19 June 2024

Ladakh’s 2024 Election Verdict: Implications for India’s Domestic and Foreign Policy

Stanzin Lhaskyabs

The parliamentary election in India’s strategic region of Ladakh on June 4, 2024, was a major disappointment for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which had held the seat in the region for the past decade. Instead, independent candidate Mohmad Haneefa (48.2 percent of the vote) won by a massive margin of over 20 points, easily besting second-place finisher Tsering Namgyal of the Indian National Congress (27.6 percent) and more than doubling the vote share of the BJP’s Tashi Gyalson (23.6 percent).

Haneefa’s landslide victory marked a crucial turn in the political landscape of Ladakh.

His historic win comes at a time when the region faces significant internal and external challenges. Internally, Ladakh has been protesting for constitutional safeguards since it was separated from the former state of Jammu and Kashmir 2019. Externally, it faces a looming threat from the unresolved China-India border dispute that escalated in the Galwan Valley in 2020, making it one of India’s most vulnerable and geopolitically significant border regions.

What Will Modi 3.0 Mean for China-India Relations?

Scott N. Romaniuk and Khandakar Tahmid Rezwan

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s small margin of victory in the 2024 general elections crushed his hopes for sweeping National Democratic Alliance (NDA) dominance. There was never a question in this election about Modi’s ability to win a third term. Rather, it was about the magnitude and extent of his victory.

While there has been much debate about the domestic political implications of the election results, there has been less reflection of what a third term for Modi – newly reliant on his coalition to maintain power – means for China-India relations. Despite Modi’s disappointed expectations, his foreign policy objectives are unlikely to deviate from their previous trajectory. We examine several significant factors that will continue to influence Sino-Indian relations in light of Modi’s narrow win.

Partners and Rivals

India explicitly acknowledges that Beijing remains a formidable adversary – one of two major geopolitical rivals in the region. Compared to Pakistan, China is a stronger, if not the most significant, rival to India’s long-standing sphere of influence in terms of diplomacy, politics, and strategic superiority.

Taiwan must prepare for cyber, financial attacks by China

HANK HUANG, HONDA CHEN, AND JOHN WHITLEY,

As China conducts military exercises around Taiwan, it is important not to forget about less visible methods of attack.

In addition to military threats, Taiwan must prepare for the risk of electronic and financial attacks. Indeed, the weaponization of cyber and finance has already occurred.

Russia used cyberattacks to gain an advantage during its invasion of Georgia in 2008. The Russians expanded the scale of attacks before invading Ukraine. For example, they first launched cyberattacks against Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense and its banks, and then sent false text messages to Ukrainians claiming that ATMs were out of cash. The intention was to create bank runs and social unrest, and to undermine public confidence in financial institutions and the government.

Before the formal invasion, the scope of the attack was expanded to all of Europe. In the opening days of the invasion, key infrastructure such as networks, government data centers, and power grids became the main targets of missile strikes. Russia also used Wiper malware to destroy Ukraine’s official websites and infrastructure.

Chinese Leadership’s In-House Lecture Offers Valuable Insights into China’s AI Strategy

Lizzi C. Lee

On April 26, Professor Sun Ninghui, a preeminent expert in computer system architecture and an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, delivered a pivotal lecture titled “The Development of Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Computing” to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. Despite limited coverage from Chinese media, the full text of the speech, published online, provided a rare and revealing look into Beijing’s AI ambitions.

Born in 1968 in Shanghai, Sun Ninghui has been a linchpin in China’s technological landscape. His career includes directing the National Intelligent Computer Research and Development Center and serving as the dean of the School of Computer Science and Technology at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Sun’s lecture was more than an academic exercise; it was a strategic blueprint of China’s AI ambitions and anxieties. He highlighted AI’s dual-edged nature, pointing out its potential for remarkable technological advancements while also spotlighting the security risks, particularly regarding politically sensitive information. AI-generated deepfakes, fraudulent news from tools like ChatGPT, and the proliferation of fake news sites underscore AI’s potential to erode social trust. For Beijing, these are not mere technical glitches but strategic vulnerabilities the leadership is keen to neutralize.

Are we sure China views sea power the same way the West does?

Cmdr. Douglas Robb and Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Ward

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy now includes multiple warship classes, fifth-generation fighters and an expanding submarine force. These means — combined with, in the words of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command leader Adm. Samuel Paparo, illegal, coercive, aggressive and deceptive maritime gray zone activities — seemingly imply that China’s strategic ends are self-evident.

However, on closer examination, strategists are right to ask if the U.S. — or more broadly the West — understands the extent to which China values sea power as an enabler for grand strategy. Are we mirroring or projecting our reasonable and rational expectations onto Beijing?

The problem with mirroring is that it catalyzes policies aimed at eliciting certain behaviors on the assumption that two actors think alike. Such mirroring can be the product of institutionalization or a lack of imagination, something that took Western naval analysts decades to discern during the Cold War. Even referring to China as the United States’ strategic “pacing challenge” implies an element of mirroring by benchmarking one against the other.

Rich countries unite against China ... sort of

ADAM CANCRYN and DOUG PALMER

President Joe Biden and fellow G7 leaders agree that China poses a grave threat to their economies.

But behind the group’s collective bravado on “getting tough” with China, the countries still have varying appetites for how far to actually go in challenging a world superpower — differences that some officials worry could dent the coalition’s ability to fend off Beijing’s advances.

The G7 on Friday will try to paper over those lingering divides, coalescing behind a series of initiatives aimed at ratcheting up attention on China’s trade and investment in developing countries around the globe.

That comes after the U.S. has sought to apply maximum pressure on the Chinese in recent years, hitting Beijing with heavy tariffs and accusing it of unfair trade practices. While Europe harbors its own deep concerns about China’s expanding power, it has taken a more cautious approach, tempered by concerns about its own vulnerability to economic retaliation. The disparity threatens to hamper the goal of forming a united front so strong that China has little choice but to back down.

China Expert Says There’s ‘No Evidence’ PRC On a High-End War Footing

David Roza

While China’s military is modernizing and growing its capabilities, a leading expert said he sees no evidence that the country is on a high-end war footing or heading towards one, though the situation is much different in the low-intensity space of cyber operations and economic and political interference.

“There is ample evidence that China’s military is enhancing its preparedness, but little evidence that the national leadership intends to fight a war anytime soon,” Timothy R. Heath, senior international defense researcher at the RAND Corporation, wrote in testimony for a June 13 hearing of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

Heath made a distinction between military preparedness and national war preparation. The former involves buying and developing new weapons and equipment, recruiting and training troops, and other activities to make sure a military can carry out its missions.

The U.S. Invasion of Iraq: Strategic Analysis and Consequences

Monte Erfourth

INTRODUCTION

The U.S. invasion of Iraq, commencing on March 20, 2003, marked a significant chapter in modern geopolitical history. The G.W. Bush Administration claimed it as an act of preemption driven by three strategic objectives: disarming Iraq of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), overthrowing Saddam Hussein's regime, and establishing a democratic government. What resulted was widespread military conflict, political turmoil, and enduring regional instability. This short essay delves into the strategic successes and failures of the U.S. in Iraq, from the decision to invade and de-Baathification to the U.S. withdrawal in 2011 and the return of U.S. forces in 2014 to combat ISIS.

THE DECISION TO INVADE

The decision to invade Iraq in 2003 was heavily influenced by groupthink, where policymakers in Washington exhibited a lack of critical debate and a consensus driven by shared misconceptions.[1] This environment stifled dissent and alternative viewpoints, leading to an overestimation of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein and an underestimation of the complexities of Iraqi society. Policymakers failed to appreciate the deep-seated historical and religious dynamics in Iraq, such as the significance of Shia Islam and Iran's longstanding influence in the region. The pervasive belief that Iraqis would greet American forces as liberators further skewed strategic planning.

How to Solve the World’s Refugee Crisis

Ravi Agrawal

On June 10, a boat carrying 260 Somali and Ethiopian refugees capsized off the coast of Yemen, killing dozens. The number of dead will almost certainly rise. It’s a tragic and underreported event that is part of a larger trend: According to a new report from the U.N.’s refugee agency, UNHCR, more than 7,600 people died or are missing after attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea over the last three years.

From USSR Propaganda to Modern Russian Information Warfare: Racial Issues Now and Then


In the 1930s, the Soviet Union promoted the concept of “Southern Autonomous State,” an independent state in the South of the United States. As part of this effort, the Soviet Regime invited influential Black figures like Claude McKay and Lovett Fort-Whiteman to visit Moscow to experience “racial harmony” and convince them to join the communist movement. Albeit short-lived, Soviet influence led to the American Communist Party receiving an increase in African American membership in the 1930s.

While the “Southern Autonomous State” campaign was confined to the 1930s, modern-day Russia has revived aspects of this disinformation playbook by exploiting U.S. racial divisions. Most notably, during the 2016 U.S. election interference campaign, Moscow leveraged Black Lives Matter protests to amplify division in U.S. society, sow discord, and discredit American moral superiority using “whataboutism” rhetoric. By exploiting racial tensions and vulnerabilities in U.S. society, both the Soviet Union and Russia have sought to undermine U.S. democratic values.

Racial Issues in Soviet Propaganda

Throughout the Cold War, the Soviet Union highlighted racial injustice in the United States, seeking to undermine U.S. moral authority on the global stage, illustrate the prevalence of communism over capitalism, and discredit democratic values. For example, in the “Southern Autonomous State” campaign, Russia used posters and cartoons to advocate for the establishment of a “Southern Autonomous State” to save “innocent young negroes” from the “American bourgeoisie.”

Gen Z Palestinians See Door Slamming Shut on Coexistence With Israel

Omar Abdel-Baqui

Mahmoud Kilani first tasted life in Israel when he sneaked through a hole in the wall confining Palestinians in the West Bank so he could meet a young woman he encountered online.

Soon, the 22-year-old Palestinian skateboarding enthusiast had an Israeli work permit and spent months in the Mediterranean city of Haifa, working in bars and restaurants, learning Hebrew and making Israeli friends.

Before then, the only Israelis he ever encountered were soldiers or settlers in tense interactions around his home city of Nablus. “The concept of having Israeli friends—there was none of that in Nablus,” he said.

Mahmoud Kilani, 22, has been mostly confined to his hometown of Nablus, as Israeli military activity and movement restrictions on Palestinians prevent him from traveling freely around the West Bank—including to skate parks.

Rare criticism of Hamas emerges from within Gaza amid ceasefire talks


In a rare and candid reproach from within Gaza, some Palestinians are voicing criticism against Hamas for failing to bring an end to the war with Israel, which has devastated their lives since the conflict erupted on October 7.

Hamas has “led the Palestinian people into a war of annihilation,” said Umm Ala, 67, who has been displaced twice during more than eight months of war between Hamas and Israel. “

If the Hamas leaders were interested in ending this war and ending the suffering of the Palestinian people, they would have agreed [to a deal]," added Umm Ala, now seeking refuge in Khan Younis, the main city in the southern Gaza Strip.

Apart from a one-week truce in November, during which over 105 civilian hostages were released from captivity in Gaza and 240 Palestinian security prisoners were freed from Israeli jails, several attempts at forging a new ceasefire have failed. Mediators from the United States, Egypt, and Qatar are currently engaged in negotiations with Israel and Hamas to finalize a hostage release and ceasefire deal.

The Sorrows Of Empire – OpEd

Thomas Harrington

Metaphors And Historical Understanding

There is no such thing as fully objective history, and that’s for a simple reason. History is generated in narrative form, and the creation of every narrative—as Hayden White made clear four decades ago—necessarily involves the selection and discarding, as well the foregrounding and relative camouflaging, of items within the panoply of “facts” at the disposal of the historian.

Moreover, when it comes to constructing these narratives, all who chronicle the past are, whether they are aware of it or not, limited to a great extent by the repertoire of verbal cliches and conceptual metaphors that have been bequeathed to them by the elite institutions of the cultural system in which they live and work.

Ukraine Military Situation: Russia Registering Incremental Gains On Several Fronts – Analysis

Can Kasapo─člu

Battlefield Assessment

Russia made incremental gains across multiple fronts this week. In east and northeast Ukraine, the Kremlin’s forces launched an increased number of aerial and ground attacks in multiple areas, such as Pokrovsk and Kramatorsk. Positional clashes also continued along several flashpoints, including Kupiansk, Nevske, and the wider Bakhmut area. Mounting skirmishes were particularly intense in Siversk, according to the Ukrainian General Staff. Satellite imagery and open-source intelligence illustrate howdelays and restrictions in Western military aid have been costly for Ukraine, especially in Kharkiv.

In several engagements, the Ukrainian military successfully employed mini drones against the Russian military’s heavy armor, but could not halt the Kremlin’s advances. In the south, Ukraine has managed to put constant pressure on Crimea with its Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS). In a recent strike, Ukrainian missile forces destroyed Russian S-300 and S-400 batteries in occupied Crimea.

The Eclipse of the Russian Arms Market

Benjamin Tkach & Vasabjit Banerjee

Scholars and commentators have published numerous analyses of the 2023 Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reports on defense expenditures and imports and exports for countries across the world. Overall, the top five weapons exporters remain the same: the United States, France, Russia, China, and Germany. However, the data showcases a subtle but important shift: Russia’s international share of arms exports is being challenged by France, China, and South Korea. In fact, Russia lost its status as the number two arms exporter for the first time in decades.

Cracks in Russia’s defense industrial base have emerged. Despite improvements in Russian munitions production and its outpacing of U.S. and European production by a three-to-one ratio, Russian production fails to meet demands. Russia’s increase in production, coupled with the delivery of tanks and armored vehicles, is simultaneously a testament to the mobilization of its industrial base and an indication of its weakness. A recent RUSI report shows that 80 percent of the tanks and armored fighting vehicles Russia delivered are just refurbished or modernized old equipment.

Production issues caused Russia to suspend its deliveries to India, which is historically Russia’s largest client by value. Despite a steady decline in Russian imports starting in the mid-2010s, India still relies heavily on Russian kits. Russia delayed the delivery of small arms for the Indian Army, the S400 Triomf Surface-to-Air Missile System, and two Krivak-V Class Missile Frigates to the Indian Navy. As similar reports on the inability to deliver arms emerge, such as Armenia’s 2023 claim that Russia failed to complete multiple contracts, it will only further undermine the perception of Russian industrial reliability.

Russia Now Uses Submarines to Patrol Black Sea Following Naval Losses: Report

JOE SABALLA

Russia’s naval fleet has reportedly suffered tremendous losses in Ukraine and now resorts to submarines to continue patrolling the Black Sea.

Speaking on national television, Kyiv’s Southern Defense Forces spokesperson Dmytro Pletenchuk said the invading forces have recently begun a practice where their submarines rotate in the morning.

“In the Azov-Black Sea region, they have four submarines, three of which are cruise missile carriers. Two submarines periodically go to sea,” he disclosed.

This comes as the Ukrainian military claimed to have destroyed 30 percent of Moscow’s Black Sea fleet by the end of 2023.

Earlier this year, Kyiv’s Magura V5 naval drones struck four Russian patrol boats in Crimea, completely destroying two and damaging the other two.

Force Design 2030: Operational Incompetence

Walter Boomer & James Conway

The United States Marine Corps is no longer capable of effectively conducting combat operations across the spectrum of conflict. Who is responsible? Over the past five years, some Marine Corps senior leaders have myopically reorganized and restructured Marine forces to perform regional small unit operations focused on a single enemy. The results of these efforts have become clear: the Marine Corps’ ability to project force “in every clime and place” to maintain global deterrence and to fight and win the Nation’s battles has been compromised.

Today, the Marine Corps is hard pressed to field a robust and resilient combined arms Marine Expeditionary Brigade (brigadier general level command) and unable to field a Marine Expeditionary Force (lieutenant general level command), such as those that fought in Operations Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom. As a result, the Marine Corps can no longer support those combatant commander requirements that call for major combined arms forces to engage in mid-to-high intensity sustained ground combat.

How did this happen? A flawed operational concept termed Force Design 2030 eliminated Marine Corps capabilities to maintain forces forward in global hotspots and fight and win across the warfighting spectrum should deterrence fail. But one needs to look deeper to truly understand the genesis of this destruction.

For Hamas, Everything Is Going According to Plan

Hussein Ibish

The leaders of both Israel and Hamas seem content for the war in Gaza to grind on into the indefinite future. Such is the upshot of their ambiguous, but essentially negative, responses to President Joe Biden’s peace proposal, which is now fully backed by the United Nations Security Council. And the reasons are obvious.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seems to have concluded that the best way to stay out of prison on corruption charges is to stay in office, and the best way to do that is to keep the war going. Hamas, meanwhile, believes that it is winning. On October 13, I wrote in these pages that Hamas had set a trap for Israel. The trap has sprung; Israel is fully enmeshed in it, with no evident way out, and Hamas is getting exactly what it hoped for.

Biden’s three-phase proposal was meant to end the war and establish an unspecified postconflict reality in Gaza. Phase 1 involves a 42-day cease-fire and the release of hostages held by Hamas and prisoners held by Israel, as well as negotiations for a complete end to the fighting. Phase 2 includes, as its centerpiece, a permanent cessation of hostilities. According to Biden’s plan, if the talks at the end of Phase 1 don’t produce a clear understanding of how to implement Phase 2, negotiations would then continue for as long as both parties abide by their Phase 1 commitments. The trouble is that this would, in effect, indefinitely freeze the war at its current stage.

NATO’s Missing Pillar

Mathieu Droin, Sean Monaghan, and Jim Townsend

As war rages in Ukraine and the U.S. presidential campaign heats up, NATO leaders are grappling with how to prepare the alliance for all possible outcomes. The German and Danish defense ministers have warned that Russia could attack NATO allies “within five years.” Conflict could come sooner if Russia achieves a breakthrough on the battlefield in Ukraine. And by the end of the year, former U.S. President Donald Trump, who has urged Russian leaders to “do whatever the hell they want” to NATO members who “don’t pay up,” referring to the alliance’s spending target, could be

Why Is Russia’s Economy Still Growing?

Cameron Abadi

The United States and G-7 announced a slate of new economic punishments against Russia, adding to existing imposed sanctions in response to the invasion of Ukraine. Yet despite it all, the Russian economy is expected to grow this year at a rate of 3.2 percent, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF)—compared to the 2.7 percent growth forecast for the United States. Russia’s relative economic success comes seemingly as the result of a decision to orient the Russian economy toward supporting the military—an intertwining that could intensify under Russia’s new defense minister, and economic intellectual, Andrei Belousov.


New Study Offers A Better Way To Make AI Fairer For Everyone


In a new paper, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and Stevens Institute of Technology show a new way of thinking about the fair impacts of AI decisions.

They draw on a well-established tradition known as social welfare optimization, which aims to make decisions fairer by focusing on the overall benefits and harms to individuals. This method can be used to evaluate the industry standard assessment tools for AI fairness, which look at approval rates across protected groups.

“In assessing fairness, the AI community tries to ensure equitable treatment for groups that differ in economic level, race, ethnic background, gender, and other categories,” explained John Hooker, professor of operations research at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon, who coauthored the study and presented the paper at the International Conference on the Integration of Constraint Programming, Artificial Intelligence, and Operations Research (CPAIOR) on May 29 in Uppsala, Sweden. The paper received the Best Paper Award.

Imagine a situation where an AI system decides who gets approved for a mortgage or who gets a job interview. Traditional fairness methods might only ensure that the same percentage of people from different groups get approved.

Microsoft Admits Security Failings Allowed China to Access US Government Emails

James Coker

Microsoft President Brad Smith had admitted security failings by the firm in enabling Chinese state hackers access the emails of US government officials in the summer of 2023.

In testimony at Congress to members of the US House Committee on Homeland Security on June 13, 2024, Smith said the tech giant accepts responsibility for all the issues cited in a Cyber Safety Review Board (CSRB) report “without equivocation or hesitation.”

The CSRB report, published in April 2024, blamed Microsoft for a “cascade of security failures” that enabled Chinese threat actor Storm-0558 to access the email accounts of 25 organizations, including US government officials.

To launch the espionage attack, Storm-0558 forged authentication tokens using an acquired Microsoft encryption key, which, when combined with another flaw in Microsoft’s authentication system, allowed them to gain full access to essentially any Exchange Online account anywhere in the world.

For AI national security, improve but don’t isolate cyber infrastructure

MATTHEW MITTLESTEADT

Perhaps the most powerful undercurrent to Washington’s drive to adjust to AI are fears of China’s powerful AI sector.

Increasingly, Congress’ energy is directed towards AI export controls — specifically through the House’s bipartisan ENFORCE Act. Introduced in May, it would grant the Department of Commerce authority to control exports of AI system software, on top of preexisting control over AI hardware.

National security fears are spurring the conversation, with cybersecurity receiving specific attention. Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Raja Krishnamoorthi said: “Without action, there is a grave possibility that a future cyberattack on the American homeland could be enabled by AI technologies.”

While I share these concerns, the proposal might inadvertently bind domestic and international security workers and undermine comprehensive cyber defense efforts.

The Baltic (R)evolution in Military Affairs

Justina Budginaite-Froehly

During the past 20 years of their NATO membership, the Baltic states achieved a multi-faceted transformation in their strategic posture establishment, military capability development, and level of interdependence with their NATO allies. Once inexperienced newcomers, the so-called “one-issue” countries (referring to their focus on Russia as a strategic challenger to NATO) with no clear role in the alliance and doomed to have an “indefensible” territory, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia have gradually turned into an exemplary NATO region demonstrating a deep understanding of regional security issues and making practical steps towards better preparedness, including proving their defensibility in practice. The Baltic states made substantial progress in cyber and energy security, strategic communication, defense spending, and military capability development. These achievements in the Baltic states’ military affairs serve as an example for other NATO member states often lacking the ambition to do and spend more on their security and defense. They demonstrate how to turn vulnerabilities and limited resources into chances and innovative solutions.

Could Population Crises Hurt Asian Military Powers?

Micah McCartney

Plummeting fertility rates in East Asia have raised questions about the region's military powers' ability to sustain their ranks in the coming years.

This has prompted China, Japan and South Korea to adjust recruitment standards, despite substantial funding and policy initiatives aimed at reversing the trend. But some experts argue technology will blunt the demographic shift.

East Asia has the lowest fertility rate globally, with China at 1.0, Japan at 1.2 and South Korea at 0.72 children per woman. Japan is also a "super aged" society, with China and South Korea hot on its heels.

South Korea, which mandates 18 months of military service for able-bodied men, maintains an active-duty force of about half a million soldiers. But considering its fertility rate, the world's lowest, some experts say this could pose a long-term problem. "The future is predetermined. Downsizing of the force will be inevitable," Choi Byung-ook, national security professor at Sangmyung University, told CNN in December.

Former South Korean President Moon Jae-in's administration reduced the mandatory military service period to 18 months, and recently there have been debates on potentially extending conscription to women.