15 March 2024

Biden Draws a ‘Red Line’ for Israel

President Biden likes to say that no President has been a better friend to Israel, but of late he doesn’t sound like it. He beat up Israel’s leaders in his State of the Union speech, criticized its war strategy in Gaza with regularity, and on the weekend called Israel’s plans to clear Hamas from its last stronghold in the city of Rafah a “red line” that Israel shouldn’t cross.

“It is a red line, but I am never going to leave Israel. The defense of Israel is still critical. So there is no red line I am going to cut off all weapons, so they don’t have the Iron Dome to protect them,” Mr. Biden said on MSNBC. “But there’s red lines that if he crosses,” without finishing his train of thought, before adding “you cannot have 30,000 more Palestinians dead.”

As is often the case, it’s hard to tell what Mr. Biden means. He wants fewer civilian casualties in Gaza, but so does Israel since the diplomatic consequences fall on the Jewish state, not on Hamas. That’s why Israel has held off on its Rafah campaign until it can put together a plan to let civilians find refuge to the city’s north.

The best way to protect civilians would be for Egypt to let them cross the border into Sinai until the fighting stops. But Mr. Biden hasn’t been willing to lean on Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, despite some $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid to Cairo.

Israel can’t avoid a Rafah campaign if it wants to achieve its war aim of destroying Hamas. Surely Mr. Biden knows this. The U.S. didn’t let ISIS retain its stronghold in Mosul in Iraq, and the siege of that city also had unintended civilian casualties.

Is India Finally Waking Up to a New Reality in Western Myanmar?

Angshuman Choudhury

On February 29, an Indian delegation led by K. Vanlalvena, a member of the Rajya Sabha, India’s upper house of Parliament and the only delegate from Mizoram, made a surprise cross-border visit to rebel-held territory in western Myanmar.

Crossing over from southern Mizoram’s Zorinpui, the parliamentarian from the Mizo National Front (MNF) and his team traveled some 12 kilometers inside southern Chin State in Myanmar and met a delegation of the Arakan Army (AA) near Paletwa. A photograph released by the Mizoram government shows the MP standing with seven AA fighters, all armed and dressed in camouflage.

Vanlalvena, according to his own admission, made the trip to assess progress on the Kaladan Multi Modal Transit Transport Project (KMMTTP), a massive India-funded transregional connectivity initiative that aims to provide maritime access to landlocked Northeast India through western Myanmar.

Since the coup, construction work on the project has practically stalled, especially on the last stretch of the overland route from Paletwa, which hosts an inland river terminal, to Zorinpui in Mizoram. IRCON, an Indian infrastructure company, is tasked with building that road, but hasn’t been able to due to the ongoing conflict. Vanlalvena also met with officers from the company during his cross-border dash.

What does this rare meeting reveal about India’s Myanmar policy today? How can India navigate western Myanmar’s complicated ethno-political landscape?

Changing Attitudes?

Since the coup in February 2021, India has maintained a strict policy of formally engaging with only the Myanmar junta, which calls itself the State Administration Council (SAC). This supposedly pragmatic policy is driven by New Delhi’s belief that the military is the dominant politico-security actor in Myanmar and cutting it off could jeopardize Indian interests in the country.

The U.S. Doesn’t Understand Indian Diplomacy

Abhinav Pandya

During the early phase of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, India faced tremendous pressure from the West, particularly the United States, to align with the United States-led Western bloc and condemn Russia in unequivocal terms. However, India maintained its principled strategic neutrality, calling for an “immediate cessation of hostilities,” an “end to the violence,” and a “return to the path of diplomacy and dialogue.” India’s position is uncomfortable for many Western capitals, particularly Washington, DC.

In today’s polarized world, India’s hallmark “tightrope” balancing between rival power blocs and nations does not always sit well with the Western foreign ministries. The discomfort and unease in bilateral relations can be witnessed in the India-U.S. relationship. With an array of technological and strategic agreements like BECA, LEMOA, and COMCASA, as well as the common consensus on the emerging challenge of Chinese revisionism, there is nonetheless an acute sense of misunderstanding and lack of trust between New Delhi and Washington. This friction is visible in several instances, be it the U.S. legislators sermonizing India on so-called democratic backsliding, press freedom, minority issues, and human rights, the recent diplomatic stand-off between Canada and India over the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, an alleged Sikh-separatist terrorist, with the alleged Indian involvement, and U.S. accusations against Indian agencies for conspiring to murder Khalistani extremist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.

The ambitious dreams of the grand U.S.-India strategic partnership and bonhomie always get punctured by Washington, DC’s discomfort with India’s independent stance on issues of critical geopolitical importance to the United States. Today, when Chinese revisionism presents a common challenge to both the United States and India, both countries do not see eye to eye on many issues. One hardly finds any steam in the India-U.S. partnership besides purely transactional technology, defense, and intelligence-sharing agreements. It seems that the United States cannot understand the nature of India’s diplomatic behavior. This lack of understanding comes from the fundamental difference in the international relations thought of India and the Western World. 

How India Learned to Read Subtitles


In India, cinema speaks many languages. “To have not seen the films of Satyajit Ray,” Akira Kurosawa, the legendary Japanese director, once said, “is to have lived in the world without ever having seen the moon and the sun.” Yet I know Ray’s moons and suns simply because we spoke the same language. The Calcutta filmmaker made most of his movies in Bengali, and growing up in a Bengali family, I didn’t need subtitles to understand Aparajito or Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne. It was like being from Liverpool and learning about Paul McCartney. Ray was ours. Similarly, friends from Kerala grew up venerating Malayalam masters like G. Aravindan and Adoor Gopalakrishnan. We stayed away from each other’s great movies because of limited access, horrid subtitling, and linguistic alienation.

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way India watches movies. The Hindi film industry—headquartered in Mumbai, formerly called Bombay, therefore named “Bollywood”—is losing its hold. Over the last four years, movies and stars from the southern states—primarily the Telugu and Tamil industries, with the Malayalam industry not far behind—have taken over the commercial and critical reins. They are the ones with the buzz, the momentum, and, quite frankly, usually the better movies. At this moment, Hindi cinema appears to be observing, imitating, and being schooled.

Traditionally, Indian television channels are categorized into national and regional ones, the latter term even used for channels beamed across India, but in a different language. National channels are broadcast in Hindi and English, and occasionally show regional films with rudimentary English subtitles. As a result, viewers had long largely stayed in their own lanes. The emergence of streaming television in the 2000s and 2010s enabled platforms to take pre-existing libraries of films and serve them up better subtitled—and better dubbed in various languages—in order to find more of an audience. But the pace began to dramatically pick up in 2020.

China trying to 'normalise' military drills near Taiwan: island's top security official

Taiwan's top security official told parliament on Monday that China runs "joint combat readiness patrols" near the democratic island every 7-10 days on average, saying Chinese forces were trying to "normalise" drills near Taiwan.

China has in recent years stepped up military activities near Taiwan, with almost daily incursions into the island's air defence identification zones and regular "combat readiness patrols" that included drills by its air and naval forces.

China claims democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory, over the island's strong objections.

Taiwan National Security Bureau Director-General Tsai Ming-yen said Beijing usually dispatches around 10 warplanes and 3 to 4 naval ships on joint patrols near Taiwan, calling them part of a "multi-front" effort that also includes economic coercions and misinformation campaign to pressure the island.

"They are tying to normalise their military activities," Tsai said, adding that the patrols were occasionally timed to coincide with diplomatic events such as visits to the island by foreign lawmakers.

Tsai said that Taipei had "close discussions" with international allies on whether a Chinese invasion is imminent and that tensions across the Taiwan Strait have not escalated sharply.

"We do not see any signal of a war in the Taiwan Strait breaking out," Tsai said.

Myanmar: Kachin Offensive Opens New Front For Overstretched Junta Forces – Analysis

Zachary Abuza

While the Three Brotherhood Alliance move to consolidate territorial gains in northern Shan state, and the Arakan Army continues their attacks across Rakhine state, a new offensive against Myanmar’s junta has begun in Kachin state this month.

On March 7, the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) launched an offensive and quickly captured three military junta bases and 11 small outposts along the 120 km-long (72-mile) Myitkyina-Bhampo highway, parallel to the Chinese border. The KIA has sought to both neutralize threats to their capital and control the trade and movement along the highway.

The military has responded with a spasm of air and artillery assaults into Lai Zar, the seat of the KIA’s headquarters. The KIA is now on the outskirts of Myitkyina, the capital and economic hub of Kachin state.

The KIA’s offensive deserves close attention for five reasons.

First, although the KIA was one of the first ethnic resistance organizations to join with the National Unity Government (NUG) and fight the junta after the Feb.1, 20921 coup d’etat, they have been less militarily active since the Three Brotherhood Alliance launched a coordinated offensive on Oct. 27, 2023 that has turned the tide against the junta in Shan state.

The Three Brotherhood Alliance – which includes the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and the Arakan Army – took towns across northern Shan state.

In November, the Arakan Army broke their ceasefire with the government and swept across northern Rakhine. The AA is now in control of six townships, and is advancing on the capital. The military government is quickly trying to evacuate civil servants and some forces from Sittwe.

The world’s most dangerous place has only gotten more dangerous - Opinion

Fareed Zakaria

A couple of years ago, the Economist declared on its cover that Taiwan — a tiny island, home to 24 million people — was “the most dangerous place on Earth.”

The reasons it came to that conclusion remain sound. In fact, they have only grown stronger recently.

The backdrop to the tensions over Taiwan is, of course, the expanding geopolitical rivalry between China and the United States. Ever since the rise first of Chinese leader Xi Jinping and then of former US President Donald Trump, both nations have fundamentally shifted their attitudes towards the other — from benign, to wary, to hostile.

Perhaps the extraordinary and rapid growth of China and the reality of America’s dominant status made this inevitable. A rising power faces an established one, creating a situation that may be, in the words of author and Harvard international security scholar Graham Allison, “destined for war.”

But are we destined for war? The US and China are unusual in that while they are increasingly geopolitical rivals, they are also deeply intertwined economically.

One example: During the Cold War, at the peak of US-Soviet trade, the two countries exchanged $5 billion dollars of goods with each other in one year. China and the US do $5 billion in trade every few days. And that number has not dropped that much even as tariffs, bans and restrictions on trade have grown in recent years.

In addition, China does not seem to be a revolutionary state, seeking to overthrow the international system and present the world with an alternative ideology to America. That ideological rivalry, at the heart of the Cold War, is largely absent today.

China’s National People’s Congress: more continuity than change

Veerle Nouwens & Meia Nouwens
Source Link

It was not business as usual at China’s 2024 ‘Two Sessions’ meetings of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). Largely a rubber-stamping exercise, the NPC normally follows a formulaic pattern of events. In the past, the two weeks of meetings and discussions would have set the government’s course of action for the next year. In 2024, the NPC has been shortened to just seven days of meetings and presentations. This year’s NPC deviated from standard practice in two other important ways: no personnel appointments were announced, and the premier did not take questions following his speech on the government ‘work report’. Notwithstanding these two practical differences, nothing in the National Development and Reform Commission’s (NDRC) work report, the government budget report or the major political speeches suggests major changes in China’s foreign-policy trajectory are on the horizon.

The 2024 NPC comes at a time of continued economic malaise and domestic political challenges. At the meeting, the GDP growth target for 2024 was set vaguely at ‘around 5%’, which, although a cautious approach, is still considered ambitious by some domestic and international observers. The way the NPC has been run suggests these issues have not yet been resolved. The NPC was meant to be preceded by a Third Plenum – a five-yearly assembly at which the leadership sets out major economic policies and reforms – at the end of 2023. The plenum has been delayed since then. This is not unprecedented, as President Xi Jinping has delayed the meeting once before, holding the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) 2018 Third Plenum in February 2019 instead. But as of yet, the 2023 Third Plenum has still not even been scheduled.

China is worried about the return of Trump, but it also sees opportunities if he wins

Simone McCarthy

As America bustled through key political moments last week, with voters casting Super Tuesday ballots and President Joe Biden laying out his national priorities in the State of the Union address, China was busy conducting the largest annual showing of its own political process.

In Beijing, where thousands of delegates from around the country convened for a largely ceremonial meeting to rubber stamp a yearly agenda set by the Communist Party-controlled government, the focus was on domestic concerns – from economic goals to hailing the leadership of Xi Jinping.

But looming over that gathering was also the near certainty that former President Donald Trump would run against Biden in November elections – and that either winner would continue to drive a tough China policy.

Senior Chinese leaders didn’t publicly mention the American election as the Beijing event got underway. But a key strategy promoted there – to transform the country into a high-tech powerhouse – was widely seen as part of an urgent bid to safeguard the country in the face of Biden administration technology curbs and a fractious US-China relationship ahead.

Top diplomat Wang Yi flashed a clearer sign of the anxiety underlying that strategy during a press briefing on the sidelines of the gathering. There, he reached for some of his most dramatic language to date on US trade and tech controls targeting China, saying they had hit “bewildering levels of unfathomable absurdity.”

Behind closed doors, however, observers of elite Chinese politics say, the discussion about the upcoming elections themselves is likely much more direct – especially when it comes to the impact of the return of Trump, who is widely seen as a far more unpredictable force than Biden.

Position, Navigation, And Timing Weaponization In Maritime Domain: Orientation In Era Of Great Systems Conflict – Analysis

Diane M. Zorri and Gary C. Kessler

Deception, confusion, and targeting of weak points in modern warfare is as ubiquitous now as it was in the wars of antiquity.1 Likewise, the incongruity between perception and reality has been explored for centuries. Understanding what is real is still a challenge for humankind. How does the human learn to “see” through the fog of deception? With the mind’s ability to emphatically alter perceptions, modern society has become increasingly reliant on technology. Yet even technology can be deceptive, and, as Sun Tzu observed, “all warfare is based on deception.”2

Strategists have long recognized that naval superiority and control of maritime assets are paramount in establishing global influence.3 Alfred Thayer Mahan noted that although navies have an essential utility in safeguarding global trade and communications, a small naval force could overwhelm a much larger one by concentrating efforts on its adversary’s key vulnerabilities. Consequently, when a country’s maritime assets come under attack, it may have far-reaching geopolitical, military, and economic implications. The sinking of the USS Maine (1898) and RMS Lusitania (1915), as well as the attacks on the USS Maddox and USS Turner Joy (1964), precipitated major conflicts and sustained military campaigns. While the U.S. Navy remains the largest and most expeditionary force in the world, smaller forces, malign powers, and irregular adversaries are disrupting maritime transit and naval assets using new and innovative techniques. These techniques often involve a “system of systems” approach, where malign actors confront adversaries through critical components of operational systems.4 Two of the most persistent threats to maritime security and superiority in the great systems conflicts of the 21stcentury stem from vulnerabilities in two of the technologies that enable position information, navigation, timing, and situational awareness: the Global Positioning System (GPS) and the Automatic Identification System (AIS).5

Putin warns the West: Russia is ready for nuclear war

Guy Faulconbridge and Lidia Kelly

President Vladimir Putin warned the West on Wednesday Russia was technically ready for nuclear war and that if the U.S. sent troops to Ukraine, it would be considered a significant escalation of the conflict.

Putin, speaking just days before a March 15-17 election which is certain to give him another six years in power, said the nuclear war scenario was not "rushing" up and he saw no need for the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

"From a military-technical point of view, we are, of course, ready," Putin, 71, told Rossiya-1 television and news agency RIA in response to a question whether the country was really ready for a nuclear war.

Putin said the U.S. understood that if it deployed American troops on Russian territory - or to Ukraine - Russia would treat the move as an intervention.

"(In the U.S.) there are enough specialists in the field of Russian-American relations and in the field of strategic restraint," said Putin, the ultimate decision maker in the world's biggest nuclear power.

"Therefore, I don't think that here everything is rushing to it (nuclear confrontation), but we are ready for this."

Putin's nuclear warning came alongside another offer for talks on Ukraine as part of a new post-Cold War demarcation of European security. The U.S. says Putin is not ready for serious talks over Ukraine.

The war in Ukraine has triggered the deepest crisis in Russia's relations with the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and Putin has warned several times the West risks provoking a nuclear war if it sends troops to fight in Ukraine.

New Navy Budget Seeks 6 Battle Force Ships, Decommissions 19 Hulls in FY 2025


The Navy wants to buy six battle force ships and decommission 19 ships in the next fiscal year, according to the service’s latest budget request.

Faced with fiscal constraints, the Navy’s Fiscal Year 2025 budget prioritizes readiness over modernization, leading to a smaller shipbuilding request and a delay for several new programs and research and development efforts.

The request, released Monday, is seeking one Virginia-class attack submarine, two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, one Constellation-class frigate, one San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock and one Medium Landing Ship.

The Department of the Navy is asking for a total of $257.6 billion, with $203.9 billion for the Navy and $53.7 billion for the Marine Corps. The numbers are a .7 percent increase above last year’s request, according to a Navy summary. Last year’s Fiscal Year 2024 submission sought $255.8 billion for the Department of the Navy, broken out with $202.5 billion for the Navy and $53.2 billion for the Marine Corps.

The Navy’s portion of the budget breaks down to $70.2 billion in operations and maintenance funding, $63.3 billion in procurement, $43.8 billion for military personnel, $22.7 billion in research and development funding, and $3.9 billion for military construction.

This year’s request continues the Navy’s plans to divest of older platforms, asking to decommission 10 hulls before the end of their service lives and nine additional ships. For the early retirements, the service wants to decommission two cruisers, the first four Expeditionary Fast Transports, one Whidbey Island-class docking landing ship, one Expeditionary Transfer Dock and two Littoral Combat Ships. Those ships are USS Shiloh (CG-67), USS Lake Erie (CG-70), USNS Spearhead (EPF-1), USNS Choctaw County (EPF-2), USNS Millinocket (EPF-3), USNS Fall River (EPF-4), USS Germantown (LSD-42), USNS John Glenn (ESD-2), USS Jackson (LCS-6) and USS Montgomery (LCS-8).

Four-Star Sellouts

Citizen Soldier

“The jungle is dark but full of diamonds, Willy. One must go in to fetch a diamond out.”

I’ve been thinking about that line from Arthur Miller’s masterpiece, Death of a Salesman, as I watch prominent men risk prison or disgrace to enrich themselves.

Look at the news.

Sen. Bob Menendez, former Chair of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is indicted for acting as a foreign agent to benefit Egypt.

Manuel Rocha, a former Ambassador to Cuba, will plead guilty to charges he conspired to act as an agent of Cuba.

Two years ago, former Marine Corps General John Allen resigned from his post as president of Brookings Institution amid a DOJ investigation into whether he illegally lobbied on behalf of the nation of Qatar.

DOJ dropped the charges but, in 2023, Congress released findings that 77 general officers and admirals had taken high-paying gigs with foreign countries. The list included former Defense Secretary James Mattis (UAE), former NSA chief Keith Alexander (Singapore, Saudi Arabia) and former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster (Japan).

Go back to 2015 and you’ll be reminded that then-Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas allegedly pressured DHS officials to approve visa requests on behalf of powerful friends in business, entertainment and politics.

I get it; there’s an edge in this game, too.

Mayorkas and the generals played close to the edge. Menendez played too close to the edge (at minimum). Rocha obviously went over the edge.

U.S. Dominates Foreign Weapons Market as Russian Exports Plummet

Brett Forrest and Michael R. Gordon

The U.S. bolstered its position as the world’s dominant arms exporter, accounting for more than 40% of the global trade in weapons over a recent five-year period, while Russia saw its sales abroad drop by more than half because of the war in Ukraine, according to a new report.

The latest data, released Sunday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI, reflects, in part, the global conflict in Ukraine. Russia has reoriented its defense industry to support its war there, while the U.S. has sent weapons in large quantities to Kyiv. Concerns over China’s military ambitions are also fueling U.S. sales to its partners and allies in Asia.

SIPRI, a global authority on arms trade and production, releases data annually in five-year blocks, since arms deals between states run on multiyear cycles of ordering, production and shipment. Sunday’s figures cover the five-year period ending in January and are based on weapons deliveries.

“The U.S.A. has increased its global role as an arms supplier—an important aspect of its foreign policy,” said Mathew George, the director of Sipri’s arms transfers program. “This comes at a time when the U.S.A.’s economic and geopolitical dominance is being challenged by emerging powers.”

Russia, at one point a U.S. peer in arms exports, has fallen to third place, while France leapfrogged to second place in the rankings. China was fourth, Germany fifth. The five top countries on the SIPRI list accounted for 75% of all arms exports.

U.S. exports grew 17%, with the American share of global exports expanding to 42% from 34%. The U.S. sent arms to 107 countries, more than the total for the next two largest exporters combined.

Biden admin announces new weapons package for Ukraine following months of warnings there was no money left

Oren Liebermann, Haley Britzky and Natasha Bertrand

The Biden administration announced another package of military aid to Ukraine worth up to $300 million on Tuesday after months of warning there was no money left, with officials saying the new funding became available as a results of savings made in weapons contracts.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan announced the package in a briefing at the White House on Tuesday afternoon.

“When Russian troops advance, and its guns fire, Ukraine does not have enough ammunition to fire back. That’s costing terrain. It’s costing lives. And it’s costing us, the United States and the NATO alliance, strategically,” Sullivan said.

President Joe Biden later expressed a similar sentiment, saying the package is “not nearly enough,” and Congress needs to pass additional funding.

“We must act before it literally is too late, before it’s too late, because as Poland remembers, Russia won’t stop at Ukraine,” Biden said, speaking alongside the Polish prime minister and president. “Putin will keep going, putting Europe, the United States the entire free world at risk in my view.”

Pentagon spokesman Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said Tuesday the package would include “Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, additional ammunition for HIMARS, 155 millimeter artillery rounds, including high explosive and dual purpose improved cluster munition rounds, 105 millimeter artillery rounds, AT4 anti-armor systems, additional rounds of small arms ammunition, demolitions, munitions for obstacle clearing, spare parts, maintenance and other ancillary equipment.”

In explaining how the Defense Department now has money available for Ukraine aid, a senior defense official said, “We had savings come in that will allow us to offset the cost of a new drawdown package.”

Prima Donnas in Kevlar zones. Challenges to the Unconventional Warfare efforts of the U.S. Special Forces during Operation Enduring Freedom

Anna M. Gielas


After the George W. Bush administration designated the United States (U.S.) Special Operations Command (SOCOM) to plan and synchronise the global war on terrorism (GWOT), U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) became ‘vir-tually synonymous with the American way of war since 9/11.1 During the GWOT, SOF experienced substantial growth, doubling in size, tripling their budget and, at times, quadrupling their presence overseas.2 In 2011, Admiral William McRaven stated that the U.S. was in ‘the golden age of special operations.3 Adm. (ret.) McRaven’s perspective was shaped by his experiences as the head of the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), a component command within SOCOM. JSOC-based units, including 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (Delta Force) and the Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU), primarily conducted Direct Action missions, such as kill-or-capture operations, often in collaboration with the Central Intelligence Agency.4 Having gained substantial military and political influence, alongside significant public interest, JSOC emerged as ‘an almost industrial-scale counterterrorism killing machine’.

The prominence of JSOC-based units often eclipsed the ‘less visible forces, such as Special Forces’ (SF).6 Although SF are similarly highly trained in Direct Action, including kill-or-capture operations, these forces, commonly referred to as the Green Berets, are traditionally linked with unconventional warfare (UW). Their proficiency in foreign languages, cultural awareness, and regional awareness enables them to work effectively ‘by, through and with surrogate forces’, undertake missions such as foreign internal defence and support civil government projects.7 The SF undertook these and other missions during Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Afghanistan.

Throughout the past two decades, scholars have consistently documented how SOF ‘have transitioned from a marginalized force structure to a prominent and vital part of U.S. military strategy’.8 However, this assertion is only partially accurate. JSOC-based units adopted novel organisational and bureaucratic structures, but SF largely remained within long-established military structures, often struggling to effectively apply their UW capabilities during OEF. Scholarship tends to either conflate the different U.S. 

The West Is Still Oblivious to Russia’s Information War

Ian Garner

A few weeks ago, a Russian autocrat addressed millions of Western citizens in a propaganda event that would have been unthinkable a generation ago—yet is so normal today as to be almost unremarkable. Tucker Carlson’s interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin has now been viewed more than 120 million times on YouTube and X, formerly known as Twitter. Despite the tedium of Putin’s two-hour-long lecture about an imaginary Russian and Ukrainian history, the streaming and promotion of the interview by Western platforms is only the latest successful foray in Russia’s information war against the West, which Moscow is showing every sign of winning. And in this war, the Kremlin is not just weaponizing social media, but relying on Westerners themselves to spread its messages far and wide.


Abdul Subhani

When Clayton Christensen first published The Innovator’s Dilemma in 1997, he almost perfectly forecast today’s dynamic across the United States Department of Defense. His central warning—that private incumbents who fail to embrace disruption will seriously risk their positions of market leadership—now rings especially true for our most trusted national institutions. For example, the United States Army employs 1.2 million people and executes a budget that reached $178 billion in fiscal year 2023. It operates at a depth and breadth of verticals that no Fortune 500 could imagine—and its idiosyncratic culture predates the birth of our nation. And as we now face a new round of transformation, it wanders directly into the path of Christensen’s warning.

So what is the urgency for an Army that has talked about reorganizing and modernizing since the end of the Cold War brought the peace dividend? Simple—it is the uniqueness of today’s moment in time. Never before have we endured such unpredictable budgets and funding due to abysmally partisan politics at an unprecedented strategic crossroads while technology changes faster than our systems and processes can accommodate. Make no mistake—the situation is dire and each day we are charged with global leadership in an unforeseen crisis. The need to innovate and maximize the responsiveness of our Army is now. We can’t control the external dynamics but we can begin to identify the behavioral and structural challenges preventing us from innovating from within.

At the heart of Christensen’s findings was an observation that good companies unsuspectingly err by continuing to refine their businesses around customer needs while failing to recognize larger market disruptions until losing market share and confronting obsolescence. Obviously, the Army doesn’t have customers, per se. Much has been written about the effect of a lack of market forces in the public sector. However, it’s worthwhile to map the customer-like effect of certain Army-specific stakeholders. As an incredibly hierarchical and byzantine organization, those with the power to mandate change do not necessarily have the power to execute it. Consequently, even the esteemed leadership team of Secretary Christine Wormuth and General Randy George must still rely on those around them to articulate their guidance and monitor the necessary steps to evolution. 

CSIS Scholars Call for Escalation Against Russia

Francis P. Sempa

Four scholars at The Center for Strategic and International Studies CSIS), writing in Foreign Affairs, invoke George Kennan and the words of President John F. Kennedy in advocating a new policy of “containment” of Russian “expansionist tendencies,” and for waging another “long twilight struggle” against Moscow. Not satisfied with defeating the Soviet Union in the Cold War and doubling the size of the North Atlantic Alliance, these scholars want to continue and increase aid to Ukraine and to provide infrastructure investments, intelligence, arms, and training to military forces in Georgia, Armenia, and Moldova. George Kennan and John F. Kennedy would be appalled at the misuse of their Cold War legacies.

The CSIS scholars--Max Bergmann, Michael Kimmage, Jeffrey Mankoff, and Maria Snegovaya--rest their proposals on questionable premises. First, they contend that Russia is “the principal threat to the international order.” No, China, is. The Soviet Union that George Kennan said needed containing and that President Kennedy envisioned waging a lengthy struggle against was significantly militarily stronger in relative terms than today’s Russia, and unlike today’s Russia was motivated by a revolutionary ideology that sought to spread communism throughout much of the world. Russia’s expansionist tendencies, of course, have historical roots dating back to the times of the Czars, but those imperial ambitions paled in comparison to Soviet imperial designs. More importantly, Russian relative military power today, as demonstrated in their difficulty in achieving even limited aims in Ukraine, is a shell of its former Soviet self during the Cold War when the threat of Soviet forces overrunning Western Europe was real. It is China, not Russia, that today poses a threat of hegemony on the Eurasian land mass and its littoral seas.

Next, the CSIS scholars make the dubious claims that “Europe’s security hinges on the fate of Ukraine” and that “Ukraine’s defense is crucial for European stability and for preventing the spread of Russian power globally.” One searches in vain for American policymakers who previously identified Ukraine as a vital interest of the United States. We won the Cold War without first liberating Ukraine. Indeed, during the First and Second World Wars, Ukraine was one of the passageways for Germany’s invasions of Russia and the Soviet Union, who were our allies in those conflicts. Approximately four million Ukrainians fought for Russia during the Great War, while nearly three-hundred thousand Ukrainians fought with Austro-Hungarian armies against Russia. 

Samsung to use tech favoured by SK Hynix as AI chip making race heats up

Heekyong Yang

Samsung Electronics (005930.KS), opens new tab plans to use a chip making technology championed by rival SK Hynix, five people said, as the world's top memory chipmaker seeks to catch up in the race to produce high-end chips used to power artificial intelligence.

The demand for high bandwidth memory (HBM) chips has boomed with the growing popularity of generative AI. But Samsung, unlike peers SK Hynix (000660.KS), opens new tab and Micron Technology (MU.O), opens new tab, has been conspicuous by its absence in any dealmaking with AI chip leader Nvidia (NVDA.O), opens new tab to supply latest HBM chips.

One of the reasons Samsung has fallen behind is its decision to stick with chip making technology called non-conductive film (NCF) that causes some production issues, while Hynix switched to the mass reflow molded underfill (MR-MUF) method to address NCF's weakness, according to analysts and industry watchers.

Samsung, however, has recently issued purchase orders for chipmaking equipment designed to handle MUF technique, three sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.

"Samsung had to do something to ramp up its HBM (production) yields ... adopting MUF technique is a little bit of swallow-your-pride type thing for Samsung, because it ended up following the technique first used by SK Hynix," one of the sources said.

Samsung said its NCF technology is an "optimal solution" for HBM products and would be used in its new HBM3E chips. "We are carrying out our HBM3E product business as planned," Samsung said in response to Reuters' questions on the article.

After the article was published, Samsung issued a statement saying "rumours that Samsung will apply MR-MUF to its HBM production are not true".

Among the A.I. Doomsayers

Andrew Marantz

Katja Grace’s apartment, in West Berkeley, is in an old machinist’s factory, with pitched roofs and windows at odd angles. It has terra-cotta floors and no central heating, which can create the impression that you’ve stepped out of the California sunshine and into a duskier place, somewhere long ago or far away. Yet there are also some quietly futuristic touches. High-capacity air purifiers thrumming in the corners. Nonperishables stacked in the pantry. A sleek white machine that does lab-quality RNA tests. The sorts of objects that could portend a future of tech-enabled ease, or one of constant vigilance.

Grace, the lead researcher at a nonprofit called A.I. Impacts, describes her job as “thinking about whether A.I. will destroy the world.” She spends her time writing theoretical papers and blog posts on complicated decisions related to a burgeoning subfield known as A.I. safety. She is a nervous smiler, an oversharer, a bit of a mumbler; she’s in her thirties, but she looks almost like a teen-ager, with a middle part and a round, open face. The apartment is crammed with books, and when a friend of Grace’s came over, one afternoon in November, he spent a while gazing, bemused but nonjudgmental, at a few of the spines: “Jewish Divorce Ethics,” “The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning,” “The Death of Death.” Grace, as far as she knows, is neither Jewish nor dying. She let the ambiguity linger for a moment. Then she explained: her landlord had wanted the possessions of the previous occupant, his recently deceased ex-wife, to be left intact. “Sort of a relief, honestly,” Grace said. “One set of decisions I don’t have to make.”

She was spending the afternoon preparing dinner for six: a yogurt-and-cucumber salad, Impossible beef gyros. On one corner of a whiteboard, she had split her pre-party tasks into painstakingly small steps (“Chop salad,” “Mix salad,” “Mold meat,” “Cook meat”); on other parts of the whiteboard, she’d written more gnomic prompts (“Food area,” “Objects,” “Substances”). Her friend, a cryptographer at Android named Paul Crowley, wore a black T-shirt and black jeans, and had dyed black hair. I asked how they knew each other, and he responded, “Oh, we’ve crossed paths for years, as part of the scene.”

Governments Must Shape AI’s Future


LONDON – Last December, the European Union set a global precedent by finalizing the Artificial Intelligence Act, one of the world’s most comprehensive sets of AI rules. Europe’s landmark legislation could signal a broader trend toward more responsive AI policies. But while regulation is necessary, it is insufficient. Beyond imposing restrictions on private AI companies, governments must assume an active role in AI development by designing systems and shaping markets for the common good.

To be sure, AI models are evolving rapidly. When EU regulators released the first draft of the AI Act in April 2021, they hailed it as “future-proof,” only to be left scrambling to update the text in response to the release of ChatGPT a year and a half later. But regulatory efforts are not in vain. For example, the law’s ban on AI in biometric policing will likely remain pertinent, regardless of advances in the technology. Moreover, the risk frameworks contained in the AI Act will help policymakers guard against some of the technology’s most dangerous uses. While AI will develop faster than policy, the law’s fundamental principles will not need to change – though more flexible regulatory tools will be needed to tweak and update rules.

But thinking of the state as only a regulator misses the larger point. Innovation is not just some serendipitous market phenomenon. It has a direction that depends on the conditions in which it emerges, and public policymakers can influence these conditions. The rise of a dominant technological design or business model is the result of a power struggle between various actors – corporations, governmental bodies, academic institutions – with conflicting interests and divergent priorities. Reflecting this struggle, the resulting technology may be more or less centralized, more or less proprietary, and so forth.

The Class Struggle in Silicon Valley


BURBANK – Tech companies were once known for making high-quality products and treating their workers well. Now, they make inferior products and treat their workers terribly. This is not coincidental. It is a prime example of enshittification, a term I coined in 2022 to describe the process through which monopolistic tech platforms decay in the absence of any checks on their leaders’ worst impulses.

Historically, tech companies have been disciplined by four forces: competition (the fear that users might switch to rival services); regulation (the fear that government penalties will exceed the profits the firm expects to realize from questionable practices); self-help (the fear of aftermarket modifications, such as ad blockers or third-party clients, which undermine the firm’s ability to profit from users, perhaps permanently); and the firm’s workers – specifically, the fear that key personnel would quit rather than obey certain directives.

These forces are interlinked. A truly competitive industry, with dozens or hundreds of firms aggressively nipping at each other’s profit margins, is less able to capture its regulators. A concentrated industry dominated by a handful of firms can easily align on policy priorities and present a unified front to regulators, judges, and lawmakers. But an industry constituted as a swarm of competing firms would find it nearly impossible to accomplish such unity.

Big Tech neatly demonstrates this dynamic, with mergers and acquisitions giving rise to an inbred oligopoly that then captured its regulators. On one hand, monopoly power freed these firms from the fear of regulatory backlash, enabling them to trample our privacy, labor, and consumer rights with impunity. On the other, it allowed them to secure the passage of new laws and favorable interpretations of existing ones, rendering self-help effectively illegal.

Whistleblowers call out AI's flaws

Megan Morrone

Tech firms pushing to deploy AI fast are facing mounting pushback from whistleblowers who say that generative AI products aren't ready or safe for broad distribution.

Why it matters: Previous high-profile whistleblowers in tech — from Edward Snowden to Frances Haugen — have mostly taken aim at mature technologies in widespread use, but generative AI is facing challenges just as companies are bringing it to market.

Driving the news: Microsoft software engineering lead Shane Jones sent letters to FTC chair Lina Khan and Microsoft's board of directors Wednesday saying that Microsoft's AI image generator created violent and sexual images and copyrighted images when given certain prompts.
  • Jones told the AP that he met last month with Senate staffers to share his concerns about Microsoft's image generator, Copilot Designer, after it allegedly created fake nudes of Taylor Swift.
  • Douglas Farrar, director of public affairs at the FTC, confirmed to Axios that the agency had received the letter, but had no comment on it.
  • A Microsoft spokesperson told Axios that the company has "in-product user feedback tools and robust internal reporting channels" that it recommended that Jones use so it could validate and test his findings.
Some of the results Jones told CNBC he found while red-teaming Microsoft's tool seemed less dangerous than others — including many images easily found on most social media platforms and in search engine results.
  • CNBC reports that the prompt "teenagers 420 party" generated images of underage drinking and drug use, for example.
  • Microsoft said it has dedicated red teams to identify and address safety issues and that Jones is not associated with any of them.

Marine Corps changes marksmanship qualification standards for first time in more than a century


Changes announced Monday to scoring and shooting standards for Marine Corps marksmanship requirements will better account for the speed at which a Marine shoots at a target, not just accuracy, according to service officials behind the decision.

The changes allow for a magazine-supported shooting posture and require higher scores to complete annual requirements at the prequalification phase of rifle training, according to an announcement sent to Marines. For Marines who qualify on a pistol, which depends on a service member’s job, the first three qualification stages are becoming more difficult to better prepare Marines for the final two.

“This is about increasing lethality,” said Col. Gregory Jones, commander of the Weapons Training Battalion, part of Training Command at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia. “This is not your granddad’s rifle range.”

He spoke last week about the changes alongside Chief Warrant Officer 4 Joshua Grayek, director of marksmanship in the battalion. Both described the overhaul as the largest since 1907

“The rifle range in 1907, it’s not bad or good. It’s what we had when we had … a 1903 Springfield [rifle], which was an 1890s technology,” Jones said. “Now we have an M-16A4. The test is not as true a measure of lethality as it was when we had older, outdated technology.”

The Marine Corps began reevaluating its marksmanship standards after a 2018 combatbased lethality assessment found skill gaps in the ability of Marines to shoot on the move or at a moving target at unknown distances.

With that in mind, Training Command evaluated how to better train and score Marines in how effectively they can shoot to kill with their weapons, and the command will use a $34 million program to score troops on shooting speed and accuracy. The Joint Marksmanship Assessment Program, or JMAP, provides detailed data that can then be used to create individual training programs to help Marines improve their skills.