19 October 2023

How Hamas secretly built a 'mini-army' to fight Israel

Samia Nakhoul

Israeli forces poised to invade Gaza on a mission to wipe out Hamas will confront an ever-more capable opponent trained for years by a clandestine support network that stretches far beyond the tiny enclave to Iran and allied Arab groups.

Hamas' deadly attack on southern Israel six days ago - unprecedented for the group in its planning and scale - was a devastating demonstration of the military expertise it has gained since seizing control of Gaza in 2007.

"Necessity is the mother of invention," said Ali Baraka, a senior Hamas official, adding that the group had long drawn on money and training from Iran and Iranian regional proxies like Lebanon's Hezbollah, while bolstering its own forces in Gaza.

Difficulties in importing weapons meant that over the past nine years "we developed our capabilities and are able to manufacture locally", said Baraka, who is based in Lebanon.

In the 2008 Gaza war, Hamas rockets had a maximum range of 40 km (25 miles), but that had risen to 230 km by the 2021 conflict, he added.

Today the secretive and sprawling organisation is unrecognizable from the small Palestinian group that issued its first leaflet 36 years ago protesting at Israeli occupation, according to Reuters interviews with 11 people familiar with the group's capabilities, including Hamas figures, regional security officials and military experts.

The Irregular Warfare Implications of the Israel-Hamas Conflict

Doug Livermore

In the immediate aftermath of Hamas’ devastating surprise assault on Israel this past weekend, it is tempting to focus exclusively on the horrific carnage and wanton destruction on both sides of this now only days-old conflict. Beyond the bloodshed and sorrow, however, there are far broader irregular warfare implications that must be considered locally, regionally, and globally. Recently, the US Department of Defense published an updated description of “irregular warfare” in Joint Publication 1 Volume 1 (Joint Warfighting), defining it as, “A form of warfare where states and non-state actors campaign to assure or coerce states or other groups through indirect, non-attributable, or asymmetric activities.” Hamas’s initial success in raiding Israeli territory and settlements at an unprecedented scale to destroy equipment; kill or capture key military leaders; and seize over a hundred hostages in an effort to prevent retaliation will provide analytical fodder for years to come. And while the ultimate outcome of the conflict is far from clear at this early stage, there are already emerging considerations for the scholars, practitioners, and policymakers of irregular warfare to study, understand, and apply.

The Israeli intelligence services have a nearly mythical reputation around the world, yet they failed to detect Hamas’ massive preparations for their overwhelming attacks that struck across Israel. Hamas’s remarkable ability to mobilize its forces covertly and take the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) completely by surprise is a testament to their growing expertise in irregular warfare tactics at the grassroots level. As much as one might be led to accuse Israeli intelligence of incompetence or arrogance, it is far more likely (and useful) to study the considerable efforts that Hamas must have undertaken to hide the marshalling of their fighters and resources, conceal their multi-echelon planning efforts, and ensure that their communications were secure up to and through the execution of this attack to prevent Israeli detection.

Israel’s Government Unfit To Govern But Still Netanyahu Won’t Quit

Yossi Mekelberg

It will take a long time for Israelis to recover from the horrendous events of Oct. 7. The nation is now engulfed by a collective trauma that has enhanced its already deep-seated existential fears. Hamas’ incursion into its territory represented the nation’s worst nightmare: caught off-guard and unprepared for an attack by one of its sworn enemies, with unimaginable numbers of people of all ages indiscriminately murdered or taken hostage.

Consequently, it is just a matter of time until the government inevitably yields to demands for an official investigation, which will examine how it could have been possible for this colossal failure of state to defend its own people against such a long-planned attack of this magnitude. However, until such a commission of inquiry is formed and subsequently delivers its verdict, it is safe to say that the disastrous events of last week have demonstrated once again that there is no powerful military without a strong and united society.

Furthermore, it was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, throughout his many — way too many — years in power, who polarized Israeli society in order to maintain his position. The country is now facing the most tragic consequences of those divisions. It is today clearer than ever that those who argued that a prime minister who faces corruption charges as severe as those Netanyahu faces is not fit to run a country, let alone one confronted by such extreme security challenges, were right to be so concerned. But the more his legal woes mounted, the more divisive poison was spread by the prime minister, his family and his sycophants.

China Says Israel’s War In Gaza Goes ‘Beyond Self-Defense’

Lee Wing Tim

China’s foreign minister has said Israel’s military action in Gaza in the wake of attacks by Hamas militants “goes beyond self-defense” and called for an end to the “collective punishment” of Palestinians as Beijing said it would send an envoy to try to ease the crisis.

“China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi says Israel’s strategy has gone beyond self-defense – and it must cease its collective punishment of the people of Gaza,” Beijing’s international broadcaster CGTN reported on Sunday.

“In a phone call with his Saudi counterpart Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, Wang said all parties should refrain from actions that escalate the situation, and return to the negotiating table as soon as possible,” the report said.

Meanwhile, China will send special envoy Zhai Jun to the Middle East this week in a bid to build international consensus, “cool down the situation and create necessary conditions for political settlement,” a foreign ministry spokesperson said on Monday.

Wang had earlier called in a news conference on Saturday for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, and for Israel to open up channels for humanitarian aid and the rescue of Palestinian civilians trapped in the enclave.

Thousands of people, both Israeli and Palestinian, have died since Oct. 7, after Palestinian Hamas militants entered and bombarded Israel in a surprise attack leading Israel to declare war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip enclave, where 2 million people live.

Lessons From The Fifth Arab-Israeli War

Jose Miguel Alonso

In the last few decades, violent clashes between Israelis and Palestinians have been intermittent. This enduring drama has brought terrorist acts, riots, uprisings, targeted assassinations, failed diplomatic talks, conventional and unconventional attacks and endless revanchism, as well as the direct and indirect participation of outsiders.

Since the conflict remains unsettled, the underlying mutual hostility has never subsided. It has now resurfaced again, and with this most recent iteration comes with unprecedented risks, especially in an uncertain international environment shaped by growing strategic rivalries. Considering the dangerous proportions and far-reaching implications of this rematch, it would be accurate to define it as the fifth Arab-Israeli War. The conflict has the incendiary potential to spread like wildfire and engulf the entire region and even to attract the involvement of external great powers. In order to keep things in perspective, this episode represents the tensest moment in the Levant since the Yom Kippur War.

As of this writing, the situation is in flux, but it looks like it foreshadows larger and more impactful events that may reshuffle the regional balance of power for generations to come. The end of the Middle Eastern status quo is likely coming. Therefore, a scrutiny of this present crisis based on a long-range analytical perspective is pertinent to decipher its instructive lessons.

The China Factor in the India-Tanzania Strategic Partnership

Raghvendra Kumar

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (right) walks with Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan on their way to a joint press conference at Hyderabad House, New Delhi, India, Oct. 10, 2023.

The recent revitalization and reinforcement of India’s engagement with Tanzania is a result of China’s deteriorating global image as an equal partner of choice offering so-called win-win cooperation in many parts of the world including Tanzania. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Tanzania has contributed to economic and environmental vulnerabilities in the East African nation; that, in turn, has created space for New Delhi to expand and consolidate its bilateral engagement with Dar es Salaam.

India and Tanzania are maritime neighbors that have traditionally enjoyed close and friendly relations and people-to-people ties dating back centuries. Tanzania, being strategically located in the Western Indian Ocean with vast energy and economic potential, holds immense importance for India as a key partner in Africa. Through strategic leveraging of shared strengths and mutual interests, India and Tanzania can forge an enduring partnership that promotes economic growth, regional integration, and people-centric development, while contributing to the shared vision of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) and the African Union’s vision for peace and security in Africa. In particular, focusing on the development of the blue economy will bring accelerated economic growth.

Pakistan: Retaliatory Violence In Balochistan

Tushar Ranjan Mohanty

On October 14, 2023, at least six non-local labourers, working on a private site, were killed, and another two were injured, by Baloch militants in the Satellite Town area of Turbat city in the Kech District of Balochistan. The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) claimed that the operation was based on ‘intelligence reports’ from BLA’s ‘intelligence wing’ suggesting presence of informers and agents of the Pakistani military, operating from a residential compound in Turbat city. These individuals, the BLA statement claimed, were seen frequenting Pakistani military camps and purportedly using vehicles associated with the military. Beyond their alleged ties to the Pakistani military, the BLA statement claimed that these individuals acted as informers and facilitated safe houses for what they describe as “Pakistani death squads.”

The BLA statement also urged local contractors, hoteliers, and landlords in the region to refrain from aiding or providing facilities to individuals linked with the Pakistani military, cautioning that those found doing so would be ‘held accountable’. Following the raid, the statement claimed further, the injured and the bodies of the deceased were transported to Multan, Punjab, via a military helicopter.

This attack came against the backdrop of the Army’s undeclared ongoing operations in several parts of Balochsitan. On October 12, 2023, the Army, reportedly backed by helicopter gunships, launched a large-scale military operation in the Margat area of Bolan District and the Zarghoon area of Quetta in Balochistan. Helicopters were spotted shelling various area, while ground forces blocked different places. There are no clear reports regarding casualties.

Getting the Basics Wrong: Key U.S. Failures in Afghanistan

William Byrd

After the 9/11 attacks, which weighed on America for a generation, the U.S.-led complete military victory over the Taliban in 2001 brought an unexpected opportunity to end decades of destructive violent conflict in Afghanistan. Afghans and many Americans and other foreigners who worked on the country were aware of and strove to exploit this opportunity, which would have greatly benefited U.S. interests as well. But starting from a broadly favorable situation—the “golden moment” sometimes seen in postconflict contexts—mistaken basic decisions, lacunae, and failures, both at the outset and subsequently, ultimately led to defeat.

The recently established Afghanistan War Commission, a nonpartisan body mandated by Congress, is an essential initiative whose tasks during its three-year lifetime will be to write an official history of the nearly 20-year U.S. engagement, extract lessons learned, and distill recommendations. The work of the commission understandably will take time. Its final report will come out five years after the end of the U.S.’s military presence in Afghanistan (termed “the longest war in America’s history”). But while the situation in Afghanistan was complicated, some key lessons are straightforward. And though hindsight often is clarifying, many of the mistakes and failures were apparent when they occurred and, indeed, were called out in real time.

This article will focus on a few key areas where what went wrong was strategically determinative of the outcome. It covers U.S. approaches, decisions, and actions, though other parties—Afghan politicians and warlords; regional countries, most notably Pakistan; and the Taliban itself—contributed to U.S. failure. It starts by delving into the crucial question of “why”: Why were certain key decisions, which seemed mistaken even at the time, made?

New Maldives President: India’s Friend or Foe?

Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

President-elect of the Maldives Mohamed Muiz attends a victory celebration in Male, Maldives, Monday, Oct. 2, 2023.

Maldives elected a new president on September 30, and it is not Ibrahim Solih, the incumbent. The opposition candidate, Mohamed Muizzu, received 54 percent of the vote against Solih’s 46 percent. With the change in leadership in Maldives, there will be some key realignments and the China-India competitive dynamics in South Asia will yet again be on full display.

Muizzu, from the Progressive Alliance – a coalition of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and the People’s National Congress (PNC) – is considered to be pro-China, and it is assumed that Maldives will soon have a pro-China shift in its foreign policy. Conversely, this is seen by some as an loss for India.

Solih, who will remain as caretaker president until November 17, belongs to the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). Solih considered India a friend and partner, assisting Malé across multiple areas, from defense and security to economic and broader development of the island nation. And for India, Maldives has been one of its critical maritime partners in the Indian Ocean Region. But precisely because of Maldives’ strategic location in the Indian Ocean, China has been vying for expanding its influence there. The presence of several international sea lines of communications (SLOCS) is an additional imperative for China’s aggressive push into the Indian Ocean as an active player.

The Path to AI Arms Control

Henry A. Kissinger and Graham Allison

This year marks the 78th anniversary of the end of the deadliest war in history and the beginning of the longest period in modern times without great-power war. Because World War I had been followed just two decades later by World War II, the specter of World War III, fought with weapons that had become so destructive they could theoretically threaten all of humankind, hung over the decades of the Cold War that followed. When the United States’ atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki compelled Japan’s immediate unconditional surrender, no one thought it conceivable that the world would see a de facto moratorium on the use of nuclear weapons for the next seven decades. It seemed even more improbable that almost eight decades later, there would be just nine nuclear weapons states. The leadership demonstrated by the United States over these decades in avoiding nuclear war, slowing nuclear proliferation, and shaping an international order that provided decades of great-power peace will go down in history as one of America’s most significant achievements.

Today, as the world confronts the unique challenges posed by another unprecedented and in some ways even more terrifying technology—artificial intelligence—it is not surprising that many have been looking to history for instruction. Will machines with superhuman capabilities threaten humanity’s status as master of the universe? Will AI undermine nations’ monopoly on the means of mass violence? Will AI enable individuals or small groups to produce viruses capable of killing on a scale that was previously the preserve of great powers? Could AI erode the nuclear deterrents that have been a pillar of today’s world order?

At this point, no one can answer these questions with confidence. But as we have explored these issues for the last two years with a group of technology leaders at the forefront of the AI revolution, we have concluded that the prospects that the unconstrained advance of AI will create catastrophic consequences for the United States and the world are so compelling that leaders in governments must act now. Even though neither they nor anyone else can know what the future holds, enough is understood to begin making hard choices and taking actions today—recognizing that these will be subject to repeated revision as more is discovered.

China’s Xi Eyes Victory Lap For Belt And Road On Its 10-Year Anniversary, Despite Criticism

Reid Standish

Despite criticism that it has saddled some countries with unsustainable levels of debt since being launched 10 years ago, Chinese leader Xi Jinping is expected to tout the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as a foreign policy success while showcasing it as an alternative development model to the West at a major summit in Beijing.

The third Belt and Road Forum will begin on October 17 and is set to be attended by representatives from around the world as China looks to cement the program championed by Xi as a key part of the country’s foreign policy.

“This is the 10-year anniversary for the first big foreign policy idea that Xi pushed out,” Raffaello Pantucci, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, told RFE/RL. “Everyone always focuses on individual projects, but [BRI] is ultimately a Chinese vision for how to engage with the world and Beijing is looking to celebrate that idea.”

Formally launched in 2013 following speeches by Xi in Kazakhstan and Indonesia shortly after he became China’s leader, the BRI has financed the construction of ports, power plants, railroads, highways, and other infrastructure projects and invested hundreds of billions of dollars in dozens of countries to boost trade and investment by improving China’s transport links with the rest of the world.

The Global Alliance of Failed States

Walter Clemens

The visit of North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un to Russia, and the possible visit of Vladimir Putin to Pyongyang, represent the top layer of a global partnership of failed states that have been bound more closely together since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Unlike Haiti or some African countries, the governments of Russia and North Korea are still very much in control of nearly everything inside their borders. So why regard them as “failed states?” The answer is that they and their partners fail to provide the basics for human development and mutual trust.

The UN Human Development Index (HDI) ranks countries by their physical health (life expectancy), education (years of schooling), and material well-being (GDP per capita). The index is not perfect, but it provides the best single picture of global trends. By all these measures, Switzerland and Norway came out on top. Hong Kong, before China’s takeover, ranked fourth in the world on the HDI, while recent decades saw Canada fall to 15th and the USA to 21st.

A measure of mutual trust can be found in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). Here too, Scandinavia ranks highest, joined by New Zealand and Singapore. Canada ranks 14th and the USA 24th.

Using data from before the Ukraine war, Russia ranked 52nd on the HDI, its life expectancy falling to 69 years, and its GDP per capita at $22,000. Basic honesty in Russia, as measured by the CPI in 2022, was among the lowest anywhere — 137th out of 180 countries on the index.

The U.S. Can Still Avoid War With China Over Taiwan

Oriana Skylar Mastro 

For a half-century, America has avoided war with China over Taiwan largely through a delicate balance of deterrence and reassurance.

That equilibrium has been upset. China is building up and flexing its military power; hostile rhetoric emanates from both Beijing and Washington. War seems likelier each day.

It’s not too late to restore the kind of balance that helped to keep the peace for decades, but it will require taking steps to ease China’s concerns. This will be difficult because of Chinese intransigence and the overheated atmosphere prevailing in Washington. But it is worth the political risk if it prevents war.

Deterrence came in the form of the implied use of U.S. military force to thwart a Chinese attack on Taiwan. Reassurance was provided by the understanding that the United States would not intrude on decisions regarding Taiwan’s eventual political status.

The United States and its regional allies must continue to create a robust military deterrence. But U.S. leaders and politicians also need to keep in mind the power of reassurance, try to understand China’s deep sensitivities about Taiwan and should recommit — clearly and unequivocally — to the idea that only China and Taiwan can work out their political differences, a stance that remains official U.S. policy.

During the Cold War, Beijing and Washington signed a series of communiqués related to Taiwan. One of them said the United States “reaffirms its interest in a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question by the Chinese themselves.” This and other wording was deliberately ambiguous, but it was accepted by all sides as a commitment to avoid rocking the boat. China still views this arrangement as binding.

How America Can Beat China In A War

James Holmes

Ground power is central to maritime strategy, in the Western Pacific as elsewhere. General Charles Flynn, commander of U.S. Army Pacific, told the annual gathering of the Association of the United States Army that China boasts three core advantages over the United States and its Asian allies. Ground forces supported from sea, air, and space represent the allies’ offset.

What Advantages China Has in a War

First, said General Flynn, China enjoys “interior lines” relative to the allies. This is a geometric, geospatial way of parsing the strategic and operational relationship between potential foes. Think of it in terms of a circle centered on one antagonist. That’s the interior power. Likely military engagements would take place somewhere along the circumference of the circle, meaning the interior combatant’s forces would have the luxury of traversing short, direct routes to scenes of fighting while maneuvering between separate engagements if need be.

Operating along the circle’s radii makes the interior power faster and nimbler, helping it mass forces at the right point in space at the right time for action. Meanwhile the exterior contender, presumably approaching the battlespace from afar, has to range around the circle’s circumference, taking longer, more circuitous routes to the battleground. Those are the “exterior lines.” The imperative to move around the periphery makes it harder, slower, and more costly for the exterior power to stage superior combat power at the time and place of battle.

Russia releases four Ukrainian children after mediation by Qatar

Siobhán O'Grady

KYIV — Russia has agreed to free four Ukrainian children — ranging in age from 2 to 17 — and allow them to return them to their families in Ukraine after Qatar intervened as a mediator, according to a government official briefed on the matter. Two of the children are now back with relatives and two others are expected to be reunited with their families in the coming days, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomatic negotiations.

Qatar’s role in the negotiations, which lasted several months, came at the request of the Ukrainian government.

The Ukrainian children passed through Qatar’s Embassy in Moscow and took different routes home. Some traveled or were scheduled to travel from Russia to Ukraine via Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. Others went through Belarus.

The travel arrangements involved several types of transport, including diplomatic convoy, train and a privately chartered plane through Qatar, the official said.

“We welcome today’s positive news, about the reunification of children with their families in Ukraine through Qatari mediation efforts,” Lolwah Al-Khater, Qatar’s minister of state for international cooperation said in a statement. In recent weeks, Qatari officials have been in “continuous dialogue with our Ukrainian and Russian counterparts,” she said.

The U.S. Can Still Avoid War With China Over Taiwan

Oriana Skylar Mastro

For a half-century, America has avoided war with China over Taiwan largely through a delicate balance of deterrence and reassurance.

That equilibrium has been upset. China is building up and flexing its military power; hostile rhetoric emanates from both Beijing and Washington. War seems likelier each day.

It’s not too late to restore the kind of balance that helped to keep the peace for decades, but it will require taking steps to ease China’s concerns. This will be difficult because of Chinese intransigence and the overheated atmosphere prevailing in Washington. But it is worth the political risk if it prevents war.

Deterrence came in the form of the implied use of U.S. military force to thwart a Chinese attack on Taiwan. Reassurance was provided by the understanding that the United States would not intrude on decisions regarding Taiwan’s eventual political status.

The United States and its regional allies must continue to create a robust military deterrence. But U.S. leaders and politicians also need to keep in mind the power of reassurance, try to understand China’s deep sensitivities about Taiwan and should recommit — clearly and unequivocally — to the idea that only China and Taiwan can work out their political differences, a stance that remains official U.S. policy.

New Look At Global Banks Highlights Risks From Higher-For-Longer Interest Rates

Charles Cohen, Srobona Mitra and Fabio M. Natalucci
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Central banks could keep interest rates higher for longer as they fight to curb inflation that remains stubbornly high in many countries—and slow their economies by doing so.

Such an environment hasn’t confronted the world’s financial markets in a generation. That means financial supervisors must sharpen their analytical tools and regulatory responses to address emerging threats. And the new risks gathering in the banking system and beyond mean it’s time to redouble efforts to identify the weakest lenders.

Accordingly, we enhanced our stress-testing tools to focus on risks from rising interest rates and incorporate the kind of funding pressures that toppled some banks in March. We also developed a new surveillance tool for tracking emergent banking fragilities using analyst forecasts and traditional bank metrics. These monitoring tools, based on public data, aim to complement stress tests by supervisory authorities and by IMF-World Bank teams in Financial Sector Assessment Programs, which use more granular confidential supervisory data.

Rising rates are a risk for banks, even though many benefit by collecting higher interest rates from borrowers while keeping deposit rates low. Loan losses may also increase as both consumers and businesses now face higher borrowing costs—especially if they lose jobs or business revenues. Besides loans, banks also invest in bonds and other debt securities, which lose value when interest rates rise. Banks may be forced to sell these at a loss if faced with sudden deposit withdrawals or other funding pressures. The failure ofSilicon Valley Bank was a dramatic example of this bond-loss channel.

Missing Pieces Of Kerch Bridge Strike: Give Ukraine What It Needs To Isolate Crimea And Gain Initiative

Bryan Clark and Can Kasapoğlu


The war in Ukraine is at a critical juncture both on the ground and in the capitols of Ukraine’s main supporters. Aid to Kyiv is now a point of contention in the United States Congress, which had to remove Ukraine support from a short-term funding package to avoid a government shutdown. Overseas, China’s intensified aggression toward its neighbors and Hamas’s terror campaign against Israel are beginning to stretch US attention and resources across multiple theaters. With half of Ukraine’s post-invasion military and humanitarian assistance coming from the United States, softening support in Washington could cause other North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies to pare back their contributions as well. To sustain US and NATO support and put Russia on the defensive going into winter, Ukraine’s military will need to change the dynamics of a counteroffensive that has been slow to retake Russian-held territory.

Cutting off Crimea from Russia and forcing Moscow’s troops to protect an isolated peninsula is the kind of change that would prove Ukraine is able to win the war, rather than merely fight to a draw. With the “land bridge” across southern Ukraine already under attack, the Kerch Strait bridge carries much of the ammunition and supplies going into Crimea. If the bridge were impassable, Russia would need to redouble its efforts to defend southern Ukraine, drawing troops away from the east and north and potentially enabling Kyiv to make more rapid gains along those fronts before winter.

Is South America A New Persian Gulf?

Alex Elnagdy

When the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, now British Petroleum, discovered Iranian oil in 1908, a century of petroleum energy primacy followed. The same is rapidly becoming true for minerals like lithium, copper, cobalt, nickel, and rare earth elements (critical minerals) necessary for technologies that produce, transmit, and store electricity. These elements can be found all over the world, but China controls nearly all critical mineral supply chains. Today, the United States needs critical mineral access more than it depends on foreign oil. The greatest opportunity remaining for U.S. critical mineral independence hinges on South American lithium.

Like internal combustion engines and oil, Electric Vehicle (EV) lithium-ion batteries are “driving demand for batteries and related critical minerals,” according to the International Energy Agency. The market cap for critical minerals grew from $160 billion in 2018 to $320 billion in 2022, primarily due to an increase in EV sales that rose from 2 million to over 10 million during the same period. Road transportation has long been the backbone of oil demand globally, and now, the same relationship is unfolding for critical minerals. And like oil shocks, even if felt by manufacturers before consumers, Americans will be more vulnerable to critical mineral price spikes as our vehicles and grids modernize.

The countries the United States needs to prioritize to head off exponentially growing lithium battery demand depend on the battery composition the United States ultimately bets on. Lithium leads the battery race because it is the metal with the greatest energy-to-weight ratio. Within these batteries, there is competition between Nickel-Manganese-Cobalt (NMC) and Lithium-Iron-Phosphate (LFP) cathodes. Both use lithium to store and release electricity. LFP just uses more common materials—and more lithium—to complete the circuit through your device. Moreover, NMC provides higher energy storage for the greater driving range in cars, but LFP is cheaper, safer, and quickly closing the energy storage gap with NMC.

Marx’s vision of inequality

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It is often assumed that Marx was an egalitarian thinker. This is done, I believe, not through reading Marx (few people do it) but by applying a simple extrapolation. According to this common, and somewhat naive, view of the world, the Right favours inequality, a small state, and almost no redistribution, and the Left the reverse. The more you move towards the extreme Left, it is held, the more the latter position must be true. And since Marxists are considered the extreme Left, they must be in favour of equality even more so that the other Leftists.

This view, however, overlooks what was the principal objective for Marx: the abolition of classes, end of private property of capital and thus transcendence of capitalism. Marx and Engels were indeed activists, founders of the First International, indefatigable organisers of various workers’ assemblies, writers of The Communist Manifesto, authors of very accessible lectures delivered to workers’ associations (especially so Marx’s very simple but brilliant Wage Labour and Capital). In such activities, they necessarily argued for typical pro-workers or pro-trade union causes: reduction in the number of hours of work, a ban on child labour, higher wages, free education.

So, how could he not have been a pro-equality thinker? To understand this, one has to return to Marx’s and Engels’ principal objective: the end of class society. For that ultimate objective to be reached, workers’ activism in which Marx participated and which he supported, was necessary. It was useful too as it brought some real gains to the workers. But such activism, in Marx’s view, must never lose sight of the ultimate objective. The reduction of inequality that could be obtained through syndicalist struggles cannot by itself be the final goal. It is only an intermediate aim, on the road to the classless society.

A troubled world economy points to global catastrophe


Troubles are coming to the world economy — not as single spies, but as battalions. They are doing so on multiple fronts, in the United States, China and Europe. Coupled with renewed geopolitical strains in the Middle East, those troubles heighten the chances of a full-blown world economic and financial market crisis by the middle of next year.

Among the greatest threats to the U.S. and world economic recoveries is the recent spike in U.S. Treasury bond yields, the key interest rate in the world economy. In the short space of two months, the 10-year Treasury bond yield spiked from less than 4 percent to over 4 ¾ percent — a 16-year high. It did so in response to Federal Reserve warnings that interest rates would stay high for longer to contain inflation, as well as to growing market fears about how the U.S. government will fund its budget deficit, at 8 percent of gross domestic product.

The sharp rise in interest rates has already sent the 30-year mortgage rate toward 8 percent and substantially increased the interest rate cost for automobile purchases. This must be expected soon to constitute a major headwind for both home and automobile sales at the very time when most households have run through their pandemic savings and the government faces another shutdown.

It is also likely to exacerbate problems in the commercial property space where property developers are already struggling with low occupancy rates in a post-COVID world. The last thing that these developers needed was to have to pay higher interest rates on the more than $500 billion in commercial property loans that come due over the next few years.

Countering tactical kamikaze drones – ideas urgently needed.

Sergio Miller

At the time of writing, the ZALA AERO-Kalashnikov Lancet loitering munition (‘kamikaze drone’) has damaged or destroyed 640 odd Ukrainian vehicles and systems on the front lines, with video evidence. First Person View (FPV) drones are the second-biggest battlefield killer. These have tallied over 840 ‘kills’, again with video evidence. Expressed another way – for a British reader – these two drone types would have written off an entire British Army heavy brigade combat team.

The time for complacency is over. A new technology is emerging which is having as major an impact on the close battle as the machinegun one hundred years ago.

The Kremlin recognises the profound change that has taken place. From the beginning of the September term, Russian 10th-11th graders will be learning how to fly a drone and counteract enemy drones1. On 8 August, President Putin ordered the ramping up of drone production. First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov has reported that by 2024 Russia will be producing 18,000 large and medium-sized civilian drones annually, with drones weighing less than one kilogram, assembled in the tens of thousands.2 According to Kommersant (‘The Businessman’) the Russian civil state order for drones to 2030 will amount to $2.5 billion. The defence state order for drones is a classified number. It will be significantly greater. This throws a challenge: how are we going to respond to these developments?

‘Everything you see is live’ as CENTCOM shifts to digital tools


The central challenge in the most recent Digital Falcon Oasis exercise was this: could digital tools enable U.S. Central Command to find, prioritize, approve, and neutralize a thousand or more threats in 24 hours?

Those who attended the post-exercise briefing may have guessed the answer when they were not emailed a massive PowerPoint deck in advance, nor greeted with a thick binder when they arrived. Indeed, the briefing embodied Central Command’s ongoing transition to digital capabilities. The event opened with a quick introduction, then immediately shifted to a digital map displaying live layers of blue and red forces in theater, annotations from team members collaborating in a shared space, and tabs for the various software tools that had been built and tested throughout the exercise.

One by one, teams across the Command and partner organizations demonstrated how the tools work—and how they plan to put them to daily use. Within three clicks, any analyst could find a remotely piloted vehicle flying over the Arabian Gulf and open up its live video feed. Within another three clicks, any logistician could view a real-time snapshot of fuel, rations, medical supplies, and more, at any base in theater. A few more clicks would join the workbench where targeteers were collaborating live on target approvals and prioritization, or another workbench where planners were building dynamic plans based on a live picture of supplies and forces in theater.


Riley Bailey, Nicole Wolkov, Christina Harward, Grace Mappes, and Mason Clark

Russian President Vladimir Putin may be trying to temper expectations of significant Russian advances around Avdiivka in Donetsk Oblast. Putin claimed in an interview on Russian state television on October 15 that Russian forces are conducting an “active defense” in the Avdiivka, Kupyansk, and Zaporizhia directions.[1] Putin’s characterization of Russian offensive operations near Avdiivka as an “active defense,” instead of “active combat operations” as Russian UN Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya claimed on October 13, or discussing Russian operations as an “offensive” as some milbloggers have, may be an attempt to temper expectations of significant Russian advances.[2] Russian operations including intensive artillery and airstrikes are likely intended to degrade Ukrainian forces around Avdiivka.[3] Russian forces are unlikely to make significant breakthroughs or cut off Ukrainian forces in the settlement in the near term, and potential advances at scale would likely require a significant and protracted commitment of personnel and materiel.[4]

The Russian information space writ large is also metering its initial optimism about the prospects of Russian offensive operations around Avdiivka. Russian milbloggers initially reported maximalist and unverifiable claims of Russian advances over 10km, likely exaggerated the degree of Russian successes near Avdiivka during initial offensive operations, and expressed optimism for rapid Russian advances.[5] Some Russian milbloggers have since acknowledged difficulties in the Russian advance near Avdiivka and noted that Russian forces decreased their pace of offensive operations around the settlement.[6] Russian milbloggers have also begun to claim that intense and attritional fighting is ongoing around Avdiivka.[7] Many Russian milbloggers also continue to self-censor by limiting reports of Russian tactical actions and problems specific to individual sectors of the frontline.[8] A Russian milblogger claimed that unspecified actors, possibly the Russian military leadership and some subset of milbloggers, agreed to stop reporting on the Avdiivka operations, but reiterated complaints about general problems in the Russian military not specific to any sector of the front.[9]

Navy testing cloud capabilities on ships for improved, flexible access at sea


The Department of the Navy is exploring how to implement cloud access on deployed vessels so that sailors are able to stay connected in remote areas where connectivity is limited, according to the department’s chief information officer.

Like the other services and the Pentagon at large, the Navy and Marine Corps have made strides towards migrating data and applications into the cloud, such as its cloud-based office suite of tools known as Flank Speed. And while much of those efforts have previously concentrated on sights located ashore, the Navy is now experimenting with a cloud on a ship to inform how those capabilities can be leveraged for users while at sea, acting Department of the Navy CIO Jane Rathbun said Friday.

“In our work with Flank Speed … we actually physically put a cloud on a ship and are extending that enterprise IT concept more to the tactical edge,” she said during a keynote at AFCEA NOVA’s Naval IT Day. “I think that there’s going to be a lot of opportunity going forward to rethink cloud in a tactical environment.”

A 2020 memo co-signed by the assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition and the service’s CIO created a policy to accelerate promotion and acquisition of cloud services. Since then, the Department of the Navy awarded Amazon Web Services (AWS) in December a $724 million contract to give the Navy access to its commercial cloud environment for at least five years.