a digital representation of the companies, capabilities and capital that together form the industrial and innovation bases of the United States,” the report said. “By traversing these systems, analysts, managers and decision-makers in the national security sector are able to solve challenges that restore and strengthen America’s position in the competition with China.”

However, the picture of the industrial base Ark.ai currently paints is not encouraging for the United States, the report said. Govini found that in all 12 technology areas, “the United States is falling behind China in the core science as measured by the patents granted in each country.”

Patents are “a leading indicator of technological dominance in the future,” said Govini Chairman and former Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work. They are “the seed corn for making new discoveries that put you on the top of the competitive food chain. And that's what scares me the most: China's doing far better than us in terms of the overall number of patents.”

For most of the critical technologies, “the United States is largely stagnating in patents in these areas, [and] in many cases United States patent grants are actually declining,” Govini CEO Tara Murphy Dougherty said during the company’s release briefing for the report. And for the capabilities actually in development, the United States heavily relies upon Chinese suppliers, she said.

China isn’t waiting to set down rules on generative AI

Zeyi Yangarchive 

China Report is MIT Technology Review’s newsletter about technology developments in China. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Tuesday.

Back in April, there was a major development in the AI space in China. The Chinese internet regulator published a draft regulation on generative AI. Named Measures for the Management of Generative Artificial Intelligence Services, the document doesn’t call out any specific company, but the way it is worded makes it clear that it was inspired by the incessant launch of large-language-model chatbots in China and the US.

Last week, I went on the CBC News podcast “Nothing Is Foreign” to talk about the draft regulation—and what it means for the Chinese government to take such quick action on a still-very-new technology.

As I said in the podcast, I see the draft regulation as a mixture of sensible restrictions on AI risks and a continuation of China’s strong government tradition of aggressive intervention in the tech industry.

Many of the clauses in the draft regulation are principles that AI critics are advocating for in the West: data used to train generative AI models shouldn’t infringe on intellectual property or privacy; algorithms shouldn’t discriminate against users on the basis of race, ethnicity, age, gender, and other attributes; AI companies should be transparent about how they obtained training data and how they hired humans to label the data.

At the same time, there are rules that other countries would likely balk at. The government is asking that people who use these generative AI tools register with their real identity—just as on any social platform in China. The content that AI software generates should also “reflect the core values of socialism.”

The Ukrainian National Cybersecurity Coordination Center on the “First World Cyber War”


The National Cybersecurity Coordination Center (NCCC) is an organization housed within the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine and, based on the USAID logo on the front page of some of its reports, sponsored by the U.S. Government. The NCCC has provided an English translation of its June 2023 Review of Cybersecurity in Ukraine, Tendencies, and World Events Related to the First World Cyber War – which resembled OODA CTO Bob Gourley’s post at the onset of the conflict in Ukraine: We Are In The First Open Source Intelligence War – so it caught our eye. A summary of the report and a link to the full document can be found here.
Summary of the Report

Review of cybersecurity news in Ukraine, tendencies, and world events related to the First World Cyber war for June 2023:

At the beginning of June, several international events related to cyber security took place in Tallinn, Estonia, including the CyCon conference. Participants focused on discussing the theory and practices of cyber conflicts, primarily taking into account the realities of cyber confrontation in the russian-Ukrainian war. The fifth U.S.-Ukrainian bilateral cyber consultations became part of these events, and the U.S. plans to provide Ukraine with an additional $37 million in cyber security assistance.

The EU continues to implement measures that limit China’s influence on the EU’s digital infrastructure and is developing its cyber capabilities. European legislators are finalizing work on the Law on Cyber Resilience, which should create some new opportunities for the EU to improve its own cyber security. Also, the EU continues discussions with partners regarding possible areas of cooperation to build the stability of critical infrastructure facilities.


Larry Goodson and Marzena Żakowska

How Russia’s Hybrid Warfare is Changing

Abstract: This article argues that Russia's approach to hybrid warfare has undergone a shift, moving away from primarily relying on nonconventional measures and tactics towards a greater emphasis on conventional methods. The framework of the argument is constructed through an analysis of Russia's experiences in hybrid warfare across various conflicts such as the Afghan War, Chechnya, Georgia, Syria, and Ukraine. Methodologically, the analysis is based on the non-linear concept of hybrid warfare, commonly referred to as the “Gerasimov doctrine.” This concept acknowledges the utilization of both conventional military tactics and nonconventional tactics, emphasizing the use of nonconventional as primary measures. The evidence suggests that (i) the Georgia War of 2008 and the Ukraine War of 2014-2021 serve as the most prominent examples of Russia's approach to hybrid warfare; (ii) the comparison with the Ukraine War since February 2022 indicates that certain hybrid warfare measures may be transitioning towards a greater reliance on conventional means. This shift raises doubts about the effectiveness of implementing the hybrid warfare concept by Russia. It provides an opportunity to identify the determinants that may play a crucial role in this transformation. Consequently, the article highlights problems for further discussion to explore the evolving nature of Russia's approach to hybrid warfare and measures used for achieving national interests to preserve state security.

Keywords: hybrid warfare, Russia, state security, national interest


Russia's approach to hybrid warfare is characterized by a combination of military and nonmilitary measures aimed at achieving strategic objectives while maintaining operations below the threshold of war to undermine the sovereignty of target countries and influence their domestic politics. This concept, developed by General Valery Gerasimov, is referred to as non-linear warfare and serves as the methodological framework for this study. Russia used hybrid measures in a series of small wars during the 1990s and the first fifteen years of the 2000s—Afghan War (1979-1992), the First (1994-1996) and Second (1999-2000, insurgency during 2000-2009) Chechen Wars; the Georgian War in 2008; the Syrian War from 2011 or 2015-Present (depending on the level of involvement). The evidence suggests that the earlier wars, prior to 2021, best demonstrate the reality of Russia’s approach to hybrid warfare. However, a comparison with the Ukraine War since February 2022 is noticeable that Russia's approach to hybrid warfare is changing toward prioritizing the use of conventional tactics and measures as the primary ones. Therefore, we argue that Russia's engagement in wars prior to 2014 primarily served as a testing ground for non-conventional measures. The war in Ukraine provided evidence that during the pre-full-scale invasion period of 2014-2021 (referred to as Ukraine 1), Russia employed a combination of conventional and non-conventional tactics. However, the subsequent full-scale invasion period from 2022 to the present (known as Ukraine 2) has predominantly witnessed the heavy utilization of conventional tactics. This shift highlights a noticeable change in Russia's approach to hybrid warfare, and it raises legitimate doubts regarding the continued utilization of the concept of hybrid warfare, particularly in the still ongoing war in Ukraine. Therefore, in this article, the following problems will be discussed (i) Russia’s approach to hybrid warfare; (ii) how Russia’s hybrid warfare appears to be changing; (iii) the factors that influenced the hybrid measures Russia uses.Russia’s Approach to Hybrid Warfare

The global trade recession may have already started

David Lubin

As economists fret about whether we face a big or a small global recession, and whether we’ll face it sooner or later, it is worth bearing in mind that trade is already showing signs of deep stress. Risk appetite towards emerging economies might be shaken as a result.

The annual growth rate of global import volumes turned negative late last year, remained negative in early 2023 and there are few reasons to think that things will improve. As long as that’s true, it will be open, trade-dependent economies – especially in the developing world – that get hit hardest.
The reasons for muted growth

There are three main reasons why trade growth seems so muted these days. The first is that we’re simply suffering a trade hangover after a COVID-era surge. That surge can be largely pinned on the different economic policy responses adopted in the pandemic.

While the US and other liberal governments were bent on using fiscal transfers to shore up citizens’ purchasing power, China’s approach was more characterized by getting workers back into factories.

China aimed to boost supply, while its trading partners boosted demand. The result was an acceleration in trade growth the likes of which we hadn’t seen since the economic recovery that followed the 2008 financial crisis.

In other words, China aimed to boost supply, while its trading partners boosted demand. The result was an acceleration in trade growth the likes of which we hadn’t seen since the economic recovery that followed the 2008 financial crisis.

A second reason for the trade slump is the evident switch in expenditure, especially in advanced economies, from goods to services. There are only so many new TVs and computers one can buy in a short space of time, and services are less traded.

A Current War Collides With the Past: Remnants of World War II in Ukraine

Andrew E. Kramer

Clambering over boulders, past old tires and shellfish-encrusted scrap metal, Oleksandr Shkalikov ventured onto the dry bed of a vast reservoir.

Out in this wasteland rested a haunting reminder of long-ago battles on this same swath of southern Ukraine: a swastika, chipped into a rock, had emerged from the receding water. The year “1942’’ was written next to it.

“History is repeating itself,” Mr. Shkalikov, a tank driver on leave from the Ukrainian army, said of the World War II-era carving. He noted the timing: The Swastika had become visible because of more recent act of war, the explosion at the Kakhovka dam in June that drained a reservoir the size of the Great Salt Lake in Utah.

“We are fighting this war on the same landscape and with the same weapons” as those used in World War II, he said, evoking the heavy artillery and tanks that still shape the course of a land war.

World War II has been an ideological battlefield in today’s war in Ukraine, with Russia falsely calling Kyiv’s government neofascist and citing that as the rationale for its invasion. The country’s military history is cropping up on the actual battlefield as well, not just with artifacts in the soil but in the lessons Ukraine has learned from a war fought long ago.

Terrain and rivers have often channeled the armies of today into the sites of some of the fiercest fighting in World War II, when German and Soviet troops swept over the valleys and the expanses of wide-open plains.

Indeed, key battles have coincided so closely with the sites of World War II fighting, the Ukrainian military says, that soldiers have found themselves taking cover in 80-year-old concrete bunkers outside Kyiv. They have discovered the bones of German soldiers and Nazi bullet casings in the dirt they removed from trenches in the south.

Is Someone Out There?

George Friedman

Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer and Republican Sen. Mike Rounds are filing legislation demanding that the federal government reveal the files on what it knows about unidentified anomalous phenomena. The government has refused to declassify much of the information while admitting that such files exist.

What is in these files is significant in two ways. First and obviously, the presence of alien warships – if they are there and if they are warships – represents a potential threat to all of Earth. This is not a trivial matter. Second and obviously transcendently important, I am writing a book on the geopolitics of space. The core actors are human nations, whose roots are on Earth and who are likely to use space as a new battleground. If the dog men of Andromeda have us in their sights, I must rewrite the book and move up the deadline for submission. However farfetched the threat of an invasion from space may seem, the continual insistence by the Pentagon and the CIA that they have discovered nothing of concern fuels fear. If there is nothing to fear out there, then why not release the files?

There are plausible and good reasons for withholding this information. Suspicions about what were then called UFOs began around the end of World War II and the start of the Cold War. By the mid-1950s, the U.S. and the Soviet Union had nuclear weapons. Both also had land systems for detecting missile launches, and it was essential that these capabilities remain secret. The other side could not know the other’s methods and effectiveness. If these same technologies detected UFOs, then revealing that information could compromise national defense.

The problem with this argument is that surveillance of near-Earth space has been underway since the 1950s. Revealing findings from before the deployment of the current generation of sensors would not compromise anything important. The government’s resistance to releasing even highly redacted reports is odd. One theory is that the government thinks we, the public, would panic if we knew the truth. Perhaps we would, but better now than when the invasion begins.

Another among many possible reasons for secrecy is that a covert war is already being waged with the Andromedons. They may have taken control of the candidates for president. It would explain much. But if we are facing an enemy that projects major force many light-years from home, then we are hosed anyway, and the signal to party should be given.

Putin’s Deadly Blow to Grain Deal Will Hurt Ukraine – and World’s Poorest

Nikhil Kumar

Russia’s decision Monday to pull out of a critical deal that allows the export of Ukrainian grain by sea may drive up global food prices and hit hardest among the world’s poor.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmtry Peskov said the Kremlin had “suspended” its participation in the year-old agreement, which Moscow claims favors Ukraine.

“As soon as the Russian part is fulfilled, the Russian side will immediately return to the implementation of that deal,” he said, referring to Putin’s demands that in return for Russia facilitating Ukrainian exports, the West do more to help Moscow sell its agricultural products on the world markets.

The developments Monday triggered global alarm, with policymakers worrying about a fresh spike in international food prices as markets factor in a cutoff in supplies from Ukraine, a leading producer of key staples such as wheat, corn and sunflower oil. The grain deal, a rare diplomatic victory in the midst of the war, has helped bring prices down—and in turn, helped poorer nations secure the grain they need to feed their people.

Before the war, the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN agency which is a lifeline for Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and other countries ravaged by war and drought, sourced around 40 % of its grain from Ukraine. The end of the deal means the UN will have to buy grain elsewhere—almost certainly at higher costs, straining its budget and limiting what it can purchase.

Russia’s suspension of the deal will “strike a blow to people in need everywhere,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres told reporters in New York.

“Hundreds of millions of people face hunger and consumers are confronting a global cost-of-living crisis. They will pay the price,” he said.

EU wants AI Act to be global benchmark, but Asian countries are not convinced

Efforts from EU officials to convince Asian countries including Japan, South Korea and India of the need for strict AI rules are receiving a lukewarm reception. 

Many countries such as Singapore are taking a “wait and see” approach to the booming AI industry to avoid stifling innovation

Europe wants to set the global benchmark for rules governing artificial intelligence, but Asia appears not so keen. Photo: Reuters

The European Union is lobbying Asian countries to follow its lead on artificial intelligence in adopting new rules for tech firms that include disclosure of copyrighted and AI-generated content, according to senior officials from the EU and Asia.

The EU and its member states have dispatched officials for talks on governing the use of AI with at least 10 Asian countries including India, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and the Philippines, they said.

The bloc aims for its proposed AI Act to become a global benchmark on the booming technology the way its data protection laws have helped shape global privacy standards.

However, the effort to convince Asian governments of the need for stringent new rules is being met with a lukewarm reception, seven people close to the discussions told Reuters.

Many countries favour a “wait and see” approach or are leaning towards a more flexible regulatory regime.

The officials asked not be named as the discussions, whose extent has not been previously reported, remained confidential.

We Are In The First Open Source Intelligence War


A thesis I cannot prove but I believe: We are witnessing the world’s first war where open source intelligence is providing more actionable insights than classified sources.

In this war:Tiktok provided direct evidence of the nature of troop and equipment movements.
Commercial imagery showed field deployment locations, field hospitals, then proof of movement to invade.

Dating apps provided indications of which military units are being deployed.

Twitter gave a platform for highly skilled deeply experienced open source analysts to provide insights.

Cloud connected smartphones with a wide range of capabilities throughout Ukraine gave direct tactical insights into how the war was and is being prosecuted.

Open source analysts are listening into and translating military communications.

Analysts using open flight protocols devised methods of rapidly tracking the aircraft of Russian oligarchs and other high priority targets, as well as military aircraft.

Analysts and hobbyists established methods of using freely available ship tracking information (AIS data) to provide foundational data on shipping situational awareness, including showing ships carrying oil and coal. Status of shipping in Black Sea also analyzed and useful.

Citizens with technology stolen by invading Russians have been able to track some unit locations and feed this into open source systems

Cybersecurity analysts and cyber threat intelligence companies are sharing indicators of incidents faster than ever and before any tipping and queuing by government sources.

Historians with great context on culture and history are more rapidly collaborating and sharing relevant insights.

Irregular Warfare Education “A lifelong Process”

Paul Burton

“If traditional Warfare is checkers with violence, Irregular Warfare is not just chess, it is nine simultaneous chess games where pawn to queen four in one game affects the other eight games, every move has a symbiotic relationship with each other”. Author Afghanistan 2004

Checker games are short, and although they do require a strategy the complexity in contrast with chess is incomparable. The complication of nine games of chess is significant, but if your peer competitor plays “Go” (Henry Kissinger), we now have game board disconnect. How does the Department of Defense prepare strategic and operational level thinkers to link these board games and win? Can policy makers even define what winning is? The education process to enable successful Irregular Warfare (IW) campaigning is lengthy and does not fit into the traditional professional military education model, it is an iterative lifelong learning process that combines several pillars: a unique pedagogy, didactic, methodology, a form of classical liberal arts education, self-study, and experience. Those fundamental foundations provide the skills to think, plan, and execute in the realm of IW campaigning.

The Department of Defense has educational infrastructure, the comparison of educational budget to training budget is clearly disproportionate. Additionally, decades of focus on Violent Extremist Organizations have created a dearth in intellectual thought with regards to IW. Many of our interagency counterparts lack the capability and capacity to advance IW education which inhibits the execution of IW campaigns against peer’s because they are integral to the execution in protracted struggles. This is particularly concerning since many of these agencies​'​ policy makers should help define the political objectives that the military will help accomplish. I will delimit this article to a discussion primarily focused on Army Special Operations Forces (SOF) education not training.

The EU Urges the US to Join the Fight to Regulate AI

THE WORLD'S MOST valuable and dominant internet companies are based in the US, but the nation’s unproductive lawmakers and business-friendly courts have effectively outsourced the regulation of tech giants to the EU. That has given tremendous power to Didier Reynders, the European commissioner for justice, who is in charge of crafting and enforcing laws that apply across the 27-nation bloc. After nearly four years on the job, he’s tired of hearing big talk from the US with little action.

Ahead of his latest round of biannual meetings with US officials, including attorney general Merrick Garland in Washington, DC, tomorrow, Reynders told WIRED why the US needs to finally step up, where a probe into ChatGPT is headed, and why he made contentious comments about one of the world’s most prominent privacy activists. His bicoastal tour began with a Waymo robotaxi ride through San Francisco (he gave it a rave review) and include meetings with Google and California’s privacy czar.
On the Costs of US Inaction

It’s been five years since the EU’s stringent privacy law, the GDPR, went into effect, giving Europeans new rights to protect and control their data. Reynders has heard a series of proposals for how the US could follow suit, including from Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other tech executives, Facebook whistleblowers, and members of Congress and federal officials. But he says there has been no “real follow up.”

Although the US Federal Trade Commission has reached settlements with tech companies requiring diligence with user data under threat of fines, Reynders is circumspect about their power. “I'm not saying that this is nothing,” he says, but they lack the bite of laws that open the way to more painful fines or lawsuits. “Enforcement is of the essence,” Reynders says. “And that's the discussion that we have with US authorities.”

Now Reynders fears history is repeating with AI regulation, leaving this powerful category of technology unchecked. Tech leaders such as Sam Altman, CEO of ChatGPT developer OpenAI, says they want new safeguards, but American lawmakers seem unlikely to pass new laws.

The Newest Weapon in Irregular Warfare – Artificial Intelligence

Mohamad Mirghahari

On the morning of 22 May, 2023, an artificial intelligence (AI) generated image of an explosion at the Pentagon surfaced online and spread like wildfire throughout social media. Multiple news sources reported and shared the AI-generated image on their platforms. As a result, markets responded to the reports and image, and the S&P 500 index fell in just minutes after its reporting, causing a $500 billion market cap swing, even though this image was quickly proven as fake.

Artificial intelligence provides an ever-expanding set of new tools that can be applied in irregular warfare, from targeted disinformation campaigns to military deception (MILDEC). In 2012, a Department of Defense (DoD) Joint Publication defined MILDEC as content “intended to deter hostile actions, increase the success of friendly defensive actions, or to improve the success of any potential friendly offensive action.” The Pentagon deep fake (or AI-generated image), which served to negatively impact the U.S. economy and create a substantial amount of confused and misleading reporting, demonstrates that this technology can be used for military deception purposes.

By using artificial intelligence to create different mediums for influence, one can potentially create the illusion of an ongoing war, an attack, a resistance movement, and other versions of collateral for information operations. This use of AI can meet the goals of MILDEC as defined by the DoD.

The image of the explosion at the Pentagon is just the tip of the iceberg of how AI could be used not only to drive disinformation, but also to conduct economic sabotage. Across multiple domains, AI can be an essential part of achieving the objectives of any military operation.

AI can also be used to directly support irregular warfare, such as cyber and influence operations, in a number of ways, both strategically and tactically.

Mitigating AI-Based Cyberattacks

Carlo Tortora Brayda

The enemies have the machine gun while most of us are still hurling rocks. That’s how it feels today in the tech teams of many—if not most—mid-sized companies.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is advancing at an exponentially accelerated pace, and there is growing evidence and concern about its use in offensive cyberattacks. The prospect of cybercriminals or even nation-states wielding lightning-fast AI-powered penetration sequences to breach networks, steal data and cause damage is a sobering one. However, it is possible to mitigate the dangers of AI in offensive cyberattacks through proactive measures, continuous monitoring and ongoing development.

AI can also analyze data more effectively, giving attackers greater insight into vulnerabilities and allowing them to identify breach paths more accurately. This has created a whole new layer of complexity in the life of a CISO, as traditional cybersecurity solutions no longer suffice. Multifactor authentication (MFA), regular patching, endpoint security and well-implemented firewalls are the basics.

Fight AI With AI

But true AI-based solutions should be considered because you can only battle AI with AI. A human-only-based security operations center (SOC) no longer cuts it. Regular flesh and bones folks do not have the speed to observe, detect, identify and respond fast enough.

Humans remain critically essential but are now only part of the solution, and to make that part effective, training in the latest technologies and blue, red and purple teaming protocols are becoming increasingly important. Using cyber ranges needs to become the norm. Just recently, for example, AI cyberattacks and real-time response strategies are being tested to the limits in Estonia’s capital, Tallinn, at the CR14 NATO Cyber Range. However, these training and proving grounds must become available and appealing to the larger community of businesses and institutions, especially in critical infrastructure.

AI's Vulnerabilities

How judges, not politicians, could dictate America’s AI rules

Melissa Heikkiläarchive 

It’s becoming increasingly clear that courts, not politicians, will be the first to determine the limits on how AI is developed and used in the US.

Last week, the Federal Trade Commission opened an investigation into whether OpenAI violated consumer protection laws by scraping people’s online data to train its popular AI chatbot ChatGPT. Meanwhile, artists, authors, and the image company Getty are suing AI companies such as OpenAI, Stability AI, and Meta, alleging that they broke copyright laws by training their models on their work without providing any recognition or payment.

If these cases prove successful, they could force OpenAI, Meta, Microsoft, and others to change the way AI is built, trained, and deployed so that it is more fair and equitable.

They could also create new ways for artists, authors, and others to be compensated for having their work used as training data for AI models, through a system of licensing and royalties.

The generative AI boom has revived American politicians’ enthusiasm for passing AI-specific laws. However, we’re unlikely to see any such legislation pass in the next year, given the split Congress and intense lobbying from tech companies, says Ben Winters, senior counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center. Even the most prominent attempt to create new AI rules, Senator Chuck Schumer’s SAFE Innovation framework, does not include any specific policy proposals.

“It seems like the more straightforward path [toward an AI rulebook is] to start with the existing laws on the books,” says Sarah Myers West, the managing director of the AI Now Institute, a research group.

And that means lawsuits. Lawsuits left, right, and center

A quick guide to the most important AI law you’ve never heard of

Melissa Heikkiläarchive

It’s a Wild West out there for artificial intelligence. AI applications are increasingly used to make important decisions about humans’ lives with little to no oversight or accountability. This can have devastating consequences: wrongful arrests, incorrect grades for students, and even financial ruin. Women, marginalized groups, and people of color often bear the brunt of AI’s propensity for error and overreach.

The European Union thinks it has a solution: the mother of all AI laws, called the AI Act. It is the first law that aims to curb these harms by regulating the whole sector. If the EU succeeds, it could set a new global standard for AI oversight around the world.

But the world of EU legislation can be complicated and opaque. Here’s a quick guide to everything you need to know about the EU’s AI Act. The bill is currently being amended by members of the European Parliament and EU countries.
What’s the big deal?

The AI Act is hugely ambitious. It would require extra checks for “high risk” uses of AI that have the most potential to harm people. This could include systems used for grading exams, recruiting employees, or helping judges make decisions about law and justice. The first draft of the bill also includes bans on uses of AI deemed “unacceptable,” such as scoring people on the basis of their perceived trustworthiness.

The bill would also restrict law enforcement agencies’ use of facial recognition in public places. There is a loud group of power players, including members of the European Parliament and countries such as Germany, that want a full ban or moratorium on its use in public by both law enforcement and private companies, arguing that the technology enables mass surveillance.

AI tools spark anxiety among Philippines’ call center workers


The Philippines is a global giant in outsourced office work. Its roughly 1.6 million workers are on the front lines for replacement by generative AI.

The country’s parliament and industry are attempting to find ways to handle the technological shift without huge job losses. But finding consensus has been hard — and generative AI is moving fast.

Bernie’s customers don’t know it, but the diplomatic charm of generative artificial intelligence has been smoothing out all of their exchanges. His bosses don’t know, either — and he would be in trouble if they did.

Bernie, who requested to be identified only by his first name as he feared retribution from his employer, works as a technical support agent in a massive IT call center in the Philippines. His customers are English speakers, often irritated and short on patience as they reach out to him while battling a malfunctioning program or network issues. Since 2022, as tools like ChatGPT and Bing exploded in popularity, Bernie has been quietly using them in the background to generate responses.

“It made my work easier. I can even get ideas on how to approach certain complaints, making [my answers] appear engaging, persuasive, empathetic. It can give you that, depending on the prompt that you input,” Bernie told Rest of World. Though he thinks he isn’t the only tech support worker using AI for this purpose, he said the “other agents have tended to be completely dependent on the AI responses, and they sometimes end up giving a response that is inappropriate to the customer’s concerns.”

Cyberattacks are Warfare

Van Hipp

Cyberattacks inflict real harm on America.

This is especially so from a national security and economic standpoint.

Following air, land, sea, and space cyberattacks are the fifth dimension of warfare.

It's the most complex national security challenge we've ever faced.

Continued cyberattacks on our nation’s critical infrastructure, as well as numerous cyberattacks on American businesses actually damage the American economy.

Annually, we lose more intellectual property on government, university, and business networks than all the intellectual property housed n the Library of Congress.

As recently as last month, multiple U.S. agencies, including the Department of Energy, were hit with a targeted cyberattack.

A Russian-based cyber-extortion gang is the likely culprit, as the result of a hack of a file-transfer program commonly used by governments and businesses.

What's particularly sad is that this attack, as well as many other recent cyberattacks, could have been avoided, if only our government complied with its own cybersecurity recommendations.

Willie Crenshaw, the former program executive of NASA’s Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) program, whom this writer has known personally for a number of years, told me directly, "The government has a good program in CDM.

"Agencies and departments should stay the course and implement the program holistically, and that includes the best of breed tools, governance, and management.