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THE WEEK IN STRATEGY

Summaries and Links to This Week’s Curated Strategy Articles


February 27 - March 1, 2024



 

UNITED STATES

 

AI WARFARE IS ALREADY HERE

US military operators started out skeptical about AI, but now they are the ones developing and using Project Maven to identify targets on the battlefield.

By Katrina Manson 

Bloomberg - February 28, 2024


Summary:

The document outlines the U.S. military's integration of AI into warfare, highlighting Project Maven's development and application for target identification and strategic operations. It emphasizes the transformation of military tactics through AI, discussing both the technological advancements and the ethical, strategic, and operational challenges faced. The narrative illustrates a shift from skepticism to reliance on AI among military personnel, underscored by examples of AI's role in identifying targets and streamlining decision-making processes. The text also touches on international dynamics, particularly the U.S. and China's race in AI military capabilities, and the broader implications for future warfare and defense strategies.


Link:

 

Bottom Line:

Future battlefields will likely be a fight for and over data.  Who can gather data, who can exploit it, and who can corrupt a rival's data.  The risks associated with integrating AI in military operations include the potential for adversaries to compromise or disrupt algorithmic systems. Despite these concerns, adopting AI technologies is not optional but a necessity driven by adversaries' advancements. Machines will increasingly conduct warfare against machines, indicating that this shift towards automated combat systems is already underway.


 

UNITED STATES

 

U.S. Deterrence Against China Is Not Working

With U.S. military superiority in Asia no longer a given, defense planners need a different strategy.

By Bryan Clark and Dan Patt

Foreign Policy - September 5, 2023


Summary:

The document discusses the outdated nature of U.S. deterrence against China, attributing the failure to technological diffusion, global challenges, and obsolete force design diminishing the U.S. military advantage. It suggests shifting from a deterrence strategy through denial to a long-term campaign undermining Beijing’s confidence in achieving its ambitions through force. This involves a mix of military and nonmilitary actions aimed at steering China towards peaceful paths and making aggression appear unattractive by highlighting the potential costs and drawing out the conflict's duration.

 

Link:

 

Bottom Line:

The best strategic approach for the U.S. to deter China from invading Taiwan is focusing on long-term campaigning rather than preparing for a direct military confrontation. It suggests raising China's perception of a conflict's potential costs and duration to make aggression less appealing. The strategy involves military and nonmilitary means to undermine Beijing's confidence and steer it towards peaceful foreign-policy goals. It critiques the current strategy of deterrence through denial as unrealistic given China's military capabilities and argues for creating uncertainty about the success of Chinese aggression to deter it effectively.

 


 

MIDDLE EAST

 

The Strange Resurrection of the Two-State Solution
How an Unimaginable War Could Bring About the Only Imaginable Peace

By Martin Indyk

Foreign Affairs – February 20, 2024

 

Summary:

The article from Foreign Affairs, titled "The Strange Resurrection of the Two-State Solution," explores the renewed interest in a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine following escalating conflict and international pressures. It discusses the complex landscape of Middle Eastern politics, the historical context of the two-state solution, and the contemporary challenges that have brought this idea back into focus. The piece underscores the importance of international diplomacy and the strategic recalibrations required by global leaders to navigate toward a peaceful resolution. For a comprehensive understanding, please refer directly to the full text on Foreign Affairs.

 

Link:

 

Bottom Line:

There is an increasing recognition by both Israelis and Palestinians of the substantial costs associated with their refusal to compromise for coexistence. It suggests that as these costs become more apparent, there may be a growing acknowledgment in both societies that separating with respect is preferable to engaging out of hatred. This shift could be hastened by responsible and courageous leadership. Martin Indyk advocates for an international commitment to the coexistence of a Palestinian Arab state and a Jewish state of Israel, emphasizing the need for a stable order in Gaza and the West Bank as a foundation for peace and security.


 

ASIA PACIFIC


While the World Was Looking Elsewhere, North Korea Became a Bigger Threat

Kim enlarged his nuclear arsenal and built ties to Russia, no longer aiming for reunification with South Korea. The U.S. and its allies are alarmed.

By Timothy D. Martin and Dasl Yoon

Wall Street Journal – Feb 37, 2024

 

Summary:

The article discusses North Korea's significant advancements in military capabilities and nuclear arsenal, highlighting Kim Jong Un's strategic pivot away from reunification with South Korea towards a more combative stance. It emphasizes North Korea's enhanced global positioning through its relationship with Russia, increased missile tests, and the abandonment of diplomatic engagements with the U.S. Kim's regime has shown resilience and adaptability, focusing on weapon development and strategic partnerships to bolster its standing and deterrence capabilities on the international stage.

 

Link:

 

Bottom Line:

Since assuming power, Kim Jong Un has significantly accelerated North Korea's missile testing program, conducting over 200 tests, a figure that surpasses the combined efforts of his predecessors. According to U.S. officials, the sophistication and display of these advanced weapons systems serve to complicate international efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. The strategy aims to enhance the regime's bargaining power and deter foreign intervention by showcasing an increasingly formidable and diverse arsenal.


 

WORLD 


The Return of Nuclear Escalation

How America’s Adversaries Have Hijacked Its Old Deterrence Strategy

By Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press

Foreign Affairs – October 24, 2023

 

Summary:

"The Return of Nuclear Escalation" discusses the resurgence of nuclear threats in global politics. It highlights how America's adversaries have adopted the U.S.'s Cold War deterrence strategy, leveraging nuclear weapons to compensate for conventional military weaknesses. The piece outlines how countries like North Korea, China, Russia, and Iran have either enhanced their nuclear capabilities or threatened their use, challenging the notion that nuclear weapons would become irrelevant post-Cold War. It emphasizes the increased risk of nuclear escalation in contemporary conflicts and criticizes the optimism that dismisses these nuclear bluffs as non-credible. The authors argue for a serious reassessment of these nuclear threats and strategies to prevent potential nuclear confrontations.

 

Link:

 

Bottom Line:

"The Return of Nuclear Escalation" highlights the complexities and dangers associated with engaging in conflict with nuclear-armed adversaries. A danger lies behind the unpredictability of enemy reactions and the incentive for leaders to misrepresent their true intentions and red lines. To mitigate risks of nuclear escalation, the United States should develop military strategies that avoid undermining an adversary's control and awareness, particularly avoiding targets like command-and-control networks, nuclear forces, and leadership. Nuclear-powered adversaries of the U.S. with weak conventional military capabilities may adopt the strategy of blending conventional and nuclear warfare to complicate U.S. military actions. The U.S. recognizes the growing threat of nuclear coercion. It is adapting its foreign policy and military strategies accordingly, especially in the face of opposition from nuclear-armed states like China, North Korea, Russia, and potentially Iran.

 


 

AFRICA


Washington Wants to Revive a Critical Minerals

Mega-Railway through Africa

The move comes straight out of China’s Belt-and-Road playbook

By Christina Lu 

Foreign Policy - February 28, 2024


Summary:

The article discusses the competitive efforts by the United States and China to access Africa's critical minerals, essential for advanced technologies and clean energy. It highlights the strategic moves by both nations, with China having a head start through its Belt and Road Initiative and the U.S. attempting to counterbalance with initiatives like the Lobito Corridor railway project. African nations, meanwhile, are leveraging this competition to attract investments and partnerships, aiming to develop their own industries and reduce dependency on exporting unprocessed minerals. This dynamic presents opportunities and challenges for African countries in navigating geopolitical interests while pursuing economic growth and self-sufficiency.

 

Link:

 

Bottom Line:

In the context of escalating geopolitical tensions over access to critical minerals—vital for sophisticated defense mechanisms and renewable energy solutions—the US and China are actively vying for a dominant position in Africa's mineral sector. This heightened rivalry, and the emergence of additional stakeholders might empower African states with increased bargaining power in future agreements and collaborations. Angola's strategy of inviting US and European investments to mitigate overreliance on China exemplifies this trend. Simultaneously, the surging demand for these minerals prompts African nations to aspire to develop their own manufacturing sectors and secure a more substantial share in the global marketplace.

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