23 June 2024

The J-20 Challenge: Can India Bridge the Fighter Jet Gap With China?

Karan Sharma

Recent developments have highlighted a growing strategic concern for India as China has deployed its Chengdu J-20, a fifth-generation twin-engine stealth fighter, in Shigatse, a strategic airbase in Tibet with close proximity to the eastern sector of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) the de facto and highly contested border between China and India. This stealthy air superiority fighter, designed with precision strike capabilities, represents a significant advancement in the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). With the J-20’s increasing presence near the LAC, India faces a new set of challenges that require a comprehensive reassessment of its aerial defense capabilities and strategic planning.

The Rise of the J-20: China’s Stealth Powerhouse

The J-20 program has progressed at an impressive rate since its inception, resulting in the production of approximately 250 aircraft, with over 200 currently in active service. The J-20 series includes three main variants: the initial production model J-20, the thrust-vectoring J-20A, and the twin-seat J-20S. The latter two remain in development, although the J-20A may soon be entering the early production phase.

Production rates have increased from 30 to 100 aircraft per year, and conservative estimates suggest that the PLAAF’s J-20 fleet could surpass 800 aircraft by 2030. This would potentially outnumber the entire fighter jet fleet of the Indian Air Force (IAF), posing a significant strategic challenge.

Terrorist Attack at Reasi Sets Alarm Bells Ringing in India’s Security Establishment

Sudha Ramachandran

Last week was a bloody one in Jammu and Kashmir. Between June 9 and 12, militants carried out four attacks in the union territory’s Jammu region, three of them in a span of 24 hours.

A fifth attack happened in Bandipora in the Kashmir region on June 17.

The serial bloodletting began in Reasi district on June 9, when terrorists opened fire on a bus carrying Hindu pilgrims to the Vaishno Devi shrine. The driver lost control of the bus, causing it to veer off the road and plunge into a gorge. Nine people were killed and 33 others injured.

The attack in Reasi happened at around 6:15 p.m., less than an hour before Prime Minister Narendra Modi was sworn in for a third consecutive term in New Delhi.

Three attacks followed in quick succession on June 11-12. One was at a village in Kathua near the International Border between India and Pakistan. Two militants and a Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed in the gunfight that followed. There were two separate attacks on checkpoints at Gandoh and Chattergala in Doda district resulting in injury to seven security personnel.

‘I warned the CIA about Afghanistan’s collapse — and was ignored’ Biden only enflamed the situation

Tam Hussein

On 26 August 2021, shortly after the Taliban conquered Kabul, Abdur Rahman Logari detonated his suicide vest near the Abbey Gate in the city’s airport, killing 170 men, women and children who were trying to flee the country. Two days later, a US drone strike killed an entire Afghan family in the mistaken belief that the target was Logari. Joe Biden would later describe the Abbey Gate attack — Isis’s most successful operation in Afghanistan - as "the hardest of the hard days" of his presidency. Harder days, however, were soon to come.

While a recent US military review concluded that Logari's plot was not preventable, the findings were less a vindication of America's chaotic withdrawal than a reminder of how the US- Afghan relationship had broken down. As US forces withdrew, many afghan government officials told me that they had warned their US counterparts about the threat of Islamic State.

Vietnam Welcomes Putin for State Visit Criticized by U.S.


Vietnam welcomed Russian President Vladimir Putin, underlining its decades-old relationship with Moscow in the face of U.S. criticism over the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Putin arrived in Hanoi on Thursday from North Korea, where he signed a comprehensive strategic partnership with Kim Jong Un who vowed to “unconditionally” support Russia in the war.

“The visit demonstrates that Vietnam actively implements its foreign policy with the spirit of independence, self-reliance, diversification, multilateralism,” according to a statement on Vietnam’s government website.

Vietnam and Russia have ties going back decades to the Soviet Union. Hanoi is brushing aside Western criticism of its invitation to Putin, who last visited Vietnam in 2017 when it hosted the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit.

The U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, in a statement Monday, said “no country should give Putin a platform to promote his war of aggression and otherwise allow him to normalize his atrocities.”

This Is What Would Happen if China Invaded Taiwan


The winter season in Taiwan—lasting from November till March—is great for surfers. It’s no Bali or Hawaii, as the size of the waves and their consistency may vary, but the Northeast Monsoon, which brings in the cold China Coastal Current water into the Taiwan Strait, where it meets the warm Kuroshio Branch Current coming from the south, is known to form some significant waves. The Taiwan Strait is only about a hundred meters deep—shallow enough that during ice ages and the time of glaciers the island of Taiwan was physically connected to the Chinese mainland; but even in the modern era the 200-mile-long passage—which varies in width from about 100 nautical miles down to just 70 nautical miles and is one of the most vital shipping routes in the world—is known for frequent storms, large swells, and blinding fog and is bedeviled by annual summer typhoons from roughly May to October. Between the typhoons in the summer and the stormy high-wave winter season, there is no predictably perfect and easy time to launch a large-scale amphibious invasion of Taiwan, especially with the strait registering about 150 days a year of winds above 20 knots, rough seas for amphibious ships and landing craft. Any landing on Taiwan’s windy, shallow, and rocky beaches during that time is fraught and risky. Which is why, in the end, China decided to forego a beach landing and attempt an air assault on the island’s port and airfield facilities, the seizure of which would allow for rapid arrival of follow-on troops and logistical supplies to facilitate a successful occupation.

Singapore Is in Perfect Position to Court AI Companies From China

Grace Shao

Singapore is once again attracting talent and capital from the wider Asian region, especially from China, as artificial intelligence companies race to develop the next super app. The Lion City has in the last few years been a top destination for big tech firms to set up their Asia-Pacific headquarters as geopolitical tension heats up between the United States and China, and domestic regulations intensifies in China. Singapore is now a major hub for ByteDance, Google, Netflix, Shein, and others.

The Singapore Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) announced a GenAI Sandbox program in February to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across industries in adopting AI and offering a grant to be part of a three-month trial run program.

Tribe, a “startup ecosystem builder,” and Digital Industry Singapore, a joint office between the Economic Development Board, Enterprise Singapore, and the IMDA, also recently announced a collaboration with U.S. tech giant Nvidia in establishing an AI-focused accelerator program, showcasing multiple arms of the government bolstering the enhancement of the AI ecosystem in Singapore.


Nick Turse

WORRIED ABOUT a potential war with China, the Pentagon is turning to a new class of weapons to fight the numerically superior People’s Liberation Army: drones, lots and lots of drones.

In August 2023, the Defense Department unveiled Replicator, its initiative to field thousands of “all-domain, attritable autonomous (ADA2) systems”: Pentagon-speak for low-cost (and potentially AI-driven) machines — in the form of self-piloting ships, large robot aircraft, and swarms of smaller kamikaze drones — that they can use and lose en masse to overwhelm Chinese forces.

Earlier this month, two Pentagon offices leading this charge announced that four nontraditional weapons makers had been chosen for another drone program, with test flights planned for later this year. The companies building this “Enterprise Test Vehicle,” or ETV, will have to prove that their drone can fly over 500 miles and deliver a “kinetic payload,” with a focus on weapons that are low-cost, quick to build, and modular, according to a 2023 solicitation for proposals and a recent announcement from the Air Force Armament Directorate and the Defense Innovation Unit, the Pentagon’s off-the-shelf acceleration arm. Many analysts believe that the ETV initiative may be connected to the Replicator program. DIU did not return a request for clarification prior to publication.

China's demographics will be fine through mid-century


In discussions about China’s economy, the issue of demographics comes up quite a lot. In 2022, China’s population began to decrease (and coincidentally, India’s population surpassed China’s). The country’s fertility rate, which had already fallen below replacement levels decades earlier, fell again recently, to just 1.09 — one of the lowest rates in the world, and even lower than Japan.

Now, I absolutely do think this is a problem for China in the long term. In fact, China is far from unique in this regard — every developed country is aging rapidly, and most developing countries aren’t far behind.

In fact, the shrinking of the population isn’t actually the problem — it’s the aging. Rising old-age dependency ratios do put a huge economic burden on working people, and an aging workforce probably does reduce innovation and productivity growth. This is true despite automation. A world top-heavy with old people will be a world where young people have to toil harder and harder, all over the globe.

A Global South with Chinese characteristics

Niva Yau


At the peak of China’s economic growth toward the end of the 2010s, Beijing began to advocate for an alternative model of governance that prioritizes economic development and rejects the centrality of the protection of individual rights and “Western” democratic processes. At the heart of this new push to legitimize authoritarian governance was the example of China’s own remarkably rapid economic development under Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership and an implicit assertion that such successful growth legitimizes not only China’s own autocratic system, but also other non-democratic political systems. The global implications of this development have grown clearer as Beijing has embarked on a steadily expanding mission to promote its political system alongside its economic success in countries across the Global South.

As early as 1985, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping explained, in plain language, that the Chinese political system would resist changes despite economic integration with the world. He told the Tanzanian president at the time, “Our reform is an experiment not only in China but also internationally, and we believe it will be successful. If we are successful, it can provide some experience for developing countries.”1 In 2017, a new Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, repeated this sentiment using similar language.

EXPOSED! China’s Digital Program Using AI & OSINT To Unmask US Navy Warships Revealed In New Report

Shubhangi Palve

A recent report by the Berkeley Risk and Security Lab (BRSL) at the University of California, Berkeley, titled ‘Open-Source Assessments of AI Capabilities,’ claims that China is using open-source intelligence (OSINT) images of U.S. warships to develop AI training datasets. The report also demonstrates how OSINT tools can be leveraged to assess and understand key military capabilities through AI technology.

The report exposes the peculiar ‘Zhousidun’ dataset, which includes over 600 images exhaustively detailing the inner workings of American Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and other allied naval vessels.

Culled from public satellite imagery and media sources, this highly specialized catalog seems too specialized for mere academic interests. By scrutinizing this data, China could be feverishly training computer vision algorithms to automatically identify, track, and potentially neutralize opponents’ maritime forces.

Research Paper By BRSL

The Research paper by BRSL shows an open-source methodology for analyzing military AI models through a detailed examination of the ‘Zhousidun’ – a Chinese-originated dataset that exhaustively labels critical components on American and Allied destroyers.

What Are China’s Nuclear Weapons For?

Ashley J. Tellis & Tong Zhao

The recent expansion of China’s nuclear arsenal has been a striking feature of its progress toward great-power status. Even during the most intense periods of Cold War rivalry, Beijing maintained a small and remarkably vulnerable nuclear force that probably did not exceed 200 warheads. Although Chinese nuclear modernization continued after the Cold War ended, it has truly accelerated only over the last decade or so—with Beijing more than doubling the number of warheads deployed since 2020.

Fear A Militarily Weak China

David Hutt

Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 showed just how weak the Russian military is. This wasn’t a surprise to some historians; the first year or two of any Russian war, going back centuries, is marked by unparalleled losses before the sheer size of Russia’s population and manufacturing capacity comes into play (which may be happening now). But the present-day weakness also shows what happens when you let one person, Sergei Shoigu, the Russian defense minister sacked last month, steal most of the defense budget.

Over in the Middle East, the October 7 pogrom was obviously a result of Israeli intelligence and political failures. There’s reason to believe that there had been warnings of such an attack for a year prior, but a cohort of ultranationalists who now occupy several ministries and claim to be security hawks are among the least competent officials, having effectively been raised in state-subsidized environments where they have gained no real-world experience before taking over government departments. The latest assault on Rafah is necessitated because Israeli intelligence has underestimated the percentage of Hamas soldiers it thought had been killed elsewhere.

Which brings us to China. There is no way of knowing whether the Chinese military is the juggernaut some imagine or is the paper tiger akin to Moscow’s degraded armed forces. Either way, the revelation would be terrible for almost everyone.

US military says it killed a senior ISIS official in Syria airstrike

Haley Britzky

A senior ISIS official was killed in a US airstrike on Sunday in Syria, the US military said Wednesday in a post on X.

“On June 16, US Central Command conducted an airstrike in Syria, killing Usamah Jamal Muhammad Ibrahim al-Janabi, a senior ISIS official and facilitator,” the post from US Central Command said. “His death will disrupt ISIS’s ability to resource and conduct terror attacks.”

CENTCOM added that there was “no indication” any civilians were harmed in the strike, which had not been previously announced.

The US military has continued going after ISIS officials in Africa and the Middle East. Nearly three weeks ago, an airstrike in a remote area near Dhaardaar in Somalia was assessed to have killed three ISIS militants, according to US Africa Command.

Between January and March 2024, CENTCOM and its partners killed seven ISIS operatives in Syria and detained 27 more. In Iraq during the same time period, 11 operatives were killed and 36 people were detained.

The Credibility Trap

Keren Yarhi-Milo

Does a reputation for weakness invite aggression? Many analysts have suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to invade Ukraine in 2022 after inferring that the United States and the rest of NATO lacked resolve. The West had imposed only weak sanctions on the Kremlin in response to its 2014 annexation of Crimea and its 2018 poisoning of a former Russian spy in the United Kingdom. Then came the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021, a chaotic evacuation that seemed to demonstrate Washington’s lack of commitment.

On the day Russia invaded, U.S. President Joe Biden declared that Putin launched his attack to “test the resolve of the West.” Now, many believe that the United States must incur significant costs—sending billions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine and risking nuclear escalation—in part to prove to Putin that it is resolute. But the audience Washington is performing for goes well beyond Putin. Across the world, it can seem as if American credibility is constantly being questioned, with the United States’ adversaries challenging U.S. hegemony, and its allies worrying whether Washington will come to their aid. The potential for another Trump presidency and a more isolationist approach to foreign policy only adds to these allies’ concerns. In the Middle East, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly scorned Washington’s requests for restraint in his assault on the Palestinian militant group Hamas after its terror attack on his country last year, while Iran’s proxies are brazenly attacking U.S. targets. In the global South, the United States is struggling to convince countries to take its side in the emerging struggle between democracies and autocracies. “Nobody seems to be afraid of us,” former Defense Secretary Robert Gates lamented in a February interview with Foreign Affairs.

Small drones will soon lose combat advantage, French Army chief says


The advantage now enjoyed by small aerial drones on battlefields including in Ukraine is but “a moment in history,” French Army Chief of Staff Gen. Pierre Schill said at the Eurosatory defense show in Paris

While anti-drone systems are lagging and “leave the sky open to things that are cobbled together but which are extremely fragile,” countermeasures are being developed, Schill told reporters during a tour of the French Army stand at the show June 19. Already today, 75% of drones on the battlefield in Ukraine are lost to electronic warfare, the general said.

”The life of impunity of small, very simple drones over the battlefield is a snapshot in time,” Schill said. “Right now it’s being exploited, that’s clear, and we have to protect ourselves. Today, the sword, in the sense of the aerial drone, is powerful, more powerful than the shield. The shield is going to grow.”

Putin’s Hybrid War Opens a Second Front on NATO’s Eastern Border

Kati Pohjanpalo, Aaron Eglitis, Milda Seputyte, and Ott Tammik

Shortly after midnight, several masked men in boats began removing orange navigational aids on the Narva River that separates Estonia from Russia — a watercourse which demarcates the extent of NATO’s reach.

Even that late in the day it’s twilight in northern Europe at the end of May, leaving the Russian border guards who were working to lift the markers clearly visible to the watching Estonian authorities.

Then again, Russia’s actions in the early hours of May 23 weren’t necessarily meant to be conducted under cover of darkness; Estonia took it as an explicit signal of intent to the Baltic states and the West more broadly.

Israeli Military Says Hamas Can’t Be Destroyed, Escalating Feud With Netanyahu

Jared Malsin & Anat Peled

A rift between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the country’s military leadership is spilling increasingly into the open after the armed forces’ top spokesman said Netanyahu’s aim of destroying Hamas in Gaza is unachievable.

Military spokesman Daniel Hagari told Israeli television on Wednesday night, “The idea that we can destroy Hamas or make Hamas disappear is misleading to the public.”

The comment was a rare direct rebuke from the military of how Netanyahu has delineated the main aim of the war in Gaza, which he says is “total victory” over Hamas and returning Israeli hostages held by the group. The prime minister has said repeatedly that he won’t accept an end to the war without the group’s eradication as a military and governing power.

When the Only Escape From War in Gaza Is to Buy a Way Out

Adam Rasgon

The only way for almost all people in Gaza to escape the horrors of the war between Israel and Hamas is by leaving through neighboring Egypt.

And that is usually a complicated and expensive ordeal, involving the payment of thousands of dollars to an Egyptian company that can get Palestinians on an approved travel list to cross the border.

Confronting the company’s stiff fees, as well as the widespread hunger in Gaza where there is no end in sight to Israel’s military campaign, many Palestinians have resorted to trying to raise money with desperate appeals on digital platforms like GoFundMe.

Dr. Salim Ghayyda, a pediatrician in northern Scotland, posted one such plea in January after his sister texted from Gaza to say that their father had suffered seizures.

Their father made it to a hospital and survived, but Dr. Ghayyda, 52, who left Gaza in 2003, said the episode convinced him he had to evacuate his family at any cost.

“I thought I’d go to sleep one night and wake up to the news that my family is gone,” he said. “I felt helpless and hopeless, but I knew I had to do something.”

Soaring U.S. Debt Is a Spending Problem

You may have heard that the 2017 GOP tax cuts blew a giant hole in the federal budget—or so Democrats tell voters. The Congressional Budget Office’s revised 10-year budget forecast out Tuesday offers a reality check. Spending is the real problem, and it’s getting worse.

CBO projects that this year’s budget deficit will clock in at roughly $2 trillion, some $400 billion more than it forecast in February and $300 billion larger than last year’s deficit. This is unprecedented when the economy is growing and defense spending is nearly flat. The deficit this fiscal year will be 7% of GDP, which is more than during some recessions.

CBO says deficits will stay nearly this high for years, and the total over the next decade is now expected to total $21.9 trillion compared to $19.8 trillion in its February forecast. Debt held by the public will grow to 122.4% of GDP in 2034 from 97.3% last year.

Notably, CBO’s revenue projections are little changed. Revenue is expected to total 17.2% of GDP this year—roughly the 50-year average before the pandemic, as the nearby chart shows. But CBO significantly revised up projections for federal spending. Outlays are now expected to hit 24.2% of GDP this year and average 24% over the next decade. Wow.

A Disaster of the U.S. Military’s Own Making

Janet Reitman

Austin Valley had just arrived at his Army base in Poland, last March, when he knocked on his buddy Adrian Sly’s door to borrow a knife. The base plate of his helmet was loose and needed fixing, he told Sly. The soldiers had spent most of their day on a bus, traveling from their former base to this new outpost in Nowa Deba, near the border with Ukraine. It had been a monotonous 12-hour journey with no stops and nothing to eat but military rations. Sly thought his friend looked exhausted, but then so did everyone else. He handed Valley an old hunting knife, and Valley offered an earnest smile. “Really appreciate it, man,” he said. Then he disappeared.

A boyish-looking 21-year-old, Valley grew up in a military family in rural Wisconsin and declared his intention to join the Army at age 7. He enlisted on his 18th birthday, so intent on a military career that he tried to sign a six-year contract until his father, a Gulf War veteran, persuaded him to take it more slowly and commit to three. Stationed at Fort Riley, in Kansas, he made an immediate impression on his superiors. “He was one of the best workers that I’ve seen in the military,” a squadmate says, recalling how Valley, who drove an armored troop carrier, thought nothing of crawling into its guts to check for broken parts, emerging covered in grease, a flash of mischief in his deep brown eyes.

Late-stage Putinism: The war in Ukraine and Russia’s shifting ideology

Mikhail Komin

At the end of last year, a scandal erupted in Russia over a new phase of the state’s promotion of traditional and conservative values. Prominent figures from the Russian cultural sphere were denounced by pro-war activists and the Russian media for their attendance at a “almost naked” party. The event was privately organised, but the dissemination of images online led to the ostracising of these celebrities. The fallout included financial losses approximating €3m from cancelled appearances at new year events and shows, one attendee sentenced to 25 days in detention, and the event’s organiser facing scrutiny from the Federal Tax Service. Subsequently, a Russian court characterised the gathering as “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations,” associating it with the LGBT movement, which Russia declared “extremist” in autumn 2023.

This incident underscores a significant ideological shift in the Russian political landscape, in the third year of the country’s extensive conflict in Ukraine, which those involved had doubtless failed to notice and adapt to promptly. Members of the cultural elite who chose to remain in Russia after the country’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine without explicitly supporting the war believed they could maintain their pre-war lifestyles and business activities. Yet practices once deemed standard in the cosmopolitan cultural life, where state intervention was minimal, must now adapt to the transformed ideological landscape.

As Goes Ukraine, so Goes the Black Sea

Matthew Boyse

Ukraine continues to rack up successes against Russian military assets in the Black Sea region. The list of sunk or damaged ships near occupied Crimea and in Novorossiysk is growing ever longer by the day.

In recent weeks, Kyiv has hit Russian rail ferry assets on both sides of the Kerch Strait, a tugboat, the Tsyklon corvette, the Kovrovets minesweeper, and the Kommuna salvage ship in Sevastopol, as well as the Dzhankoi airfield and multiple other locations in occupied Crimea and Novorossiysk. An estimated one-third of the Black Sea Fleet (BSF) is now sunk or damaged.

Kyiv has Moscow on the defensive in the maritime domain, where its assets are increasingly vulnerable. The BSF no longer operates in some areas of the Black Sea. The grain corridor is currently operating well, with exports nearing pre-2022 levels. These developments have led to the narrative that Kyiv is “winning the battle of the Black Sea.”

These successes challenge the narrative that a Russian victory is inevitable. The battlespace is dynamic, and Ukraine can inflict significant damage on superior Russian forces through ingenuity and the right kind of foreign support, particularly long-range U.S., UK, and French missiles.

Vladimir Putin’s dangerous bromance with Kim Jong Un

Kim jong un has a new best friend. Out is Donald Trump, who exchanged saccharine letters but spurned him at a summit in Hanoi in 2019. In is Vladimir Putin, who has courted Mr Kim for weapons to fuel his war in Ukraine. Mr Kim has made two trips to Russia’s Far East to meet Mr Putin since 2019. On June 19th Mr Putin arrived in Pyongyang for his first visit since 2000, the year he made his debut as president. Though he landed at close to 3am local time, Mr Kim was waiting on a red carpet on the tarmac to meet him. The two leaders later signed a strategic partnership agreement, promising to come to each other’s aid when facing aggression.

The relationship has blossomed thanks to geopolitical shifts. Mr Kim turned away from talks with America following the failed summit in Hanoi and began making fresh overtures to Russia. The response was lukewarm—until Mr Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine floundered and Russia came to need munitions, one of the few things Mr Kim’s regime has in abundance. But the implications of the realignment go beyond the weapons trade. “It’s a mistake to think about it simply as an arms deal,” says Jenny Town of the Stimson Centre, an American think-tank.

Not all ‘open source’ AI models are actually open: here’s a ranking

Elizabeth Gibney

Technology giants such as Meta and Microsoft are describing their artificial intelligence (AI) models as ‘open source’ while failing to disclose important information about the underlying technology, say researchers who analysed a host of popular chatbot models.

The definition of open source when it comes to AI models is not yet agreed, but advocates say that ’full’ openness boosts science, and is crucial for efforts to make AI accountable. What counts as open source is likely to take on increased importance when the European Union’s Artificial Intelligence Act comes into force. The legislation will apply less strict regulations to models that are classed as open.

Some big firms are reaping the benefits of claiming to have open-source models, while trying “to get away with disclosing as little as possible”, says Mark Dingemanse, a language scientist at Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. This practice is known as open-washing.

“To our surprise, it was the small players, with relatively few resources, that go the extra mile,” says Dingemanse, who together with his colleague Andreas Liesenfeld, a computational linguist, created a league table that identifies the most and least open models (see table). They published their findings on 5 June in the conference proceedings of the 2024 ACM Conference on Fairness, Accountability and Transparency1.

Is It Time to Step Up Defense Spending?

Anika Horowitz

Disarmament and Diplomacy Won’t Work

Increased military spending is dismissed from two directions. The left has adopted a postmodern, self-loathing pacifism characterized by moral relativism and failed appeasement. Meantime, right-wing isolationism has re-emerged, pandering to a populist base. Many progressives view war itself, rather than malign powers, as the enemy. This lack of moral clarity perpetuates the belief that conflict can be avoided through disarmament and diplomacy.

Yet history shows that adversaries take advantage of delusions and military unpreparedness. Germany began to rearm soon after World War I. The Allies responded by signing the Washington Naval Treaty, significantly limiting their naval power. Japan, which had also signed the treaty, invaded Manchuria in 1931. Soon after Neville Chamberlain signed the Munich Agreement, allowing Germany to annex the Sudetenland, Hitler invaded Poland. By contrast, deterrence won the Cold War and has prevented World War III.