14 April 2024

The US-Japan meeting reveals the conviction of both nations to counter China

Dr Leslie Vinjamuri

The meeting of President Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida reflects the sheer determination of the Biden administration to maintain its strategic focus on the Indo-Pacific and on countering China’s rise. It signals the clear ambition by these two Pacific powers to upgrade their security and defence cooperation as a counterweight to a rising and assertive China.

Coming on the heels of Israel’s attack on the Iranian consulate in Syria, and the killing of World Central Kitchen humanitarian workers in Gaza in Israeli strikes, it is also a reminder that Washington faces ongoing hurdles in the effort to deliver on its strategic priorities. Brokering a deal that can bring stability to the Middle East is essential if the US wants to sharpen its focus in Asia.

Efforts to press Congress to pass support for Ukraine have also accelerated. When it comes to the US’s ambitions in the Indo-Pacific, the future of Europe’s security may appear to be a distraction, but it is also a reminder of the catastrophic consequences of failed deterrence.

In this context, Kishida’s state visit is a further sign that the US has not lost sight of its strategic focus on the Indo-Pacific. That policy is also being shored up with personnel, as demonstrated by the recent appointment of long-time senior expert on China and architect of President Obama’s pivot to Asia, Kurt Campbell, as Deputy Secretary of State.

Republicans and Democrats differ on the specific proposals for America’s China strategy, but few challenge the now dominant assumption that the US must be tough on China.

It also benefits uniquely from a bipartisan consensus – Republicans and Democrats differ on the specific proposals for America’s China strategy, but few challenge the now dominant assumption that the US must be tough on China and must secure its position in the Indo-Pacific, in part to ensure the region remains free and open.

Prime Minister Kishida’s visit comes after those by the leaders of South Korea, India and Australia – further signalling the importance the US places on its Indo-Pacific allies and partners. The only other official state visit that President Biden has hosted was with the prime minister of France.

Why Germany’s Scholz is bowing to the Chinese dragon


German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrived at an unexpected juncture this week.

The 65-year-old chancellor, considered humorless even by German standards, celebrated his TikTok debut, promising "not to dance."

If only. Though Scholz's unexpected TikTok endorsement was more sad Kabuki than entertaining jig, he was grooving. Coming just a few days before his visit to China, the controversial social network's home base, Scholz appeared desperate to convince Beijing that a friend was en route.

And for good reason: Scholz needs China.

With the next national election just over a year away, the leader of Europe’s sputtering economic engine is running out of time to conjure a miracle and reverse his government’s calamitous standing with the German population.

Scholz's three-day visit to the Middle Kingdom, which begins Saturday, will be both his longest and most important foreign trip since he assumed office in late 2021. For the chancellor, beset by record-low approval ratings and a fractious coalition, the tour is an opportunity not to just prove he has global standing, but to show voters he'll do whatever it takes to preserve Germany, Inc. — Zeitgeist be damned.

Business über alles

The fact that the U.S., Germany's great protector, has been exerting pressure on Berlin to “de-risk” its relationship with Beijing is just one reason China would seem like a place Scholz would rather avoid.

Not to mention China's recent record on human rights. Under President Xi Jinping, China has taken an authoritarian turn, quashing Hong Kong’s democracy movement and forcing more than 1 million Uyghurs, a predominantly Muslim minority, into “reeducation camps” (which bear a troubling resemblance to concentration camps).

Russia has no future and China will seize this opportunity: It may not look like it now, but the two powers are destined for future conflict

Ralph Schoellhammer

The current policy of Russian President Vladimir Putin seems to be a demonstration of strength, but in reality, it is a symptom of Russian weakness. The country has no future, and invading Ukraine will not change that.

First of all, for Russia to have a future it needs future Russians: The current fertility rate across the Russian Federation is on average 1.8 births per woman, which is significantly below the replacement rate of 2.1 needed to keep the population stable. Unless there is a surprising baby boom, Russia will lose a quarter of its population by the end of 2060, a trend that is most likely to be accelerated, not slowed down by an ongoing war of attrition.

While declining birth rates are a global trend, Russia has additional problems to wrestle with: In no country does the life expectancy between men and women differ so widely. The average Russian man has a life expectancy of just under 64 years, while Russian women can expect to live almost 77 years. Rampant alcoholism and drug abuse among men lead to early deaths, a development made worse by the spread of heroin abuse and high HIV infection rates, that in some areas reach levels usually only seen in African countries.

War and a demographic structure in which drugs, HIV, and poverty decimate the population is a constant reason for the younger generation to turn their back on the country. Although the war makes it harder for young Russians to leave, the occurring brain drain is real, and will be a growing problem in the years to come.

Further, the much hyped alliance between Moscow and Beijing is much less harmonious than it currently appears: Certainly, demographically speaking, Russia and China would be the perfect couple for a geopolitical matchmaking agency: Mother Russia is running out of sons, while in China there are only 100 women for every 120 men.

Other than that, however, the conflict potential between the two countries is enormously high: Central Asia and the future of Siberia are points of contention, and Beijing is subtly but relentlessly making its territorial claims on the Russian Far East known. In 2023, for example, newly printed government maps started to use Chinese names for Russian cities and areas. Vladivostok, a port city on the pacific coast of the Russian Far East, is now referred to by its Chinese name: Haishenwai.

Putin and Xi’s Unholy Alliance

Alexander Gabuev

Just a decade ago, most U.S. and European officials were dismissive about the durability of the emerging partnership between China and Russia. The thinking in Western capitals was that the Kremlin’s ostentatious rapprochement with China since 2014 was doomed to fail because ties between the two Eurasian giants would always be undercut by the growing power asymmetry in China’s favor, the lingering mistrust between the two neighbors over a number of historical disputes, and the cultural distance between the two societies and between their elites. No matter how hard Russian President Vladimir Putin might try to woo the Chinese leadership, the argument went, China would always value its ties to the United States and to U.S. allies over its symbolic relations with Russia, while Moscow would fear a rising Beijing and seek a counterbalance in the West.

Even as China and Russia have grown significantly closer, officials in Washington have remained dismissive. “They have a marriage of convenience,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told U.S. senators in March 2023 during Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s state visit to Moscow. “I am not sure if it is conviction. Russia is very much the junior partner in this relationship.” And yet that skepticism fails to reckon with an important and grim reality: China and Russia are more firmly aligned now than at any time since the 1950s.

The tightening of this alignment between Russia and China is one of the most important geopolitical outcomes of Putin’s war against Ukraine. The conscious efforts of Xi and Putin drive much of this reorientation, but it is also the byproduct of the deepening schism between the West and both countries. Western officials cannot wish this axis away, hoping in vain that the Kremlin bridles at its vassalage to Zhongnanhai or making futile attempts to drive a wedge between the two powers. Instead, the West should be prepared for an extended period of simultaneous confrontation with two immense nuclear-armed powers.


The Chipmaking World Hedges Its Taiwan Bets

Rishi Iyengar

For months, if not years, governments and industries that rely on semiconductors have worried about the possibility of China invading Taiwan. The island, after all, makes about 92 percent of the most advanced computer chips that now run practically every aspect of our lives, and any disruption to its chipmaking ability would quickly have cascading effects.

Beijing Responds to Trump's Covert CIA Operation Targeting China

Aadil Brar

China's foreign ministry has accused the U.S. of "spreading rumors" in response to a recent revelation about former President Donald Trump authorizing a covert influence operation targeting Beijing.

"Concocting and spreading rumors will only get one lose credibility faster. Spreading disinformation cannot inhibit China's progress but will only discredit the U.S.," Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said during the daily press briefing on Friday.

Newsweek contacted China's Embassy in Washington, D.C., which pointed to the official response of China's foreign ministry in a reply to the email.

"It has also once again shown that the U.S. has spread China-related disinformation in an organized and well-planned way for a long time and it's America's important approach to wage a battle of perception against China," Wang added in the statement.

China's response comes as Reuters reported on March 14, citing former U.S. officials, that Trump in 2019 authorized the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to launch a covert campaign on Chinese social media to turn domestic Chinese public opinion against its government.

The U.S. has classified China as a long-term strategic threat as Beijing seeks to reshape the Washington-led international order by undercutting its influence. The strategic competition between the U.S. and China now spans the globe as the two sides have used economic and political statecraft tools to counter each other's geopolitical influence.

"Three former officials told Reuters that the CIA created a small team of operatives who used bogus internet identities to spread negative narratives about Xi Jinping's government while leaking disparaging intelligence to overseas news outlets. The effort, which began in 2019, has not been previously reported," Reuters reported.

Israel’s External Battles, Post October 7th

Boaz ItsHaky

Events in the Middle East are sweeping through the region at speed and intensity, making it difficult to keep current. Situations are fluid, trying to stay ahead of the curve requires adjustments on the go. The following is a mix of the old with the latest, and my assessment of what needs to be done.

Iran & Syria

I begin this article with Iran and Syria because of the recent attack on a building in the proximity of Iran’s consulate in Damascus – an Attack which killed a few high-ranking Iranian officials. Iran has accused Israel of perpetrating the attack and vowed revenge. Yet, no official Israeli confirmation has been provided.

My assessment is that Iran’s response will be minimal, which eventually will benefit Israel’s regional axis that is forming rapidly. Possible retaliation vehicles include:

• Missiles and/or UCAVs launched from Yemen. Israel will retaliate against the Houthis, which will yield geopolitical benefits and support.

• Missiles and/or UCAVs launched from Iraq. Israel has an Iraqi target bank that has been in the waiting for a long time.

• Missiles and/or UCAVs launched from Iran. This will allow Israel to openly move its fight from Iran’s proxies to Iran’s territory. The Ayatollahs understand very well the consequences of such an option, which is why they always attack Israel through their proxies.

• No full activation of Hezbollah because of various complicate constraints (see Lebanon below)


Israel should apply the “peeling an onion” strategy against Hezbollah in Lebanon. That is, peeling off Hezbollah’s capabilities, layer after layer, forcing Hezbollah to retreat. First layer will force a retreat from Israel’s immediate border, followed by additional steps that will force Hezbollah’s retreat to the northern bank of the Litani river. In tandem it will force Lebanon to reestablish the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701... to the dot.

How Iraq was lost

Robert D Kaplan

Steve Coll is the Thucydides of American journalists: dry, cold, strictly factual, and exhaustive. Reading his books on America’s Middle East wars, you have the sense that you are getting the final word on the subject. His interpretations of what transpired are not always obvious, but – as in Thucydides – have to be teased out of the minutiae of facts as he presents them.

In The Achilles Trap: Saddam Hussein, the CIA, and the Origins of America’s Invasion of Iraq, the story Coll presents is devastating, yet the presentation is so painstaking and low-key that there are relatively few gotcha moments. He doesn’t go after people, but instead allows them to emerge on the page. Rather than present merely a Washington tragedy of the George W Bush administration, Coll centres on Iraq and the problems with analysing what was actually going on there – all the way back to the Reagan years.

The chief protagonist in The Achilles Trap is Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi dictator who killed hundreds of thousands of people and imprisoned and tortured tens of thousands more. Coll’s portrait of Saddam is granular in the extreme, down to his family relations, the number of Cuban cigars he smoked each day, the novels he wrote and the leaders who fascinated him. The Western media made much of his obsession with Joseph Stalin, but Saddam was also absorbed by Mao Zedong, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Nelson Mandela. Saddam was a great listener who unnerved his visitors as they talked to him because his expression was immobile and therefore his mind could not be read. He was also moody and arbitrary, and pardoned and executed with abandon. His top nuclear scientists could be imprisoned for months before being awarded with even more bureaucratic responsibility. In keeping with Coll’s style – the product of conducting legions of interviews and poring over countless documents – the lives, families, and personalities of Saddam’s nuclear experts are also chronicled in great detail.

The Islamic State Never Went Away

Colin P. Clarke

With the recent Moscow concert venue attack that killed more than 140 people, the Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) surprised many who may have believed that the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, was a problem of the past.

U.S. Moves Warships to Defend Israel in Case of Iranian Attack

Gordon Lubold, Benoit Faucon and Dov Lieber

The U.S. rushed warships into position to protect Israel and American forces in the region, hoping to head off a direct attack from Iran on Israel that could come as soon as this weekend.

The moves by the U.S. that are part of an effort to avoid a wider conflict in the Middle East came after a warning from a person familiar with the matter about the timing and location of the potential Iranian attack. A person briefed by the Iranian leadership, however, said that while plans to attack are being discussed, no final decision has been made.

Ensuring Israeli Military Success in Gaza

James Fitzpatrick

Promoting accurate information regarding wartime situations and statistics is critical to educating the American public and defense officials at all levels. It is also vital to the success of allies of freedom and democracy abroad.

In fact, the DoD has a longstanding policy outlined in DoD Directive 5122.5, entitled “The Principles of Information” which outlines the agency’s philosophy and is in place to guard against officials releasing inaccurate information to the public. The principles state in part, “A free flow of general and military information shall be made available, without censorship or propaganda, to the men and women of the Armed Forces and their dependents,” and stresses that “propaganda has no place in DoD public affairs programs.”

In recent testimony to the House Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary Austin stated that Israeli forces had killed more than 25,000 women and children in Gaza since October 7, 2023. These numbers are those being published by the “Gaza Health Ministry,” which is under the control of the terrorist organization Hamas.

As PBS reported in November, officials at the World Health Organization have stated that these numbers may “not be perfectly accurate” and they are compiled and reported by Gaza Health Ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra. The ministry never distinguishes between combatants and civilians, and provides no names, ages, or locations of those killed in their public reporting of the numbers. Even President Biden has said, “I have no confidence in the number that the Palestinians are using.”

Air Force sees opportunities for AI to improve wargaming


The Air Force has been using wargames to flesh out how future AI-enabled platforms could best be employed on the battlefield. But officials are also eyeing another use case — leveraging artificial intelligence to improve wargaming itself.

Gaming plays a critical role for the U.S. military. These efforts serve as “laboratories” for decision-making, analysts at the Center for Strategic and International Studies noted in commentary published in February.

“From the interwar period and Cold War to contemporary debates about countering Russia and China, wargames have been a staple of strategic analysis in the United States. These simulation-driven exercises evaluate theories, assumptions, and strategies related to warfare through the development of hypothetical conflict scenarios. As a result, wargames serve multiple purposes within policy circles. They facilitate dialogue across agencies and among stakeholders, fostering an environment where new ideas can emerge and analysts can evaluate key assumptions,” they wrote.

However, the old-school way of doing them can also be expensive and comes with analytic shortfalls, they noted.

The authors and other observers, including a key Air Force leader, think artificial intelligence can significantly improve the enterprise.

The Air Force Futures office at the Pentagon is responsible for using wargaming and workshops for developing strategy and concepts, integrated force design and conducting assessments of the operating environment, among other tasks.

“I literally just got back from MIT’s AI Accelerator just earlier this week, looking at where they’re helping Air Force Futures out … into using artificial intelligence,” Lt. Gen. David Harris, deputy chief of staff of Air Force Futures, said Friday during a virtual event hosted by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.

U.S. Trade Policy Is at a Crossroads

Edward Alden

From the end of the Second World War through the end of the Barack Obama administration, the meaning of U.S. leadership on trade was pretty clear: negotiating agreements to open markets in any country that was willing to do so. However, its definition is far from clear today. The administration of President Joe Biden has tried out approaches that put trade in the service of fighting climate change, empowering workers, discouraging monopolies, embracing U.S. allies, sanctioning Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, curbing Chinese influence, and bolstering U.S. manufacturing. But in the election year of 2024, that complex structure looks at risk of crashing from the weight of its own ambitions.

U.S. trade policy was once fairly simple. Following the powerful insights of British political economist David Ricardo, countries that opened their markets to trade and investment by exporting what they produced best (and importing the rest) saw enormous—and largely shared—gains in wealth. The United States, with a huge consumer market and a slew of competitive multinational companies, considered itself a big winner from trade liberalization and encouraged agreements of every shape and size. As an added bonus, opening the U.S. market to imports helped to strengthen political alliances around the world. The job of American political leaders, therefore, was to keep negotiating trade agreements that provided ever more market opportunities for the United States and for other countries. It was a classic, and rare, win-win.

One version of U.S. leadership on trade calls for restoring that old model by launching new negotiations in Asia or Latin America that would further reduce tariffs or regulatory impediments to trade. Even if that were politically possible—and with the Republican Party under Donald Trump abandoning its support for free trade it is almost certainly not—the case for restoration is weak. With tariffs already at historic lows, the gains from further market-access negotiations are likely to be small. More importantly, restoration would not tackle any of the biggest contemporary challenges: accelerating the transition to green technologies, lifting stagnant wages, containing the risks of artificial intelligences, and maintaining power balances that discourage conflicts in Europe and Asia.
Finding balance in Biden’s broad trade agenda

Inside Israel’s Bombing Campaign in Gaza

Isaac Chotiner

Since the war began in Gaza, more than six months ago, the Israeli magazine +972 has published some of the most penetrating reporting on the Israel Defense Forces’ conduct. In November, +972, along with the Hebrew publication Local Call, found that the I.D.F. had expanded the number of “legitimate” military targets, leading to a huge increase in civilian casualties. (As of this writing, more than thirty-two thousand Palestinians in Gaza have been killed.) Then earlier this month, +972 and Local Call released a long feature called “Lavender: The AI Machine Directing Israel’s Bombing Spree in Gaza.” The story revealed how the Israeli military had used the program to identify suspected militants, which in practice meant that tens of thousands of Palestinians had their homes marked as legitimate targets for bombing, with minimal human oversight. (In response to the “Lavender” article, the I.D.F. said that it “outright rejects the claim regarding any policy to kill tens of thousands of people in their homes.” The I.D.F. also said that, according to its rules, “analysts must conduct independent examinations” to verify the identification of targets. In an earlier statement, from November, the I.D.F. acknowledged “the use of automatic tools to produce targets at a fast pace.”)

The author of both stories was Yuval Abraham, an Israeli journalist and documentary filmmaker. Abraham co-directed the documentary “No Other Land,” about the daily struggles of Palestinians in the West Bank. During his acceptance speech upon winning the award for Best Documentary at the Berlin International Film Festival, in February, Abraham called for a ceasefire in Gaza. In response, he and his family in Israel received death threats. Many people in Germany took issue with the speech, too—including Berlin’s mayor, who implied that it was antisemitic.

I recently spoke by phone with Abraham. During our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, we discussed how Israel’s command structure has been making decisions during the war, why military sources have been giving Abraham so much information, and his experience—as a man who had family members die in the Holocaust—of being accused of antisemitism in Berlin.

The Imperative of Emergency


September 1939: President Roosevelt assails the Neutrality Act. Earlier in the year, he appealed to Congress to massively increase funding for aircraft production. AP Photo

Putin invaded Ukraine. The Ayatollah of Iran is funding and equipping terror groups such as Hamas and the Houthis with sophisticated weapons, not only funding the awful attacks against Israel, but also missile, rocket, and drone attacks against UAE, Saudi Arabia, and international merchant ships. And Chairman Xi has declared hell or high water, he will reunify Taiwan.
The world has become less stable and more violent in the past ten years, and we should not wait for a catastrophic event in the U.S. to declare an emergency. Instead, we should recognize there is an emergency today, but - thankfully - it hasn’t hit home yet.

Why recognize the national security emergency? The U.S. government can move insanely fast when there is an emergency. For whatever reason, emergencies seem to be the only time where we get lots of bang for our taxpayer buck.

There are many modern examples of emergencies driving speed of government, but we’ll use World War II as the starting analogy. In 1939, President FDR realized the U.S. industrial base was ill-prepared for war with Nazi Germany and Japan. He recognized the emergency and brought industry leaders together to solve this problem. That year, the U.S. made about 2,000 airplanes. By 1944, we were producing 100,000 fighters and bombers per year. By the end of the war, the U.S. had made over 300,000 planes while Germany and Japan combined had built a little over 200,000.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict has shown every military in the world that the force structure for the next conflict is far different than how current U.S. forces are structured. A mass of drones and munitions matter. Further, drones and munitions must have autonomy and AI onboard to navigate the hellish electronic warfare environment where GPS and communications are jammed. Software battle management systems will drive targeting of High Value Individuals (HVI) and High Value Targets (HVT). And if you have an expensive asset (e.g., helicopter, fighter jet, aircraft carrier), it’s getting a missile in the first week of conflict.

Gaza: six months on


On 7 April, marking six months since the start of the war, the Israeli Defence forces (IDF) announced that the 98th Commando Division had been withdrawn from southern Gaza after a battle in the city of Khan Younis had been ‘concluded.’ The division will now ‘recuperate and prepare for future operations.’ The most likely future operation is for this division to a move into Rafah, Hamas’s final redoubt in Gaza. For now there are no Israeli troops in southern Gaza and a single brigade (there were once 50) preventing movement from north to south. Gaza is effectively split. In the south and Khan Yunis, Palestinians can now move relatively freely but they cannot get to the north.

Israel is allowing more aid into Gaza, although how much is disputed. The aid agencies say that Israeli inspections still hold up trucks; the Israelis say that the UN is inefficient in its distribution and Hamas often steals what gets through. The first relief convoys are now starting to reach the beleaguered population left in the north of up to 300,000. A new crossing point will be opened soon - not the Erez point, destroyed on 7 October, where right-wing groups can block trucks. The nearby port of Ashdod can be used to bring aid in. The aim is to get to at least 500 trucks a day - the prewar level - though then Gaza produced much of its own food. For now the territory is still on the edge of famine.

Also on 7 April Prime Minister Netanyahu repeated his government’s war aims, declaring:

‘Citizens of Israel, there is no war more just than this one, and we are determined to achieve total victory, to return all of our hostages, to complete the elimination of Hamas in the entire Gaza Strip including Rafah and to ensure that Gaza never again constitutes a threat to Israel.’

Why a New Study Dubbed India the ‘Cancer Capital of the World’


A new study has unveiled an alarming picture of declining overall health in India. The report, released by the Indian multinational healthcare group, Apollo Hospitals, found that skyrocketing cases of cancer and other non-communicable diseases across the country have now made it “the cancer capital of the world.”

The report is an "attempt to highlight the growing 'silent epidemic' that needs prioritized action by every Indian," the authors write.

Despite reporting more than a million new cases every year, India’s cancer rate has not yet surpassed countries like Denmark, Ireland, and Belgium, which record some of the highest cancer rates in the world. It is also currently lower than the U.S., reporting 100 cases for every 100,000 people compared with 300 in the U.S.

But that could soon change due to what some experts have called an “epidemiological transition.” The new report finds that currently, one in three Indians is pre-diabetic, two in three are pre-hypertensive, and one in 10 struggles with depression. Moreover, chronic conditions like cancer, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, and mental health disorders are now so prevalent that they have reached “critical levels,” according to the report.

In particular, the number of cancer cases is expected to rise at a rate that will surpass global averages—from 1.39 million in 2020 to 1.57 million by 2025. Among women, the most common forms of cancer are breast cancer, cervix cancer, and ovarian cancer. Among men, they are lung cancer, mouth cancer, and prostate cancer. While men generally report a 25% higher incidence of cancer than women globally, India bucks this trend with more women getting diagnosed with cancer, according to a study published in the Lancet Oncology. Certain cancers are also affecting younger people sooner than in the U.S., U.K., and China. The median age for lung cancer, for example, is 59 in India, but 70 in the U.S., 68 in China, and 75 in the U.K., according to the new report.

US Revealed As 'Hotspot for Cybercrime' in Global Study

Lydia Smith

An international team of researchers have compiled the first ever World Cybercrime Index, which identifies the United States as one of the globe's most significant sources of cybercrime.

The World Cybercrime Index, compiled by scientists at the University of New South Wales Canberra in Australia and the University of Oxford in the U.K., shows that a relatively small number of countries house the greatest cybercriminal threat.

Russia tops the list, followed by Ukraine, China, the United States, Nigeria, and Romania.

Cybercrime is any criminal act dealing with computers and ranges from money laundering to hacking and fraud.

Researchers put together the list by gathering data via a survey of 92 leading cybercrime experts from around the world. The experts are involved in cybercrime intelligence gathering and investigations.

The questionnaire asked the experts to consider five major categories of cybercrime and nominate the countries that they consider to be the most significant sources of each of these types of cybercrime.

They were then asked to rank each country according to the impact, professionalism and technical skill of its cybercriminals.

Ukrainian Drone Attack On Tatarstan Shows Republics Moscow Cannot Defend Them – Analysis

Paul Goble

Ukraine’s April 2 drone attack on a refinery in Tatarstan has shocked many in Russia. The strike, which hit a target 1,200 kilometers (800 miles) from the frontlines of the Kremlin’s war, shows that Kyiv can bring the war far deeper into Russia than ever before.

The shock echoing across the country and in the halls of Moscow, however, pales in comparison to the remarkable response of the leadership of the Turkic Muslim republic in the Middle Volga. Rustam Minnikhanov, Tatarstan’s head, said bluntly in the wake of the attack that “each enterprise, each municipality, and each city [of the republic] must solve these problems with our own forces. … No one will defend us besides ourselves” (Kommersant, April 3; Idel.Realii, April 4).

Minnikhanov did not explicitly suggest that Tatarstan was unable to rely on the Russian central government for help. Many Tatars and non-Russians, however, are sure to view the Tatarstan leader’s remarks as a signal that they must immediately take matters into their own hands to defend themselves and, over the long term, ensure their survival. The extent to which they take measures to protect themselves could give a powerful new impetus to nationalists and regionalists across Russia who insist that they and their homelands have no choice but to pursue genuine federalism. If Moscow rejects that, then they will push for outright independence from an imperial center that is no longer able—or perhaps unwilling—to defend them.

The drone attack on Tatarstan may come to resemble the May 1987 flight of Mathias Rust. Rust, a (West) German citizen, piloted a small private plane through Soviet air defenses and landed in Red Square, embarrassing the Soviet leadership and helping precipitate the Soviet Union’s collapse four years later. This action confirmed that the Soviet Union was “a colossus with feet of clay” as many of its citizens suspected and many of its leaders feared. Ruslan Aysin, a Tatar commentator now living in Türkiye, has also pointed to the similarity between Rust’s flight and the recent attack on Tatarstan, and it should be taken seriously (Idel.Realii, April 3). Minnikhanov’s reaction to the Ukrainian drone attack did not come out of nowhere, which makes it even more likely that Aysin’s analogy will hold.

USS George Washington to deploy to South America

Diana Stancy

The aircraft carrier George Washington is slated to depart for South America in the coming months, marking the carrier’s first deployment in nearly a decade.

The Southern Seas 2024 deployment is the first for the carrier since it underwent its mid-life refueling and complex overhaul maintenance, or RCOH, starting in 2017 in Virginia.

Meanwhile, the carrier is also poised to return to Yokosuka, Japan, as the Navy’s only forward-deployed carrier, later this year. Yokosuka previously hosted the George Washington from 2008 to 2015.

The Navy has held 10 such Southern Seas deployments since 2007, which aim to bolster maritime partnerships and counter threats in the region, the service said. The George Washington participated in several of these Southern Seas missions — including in 2008 and in 2015 to coincide with its homeport shifts to and from Japan.

US Navy Completes First MK 38 MOD 4 GWS Install

Richard Scott 

The twin-mount MK 38 MOD 4 fit – comprising the MK 88 MOD 4 gun mount together with the MK 48 MOD 2 electro-optical sight system (EOSS) and the MK 134 MOD 0 operator console – was installed on the ship during a recent depot maintenance and modernisation period in San Diego. Mustin is now planned to run an at-sea Quick Reaction Assessment with the MK 38 MOD 4 system.

The US Navy is procuring the MK 38 MOD 4 GWS to address deficiencies in current counter-unmanned aerial system (C-UAS) and counter-unmanned surface vessel (C-USV) capabilities, with the aim being to initially field the system on all DDG 51 Flight IIA and Flight III destroyers. According to the service, the MK 38 MOD 4 GWS is designed to bring greater accuracy, lethality, and effective range for C-UAS and C-USV applications through the integration of fire control, the Northrop Grumman MK 44 Bushmaster II 30mm gun, the EOSS sensor suite, and the AEGIS combat system.

MSI-Defence Systems’ Seahawk DS30M A2 dual-feed single 30 mm mounting provides the basis for the GWS 88 MOD 4 gun mount. Specific adaptations for the US Navy include the integration of a co-axial 0.50-cal M2HB heavy machine gun and a revised power system architecture.


Fabian Villalobos and Scott Savitz

Deception is as old as warfare. Ancient tales across cultures describe cunning and creative tactics, such as the Trojan Horse, employed to defeat adversaries. The deceiving force gains advantage by both confusing the adversary and preserving its combat power. Ultimately, deception is a critical combat enabler that requires deliberate planning, creative practitioners, and limited resources.

And yet, US military deception capabilities have been allowed to atrophy—despite the proven value of deception, which can be traced to the US military’s earliest operations. General George Washington’s surprise crossing of the Delaware during the American Revolution originally included a clever diversion. Allied deceptions in World War II caused German commanders to anticipate attacks in the wrong places, most notably leading them to concentrate forces at Calais when the Allies landed at Normandy.

Deception also enabled rapid victory with limited casualties during Operation Desert Storm. Intelligence indicated that Saddam Hussein expected an amphibious landing from the Persian Gulf and a drive north into Kuwait by coalition forces from Saudi territory. Capitalizing on that intelligence, the United States signaled this intent with decoys while disguising the movement of its forces to the west for a surprise “left hook” that cut off Iraqi forces within Kuwait. This induced the collapse, mass surrender, and flight of Iraqi forces within four days of ground combat. Deception planners used Magruder’s Principle—named for a general from the American Civil War—to reinforce Saddam Hussein’s preexisting beliefs to deceive him and achieve victory.

Despite the profusion of unmanned systems, satellite constellations, sensors, and other methods of tracking troop movement over the last thirty years, Magruder’s Principle and other deception techniques are still applicable today. Military forces must still deceive and assume they are being deceived. Ukraine demonstrated deception’s enduring relevance in November 2022, when it continually indicated that it planned to push against Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, then made a surprise thrust to the south.

The Ukraine War: Just One Giant Stalemate?

Stavros Atlamazoglou

The situation in Ukraine remains fluid. The war has been going on for nearly 26 months. During this period, the battlefield has shifted about substantially.

In the early morning hours of February 24, 2022, the Russian military launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The war began with rapid Russian advances all across the operational map. Kherson, a major urban center in the south, fell. Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine, located in the east only a few dozen miles from the border with Russia, was besieged. In the north, Russian troops entered the suburbs of the capital, Kyiv.

Ukraine, with the assistance of a U.S.-led international coalition that would end up numbering more than 40 countries, held its ground. Through hard but clever fighting, the Ukrainians stabilized the battlefield and destroyed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plans for a three-day war.

Then the Ukrainians started to push back.

Over the span of one week in September, the Ukrainian military launched a surprise counteroffensive and liberated hundreds of square miles of territory in Eastern Ukraine. A few weeks later, Ukrainian forces replicated their success, this time in the south. Kyiv liberated large swaths of territory in the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson provinces, forcing the Russians to evacuate Kherson city itself.

As 2023 dawned, the focus of the war shifted to a rather inconspicuous town in the Donbas region. Bakhmut became a household name and is still the longest and bloodiest battle of the conflict. From November 2022 to May 2023, the Russian military threw everything it had against the defenders of the town. The Kremlin grew so desperate that it largely gave control of the offensive to the barbarous Wagner Group private military company and its bloodthirsty leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin. At the cost of nearly 100,000 Russian troops and mercenaries dead and wounded, Moscow captured Bakhmut. But by that point, Ukraine was ready to strike back once more.

In the Age of AI, Personal Data Security Is National Security

Kat Duffy and Kyle Fendorf

The gathering, selling, buying, aggregation, and redeployment of data—including highly personal data—has fueled the growth of the U.S. economy for decades. With the age of artificial intelligence (AI) firmly at hand, this commodification of data has also generated new and untenable national security threats that are exacerbated by the continued absence of a comprehensive federal privacy law. Authoritarian states are already taking advantage of the U.S. commercial data market. China maintains a large system to gather up data on social media users, including those on X and Facebook in the United States and abroad. It uses this data to monitor public opinion in the United States, track dissidents abroad, and anticipate potential threats to the regime. The United States’ current capacity to mitigate the risks of its commercial data market is limited. Indeed, the Joe Biden administration’s recent actions addressing Chinese-made electric vehicles (EVs) demonstrate how limited federal authorities are in protecting against national security risks centered on data security, as opposed to those based in economic competitiveness or cybersecurity.

Both the Donald Trump and the Biden administrations have enacted policies to address economic competitiveness concerns around EVs, such as the Trump administration’s use of Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to impose 25 percent tariffs on Chinese EVs in 2019. Even such high tariffs could provide inadequate protection against market entry: in 2022, Chinese companies accounted for 35 percent of all EV exports globally, and Chinese-made EVs (which are heavily subsidized) are expected to comprise a quarter of the electric vehicles sold in Europe this year. This rapid growth has understandably concerned U.S. industry leaders and policymakers, not only because of its implications for the U.S. auto industry and economic competition, but also because EVs pose unique cybersecurity threats.

For example, computers in EVs often use vehicle-to-grid charging, which could be used as a jumping-off point to infiltrate critical infrastructure—a threat that could only grow as the United States invests in building a broader EV-charging grid. In addition, bipartisan policies have long supported limiting Chinese-made products’ access to U.S. critical infrastructure systems: in 2019, the Trump administration launched a $6 billion “rip-and-replace” program to completely remove equipment made by Chinese telecommunications firms Huawei and ZTE from U.S. networks.

Risk, Rumors, and Reprisals: The Imagined Side of Professional Writing


With the Army’s renewed emphasis on professional writing, a disturbing narrative will likely resurface that publishing is dangerous to an author’s career. While many have articulated the benefits of joining the professional discourse, myself included, prospective authors may imagine backlash from a poorly received article. To take a public stance and challenge the status quo is terrifying; it is the status quo for a reason, after all. Consequently, a rumor, fueled by anecdotal stories, permeates across the force that authors who go against established norms will face career-altering reprisals. While this risk is blown out of proportion, there are gray areas authors should consider before diving into controversial topics.

Origin Stories

The Army lauds prominent historical figures like George Patton and Dwight Eisenhower for challenging Army doctrine and publishing critical articles during the interwar period a century ago. Less often discussed is the controversy surrounding these efforts. At the time, Major General Charles Farnsworth, the Chief of the Infantry, threatened to court martial Eisenhower if he continued publishing ideas that undermined established infantry doctrine. While the court martial did not come to fruition, this example is a troubling reminder that an argument, regardless of its merits, may anger people of influence. A response to a professional article may become a personal matter if perceived as an affront to someone’s life work or if it could endanger their livelihood. While few historical examples highlight officers being reprimanded at the institutional level for their ideas, except when the comments were illegal, anecdotes are much easier to come by.