3 July 2024

What Modi 3.0 Can Expect from Maldives

Athaulla A Rasheed

The scene at Narendra Modi’s inauguration dinner hosted by India’s President Droupadi Murmu was one of triumph and relief for the re-elected Indian prime minister.

Following the fraught 2024 election, Modi was able to form government for a third consecutive term. Only this time, he would require a coalition between his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and parties of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) – as opposed to the previous majority government. It meant that there were lots of people for Modi to thank.

However, flanking him during the presidential banquet were not his new coalition partners but Maldives’ President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu.

Seen as being in the midst of a diplomatic row, relations between India and Maldives soured somewhat over the expulsion of Indian troops stationed at the idyllic Indian Ocean archipelago last year. Muizzu’s presence at the inauguration dinner demonstrates a renewed trend of engagement between the two new governments.

A re-elected Modi government is likely to see Maldives reassured of India’s neighborhood policy and commitment as a regional net security provider. Internationally, Modi’s return can show stability and confidence in India’s government and foreign policy.

The Past (and Future) of the Territorial Swap Offer in the China-India Border Dispute

Ameya Pratap Singh

Disputes over territory are perhaps the largest contributors to interstate conflict, as the recent examples of the Israel-Palestine and Russia-Ukraine conflicts have evidenced. The most insurmountable entry in this category, at least in terms of the length of the disputed boundary, is the 2,100-mile long disputed Sino-Indian border.

But boundary disputes of such magnitude are not set in stone, either. Just as the ebbs and flows of the China-India rivalry over the years have proffered moments of tension and war, they have also created opportunities for political entrepreneurs to craft détentes – and occasionally, even consider the possibility of a settlement.

The use of territorial swaps to settle boundary disputes is assumed to be taboo, owing to the immutable properties of a state’s territorial holdings. Domestic publics generally view any compromise of a state’s territory as a surrender of national prestige, ideology, and even the nation’s raison d’etre. However, in certain moments, such concessions are proposed and seriously deliberated upon. Two such moments took place in Sino-Indian relations in the Nehru-Zhou and Rajiv-Deng periods.

Building Bridges: Impact Of PM Shehbaz Sharif’s Historic Visit To China – OpEd

Hammad Baloch

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s recent five-day visit to China stands out as a landmark event, underscoring the robust and dynamic nature of Pakistan-China relations. This visit has not only cemented existing ties but also opened new avenues for cooperation across various sectors. The outcomes, including the signing of 23 Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs), signify a comprehensive and forward-looking partnership that promises to deliver significant benefits to both nations.

Reinforcing Bilateral Relations

The visit featured high-level interactions, most notably an extensive three and a quarter hour meeting between Prime Minister Sharif and President Xi Jinping. This lengthy discussion emphasized upgrading the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), highlighting the strategic importance both countries place on this initiative. The Prime Minister made it a point to advocate for the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) in all his meetings, receiving encouraging responses from Chinese officials. Furthermore, a dedicated committee has been set up to advance the Main Line One project, alongside the signing of 32 business-to-business agreements, marking a significant step forward in bilateral cooperation.


Ryan Grim, Murtaza Hussain

FROM HIS prison cell, former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has expressed escalating criticism of Pakistan army chief Asim Munir’s drive to seize political power, according to multiple sources who remain in close touch with Khan.

The communications include new allegations about Khan’s history with Munir. According to those in touch with the imprisoned prime minister, Khan is making new allegations that Munir violated an agreement to remain neutral in Pakistani politics in exchange for Khan accepting his appointment as army chief.

The deposed prime minister also alleges that Munir conspired with his civilian political rivals, including former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, to cooperate against him in exchange for dropping corruption charges that had forced Sharif into exile.

The escalating personal conflict between Khan and Munir also looms large in the communications. Khan alleges that Munir ordered agents of Pakistan’s notorious intelligence service to kill him and that the general covered up assassination attempts by squashing a police probe and burying CCTV footage.

What Taiwan is learning from the war in Ukraine

Ishaan Tharoor

Some 5,000 miles separate Taipei and Kyiv, but in Washington, the two embattled capitals seem almost geopolitical neighbors. Russia’s full-scale invasion of its neighbor in 2022, and Ukraine’s subsequent struggle to repel the invaders and reclaim lost territory, have resonated in Taiwan, which sits in the looming shadow of China. The increasingly assertive Asian superpower scoffs at the self-ruling island’s sense of sovereignty and can’t countenance the success of Taiwan’s democracy. Chinese President Xi Jinping has yoked his political legitimacy to Taiwan’s eventual “reunification,” describing it as a “historical inevitability.”

The prospect of Xi following in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s footsteps and attempting a land grab across the strait seems more likely than it once did. And Taiwan, with new infusions of U.S. military aid, is preparing more vigorously to head off the threat. For the Taiwanese public, the Russian invasion of Ukraine “has brought some perspective, some reality” to the dangers at their own doorstep, Alexander Tah-ray Yui, Taiwan’s de facto ambassador in Washington, told me.

Commentary: The world came dangerously close to full-scale conflict in the South China Sea

Koh Swee Lean Collin

On Jun 17, the world came dangerously close to an outright armed conflict in the South China Sea.

The clash between China and the Philippines in the disputed Second Thomas Shoal was the most serious ever documented. Things could have easily escalated beyond a Filipino sailor’s severed thumb - but for a measure of restraint and a whole lot of luck.

One might have seen this coming after more than a year of high tensions between the two countries.

Besides the usual disruptions of Philippine rotation and resupply missions to the garrison stationed on the beached Sierra Madre warship, there were signs of the noose tightening. In the fortnight leading up to the latest fracas, China accused Filipino troops of pointing firearms at the coast guard and destroying Chinese fishing nets in the shoal’s vicinity.

In video footage of the Jun 17 episode released by the Philippine military, the Chinese coast guard can be seen right alongside the Sierra Madre - just short of boarding the outpost. In a fait accompli, they might have pushed the Filipinos off the rusting hulk to resolve the stalemate once and for all, potentially igniting a wider conflict that could involve the United States.

New Horizons in Korea-U.S.-Japan Trilateral Cooperation

Wooseon Choi


Increasing threats and leadership are the two main factors that have propelled trilateral cooperation among Korea, the United States, and Japan in recent years.

The China threat has increased as the balance of power has changed and as China’s behaviors have become more assertive. U.S. leaders now see China as a near-peer competitor and have entered an earnest power competition with it. Most states in Asia, including Korea, perceive an increasing potential threat from China.

Many Asian countries thus want to prepare for the growing potential threat of China by gradually strengthening their cooperation with the United States and forming minilateral groups. Nonetheless, most of these states do not yet perceive an imminent and truly serious military threat from China. Even U.S. leaders do not believe that a conflict with China is imminent, and thus tend to see the competition with China from a long-term perspective.

The North Korean threat is also growing as North Korea makes real progress in nuclear armament. This threat has increased the necessity of trilateral cooperation, especially from the Korean perspective. However, the North Korean threat has been present for many years, and North Korea does not pose a threat to the extent that it makes Korea, the United States, and Japan feel the imperative to cooperate.

China’s National Power and Artificial Intelligence

Mercy A. Kuo

The Diplomat author Mercy Kuo regularly engages subject-matter experts, policy practitioners, and strategic thinkers across the globe for their diverse insights into U.S. Asia policy. This conversation with Dr. William C. Hannas – professor at Georgetown University, lead analyst at the Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET), and co-editor with Huey-Meei Chang of “Chinese Power and Artificial Intelligence: Perspectives and Challenges” (Routledge 2023) – is the 421st in “The Trans-Pacific View Insight Series.”

Examine the correlation between Chinese power and artificial intelligence.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of a short list of technologies marked for priority support in China and, by some accounts, ranks at the very top. The attention the PRC government pays to AI development is reflected in state-level plans that began in 2015; by the position AI holds in China’s 14th Five-year Plan (2021-2025), where it ranks first among “frontier industries;” and by China’s unabashed goal to be the world’s leader in AI by 2030.

This aspiration is credible. Behind China’s declarations of intent are the volume and quality of Chinese AI research evidenced in peer-reviewed journals, the scale of state- and private-sector investment, the infusion of AI at all levels of education, support from its diaspora population, China’s unmatched ability to field applications, and its willingness to explore alternate paths to advanced AI beyond the large language models (LLM) that typify most global initiatives.

TikTok Tensions Are A New Front In US–China Tech Wars – Analysis

Wanning Sun and Marina Yue Zhang

TikTok is one of the most downloaded and used apps among young people in the United States. But despite its popularity, the US Congress’ decision to force TikTok to sell or face a ban is just the latest move against the app. TikTok filed a lawsuit in response, claiming that the law violated the First Amendment of the US Constitution. But whether the app can win this battle remains uncertain.

While TikTok’s user base continues to grow, it appears that the app may be in danger of losing the public relations battle. A late 2023 poll found that nearly 40 per cent of Americans favour a government ban on TikTok despite around 60 per cent of US respondents being active users of the app. Another poll revealed that 59 per cent of Australians support a nationwide ban on TikTok.

The most cited rationale behind the US government’s decision to force TikTok’s sale or ban is the national security concern. Lawmakers have voiced apprehension over the platform’s data handling practices, fearing that sensitive user information could be accessed and exploited by foreign entities — particularly the Chinese government. They also point to China’s national security laws, which give the Chinese government the power to demand data from private companies and individual users for the purposes of intelligence gathering.

Is China at War in the South China Sea?

James Holmes

Is China at war in the South China Sea? You be the judge.

Beyond dispute its conduct is warlike—and that has implications for those resisting its transgressions. On June 19 the BBC chronicled what it termed the latest in a string of encounters between Chinese sea forces, principally the China Coast Guard, and the Philippine Coast Guard and Navy. China Coast Guard cutters intercepted Philippine ships attempting to deliver supplies to Second Thomas Shoal, where soldiers occupy the grounded hulk Sierra Madre to stake Manila’s claim to that contested feature.

The encounter turned ugly. General Romeo Brawner, the Philippine Islands’ seniormost military commander, reported that Chinese vessels rammed their Philippine counterparts, costing one Philippine sailor a thumb. Ramming has been part of the Chinese repertoire for some time. This time, however, Chinese coastguardsmen also brandished bladed weapons such as swords, knives, and spears. According to Brawner, they boarded Philippine ships and made off with weapons and other property. He lambasted the China Coast Guard for “piracy,” adding that “they have no right or legal authority to hijack our operations and destroy Philippine vessels operating within our exclusive economic zone.”

Not quite.

The reality is even worse than General Brawner lets on. Pirates are private seafarers who raid shipping for private gain. The China Coast Guard is a public agency of the People’s Republic of China—in other words, an implement of Chinese statecraft—that’s using methods favored by corsairs since antiquity, against shipping from a neighboring state. Brigandage is Chinese foreign policy in action.

China’s Stockpiling and Mobilization Measures for Competition and Conflict

Zongyuan Zoe Liu

Hearing co-chairs Commissioner Cliff Sims and Vice Chair Reva Price, Commission members, and staff, thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today. I commend the Commission for calling a hearing on this critical subject. My testimony today will focus on China’s attempts to develop an antidote to the West’s weaponization of the existing U.S.-led international trade and financial system against China.

The escalation of U.S.-China trade tension since 2018 and G7’s sanctions against Russian entities and individuals since 2022, notably the freezing of Russian foreign exchange reserves, have prompted China’s policymaking community to strategize immunizing the Chinese economy against Western sanctions and strengthen China’s financial security. Despite Western pressure and sanctions against Russia, China continues trading with Russia. During Russian President Putin’s visit to Beijing in April 2024, Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Putin strengthened their solidarity.

While criticizing Western sanctions against Russia as having no legal basis, Beijing has been pragmatically evaluating the danger of China’s reliance on Western countries for strategic industrial inputs and technology. Unabated U.S.-China geopolitical tensions and Western governments’ industrial policies to incentivize firms to reduce supply chain dependence on China have diminished trade between China and the West and fueled concerns among Chinese policymakers and academics about further intended decoupling. The Chinese government has accelerated its development of an anti-sanction policy framework and an alternative global system to prevent China from falling victim to Western sanctions like Russia did.

Middle East CrisisIran Warns of ‘Obliterating War’ if Israel Launches an Offensive in Lebanon

Vivian Nereim

Iran has threatened an “obliterating war” if Israel launches a full-scale attack in Lebanon, as diplomats work to prevent tensions between Israel and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, which is backed by Tehran, from escalating into an all-out conflict.

In a post on X late Friday, Iran’s mission to the United Nations said that “all options,” including the involvement of Iran-backed armed groups across the Middle East, “are on the table.” Chief among those groups is Hezbollah, a powerful militia that dominates southern Lebanon.

At the same time, Iran dismissed warnings from Israeli officials that Israel could invade Lebanon as “psychological warfare.”

Enemies for decades, Israel and Hezbollah have frequently exchanged fire along Israel’s northern border. Since the war in Gaza began last October, Hezbollah and the Israeli military have intensified cross-border strikes. Israeli officials have warned for months that Israel might invade Lebanon if Hezbollah did not pull its forces back from the border area. Hezbollah has also threatened to launch an incursion into Israel.

To Beat Populism, the EU Must Get Strategic on Trade - OPINION

Noel Clehane

While the EU’s center has held in the face of the far-right advance, the European elections notably confirmed the pre-vote predictions of its twin heavyweights. Less than two weeks earlier, French President Emmanuel Macron carried out Paris’s first state visit to Berlin in nearly a quarter-century, seeking to rekindle the Franco-German engine at the heart of European integration and urging Europeans to “wake up” to curb populism’s democratic threat. Although the far-right faired particularly well in both countries – prompting Macron to call a shock snap election – their leaders’ vision for Europe remains equally poignant.

In a joint Financial Times editorial, Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz outline this European awakening, prescribing an enhanced Single Market paired with ramped up EU innovation and investment to bolster the bloc’s sovereignty amid rising geopolitical tensions and global competition. Encouragingly – given protectionism’s return to fashion – they avoid pitting competitiveness and trade against each other, calling instead for a ‘robust, open and sustainable” approach that “allows fair trade agreements and promotes EU interests.”

By leveraging an ambitious and coherent external economic agenda, including trade policy, the EU can fuel competitiveness, diversify supply chains and accelerate its twin green-digital transitions in a way that delivers for its citizens and SMEs, addresses the roots of populism’s resurgence, and supports the growth of Europe’s global partners.

How Bad Will Political Violence in the U.S. Get?

Bruce Hoffman and Jacob Ware

It is a measure of the divisiveness and tolerance for violence in the United States that the possibility of civil war looms so large over the 2024 presidential election—no matter which candidate wins. It is even the subject of a hit dystopian thriller. Though an actual civil war resulting from the election’s outcome remains unlikely, a range of sufficiently alarming politically violent scenarios are nevertheless quite possible.

Former President Donald Trump’s conviction on 34 counts of falsifying business records has sharpened frictions, with threats to the judiciary and his opponents immediately intensifying. “Time to start capping some leftys. This cannot be fixed by voting,” was one typical reaction tracked by Reuters on Gateway Pundit, a right-wing news site. Far-right media personality Stew Peters said on his Telegram channel that “our judicial system has been weaponized against the American people. We are left with NO option but to take matters into our own hands.”

Meanwhile, our assessments suggest that elements on the far left in this country are also escalating militant threats. A call to “Fuck the Fourth” recently appeared on an anarchist website, heralding a day of action on July 4 targeting the ports of Seattle, Oakland, Los Angeles, Boston, New York, New Jersey, and Baltimore. Additional summons to “Flood The Gates: Escalate” over the Gaza War both on college campuses and in communities across the nation this summer and fall are circulating on social media. At a pro-Palestine protest at the White House in June, one protester held up a decapitated likeness of President Joe Biden’s head, while crowds chanted “Revolution.”

Immigration Is Behind the Strong U.S. Economy

Jason Furman

The most economically important part of the presidential debate was a leitmotif—and at times, a heavy motif—throughout the evening: immigration. While Donald Trump made many false remarks throughout the debate, he spoke a grain of truth when he said of his opponent that “the only jobs he created are for illegal immigrants and bounce-back jobs that bounced back from the Covid.” The employment level for native-born workers is indeed below its pre-pandemic level, while foreign-born workers have accounted for all employment gains. But contrary to Mr. Trump’s contention, that’s a strong argument for, rather than against, immigration.

The U.S. population is aging, and millions of baby boomers retire each year. We can expect that absent immigration, we would have a decreasing working-age population and shrinking employment for decades to come—especially considering the low fertility rate. This is already happening in Japan and will soon happen in many European countries.

Meantime, millions of jobs have been added for foreign-born workers since 2019. The majority of these immigrants were in the U.S. prior to Covid, but another roughly 10 million have arrived since then, according to the Congressional Budget Office. These newly arrived immigrants are the main reason the U.S. economy has defied pessimistic forecasts, with 200,000 jobs added a month, real growth in gross domestic product at 3% in the past year, and an inflation rate that has fallen dramatically in the past few years. The biggest factor behind this strong economic performance is immigration.

NeXt Secretary of Defense

Stuart Scheller

The American military tolerates failure, bleeds talent, and wastes resources at an unsustainable rate. Opinions aside, the military’s resume speaks for itself. True Defense Department visionaries must form a consensus on how to reform the last great American institution.

Engaging this debate was Marine Colonel Gary Anderson in Real Clear Defense’s May ’24 article, “Today’s Generals and Admirals, Children of a Lesser God.” Colonel Anderson correctly identified the systemic problems afflicting military leadership, but his recommendations for reform fell short.

Colonel Anderson, and many other military reformists, believe the path back to victory begins with Congress updating the Goldwater-Nichols legislation governing the current joint model. But this is a fool’s errand. It’s akin to a forward-deployed captain waiting for doctrine to be published before developing a new tactic required by the current battlefield. In both situations, waiting leads to people getting killed. Let Congress rewrite the rules once the new model demonstrates results.

For Ukraine and Russia, a Deadly Summer Lies Ahead With Little Hope of Big Gains

James Marson and Daniel Michaels

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine enters a third summer, the 700-mile front line is the site of a bloody chess match, with each side moving pieces around in search of an advantage without conceding ground elsewhere.

Ukraine’s army, which recently blunted a dangerous Russian offensive that ran short on troops, is counterattacking in villages on its northeastern border.

Meanwhile, 200 miles to the southeast, Russian forces are squeezing toward a crucial supply road that helps sustain Ukraine’s defense of besieged cities in that area.

The war here is settling in for a brutal season during which thousands will likely die on both sides but neither appears poised to muster a decisive breakthrough.

For Ukraine, after last summer’s failed counteroffensive, the task for now is to use fresh Western weapons to hold on to positions.

Russia appears likely to continue its grinding approach, sacrificing large numbers of troops for small gains, said a senior Ukrainian security official.

Pentagon’s new service to give US military remote access to supercomputers

Prabhat Ranjan Mishra

The US Department of Defense has finally agreed to develop supercomputer cloud service, which will add the capacity and the ability to remotely access Pentagon’s high-performance computers. The approval came after two companies completed an 18-month prototyping period.

Rescale and Parallel Works demonstrated that their solutions successfully increase the computing power of High-Performance Computing Modernization Program’s (HPCMP) Supercomputing Resource Centers without significantly increasing hardware costs or requirements.

The solutions work together to integrate the Centers, as well as multiple cloud service providers, into a robust network offering a wide range of HPC capabilities to the DoD in a single coherent ecosystem, said Pentagon’s Innovation Unit in a press release.

Access to a wider variety of hardware

“This capability allows the HPCMP to securely combine the capacity and capability of DoD HPCMP Defense Supercomputing Resource Centers (DSRCs), with the flexibility and diverse hardware associated with commercial cloud providers in order to create a seamless ecosystem for DoD researchers,” said Dr. Benjamin Parsons, HPCMP Chief Technology Officer.


Kerry Chávez and Ori Swed

In a short time, scholars, practitioners, and astute spectators have pivoted from perceiving small drones as hobbyists’ toys to recognizing them as a crucial for modern ground warfare. Ukraine’s large-scale use of commercial unmanned aircraft systems in its war against Russia, in particular, has offered compelling evidence of this new reality. Russia has rebuffed criticism of its initial oversight of tactical drones and redoubled its efforts to develop acquisition pathways. Militaries across the world, including in China, have taken note.

The United States is no exception. Recently, the United States Army announced plans to provide small drones to infantry units for experimentation. The route toward effective integration of tactical unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into combat formation is not linear, however. Several integration models and methods of use exist along multiple forking paths. Deciding among them can be daunting and each of those decisions can make future decisions path dependent. While most eyes have been on Ukraine and Russia, there is another state whose extensive experience with small UAS holds important lessons: Israel.

Herrings and the Courts

George Friedman

Devoted readers will recall what I wrote in my most recent book, “The Storm Before the Calm,” and in subsequent articles here on GPF: that the United States operates on two cycles, one a 50-year socio-economic cycle, the other an 80-year institutional cycle. For the first time in history, both are coming full circle at the same time.

To recap, the first institutional cycle, which established a federal government, began with the American Revolution and concluded with the Civil War, ending in 1865. The second institutional cycle, which established the federal government’s authority over the states, ran from the Civil War to World War II. We are now nearing the end of the third institutional cycle, which has expanded the federal government’s authority over the economy and society. All cycles are built to render the previous one obsolete.

In WWII, U.S. power triumphed because of the knowledge of experts – including those who quickly and effectively restructured the military – whose expertise was subsequently regarded as the foundation of government and all other corporate entities. The government saw itself as an instrument for shaping and regulating policies ranging from medicine to commercial fishing. Its success in WWII was all the validation it needed.

A Call to Action: Lessons from Ukraine for the Future Force

John A. Nagl & Katie Crombe

The Russia-Ukraine War has given a glimpse of the future of modern warfare. Russia and Ukraine’s approaches indicate the character of modern warfare has changed, and US forces are now at a strategic inflection point. In this book, the authors analyze the Russia-Ukraine War from various angles, including warfighting functions or groups of systems commanders use to accomplish missions, domains of warfare, and history. This book identifies the US Army’s current weaknesses and the lessons it must learn from the Russia-Ukraine War as the service reexamines all aspects of its composition to prepare for future conflicts.'

The narrative of conflict is a key component of modern warfare. The history surrounding who should rightfully control Ukraine has been central since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine War, and public perception has influenced support in Ukraine. In addition, the communication of threats, or lack thereof, has played an important role in deterrence in which one power uses the threat of force to preclude an adversary’s attack. Ukraine’s experience shows how the United States can control the narrative of an ongoing war both to equip US allies and to inspire the public to assist willingly.

The war has shown how effective leadership is executed and what role it will play in future conflicts. Internationally, allies have been crucial to supplying Ukraine, and the need for more joint training and interoperability between allies is clear. Within the Ukrainian military, a leadership strategy based on newly adopted mission-command principles has seen repeated success against the hierarchical Russian army. Because commanders can take disciplined initiative, acting without orders but within commanders’ intent, Ukraine has been more effective than Russia in maneuver, fires, agility, and other areas. Ukraine’s success underscores the importance of developing mission command and risk acceptance in the US Army.

The Ukraine War in 2024

John Nagl and Alexander Peris

Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine is now in its third year. Ukraine successfully repelled most of Russia’s initial strikes in 2022, and the West rallied to provide enormous support for the battle-hardened Ukrainian people. Yet Ukraine now faces serious challenges on and off the battlefield. Russia is advancing at the same time as international support for Ukraine has been thrown into doubt. The implications stretch far beyond Central and Eastern Europe in what some observers are now calling the opening phases of a renewed Cold War and even a possible World War III.

Russia’s initial battlefield blunders in the face of a nimble and courageous defense saw Ukrainian troops thwart Russia’s thrusts into Kyiv and northern Ukraine. While Russia did gain ground in the south and east, counter offensives saw Russian troops pushed out of the regional capital of Kherson and Ukraine’s “second city,” Kharkiv. Ukraine succeeded in large part thanks to excellent leadership and operational flexibility. President Volodymr Zelensky famously illustrated Ukrainian resolve with the line “I need ammunition, not a ride,” while his generals under military chief Valerii Zaluzhny outwitted the Russians.

International support made the difference in the early stages of the war. Donated weapons such as the Javelin anti-tank missile and the HIMARS rocket system decimated Russian armored formations, command posts, and supply depots. The United States and its Western allies have kept Ukraine in the fight, delivering a wide variety of tanks, artillery, aircraft, and other materiel. They have also provided crucial economic aid and formed a mostly united front against Russia, expanding NATO and levying sanctions en masse.

Trump the Realist The Former President Understands the Limits of American Power

Andrew Byers and Randall L. Schweller

The structure of unipolarity that began with the collapse of the Soviet Union bestowed the United States with enormous, unchecked power. The United States became the first country in history with no peer or near-peer competitors. It became the only one with influence in every region of the world and the only one to unquestionably dominate its own neighborhood. By 1992, the United States may have been the most powerful country in every major global theater.

For American officials, the natural temptation was to use this moment to expand the United States’ global influence. Drunk with power, Washington doggedly enlarged NATO into eastern Europe, paying little heed to Russian concerns about Western encroachment. It broadened its embrace of economic openness, supporting the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1995, despite the potential threat its compulsory dispute settlement posed to national sovereignty. It also backed China’s membership in the organization in 2001. In the eyes of U.S. policymakers, this expansionist campaign was not just good for their country but also good for the world. Washington, like all hegemons, convinced itself that the world order it was creating was universally preferred to all others. It began to pursue what the international relations scholar Arnold Wolfers called “milieu goals,” or goals designed to make the world better conform to one country’s values.

Could AI help US intelligence end decades-long aversion to unclassified data?


The rapid development of generative AI and large language models (LLMs) has created an opportunity for the US intelligence community to break with its long-standing reluctance to use unclassified information — a reluctance that has until this point largely closed an entire avenue of intelligence and information-gathering and made the US and its allies much more vulnerable to strategic or tactical surprise.

But while adoption of AI models and LLMs by national security agencies could be technologically transformative, it must be done in the right way, without transferring longstanding biases treasuring classified information over unclassified information, or the opportunity to substantially improve America’s intelligence capability will be missed.

Government agencies have long monitored news reports and what is said online, starting with the Foreign Broadcast Information Service, but they have largely overlooked — or at best, siloed off — the huge store of publicly available information from other reputable sources. There is now a rich stream of such data. For instance, just days before Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel last October, there was an upsurge in visits to the Arabic-language web content about many of the locations subsequently targeted by Hamas. A properly trained AI model could have detected these and provided critical early warning.

Signals intelligence has become a cyber-activity

Eleven years ago Edward Snowden, a disgruntled contractor working for the National Security Agency (nsa), America’s signals-intelligence (sigint) service, fled to Hong Kong then Russia and revealed that America and its allies were sweeping up much of the world’s communications. Intelligence agencies warned that his disclosure would have dire consequences, as enemies found other ways to communicate. In the end it was not as bad as feared. Agencies could no longer access “all of the data they needed to see, or had access to before”, writes Ciaran Martin, then a senior official at gchq, Britain’s sigint agency. But they could still get “lots”, he notes. Indeed, enough to provide American sigint with the lion’s share of intelligence, including intercepts of communications, that showed in 2021 that Russia was planning to invade Ukraine, and how it planned to do so.

In the past two decades, sigint has been transformed. The internet took over from radio and telephone traffic in the 1990s. Now, a decade after Mr Snowden, most internet traffic is encrypted and data have pooled in new places, like the cloud. The same computer networks that ferry it about have also become integral to the physical world—from cars to power grids to military systems—blurring the line between cyber-espionage and cyber-attacks, and reshaping the identity of sigint agencies. But they remain extraordinary intelligence-gathering machines.