11 June 2024

What Modi 3.0 Means for the World

MICHAEL KUGELMAN

Some time ago, India achieved the status of a middle power: a country with a deep global footprint and heavy strategic importance, but not strong enough to ascend to the upper echelon of world powers. The reelection of Prime Minister Narendra Modi positions India to begin a transition from a middle to a major power. But that shift won’t be easy.

Modi will begin his third term on June 8 with a smaller mandate, and he will need to rely on coalition partners, who agreed to back him on Wednesday, to govern. But less political space won’t have a major impact on foreign policy, because there’s broad multipartisan support for Modi’s longstanding priority of deepening India’s role—and power—on the global stage.

India has truly come into its own as a top international actor. It’s the world’s most populous country. It has the fifth-largest economy (growing at one of the world’s fastest rates). It boasts one of the most rapidly expanding tech sectors. And, following its lunar landing last year, it’s now a formal space power.

Feds send millions of taxpayer dollars to the Taliban

Casey Harper 

After two decades at war with the Taliban, the U.S. government is now sending millions of taxpayer dollars to the terrorist group.

The Taliban resumed power in Afghanistan immediately after the chaotic and deadly withdrawal of U.S. troops earlier in the Biden administration.

A new federal watchdog report shows that the U.S. government has sent at least $11 million to the Taliban since the 2021 withdrawal of U.S. troops. But experts and even the federal watchdog estimate the number is much higher.

"The U.S. government has continued to be the largest international donor supporting the Afghan people since the former Afghan government collapsed and the Taliban returned to power in August 2021," the federal watchdog, SIGAR, wrote in its report. "Since then, the U.S. government has provided more than $2.8 billion in humanitarian and development assistance to help the people of Afghanistan."

‘Short of war,’ China’s gray zone strategy on Taiwan is gathering in intensity - Opinion

Kevin Rudd

The central question for our time, if we are to avoid war across the Taiwan Strait, is to understand how Chinese President Xi Jinping actually interprets the deterrence strategies of the United States, Taiwan itself, and U.S. allies and strategic partners.

What strategy is China now embarking upon, short of preparation for an actual invasion, to achieve its political objectives in relation to Taiwan? And what is the role of deterrence in responding to such a strategy?

The key to understanding Beijing’s red line on Taiwan’s political status is China’s fear that Taiwan will become an independent state, and be recognized by the international community as such, thereby destroying the possibility of unification with the mainland.

This, in turn, is based on Beijing’s insistence that any political dialogue between Taiwan and the mainland must be based on the “1992 Consensus” — an ambiguous arrangement broadly based on the principle of “one China,” albeit with differing interpretations of what that means to each side.

What to Make of Biden’s Latest Promise to Defend Taiwan

Dean P. Chen

U.S. President Joe Biden has reiterated, on multiple different occasions, that his administration would respond militarily if Taiwan was attacked by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Biden publicly made that pledge on at least six occasions: August 2021, October 2021, May 2022, September 2022, and twice in May of this year, once at the commencement address of West Point and the other during an interview with TIME magazine.

“The U.S. is standing up for peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” the president said at West Point on May 25. He added pointedly, “I’ve always been willing to use force when required to protect our nation, our allies, our core interests.”

On May 28, when asked by the TIME interviewers to clarify his military defense statement of the democratic island, he replied: “It would depend on the circumstances. You know… I’ve made clear to [Chinese President] Xi Jinping that we agree with – we signed on to previous presidents going way back – to the policy of, that, it is we are not seeking independence for Taiwan nor will we, in fact, not defend Taiwan if they if, if China unilaterally tries to change the status. And so we’re continuing to supply capacity. And, and we’ve been in consultation with our allies in the region.”

Myanmar’s Civil War: A Golden Opportunity Tor US Sabotage Of China’s Interests – OpEd

Finian Cunningham

Myanmar’s civil war is in a critical phase where the ruling military government is losing significant territory to a broad coalition of insurgent armies. It is estimated that insurgents now control over half the area in the Southeast Asian country after nearly three years of conflict.

Washington views the conflict as an “unmissable opportunity” to topple the military rulers and restore an elected government. The real objective of the United States is not to support democratic politics in Myanmar or peace and stability, but rather to exploit the turmoil in the country as a way to contain China and undermine Beijing’s strategic interests.

In a set-piece interview with Time magazine published this week, President Joe Biden reiterated that Washington is pursuing a Cold War-style containment strategy against Russia and China. As the U.S.-led proxy war in Ukraine against Russia looks increasingly like a dead-end from the West’s perspective, one can expect Washington to up the ante by turning its focus more on hampering China as a geopolitical rival. In his Time interview, Biden provocatively talks about “defending Taiwan against a Chinese invasion”, and mobilization of other Asia-Pacific nations in a U.S.-led alliance to curb Beijing’s influence.

The Frail Foundations of the China-Russia Friendship

Vincent K. L. Chang

Even before Vladimir Putin arrived in Beijing last month to bolster Russia’s ‘no limits’ partnership with China, Western media had started to double down on the widely shared notion that the Ukraine war had only driven Beijing and Moscow closer together. Though not unfounded, such casual observations evince an incomplete understanding of geopolitical complexities and of Beijing’s strategic views and obscure subtle but important recent changes in the China–Russia partnership. For not only has the power of balance in this relationship shifted further in Beijing’s favor, but deep-seated defects in the relationship have also come to the fore. A look into the two countries’ evolving memory politics reveals how Beijing as the newly emerged senior partner pursues a notably different policy agenda than its now junior partner in Moscow.

May is a month replete with historical symbolism in Russia. On May 9, coinciding with his first day in office for a new six-year term as president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin oversaw a military parade in Moscow to mark the 79th anniversary of the victory of what is known in post-Soviet states as the Great Patriotic War of 1941–1945. In his address to the nation, as in previous years, he honored those fallen heroes and veterans of the former Soviet Union who freed Europe from Nazism and condemned attempts in the West to distort this historical ‘truth.’ Putin also reserved praise for the contributions of the other Allies but, contrary to last year when he expressly acknowledged the contributions of the United States and Great Britain, this time he singled out China and the courage of the Chinese people in resisting militarist Japan.

A New Cold War Needs Its Own Rules

Azeem Ibrahim

Memories of the Cold War against the Soviet Union are fading. Many balk at the idea of having a new cold war with China and at any prospect of returning to a world where the threat of imminent nuclear annihilation hangs overhead. Some critics think efforts to cut strategic goods from trade with China go too far.

Turkey-China look beyond Uyghurs toward BRI and BRICS

SCOTT FOSTER

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan’s three-day visit to China signaled improved diplomatic relations, upgraded bilateral trade and investment ties, and a significant step toward Turkey’s accession to the anti-Western BRICS bloc.

Fidan met with Foreign Minister Wang Yi and other senior Chinese government officials in Beijing from June 3-5.

He later stopped in the Xinjiang cities of Urumqi and Kashgar, where he proposed a solution to the ongoing Uyghur crisis. After a series of attacks, China has since 2017 held over one million Uyghurs in detention facilities Beijing refers to as “reeducation camps.”

Turkey is home to a large Uyghur population, many of whom have fled persecution in Xinjiang. The US and EU, meanwhile, have used the camps as a whipping boy issue to condemn China’s rights record and impose sanctions on businesses that use forced Uyghur labor.

China leg up on US for Cambodia’s military loyalty

RICHARD S EHRLICH

The US and China are taking turns wooing Cambodia’s West Point-educated prime minister with guns, money and friendship but the Chinese are scoring most of the rewards.

Just as Beijing’s biggest military exercise in Cambodia was ending, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Phnom Penh to offer military assistance and mend the often rough diplomatic relations between the two former wartime enemies.

Austin met Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Manet and Defense Minister Tea Seiha during his one-day stop on June 4, after attending a Singapore defense forum where he met his Chinese counterpart, Admiral Dong Jun.

Coincidentally, Hun Manet was the US Military Academy at West Point’s first Cambodian cadet in 1999, 24 years after Austin graduated from there in 1975.

That may have smoothed the way for their talks which likely included Beijing’s military advances in Cambodia amid the smoldering rivalry along the Gulf of Thailand, which is used by China’s Navy and the US 7th Fleet’s nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

China Is 'Aggressively Recruiting' Pilots from the US and NATO Countries, Intelligence Agencies Warn

Thomas Novelly

American intelligence agencies are warning that China is working hard to recruit American military pilots, as well as aviators from NATO and ally countries, as tensions continue to rise in the Pacific.

The warning about China's recruiting methods came in a bulletin published Wednesday by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, along with Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom -- countries that share intelligence with one another frequently.

"To overcome their shortcomings, China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) has been aggressively recruiting Western military talent to train their aviators, using private firms around the globe that conceal their PLA ties and offer recruits exorbitant salaries," Michael Casey, the director of ODNI's National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said in a statement. "Recent actions by Western governments have impacted these operations, but PLA recruitment efforts continue to evolve in response."

The US’s Grip On China In The Field Of AI Will Only Tighten Further – Analysis

Yang Xite

Since the beginning of the Donald Trump era, the United States has gradually increased its restrictions and blockades on China in the field of high technology, seeking to stem the development pace of the latter’s advanced technology and maintain its advantage. This approach has continued unchanged into the current Joe Biden era. The same is true for the field of artificial intelligence (AI). However, within the field of AI, the U.S. seems to also have a considerable degree of willingness to cooperate with China.

From last year to now, at various levels of exchanges between the American and the Chinese governments, the U.S. has consistently expressed its willingness to cooperate with China on the global AI regulatory framework. The most obvious example is that at the inaugural global AI Safety Summit in November last year, the Chinese delegation was officially invited to attend and deliver speeches. Considering the close relationship between the UK and the US, it is hard to imagine the attendance of the Chinese delegation without US consent. Recently, high-level officials from China and the US have engaged in a dialogue on artificial intelligence in Switzerland. Suddenly, China seems to have returned to the global stage in the field of AI. However, based on comprehensive analysis, researchers at the Anbound Think Tank believe that the technological cold war between China and the US will only continue and intensify, with no possibility of any real turnaround, especially in the field of AI.

Bloody Irony! Hezbollah Uses Israeli-Origin Missile To ‘Knock Out’ Iron Dome; Know About Almas ATGM

Sakshi Tiwari

Hezbollah claimed on June 5 that it struck an Iron Dome air defense system launcher near the Ramot Naftali, or what Hezbollah refers to as the “northern occupied Palestine.”

The claims were supported by a video from the group showing a guided missile hitting the launcher.

On June 6, social media was flooded with photos of a destroyed Iron Dome battery, along with information that it was obliterated by the Iran-origin Almas missile. This missile could have been supplied by Tehran to the Lebanon-based Hezbollah militia group.

In the photograph (below) that has been published on social media, the Iron Dome battery appears to have incurred significant damage. Several military bloggers, dedicated open source intelligence accounts on X, and war trackers confirmed that Hezbollah used the ‘Almas-3’ ATGM (Anti-Tank Guided Missile) to carry out the attack.

'New Containment' Strategy Is Doomed To Fail | Opinion

Carlos Roa

In recent years, the concept of "containment" has made a surprising comeback in U.S. foreign policy circles, with strategists proposing a "New Containment" strategy aimed at Russia and China. This idea, modeled after America's Cold War strategy, seeks to create a cordon sanitaire around these nations, using economic and military measures to limit their influence.

This approach, however, is fundamentally flawed, and risks not only failure but an exacerbation of global tensions. Indeed, as scholars Nicolai N. Petro and Arta Moeini argue, the current trajectory of the Russo-Ukrainian War highlights the dangers of underestimating Russia's willingness to defend its perceived vital interests, even at great cost to itself.

The original containment strategy, as conceived by George Kennan, was tailored to the unique geopolitical context of the Cold War. It aimed to limit Soviet expansion through a combination of military deterrence and economic incentives, focusing on areas of strategic importance while avoiding direct conflict. Kennan's approach was nuanced, recognizing the limitations of military power and emphasizing the need for political and ideological engagement.

Myths and Political Realities of the ‘Migration Wars’

Jose Miguel Alonso-Trabanco

Immigration is often portrayed as a grassroots phenomenon driven mostly by the spontaneous human agency of individuals in the pursuit of better opportunities and higher living standards. It is believed that the involvement of states in the governance structure of international migration should be limited so that formal migratory restrictions are either abolished or substantially diminished. Based on this logic, the opinions of NGOs, activists and companies that need either cheap unskilled labor or a qualified workforce matter more than what governmental authorities have to say. In today’s interconnected world, widespread immigration is a benign hallmark of globalization, a solution for the issue of manpower shortages and a source of cultural syncretism.

The idea that migrations are somehow apolitical is historically illiterate. For centuries, the proliferation of migratory waves has been symbiotically interwoven with conquests, wars, the organic conformation of national states, the development of international mercantile networks, the management of imperial bureaucracies, the diffusion of religious beliefs at gunpoint, expansionist ideological projects, the rise of distinctive collective identities and the exchange of populations. Throughout recorded history, intrepid migrants have left their mark as settlers, merchants, soldiers, statesmen, invaders, pioneers, innovators and frontiersmen. And in this age, this demographic phenomenon is indeed —for better or worse— a key vector of complex interdependence as a result of its sheer volume and dynamism.

A New Branch of the Armed Forces is Critical to Addressing Cyber Threats to America | Opinion

Pat Fallon

While there's no shortage of threats to our national security, it's the ability of our adversaries to affect Americans through cyberspace that has emerged as one of the most pressing concerns of the 21st century. The United States Armed Forces need a coherent solution to the looming threat of debilitating cyber attacks today and a path forward to leverage the field of cyber to our advantage on the battlefield of tomorrow.

As a former United States Air Force officer, I was taught the history of military aviation and specifically the era before the Air Force's establishment in 1947. Through the 1920s and 1930s, when the Army was largely charged with managing military aviation, its leaders (frequently non-aviators from the ground forces) downplayed, diminished, and underappreciated the revolutionary potential of air warfare. Collectively, the limited vision and poor understanding by Army leaders of the new domain led to the treatment of aviation as a mere support function to the Army's ground formations. After the Army's repeated aviation-related missteps in WWII, the full promise of air power was finally realized, leading to the independent U.S. Air Force we have today.

Critical Minerals Projections


The Global Critical Minerals Outlook 2024, the second annual review from the International Energy Agency, offers medium- and long-term projections for lithium, cobalt, nickel, copper and graphite. Despite volatile prices, demand for these minerals will keep rising. In the conservative IEA scenario, clean energy will double mineral demand in six years. Lithium demand is mainly driven by clean energy, while other minerals have diverse applications.

This scenario could lead to geopolitical conflict. Countries are starting to diversify supply chains, competing for suppliers and refiners, particularly to reduce reliance on China. The IEA estimates $590 billion in new capital investments are needed to meet future demand. However, financial backing is scarce due to high input costs and uncertain long-term pricing. Government intervention might incentivize projects, but approaches vary. Democratic governments tend to be more hands-off than authoritarian ones.

US National Security Experts Warn AI Giants Aren’t Doing Enough to Protect Their Secrets

PARESH DAVE

Last year, the White House struck a landmark safety deal with AI developers that saw companies including Google and OpenAI promise to consider what could go wrong when they create software like that behind ChatGPT. Now a former domestic policy adviser to President Biden who helped forge that deal says that AI developers need to step up on another front: protecting their secret formulas from China.

“Because they are behind, they are going to want to take advantage of what we have,” said Susan Rice regarding China. She left the White House last year and spoke on Wednesday during a panel about AI and geopolitics at an event hosted by Stanford University’s Institute for Human-Centered AI. “Whether it’s through purchasing and modifying our best open source models, or stealing our best secrets. We really do need to look at this whole spectrum of how do we stay ahead, and I worry that on the security side, we are lagging.”

The concerns raised by Rice, who was formerly President Obama's national security adviser, are not hypothetical. In March the US Justice Department announced charges against a former Google software engineer for allegedly stealing trade secrets related to the company’s TPU AI chips and planning to use them in China.

Clausewitz, Theory, and Ending the Ukraine War

Donald Stoker, Michael W. Campbell -

Introduction

Perhaps the greatest weakness in strategic thinking and the relative literature is planning how to end a war, particularly before launching it. In some respects, this nearly universal historical failure is understandable. The overwhelming pressure of fighting a war often inhibits nations from seriously considering how to end it.[i] Clausewitz noted the importance of this issue, especially when a war is becoming increasingly bloody. The last sentence here is key:

Theory, therefore, demands that at the outset of a war its character and scope should be determined on the basis of the political probabilities. The closer these political probabilities drive war toward the absolute, the more the belligerent states are involved and drawn in to its vortex, the clearer appear the connections between its separate actions, and the more imperative the need not to take the first step without considering the last.[ii]

But what would Clausewitz, and some additional theories, say about this most complicated of tasks: ending a war, particularly the war in Ukraine?

Ukraine Military Situation: Russian Drones, Glide Bombs And Missiles Wreak Destruction On Kharkiv – Analysis

Can Kasapo─člu

Battlefield Assessment

This week, Russia’s offensive continued to focus on eastern and northeastern Ukraine. Russian combat formations pummeled the Kharkiv front and the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and mounted a smaller attack in southern Ukraine. In Donetsk and Luhansk, positional fighting persisted. Moscow achieved marginal territorial gains around important contested towns such as Chasiv Yar and areas adjacent to Avdiivka, a city already occupied by Russian forces.

Open-source intelligence indicates that Russian and Ukrainian drones have saturated the airspace over Kharkiv, constantly tracking the city and its surrounding environs. Reports suggest that Ukraine’s drone presence is pushing Russian troops to adopt alternative concepts of operations (CONOPS) using smaller armored vehicles, motorcycles, and all-terrain vehicles rather than bulkier main battle tanks supporting large combat formations. This adjustment is slowing Russia’s offensive by dispersing its troop concentrations and reducing its effectiveness in mechanized warfare.

Yet Russia is sending waves of glide bombs and missiles to wreak destruction on Kharkiv. While Russia’s strikes have produced only incremental advances and minimal territorial changes, these salvos often hit the city’s civilian population, in an echo of the Kremlin’s massacres in the restive Chechnya during the 1990s.

Interview – Myriam Dunn Cavelty


Where do you see the most exciting research/debates happening in your field?

Two distinct yet interconnected trends are particularly noteworthy in the field of cyber security research. Firstly, there is a surge of interest in integrating critical approaches from security studies into cyber security studies. This includes feminist perspectives, post-colonial lenses, innovative attempts to queer cyber security, and the application of Science and Technology Studies (STS) perspectives. In line with this, the use of ethnographic methodologies to study cyber security practices is unravelling some of the black boxes and myths surrounding the topic. The positive aspect of these developments is that these approaches, which focus on deconstructing traditional power structures, norms, and assumptions, help to make cyber security more accessible by lowering the perceived barriers to entry. I think this research shows that you do not need specialized technical knowledge to make important contributions.

Secondly, there is a compelling focus on scrutinizing the limits of cyber operations in a different segment of the field. In many ways, this continues work that criticized the “hype” around cyberspace and its game changing nature for national security in the 2000s. However, this time the critique is not from a securitization or discursive angle but more from a technological-material perspective, where the functioning of computing machines is at the centre of thought. Insights from the technically-oriented threat intelligence community have significantly enriched this understanding, fostering a more holistic comprehension of the evolving cyber conflict landscape. Overall, the convergence of diverse forms of knowledge facilitates interdisciplinary collaborations and paves the way for transdisciplinary explorations, which I believe are the future of cyber security research in many ways.

Artificial Influence: Exploring AI’s Impact on Political and Social Realities

CHRISTOPHER FRIEND

The spread of disinformation campaigns challenges the integrity of public discourse, democratic processes, and social harmony. These campaigns, designed to mislead, manipulate, and sow discord, are increasingly using artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance their effectiveness and reach.[1] The involvement of AI in disinformation campaigns marks a significant evolution from traditional disinformation campaigns, offering new levels of scalability, customization, and sophistication with lower barriers to entry. Amid the increasing proliferation of AI in asymmetric warfare, election interference, character assassinations, and more, understanding the role of AI in disinformation campaigns is a serious matter of national security.[2] By reviewing the technical underpinnings of AI-driven disinformation campaigns, we can begin to understand the mechanics of these campaigns, recognize their signs, and develop strategies to counteract their influence. This exploration is crucial for developing defenses against the manipulation of the information environment and safeguarding the foundational principles of an open society. 

This paper will provide a basic examination of AI usage in disinformation campaigns, with an emphasis on the mechanisms that facilitate the generation and dissemination of misleading content. These mechanisms include technologies such as natural language processing, deepfakes, and algorithmic content targeting. Following the technical overview, this paper will present a series of plausible and real-world case studies to illustrate the practical application of AI in spreading disinformation across various platforms and contexts. The paper will conclude with policy challenges and opportunities to combat AI-enabled disinformation campaigns.

OpenAI models used in nation-state influence campaigns, company says

James Reddick

Threat actors linked to the governments of Russia, China and Iran used OpenAI’s tools for influence operations, the company said Thursday.

In its first report on the abuse of its models, OpenAI said that over the last three months it had disrupted five campaigns carrying out influence operations.

The groups used the company’s tools to generate a variety of content — usually text, with some photos — including articles and social media posts, and to debug code and analyze social media activity. Multiple groups used the service to create phony engagement by replying to artificial content with fake comments.

“All of these operations used AI to some degree, but none used it exclusively,” the company said. “Instead, AI-generated material was just one of many types of content they posted, alongside more traditional formats, such as manually written texts, or memes copied from across the internet.”

As Huawei looks towards more advanced semiconductors, speculation swirls on how far it can push existing chip-making gear

Che Pan

Speculation is swirling about how far US-sanctioned Huawei Technologies can push its latest chip-making techniques to keep up with the cutting-edge designs enabled by the extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) machines it is unable to use, 10 months after shocking the world with a 7-nanometre-grade processor.

The Shenzhen-based telecommunications equipment giant has kept its cards close to its chest regarding its chip-making capabilities together with Semiconductor International Manufacturing Corp (SMIC). The company has never confirmed how it made the chip that powered its Mate 60 Pro last year, but the company is now turning towards a technique called self-aligned quadruple patterning (SAQP) that could help it advance even further.

Questions are now being raised about just how far that process, which relies on existing chip-making equipment in China, can be pushed while Huawei tries to cool speculation.

Why Would Anyone Want to Run the World?

John Lewis Gaddis

Netflix viewers got an introduction, this spring, to a famous physics experiment: the three-body problem. A magnetized pendulum suspended above two fixed magnets will swing between them predictably. A third magnet, however, randomizes the motion, not because the laws of physics have been repealed, but because the forces involved are too intricate to measure. The only way to “model” them is to relate their history. That’s what Netflix did in dramatizing the Chinese writer Liu Cixin’s science-fiction classic, The Three-Body Problem: a planet light years from earth falls within the gravitational attraction of three suns. It’s no spoiler to say that the results, for earth, are not auspicious.

Sergey Radchenko, a historian at Johns Hopkins University, comes from the East Asian island of Sakhalin, a good place from which to detect geopolitical gravitations. His first book bore the appropriate title Two Suns in the Heavens: The Sino-Soviet Struggle for Supremacy, 1962–1967. His second, Unwanted Visionaries: The Soviet Failure in Asia at the End of the Cold War, extended his analysis through the 1980s. Now, with To Run the World: The Kremlin’s Cold War Bid for Global Power, Radchenko seeks to refocus recent scholarship, which has sought to “decenter” the history of that conflict, back on the superpowers for which it was originally known.

Transcript: Securing Cyberspace


MS. WATFORD: Hello and welcome. I’m Suzi Watford, and I’m the new chief strategy officer here at The Post.

As our world becomes more digitized, the significance of protecting our systems, networks, and programs from cyberattacks cannot be overstated. Cybersecurity is critical in safeguarding our economic vitality, national security, and of course, everyday life. Recent ransomware attacks on the U.S. health care system that potentially put lives at risk underscores the stakes of the issue. The various motivations for cyber disruption have expanded and geopolitics has become an increasingly more important part of the equation.

So first up today, we have a conversation with Kemba Walden, former acting U.S. National Cyber Director. Intelligence and national security reporter Shane Harris will talk to her about the recent cyberattacks on the healthcare system.

Then we have America's first cyber diplomat. Nathaniel Fick will sit down with David Ignatius to discuss the State Department's new cyber strategy and why he has said foreign policy is tech policy.