27 March 2023

How Modi and Bibi Built a Military Alliance

Sumit Ganguly

Today, the Indian-Israeli relationship is genuinely multifaceted. It extends from an annual influx of young Israeli tourists who come to India’s west coast beaches to unwind after their required military service to collaborations in drip agriculture to the sale of sophisticated weaponry. In the past several decades the relationship has significantly deepened and broadened, especially under the two right-of-center prime ministers, Narendra Modi and Benjamin Netanyahu.

This close partnership has significant ramifications for regional and global politics. The close bilateral relationship enables both parties to play a wider role in the Middle East, especially in the Persian Gulf. This is increasingly evident from their participation in the new quadrilateral arrangement, the I2U2, designed to limit China’s influence in the region and also to reassure allies of the enduring U.S. commitment to the region.

Historically, the Indian-Israeli relationship was far from close. The Indian nationalist movement was leery of supporting a state established on the basis of a particular religion—wary that it could provide legitimacy to rival Pakistan’s moral foundations. Furthermore, parts of India’s foreign-policy establishment had sympathies for the Arab world borne out of shared anti-colonial sentiments. The political leadership in New Delhi was also sensitive to India’s largest religious minority, Muslims, who were mostly ill-disposed toward Israel.

As a result, during much of the Cold War, following India’s independence in 1947, its relations with Israel were low-key, even clandestine. In 1947, India voted against the U.N. partition plan for the British Mandate of Palestine. After Israel declared independence in 1948, India again voted no on admitting the state of Israel to the United Nations General Assembly, and it only recognized the country in 1950. During the bulk of the Cold War, India, quite deliberately, maintained a studious public distance from Israel. It was only after the Cold War’s end and the Madrid Peace Conference that India normalized its relationship with Israel.

A Coup Would Put Pakistan Squarely in China’s Bloc

Azeem Ibrahim

March 14 was a dramatic day for Pakistan. This was the day, the country’s military said, that it would arrest Imran Khan. He was once an international cricketer, then a politician, then prime minister, and is now, after being deposed as PM by a no-confidence motion last year, a tub-thumping campaigner against what he describes as a corrupt system tying the Pakistani military and the rest of the country’s political parties together. (I was a policy adviser to Khan between 2012 and 2014 but have no professional contact with him at present.)

But the day turned into a triumph for Khan after the police were unable to arrest him. The aftermath has been unlike anything in contemporary Pakistani history. The military, which has governed the country alongside chosen cooperative politicians since independence from Britain 75 years ago, now faces a serious threat from an insurgent who uses the language of democracy and the rule of law. And in response, it’s increasingly possible that the military, tired of playing chess against Khan, will simply sweep the pieces from the board.

In recent months, Khan has led his supporters in a series of mass rallies and mass marches. He has been shot at and wounded. His political supporters have clashed with police; they say they were attacked, while the police say the opposite. And members of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party have been arrested and, they allege, tortured in police custody. One supporter was allegedly tortured to death last week.

This all came to a head on March 14, when Khan was due to be arrested on what his supporters say are trumped-up terrorism charges. Large numbers of Khan’s supporters gathered outside his home in Lahore, Pakistan, to contest the arrest. Police used tear gas, water cannons and batons to attempt to clear a path into Khan’s home. They were repulsed by the crowds. Khan remains free.

Politics Are Holding Pakistan’s Economy Hostage

Lynne O’Donnell

Mayhem and martyrdom have become the hallmarks of politics in Pakistan, where there appears to be no better practitioner than former Prime Minister Imran Khan. But the political fireworks that are tearing Pakistan apart are also distracting it from tackling its real challenge: a deeply dysfunctional and ailing economy.

Khan said at least 85 charges have been filed against him in courts across the country, all purportedly attempts by the government to ensure he doesn’t stand in elections due to take place later this year—elections that could return him to power after his ouster in a no-confidence vote almost a year ago. For days, Pakistan has been a scene of chaos, rallies, tear gas, and heated rhetoric, with Khan himself alleging during a court appearance that there is a plot to kill him and with hundreds of his party’s followers reportedly rounded up by the police.

By Monday morning, more than 100 of Khan’s associates had been detained “without arrest warrants,” said Raoof Hasan, a spokesperson for Khan, who added that they had been “kidnapped and picked up in the dark of the night. They’ve tried to take many more, but they have fled. It is hell here; you never know when there will be a knock on the door. Imran and everything that he stands for is under brutal state terrorist assault, making a mockery of the constitution, law, and morality,” he said. In a tweet, Khan called the government’s actions “[f]ascism at unprecedented levels.”

Pakistani Women Are Not All Right

When I was ten years old, a man undid his pants in front of me and began masturbating, in a busy alley in Lahore’s Main Market. I was sitting in the back of my aunt’s open-cabin van. What amazes me is that he did this in one of the most crowded places in the city. As he crept close to me, penis in fist, I scrambled off the van and sprinted into my aunt’s furniture store in Raja Center. Days later, I confided in my grandmother. She pursed her lips and told me not to speak of the incident to anyone.

When I was fourteen, a man groped me between the legs at a Stereo Nation concert in Lahore. We were in a throng; there were hundreds of us. Most of my friends were groped that night. The collective horror of it—almost everyone in our group of eight assaulted—is something we talk about to this day. At twenty-five, again in Lahore, in Liberty Market, I was groped by a man—he grabbed my left breast—as he handed out flyers for fried chicken. As I twisted my body away from him, he melted into the crowd.

Are you tempted to ask what I was wearing each time I was harassed? To be a woman in Pakistan is to encounter this question and its subtext everywhere we go. It is to encounter the cultural assumption that sexual assault can be prevented by dressing and behaving “modestly,” no matter that CCTV footage of busy streets in Pakistani cities routinely shows women in burqas being harassed. Seven-year-old Zainab Ansari—victim of one of the most henious cases of rape and murder in Pakistan—was fully clothed as she was led away by her rapist. But to be a woman in Pakistan is to have a slew of alternative facts thrown one’s way, all day, every day—on TV, in sermons, at banks, on the road, in the privacy of one’s bedroom.

Putin and Xi Are Making the War in Ukraine a Global Contest


Ron DeSantis is off target. The Republican governor of Florida who has presidential ambitions recently said the war in Ukraine was not in America’s vital interests. In his view, what was taking place was a territorial dispute. The three-day state visit by Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping to Moscow showed the contrary. The outcome of Russia’s brutal war concerns the future of the post-Cold War international order—and America’s role in shaping it.

The global order set up after World War II came under pressure after the Berlin Wall was torn down in November 1989. It led to the reunification of Germany and the unification of Europe, as the European Union and NATO brought in members from the former communist bloc. But the 1990s exposed the weakness of the West’s ability and preparedness to deal with emerging conflicts.

The war in the former Yugoslavia, for example, should have shaken Europe out of its complacency by taking the defense and security of the region seriously. And later on, from the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, to Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008 and the Arab Spring revolts of 2011, such crises showed how Europe and the United States weren’t ready to update the post-Cold War structures and institutions. Both sides of the Atlantic were perpetuating the old order.

Russia’s attack on Ukraine is tearing apart this old order. In that context, Xi—even more so than President Vladimir Putin—is intent on influencing if not leading the new order.

The new order is being played out in several ways. On the crudest level, Putin has used tactics to break the Ukrainians’ morale, to test the unity of the West, and to gauge the level of support for his invasion from the Global South and other parts of the world.


By Toshi Yoshihara

Like all militaries, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) studies other nations’ wars to understand the changing character of warfare. The PLA has dissected the Falklands War, the First Gulf War, the air campaign over Kosovo, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and much else. It is no doubt scrutinizing the conflict in Ukraine. The PLA has drawn many lessons from these operations to improve its ability to fight and win future conflicts. Chinese writings about those lessons have, in turn, helped Western observers take better measure of the PLA’s priorities and preferences.

The PLA has even reached back more than eight decades to the Pacific War. Chinese military strategists have examined the origins, conduct, and termination of the ocean-spanning struggle between Imperial Japan and the United States. They have pored over the great battles at sea, rendering numerous judgments about what those engagements mean for the future of PLA warfighting. Chinese lessons from the Pacific War thus offer policymakers valuable insights about the PLA’s thinking and strategy.

The Pacific War’s Appeal to the PLA

In the past, the lopsided conflicts of the unipolar era in which American military might steamrolled third-rate opponents resonated with the PLA. Then, Chinese planners assumed that China would have to fight from a severely disadvantaged position against the United States. However, as the PLA continues its remarkable ascent, it expects to compete and fight with the U.S. armed forces on an equal footing. As such, the lessons from the Pacific War, which featured intense high-end combat between two peer militaries across an oceanic expanse, are increasingly salient to the PLA.

China can wait. The Army’s focus should be Europe.

John Nagl and Keith Burkepile

Three weeks after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in a surprise attack, and Italy and Germany then declared war on the United States, Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall had to help President Franklin Delano Roosevelt make an important decision: should the United States focus on Europe or Asia first?

While Pearl was still smoldering, Roosevelt and his top commanders held a crisis summit with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in Washington, to decide which enemy to focus on first: the Nazis or Japan. Marshall’s advice was clear: America, and her ally Britain, should focus on Europe first. The two leaders agreed, and the broad outlines of World War II were set. Germany was the Army’s first priority, and Japan would have to wait.

Today, the world’s only superpower similarly faces challenges in both Eurasia and in Asia. This time the Department of Defense has decided to prioritize the Asian theater, calling China its pacing threat. While DoD has made its choice, that does not mean that the Army must necessarily follow lockstep into an Asia first strategy; in fact, it shouldn’t. The Army’s priority should be Europe, looking East rather than West, even as the rest of DoD is locked on Asia. In fact, the Army’s priority should be Europe precisely because the rest of the department is focused on Asia.

Here’s the real lesson from the showy Xi-Putin meeting

David Ignatius

Pentagon strategists have always divided the world into East and West, with U.S. regional forces under European Command or Indo-Pacific Command. But looking at the embrace of Presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin this week, you wonder whether we may need a single “Eurasian Command” to handle an integrated threat.

A strong China is bolstering a weak Russia. That’s the real headline that describes the showy meetings in Moscow this week between the two countries’ leaders. The Chinese aren’t providing weapons (yet), but Xi certainly offered moral and psychological support in what might be described as a get-well visit to an ailing relative. White House spokesman John Kirby on Tuesday rightly called Putin a “junior partner.”

The paradox of the Ukraine war is that Putin’s bid for greater power in Europe has made him weaker. This diminished Russia will fall increasingly under China’s sway — unless there’s an unlikely turn post-Ukraine and a Western-leaning leader replaces Putin. Maybe that’s the biggest reason for Xi’s fraternal visit: He is bolstering a flank against America and the West.

China’s dominance over a weaker Russia will take many forms in the coming years. Russia has lost its energy markets in Europe because of its reckless invasion, so it will depend ever more on demand from China and other Asian customers. China’s economic sway grows every year in central Asia and in Russia’s own far east. Its hard power in space, cyber, robotics and artificial intelligence will increasingly dwarf Russia’s.

Chinese Pressure Tactics Against Other Countries Largely Ineffective, Study Finds

Lingling Wei

Chinese trade restrictions and other punitive measures against countries seen as offending its interests have a poor record of getting Beijing the outcome it wants, a new study finds.

In some cases, according to the study, published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Tuesday, the strategy has produced the opposite of what China has sought by driving countries closer to the U.S., the biggest threat seen by the Chinese leadership to its national interests.

“Chinese coercion is not just largely ineffective, but it creates long-term strategic costs for China,” said Matthew Reynolds, a fellow at the Washington think tank who co-wrote the report.

The study examined what it describes as China’s use of coercive tactics against eight countries since 2010, including Japan, Norway, the Philippines, Mongolia, South Korea, Australia, Canada and Lithuania, following moves taken by these governments that China viewed as having challenged its territorial claims, security or positions on other issues.

For instance, Beijing took umbrage at Canberra’s call in 2020 for an investigation into the origin of Covid-19 and slammed tariffs on Australian wines. In 2021, in response to the strengthening of relations between Lithuania and Taiwan, which Beijing regards as its own territory, China stopped providing permits for Lithuanian food imports and made it difficult for Lithuanian firms to renew and close contracts in China.

The Bloody Toll of Russia’s War in Ukraine

By Seth G. Jones
Russia’s war in Ukraine has taken an extraordinary human toll. Russian soldiers have been involved in alleged war crimes, including the rape and summary executions of Ukrainian civilians. The Russian military has also targeted Ukraine’s civilian population with heavy artillery, multiple launch rocket systems, missiles, and air and naval strikes. According to U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk, “Every day that violations of international human rights and humanitarian law continue, it becomes harder and harder to find a way forward through mounting suffering and destruction, towards peace.”

But the war is also decimating Russian President Vladimir Putin’s own military. Russia has suffered more combat fatalities in Ukraine in the first year of the war than in all of its wars since World War II combined. In addition, the average rate of Russian regular and irregular soldiers killed per month in Ukraine over the first year of the war was at least 25 times the number killed per month in Russia’s war in Chechnya and at least 35 times the number killed per month in the Soviet Union’s war in Afghanistan. While Putin has managed to limit domestic opposition to the war, the current fatality rates may be difficult to sustain in a protracted war.

The war in Ukraine has become a war of attrition. A war of attrition is one in which the opponents attempt to wear each other down through the gradual destruction of materiel and personnel. The belligerents are mainly concerned with overpowering their adversaries in a series of bloody set-piece battles that are characterized by high casualties, huge expenditures of materiel, and minimal movement of front lines.

Saudi Arabia Steps Out

Jon B. Alterman

It should not be so surprising that much of Washington’s attention toward the Saudi-Iranian agreement on March 10 to restore diplomatic relations focused on China. After all, at a time when the U.S. security debate is increasingly centered on great power competition, China playing an unprecedented diplomatic role in the Middle East counts as big news.

But by paying so much attention to China, Americans risk missing the most important part of this agreement: the changing regional role of Saudi Arabia. A week of smoothly integrated diplomacy not only showed Saudi Arabia to be a skillful diplomatic actor, but also a creative one. The popular image of Saudi Arabia in the United States is that of a largely passive consumer of U.S.-provided security. With the agreement, Saudi Arabia cast off the passivity of many decades, and demonstrated it is a diplomatic force to be reckoned with.

It is useful, at the outset, to recall exactly what it means—and does not mean—for Saudi Arabia and Iran to have diplomatic relations. They had diplomatic relations in 2011, when two Iranians were accused of plotting to assassinate then-Saudi ambassador to Washington, Adel al-Jubeir, at Café Milano. They had diplomatic relations in 2015 when a stampede in Mecca killed 400 Iranian pilgrims, and Iranian officials decried Saudi incompetence while crowds flooded Tehran streets chanting “death to Al Saud.” And they had diplomatic relations in 2016 when Saudi Arabia beheaded a prominent Saudi Shia cleric who had been critical of the royal family, Nimr al-Nimr. The riots at the Saudi embassy in Tehran following the execution led to the break in relations. Then, as now, the two countries have been locked in conflicts that extend from Yemen to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, and even the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. While there may seem to be a gradual warming in ties, they would be warming from a deep freeze. Each has a great deal it could give the other, but mutual suspicion runs very deep.

Biden’s Nord Stream cover-up enters new slippery phase


It’s been six weeks since I published a report, based on anonymous sourcing, naming President Joe Biden as the official who ordered the mysterious destruction last September of Nord Stream 2, a new US$11 billion pipeline that was scheduled to double the volume of natural gas delivered from Russia to Germany.

The story gained traction in Germany and Western Europe, but was subject to a near media blackout in the US. Two weeks ago, after a visit by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to Washington, US and German intelligence agencies attempted to add to the blackout by feeding the New York Times and the German weekly Die Zeit false cover stories to counter the report that Biden and US operatives were responsible for the pipelines’ destruction.

Press aides for the White House and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have consistently denied that America was responsible for exploding the pipelines, and those pro forma denials were more than enough for the White House press corps.

There is no evidence that any reporter assigned there has yet to ask the White House press secretary whether Biden had done what any serious leader would do: formally “task” the American intelligence community to conduct a deep investigation, with all of its assets, and find out just who had done the deed in the Baltic Sea.

What are America’s goals in Ukraine? It’s not totally clear


When President Joe Biden traveled to Kyiv on Feb. 20, he told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that he could count on continuing support from the United States.

“You remind us that freedom is priceless; it’s worth fighting for for as long as it takes,” Biden told Zelensky at the end of a joint statement from the two leaders. “And that’s how long we’re going to be with you, Mr. President: for as long as it takes.”

However, several national security experts said they believe the Biden administration has yet to clearly state what its strategic objectives in Ukraine are. They say it’s not clear whether the United States supports Ukraine expelling all Russian forces from its territory – Ukraine’s stated objective – or if it would settle for a negotiated peace that falls short of a total Ukrainian victory.

This type of ambiguity has plagued the United States as it has tried to wage war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and elsewhere

For most of the 21st century, the United States has lacked effective policies or strategies to win conflicts, giving rise to the Forever Wars, best described by retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s 2018 advice to then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that a small number of U.S. troops should “muddle along” in Afghanistan.

Policy lessons from the Iraq War for those who wish to forget

Ben Connable

Twenty years ago, I joined 160,000 of my closest friends to help invade Iraq. I then returned from 2004 through 2006 to help fight the insurgency. I continued to work with Iraqis and on Iraq policy after my last tour. Iraq became a permanent fixture in my life. But twenty years after the 2003 invasion, Iraq has been all but erased from the collective Western consciousness. That is frustrating for those, like me, who continue to work with Iraqis still in need of our support. Counterintuitively, this ebb of Western interest is also a symbol of relative success. Westerners who have been involved with Iraq through the invasion and in the difficult years that followed have pushed hard to help return Iraq to “normal country operations.” In other words, it would be good if Iraq to stabilized to the point that it no longer required exigent support.

Well, for better and for worse, “normal” has been achieved. Iraq is chaotic but relatively more stable than it has been in many years. It is a messy and sometimes violent, but nonetheless functioning, democracy. Iraqis probably have a much greater say in their own lives today than they did under Saddam Hussein’s rule. Iraq does not pose a military threat to its neighbors. But reduced international interest in Iraq means it receives less assistance. Compared to even the late 2010s, there are fewer military advisors and diplomats on the ground helping the Iraqis build and sustain their security forces, government institutions, and civil-society organizations. The Islamic State is a latent but still powerful threat. Iran, China, and Russia are filling the vacuum left by the West in ways that are inimical to Western policy goals.

Digitizing the Battlefield: Using Social Media to Track U.S. Weapons in Ukraine

By Laura Courchesne

Since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, the United States has invested over $27 billion in security aid to support Ukrainian forces. This aid has included man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), HIMARS launchers, M777 howitzers, multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) rockets, drones, armored vehicles, and small arms. This support is among the U.S.’s largest annual sums of foreign security aid, surpassing the highest provisions in recent memory, including Iraq ($6.9 billion in 2006) and Afghanistan ($11.9 billion in 2011). Across the political aisle, both Republicans and Democrats have called for greater accountability and transparency for this aid. But this kind of oversight requires insights on the use and flow of foreign weapons to the conflict. As the war persists, the open question remains: How can the U.S. develop a sustainable and secure long-term strategy for sending weapons to Ukraine?

The speed and scale of the investment presented several critical hurdles for properly monitoring the use (and misuse) of weapons in Ukraine. Successful and comprehensive end-use monitoring is vital to the region’s long-term stability but is currently impeded by the conflict’s high intensity, preventing standard, in-person inspections of weapons storage facilities. A leaked cable from the Department of State stressed the security difficulties hampering the movement of U.S. officials in-country. Megan Reed, a spokesperson for the Department of Defense, publicly emphasized this challenge, stating, “End-use monitoring was designed for peacetime.” While monitoring may be difficult, it’s not impossible—fighters and civilian journalists have uploaded countless hours of footage and images of the conflict to social media platforms, documenting the flow of arms into and within Ukraine. Bolstered by machine-learning tools, the U.S. should extract insights from social media data and develop a crowdsourced reporting program to track its weapons in Ukraine.

Decoding the Defense Department’s Updated Directive on Autonomous Weapons

By Lauren Kahn 

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Defense introduced Directive 3000.09, “Autonomy in Weapon Systems.” At the time, the directive became one of the first initiatives of its kind as militaries began considering the impact of advances in autonomous technologies and artificial intelligence (AI)—a concept that, prior to the directive, belonged largely to science fiction. As a result, it sparked widespread interest and discourse among the public, civil society, and nongovernmental organizations.

However, this attention quickly devolved into confusion and misinterpretation.

Human Rights Watch, for example, mischaracterized the original directive as “the world’s first moratorium on lethal fully autonomous weapons.” In reality, the policy did not place any restrictions on development nor use, and the “lifespan” was simply a feature of all Defense Department directives, which requires updates, cancellations, or renewals every 10 years. This led some observers to believe that the department was simply stalling its pursuit of so-called killer robots. In part, this misinterpretation contributed to the birth of Stop Killer Robots—an international coalition calling for a total ban on fully autonomous weapons.

Ironically, within the department itself, there was parallel but oppositely directed confusion about the directive. The policy outlined a supplemental review process for weapons systems that reached a certain level of autonomy, but the scope and purpose of this review were unclear. Some leaders within the department interpreted this more conservatively as a de-facto bureaucratic barricade to developing autonomous systems.

How AI Could Revolutionize Diplomacy

Andrew Moore

More than a year into Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, there are few signs the conflict will end anytime soon. Ukraine’s success on the battlefield has been powered by the innovative use of new technologies, from aerial drones to open-source artificial intelligence (AI) systems. Yet ultimately, the war in Ukraine—like any other war—will end with negotiations. And although the conflict has spurred new approaches to warfare, diplomatic methods remain stuck in the 19th century.

Yet not even diplomacy—one of the world’s oldest professions—can resist the tide of innovation. New approaches could come from global movements, such as the Peace Treaty Initiative, to reimagine incentives to peacemaking. But much of the change will come from adopting and adapting new technologies.

With advances in areas such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, the internet of things, and distributed ledger technology, today’s emerging technologies will offer new tools and techniques for peacemaking that could impact every step of the process—from the earliest days of negotiations all the way to monitoring and enforcing agreements.

Although the well-appointed interiors of Vienna’s Palais Coburg and Geneva’s Hotel President Wilson will likely remain the backdrop for many high-level diplomatic discussions, the way parties conduct these negotiations will undoubtedly change in the years ahead. One simple example is the need for live language interpreters. The use of automated language processing—as exemplified by Google’s language-translating glasses—could smooth negotiations, reducing the time spent on consecutive interpretation.

Are We Headed for World War III?

The War of Ideas

Whether it begins in the South China Sea or Eastern Europe, World War III feels more likely with each passing day. But what’s more concerning is the domestic war of ideas that would surely accompany it. During the Cold War, the stark contrast between the American way of life (individual liberty and free markets) and the Soviet system (political oppression and state control of the economy) made it easy for Americans to rally around our ideals and oppose our enemy. The same can be said about our national attitude toward Hitler’s Germany and Imperial Japan.

But that dynamic doesn’t apply to America today, as the public debates whether such ideas as free markets, limited government and individual liberty are even worth defending. Any chance we have of defeating Vladimir Putin’s Russia or Xi Jinping’s China in the next world war will depend on a national consensus that our ideas are better than theirs. It’s hard to imagine such unity happening anytime soon.

Still, most Americans are rallying for a free Ukraine and learning about China’s oppression of its own people through increased news coverage. The national attitude toward our potential enemies is shifting in the right direction. But without a stronger national understanding of what makes America good, we’ll lack the domestic unity necessary to put up a winning fight.

—Trevor Kiefer, Chapman University, law

Israeli Army Conducted Online Psy-op Against Israeli Public During Gaza War

Hagar Shezaf, Yaniv Kubovich

The Israel Defense Forces’ Spokesperson’s Unit conducted a psychological warfare operation against Israeli citizens during the May 2021 Guardian of the Walls campaign in Gaza, with the aim of boosting public awareness of the IDF’s offensive maneuvers and the “toll” these moves take on the Palestinians.

Soldiers used fake social media accounts to conceal the campaign’s origin. They took to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok and uploaded images and clips of the army’s strikes in Gaza using the hashtag #Gazaregrets with captions such as “Why do they only show Israel being attacked instead of our own strikes in Gaza? We have to show everyone how strong we are!” and “Share so that everyone can see how we retaliate big time” or “Making sure Gaza regrets...Am Israel Chai.”

Haaretz has learned that this “propaganda campaign” was launched several days into the fighting, after the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit felt that the Israeli public was more impressed by the rocket strikes launched against Israel by Gaza than by the IDF’s actions inside the Strip. According to internal discussions, the unit’s use of fake accounts – “bots” – was meant to prevent its “attribution” to the army. This, the army hoped, would make it look authentic, as if it originated organically from the public.

The Scorched-Earth Tactics of Iran’s Cyber Army

IN THE EARLY hours of January 5, a popular anonymous Iranian dissident account called Jupiter announced on Twitter that his friends had killed Abolqasem Salavati, a maligned magistrate nicknamed the “Judge of Death.” The tweet went viral, and thousands of jubilant people poured into the account’s Twitter Space to thank them for assassinating the man responsible for sentencing hundreds of political prisoners to die.

Soon, however, a few attendees voiced doubts over the veracity of the claim. They were cursed at and kicked out of the room, as the host insisted, “Tonight is about celebration!” while repeatedly encouraging viewers to make the Space go viral. The next day, activists on the ground and Iranian media confirmed that Salavati was, in fact, alive. Several experts suspect Jupiter to have been an Islamic Republic of Iran cyber operation aimed at distracting people, while the Iranian government executed two protesters the same night as the Twitter Space.

Within its borders, the Iranian regime controls its population through one of the world’s toughest internet filtering systems, physical crackdowns, and mass arrests carried out with impunity. However, the IRI is vulnerable beyond its physical and virtual borders, as the regime struggles to contain the discourse and silence dissidents. To combat opposition narratives in the West and among VPN-armed domestic activists online, the IRI cyber army deploys multifaceted, devious, and sometimes clumsy tactics. With the ongoing political unrest in Iran, old cyber tactics have been ramped up, and new tricks that aim to distract, discredit, distort, and sow distrust have come to the fore as the regime finds itself in a critical moment.
Desperate Times, Desperate Measures

I Saw the Face of God in a Semiconductor Factory

Virginia Heffernan

I ARRIVE IN Taiwan brooding morbidly on the fate of democracy. My luggage is lost. This is my pilgrimage to the Sacred Mountain of Protection. The Sacred Mountain is reckoned to protect the whole island of Taiwan—and even, by the supremely pious, to protect democracy itself, the sprawling experiment in governance that has held moral and actual sway over the would-be free world for the better part of a century. The mountain is in fact an industrial park in Hsinchu, a coastal city southwest of Taipei. Its shrine bears an unassuming name: the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company.

By revenue, TSMC is the largest semiconductor company in the world. In 2020 it quietly joined the world’s 10 most valuable companies. It’s now bigger than Meta and Exxon. The company also has the world’s biggest logic chip manufacturing capacity and produces, by one analysis, a staggering 92 percent of the world’s most avant-garde chips—the ones inside the nuclear weapons, planes, submarines, and hypersonic missiles on which the international balance of hard power is predicated.

Google Rolls Out Its Bard Chatbot to Battle ChatGPT

Will Knight
Source Link

GOOGLE ISN’T USED to playing catch-up in either artificial intelligence or search, but today the company is hustling to show that it hasn’t lost its edge. It’s starting the rollout of a chatbot called Bard to do battle with the sensationally popular ChatGPT.

Bard, like ChatGPT, will respond to questions about and discuss an almost inexhaustible range of subjects with what sometimes seems like humanlike understanding. Google showed WIRED several examples, including asking for activities for a child who is interested in bowling and requesting 20 books to read this year.

Bard is also like ChatGPT in that it will sometimes make things up and act weird. Google disclosed an example of it misstating the name of a plant suggested for growing indoors. “Bard’s an early experiment, it's not perfect, and it's gonna get things wrong occasionally,” says Eli Collins, a vice president of research at Google working on Bard.

Google says it has made Bard available to a small number of testers. From today anyone in the US and the UK will be able to apply for access.

The bot will be accessible via its own web page and separate from Google’s regular search interface. It will offer three answers to each query—a design choice meant to impress upon users that Bard is generating answers on the fly and may sometimes make mistakes.

China's Strategic Support Force Brings Hybrid Warfare to Space, Cyber, Politics

Natalie Liu

WASHINGTON — The Chinese spy balloon that drifted over the United States early this year bore the earmarks of an operation by China's Strategic Support Force (SSF), a little-known hybrid branch of the People's Liberation Army that incorporates elements of cyber, electronic, space and psychological warfare.

Founded on the last day of 2015 as part of an armed forces restructuring introduced early in the rule of Chinese leader Xi Jinping, the SSF has no exact counterpart in any other country, said Dean Cheng, a senior adviser on China at the U.S. Institute of Peace and longtime watcher of China's military.

"The Strategic Support Force brought together China's electronic war forces, Chinese network war forces, which include but is not limited to cyber, and elements of China's space forces. These have been in different bins, if you will, within the PLA," Cheng told VOA in a recent phone interview.

"Interestingly, it also brings in Base 311, which is responsible for political warfare," Cheng added.

Taken together, he said, "what you have is a force dedicated to making sure that the enemy's information flow is obstructed, and, at the same time, China's own information flow is left relatively unimpeded."

Cyber Warfare is Upon Us: Why the Next Generation of ‘War Games’ so Important

Avishai Avivi

The New Challenge

After September 11, 2001, the nature of modern warfare and the way we think about our enemies changed. Up to that point, the enemy was generally a nation-state or a subset of a nation-state. After 9/11, the loosely organized terror cells responsible for the attacks became the main targets, wherever they were based geographically.

Now, warfare is evolving again. We still see traditional warfare – like the tragic events in Ukraine – but there is now another more insidious form that warfare takes: cyber warfare. Much like the terrorist groups targeted in the early 2000s, the groups carrying out cyber warfare are not necessarily nation-states themselves. However, they often act on behalf of or with the protection of a nation-state.

Similarly to terrorists, these groups don’t just target governments or other nation-states deemed hostile. They also focus on organizations that fall under their jurisdiction and might have financial data, intellectual data or a privatized role in running national infrastructure.

The most obvious example of this was the Colonial Pipeline incident, which saw Russian-affiliated hackers take down the largest fuel pipeline in the US, causing gas shortages across the East Coast. Cyber warfare is something most developed nation-states now engage with, either via proxy threat actors or their own cybersecurity departments.

Amazon is about to go head to head with SpaceX in a battle for satellite internet dominance

Jonathan O'Callaghan

Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are about to lock horns once again. Last month, the US Federal Communications Commission approved the final aspects of Project Kuiper, Amazon’s effort to deliver high-speed internet access from space. In May, the company will launch test versions of the Kuiper communications satellites in an attempt to take on SpaceX’s own venture, Starlink, and tap into a market of perhaps hundreds of millions of prospective internet users.

Other companies are hoping to do the same, and a few are already doing so, but Starlink and Amazon are the major players. “It is really a head-to-head rivalry,” says Tim Farrar, a satellite expert from the firm TMF Associates in the US.

The rocket that will launch Amazon’s first two Kuiper satellites—the United Launch Alliance’s new Vulcan Centaur rocket—has been assembled at Cape Canaveral in Florida. Its inaugural launch is set to fly two prototype Kuiper satellites, called KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2, as early as May 4. Ultimately, Amazon plans to launch a total of 3,236 full Kuiper satellites by 2029. The first of that fleet could launch in early 2024.

“They have ambitions to be disruptive across the technology sector,” says Farrar. “It’s hardly surprising that they’ve jumped in here.”

Using Starlink Paints a Target on Ukrainian Troops


Operating behind enemy lines, one soldier fighting for Ukraine knows the Russians will hunt for him the second he sets up his portable Starlink internet dish.

He and his team set up the device only in urgent situations where they need to communicate with their headquarters. The Russians “will find you,” the soldier said, who goes by the call sign Boris. “You need to do it fast, then get out of there.”

The soldier, an ex-French Foreign Legionnaire who now operates as part of a reconnaissance-and-sabotage unit, is just one of Ukraine’s many soldiers for whom the Starlink service is a double-edged sword. Like other soldiers interviewed for this article, Boris asked to be referred by his call sign for security reasons.

On the one hand, Ukrainian soldiers say the device is key to their operations, notably its ability to help coordinate devastating artillery strikes. On the other, they report a variety of ways in which the Russians can locate, jam, and degrade the devices, which were never intended for battlefield use.

The end result is a MacGyver-esque arms race, as Ukraine rushes to innovate and Russia moves to overcome these innovations.

In Boris’s case, Russian signals-intelligence equipment is likely pinpointing the devices by scanning for suspect transmissions, said Todd Humphreys, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin who has studied Starlink devices.

“Web3 Is Going Just Great” Creator On Why It Isn’t


In mid-2021, the term “Web3” suddenly exploded into the public consciousness. As people scrambled to figure out what it was—cryptocurrencies? blockchain? nonfungible tokens?—venture capital firms were pouring money into new startups, over US $30 billion before the year was out.

Meanwhile, Molly White, a software engineer, started reading up on the tech in case that was the direction her career would be heading in. But she found herself taking a different direction: She launched the website Web3 Is Going Just Great, with the aim of tracking the scams and fraud in the cryptocurrency world. So far, she’s tallied $11.8 billion in money lost on the website’s Grift Counter. White answered five rapid-fire questions on the Web3 phenomenon and why she’s still not impressed.

How did you end up running a site like Web3 Is Going Just Great?

Molly White: When I started researching the topic, I was just seeing a lack of reporting on some of the downsides—you know, the hacks, the scams, the fraud. And so I decided I could do my part to try and fill that void to some extent, because I feel like it’s important that people get the full picture.

The Lessons of 20 Years of Counterinsurgency Research

Elizabeth Radziszewski

The Congressional Research Service’s November 2022 report to Congress on the implications of great power competition for US defense policy emphasizes greater focus on strengthening US high-end conventional capabilities to counter Russia and China. The final section of the report briefly notes the need to meet the challenge of hybrid warfare, which includes, among other issues, addressing Russia’s use of proxy forces in several countries. As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have come to an end, it is tempting to put counterinsurgency on the backburner. Yet with China and Russia’s history of supporting insurgents or governments embroiled in civil wars, the United States may well once again find itself in a position where it has to confront proxy forces. Counterinsurgency, therefore, remains a vital aspect of great power competition.

Over the course of a year, a team of researchers at START (the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism) embarked on a comprehensive review of existing research on government responses to insurgency threats from 2002-2022. The extraction and careful read of over 400 pieces of scholarly and policy literature reveal key insights about the overall state of knowledge on counterinsurgency, as well as limitations that point to ideas for future exploration of this line of research. The first of two pieces, this article highlights what scholars and practitioners have tried to explain, the approaches that they have used in the study of counterinsurgency (COIN), the geographic coverage of existing research, and the studies’ analysis of the deployment of different levers of state power in counterinsurgency. The second piece will review the literature’s findings on the most successful strategies and the lessons they offer for this era of great power competition.


David Laszcz, Nicholas Mabry and Matthew Sherman

The missiles fell on the soldiers huddled in the trench below. Next followed blasts and smoke, concluding with silence in their tomb. In 2020, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict brought forth a range of lessons on the future of war—not least on the future of targeting and fires. During the war, both sides relied heavily on nontraditional assets and electronic warfare (EW). This war’s examples of unorthodox EW and UAS integration indicate the opening of an era of ground warfare requiring innovative technological and training capabilities. The Azerbaijani military was particularly effective at integrating EW into its operations, while the Armenian military’s EW effectiveness was comparatively more limited. The lesson from both sides is that conventional military forces must integrate electronic warfare into their targeting cycles to have any hope of imposing their will on the enemy. The war shows how a modern force that effectively integrates EW and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) enables its commanders to find, fix, and finish adversary targets with fires.

Fast forward just over a year after the Nagorno-Karabakh war to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the conduct of the war triggered by that invasion has only reinforced these lessons. For any military force watching, there is little excuse not to learn them. The US military needs more training and operational experience to enhance and impose the devastating effects of modern technology in the targeting cycle against a conventional adversary. As a modern force, we have a professional obligation to focus on the tactics, techniques, and integration on display in these two wars—in this case regarding the use of EW and signals intelligence (SIGINT) to support targeting—in order to better prepare for the next conflict. That is especially true for the US Marine Corps.

Marine Corps rethinks the foundations of how it does logistics


WASHINGTON — For the first time in more than a quarter century, the Marine Corps today announced a new version of one of its foundational documents guiding how it accomplishes wartime logistics, a rare update that a senior officer says drew on lessons from Ukraine and reflects both the global and contested nature of logistics Marines will face in a future fight.

“How do you reach back, where do you reach back to within that theater or that geographic region? And then in other cases, reaching all the way back to the continental United States, where we’re generating forces,” said Col. Aaron Angell, executive assistant to the service’s three-star general overseeing installations and logistics, Lt. Gen. Edward Banta. “That’s actually why we spent quite a bit of time rewriting this doctrinal publication on logistics — to explain that logistics is not just that tactical edge with that last hand off to the warfighter.”

The updated document is known as Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication 4 Logistics. An MCDP, of which there are several covering different disciplines, exists to provide the “fundamental principles” and “institutional thinking” of how the service functions. In other words, they strike at the very core of how the Marine Corps does its job. They are re-assessed for accuracy once every 10 years, and this specific MCDP hasn’t been revised since 1997, according to Marine Corps spokesman Maj. Jim Stenger.