25 April 2024

AI and India’s General Elections

Saqlain Rizve

A video of Bollywood actor Aamir Khan mocking India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for not fulfilling a decade-old promise to deposit 1.5 million Indian rupees (or US$ 18,000) into the bank account of every Indian citizen has gone viral this election season. The voice in the video closely resembles Khan’s voice, and the video ends with a call to voters to support the opposition Congress party. The following day, Khan dismissed the video as “fake and completely untrue.”

It turns out that the video was manipulated with artificial intelligence (AI) using deepfake audio technology.

It appears that the makers of the video were looking to cash in on Khan’s popularity to attract votes and turned to AI technology to fake his voice. This is just one example of how AI is being used in the ongoing 18th general elections in India.

This is not the first time that the Indian political world witnessed the deployment of AI for the communication of messages. Such technology has been used for over a decade and the BJP has been at the forefront of leveraging digital tools.

During the 2014 Indian general elections, the BJP employed AI-driven tools to target voters with personalized messages, setting a precedent for the integration of technology into political strategies.

“Since then, AI has made deep inroads, influencing how campaigns are conducted and elections are contested,” observes Patarlapati Nagaraju of Osmania University in India.

India witnessed its first known use of a deep fake video, during the Delhi Legislative Assembly elections in February 2020. Two manipulated videos featured Manoj Tiwari, the then-president of the BJP’s Delhi unit. In one he is seen talking in English and in another, in Haryanvi, to connect with a specific demographic of voters. Although the BJP sought to justify its action by saying that it had used AI technology positively to communicate a BJP leader’s message and not to deride a rival, the videos triggered heated discussion as they raised concern about the potential for use and misuse of AI for misinformation and manipulation in political campaigns.

How India’s restructured rocket force makes conflict with China more likely

Debak Das

On March 11, 2024, the Indian government announced that it had successfully tested an Agni-V ballistic missile with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) technology. According to India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation, multiple reentry vehicles were tracked during the test. Discussions are now taking place as to what this new development means for India’s nuclear strategy and how it will impact India’s relations with China—the country against which this technology is most probably aimed at.

India’s test of MIRV technology on the Agni-V missile shows that it is making qualitative technological advances in its ability to target China. New Delhi’s initial set of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles and other delivery systems were aimed at Pakistan. Over the last decade, however, India’s advances in nuclear and conventional military capabilities have aimed to tackle the threat from China. With the Agni-V missile’s reported range of 5,000 kilometers—making it an intermediate-range ballistic missile, even though Chinese officials have claimed its actual range is closer to 8,000 kilometers, which would make it an intercontinental ballistic missile—India has signaled its ability to target all of China’s mainland. The MIRV capability will qualitatively boost this capability.

Both India and China have a nuclear no-first-use policy. This means that they have committed not to use nuclear weapons first against an adversary. But India’s MIRV capability indicates that it could have a greater ability to conduct a massive first strike that could bypass missile defenses with multiple warheads and decoys if it ever chooses to abandon its no-first-use policy.

A New Era For Pakistan’s Economy – OpEd

Dr. Sahibzada Muhammad Usman

In recent years, Pakistan’s economic landscape has been characterized by a blend of daunting challenges and burgeoning opportunities. This critical juncture in its economic history calls for a strategic and multifaceted approach to navigate through the complexities of global and local financial intricacies. As Pakistan endeavors to rewrite its economic narrative, it is imperative to explore the underlying factors that shape its economic environment, the innovative strategies employed to address persistent and emerging challenges, and the untapped opportunities that herald a promising future.

Pakistan’s economic challenges are both deep-rooted and multifaceted, demanding a comprehensive and strategic response. The nation grapples with high inflation rates that erode purchasing power and exacerbate poverty. The fiscal deficit remains a pressing concern, reflecting the government’s struggle to balance its expenditures with revenues. Additionally, the external debt burden has reached alarming levels, posing significant risks to financial stability and sovereignty.

Structural issues further complicate the economic scenario. Energy shortages and unreliable supply disrupt industrial productivity and deter investment. Water scarcity, exacerbated by inefficient management and climate change, threatens agriculture and food security. The infrastructure, though improving, still lags the needs of a rapidly growing population and economy. Moreover, political instability and governance challenges have historically deterred investment and hindered the implementation of necessary economic reforms.

In response to these challenges, Pakistan has embarked on a journey of economic revitalization, guided by strategic initiatives aimed at restoring fiscal health, stimulating growth, and enhancing resilience. Fiscal consolidation is at the forefront of these initiatives, targeting a reduction in the deficit through prudent expenditure management and efforts to increase revenue generation. Structural reforms are also critical, focusing on improving the business environment, ensuring efficient public sector operations, and laying the groundwork for sustainable development.

Pakistan bargains hard for larger IMF deal of up to $8b


Pakistan has made a formal request to the International Monetary Fund for a new loan package in the range of $6 billion to $8 billion under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF). The South Asian country has also asked the IMF to dispatch a review mission in May to finalize details of the new deal.

Last week, Pakistan's delegation, led by Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb, attended the annual spring meetings of the IMF in Washington. The country is still waiting for the release of the final tranche of a $1.1 billion loan from the fund under the Stand-by Agreement (SBA), which was concluded this month. Now Pakistan needs another program to remain afloat for the next three years.

A political outsider, Aurangzeb was inducted into the government to secure a deal with the IMF. However, the fund is proving a tough negotiator.

In the World Economic Outlook Report 2024, the IMF named Pakistan as one of six countries facing serious conflicts this year, saying these conflicts would take a toll on their economic output. The troubled countries included Iraq, Somalia and Sudan.

Although the State Bank of Pakistan held foreign exchange reserves of $8 billion, or about a month and a half of import cover, as of as of April 12, experts stress that it is in dire need of an IMF deal.

"Pakistan badly needs an EFF because it needs to pay $75 billion in the next three years," said Abdul Rehman, a capital markets and energy expert based in Lahore. "An IMF deal is tantamount to giving a clean bill of health to Pakistan's economy, which can [then] borrow more loans from bilateral, multilateral and other commercial creditors," Rehman added. "If Pakistan could not get the deal, then the country will default and the economy can shrink by 10% in size, triggering massive unemployment and inflation."

Why is Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi visiting Pakistan

Sarah Shamim

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is in Pakistan on a three-day trip to discuss regional and bilateral relations days after Iran and Israel carried out attacks against each other, risking the Gaza war to expand into a regional conflict.

Raisi is scheduled to hold talks with top Pakistani leadership, including Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, as the two neighbours seek to mend ties after tit-for-tat missile attacks in January.

Local media reported that Raisi will also meet General Asim Munir, the head of Pakistan’s military, which wields huge political and economic influence in the South Asian nation.

What’s the agenda of the trip?

Raisi arrived in the capital, Islamabad, on Monday as the two neighbours aim to boost economic, border and energy ties.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran, in line with the neighbourhood policy … is interested in promoting relations with Pakistan and during this trip, various issues including economic and commercial issues, energy and border issues will be discussed with the government of Pakistan,” a statement by the Iranian presidential office said on Monday.

In a statement issued on Sunday, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called for improving bilateral ties.

“The two sides will have a wide-ranging agenda to further strengthen Pakistan-Iran ties and enhance cooperation in diverse fields including trade, connectivity, energy, agriculture, and people-to-people contacts,” the statement said.

Freedom and Prosperity in Bangladesh

Nina Dannaoui, Annie Lee, and Joseph Lemoine


Bangladesh, a nation born from a fight for democracy, has set its sights firmly on the future. Its ambitious Vision 2041 agenda outlines a strategic course toward a developed and prosperous Bangladesh by the year 2041. This plan, which emphasizes economic growth alongside social progress, underscores the nation’s commitment to empowering its citizens and solidifying its democratic foundation.

Bangladesh’s pursuit of a prosperous future is undeniably intertwined with the level of its freedoms. However, recent events paint a complex picture. The January parliamentary elections solidified a shift toward a “dominant-party” system. The Awami League capitalized on an opposition boycott to extend its fifteen-year rule, with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina poised to become the world’s longest-serving female head of government. While this signifies stability, dominant-party systems often face challenges that can undermine good governance. Ensuring healthy competition across politics, government, and the economy is crucial to mitigate these risks.

It is within this context that we must examine the current state of freedom and prosperity in Bangladesh: a nation striving for a bright future, yet facing potential hurdles associated with its evolving political landscape.

The Atlantic Council’s Freedom and Prosperity Indexes rank 164 countries around the world according to their levels of freedom and prosperity. These two separate indexes were created to move past heated arguments about freedom and democracy by focusing on facts. Which type of government system yields the best results for its people?

Not only do free countries tend to be wealthier and healthier places to live, but data indicates that freedom tends to lead to prosperity. Countries that granted their citizens more freedoms between 1995 and 2022 also saw significant increases in prosperity. Conversely, nations like Venezuela, Nicaragua, Belarus, Turkey, Russia, and Yemen all experienced significant drops in freedom followed by economic decline. This two-way street highlights that while freedom fosters prosperity, prosperity itself can be fragile without the protections offered by a free society.

Pro-China Muizzu Gets Super Majority In Maldivian Parliament – Analysis

P. K. Balachandran

Could cause concern in New Delhi

It’s bad news for India from the Maldives. Maldivian voters gave President Mohamed Muizzu’s alliance, principally comprising the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and the People’s National Congress (PNC), a “super majority” in the parliamentary elections held on April 21.

The President can now pursue his pro-China policy untrammelled by a parliament dominated by the pro-India Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

As per the interim results, the PPM/PNC alliance has won 70 seats in the Majlis (as the Maldivian parliament is called) comprising 93 seats.

With three fourths of the entire parliament in his hands, the President gets the power to amend the constitution. He can also chalk out and implement policies without being hamstrung by a hostile parliament.

The other parties in the coalition such as the Maldives National Party (MNP) and Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) also won seats with the MNP winning one and the MDA winning two.

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), led by former President Ibrahim Solih, which had won 65 seats in the previous parliament, won only 15 seats this time. And the Democrats, led by former President and Speaker Mohamed Nasheed and the Adhaalath Party, failed to win any seat.

The People’s National Front (PNF) floated by former President Abdulla Yameen also drew a blank, though it had contested 35 seats.

Myanmar: Karen Rebel Forces Attack Stranded Junta Troops On Thai Border

Pimuk Rakkanam

Gunfire, artillery and exploding bombs could be heard early Saturday around Myawaddy, a Myanmar city on the Thai border across from Mae Sot, as an ethnic Karen army closed in on about 200 junta troops stranded near a bridge between the two countries, according to the Thai military and a Radio Free Asia reporter on the scene.

The clash occurred after the Karen National Liberation Army, an armed branch of the Karen National Union, on April 10 captured most of the junta’s Infantry Battalion 275 stationed outside of Myawaddy.

But 200 junta soldiers were left stranded at the customs compound at the No. 2 Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge across the Moei River that links the two countries.

The setback is the latest in a series of battlefield losses suffered by the junta as various rebel groups push the military back across the country amid the country’s three-year civil war that was sparked by the junta’s coup in February 2021.

The clashes started at 3 a.m. on Saturday, Thai soldiers keeping watch along the river and local residents said. The fighting centered around the customs house at the bridge as the rebels apparently were intent on wiping out the remaining junta troops, they said.

“The KNU opened the charge first, the junta troops fought back,” a Thai soldier who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity told RFA.

Several days ago, the junta announced “Operation Aung Zeya,” aimed at retaking Myawaddy, a key city on a major trading route with Thailand.

China's scenarios for invading Taiwan could be altered following Iran's failed attack on Israel, report says

Cameron Manley

China will analyze the failed Iranian drone and missile attack on Israel in order to better prepare for an invasion of Taiwan, experts believe.

Iran launched more than 300 drones and missiles in a direct attack on Israel last week, but Israel and its allies were able to shoot down most of the munitions.

Rupert Hammond-Chambers, the president of the US-Taiwan Business Council, told The Telegraph that China would likely look at the incident to work out how it could get past the technology and the alliance that foiled the attack.

"They will be picking apart what transpired, not just in the way in which the Iranians attacked but also how we responded – the Israelis and the coalition that supported them," he said.

"The kill rate for the drones and the missiles was extremely high, almost perfect. The walk-away for the PLA [People's Liberation Army] will be that the Americans and their allies have the technology to significantly blunt an attack," he added.

Much like Israel, Taipei expects to be able to rely on US support in the event of an attack from China, which considers Taiwan a part of its territory.

A vote in the US House of Representatives on Saturday, which saw almost $61 billion in aid for Ukraine approved by the US House, also confirmed that around $8 billion would go toward security in the Indo-Pacific region, including to Taiwan.

China's J-20 Is One Dangerous Stealth Fighter the U.S. Air Force Fears

Brandon J. Weichert

Summary: The Chengdu J-20 "Mighty Dragon," China's counterpart to the F-22 Raptor, is often debated in the West regarding its classification as a true fifth-generation fighter.

-Despite skepticism and claims of its design being a derivative of stolen F-22 blueprints, the J-20 features advanced stealth capabilities, proving formidable in combat simulations and PLA Air Force operations, notably in undetected flights over Taiwan.

-China's robust defense production capabilities allow rapid replacement of lost units, contrasting with American production challenges. The J-20, with its stealth and sensor fusion, poses a significant threat, particularly to Taiwan, which relies on older fourth-generation fighters.

The Chengdu J-20 “Mighty Dragon” is China’s answer to the F-22A Raptor. Much debate in the West has been had about whether it should truly be considered a fifth-generation warplane or if it is more akin to a “fourth-generation ++” bird, like the Russian Su-57 (or even the F-15EX Eagle II).

At the same time that Western observers insist that the J-20 is hopelessly outmatched by its American rival, the F-22, Western sources insinuate that the J-20 is just a stolen copy of the F-22. But, if that’s the case, then the J-20 is much more than just an augmented fourth-generation bird.

Certainly, the F-22 is far more advanced than most outsiders give it credit for. In nearly every wargame conducted by Western militaries, the introduction of even a pair of F-22A Raptors in an air battle against Chinese forces—including the vaunted J-20—tips the battle in America’s favor. Still, to discount the J-20 as somehow something less than a threat is a foolish position to take.

This is especially so considering snippets of information that has been released from the performance of the J-20 in combat-like conditions.

Beijing’s View of the Chinese Economy

George Friedman

At an economic forum last week in Shanghai, a senior Chinese government adviser named Liu Yuanchun, who is also the president of the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, made some stark remarks about the state of the Chinese economy.

Liu said that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were far worse than expected and that the fiscal standing of local governments is deteriorating quicker than thought. Seismic, structural shifts are happening rapidly, and more non-economic risks are emerging than economic ones. All of this has created imbalances that Beijing is struggling to navigate. According to Liu, China’s development in the recent past and immediate future will be marked by such disequilibrium, and striking a new balance will take time.

He went on to say these challenges from within – and the economic competition from powers without – are more daunting than the ones of a decade ago, when China was able to achieve double-digit economic growth. Growth now is much more uneven, of course, and even President Xi Jinping seems to have admitted as much when he called moderate growth the “new normal.” Evidence to that effect can be seen in China’s overcapacity issues, with the producer price index declining in March by 2.8 percent year on year, while languishing in the negative range for the 17th straight month. Supply-demand disequilibrium is apparent, too, with the first quarter’s utilization rate at just 73.6 percent, down some 7 percentage points. In short, capacity is sitting idle.

Liu also warned that the consumer price index, which grew in March by 0.1 percent year on year after expanding by 0.7 percent in February, is too off-kilter to achieve Beijing’s targeted supply-demand balance of 2-3 percent.

Tech, Not Farmland, Will Secure the U.S. Economy From China

Sam Raus

Numerous states recently passed laws prohibiting foreign entities’ ownership of American farmland, citing concerns about CCP control over United States (U.S.) agriculture and critical resources. After a failed attempt at federal legislation last year, conservative political organizations such as the America First Policy Institute (AFPI) shifted their focus to lobbying for state policy change. While well-intentioned, Republican state lawmakers and political groups are focused on the wrong problem. If they want to effectively protect us from Chinese meddling in domestic affairs, they should address the real threat from Beijing: tech interference.

The bills proposed using AFPI model legislation extend beyond currently enacted restrictions in various states, tightening loopholes for U.S.-based subsidiary companies created by the targeted foreign entities. After a Chinese food manufacturer purchased farmland in North Dakota near the Grand Forks Air Force Base, national security concerns sparked lawmakers across the country to introduce laws blocking foreign entity land ownership. POLITICO reports over two-thirds of US states have passed or considered similar restrictions.

Rooting out espionage by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) seems to be a real priority for US lawmakers these days, demonstrated most prominently in the recent TikTok ban-or-divest legislation. Discussions about the ownership of agricultural resources particularly emphasize America’s food security and public health needs. But farming is not our biggest conflict with China.

Rather, countless reports and analyses highlight China’s rapid development and pervasive use of advanced technology. While governors tackle cybersecurity concerns with state government devices, little state action focuses on building up the US microchip, artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing and defense technology industry. Maintaining a competitive edge over China’s tech sector requires leadership focused on innovation, market growth and coordinated preventative defense.

Israel Planned Bigger Attack on Iran, but Scaled It Back to Avoid War

Ronen Bergman and Patrick Kingsley

Israel abandoned plans for a much more extensive counterstrike on Iran after concerted diplomatic pressure from the United States and other foreign allies and because the brunt of an Iranian assault on Israel soil had been thwarted, according to three senior Israeli officials.

Israeli leaders originally discussed bombarding several military targets across Iran last week, including near Tehran, the Iranian capital, in retaliation for the Iranian strike on April 13, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the sensitive discussions.

Such a broad and damaging attack would have been far harder for Iran to overlook, increasing the chances of a forceful Iranian counterattack that could have brought the Middle East to the brink of a major regional conflict.

In the end — after President Biden, along with the British and German foreign ministers, urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to prevent a wider war — Israel opted for a more limited strike on Friday that avoided significant damage, diminishing the likelihood of an escalation, at least for now.

Still, in the view of Israeli officials, the attack showed Iran the breadth and sophistication of Israel’s military arsenal.

Instead of sending fighter jets into Iranian airspace, Israel fired a small number of missiles from aircraft positioned several hundred miles west of it on Friday, according to the Israeli officials and two senior Western officials briefed on the attack. Israel also sent small attack drones, known as quadcopters, to confuse Iranian air defenses, according to the Israeli officials.

Is the Gaza war destabilizing Jordan?


Iranian missiles lit up the sky over Jordan this weekend as Israeli jets reportedly scrambled alongside their French, Jordanian, and U.S. counterparts to intercept the unprecedented barrage.

On the ground, regular Jordanians got their first taste of what could escalate to a broader war. Videos showed charred remnants of missiles in Marj al-Hamam, a quiet neighbourhood a short drive from downtown Amman. Some responded with levity, placing ads on the Arab equivalent of Craigslist for a “used missile”.

But the overwhelming response was anger. Jordan’s defence of Israel led to a firestorm of criticism and conspiracy on social media, with posters falsely claiming that a Jordanian princess had participated in the interceptions, while others shared fake images of King Abdullah in an Israeli uniform.

The king and his deputies responded by insisting that they would shoot down any unauthorized objects in Jordanian airspace, but it remains unclear if regular Jordanians are buying that claim.

“Things are very tense right now in Jordan,” said Sean Yom, a political science professor at Temple University. “The Jordanian government is obviously trying to do the best job that it can in just getting out of this, but it's not easy.”

This latest escalation of the Gaza war highlights the ways Israel’s campaign risks destabilizing some of the Middle East’s most conflict-averse states. The strikes, themselves a response to an Israeli bombing of an Iranian consulate, came just a few months after Iran-aligned militias attacked a U.S. base in Jordan and killed three American soldiers.

As the U.S. seeks to forge diplomatic ties between Arab states and Israel, Amman’s situation also offers a stark reminder that normalization with autocratic governments does not equal normalization with those countries’ citizens.

War Is More Offensive Than Protesters | Opinion

Angela McArdle

In the wake of the Iranian strikes on Israel, some anti-war activists are wringing their hands, anxious to condemn anyone who asserts that Iran has a right to defend itself. While it's certainly good practice to oppose all state-sanctioned violence and to be mindful of the image you project, let's not lose sight of the most pressing issue which is Israel's genocide, the historical reasons for conflict in the Middle East, and how they relate directly to Israel's attacks on Gaza and Iran.

Israel was created after a non-binding U.N. resolution in 1947. Prior to the modern day creation of Israel, that land was inhabited by Muslims and Christians. Zionist militias and activists fought the native Palestinians and drove them out of their land until the U.N. negotiated a ceasefire. The United States government played a significant, supporting role in the Israeli government's violent origin story. Fighting between Zionists and natives continued sporadically until 1967, when Israel took more land in the Six Day War, and shamefully, the West has looked the other way as Palestinians have been driven from their homes decade after decade.

There are still Palestinians alive who lost their homes in 1947 and 1967, and their resentment toward Israel is understandably strong. Palestinians have essentially lived as refugees all this time, while the Israeli government has soaked up financial aid from the United States and expanded its borders.

Neighboring Muslim-majority countries also resent the Israeli government's questionable beginning. Various rebel groups and militias have popped up all over the Middle East to push back against what they perceive as U.S. control and influence through Israel. Hezbollah was formed in 1982 to fight Israel's invasion and occupation of Lebanon. Osama Bin Laden famously condemned the United States' occupation of the Arabian Peninsula and their alliance with Israel in his infamous 1998, Declaration of War Against Jews And Crusaders.

The Coming Arab Backlash

Marc Lynch

Since Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel, the Middle East has been rocked by mass protests. Egyptians have demonstrated in solidarity with Palestinians at great personal risk, and Iraqis, Moroccans, Tunisians, and Yemenis have taken to the streets in vast numbers. Meanwhile, Jordanians have broken long-standing redlines by marching on the Israeli embassy, and Saudi Arabia has refused to resume normalization talks with Israel, in part because of its people’s deep fury over Israel’s operations in the Gaza Strip.

For Washington, the view is that none of this mobilization really matters. Arab leaders, after all, are among the world’s most experienced practitioners of realpolitik, and they have a record of ignoring their people’s preferences. The protests, although large, have been manageable. Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and other leaders have long encouraged protests about the treatment of Palestinians, which allow their people to blow off steam and direct their anger toward a foreign enemy instead of against domestic corruption and incompetence. In time, or so the argument goes, the fighting in Gaza will end, the angry protesters will go home, and their leaders will carry on pursuing self-interests, an activity at which they excel.

U.S. foreign policymakers also have a long history of disregarding public opinion in the Middle East—the so-called Arab street. After all, if autocratic Arab leaders are calling the shots, then it is not necessary to put stock in what angry activists shout or in what ordinary citizens tell pollsters or the media. Since there are no democracies in the Middle East, care need not be given to what anyone outside the palaces thinks. And for all its talk of democracy and human rights, Washington has always been more comfortable dealing with pragmatic autocrats than with publics it regards as irrational, extremist mobs. It rarely pauses to consider how this might contribute to its dismal record of policy failures.

Turkey’s influence grows eastwards. That’s welcome

Cheuk Yui Kwong

Turkey’s newly strengthened relationship with Somalia raises the prospect of Ankara’s further involvement in Indian Ocean affairs, probably to the benefit of the West.

With Turkey now tilting towards the West after a period of strained relations, its growing presence in the region to its east should be welcomed. Conversely, China cannot be welcoming this development at all.

In February, Somalia and Turkey signed a ground-breaking agreement encompassing defence, security and economic cooperation. This occurred amid escalating tensions between Somalia and Ethiopia.

Somali Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre says the agreement’s primary focus is combatting terrorism, piracy, illegal fishing and foreign threats. But it also grants Turkey unrestricted access to Somali territorial waters and greater military presence in Somalia. Turkey also pledges to help bolster Somalia’s naval capabilities, for which purpose Somalia will transfer 30 percent of its marine income to Turkey.

All this allows Turkey, the country with the second-largest military in NATO, to be well ensconced in the northwestern Indian Ocean.

Meanwhile, after a period of difficult relations, Turkey has re-engaged with the West, particularly the United States. Growing Chinese influence in the Middle East and Central Asia may have been a factor behind that move.

In particular, China’s growing presence in Turkey’s periphery and domestic society has worried Ankara. Although Turkey has had positive economic engagement with China, the arrest in February of six Chinese spies in Turkey, China’s active presence in the Balkan Peninsula and Central Asia and its close ties with Iran make Ankara uncomfortable.

AI’s baptism by fire in Ukraine and Gaza offer wider lessons

Callum Fraser

Once just hypothetical strategic and ethical questions surrounding the military application of artificial intelligence (AI) in war, they are now becoming grounded in reality, with fighting in Ukraine and Gaza emerging as one of the technology’s first trials-by-fire.

The application of AI is comparable in both conflicts and has principally focused on decision-support, intelligence analysis and targeting. In each case, AI has allowed planners to sift through huge swathes of data faster than humanly possible.

Yet the context in which Ukraine and Israel are using AI differs. Ukraine is fighting a numerically superior opponent; Israel is seeking to use AI to press home its military advantage in its effort to eradicate Hamas. There are lessons and warnings from both for other armed forces on the application of AI in tactical, operational and strategic efforts.

Battle lab Ukraine

Ukraine’s use of a diverse set of AI applications is a bright spot for the embattled country at a time when its armed forces battle personnel and equipment shortages. Ukraine is deploying AI to achieve an asymmetric advantage over a materially and numerically more powerful adversary.

Kyiv, for instance, is using AI to understand how targeted military activities have a cognitive effect on the adversary. According to a recent article in The Economist, Ukraine has been using such tools for sentiment analysis. In one case, it tried to understand how a rocket attack on the Antonovsky Bridge leading out of occupied Kherson impacted the morale of Russian soldiers and citizens. The ability to measure and cohere activity to achieve maximum physical and cognitive effect is a huge advantage for an army with limited resources.

The 50th Anniversary of GPS: New Avenues for Cooperation with Europe’s Galileo


Since the inception of the American Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), the Global Positioning System (GPS), the constellation’s governance has primarily been military. In contrast, China’s GNSS, BeiDou, has just reached full global coverage and has an emphasis on political and economic gains, alongside military uses. In her work “China’s BeiDou: New Dimensions of Great Power Competition,” Dr. Sarah Sewall notes that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) looks at GNSS capabilities more broadly than the US and is also pushing for other countries to adopt BeiDou for civilian uses.

Europe’s constellation, Galileo, much like BeiDou, reached full global coverage in the last few years. From an American perspective, the European GNSS is an interesting case study, as it was conceived with many of the same underlying values as the Americans, but with a dierent civilian form of governance. From a European perspective, GPS is of interest as the technical gold standard in GNSS, but also because of its military governance. Indeed, in the wake of the war in Ukraine, the European Union (EU) has a renewed interest in defense applications. Both sides have complementary perspectives and can learn from each other to acquire a more holistic perspective of the potential of GNSS capabilities.

As GPS celebrates fifty years of global leadership in GNSS, it is a timely moment to evaluate its past successes, current issues, and future perspectives for successful development in the next half-century. This paper aims to compare the GPS and Galileo systems, drawing insights from an interview with two GNSS experts of the European Commission. It seeks to answer the question of how the United States and Europe could learn from each other and strengthen their GNSS cooperation.

Fifty Years of GNSS

Last December, the United States celebrated the 50th anniversary of the creation of GPS, the world’s first GNSS. At the 2023 National Space Council Meeting, Gen. Chris Grady, Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Sta, recognized the essential role the technology has played over the last half-century for the United States.

Jamestown Foundation China Brief, April 14, 2024, v. 24, no. 8

PRC Support Underpins Russia’s War Against Ukraine

Xi Signals Firm Strategy but Flexible Tactics at China’s Central Foreign Affairs Work Conference

PRC Exploitation of Russian Intelligence Networks in Europe

Chinese Women from the Countryside: Views on Marriage

CCP Cyber Sovereignty Contains Lessons For AI’s Future

Army software directive aims to improve speed, agility against modern threats


The Army’s new policy on software will better posture it for success on a highly dynamic battlefield, officials say.

The directive on enabling modern software development and acquisition practices, released in March, aims to make sweeping changes to how the service approaches software from requirements, testing, procurement, sustainment and personnel.

“Software more than ever before is becoming or is already a national security imperative,” Margaret Boatner, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for strategy and acquisition reform, said Friday at an event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “If you look at the past, software has been an enabler of a lot of our hardware-based capabilities. And now it’s really the main driver of those capabilities. Everything from the goggles we put on our soldiers these days to our radars and our missiles … all the way to our tanks and our helicopters.”

The service wants to be able to go faster — be it buying new systems or making tweaks to existing ones — in this new digital world where the legacy hardware- and platform-centric model is outdated.

With modern software updates occurring on more frequent timelines than hardware, and as the Army faces sophisticated threats that aim to exploit software vulnerabilities, the service wants to be capable of staying ahead of the curve in combat.

“The ability to rapidly develop and deploy and, importantly, enhance those software capabilities over time is really going to make a difference on the battlefield. That’s really what we’re trying to get after with this new policy,” Boatner said. “Those modern and agile and iterative approaches are what’s going to enable us to rapidly upgrade all of our capabilities. That’s why we wanted to do it now.”

The Israel-Gaza war has changed everything : The norms of war are being rewritten in real-tim

Armin Rosen

Analysts, journalists and strategists are all required to ignore the near-impossibility of truly understanding a war as it unfolds. Failing to do so would send us into a morass of self-doubt, and our work would become a useless succession of Zen-like shrugs. A pose of certainty is therefore necessary, even as recent history serves as a caution.

When Rwanda’s Tutsis were being slaughtered 30 years ago this month, it was anything but obvious that, just two years later, they’d be leading a semi-successful multinational campaign of conquest in neighbouring Zaire, then the second-largest country in Africa. The Syrian Civil War looked far different in July 2012, when a suicide bomber assassinated the country’s defence minister and Bashar al-Assad’s brother-in-law, than it did in September 2015, when Russian forces arrived to rescue Assad’s crumbling regime. And when the most recent Israeli campaign in Gaza concluded in May 2021, the country’s leading strategists, along with many in the US, believed Hamas wanted nothing more than a long stretch of quiet in order to consolidate its rule over the coastal strip. Operation Guardian of the Walls was the Israeli success that would finally allow the country to address bigger and more dangerous threats than those irritating Islamist militants in the south.

For both the Israelis and Palestinians, this proved to be a grave misunderstanding of reality. The Israelis believed they had reduced Hamas to strategic insignificance. Meanwhile, the people who turned out to be the most meaningful Palestinian decision-makers, namely Gaza-based Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar and his inner circle, were caught in the climax of what the political scientist Shany Mor has described as the “ecstasy-amnesia cycle”, convinced against all prior experience that the violent destruction of the Zionist entity was close at hand.

After six months of war, it makes less sense to assess who’s currently winning than it does to ask which current premises are in greatest danger of being exposed. Even identifying the next shattered certainty is difficult, as shown by the Iranian attack on Israel last weekend and Israel’s muted reply five days later.

Semiconductor Giant ASML Has a New Boss, and a Big Proble


WHEN CHRISTOPHE FOUQUET takes over as CEO of Europe’s most valuable tech company on April 24, he will inherit not only a single firm, but also the leadership of an entire industry responsible for a critical ingredient of modern life: chips.

Netherlands-based ASML makes one of the world’s most complex machines, used by chipmakers like Intel and TSMC to manufacture the advanced microchips required for the functioning of today’s smartphones, cars, and data centers. Fouquet will take over leadership of ASML’s 40,000 or so employees and manage a sprawling network of more than 5,000 specialist suppliers, such as Germany’s Zeiss and Trumpf, whose lasers and mirrors enable ASML’s machines to project minuscule patterns onto microchips small enough to be measured in nanometers (one millionth of a millimeter).

Fouquet, a 16-year ASML veteran, will have to maintain the company’s technological edge. Its most advanced machines have no competitors. “I have worked with Christophe for years, and look forward to continuing our great relationship as we deliver leading-edge lithography solutions,” says Ryan Russell, corporate vice president for Foundry Lithography Technology Development at Intel. But Fouquet, who has sold himself publicly as the continuity candidate, will also have to steer ASML through an escalating geopolitical power struggle revolving around chips.

“The company must manage its position at the center of technology tensions between China and the West,” says Chris Miller, author of Chip War: The Fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology. Fouquet declined to speak to WIRED for this story.

Those tensions became public in 2018, when the US began pressuring the Dutch government to prevent ASML’s technology from being sent to China, a major market for the company’s machines. By the following year, ASML was restricted from selling its most advanced extreme-ultraviolet lithography systems to Chinese clients. Instead of reversing that strategy, US president Joe Biden has expanded it, extending restrictions to ASML’s less advanced equipment. This year, the US stepped up pressure on the Dutch to stop ASML from even servicing tools it has already sold into China.

The Tech Industry is the New Defense Industrial Base

Bronte Munro

Developments in nascent technology areas, such as quantum computing, biotechnology, and Artificial Intelligence (AI), predominantly occur in the private sector, where there is a higher concentration of talent, capital, and competition to drive commercialization. The United States and its allies must better engage technology companies to consider dual-use applications from a commercial opportunity perspective and a national security imperative.

China has recognized the role of civilian research and commercial sectors in boosting military and defense capabilities. Through its strategy of military-civil fusion, China aims to ensure that it will have the most technologically advanced military in the world. The execution of this strategy includes China’s acquisition of, and heavy subsidies for, its own tech sector for state purposes. Critically for the United States, it also involves China attempting to harness global commercial capabilities through intellectual property (IP) theft and strategic adversarial investment in its private sector. This threatens the United States and allied leadership in bleeding-edge technologies.

The United States’ tech sector is feeling the effects of this. Discussion between industry and government at events held by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute at SXSW emphasized that national security-minded investors are unable to compete with the scale and speed of Chinese capital being thrown at early-stage dual-use start-ups in areas such as quantum computing, microelectronics, biotech, and AI.

The natural advantage the United States and its allies have over China’s military-civil fusion strategy is the private sector’s agility, innovation, and market viability compared to Chinese competitors. Silicon Valley’s success and the historically high fraction of global tech leadership in the United States are testaments to this. The United States must help nurture this advantage to accelerate commercial technology adoption to meet national security needs at speed and scale.

Industry Using AI to Enhance Space-Based Communications, Sensing

Allyson Park

With an increasing number of commercial satellites, military constellations and all their data flowing through space, government and industry operators said they are looking to artificial intelligence to help them to handle ever-more complex missions.

AI software is enabling users to change a spacecraft’s capabilities while in orbit, making the satellites less reliant on hardware.

“AI doesn’t exist without software,” Aslan Tricha, vice president of automation and orchestration at ALL.SPACE, a maker of satellite terminals for the military, said during a panel at the recent Satellite 2024 Conference and Exhibition in Washington, D.C. But the satellite industry has traditionally centered on hardware. “We build everything. It’s fixed. It’s kind of deployed as is, and it has to last 20 years,” he said.

Tricha said going forward, “we need to think about software and how those changes need to happen on the satellite.”

Since satellites are static and hardware-reliant, once they are launched into orbit, changes can generally not be made. That could change with AI-enabled spacecraft, he said.

“Learning patterns means learning a pattern of behavior. So, for example, if the requirement is changing because we have a higher demand — peak demand or different requirement — then AI is able to change the hardware architecture to fit the requirement,” he said.

The European Space Agency and Intel were the first to publicly acknowledge sending an AI-enabled satellite to space in September 2020. The PhiSat-1 — with an Earth-observation payload designed to monitor polar ice and soil moisture — had Intel’s Movidius Myriad 2 vision processing unit chip aboard, which was not originally designed for the rigors of space, according to an Intel press release.