28 September 2023

India Eyes a New Identity


“In India I found a race of mortals living upon the earth, but not adhering to it. Inhabiting cities, but not being fixed to them. Possessing everything, but possessed by nothing.”

This is how the first-century Greek philosopher Apollonius Tyanaeus is claimed to have described India. On the surface, the imputed ethos of universalism was on show in the expansive slogan of “One Earth, One Family, One Future” for the mega G-20 summit, hosted by India, that ended last week. With a jazzed-up capital city, gaudy laser lighting, brand new public installations, and gold-plated tableware for the attendants, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s big fat Indian G-20 meeting was a coming-out party of sorts for India as a world power. Modi’s eagerness is understandable—and not just because the next election is round the corner. India’s economy today is roughly the same size as China’s was in 2007, the year before it hosted its own coming out party, the Beijing Olympics.

But India’s self-belief as the country of the future is painfully at odds with its state-led obsession with the past. All the pomp and pageantry designed to project India’s new identity as a visvaguru (“teacher to the world,” in Modispeak) could not hide the many identity wars triggered by a surge of nativism in the country. If anything, they were spotlighted like never before by the G-20 event.

Can India and Pakistan’s Historic Water Pact Endure?

Betsy Joles

Since 1960, a treaty brokered by the World Bank has prevented a water war between pugnacious neighbours India and Pakistan—even as the two countries have gone to war three times over other issues. The Indus Waters Treaty outlines the usage rights of the Indus River and its five tributaries, which snake through the two countries. It allocates control of the three eastern rivers to India and the three western rivers to Pakistan, which is downstream. China and Afghanistan also utilize water from the Indus Basin.

Chinese Cyber Power Bigger Than the Rest of the World Combined

Kevin Poireault

While most people won’t be surprised to hear that China is investing heavily in cybersecurity, the extent of the country’s cyber power could be more significant than anyone would imagine.

According to Christopher Wray, director of the FBI, China already has a more extensive hacking program than every other major nation combined.

During his talk at the Mandiant mWISE conference on September 18, Wray gave an order of magnitude he previously presented to the US Congress in April 2023: “The Chinese cyber power is bigger than the rest of the world combined. If each of the FBI's cyber agents and intelligence analysts focused on China exclusively, Chinese hackers would still outnumber the US cyber personnel by at least 50 to 1."

According to Sandra Joyce, Mandiant head of global intelligence, these figures are not so surprising given how sophisticated some Chinese threat actors have become. Speaking with Infosecurity, she said that “while they started with noisy, easily detectable spear-phishing campaigns that put them in a tier 2 or tier 3 category in the 1990s and 2000s, most Chinese APTs are now top tier without a doubt.

“The rise of China as a cyber superpower is all everyone in cybersecurity has been talking about for the past few years. And the geopolitical tensions around Taiwan make things worse, since geopolitical events nearly always beget cyber events nowadays,” she added.

Targeting Edge Devices Through Zero-Days and Bypassing Security Measures

Chinese-Made Electric Cars Arrive Stateside

Lili Pike

In July, the electric car company Polestar unveiled a new dealership just blocks away from the White House in Washington, D.C. At the opening event, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser welcomed its arrival as a boost to the capital’s green transition; the dealership’s chief operating officer praised the brand’s “Swedish craftsmanship.” Absent from the ceremony was any mention of Polestar’s connections to China.

China's AI 'war of a hundred models' heads for a shakeout

Josh Ye

China's craze over generative artificial intelligence has triggered a flurry of product announcements from startups and tech giants on an almost daily basis, but investors are warning a shakeout is imminent as cost and profit pressures grow.

The buzz in China, first ignited by the success of OpenAI's ChatGPT almost a year ago, has given rise to what a senior Tencent (0700.HK) executive described this month as "war of a hundred models", as it and rivals from Baidu (9888.HK) to Alibaba (9988.HK) to Huawei promote their offerings.

China now has at least 130 large language models (LLMs), accounting for 40% of the global total and just behind the United States' 50% share, according to brokerage CLSA. Additionally, companies have also announced dozens of "industry-specific LLMs" that link to their core model.

However, investors and analysts say that most were yet to find viable business models, were too similar to each other and were now grappling with surging costs.

Tensions between Beijing and Washington have also weighed on the sector, as U.S. dollar funds invest less in early-stage projects and difficulties obtaining AI chips made by the likes of Nvidia start to bite.

Pot calls the kettle hack as China claims Uncle Sam did digital sneak peek first

Dan Robinson

The ongoing face-off between Washington and Beijing over technology and security issues has taken a new twist, with China accusing the US of hacking into the servers of Huawei in 2009 and conducting other cyber-attacks to steal critical data.

China's Ministry of State Security made the allegations in a posting (and here, translated) on WeChat, claiming that in 2009 US intelligence services "began to invade servers at Huawei headquarters and continued to monitor them."

The post goes on to claim that more recently, it was discovered that the US had carried out "tens of thousands of malicious network attacks" on targets in China, including Northwestern Polytechnical University; that it had controlled tens of thousands of network devices; and stolen a large amount of high-value data.

A further allegation is that Washington has forced the implantation of backdoors into software and equipment produced by technology companies, enlisting the help of its global technology brands to monitor and steal data.

Iran’s Grand Strategy Has Fundamentally Shifted

Kenneth M. Pollack

Since the 1979 revolution, Iran’s leadership has single-mindedly attempted to dominate the Middle East and drive the United States and Israel out. Throughout, Tehran has relied overwhelmingly on the proverbial stick to do so: trying to subvert the Arab states by blackmail or insurgency while waging a relentless terrorist campaign against the United States and Israel.

Cyber is the new oil in Middle East diplomacy


Fifty years ago, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia dared confront the then-most powerful man on earth, US President Richard Nixon. The king wielded an unexpected but fearsome weapon: oil embargoes.

King Faisal, angry at Nixon’s massive rescue of Israel during the Yom Kippur War, overnight cut all deliveries of oil to the United States, Japan, the Netherlands, and several other European countries, plunging the West into an unprecedented panic.

The vengeful king also ordered a massive increase in the price of oil, which jumped from about $3 a barrel in early October 1973 to about $12 a barrel in April 1974. Within months, the US, Japan, and Europe were suffering from runaway inflation and a series of deep recessions.

By 1979, prompted by the revolution in Iran, the oil price had tripled again, to about $36 a barrel. US inflation followed, and the fed funds rate moved over 20% in 1980, crushing the Jimmy Carter administration and ushering in the Ronald Reagan era.

France to Withdraw Troops From Niger After Military Coup

Elian Peltier and Aurelien Breeden

France will withdraw nearly 1,500 troops from the West African nation of Niger by the end of the year, President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday, a decision that could upend the West’s security footprint in the region, including the future of 1,100 American forces based in Niger.

In an interview on French television, Mr. Macron also said that the country’s ambassador to Niger would leave “within the next hours.” He added, “And we are ending our military cooperation with the de facto authorities in Niger, because they no longer want to fight terrorism.”

The short announcement comes after weeks of escalating tensions between France and the new military leaders in Niger, who seized power in a coup in July. It also caps years of waning influence for France, a former colonizer in West Africa whose economic presence and military clout in the region remains considerable despite being increasingly challenged by juntas and foreign powers like Russia.

The new authorities in Niger, known as the National Council for the Safeguarding of the Country, called the decision on Sunday a “historical moment” for the nation.

“Imperialistic and neocolonialist forces are not welcome anymore on our territory,” they said in a statement.


Riley Bailey

Elements of three Russian divisions are actively defending against Ukrainian assaults around the Ukrainian salient in the Orikhiv area in western Zaporizhia Oblast. Elements of the Russian 42nd Motorized Rifle Division (58th Combined Arms Army, Southern Military District) are deployed and are defending at the southernmost point of the Ukrainian penetration and are engaging Ukrainian forces in Novoprokopivka (13km south of Orikhiv).[1] Elements of the Russian 76th Air Assault Division deployed to the Ukrainian salient’s western flank near Kopani (11km southwest of Orikhiv) towards Robotyne (10m south of Orikhiv) and are counterattacking there.[2] Elements of the 7th Air Assault Division are deployed on the Ukrainian salient‘s eastern flank near the Verbove-Novopokrovka line and are counterattacking there.[3] Sources affiliated with the Russian Airborne (VDV) Forces report that the 56th Air Assault Regiment (7th Air Assault Division) is deployed about 5km north of Verbove near Novofedorivka.[4]

A Russian source claimed that the 7th and 76th VDV Divisions were ordered to conduct an operational encirclement of the Ukrainian salient, but that they failed to do so and that the 7th VDV Division’s effectiveness significantly declined after a successful Ukrainian strike against the division headquarters on September 19.[5] ISW offers no assessment about these reported orders to encircle Ukrainian forces beyond noting that it would be a sound practice for Russian forces to conduct counterattacks against Ukrainian forces’ flanks within limits.


Christina Harward

Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Commander Brigadier General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi stated in an interview with CNN published on September 23 that Ukrainian forces achieved a “breakthrough” on the left flank near Verbove and that Ukrainian forces continue advancing.[2] Combat footage posted on September 22 shows a destroyed Ukrainian Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) and BMP-2 operating slightly beyond Russia’s fighting positions trench line near Verbove, indicating continued Ukrainian progress in deploying more heavy equipment beyond Russia’s triune belt of the anti-vehicle ditch, dragon’s teeth, and fighting positions.[3] Commercially available satellite imagery indicates that Ukrainian forces have brought heavy equipment closer to Verbove over the past 96 hours in a manner consistent with Tarnavskyi’s statement.[4] The Wall Street Journal reported on September 21 that Ukrainian forces achieved a “limited breakthrough” west of Verbove citing an unnamed Ukrainian Air Assault Forces officer.[5]

Ukrainian forces have not overcome all of the prepared Russian defensive positions near Verbove. Ukrainian forces’ rate of advance near their breakthrough remains unclear. Russian forces likely still control segments of the long trench line of Russian fighting positions between Robotyne (10km south of Orikhiv) and Verbove, especially near the tactical high ground to the south. Russian forces have reportedly established prepared fighting positions in almost every tree line that Ukrainian infantry are slowly and systematically fighting through. Russian forces have more field fortifications beyond Verbove; there are more anti-vehicle trenches and fighting positions north of Ocheretuvate (26km southeast of Orikhiv), for example. It is unclear the extent to which those positions are manned, however. ISW continues to assess that the Russian military does not have sufficient forces deployed to this sector of the front to completely man its defenses in depth and that Ukrainian forces should be able to operate through Russian field fortifications more rapidly if they are not properly manned.[6]

Gen. Mark Milley, polarizing Joint Chiefs chairman, exits center stage

Dan Lamothe, Missy Ryan and Karen DeYoung

As the war in Ukraine approached its first anniversary, the Pentagon’s top officer, Gen. Mark A. Milley, assessed the carnage that had followed Russia’s full-scale invasion: With more than than 100,000 soldiers likely killed or wounded on each side, he said, there was a “window of opportunity” for the combatants to hammer out a deal.

Milley told an audience in New York that both parties must recognize victory may not be “achievable through military means.” He drew a comparison to World War I, explaining how strategists a century earlier had predicted a swift end to the bloodshed, only for it to become an unwinnable standoff that killed millions and set the stage for World War II. “Things can get worse, so when there’s an opportunity to negotiate, when peace can be achieved, seize it,” Milley said. “Seize the moment.”

The declaration was classic Milley, according to colleagues and observers who have worked closely with him. The general, immersed in military history and alarmed by the potential for escalation with Russia, the largest nuclear power in the world, was publicly advocating a position the Biden administration had eschewed as the president and other top advisers sought to project unqualified support for Ukraine’s defense. It was a notion that unnerved America’s partners in Kyiv.

North Korea is slave sta

Kim Dong-jae

Until last year, I was one of the modern slaves of Kim Jong-un. I was born and raised in North Korea. I worked in a North Korean building company in Russia for more than 5 years. I came here to tell the story of 21st-century slaves that exist in North Korea.

Have you ever seen slaves with your eyes? If you would like to see one, you should take a look at North Korean workers who are toiling abroad. And, if you talk with one of them for more than five minutes, you'll see the face of a modern slave.

Why are they slaves? There are many reasons, but I can't tell you all the reasons here, so I'll tell you only three.

First, they can't listen to anyone, look at or say anything while working abroad. Second, they can have no money, although they work as hard as a working ox. Third, they can say nothing about the bad treatment they get from Kim Jong-un. After hearing my story, you'll understand why we must end the dictatorship of the Kim family and the system of slavery there.

Russia's Army Learns From Its Mistakes in Ukraine

Matthew Luxmoore, Michael R. Gordon

More than a year after Moscow failed in its goal of a lightning victory in Ukraine, the Russian military has steadily adapted on the battlefield as it shifts to a strategy of wearing down Ukraine and the West.

The poor performance of the Russian military in the early days of the war shocked many in the West and ultimately allowed Ukraine to resist, and then roll back, a large part of the Russian advance.

But Russia has since learned from its mistakes, adapting in ways that could make it difficult for Ukraine to expel Russian forces from its territory.

After Ukraine easily swept through Russia’s lines in the Kharkiv region last autumn, Moscow spent months preparing formidable defenses ahead of the current Ukrainian counteroffensive in the south. Moscow is also deploying drones to scope out and attack Ukrainian positions in a way that Kyiv has struggled to respond to.

As a result, Ukrainian forces have advanced slowly in the past few months, facing dense minefields while Russian helicopters, antitank missiles and artillery pick them off.

The Real Reason Ukraine Isn’t Ready to Join NATO


Mark Hannah is a senior fellow at the nonprofit Eurasia Group Foundation (@EGFound) and host of its “None Of The Above” podcast.

Six of the seven Ukrainian deputy defense ministers were fired this morning. Earlier this month, when President Zelenskyy of Ukraine sacked his defense minister, news reports cited the ministry’s allegations of mishandling military contracting and corruption. This sort of corruption prompted President Biden to state last month that Ukraine was not ready for NATO membership.

But just a couple days later, at a NATO summit in Vilnius, member countries insisted it was only a matter of time before Ukraine would join the alliance. They even dropped the requirement for Ukraine to abide by a Membership Action Plan — NATO’s rigorous program which ensures aspiring countries meet the alliance’s military, economic and democratic standards. Zelenskyy visits the U.N. General Assembly and White House this week, bringing Ukraine’s NATO aspirations back into the news.

Pundits cast the war in Ukraine as ground zero of a global struggle between democracy and autocracy. Through its vigorous defense against Russia, they argue, Ukraine is a battle-tested soldier for democracy and thus worthy of NATO membership. Membership will, in turn, reverse the further erosion of Ukraine’s flawed democracy. Or so the argument goes.

Why the World Still Needs Trade

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

The international economic architecture built after 1945 was based on a powerful idea: economic interdependence is crucial, if insufficient, for global peace and prosperity. The International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the predecessor to the World Trade Organization were founded in response to the three preceding decades of ceaseless instability when the world had been devastated by two world wars, the Great Depression, and political extremism. It had also been a period of deglobalization, in which countries retreated into increasingly isolated trading blocs. In the rubble of World War II, governments sought to construct a new system that, by linking countries in a dense web of economic ties, would consign such chaos and division to history.

For much of the past 75 years, policymakers from across the world recognized the power of economic interdependence. Countries tore down trade barriers, opening their economies to one another. On balance, their record was impressive. Closer economic integration went hand in hand with rising global prosperity, an unprecedented reduction in poverty, and an unusually long period of great-power peace. Since 1990, the share of the world’s population living in extreme poverty has fallen by three-quarters. At the center of this great leap in human well-being was a 20-fold increase in international trade volumes, which helped lift per capita incomes by a factor of 27 over the last six decades.

Does the Public Get What it Wants? The UK Government’s Response to Terrorism

Michael Lister

Recent trends in (critical) security studies have sought to foreground the voices and experiences of “ordinary” people (Jarvis 2019; Vaughan Williams and Stevens 2017; Jarvis and Lister 2013; Gillespie and O’Loughlin 2009; Gillespie 2007). These studies, often but not always framed around “vernacular security”, have identified the diverse ways in which security is understood, expressed and discussed in the experiences and practices of citizens and publics. This represents a shift away from security studies’ traditional focus on elites, with securitization and its focus on elite speech acts perhaps the paradigmatic example of such an approach. But where do these discourses of “ordinary” people fit within broader dynamics of security politics? Are they marginal to the core outcomes of security politics, which continue to be elite-led? Or do they play a more substantial role? Put slightly differently, do public views about security shape security politics? And/or, to what extent are public views shaped by elite actors and processes? In sum: is public opinion an important aspect of security politics? And if it is, what kind of role does it play?

This short article explores these questions by looking at counterterrorism policy and politics in the UK and is based on my book Public Opinion and Counterterrorism: Security and Politics in the UK (Routledge, 2023). The first thing to note is that with a few exceptions, the question of the position and role of public views in security politics has received relatively little attention. As noted above, this relates to the traditional focus of security studies, in both mainstream and more critical variants, on the actions and discourses of elite actors. In Buzan et al.’s (1998, 29) famous dictum, securitization represents efforts to ‘present an issue as urgent and existential, so important that it should not be exposed to the normal haggling of politics but should be dealt with decisively by top leaders prior to other issues’. This reference to ‘normal haggling of politics’ has produced a schism between “normal” politics, which is an arena of contestation and debate,

The Choice in Nagorno-Karabakh: Ethnic Cleansing or Self-Determination?

Vahagn Avedian

The world community has a clear choice in the case of Nagorno-Karabakh: ethnic cleansing or supporting the right of the population for self-determination in an apparent case of remedial secession. Recent developments – a persistent continuation of the same pattern since the beginning of the conflict – have only emphasized the need for an international intervention to stop a complete ethnic cleansing of Nagorno-Karabakh from its Armenian population. As Azerbaijan’s blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh, meant to starve out the population and using coercion to subjugate its population, entered its ninth month, Azerbaijan launched a massive attack on September 19, 2023, calling it an “anti-terror operation,” a labelling often employed by similar autocratic regimes for violating democratic and human rights. The latter has become a standard procedure as authoritarian governments such as those in Turkey, Russia, Kazakhstan et al., have embarked on a crackdown on critics or violating the rights of a specific target group under their rule.

The covert aim of Azerbaijan’s policy can be illustrated in narratives such as the op-ed by Hakan Yavuz, where a biased description of the reality whitewashes any substantial criticism – making Baku to appear as a highly forthcoming actor while Armenians are the stubborn culprit, crying wolf to victimize themselves on false grounds. This narrative deliberately omits the reality on the ground, both in regard to the state of democracy as a prerequisite for honoring and implementing required security measures as well as the assault on the civilian population as reported in the media, but more significantly the blatant violation and defying of international law.

No, the World Is Not Multipolar

Jo Inge Bekkevold

One of the most persistent arguments put forward by politicians, diplomats, and observers of international politics is that the world is or soon will be multipolar. In recent months, this argument has been made by U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, French President Emmanuel Macron, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Josep Borrell, the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs, argues that that the world has been a system of “complex multipolarity” ever since the 2008 global financial crisis.

Soft Power Is Making a Hard Return

J. Alex Tarquinio

Days before the recent NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, the host country’s foreign minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis, who has been outspoken against Russia’s war in Ukraine, welcomed an unusual side event. He tweeted that he was “[p]roud to open the NAFO summit.” That wasn’t a typo.

How is the falling confidence in America’s military creating a real crisis?

Lyle D. Solomon

The decline in confidence in America's military is giving rise to a significant crisis that extends beyond matters of defense and security.

According to a Gallup poll from June 1-22, the latest figures show that Americans' confidence in the military has reached its lowest level in 25 years, standing at 60%.

As a nation's military strength has profound implications for its global standing, economic stability, and diplomatic relationships, a weakening perception of America's military prowess leads to concerns that reverberate far beyond national security.

This crisis concerns military capabilities and the intricate interplay between military confidence, economic resilience and international influence.

Factors Contributing to Falling Confidence in America's Military

Several factors have contributed to the declining confidence in America's military, giving rise to a genuine crisis. One significant factor is the prolonged engagement in conflicts, for instance, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The extended duration and evolving nature of these conflicts have led to war fatigue among the public, leading to skepticism about the effectiveness and purpose of military actions.

Why America Should Send Military Advisers to Ukraine

Alexandra Chinchilla and Sam Rosenberg

As Ukraine’s counteroffensive enters its fourth month, its armed forces have shown tenacity and adaptability. Kyiv is applying pressure across multiple fronts in southern and eastern Ukraine, and it has made notable progress. In August, Ukraine liberated the village of Robotyne, penetrating the first line of minefields, tank traps, and trenches in the south. Early in September, Ukrainian troops began attacking the second line, an important step toward severing the land bridge connecting Russia with its troops in Crimea and Kherson.

Navy Campaigns of Learning

Captain John T. Hanley Jr., U.S. Navy Reserve (Retired)

Former Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral Michael Gilday’s Navigation Plan 2022 calls for a “rigorous campaign of learning” as part of a “continuous, iterative force design process to focus our modernization efforts and accelerate capabilities we need to maintain our edge.” He identifies a “learning culture” as essential.

The Navy during World War II developed a learning culture modeled on the Prussian campaign of learning. The Navy’s campaign dissipated following the war, as the national security establishment and the Navy evolved, though the submarine force and the CNO Strategic Studies Group successfully used similar campaigns during the Cold War. An attempt to re-create a campaign of learning for naval warfare innovation failed in the 1990s. The learning initiatives in Navigation Plan 2022 are essential for regaining headway in competition with China.

World War II leaders (left to right) Admirals Raymond Spruance, Ernest King, and Chester Nimitz and Brigadier General Sanderford Jarman visit Saipan in 1944. The Navy’s interwar campaign of learning prepared these leaders for victory by teaching them to learn from every battle. Naval History and Heritage Command

The Prussian campaign of learning balanced theoretical study and practical experience and exercises, including war games. Leading U.S. Navy reform, Stephen B. Luce sought to follow the Prussian campaign, resulting in the founding of the Naval War College (NWC) in 1884. Luce explained his idea for the college declaring, that “there are no professors competent to teach” warfare. “All here, faculty and class alike, occupy the same plane, without distinction of age, rank, or assumption of superior attainments.”1

Wither Political Warfare: The Future of Grey Zone Competition

Andrew Maher 

“Nothing becomes a General more than to anticipate the Enemy’s plans.”

— Niccolò Machiavelli, The Discourses, Book 3, Verse 18.

The term “grey zone” was a curious absentee from this year’s Australian Defence Strategic Review (DSR). Nor were similar terms, like “political warfare,” “subversion,” or “irregular warfare,” even once mentioned. This absence is notable given the prominence afforded in the earlier Defence Strategic Update(DSU), where grey zone was defined as one of a range of terms used to describe “activities designed to coerce countries in ways that seek to avoid military conflict.” The DSU identified that such activities are occurring now, a conclusion reinforced by a recent study of China’s strategy of political warfare by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. CSIS argues that “China is conducting an unprecedented campaign below the threshold of armed conflict,” using what the American Enterprise Institute described as “persuasion, coercion, and compellence.” In other words, grey zone activities are occurring now with unprecedented frequency and purpose.

Despite the purpose of the DSR being to respond to a state of increasing competition in the Indo-Pacific region, the DSR has seemingly ignored the nature of that competition.

The resultant dilemma is a grey zone gap that requires an educational, bureaucratic, and cultural response to grey zone activities, or “comprehensive coercion.” This, as Machiavelli indicates above, implies a need for leadership. That leadership has been provided by Ross Babbage and David Stillwell, who explore the issues associated with the Chinese Communist Party’s use of political warfare on the IWI podcast.


Lena Trabucco 

Flying high above a near-future battlefield, an AI-enabled MQ-9 Reaper drone alerts operators that it has detected enemy forces moving in a vehicle in a remote location. The drone uses available data to predict that the vehicle will enter a residential area in fifteen seconds. Operators receive the alert and a request to authorize a strike before the window of opportunity closes. With three seconds left for optimal strike conditions, the operator is still deliberating, and the drone has not yet received either approval or rejection for the strike request. The drone engages the vehicle with one second left under what it has identified as optimal conditions. Six noncombatants are killed.

In the wake of the strike, the public discussion focuses on whether the operator had meaningful human control (MHC) of the autonomous weapon system (AWS). But that is the wrong question to ask, and focusing on the MHC of solely the operator in this tactical situation fails to appreciate the significance of the entire life cycle of the AWS. What about the MHC of the developers and designers of the AWS? What about the campaign planner who authorized the introduction of the AWS into this operational environment and authorized AWS strike capacity if the strike occurred in remote areas? In an era of rapidly increasing autonomy, failing to expand our conceptualization of MHC risks overlooking other opportunities, earlier in an AWS’s life cycle, for embedded MHC that can lead to more responsible and robust autonomous weapons.

What is Meaningful Human Control?