31 July 2023

Unlike China, India Cannot Be an Economic Superpower


Beginning in the mid-1980s, the prevailing belief among Indian and international observers was that the authoritarian Chinese regime would mismanage its economy, while democratic India would emerge as the bigger and more developed of the two. Instead, India is now paying the price for underinvesting in its human capital.

PRINCETON – In March 1985, the Wall Street Journal showered India’s new prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, with its highest praise. In an editorial titled “Rajiv Reagan,” the newspaper compared the 40-year-old Gandhi to “another famous tax cutter we know,” and declared that deregulation and tax cuts had triggered a “minor revolution” in India.

Three months later, on the eve of Gandhi’s visit to the United States, Columbia University economist Jagdish Bhagwati was even more effusive. “Far more than China today, India is an economic miracle waiting to happen,” he wrote in the New York Times. “And if the miracle is accomplished, the central figure will be the young prime minister.” Bhagwati also praised the reduced tax rates and regulatory easing under Gandhi.

The early 1980s marked a pivotal historical moment, as China and India – the world’s most populous countries, with virtually identical per capita incomes – began liberalizing and opening up their economies. Both countries elicited projections of “revolution” and “miracle.” But while China grew rapidly on a strong foundation of human-capital development, India shortchanged this aspect of its growth. China became an economic superpower; projections of India as next are little more than hype.

The differences have been long in the making. In 1981, the World Bank contrasted China’s “outstandingly high” life expectancy of 64 years to India’s 51 years. Chinese citizens, it noted, were better fed than their Indian counterparts. Moreover, China provided nearly universal health care and its citizens – including women – enjoyed higher rates of primary education.

Afghanistan shows the U.S. needs a doctrine not just for fighting wars, but also leaving them


There are fresh lessons to be learned from the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, witnesses told lawmakers in a Thursday hearing that—unlike earlier ones intended to make sense of what happened or affix political blame—produced some helpful recommendations for avoiding future catastrophes.

Closing Bagram Air Field and evacuating out of Hamid Karzai International Airport was a massive mistake, Command Sgt. Maj. Jacob Smith of the 10th Mountain Division told the House foreign affairs committee.

In the leadup to the August 2021 evacuation, Smith testified, he told superiors that “Bagram held the logistical capability to meet the requirements of 103,000 people. Bagram had over 35,000 bed spaces and could create more using cots within the airfield hangars if necessary. Bagram had four dining facilities and food together...had tens of thousands of gallons of potable water and on-site water for purification capabilities…the greatest life-saving capability of any hospital remaining in Afghanistan.”

He was overruled, he said, because the State Department believed the airport would be more comfortable.

The U.S. Army made its own mistakes, Smith said, by initially assigning just a single rifle company to provide security for the evacuation.

“For approximately six weeks before things began to unravel in mid-August, an area that [had been] protected by hundreds of soldiers and contractors was not protected by 113 American soldiers and two companies of our Turkish department forces,” he said.

That number should have been closer to a battalion, he said.

There’s something odd about where China is building solar power

Joseph Webster

While China’s deployment of solar panels is highly impressive, its actual generation from these assets is much less so. China is apparently deploying scarce solar assets irrationally, installing substantial numbers of solar panels in several renewables-poor provinces while largely ignoring sun-soaked regions. Even worse, more than half of China’s new solar installations are dedicated to “distributed” rooftop generation sites, which suffer from poor utilization factors compared with utility-scale solar from power plants.

While China’s solar deployment has been extremely wasteful from an economic or environmental perspective, the shape of Beijing’s solar build may be influenced in part by security considerations. While rooftop solar increases an electricity grid’s “attack surface” and potential exposure to cyberattacks, it also disperses generation and generally increases system resilience, especially if microgrids are employed. Beijing’s solar strategy has evidently prioritized deployment of rooftop solar for government buildings and in provinces that hold key naval bases. If tensions over Taiwan, for example, increase or even break into open conflict, mainland China’s distributed deployment of rooftop solar could reduce its overall vulnerability to cyberattacks or other disruptions, granting Beijing’s leadership greater flexibility.
A curious story

China’s solar industry is a major success story, in many respects. The country has cumulatively deployed over 425 gigawatts (GW) of solar electricity capacity, with a whopping 33.7 GW installed in the first quarter of this year alone. China is easily the world’s largest solar market by capacity.

Yet much of this capacity has been deployed wastefully. China’s best solar regions are found in the northern and western parts of the country, but Beijing has not prioritized solar development of these regions. Inner Mongolia’s solar resources, its proximity to Beijing and other major electricity demand centers, and its potential usefulness for Chinese energy security render it ideally suited to host solar capacity. Yet the Chinese province holds only 15 GW of solar capacity, less than areas such as Anhui or Hebei that suffer from worse solar economics.

Xi’s Long Game in Cyberspace is Not Just About Power


A Chinese press has recently published Excerpts of Xi Jinping’s Discourse on Cyberspace Superpower, a book on Xi Jinping’s views on making China into an Internet powerhouse, and how such an endeavor is a necessary component to bolstering the country’s industries, economy, and ideological security. The book is a comprehensive deep dive into Xi’s thinking about cyberspace and the Internet’s relation to state power, providing a summary of China’s Communist Party (CCP) experience implementing cyber-related regulation as an important facilitator for China’s technological development and overall cybersecurity posture. This book serves as a complement to other volumes that have captured Xi’s speeches and writings on key issues as perceived through the prism of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Ostensibly, the latest book achieves a similar objective, promoting his leadership as instrumental to China’s legal and regulatory cyber accomplishments.

It is clear that Xi has been pivotal in shaping China’s cyber evolution since coming to power in 2012, both as a means to make China into a legitimate global competitor and influencer, as well as ensuring that all facets of cyberspace are leveraged to secure his and the CCP’s positions in the country. During his tenure, China has not only become the most pervasive actor conducting various acts of cyber malfeasance across the globe but has become a fierce technological competitor as well as a technological partner to the global community. Regardless of the technological security concerns associated with China, the country continues to be one with whom others seek to cooperate as it leads the global community in 37 out of 44 critical technologies with the West drifting behind, according to an Australian think tank.

Under Xi’s stewardship, cyber has been a means to not only expand China’s interests but protect them as well. Beijing has been able to execute several different cyber-related initiatives ranging from technology advancement, enactment of protective legislation, delivering messages, and projecting influence. At a recent July national meeting on work concerning cybersecurity and informatization, Xi emphasized the Party’s role in shaping cyberspace, developing it for the people, taking a path of Internet governance with Chinese characteristics, and underscoring the importance of cybersecurity in the “new era,” a term used to categorize the guiding principles China under Xi’s presidency. Such multi-tasking has been impressive and can only be done effectively under a solitary unified vision of what the intended outcome is to be, an easier feat to achieve for an authoritarian regime than other forms of government.

Ryan Hass On Taiwan: Taiwan is a partner with the United States, not an asset

Since the end of World War II, there have been periods when prominent American voices have argued that Taiwan is a strategic asset for the United States that must be kept from China. In the early 1950s, General Douglas MacArthur described Taiwan as an “unsinkable aircraft carrier” that would be critical to America’s ability to project force in the Pacific. Later, in the 1950s and 1960s, American leaders came to view Taiwan as a strategic liability, fearing that Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) would drag the United States into war with China. Then, in America’s post-Cold War unipolar moment, a group of neoconservatives urged the United States to do whatever it took to prevent Taiwan from unifying with the People’s Republic of China. Today, a similar set of arguments is reemerging in America’s debates over its policy toward Taiwan.

The US Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) is the latest to make the case. In an unclassified report, ONI reportedly said, “If China was to win control of Taiwan, it would be disastrous for the US, even if China did not use military force.” In other words, Taiwan is a critical node that must be kept on America’s side in its great power rivalry with China.

Notwithstanding the fact that ONI’s job is to offer analysis to policymakers, not policy prescriptions, this line of reasoning is becoming more common in American policy debates. For some in Taiwan, such expressions of American conviction might sound reassuring. Even so, be careful what you wish for. The more Taiwan comes to be seen in American policy debates as an asset, the greater the risk that American policymakers will seek to instrumentalize Taiwan to advance American strategic objectives, whether they align with Taiwan’s interests or not.

From a China strategy to no strategy at all: Exploring the diversity of European approaches

Bernhard Bartsch, Claudia Wessling

Ten years after Xi Jinping took the helm in China, European countries have become more aligned on how to deal with China. However, approaches towards the aspiring world power vary depending on the intensity of relations, the extent and nature of economic dependence as well as attitudes towards the authoritarian government in China.

Some European countries have devised national China strategies, some prefer a less public, more decentralized approach, others do not consider China an important issue for their national politics. National approaches and their evolution in recent years are laid out in the country chapters of this report by the European Think-tank Network on China (ETNC).

The authors from 22 European think tanks and research institutions take stock of national approaches to China across EU members states and important countries such as the United Kingdom, Norway and Switzerland. The MERICS office in Brussels provided a chapter outlining current EU policies vis-à-vis China.

Authors focused on the following guiding questions:National China strategies: Where do member states and other European countries stand?

Mechanisms: How do European countries coordinate and share information on China?

EU tools: Which national instruments exist for implementation?

Risk analysis: Which approaches do countries take?

Working with China: In which Chinese institutional frameworks do countries participate?

Spotlight on Taiwan: What activities exist in this contested space?

In spite of the many differences observed, the authors argue that there is common ground that could possibly facilitate a more coordinated European approach to China in the future.

What Does Turkey Actually Want?

Steven A. Cook

Not long after the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, concluded earlier this month, I attended a gathering at a friend’s house in the Washington, D.C., suburbs. As I stepped into the dining room where friends were drinking beer and devouring steamed crabs, one of them shouted, “There you are!” and asked me, “Can you explain to me what Erdogan did in Vilnius?” I promptly turned around and left the room. It was a Sunday, and I had been answering questions about Turkey and the NATO summit for weeks.

Putin Is Running Out of Options in Ukraine

Lawrence Freedman

Governments start wars in pursuit of various objectives, from conquering territory to changing the regime of a hostile state to supporting a beleaguered ally. Once a war begins, the stakes are immediately raised. It is one of the paradoxes of war that even as its original objectives drift out of reach or are cast aside, the necessity of not being seen as the loser only grows in importance—such importance, in fact, that even if winning is no longer possible, governments will still persevere to show that they have not been beaten.

The problem with losing goes beyond the failure to achieve objectives or even having to explain the expenditures of blood and treasure for little gain: loss casts doubt on the wisdom and competence of the government. Failure in war can cause a government to fall. That is often why governments keep on fighting wars: an admission of defeat could make it harder to hold on to power.

All of these dynamics are evident in Russia’s war against Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin set as his objectives the “denazification” and “demilitarization” of Ukraine. By the first, he presumably meant regime change, in which case the war has clearly been a failure. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s position is as strong as ever. As for demilitarization, Ukraine is on its way to becoming the most militarized country in Europe. Many of the Russian speakers in Ukraine on whose behalf Putin claimed to be acting now prefer to speak Ukrainian, while the Russian-speaking areas of the Donbas have been battered, deindustrialized, and depopulated because of this ruinous war.

Russian forces have failed to take complete control of any of the four oblasts, or administrative regions—Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia—that Putin claimed for Russia in September 2022. Much of the ground initially seized after the full-scale invasion has been relinquished, and more is being lost, albeit slowly, during the current Ukrainian offensive. Before February 2022, Russia could be confident that Ukraine would not be able to challenge the illegal annexation of Crimea, but now even Russia’s hold of the peninsula is no longer certain. Ukraine still hopes that its war aims—the liberation of all occupied land and the restoration of the borders created in 1991—can be achieved. Even if Ukraine’s current offensive falters, Russia lacks for now the combat power to seize the advantage and take more territory.

Russia’s Ruble Is Weakening Again

The currency's weakness is affecting consumers more than the state.

Amid mounting sanctions on the Russian financial sector, Moscow has limited avenues of interacting with the global financial system, especially in terms of access to major traded currencies. After Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, numerous Russian banks were disconnected from the SWIFT international financial messaging system, adding complications for Russian companies transacting in dollars or euros. Despite these hurdles, Russia has not only managed to sustain its foreign trade but also increased the usage of its national currency, the ruble. As of May 2023, the ruble accounted for 49.8 percent and 36.3 percent of payments for exports to Europe and Asia, respectively. The surge in the ruble’s usage owes much to the adoption of ruble-denominated payments for Russian natural gas supplies, which continue to flow to both European and Asian markets. Russia’s reorientation of trade flows to the East has also spurred greater reliance on the yuan.

US Spies Are Lobbying Congress to Save a Phone Surveillance ‘Loophole’

AN EFFORT BY United States lawmakers to prevent government agencies from domestically tracking citizens without a search warrant is facing opposition internally from one of its largest intelligence services.

Republican and Democratic aides familiar with ongoing defense-spending negotiations in Congress say officials at the National Security Agency (NSA) have approached lawmakers charged with its oversight about opposing an amendment that would prevent it from paying companies for location data instead of obtaining a warrant in court.

Introduced by US representatives Warren Davidson and Sara Jacobs, the amendment, first reported by WIRED, would prohibit US military agencies from “purchasing data that would otherwise require a warrant, court order, or subpoena” to obtain. The ban would cover more than half of the US intelligence community, including the NSA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the newly formed National Space Intelligence Center, among others.

The House approved the amendment in a floor vote over a week ago during its annual consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act, a “must-pass” bill outlining how the Pentagon will spend next year’s $886 billion budget. Negotiations over which policies will be included in the Senate’s version of the bill are ongoing.

In a separate but related push last week, members of the House Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to advance legislation that would extend similar restrictions against the purchase of Americans’ data across all sectors of government, including state and local law enforcement. Known as the “Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act,” the bill will soon be reintroduced in the Senate as well by one of its original 2021 authors, Ron Wyden, the senator’s office confirmed.

“Americans of all political stripes know their Constitutional rights shouldn’t disappear in the digital age," Wyden says, adding that there is a “deep well of support” for enshrining protections against commercial data grabs by the government “into black-letter law.”

The War That Defied Expectations

Phillips O’Brien

The Russian military was fast. So fast, analysts said, that the Ukrainian military stood little chance of resisting it in a conventional war. Moscow, after all, had spent billions of dollars upgrading the armed forces’ weapons and systems, reorganizing their structure, and developing new attack plans. The Russian military had then proved its worth by winning battles in small states, including during its invasion of Georgia and its air campaign in Syria. Experts believed that if Ukraine was attacked by Russia, Russia would quickly overwhelm Ukraine’s air defenses and launch a sweeping ground campaign that would rapidly envelop Kyiv.

Want Ukraine in the EU? You’ll have to reform the EU, too.

Carlo Bastasin

This piece is part of a series of policy analyses entitled “The Talbott Papers on Implications of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine,” named in honor of American statesman and former Brookings Institution President Strobe Talbott. Brookings is grateful to Trustee Phil Knight for his generous support of the Brookings Foreign Policy program.

Executive summary

On December 16, 2023, the European Council is expected to formally kick off the accession negotiations with Kyiv, following a defined schedule. Ukraine’s accession to the European Union (EU) is necessary and inevitable, but it may prove very costly for the current European member states. The process has huge political, financial, and institutional implications that no one can fully gauge today — particularly because the initiative is likely to open a new wave of enlargement to other countries — and which will immediately put pressure on EU member states’ commitment and thereby on EU cohesion. The challenge of integrating Ukraine into the EU requires Europe to find ways of deciding more promptly and efficiently on matters of common concern. Such institutional improvements are of essential importance for the EU, but they cannot be disconnected from the use of its resources. The EU needs larger financial resources of its own, and it must set up a European spending and taxation capacity to bolster its budget before its enlargement to Ukraine and the other Eastern European countries takes place. To effectively use this larger fiscal capacity, the EU needs institutions that European citizens believe are responsible stewards of their money, as well as for the upstream political choices.

Ukraine’s path to accession

The European Commission’s website states bluntly and unequivocally: “The EU stands united with Ukraine.” Indeed, since Russia’s full-scale invasion on February 24, 2022, the European Union has proved both committed and united. It has provided support to Ukrainians seeking shelter and continued to “offer strong political, financial and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and impose hard-hitting sanctions against Russia and those complicit in the war.” In the longer term, Brussels has also promised to open its door for Kyiv’s accession to the EU, giving the Ukrainian people the prospect of stability and protection from Russia.

America can’t afford to ignore the logistics triad

Marcos A. Melendez III, Michael E. O’Hanlon, Jason Wolff

Logistics do not fit prominently into any of the military identities that Carl Builder, the famous RAND author, described for each of the nation’s three largest services in his masterful 1989 book, “Masks of War.” The Air Force prioritizes high technology. The Navy cherishes autonomy and thus the forward-deployed combat ships. The Army understands that it has many roles, but it still glorifies the great fights of World War II. By contrast, transports and tankers, refueling hubs and maintenance hangars, and the computers that link them all into a single network are often regrettably forgotten — even by the very generals and admirals who, according to the adage, supposedly think about them constantly. Since those fancy weapons and combat formations cannot function without logistics, that is a big problem. Since logistics in today’s world would be contested by the adversary in any high-end war against Russia or China, the penalty for undervaluing logistics could be even greater than before.

In the modern American defense debate, with its emphasis on great power competition and, most specifically, the deterrence of China, a number of military capabilities are getting lots of attention. They include hypersonic missiles, artificial intelligence, precision munitions, long-range stealth bombers, and submarines. Less sexy, but just as crucial are military logistics — the systems that deploy forces around the world and supply them with the water, fuel, ammunition, food, spare parts, medical care, and other essentials needed to make them effective in combat. If the United States fights China in the Western Pacific, the Chinese can fight from “home station.” That advantage drastically reduces their logistics challenges relative to those faced by the United States (though if the United States can transform the conflict into a broader regional fight over control of the sea lines of communication, the challenges faced by the two sides may be comparable). We need to make the logistics triad — transport systems, physical military infrastructure, and digital/cyber infrastructure tying everything together — a top priority in our defense modernization efforts as well.


Missile threats are more than just theoretical — here are realistic solutions


A threat-representative ICBM target launches from the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands March 25, 2019. It was successfully intercepted by two long-range Ground-based Interceptors launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., in the first salvo test of GBIs. (DVDS)

The missile barrages hitting Ukraine daily have shown a spotlight on the very real need for coordinated, integrated missile defense. In an attempt to get their hands around the threat, the National Academy of Public Administration launched a large review of how the US develops and acquires missile defense systems. Two of the reviews authors, William Greenwalt and Roger Kodat, lay out their findings below.

For the past 17 months, a wide variety of ordnance from ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, manned bombers, and unmanned aerial systems have terrorized the civilian population of Ukrainian cities and towns, the kind of sustained bombardment not seen since the London Blitz of World War Two. Catastrophic losses have only been prevented by the kludging together of an eclectic integrated Ukrainian air, missile, and counter-drone defensive system.

As the need for such defenses becomes a constant in warfare, a congressionally directed panel of the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) has reviewed how the United States develops and acquires capabilities to defend its own forces and homeland from the threat of four segments of weapons: ballistic missiles, hypersonic systems, cruise missiles, and uncrewed aircraft systems. Unfortunately, the panel’s conclusions are clear: there is much that needs to be done.

The global missile threat environment is growing both in scale and speed. Russia’s prolific missile deployment in its invasion of Ukraine, the meteoric rise in China’s ability to project its military presence, North Korea’s active rocket testing program, and Iran’s ability to accumulate enough requisite material to build a nuclear weapon underscore a rapidly increasing and lethal missile threat environment.

July has been so blistering hot, scientists already calculate that it’s the warmest month on record


WASHINGTON (AP) — July has been so hot thus far that scientists calculate that this month will be the hottest globally on record and likely the warmest human civilization has seen, even though there are several days left to sweat through.

The World Meteorological Organization and the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service on Thursday proclaimed July’s heat is beyond record-smashing. They said Earth’s temperature has been temporarily passing over a key warming threshold: the internationally accepted goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).

Temperatures were 1.5 degrees warmer than pre-industrial times for a record 16 days this month, but the Paris climate accord aims to keep the 20- or 30-year global temperature average to 1.5 degrees. A few days of temporarily beating that threshold have happened before, but never in July.

July has been so off-the-charts hot with heat waves blistering three continents – North America, Europe and Asia – that researchers said a record was inevitable. The U.S. Southwest’s all-month heat wave is showing no signs of stopping while also pushing into most of the Midwest and East with more than 128 million Americans under some kind of heat advisory Thursday.

“Unless an ice age were to appear all of sudden out of nothing, it is basically virtually certain we will break the record for the warmest July on record and the warmest month on record,” Copernicus Director Carlo Buontempo told The Associated Press.

Scientists say that such shattering of heat records is a harbinger for future climate-altering changes as the planet warms. Those changes go beyond just prolonged heat waves and include more flooding, longer-burning wildfires and extreme weather events that put many people at risk.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pointed to the calculations and urged world leaders, in particular of rich nations, to do more to reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases. Despite years of international climate negotiations and lofty pledges from many countries and companies, greenhouse gas emissions continue to go up.

Ukrainian Resistance Adapts to Key Role in Counteroffensive

Yuri Lapaiev

On July 19, the Ukrainian Armed Forces conducted a strike on a Russian ammunition depot in Crimea. Later, Major General Kyrylo Budanov, head of the Defense Intelligence Unit of Ukraine, confirmed the strike, calling it a “successful operation.” In his comments, he also thanked the “Ukrainian patriots” in Crimea for the additional intelligence and confirmation videos that were critical to the operation (T.me/kirilbudanov, July 19). Previously, Ukrainian intelligence and other branches of the armed forces had repeatedly urged those Ukrainians in the temporarily occupied territories to help in liberating these regions by providing information on enemy forces via specifically designated Telegram channels (Ukrinform, June 14; T.me/operativnoZSU, June 29).

Beyond providing intelligence to the army, some partisans have engaged in more active operations. For example, on June 25, Russian police killed Tigran Ogannisyan and Mykyta Khanganov, two teenagers living in the city of Berdyansk in occupied Zaporizhzhia region. Before their death, they claimed that they had killed two Russian law enforcement officers (Ukrainska Pravda, June 25). Later, Russian media stated that both had been pro-Ukrainian partisans who had already been arrested by the Federal Security Service (FSB) for alleged railway sabotage back in 2022. The boys’ parents remain adamant that the investigation and charges were fabricated and politically motivated. According to locals, one of their former teachers, Oleg Dryanev, reported the teenagers due to their position on the war (Ukrainska Pravda, June 27).

This episode demonstrates the variety of threats that the Ukrainian resistance encounters in the occupied territories: FSB operatives, pro-Russian neighbors, constant security checks, counterintelligence measures and a sprawling system of repression. The Russian authorities often report on arrests of pro-Ukrainian activists, immediately blaming them for acts of espionage or sabotage—though, at times, these arrests are politically motivated and used to prosecute Ukrainians or stage videos for psychological effects that are then amplified by pro-Russian media and bloggers (T.me/vrogov, June 18).

Hollywood Runs—and Ruins—U.S. Foreign Policy

Stephen M. Walt

The United States is exceptional in many ways—size, wealth, openness, isolation from other major powers—and one of them is a cultural predilection for the “Hollywood ending.” You know what I’m talking about: the climactic moment in a movie when the outnumbered and outgunned heroes turn the tables on their wicked foes and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. The good guys win, the bad guys lose (ideally in a humiliating and painful fashion), and all is right with the world. Oppenheimer notwithstanding, this is the kind of plotline that American audiences lap up like cold beer on a hot afternoon.

Three ways a technological revolution will impact the intel community

Emily Harding

In his thoughtful and significant speech titled “A World Transformed and the Role of Intelligence,” CIA Director Bill Burns laid out his case for how intelligence plays a pivotal role at this “plastic moment” in history. He led his Ditchley Annual Lecture with the challenge of Russia and China, but his most revealing point was his discussion of how intense disruption by new technologies may be the most important and wide-ranging shock to the system we face today. He called this moment “a revolution in technology more profound than the industrial revolution or the dawn of the nuclear age.”

He is, of course, correct. Rapid technological change is reshaping the way we live, work and fight. The U.S. and China are competing to be first in space tech, biotech, quantum tech and a whole host of other techs that will create everything from life-saving medicine and climate solutions to life-ending bioweapons and artificial intelligence-enabled autonomous weapons systems.

This technological revolution hits the intelligence community hard, and in three earth-shaking ways.

First, primacy in innovation has shifted from the intelligence community to industry. Until recently, the intelligence community had long been on the bleeding edge of technological advancement, and as a result it knew what was on the horizon before anyone else. In his speech, Burns recalled the CIA’s innovation successes of past decades, but he also gave a nod to the uncomfortable truth that the vast majority of innovation happens outside government.

That is by no means a bad thing; having an in-house production capacity for an infinite number of potential needs is both expensive and foolish. Instead, the ideal arrangement is a lean, agile intelligence community with a wide industrial base to lean on for the perfect bespoke widget at the perfect time. But the intelligence community, being in the business of secrecy, has always struggled with the right balance of protection of secrets and sharing with the private sector. The risk calculus too often defaults to “nope,” which is a recipe for stasis and dangerous blind spots.

'Zelenskyy is in a box': Some experts say Ukraine won't win the war: Updates

John Bacon Jorge L. Ortiz

The Ukraine military's intensified push to regain territory seized by Russia could jump-start Kyiv's slow-developing counteroffensive, but some experts say the war won't be won on the battlefield anyway.

Western officials said a surge in troops and firepower was underway in the southeastern Zaporizhzhia province, and Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged Thursday that “hostilities have intensified significantly.” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, asked this week about the progress Ukraine has made, stressed that "it's not a stalemate. They're not just frozen. The Ukrainians are moving."

Some experts, however, say a stalemate is the most likely scenario.

Steven Myers, an Air Force veteran who served on the State Department's Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy under two secretaries of State, told USA TODAY that one of the West’s narratives is that Putin planned to conquer Ukraine and continue west if not stopped. But Myers argues that Russia's military tactics have been "completely inconsistent with conquest." The agenda was, is and will always be to keep Ukraine out of NATO at all costs, he said.

"Strategically, this war was lost by both sides before it started. It will end in stalemate, which I now think was Putin’s intent from the get-go," Myers said. "President Biden, NATO and (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelenskyy have trapped themselves in a Catch-22 of their own making, unable to deliver on unrealistic expectations they created."

Sean McFate, a professor at Syracuse University and senior fellow at the nonpartisan Atlantic Council think tank, says Zelenskyy is "in a box. He can’t win but can’t afford to lose either." For more than a year he demanded increasingly sophisticated weapons and billions of dollars from NATO and promised to push Russia out in a spring offensive. That offensive "has been floundering," McFate says.

"NATO is experiencing donor fatigue and disappointment with Zelenskyy’s bluster," McFate told USA TODAY. "He’s losing credibility, Ukraine's main asset."

How to Win with Data: The US SOF-Cyber Partnership Supporting Ukraine

David Beskow, Daniel Hawthorne, Tommy Daniel

Winning the information war has been a strategic enabler for Ukraine since the Russian offensive began on February 24, 2022. Shortly after the invasion, various entities in Ukraine began systematically flooding Western news and social media with highlights of Ukrainian national resistance and tactical successes. These stories were sometimes false and often debunked, like the one about the “Ghost of Kiev,” a mythical Ukrainian fighter pilot who ruled the skies over the capital city. True or false, the stories knit together a tale of resistance, leadership, and early military successes that galvanized Western support and aid. Today, many Western countries, including the United States, are leveraging all elements of national power (diplomatic, information, military, and economic) to help Ukraine repel Russian assaults. However, the massive outpouring of foreign aid and support may not have materialized if Ukraine had failed to win the information war in the West.

The war in Ukraine highlights information’s important role in modern conflict; military and civilian leaders must understand the tactical, operational, and strategic implications of the information dimension in combat. For many reasons, the information dimension presents several complex problems that are difficult to answer. For example, which narratives will stick or go viral? How do narratives affect different audiences? How do adversaries adjust their narratives accordingly? What are the second- and third-order effects of releasing classified information? Adding to that complexity is the fact that most information operations are played out over several social and traditional media outlets and are largely dependent on the data that underlies those platforms – namely the commercial data, or data that is proprietary and commercialized by a company. Without access to commercial data research and analysis on the role of information in war is difficult and largely incomplete. To better understand how the information dimension can be leveraged successfully in modern warfare, the Department of Defense (DoD) should invest in data-centric lines of effort that exploit advances in machine learning, artificial intelligence, and computational social science to have an impact on the conventional and irregular battlefields and beyond.

Why Data Is Critical

The Ukrainian Advance South


Successful offense has long been very difficult, and it has normally required both demanding preparations and a permissive defender. But it offers decisive outcomes when conditions allow it, and such conditions recur with enough frequency to suggest that its demands are worth meeting.

In the past 48 hours, there have been multiple reports about Ukrainian progress in its southern campaign. In particular, reporting has centered on the advance of Ukrainian ground forces south of Orikhiv in western Zaporizhia Oblast. This is excellent news, although we must acknowledge the Ukrainian lives this has cost to achieve.

Notwithstanding this achievement, there is still some way to go before Ukrainian ground forces are able to make an operational breakthrough and advance to their southern seacoast.

In this post I wanted to explore in a little more detail the kinds of challenges that the Ukrainian ground forces are facing in the south, and what the West might be able to do in the short and medium terms to improve the ability of the Ukrainian armed forces to advance through the very complex defensive zones established by the Russians.

A crucial challenge is that the techniques and technologies of clearing minefields and breaching obstacles on the battlefield have not evolved over the past half century. This must change.

The Breach and Breakthrough Conundrum

I have previously explored the Russian defensive scheme in the south, and this has been mapped and reported on for months now. Last week, I explored the major challenges the Ukrainian ground forces were facing in their operations to rapid breach and breakthrough these Russian defences. A quick summary of these is below:

Why the U.S. still needs ground forces in Europe


Russia has faced several setbacks since its February 2022 attack on Ukraine: an estimated hundred thousand military casualties, including to some of its best units; the recent mutiny by Prighozin’s Wagner troops; and the ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive, which is slowly gaining ground. With these losses, the threat of a Russian attack against the NATO alliance has decreased, which has led some to argue that the U.S. should draw down its forces in Europe and focus on China’s more formidable threat.

But the bulked-up U.S. presence will remain necessary for at least three to five years, for at least three reasons: to preserve Ukraine’s sovereignty, to sustain U.S. commitments to NATO, and to encourage the development of partner nation capabilities that will eventually enable greater burden-sharing among allies.

A decade ago, the U.S. presence in Europe had shrunk to about 60,000 troops, a fraction of the Cold War posture that stationed 285,000 U.S. military personnel in Germany alone. But after Russia seized Crimea in 2014, the United States and its NATO allies positioned more forces on NATO’s eastern front. Among other units, the U.S. Army deployed a rotational armored brigade combat team to Poland, along with a division headquarters, and part of a combat aviation brigade.

After Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the U.S. dispatched another 20,000 personnel to Europe, including two more rotational brigade combat teams and another division headquarters. Gen. Chris Cavoli, commander of U.S. European Command, recently justified this troop increase by focusing on the need to deter further Russian aggression, noting that “Russian ground forces from the Western Military District retain a size advantage over regional military and NATO forces on the eastern flank.”

While these additional forces may help deter Russia from attacking NATO, they have critical roles beyond that.

Ukraine war: Western armour struggles against Russian defences

The general in charge of Ukraine's stuttering counter-offensive in the south has said Russian defences are making it difficult for military equipment, including Western tanks and armoured vehicles, to move forward.

Gen Oleksandr Tarnavskyi says his forces are struggling to overcome multi-layered minefields and fortified defensive lines.

"That is why most of the tasks have to be performed by troops."

He says Russia's military has displayed "professional qualities" by preventing Ukrainian forces from "advancing quickly".

"I don't underestimate the enemy," he adds.

Latest unconfirmed reports from the US suggest the main thrust of the counter-offensive has begun. The Institute for the Study of War says Ukrainian forces appear to have broken through "certain pre-prepared Russian defensive positions".

But so far there's little evidence that Western supplied tanks and armoured vehicles have been able to tip the balance decisively in Ukraine's favour.

Several Leopard tanks and US Bradley fighting vehicles were damaged or destroyed in the first days of the offensive, near the city of Orikhiv.

Ukraine's 47th Brigade, which had largely been trained and equipped by the West to try to break through Russian lines, were soon stopped in their tracks by mines and then targeted by artillery.

The War That Defied Expectations

Phillips O’Brien

The Russian military was fast. So fast, analysts said, that the Ukrainian military stood little chance of resisting it in a conventional war. Moscow, after all, had spent billions of dollars upgrading the armed forces’ weapons and systems, reorganizing their structure, and developing new attack plans. The Russian military had then proved its worth by winning battles in small states, including during its invasion of Georgia and its air campaign in Syria. Experts believed that if Ukraine was attacked by Russia, Russia would quickly overwhelm Ukraine’s air defenses and launch a sweeping ground campaign that would rapidly envelop Kyiv. They thought that Russia would shatter Ukraine’s supply lines and isolate most of the country’s forces. Ukraine’s inability to resist this onslaught appeared so obvious that some analysts suggested Kyiv might not be worth arming for a standard interstate war. As Rob Lee, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, told the British Parliament in early February 2022, Ukraine could not hold off Russia even if it were given “very capable” Western weapons. “If they get into a conventional fight with the Russian military,” Lee argued, “they are not going to win.”

Eighteen months later, it is clear that these expectations were wildly off the mark. Ukraine fought back with determination and smarts against Russia, halting Moscow’s advances and then driving Russian troops back from roughly half of the territory they seized in the last year and a half. As a result, Ukraine’s military looks far more powerful and Russia’s looks far weaker than virtually everyone expected.

In fact, the entire shape of the war is very different from what experts imagined. Rather than the fast-moving conflict led by phalanxes of armored vehicles, supported by Russia’s advanced piloted aircraft, that the analytical community imagined, the invasion was chaotic and slow. There has never been a quick armored breakthrough by the Russians and only one by the Ukrainians—last September’s surprise advance in the province of Kharkiv. Instead, almost all of the war’s gains have come gradually and at great expense. The conflict has been defined not by fighter jets and tanks but by artillery, drones, and even World War I–style trenches.

How the U.S. could squander its global AI lead

Ryan Heath

While the U.S. is leading the global AI innovation race, some executives and experts say America risks losing that economic and strategic advantage by not deploying the technology fast enough.

Why it matters: If the U.S. is too slow to integrate and adopt AI across its economy, they say, China may leverage it more effectively.

The big picture: Across China, AI is being deployed quicker than in the U.S. in many sectors, driven by higher levels of trust and nudges from the government.China's AI discussions are notable for their levels of enthusiasm and trust, as Axios previously reported.

What they’re saying: Anja Manuel, executive director of the Aspen Security Forum, told Axios she is struck by how energized Chinese AI entrepreneurs are."The government has created clear lanes for them," she said, whereas in Washington "there seems to be a sense that we can export control our way out of this problem. I don't think that's going to work: we have to move faster."

Microsoft president Brad Smith last week told the Aspen Security Forum last week: "Everyone focuses on a competition or race as to which country will develop stronger AI. What we miss is that there's a race of people to use and deploy AI, to move the frontier of competitiveness as a nation.""No one in the United States should ever underestimate the speed at which the Chinese economy, including in the private sector, or even the state owned enterprises, deploy new technology."

Between the lines: The U.S. has focused on slowing China's AI development by restricting exports of key chips and other equipment.But chip manufacturers warn that may also choke the market for chips made with CHIPS and Science Act subsidies.

Llama and ChatGPT Are Not Open-Source


Social media and advertising-technology company Meta recently released an update to its large language model Llama. Llama 2 was released as open source, providing users access to the model’s weights, evaluation code, and documentation. Meta states the open-source release was intended to make the model “accessible to individuals, creators, researchers, and businesses so they can experiment, innovate, and scale their ideas responsibly.”

However, compared to other open-source LLMs and open-source software packages more generally, Llama 2 is considerably closed off. Though Meta has made the trained model available, it is not sharing the model’s training data or the code used to train it. While thirdparties have been able to create applications that extend on the base model, aspiring developers and researchers have a limited ability to pick apart the model as is.

In research presented at the ACM Conference on Conversational User Interfaces, a group of AI researchers at Radboud University, in Nijmegen, Netherlands, argue that Llama 2 is not the only LLM to be questionably labeled as “open source.” In the paper, the scientists present a multidimensional assessment of model openness. They use this rubric to score 15 different nominally open-source LLMs on different aspects of their availability, documentation, and methods of access. The researchers have collected these assessments in an online table that they have since expanded to include 21 different open-source models. Smaller, research-focused models were included in the assessment if they were deemed, as stated in the preprint, “open, sufficiently documented, and released under an open source license.”

“Meta using the term ‘open source’ for this is positively misleading.” —Mark Dingemanse, Radboud University

Walking Through the Fog of Cyberwarfare

fantastic little splash is a Ukrainian-based collective comprising journalist/artist Lera Malchenko and artist/director Oleksandr Hants. The collective combines art practice and media studies, and is interested in utopias, dystopias, the collective imagination and its incarnations, projections, delusions, and uncertainties. Established in 2016, their projects have been exhibited at transmediale, post.MoMA, Plokta TV, Ars Electronica, Liste Art Fair Basel, Construction festival VI x CYNETART, KISFF, and Docudays, among others. In 2022 they participated in the transmediale x Pro Helvetia Residency 2022.

I first met fantastic little splash when they were participating in the “Bodies as Lands – Sociotechnical Imaginaries and Spatial Arrangements in Eastern Europe” residency programme at Nida Art Colony of the Vilnius Academy of Arts. During the presentation, I learned about their recent work see also, and later got a chance to see it at the “If Disrupted, It Becomes Tangible” exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Vilnius. Deeply touched by this work, I was very grateful for the opportunity to chat with Lera and Sasha over a Zoom call, and to dive deeper into the artwork and the questions it explores. The conversation took place in June 2023.

Yana: For those who haven’t seen the work, could you please briefly share what see also is about?

Sasha: see also is a project about the images of war, specifically images of Russia’s war against Ukraine. Since nowadays almost all images we consume are digital, we chose to focus specifically on them and on the emotions these images evoke.

Lera: We usually think about this project and introduce it as an interactive archive of distorted images and feelings. One of its characteristics is that all images are either blurred, compressed, or pixelated. For that we collected some found footage from Ukrainian Telegram channels and social media. And while working with them, we are trying to understand and reveal what effects social media and various messaging platforms and apps have on our emotions under cyberwar. By cyberwar, we mean the use of emerging technologies for military operations that are organized in parallel to actual combat on the battlefield. Such military operations can include both hacking attacks on digital infrastructures and informational operations through social networks and messengers. These operations can be used against the entire population, both military and civilian. Rather, it is the effects on civilians that we are most interested in, particularly in see also.

US Senator Wyden Accuses Microsoft of ‘Cybersecurity Negligence’

Ryan Naraine

Oregon senator Ron Wyden wants the U.S. government to hold Microsoft responsible for what he describes as “negligent cybersecurity practices” that enabled “a successful Chinese espionage campaign against the United States government.”

In a strongly worded letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and the heads of CISA and the FTC, Wyden said the software giant “bears significant responsibility” for the M365 cloud hack that started with the theft of a Microsoft encryption key.

“Since the hackers stole an MSA encryption key, the hackers could create fake authentication tokens to impersonate users and gain access to Microsoft-hosted consumer accounts, even if a user’s account was protected with multi-factor authentication and a strong password,” Wyden noted.

“Government emails were stolen because Microsoft committed another error,” Wyden declared.

When Microsoft acknowledged the hack and the stolen MSA key, the software giant said Outlook.com and Exchange Online were the only applications known to have been affected via the token-forging technique but new research shows that the stolen key gave Chinese hackers access to data beyond Exchange Online and Outlook.com.

The hack, which led to the theft of email from approximately 25 organizations, turned into a bigger embarrassment for Microsoft when customers complained they had zero visibility to investigate because they were not paying for the high-tier E5/G5 license. After intense public pressure, the company announced it would expand logging defaults for lower-tier M365 customers.

According to Senator Wyden, Microsoft never took responsibility for its role in the SolarWinds hacking campaign and instead blamed federal agencies and customers while using the incident to promote its Azure AD product.

The GAO on the Future of Blockchain in Finance


We continue our series on the Future of Blockchain with the adrenaline rush that is a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on Blockchain in Finance:Legislative and Regulatory Actions Are Needed to Ensure Comprehensive Oversight of Crypto Assets.

Joking aside, while GAO reports are in fact some of the drier fare that crosses our desk in the course of our research, this report is a window into the current thinking on U.S. regulation of the blockchain – and, for that, its clarity and straightforwardness is of value and worth a review.

This post is designed as a baseline assessment of how the incumbent financial regulators are thinking about blockchain in the financial systems – which will inform the growth of global, financial and monetary systems based on blockchain as an official global fiat currency system, with blockchain-based capture of value and transfer of value architectures. We continue to ask: What will be the role of U.S. regulation in this future system?

Featured Image: Generated with OpenAI’s DALL-E with the prompt “A financial ticker depicting crypto assets in a futuristic style”

Blockchain in Finance: Legislative and Regulatory Actions Are Needed to Ensure Comprehensive Oversight of Crypto Assets

“GAO found gaps in regulatory authority over two blockchain-related products that raise consumer and investor protection and financial stability concerns.”Blockchain technology records data and transactions in a shared, tamper-resistant, decentralized digital ledger—offering the promise of faster and cheaper financial transactions with no middlemen.

Recent price crashes, bankruptcies, and fraud involving blockchain-related products and services, such as crypto assets, raised concerns about how much regulation exists now and the risks consumers face. For example, there are gaps in federal regulation of stablecoins—a kind of crypto asset—and trading platforms for crypto assets, leaving consumers and investors subject to harm. (1)