1 August 2023

How India's Economy Will Overtake the U.S.'s


The brilliant and late economic historian Angus Maddison estimated that India was the world's largest economy for a staggering one and a half millennia. China surpassed India by 1820 but they remained the world’s two largest economies until 1870, when the twin effects of the Industrial Revolution in the West and European colonization were more fully felt. Britain then emerged as the world’s foremost economic power; that economic title passed to the U.S. by 1900. Yet amid increasing talk of Asia’s rise, is the world economy now poised to return to its old normal?

Prospects for such an outcome can hardly be overestimated. With its economy already 70% of the U.S. and growing at more than twice the latter's rate, China is poised to become the world’s largest economy between 2035 and 2040. But the next debate is over whether the Indian economy will also surpass the U.S.’s—and when.

The good news for India is that during the 15 years preceding COVID-19, the country sustained a real GDP growth rate of 8% compared with less than 2% for the U.S. If India can keep this up for the next two decades and grow 5% a year thereafter while the U.S. maintains its growth rate of 2%—two scenarios that are possible, if not likely—it would overtake the latter by 2073.

There are several factors working in India’s favor. To begin with, the country’s GDP per capita is less than 20% of China's and 5% of the U.S.'s. This yawning gap in productivity per person offers India vast opportunities to catch up. As the country accumulates capital and imparts skills to its workforce, it can achieve large productivity increases just by deploying the superior existing technologies.

The Complex Dance of US-China Climate Cooperation

Noman Ur Rashid

In a three-day state visit to China, US special envoy on climate change, John Kerry, labeled Climate Change as a “universal threat to humankind”; a sentiment also echoed by his Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua. As these two economic giants, also the world’s largest polluters, grapple with the pressing issue of climate change, which theoretically should be a common goal, the reality tells a different story. Climate diplomacy, when entangled with the historical complexities of US-China relations, unveils a complex dynamic between these two economic giants that inevitably influences every aspect of international relations – including climate change.

Reviewing some of the recent instances when the two tried to make progress, and how this fell apart, is useful. The major breakthrough came when the United States and China joined hands at COP26 for climate cooperation talks amidst political tensions. In a groundbreaking moment, both countries issued a joint declaration acknowledging the urgency of combating climate change and pledging to intensify their efforts. China’s top climate diplomat, Xie Zhenhua, emphasized the common ground between the nations, stating, “There is more agreement between the two countries than the divergence.” Xie’s statement was followed by John Kerry’s, who, while acknowledging the differences, recognized, “on Climate, cooperation is the only way to get the job done”. However, this success was short-lived.

Nancy Pelosi’s 2022 visit to Taiwan sparked further tensions. The ensuing situation essentially brought both countries at loggerheads that resulted in the suspension of all sorts of cooperation, including climate change. Beijing’s response to severing the climate cooperation was straightforward, asserting that no aspect of the bilateral relationship can be isolated from the broader political ties. Chinese diplomat Wang Yi succinctly captured this sentiment, stating that “climate cannot be an oasis surrounded by the desert.” The relationship was dealt with another blow in February 2023 when a Chinese spy balloon was shot down over American airspace, prompting the Secretary of State Antony Blinken to cancel his planned visit to China.

Air Force maverick who warned of war with China sticks to his guns

Dan Lamothe

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. — He’s been called a “big teddy bear,” a gruff “football coach” and a “cowboy” who needs to be put out to pasture. But one thing Gen. Michael A. Minihan is not: shy.

Here, where the suburbs of St. Louis meet the cornfields of southern Illinois, resides the four-star commander who, in uncommonly confrontational language for such a senior military officer, has ordered the 110,000 troops under his command to prepare for war.

With China.

Two years from now, maybe.

“I hope I am wrong,” he informed them in a January memo that went viral after one of its recipients leaked the document online. “My gut tells me we will fight in 2025.”

Minihan’s combustible rhetoric, including a directive for personnel to sharpen their marksmanship skills and “aim for the head,” is red meat for the China hawks in Congress who fear the United States is woefully underprepared should a conflict erupt in that part of the world. It has disturbed some in the Pentagon, however, as the general’s assertiveness has felt startlingly at odds with the Biden administration’s carefully calibrated attempt to reset relations with Beijing. Senior officials nonetheless have stuck by him — and he has pressed forward with an ambitious plan to “explode” into the Pacific in the event of a war.

This profile of Minihan, 56, is based on interviews with the general and 11 others, including members of his staff and Pentagon officials. Some spoke on the condition of anonymity to offer frank assessments of how Minihan’s candor has affected views of him.

At his headquarters in Illinois, Minihan said he “wasn’t being cutesy” with his bellicose memo but stressed that it was meant for an internal Air Force audience, not public consumption.

CCP’s increasingly sophisticated cyber-enabled influence operation

Albert Zhang

Last week, the US Department of Justice unsealed a significant criminal complaint. Police officers from China’s Ministry of Public Security (MPS) were charged with creating ‘thousands of fake online personas on social media sites, including Twitter, to target Chinese dissidents through online harassment and threats’ and for spreading ‘propaganda whose sole purpose is to sow divisions within the United States’.

This announcement marked the first definitive public attribution to a specific Chinese government agency of covert malign activities on social media. However, the MPS is one of many party-controlled organisations that analysts have long suspected of conducting covert and coercive operations to influence users on social media.

Under the guise of ‘guiding public opinion’, a policy concept that dates back to the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) justifies its manipulation of information to maintain social stability and political control over China. More recently, China’s authoritarian leader, Xi Jinping, has revived the Cultural Revolution-era term ‘public opinion struggle’ and declared social media ‘the main battlefield’ because of its ability to spread values and ideas—like human rights and democracy—that are perceived as threats to the party’s political legitimacy.

The CCP’s efforts to shape public opinion online now go beyond simply censoring dissidents and spreading pro-government propaganda. They are more global and aggressive, often directly interfering in state sovereignty and democratic discourse and supporting the party’s broader strategic and economic goals.

ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre has published a new report entitled ‘Gaming public opinion: The CCP’s increasingly sophisticated cyber-enabled influence operations’, alongside reporting by The Washington Post which explores the growing challenge of CCP cyber-enabled influence operations conducted within democracies through social media.

China’s Threat to Ban Critical Minerals Exports Is a Bluff

Agathe Demarais

Weaponizing commodities is in fashion. In September 2022, Russia cut off gas flows to Europe in a bid to weaken European economies after its invasion of Ukraine. Almost one year later, in July 2023, the Chinese government announced that exports of gallium and germanium, two niche metals used in technology manufacturing, would henceforth require licenses. These metals share two features. First, they form part of a group of around 30 raw materials that are crucial for the green energy transition, digital hardware, and defense production. Second, as is the case for many critical raw materials, China holds a dominant position for the mining and processing of gallium and germanium, giving Beijing leverage over Western economies.

U.S. Hunts Chinese Malware That Could Disrupt American Military Operations

David E. Sanger and Julian E. Barnes

A fighter jet taking off from Anderson Air Force Base in Guam earlier this year. The Chinese code, the officials say, appears directed at ordinary utilities that often serve both civilian populations and nearby military bases.Credit...Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

David Sanger has reported on the evolution of cyberconflict for more than 15 years. Julian Barnes covers the intelligence agencies. They reported from Washington and Aspen, Colo.

The Biden administration is hunting for malicious computer code it believes China has hidden deep inside the networks controlling power grids, communications systems and water supplies that feed military bases in the United States and around the world, according to American military, intelligence and national security officials.

The discovery of the malware has raised fears that Chinese hackers, probably working for the People’s Liberation Army, have inserted code designed to disrupt U.S. military operations in the event of a conflict, including if Beijing moves against Taiwan in coming years.

The malware, one congressional official said, was essentially “a ticking time bomb” that could give China the power to interrupt or slow American military deployments or resupply operations by cutting off power, water and communications to U.S. military bases. But its impact could be far broader, because that same infrastructure often supplies the houses and businesses of ordinary Americans, according to U.S. officials.

The first public hints of the malware campaign began to emerge in late May, when Microsoft said it had detected mysterious computer code in telecommunications systems in Guam, the Pacific island with a vast American air base, and elsewhere in the United States. But that turned out to be only the narrow slice of the problem that Microsoft could see through its networks.

Xi’s Security Obsession

Sheena Chestnut Greitens

Since he came to power in 2012, the Chinese leader Xi Jinping has been laser-focused on ensuring the security of his regime. He has purged potential political rivals, restructured the military and internal security apparatus, built an Orwellian surveillance state, and pushed through repressive new laws in the name of national security. Undergirding all these initiatives is what Xi calls the “comprehensive national security concept,” a framework for protecting China’s socialist system and the governing authority of the Chinese Communist Party, including that of Xi himself.

Climate Change Is Changing How We Dream


Martha Crawford started having climate change dreams about 11 or 12 years ago. Unlike many of her previously remembered dreams, these were not fragmented or nonsensical—they were “very explicit,” she recalls. “They didn’t require a lot of interpretation.” In one, she’s reading a textbook about climate change and then throws it behind the back of her couch, pretending it doesn’t exist. In another, she’s sitting in a lecture given by a climate scientist. But the professor starts yelling at her for not paying attention, and she fails the course. The meaning was pretty clear, says Crawford, a licensed clinical social worker: “You’re not paying attention, and you need to pay attention.”

The dreams eventually inspired her to start the Climate Dreams Project in 2019, and since, she’s been facilitating a space where people can share climate dream anecdotes, mostly anonymously.

One dream submitted to the collection was of people digging holes in the desert so that the rising seas would have somewhere to go. In another contribution, a Flood Football game was underway, and in the second half, players were floating on inner-tubes. Another person, who shared four climate dreams, recounted one in which billions of people were funneling into a giant room that looked like a video-game sports arena, but large enough to hold the world’s population. “At the end of the dream, the entire face of the earth was different,” they wrote. “It was completely icy and the only habitable part was a giant plateau with a city on it.”

It would seem that climate change has woven itself into the “fabric of dreaming” as Crawford puts it.

Studying dreams can be slippery. We don’t always remember them, and interpreting them is highly subjective. But, according to a survey of 1,009 people conducted by The Harris Poll in June on behalf of TIME, over a third of people in the U.S. have dreamed about climate change at least once in their lives.

Ukraine's Counter-Offensive: Setting Expectations


In a recent blog for Foreign Affairs I argued that even as Putin’s original objectives drift out of reach another objective takes over - that of ‘not losing’, for with losing comes the reckoning. Failure is measured not only in the objectives that will forever stay unmet, but the casualties and costs accumulated during the course of the war, and the damage to Russia’s standing as a great power and Putin’s position as a competent leader.

The consequences of Putin’s determination to avoid loss have been heavy for Ukraine as well as Russia. A futile war has continued and will only stop when Putin, or a successor, recognises the failure. Because he lacks a convincing victory Putin has instead sought to coerce Ukraine into capitulation, first by attacking its critical infrastructure and now its grain exports. None of this has led to a more conciliatory attitude in Kyiv. If anything it has had the opposite effect. At most it may give Putin some malign comfort that Ukrainians are being harshly punished for refusing to join his dominion and an opportunity to remove a competitor in agricultural trade. He has spoken positively about how shortages allow Russian grain exporters to charge more.

Why an offensive is both necessary and difficult.

What will it take to persuade the Kremlin of the futility of this war? Ukraine has shown resilience in the face of attacks on its society and economy and despite gloomy prognostications to the contrary, support from NATO countries and others has not fallen away. It has shown through various means that Russian assets can be attacked, including the bridge link to Crimea. The most compelling message it can send, however, depends on its armed forces liberating territory. Success in battle can have knock on effects elsewhere. All Putin’s other worries - about the economy, public opinion, and the state of his armed forces - become more serious if there are further military setbacks. This is why so much was invested by Ukraine’s supporters in training and equipping new brigades - reportedly about 63,000 Ukrainian troops and more than 150 modern battle tanks, along with many older tanks and infantry fighting vehicles. This is why so much now rides on the success of the offensive they have made possible.

Russia Says It Downed Three Ukrainian Drones Over Moscow

Ann M. Simmons

Russian authorities said they downed three drones targeting Moscow early Sunday, in an attack that Russian state media said injured one person and forced the temporary closure of one the capital city’s main airports.

The Ukrainian Air Force, meanwhile, said on its Telegram messaging channel that it destroyed eight Russian drones overnight, including four Iranian-made Shahed drones and four reconnaissance drones over the Kherson and Dnipropetrovsk regions.

Russia’s Ministry of Defense said two drones were brought down over Moscow with electronic jamming equipment, and then crashed into a commercial building complex in the city. The other was destroyed in the air over the Odintsovo district in the Moscow region.

The assault, which Russian officials described as an “attempted terrorist attack” by Ukraine, marked the fourth such strike on the capital this month, exposing serious vulnerabilities in the Kremlin’s ability to defend its territory since invading Ukraine nearly 18 months ago.

Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat told Ukrainian state television that “now the war is affecting those who weren’t concerned [about it],” and that “no matter how the Russian authorities would like to turn a blind eye on this by saying they intercepted everything…something does hit.”

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said on Telegram that the facades of two office buildings in central Moscow were slightly damaged, but there were no fatalities. People were evacuated from the complex, and traffic was restricted on streets in the area. Russia’s state news agency TASS reported that a security guard was injured, citing emergency officials.

The capital’s Vnukovo airport was closed for arrivals and departures due to the incident, but was later reopened, the agency reported.

Russians See Ukrainian Progress Where Others Don’t

Michael Weiss, James Rushton

One of the difficulties in covering the Russo-Ukraine War as a journalist is the tendency of so many in this profession to assemble facts in favor of whatever the prevailing narrative of the day is. Sixteen months ago, it was hard to find many people in prominent Washington think tanks or at major broadsheets who did not think Kyiv would fall in three days. When it didn’t, those wedded to the notion that Russia was a near-indomitable military power still found the conventional wisdom, built up over years of diligent study and perhaps the unconscious assimilation of Russian propaganda, hard to slough off. Just because Kyiv wasn’t sacked and the Russian army was driven out of the capital region, ran this line of thinking, didn’t mean Ukraine hadn’t exhausted its inventory of miracles. It could not claw back more territory. Then Kharkiv happened. A wondrous bait-and-switch operation, to be sure, but a one-off for that very reason. The Russians were learning, adapting and preparing, and the long-shot play to retake Kherson would prove it. Then Russia withdrew from half of that region in November as a “goodwill gesture.” And so on.

Having serially outperformed expectations, Ukraine finds itself in the unenviable position of having gone from scrappy underdog to victim of its own mythologized success. Six and a half weeks into a much-anticipated counteroffensive and there are no dramatic battlefield developments. A handful of settlements have been reclaimed in the southern regions of Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk, and that’s it. An absence of climax has begun to lead to impending anti-climax and the sort of doomcasting that characterized the preliminaries of Russia’s full-scale invasion. The counteroffensive into which Kyiv and its NATO partners have invested so much kit, manpower and money is already a busted flush, we are told. “Ukraine’s counter-offensive is failing, with no easy fixes,” ran one comment piece in The Daily Telegraph. This was preceded four days earlier by an even less sunny prognosis in the same newspaper, “Ukraine and the West are facing a devastating defeat.”

Ironically, such assessments stand in marked contrast to what Russians in the field are saying about the capability of their adversary. But to understand where Ukraine is headed, it’s first necessary to explain where it is.

Franz-Stefan Gady and Michael Kofman on what Ukraine must do to break through Russian defences

Combined-arms warfare is a deadly ballet choreographed to overwhelm the defender by integrating different combat arms, such as infantry and artillery, and services, such as ground and air forces. Its origins lie in the last two years of the first world war. After years of stalemate, the German Imperial Army adopted innovative tactics to break through the layered Allied defences of the western front and thus out of the attritional deadlock.

This novel approach was not enough to win the war, but it changed the course of warfare. Before 1917 most operations were sequential. Days of artillery fire on a trench gave advance warning of an attack. When the fire paused and infantry went over the top, soldiers would be mown down. The same attack in combined-arms fashion would involve brief artillery fire on the enemy position, combat engineers clearing obstacles such as mines and barbed wire, and soldiers advancing under covering fire immediately afterwards.

Ukraine fires North Korean rockets to blast Russian positions

Christopher Miller

Ukrainian artillery crews have been firing rockets made in North Korea against Russian positions, turning Pyongyang’s munitions against the invasion forces of its ally President Vladimir Putin.

The North Korean arms, whose use by Ukraine has not been previously reported, were shown to the Financial Times by troops operating Soviet-era Grad multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS) near the devastated city of Bakhmut.

The origins of Ukraine’s armoury highlight how Europe’s biggest land conflict since the second world war has become a mixed-up cauldron for generations of the world’s military equipment, ranging from ageing Soviet kit to modern precision weapons.

Ruslan, a Ukrainian artillery commander, said the North Korean munitions were not favoured by his troops because of their relatively high dud rate, with many known to misfire or fail to explode. Most were manufactured in the 1980s and 1990s, according to their markings.

One Ukrainian Grad unit member warned the FT not to get too close to the rocket launcher when the crew fired the North Korean munitions because “they are very unreliable and do crazy things sometimes”.

The gunners were among artillery units supporting Ukraine’s assault on Russian forces on the northern and southern flanks of Bakhmut, which is in the eastern region of Donetsk.

Journalists for Getty Images and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty photographed Ukrainian forces in possession of North Korean munitions in the southern Zaporizhzhia region in late June and earlier this month but did not identify them as being from North Korea.

The Ukrainian soldiers said the rockets had been “seized” from a ship by a “friendly” country before being delivered to Ukraine. They declined to provide further details.

Russia's fighter jets have gone from harassing US aircraft to actually breaking them as Moscow flexes its muscles where it still can

Jake Epstein

A Russian fighter flies dangerously close to a US MQ-9 before deploying flares from a position directly over an MQ-9 drone on a defeat-ISIS mission in Syria in July. US Air Force photo

Russian fighter jets have harassed US military drones on numerous occasions throughout July.

In a recent incident, Moscow's pilots dropped flares that damaged an MQ-9 Reaper drone.
Military experts said the provocations were the Kremlin's attempt to boast its military power where it can.

Russian fighter jets have harassed US military drones operating above Syria routinely throughout July, with one engagement this week damaging an American aircraft.

US officials are frustrated with the repeated incidents, blasting Moscow's pilots for dangerous and reckless behavior and accusing Russia of interfering with combat drones on high-profile counterterrorism missions. Military experts said there were several reasons behind the spike in aggressive behavior, including Russia's overcompensation for its military shortcomings in Ukraine and a desire to flex its muscles in an area where it still enjoys a certain degree of strength.

Russia sees its activities in Syria "as one area that really speaks to Russian global power and influence," Nicholas Lokker, an expert on Russian foreign policy at the Center for a New American Security, known as CNAS, told Insider. He added that Moscow is able to "really shape international affairs according to its own interests" there.

Both the US and Russia maintain a military presence in Syria. Washington has about 900 troops deployed for counterterrorism operations against the Islamic State while Moscow helps support the country's brutal regime in its ongoing civil war. For years, the two countries have largely managed to avoid clashes there even as they pursued their respective interests.

Russia’s T-14 Armata Tank: A Game Changer That Failed to Deliver for Ukraine


In a highly anticipated and widely publicized move, Vladimir Putin’s forces deployed Russia’s advanced T-14 “Armata” main battle tanks (MBTs) in Ukraine—only to be subsequently withdrawn after a brief run.

The T-14 Armata had been touted as a game-changing development in mechanized warfare, with its high-tech specifications and unmanned turret. However, the tank’s deployment faced technical problems, delays, and concerns over its reliability, raising questions about its true capabilities and Russia’s military readiness.
T-14: The Deployment and Withdrawal

According to the state news agency TASS, armored forces from Russia’s southern military district (SMD) were given T-14 Armata tanks for combat operations in Ukraine. While this marked Moscow’s first official confirmation of their use in the conflict, the exact location and duration of the deployment were not specified. The tank saw action on the frontline as several units participated in battles to test its performance. However, the promising Russian tanks were withdrawn from the front line shortly after deployment.

“Members of [battlegroup] South actively used Armata in combat. Several vehicles participated in combat to see how the tank will perform. After that, they were withdrawn from the frontline,” TASS reported, citing an unnamed military source.

The reason for the sudden withdrawal remains unclear, and the Russian defense ministry has not provided an official comment on the matter. SOFREP can only assume it was not because they were performing flawlessly. Nevertheless, it was stated that all necessary tests of the T-14 tank were ongoing, suggesting that the premature deployment may have resulted from mounting pressure or strategic considerations.

Ukraine’s New Strategy Against Russia


Wounded Ukrainian soldiers are evacuated from a battlefield near the Bakhmut front line on Sunday. Gian Marco Benedetto/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Ukrainian counteroffensive has finally begun, according to several news outlets. But, wait a minute—didn’t this get underway seven weeks ago, in early June? Well, some of these reports qualify, Ukraine is now mounting “the main thrust” of the offensive.

That, too, is a bit of an evasion.

A more accurate way of describing the latest phase of this war—now in its 18th month—is that the Ukrainians are rebooting their counteroffensive after their first attempt went rather badly. To put it simply, the Russian defense turned out to be more effective—and the Ukrainian offense less effective—than many had expected.

This is the conclusion of several Western military analysts reporting from the front lines. (I should note, I am not in Ukraine, so must rely on their accounts as well as on news reports and emails with a few other observers.)

For much of last spring, well aware of the coming offensive (which Kyiv’s officials were repeatedly announcing), the Russians intensively prepared for the assault. As the Economist recently reported, they laid mines, erected fortifications, and dug tank-trapping pits—not just on the front lines, but as far as 20 miles behind the lines, so that the Ukrainians couldn’t race ahead and capture much territory if they managed to punch a hole in some vulnerable spot of Russia’s defenses.

As a result, the Ukrainians were halted in their tracks, bogged down by the multilayered defenses. The Russians also proved more adept than expected at shifting their defensive lines and at mobilizing attack helicopters and artillery fire to stave off attacks from wherever they might come.

UK Defence Command Paper aims to provide marching orders for industry

The UK’s refreshed Defence Command Paper attempts to capture the immediate lessons of Russia’s war in Ukraine, which flag the need for greater speed and agility in technology acquisition and equipment upgrades.

The United Kingdom Ministry of Defence’s redefining of its relationship with the defence industry is a key element of its refreshed Defence Command Paper (DCP), as it moves away from a long-held platform-centric focus. The document has been spurred by Russia’s war in Ukraine, but its message echoes themes of the almost 20-year-old UK Defence Industrial Strategy, underscoring that identifying needed changes is far simpler than implementing them.

Ukrainian impact The DCP, published on 18 July 2023, reasserts the Euro-Atlantic region as London’s immediate security concern, and the UK’s membership of NATO as fundamental to its approach. Implicit within the paper, which mentions Russia far more often than China and omits references to ‘Global Britain’, is a recalibration of the UK government’s previous Indo-Pacific tilt given the gravity of Moscow’s aggression.

The DCP complements the March 2023 Integrated Review Refresh, itself an update from a 2021 version that focuses not so much on the nature of the change in the security environment, but its pace. Pace is a driving theme of the DCP, particularly regarding acquisitions and modifying in-service platforms and, by association, the ministry’s wider relationship with industry.

Ukraine’s ability to react to changing battlefield realities by quickly fielding new technologies and adapting existing ones, if often with external support, has convinced the DCP’s authors of the need to change how the Ministry of Defence does business with industry. 

Ukraine, with Western help, has leaned heavily on technology companies, including smaller suppliers, to better combat Russian forces. It is little surprise then that support for small- and medium-sized enterprises leads off the DCP’s section on what it terms a ‘new alliance’ between defence and industry, including embracing the idea of tapping private capital to help start-ups become part of the country’s defence industry. 

The Guns of Europe: Defence-industrial Challenges in a Time of War

Twenty-five years of declining defence budgets led to the downsizing of Europe’s defence-industrial capacities. The challenge now is to ramp up production quickly.

Defence planners and industrialists expend a lot of effort trying to avoid preparing for the last war. And yet, the uncomfortable truth emerging from the ongoing war on European soil is that European countries have barely prepared for war at all. Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has revealed significant shortcomings in the capacity of European NATO governments to supply and arm a neighbouring partner, much less fight a major war themselves. The armed forces in European NATO and European Union member states are hollowed-out, plagued by unserviceable equipment and severely depleted ammunition stocks. Policymakers in many nations have responded by announcing significant increases in defence spending. The new money is intended to address long-standing capability shortfalls, support the modernisation of armed forces and in some cases their growth, replenish stocks, and fill gaps created by the transfer of equipment and munitions to Ukraine. As Morten Brandtzæg, CEO of the Norwegian defence company Nammo, has observed, ‘it’s a war about industrial capacity’. Yet it has very quickly become apparent that Europe’s defence-industrial base will struggle to meet this increased demand in the short term. This raises urgent questions about European industry’s ability to continue supporting Ukraine militarily at scale and at speed, and its ability to recapitalise forces in NATO and the EU.

The approximately 25 years of decline in European defence budgets between the end of the Cold War and Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 inevitably led to the downsizing of Europe’s defence-industrial capacities. During the Cold War, European governments were willing to finance a degree of defence-industrial overcapacity to ensure reliable access to equipment and munitions at scale. When the Cold War ended, the emphasis changed from readiness to efficiency – to doing more with less. The defence industry had little choice but to take business decisions that reduced capacity. The war in Ukraine is prompting a rapid reassessment of priorities. The challenge now is to ramp up production quickly.

Why NATO Should Be Cautious About Admitting Ukraine


In this series from the American Statecraft Program, James Goldgeier and Joshua Shifrinson discuss and debate the issues surrounding NATO enlargement in a twenty-first-century exchange of letters. Read the first entry here.

Dear Jim,

You discount the possibility that NATO enlargement—particularly but not exclusively to Ukraine—helped cause the Russia-Ukraine conflict, instead suggesting without quite saying that homegrown Russian “imperialism” is to blame. In turn, you call for the alliance to admit Ukraine once the conflict ends. I don’t think either this diagnosis of the war’s origins or the recommendation for NATO policy going forward is quite right.

For sure, Russian imperialism is a driver of Russian behavior. Still, whereas you present Russia’s imperial impulse as a better explanation for its invasion of Ukraine than NATO enlargement, I see these as complementary. Russian leaders and many Western analysts warned from the 1990s onward that NATO enlargement would inflame Russian nationalism and imperil East-West relations. Correlation is not causation, but it is striking that what former Russian president Boris Yeltsin and others warned about is exactly what has happened. Put another way, Russian nationalism and imperialism did not develop in a vacuum. By providing nationalists such as President Vladimir Putin with a cause and challenging Russian claims to influence in its near abroad, NATO enlargement shaped the thuggish Russian nationalism we see today. Further NATO enlargement to Ukraine promises to reinforce the situation by playing into the basest of Russian identity.

Joshua Shifrinson

Joshua Shifrinson is an associate professor of international policy with the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy and a nonresident senior fellow with the Cato Institute’s Defense and Foreign Policy program. A graduate of Brandeis University and MIT, he is the author of Rising Titans, Falling Giants: How Great Powers Exploit Power Shifts and co-editor (with Jim Goldgeier) of Evaluating NATO Enlargement: From Cold War Victory to the Russia-Ukraine War.

Suspensions, Detentions, and Mutinies: the Growing Gulf in Russia’s Civil-Military Relations

The war in Ukraine is challenging the military’s established role in Russian domestic affairs, politicizing the armed forces, and reducing their privileged autonomy in waging war and developing the defense sector.

Russian civil-military relations are in crisis. Last month, the Wagner mercenary army rose up against the regime—and went unpunished for doing so, despite apparently having killed several Russian pilots. Less than a month later, in mid-July, General Ivan Popov—one of the commanders of the Russian forces fighting in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia—recorded a voice message accusing Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov of suspending him from command for reporting problems in the army. Several other Russian generals suspected of disloyalty have reportedly been dismissed or placed on leave.

Despite his image as a strongman that the military could rely on, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been slow to address the root causes of the civil-military conflict, prompting claims that it all boils down to the president’s preference for loyalty over competence. The reality is more complex. The war is challenging the military’s established role in Russian domestic affairs, politicizing the armed forces, and reducing their privileged autonomy in waging war and developing the defense sector. There are no good options for resolving this conflict.

The military has always played a pivotal role in Russian history. In the failed coup of 1991, the army dragged its feet on supporting the putschists, while in the presidential assault on parliament in 1993, tank detachments set the Russian parliament on fire. Boots on the ground have shored up Russian influence in Central Asia, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, and Syria.

At home, the military has largely stayed out of politics in recent years, but enjoyed relatively large autonomy. Putin let the military do its job on the battlefield as it saw fit, and delegated defense reform to the generals, except for a brief period in 2007–2012, when Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov imposed institutional changes that greatly improved Russian military capabilities later displayed in Crimea, eastern Ukraine, and Syria.

War in Ukraine: Twelve disruptions changing the world—update

Olivia White, Kevin Buehler, Sven Smit, Ezra Greenberg, Ritesh Jain, Guillaume Dagorret, and Christiana Hollis

Russia’s war in Ukraine grinds on. In this update, we map the latest social and economic consequences.

Russia’s war in Ukraine is an ongoing tragedy, destroying lives and livelihoods in Ukraine and altering economic patterns worldwide. In May 2022, we set out an initial analysis of 12 disruptions that the war could unleash. With the passage of time, it seems increasingly likely that the war, coming so soon after a global pandemic, could presage a new economic era. We have been here before: today’s shocks are reminiscent of the immediate aftermath of World War II (1944–46), the oil crisis (1971–73), and the breakup of the Soviet Union (1989–92). Each of those events changed the global landscape with the sudden release of powerful underlying forces that had been building up around a fault line over time. Each ushered in a new era.

To understand the shape of the era now unfolding, we have tracked the evolution of the war’s disruptions since May 2022. At that time, some disruptions were already well under way—notably the humanitarian crisis that followed immediately from the invasion. As we highlighted, others were less predictable but worth watching—for example, we noted that the direct impact of the war on financial systems had so far been limited, but that risks from wider ripple effects might materialize.

In this update, we look at what’s happened in the 16 months since the invasion. As recent events in Ukraine highlight, the ultimate outcome remains profoundly uncertain. However, we find five disruptions with clear effects that may endure: the humanitarian crisis, energy source diversification, defense spending increases, cyber as a stage for conflict, and corporations’ pull-back from Russia.

Three other disruptions have eased, as connections in our global system, together with cooling of demand, buffered their effects. These include spikes in prices and supply disruptions for food, metals, and minerals, which have now dissipated.

More Battlefield AI Will Make the Fog of War More Deadly


(L-R) CEO of Scale A.I. Alexandr Wang, American Enterprise Institute fellow Klon Kitchen and Global A.I. ethicist at DataRobot Dr. Haniyeh Mahmoudian testify during a House Armed Services Subcommittee on Cyber, Information Technologies and Innovation hearing about artificial intelligence on Capitol Hill July 18, 2023 in Washington, DC.

THE UNITED STATES military is not the unrivaled force it once was, but Alexandr Wang, CEO of startup Scale AI, told a congressional committee last week that it could establish a new advantage by harnessing artificial intelligence.

“We have the largest fleet of military hardware in the world,” Wang told the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Cyber, Information Technology and Innovation. “If we can properly set up and instrument this data that’s being generated ... then we can create a pretty insurmountable data advantage when it comes to military use of artificial intelligence.”

This is an edition of WIRED's Fast Forward newsletter, a weekly dispatch from the future by Will Knight, exploring AI advances and other technology set to change our lives.

Wang’s company has a vested interest in that vision, since it regularly works with the Pentagon processing large quantities of training data for AI projects. But there is a conviction within US military circles that increased use of AI and machine learning are virtually inevitable—and essential. I recently wrote about that growing movement and how one Pentagon unit is using off-the-shelf robotics and AI software to more efficiently surveil large swaths of the ocean in the Middle East.

Besides the country’s unparalleled military data, Wang told the congressional hearing that the US has the advantage of being home to the world’s most advanced AI chipmakers, like Nvidia, and the world’s best AI expertise. “America is the place of choice for the world’s most talented AI scientists,” he said.

Elon Musk’s Unmatched Power in the Stars

Adam Satariano, Scott Reinhard, Cade Metz, Sheera Frenkel and Malika Khurana 

On March 17, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, the leader of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, dialed into a call to discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Over the secure line, the two military leaders conferred on air defense systems, real-time battlefield assessments and shared intelligence on Russia’s military losses.

They also talked about Elon Musk.

General Zaluzhnyi raised the topic of Starlink, the satellite internet technology made by Mr. Musk’s rocket company, SpaceX, three people with knowledge of the conversation said. Ukraine’s battlefield decisions depended on the continued use of Starlink for communications, General Zaluzhnyi said, and his country wanted to ensure access and discuss how to cover the cost of the service.

General Zaluzhnyi also asked if the United States had an assessment of Mr. Musk, who has sprawling business interests and murky politics — to which American officials gave no answer.

Mr. Musk, who leads SpaceX, Tesla and Twitter, has become the most dominant player in space as he has steadily amassed power over the strategically significant field of satellite internet. Yet faced with little regulation and oversight, his erratic and personality-driven style has increasingly worried militaries and political leaders around the world, with the tech billionaire sometimes wielding his authority in unpredictable ways.

Since 2019, Mr. Musk has sent SpaceX rockets into space nearly every week that deliver dozens of sofa-size satellites into orbit. The satellites communicate with terminals on Earth, so they can beam high-speed internet to nearly every corner of the planet. Today, more than 4,500 Starlink satellites are in the skies, accounting for more than 50 percent of all active satellites. They have already started changing the complexion of the night sky, even before accounting for Mr. Musk’s plans to have as many as 42,000 satellites in orbit in the coming years.

A global satellite network

AI Changes Everything


Whereas previous technological developments altered human behavior and appearances, the rapid rise of artificial intelligence will reshape individuals’ core social and political beliefs, including about the nature and role of the state. The use of autonomous weaponry in war is a case in point.

PRINCETON – The rapid march of artificial intelligence is not only disrupting conventional notions of work. It is also changing the essence of human identity. Whereas previous technological developments altered human behavior and appearances, AI will fundamentally reshape individuals’ core social and political beliefs, including about the nature and role of the state.

In the nineteenth-century Industrial Revolution, mechanical power – mostly fueled by burning carbon – replaced human and animal power as a source for energy to be used in the transformation of nature and the production of industrial and consumer goods. As the revolution matured in the twentieth century, hard physical labor was left to only a dwindling group of occupations.

For a glimpse of most pre-industrial work, look at roofers, who today are still exhausted and worn out by toiling in the elements in uncomfortable, distorting physical positions. They are preserving in the twenty-first century what was once a general experience. Early twentieth-century automobile workers bent over their tools, lifted heavy objects, and applied huge amounts of energy. Their early twenty-first-century counterparts look at monitors and track the robots who have taken over the heavy physical tasks. As the sweat economy has disappeared, working people have become weaker, but also healthier. Those who want to retain some physical strength now go to the gym.

The information-technology revolution represented another step in this human development. As machines have taken over more cognitive tasks, computers now monitor the robots doing the physical work. With the elimination of mental work (like the complex arithmetic that shop assistants used to perform), the same old pattern has continued: many people have stopped thinking at work and devoted those energies to crossword puzzles, sudoku, or Wordle.

The widespread adoption of AI by companies will take a while

The 2010s brought no shortage of miraculous technologies, from tablet computers and 4g mobile internet to new forms of artificial intelligence (ai)—Hey, Siri! But these had surprisingly little effect on the economy. During that decade productivity growth in the rich world averaged a measly 1% a year, holding down average wages. Innovative firms embraced new tech, but many less adventurous ones did not bother, and saw few efficiency gains as a result. The experience showed that technological wizardry and improvements in average living standards do not always go hand in hand.

Generative ai, its boosters say, will be different. Not since the invention of the internet has a new technology so captured the public imagination. The technology is consumer-friendly: within days of its release to the public, Chatgpt, the most famous ai chatbot, had millions of users. It is easy to see how this innovation could improve all types of work at all types of firms, from increasing the accuracy of doctors’ diagnoses to helping programmers write software code more efficiently.