21 September 2023

Where Was ASEAN at India’s G20 Summit?

Yanitha Meena Louis

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (left) shakes hands with Indonesian President Joko Widodo upon arriving to the 20th ASEAN-India Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia, Sep. 6, 2023.

India recently hosted the G-20 summit, which was dubbed a major diplomatic success. As such, the summit served to showcase India’s multifaceted convening power.

But Southeast Asia was conspicuously absent from the G-20 guest list. Indonesia, the current ASEAN chair was of course invited, as Jakarta is a member of the grouping. So, too, was Singapore, a close Indian partner that is regularly invited to G-20 summits. But a guest invitation could have been extended to Laos, the incoming ASEAN chair, or even Malaysia, which will hold the post in 2025.

Instead, Indian engagement with Southeast Asia was highlighted during the 20th ASEAN-India summit in Jakarta, held just two days before the G-20’s convening. While the ASEAN-India summit made some welcome progress, including a new joint statement on maritime cooperation, there was a missed opportunity to carry over those good feelings to converging interests through the G-20 platform.

What’s Driving Hindu Nationalism in Nepal?

Santosh Sharma Poudel

A Hindu priest addresses Hindu activists during a protest near the Nepalese Constituent Assembly Hall during a protest in Kathmandu, Nepal, Aug. 5, 2015.Credit: AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha

On August 20, two locals from Dharan, a town in eastern Nepal, live-streamed a feast where they were seen eating beef. The feast was to celebrate their release from police custody. They had earlier been arrested for slaughtering a bull.

The video went viral on social media, sparking a debate on what religious freedom means. The city was already simmering with religious tensions; only a month earlier, there had been protests by Hindus after a church was built close to a Hindu temple in the city.

Various Hindu outfits called on people to gather in Dharan on August 26 to protest against the cow slaughter. The mayor and the central government called for restraint. The District Administration Office imposed a prohibitory order on the day, blocking the major entry routes to the city. Over 1,500 security officials were deployed in Dharan and neighboring towns, and thousands were stopped from entering Dharan. There were smaller protests at entry points but no large-scale demonstrations or violence.

Taiwan’s Path Between Extremes

Hou Yu-ih

Taiwan is recognized around the world for its economic development and democratic achievements, its cutting-edge industries, and its vibrant civil society. In recent years, however, this island of 23 million people has been described in international media in darker terms. Some have called it a flashpoint that could start the next world war or even, according to The Economist, “the most dangerous place on earth.” That is because Beijing has grown increasingly assertive in its rhetoric and actions at a time when Taiwan and mainland China have no channel of communication to limit rising tensions. In the view of many observers, the equilibrium in the Taiwan Strait is in danger. If that were not enough, Taiwan also faces major internal challenges, including economic disruptions, declining birth rates, energy shortages, and the loss of factories as foreign firms restructure their supply chains.

Under my leadership, Taiwan will manage external and internal challenges with proactive pragmatism and be a responsible stakeholder in the Indo-Pacific region. A strong military will help deter aggression and keep at bay any prospect of war in the Taiwan Strait. But peace also requires dialogue, and I will seek to interact constructively with Beijing in ways consistent with the Republic of China’s constitution and its laws. That interaction will lead to de-escalation. The world does not need rashness on either side, and Taiwan will chart a course between extremes. We will work with our partners to construct a future that fosters peace, stability, and development. This is Taiwan’s vision.


The consequences of Russia’s war on Ukraine for climate action, food supply and energy security

Oli Brown

Russia’s war is, first and foremost, a calamity for the people of Ukraine, with large parts of the population thrown into poverty and displacement. But both in Ukraine and around the world, the war is also increasing vulnerability to climate change, proliferating security risks, complicating efforts on decarbonization and hindering multilateral climate action.

Ukraine already faced challenges in mitigating and adapting to climate change. Damage wrought on the country’s environment and infrastructure by the war has only made these challenges harder to overcome. Meanwhile, the war has led to unprecedented volatility in global food prices, increasing hunger and deprivation in other parts of the world. It has also upended global energy politics, with short-term decisions by policymakers increasing the risk of new carbon emissions being locked in for the long term.

The West Shouldn’t Underestimate Russia’s Resilience

Janis Kluge

Russia’s war on Ukraine and Western sanctions are putting unprecedented stress on the Russian economy, its military and its political system. As the late Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin’s failed mutiny shows, drastic change could come at any moment.

At the same time, there are a number of important factors that could help Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime survive for much longer than the West would like, and even allow Moscow to rebuild its military in the coming years. It is important to consider these factors, not as a reason to throw in the towel or seek an elusive deal with Moscow, but to understand the challenges that may lie ahead for the West, Europe and Ukraine in particular.

Economically, the country is going through a very peculiar crisis. While Russians have lost their chance at a more prosperous future, the regime is still rich. Moscow can count on billions of dollars in export revenues to continue flowing into its coffers in the next years. Even in the miserable first half of 2023, Russia earned over $200 billion, more than enough to cover its import needs.

Even if the G7 oil price cap worked perfectly, Moscow could still expect export revenues of around $400 billion per year. As long as global oil markets remain tight, the West does not have much room to manoeuvre. It would take a more severe global economic downturn to change that.


Riley Bailey

Ukrainian forces liberated Klishchiivka, south of Bakhmut, on September 17 and continued successful offensive operations elsewhere in the Bakhmut direction. Geolocated footage posted on September 17 shows Ukrainian forces holding up flags in Klishchiivka (7km southwest of Bakhmut).[1] Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Captain Ilya Yevlash later confirmed that Ukraine has liberated Klishchiivka, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky congratulated the Ukrainian 80th Air Assault Brigade, 5th Assault Brigade, 95th Air Assault Brigade, and National Police “Lyut” Assault Brigade for their role in liberating the settlement.[2] Further geolocated footage posted on September 16 shows that Ukrainian forces have captured positions east of Orikhovo-Vasylivka (10km northwest of Bakhmut).[3] The liberation of Klishchiivka, as well as continued Ukrainian tactical gains northwest of Bakhmut,are tactical gains of strategic significance because they are allowing Ukrainian forces to fix a considerable portion of Russian airborne (VDV) elements in the Bakhmut area, as ISW’s Daniel Mealie discusses in the September 17, 2023 special edition.

Russian forces launched another series of Shahed-131/136 drone and cruise missile strikes at southern Ukraine on the night of September 16-17. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces launched six Shahed drones from the southeastern and southern directions and 10 Kh-101/555/55 air-launched cruise missiles from nine Tu-95MS strategic bombers that took off from Engels Airbase, Saratov Oblast.[4] Ukrainian Air Force Spokesperson Colonel Yuriy Ihnat noted that Russian forces mainly targeted grain infrastructure in southern Odesa Oblast, and Ukrainian military sources stated that Ukrainian forces shot down six Shaheds and

Russia, China, and the Ukraine War: Tensions in the ‘No Limits’ Relationship

Jeanne L. Wilson

Several weeks before Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to Beijing. where he signed a joint statement with Chinese President Xi Jinping that announced that there were “no limits” and “no forbidden areas of cooperation” between the two states. These references, however, were omitted in the March 2023 joint statement released after Xi’s return visit to Moscow.
In short, the course of the war has revealed the limits to the “no limits” relationship, exposing the tensions between Russia and China. China has reservations about Russia’s conduct and performance in waging the war, as well as its larger international impact. At the same time, China and Russia remain fundamentally united in their joint negative appraisal of the neoliberal international order, characterized by the hegemonic dominance of the West and the United States in particular. Although China has adopted a formal position of neutrality, and has mostly adhered to the Western sanctions against Russia, it has largely appropriated the Russian narrative on the conflict, describing it as a proxy war between the West and Russia in which Russian actions are framed as a legitimate response to an existential threat.

Nonetheless, over time, indications have accumulated attesting to Chinese unease over the war. After meeting with Xi on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization conference in Uzbekistan in September 2022, Putin acknowledged that China had “questions and concerns” about Russia’s war in Ukraine. A few months later,

How China’s Belt and Road Took Over the World

Shannon Tiezzi

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a speech at Nazarbayev University in Astana, Kazakhstan. Titled “Work Together to Build the Silk Road Economic Belt,” the address evoked the history of the ancient Silk Road, which Xi traced back to a Chinese envoy in the 2nd century BC.

The speech, as befitted its setting, was narrowly focused on China and Central Asia, with repeated references to historical ties. Xi’s original proposal was that China and its Eurasian neighbors “jointly build an economic belt along the Silk Road.” The original proposal, besides being geographically restricted, was also relatively narrow in its sectoral scope. Xi mentioned four areas for cooperation under the Silk Road Economic Belt: policy consultation, road connections, trade facilitation, and monetary circulation (trade in local currencies).

One month later, the Silk Road Economic Belt was joined by the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road,” which Xi proposed during a similar speech before the Indonesian legislature. The Maritime Silk Road was also circumscribed in both geographic and thematic scope: Xi’s original pitch was limited to “maritime cooperation” with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

What drives the Sino-Iranian Partnership?

Ahmed S. Cheema

Iran and China established diplomatic relations in 1971. It was a significant milestone in the relationship since the regime of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi was a firm American partner, and China at that time was under the rule of Chairman Mao. After the Iranian revolution, the relationship saw slow progress until the 1990s, when both countries agreed to broaden their economic ties. At first glance, Iran’s theocratic regime would possess little in common with the Chinese Communist Party. However, the bilateral relationship has grown more robust over the past few years, with China becoming Iran’s preeminent economic partner and regime supporter. Realpolitik, economic benefits, and geopolitical goals compel both countries to work together, especially since both view the United States as the prime impediment to their strategic objectives.

Economic cooperation is the cornerstone of Sino-Iranian ties. China is Iran’s largest trading partner and has been increasing its investments in Iran. In March 2021, both countries signed a twenty-five-year strategic partnership agreement, amounting to $400 billion, to develop Iran’s infrastructure and transportation sectors. The deal was a substantial step forward in the partnership between the two countries. Subsequently, Chinese banks provided Iran with $10 billion in loans for power plants, railways, and other infrastructure projects. Chinese companies have helped construct a high-speed railway between Tehran and Mashhad and develop ports and airports. These investments have been vital to Iran’s modernization efforts. Iran has been under substantial U.S. pressure since President Trump withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018 and reimposed economic sanctions.

Why is China Giving Satellites to Egypt?

Arushi Singh

Egypt has become the first African country with the capability to assemble, integrate, and test (AIT) satellites, following the delivery of two China-funded prototype satellites for the MisrSat II satellite project. The executive officer of the Egyptian Space Agency, Sherif Sedky, stated that the tests conducted on the satellite models inaugurated the largest satellite assembly, integration, and test center in Africa and West Asia, built through a grant from Beijing. This center not only localizes the satellite industry in Egypt but also positions the country as a leader in technology transfer to Africa. The delivery of the flight model of the MisrSat II satellite is scheduled for a later date. Moreover, the Egyptian Minister of International Cooperation, Rania Al-Mashat emphasized the importance of the advanced technology in enhancing Egypt’s capacities in satellite research such as remote sensing applications. Meanwhile, the Chinese Ambassador to Egypt, Liao Liqiang, highlighted the milestone achievement in space cooperation between the two countries, further promoting the development of space technology in Africa.

Historical Context

In January 2019, Beijing and Cairo signed a 72 million USD grant for Egypt’s space program, marking the third grant from China for a satellite project. In the subsequent years, Egyptian and Chinese engineers will collaborate on the operation of the satellite including its ground control station and application system. Egypt has announced that the MisrSat II satellite is set to be launched from China in October. The satellite is expected to depart Cairo on June 28 and undergo final testing in China prior to its launch. and is designed to have a lifespan of five years from the date of its launch. Notably, Ambassador Liqiang, highlighted the project’s significance by referring to it as achieving “four firsts.” Firstly, Egypt is the pioneering nation to engage in satellite cooperation with China within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. Secondly, China will assist Egypt in establishing a comprehensive satellite assembly, integration, and test center, where Chinese and Egyptian scientists and engineers will collaboratively carry out the assembly and testing of Egypt’s MisrSat II.

Libya’s Unnatural Disaster

Frederic Wehrey 

Footage and eyewitness accounts have conveyed harrowing scenes from the storm-struck Libyan town of Derna: overflowing morgues and mass burials, rescuers digging through mud with their bare hands to recover bodies, a corpse hanging from a streetlight, the cries of trapped children. Two aging dams to Derna’s south collapsed under the pressure of Storm Daniel, sending an estimated 30 million cubic meters of water down a river valley that runs through the city’s center and erasing entire neighborhoods. Some 11,300 people are currently believed dead—a number that could double in the days ahead. An estimated 38,000 residents have been displaced.

Libya has seen no shortage of suffering and misery since the 2011 revolution that toppled its longtime dictator, Muammar Qaddafi. Yet Storm Daniel promises to be a singular event. Already, Libyan commentators inside the country and out are pointing to the apocalyptic loss of life in Derna as the product not simply of a natural disaster, but of Libya’s divided and ineffectual governance. The west of the country is run by the internationally recognized Government of National Unity; the east, including Derna, falls under the rule of the renegade strongman Khalifa Haftar.

Derna has become an emblem of ills that afflict many of Libya’s 7 million inhabitants: infrastructural decay, economic neglect, unpreparedness for global warming. But to understand the scale of its destruction requires seeing the city in its particularity—as a stronghold of opposition to Haftar’s violent consolidation of power in eastern Libya, and before that, a hub of intellectualism and dissent. Derna’s suffering is not entirely an accident. Though for that matter, neither is Libya’s.

Two years on, is the AUKUS agreement at the brink of failure?


Two years ago the US, Australia, and the United Kingdom announced the AUKUS arrangement to create an Australian nuclear-powered submarine capability and, perhaps most importantly, enhance defense cooperation between the three countries on a wide range of emerging technologies and capabilities.

What is striking is that despite the fanfare of the deal, AUKUS will not result in any real change in the balance of forces in the South China Sea for almost a decade, with perhaps the exception of the potential ability to base existing US attack submarines in Australia.

Why is that the case? Some of it is simply due to the time it will take Australia to build a nuclear enterprise, especially the skilled workforce required. But the inability to reform US export control policy is encouraging failure in emerging technology cooperation while industrial base constraints leave the submarine segment well on the road to irrelevance.

There now seems to be an understanding in at least parts of Congress that the US submarine industrial base must be fundamentally strengthened and profound reforms made to the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations (ITAR). Sadly, it is questionable whether Congress and the Biden administration will make the long-term commitments in money and legislation needed.

Will the U.S. Plan to Counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative Work?

David Sacks

At last week’s G20 summit, President Joe Biden announced an India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC), which seeks to counter the inroads China has made through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) by linking India, the Arabian Gulf, and Europe. This reflects a recognition in Washington that even though BRI has encountered serious setbacks, Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s signature foreign policy undertaking is not going anywhere. In addition, even a stumbling BRI poses significant challenges to the United States, as we argued in our CFR-sponsored Independent Task Force report. If successful, IMEC would help knit together important regions and offer an alternative to BRI, but major questions remain regarding financing, timeline, and viability.

The Belt and Road Initiative Turns Ten

In September 2013, during a visit to Kazakhstan, Xi Jinping proposed building a “Silk Road Economic Belt,” later adding a “21st Century Maritime Silk road.” Taken together, these two strands, which sought to connect China to Central, South, and Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe would form “One Belt, One Road” (now more commonly known as the Belt and Road Initiative). BRI has since outgrown its original corridors, becoming global in scope. Under BRI, China has financed and built roads, power plants, ports, railways, and digital infrastructure. It is the world’s largest ever global infrastructure undertaking, with China financing up to $1 trillion in infrastructure around the world. Nearly 150 countries have signed on to BRI in some form.

Five Things to Watch for at the UN General Assembly Opening


When world leaders convene next week for the annual opening of the UN General Assembly, the assembled nations will be anything but united. Geopolitical rivalries, political grievances, economic upheaval, and ecological crises are testing the legitimacy and credibility of the seventy-eight-year-old body. The coming days will reveal whether and which countries are prepared to temper their strategic and ideological competition in the interest of advancing their many shared global interests—and whether the United Nations remains relevant in a divided world.

The gap between the demand for international cooperation and its supply is widening. Humanity is grappling with simultaneous, compounding, and rapidly evolving challenges—among them accelerating climate change, collapsing biodiversity, persistent poverty and inequality, declining democracy, mass displacement, destabilizing technological innovation, plodding recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, and intensifying diplomatic and economic fallout from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. On these and other issues, the UN has fallen short, both because it is no longer fit for purpose and because its member states do not trust one another.

Complicating matters, today’s diplomatic fault lines run not just East-West—pitting China and Russia against the community of advanced market democracies—but also North-South, setting richer nations against lower- and middle- income countries. Many developing-world governments and citizens regard their wealthy-world counterparts as indifferent to their needs, from access to vaccines to debt relief to climate adaptation financing. They also regard existing institutions of global governance, such as the UN Security Council, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as hopelessly stacked against their interests and unresponsive to their needs.

The G20 and the unravelling of American power


On the surface, this year’s G20 summit in India has achieved its main mission. Last weekend, the world’s largest and most important economies met in New Delhi, India and managed to agree on a joint statement, without a single dissenting note. ‘We are One Earth, One Family and we share One Future’, the statement says in its opening sentence.

In reality, there is little such harmony within the G20. What is significant about the cobbled-together declaration is not what it says, but what it leaves out. Despite the best efforts of Western nations, it does not condemn Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. The result is a declaration that talks nebulously about ‘the human suffering and negative added impacts of the war in Ukraine with regard to global food and energy security’. This stands in sharp contrast to the statement issued in Bali, Indonesia last year, which condemned ‘in the strongest terms the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine’. Essentially, the leaders of the major Western nations failed to get India, China and representatives of the Global South onside.

For Vladimir Putin, this toothless statement is a major win. After the declaration was issued, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov couldn’t help but gloat, praising it as ‘a step in the right direction’ and an important ‘milestone’. Lavrov even told a news conference that, ‘speaking frankly’, he had not expected such a good result for Russia.

Coups are making a comeback


The recent coup d’état in Gabon marks the latest casualty of the “coup contagion” spreading across Africa. Given the frenetic pace of the minute-by-minute news cycle of the social media era, it’s easy to lose track of longer-term trends. Sure, it feels like there have been more coups than average lately, but is that just availability and vividness bias talking — humans’ known tendency to pay more attention to more recent, more prominent and more sensational information than that which is less so?

No, it’s not just your imagination — coups are making a comeback. Our team has recorded 73 successful coup attempts worldwide since 1990. From 1990 to 1999, 33 coups occurred, according to our team’s Country and Organization Leader Travel leader biography data. The following decade — from 2000 to 2009 — there were 18. And the decade after that, through 2019, there were only 10 successful coup attempts across the globe. That number has already been matched in this decade in less than four years, with 12 successful coup attempts recorded since the start of 2020.

Biden all about realpolitik in Vietnam and India


“[We] underscored [our] unwavering support for the peaceful resolution of [South China Sea] disputes in accordance with international law, without the threat or use of force,” declared US President Joe Biden and Vietnam’s paramount leader Nguyen Phu Trong in a joint statement after their recent meeting in Hanoi.

The two sides affirmed their shared commitment to “freedom of navigation and overflight and unimpeded lawful commerce in the South China Sea,” underscoring the two sides’ deepening maritime security cooperation in a new Cold War era.

During his historic visit, Biden upgraded bilateral relations to a “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership” (CSP), effectively putting Washington on par with Hanoi’s traditional allies in Russia and fellow communist China.

The two former foes, who fought a decades-old war across Indochina in the second half of the 20th century, described each other as “critical partners” in a “critical time”, reflecting the sea change in the trajectory of US-Vietnam relations over the past decade.

Although both sides insisted that their burgeoning alliance has nothing to do with other powers, it clearly has everything to do with China.

The Eagle in the South Caucasus: Armenia Tests Alternative Geopolitical Waters

Walter Landgraf

  • The US-Armenia “Eagle Partner” joint military exercise from September 11–20 may signal the beginning of a shift in the foreign policy direction of Armenia, historically a close ally to Russia.
  • Armenia has been growing frustrated at the lackluster response of the Collective Security Treaty Organization to its appeals for assistance in the deepening conflict with Azerbaijan.
  • However, it would be difficult to imagine a wholesale change in the geopolitical orientation in Yerevan, given the strong military, economic, energy, and cultural ties between Armenia and Russia.
On September 11, US and Armenian troops kicked off the “Eagle Partner” joint military exercise at the Zar and Armavir training sites near Yerevan. The exercise is set to run for ten days and is relatively low-key, involving only 175 Armenian troops and eighty-five US soldiers—that is about the size of a very small US Army company. According to the US Army Europe and Africa, the command responsible for overseeing Army operations there, the soldiers are from the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division and the Kansas Army National Guard. The latter has had a bilateral partnership with Armenia under the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program since 2003. The stated goal of the exercise is to enhance US-Armenian interoperability and prepare Armenian troops for possible future peacekeeping operations.

Despite Eagle Partner’s modest size and aims, it may signal the beginning of an adjustment in Armenia’s foreign policy direction. US and Armenian forces have participated in international exercises together before and visits by the Kansas Army National Guard have been regular to the country. But this will be the first such purely bilateral engagement hosted by Armenia. Yerevan has traditionally looked to Moscow as its strategic ally.

Israel-Saudi normalization stuck as Netanyahu struggles to boost Palestinian Authority

Ben Caspit

TEL AVIV - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears to have reversed his policy toward the Palestinian Authority (PA), but can he take it far enough to generate the changes the Biden administration and the Saudis are demanding? Two days before his departure for the United States, chances of that happening look bleak.

Truth to be told, having previously helped bring the PA to the brink of collapse, Netanyahu is now not only supporting it, but is providing it with weaponry as well.

Until Netanyahu formed his current government in late December 2022, he had sought to undermine the PA in the West Bank while strengthening its rival, Hamas, in the Gaza Strip. It was a strategy to perpetuate the split between Gaza and the West Bank and rule out any suggestion of a newly strengthened Palestinian leadership in Ramallah as potential peace partner for Israel.

Netanyahu tied his own hands

These days, however, Netanyahu needs the PA to advance prospects of normalization with Saudi Arabia, which has made clear that an empowered PA is a precondition for any photo-op with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, not to mention for the Israeli leader’s prospects of a Nobel Peace Prize.

What Ukraine Knows About the Future of War

Phillips Payson O’Brien

If the anonymous voices quoted by U.S. news outlets in recent months are any indication, many Western military experts think that they know how to fight Ukraine’s war better than the Ukrainians do. American officials, NBC News reported last month, have “privately expressed disappointment” about how Ukraine had deployed its soldiers and believe that Kyiv’s forces “have not necessarily applied the training principles they received” from NATO militaries. Yet despite such scolding, the Ukrainians keep conducting their war their way. Despite exhortations to gather more forces in the south and try to cut through Russian lines, even if that means exposing more soldiers to enemy air attacks, Ukrainian forces—stymied by minefields—have proceeded more cautiously, conserving personnel in what could be a protracted conflict with a far more populous nation. They have opted instead to attack, using homegrown weapons systems as well as those provided by allies, Russian supply chains and command-and-control facilities deep behind the front line while also focusing on destroying artillery closer to the fighting.

Ukrainian commanders believe they understand the fundamental dynamics of the conflict far more clearly than those who have never encountered such conditions. Indeed, the longer this war goes on, the more clear it becomes that the Ukrainians have something to teach others, including the United States, about how to run military operations in the modern era.

In two recent speeches, Kathleen Hicks, the U.S. deputy secretary of defense, openly outlined how the United States might defend itself in a war with China, and the vision she described would sound familiar to Ukrainian military planners. Instead of directly butting heads with the People’s Liberation Army in a war of mass versus mass, Hicks spoke of achieving victory through ingenuity and innovation, yielding new military technologies that would be “harder to plan for, harder to hit, harder to beat.”

Why There Are No Game-Changing Weapons for Ukraine

Franz-Stefan Gady
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Germany has become the second-biggest contributor of military aid to Ukraine after the United States, but you wouldn’t know it by following the debate in Berlin. In a replay of Berlin’s long squeamishness over sending German Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine—first refusing before finally relenting in January—the government of Chancellor Olaf Scholz has been dragging out a decision to supply German-made Taurus cruise missiles. Scholz has not explained the reasons for his waffling; similar missiles have already been sent by Britain and France. This week, these Western-supplied cruise missiles may have been used to strike Russian naval facilities in occupied Sevastopol in Ukraine’s increasingly successful efforts to restrict Russian Navy operations in the Black Sea.

The Sevastopol attack shows that Ukraine certainly has good use for more missiles, and Germany should deliver the Taurus if it is serious about helping Ukraine liberate its territories. But the continued framing of these and other weapons as potential game-changers in the war confuses the debate and is harmful to Ukraine. The idea that there is a shortcut to victory raises expectations for a quick end to the carnage that Ukraine is unlikely to fulfill. After more than 18 months of grinding, attritional war, it should be obvious that there are no miracle weapons and that there are no alternatives to slowly and methodically reducing Russian forces in Ukraine.

It is time to bury the game-changing weapons narrative and embrace a more realistic understanding of what individual weapon systems can and cannot accomplish—while making sure that Ukraine gets what it needs to continue the fight.

How Taiwan Is Learning From Ukraine

Ravi Agrawal

Taiwan’s citizens live amid a constant, growing threat. The island has governed itself independently since 1949, but Beijing claims Taiwan as part of its territory—and has vowed to one day take control. As China has expanded its military and economy over the last few decades, its designs on Taiwan have felt ever more real.

A Review of NIST’s Draft Cybersecurity Framework 2.0

Melanie Teplinsky

Cybersecurity professionals, and anyone interested in cybersecurity, take note: The gold standard of cybersecurity is getting a needed polish. But all that glitters is not gold.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST’s) Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity (CSF) is often touted as the gold standard for building a robust cybersecurity program. But voluntary compliance with the framework has largely failed to generate effective cybersecurity, leaving criticalinfrastructure and other organizations vulnerable to serious cyber threats such as ransomware. Now, nearly a decade after its initial release, the CSF is undergoing a major overhaul to address changes in technology, risk, and the overall cybersecurity landscape. The updated framework (CSF 2.0) is due out in early 2024, but if NIST’s recently released draft is any indication, CSF 2.0 is unlikely to fundamentally improve the nation’s cyber posture.

The CSF was first released in 2014 to reduce cybersecurity risk to critical infrastructure, yet in the decade since, that risk has only increased. According to the intelligence community’s 2023 threat assessment, “China almost certainly is capable of launching cyber attacks that could disrupt critical infrastructure services within the United States, including against oil and gas pipelines, and rail systems,” and more recent reports indicate that Chinese state-sponsored hackers already have infiltrated a wide array of U.S. critical infrastructure organizations including telecommunications and transportation hubs.

Pentagon arms Ukraine with ‘industrial-size’ 3D printers


You can add “industrial-size” 3D printers to the list of items the U.S. has provided Ukraine to help it combat Russian forces.

The newly delivered equipment will allow Ukraine to up its game with additive manufacturing to generate spare parts for its battlefield forces, Pentagon acquisition chief William LaPlante said Friday during a think tank event in Washington.

The United States and other nations have been supplying Kyiv with vehicles, drones and a slew of other weapons and technologies since Russia invaded last year.

“Ukrainians were initially 3D printing their own parts before they even had the tech data packages. And as [Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment] Chris Lowman says, ‘When your country is under existential attack, intellectual property laws are just mildly interesting.’ So, but we’ve cleaned that up, we’ve gotten them — with other countries — gotten them all the tech data packages,” LaPlante said at the Center for a New American Security.

“Then we just finally last month we got them these industrial-size 3D printers into country. And this last week, we trained them on it … I mean, we’re talking like a truck size that the Ukrainians have finished training on. It’s going right in theater and they’re printing all their repair parts. You know, I mean, it’s just remarkable what they’re doing and it’s changing the ballgame, of course,” he said.

The Relentless Regularity of Irregular Warfare

Michael Miklaucic

The U.S. Department of Defense has a rich taxonomy of the various kinds of war. There are conventional and unconventional wars, nuclear war, cyberwar, hybrid war, information war, guerilla war, proxy war, and many more. Some but not all these terms are carefully defined in military doctrine. One of them—irregular war—defies definition, or rather suffers from multiple definition syndrome. Ask ten experts the definition of irregular warfare and you will receive ten definitions. What many of those definitions have in common, however, is the characterization of irregular warfare as a suite of tools, tactics, and techniques for conflict below the threshold of military combat; a specified set of means short of military combat toward the end of prevailing in conflict. That is a problem.

The Pentagon definition is more nuanced than most; according to the Department of Defense’s Irregular Warfare Annex to the National Defense Strategy “Irregular warfare is a struggle among state and non-state actors to influence populations and affect legitimacy. IW favors indirect and asymmetric approaches, though it may employ the full range of military and other capabilities, in order to erode an adversary’s power, influence, and will.” This definition does not dwell on specific tactics, techniques, or tools. But ambiguity and ambivalence still reign.

The irony of irregular warfare is its regularity. A recent paper by the Center for the Study of Intelligence and Nontraditional Warfare informs us that U.S. armed forces have been engaged in irregular warfare for 92 of the last 125 years, while in conventional warfare for only 17 of those years. In other words, irregular war is the norm rather than the exception. And there is every reason to believe this will continue to be the case. Just one look at the war in Ukraine reveals not only multiple aspects of irregular warfare but also foreshadows the horrors that would devastate large civilian populations, infrastructure, and economies in the case of major war between the great powers. Irregular warfare is less risky and much cheaper.