27 October 2023

Israel sees Gaza ground invasion inevitable, insists no US veto

Ben Caspit

Eighteen days after the attack by Hamas, Israel seems to be waiting for a green light from Washington to launch its ground assault on the Gaza Strip. Al-Monitor reported Monday that the Biden administration is concerned that Israel lacks achievable military goals for its operations in Gaza. It would also like to advance humanitarian aid for the enclave and efforts to release hostages before the ground operation is set in motion.

Meanwhile, Israelis are learning what it's like to prepare for war together with America.

"To all those who support a defense pact," a senior Israeli defense official told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, "I suggest examining how we now coordinate everything with the Americans, how we don't do anything contrary to their opinion, at least for now, and how we do all this without having a defense alliance of one kind or another with them.”

The official was referring to discussions underway for months between Israel and the United States, on a loose defense alliance, which would provide Israel with US support in emergencies but not tie its hands if the need arises for urgent military action.

No American veto

Having called up over 300,000 reserve troops since Oct. 7, the military says it is ready. Its forces amassing on the Gaza border have spent the past two weeks training, devising attack plans for the dense urban terrain in Gaza, amending, updating and testing them.

How to prevent Iran from winning the Gaza war


As Israel readies for a ground invasion of Gaza, and Palestinian and Israeli civilian deaths continue to mount, a broader struggle for influence continues in the Middle East between the United States and Iran.

The US has long played an important leadership role in the Middle East. American influence has hinged on maintaining close ties with diverse allies, including Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

And since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, Iran’s leaders have sought to boost their regional influence and secure their domestic position in power by undermining America’s relationships in the Middle East.

Iran has built its own regional network, composed largely of Shia Muslim entities, including Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

Iran also has long supported Hamas, a Sunni Islamist movement and US-designated terrorist group that controls Gaza. Like Iran, Hamas is committed to the destruction of Israel.

As a scholar of international politics, I am interested in how this rivalry between the US and Iran has evolved and how this war may affect it.

The long-standing Israel-Palestinian dispute is central to Iran’s regional strategy, which aims to drive a wedge between Israel and its neighbors and complicate US relations throughout the Arab world. So far, the Israel-Hamas war appears to be having precisely those effects.

China Says Israel Has Right to Self-Defense While Reiterating Call for Deescalation


Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi reiterated that Israel must protect civilians even as it defends itself, while also telling his Palestinian counterpart that China “deeply sympathizes” with the difficulties his people face.

“Every country has the right to self-defense but should abide by international humanitarian law and protect civilians,” Wang told Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen in a telephone call Monday, according to a statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry. “It is imperative to prevent further escalation of the situation that could lead to a worse humanitarian catastrophe.”

In a separate call, Wang told Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki that China “deeply sympathizes with the difficult situation of the Palestinian side, especially the people of Gaza.” He added that his nation would continue to provide humanitarian help to Gazans.

The calls mark the highest-level communication China has publicly acknowledged with both Israeli and Palestinian officials since the attack on Oct. 7 that Hamas launched. China has refrained from condemning Hamas, whose incursion killed 1,400 people, many of them civilians.

Israel responded with air strikes on Gaza that have killed thousands, and concern has mounted among leaders around the world that the conflict may spread. Earlier this month, in a phone call with Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat, Wang said that Israel’s actions “have gone beyond self-defense.” He called on the nation to heed the call of the United Nations and international community “to stop its collective punishment of the people in Gaza,” the official Xinhua News Agency reported. Chinese President Xi Jinping has also called for an immediate cease-fire.

The War With Hamas Could Threaten Israel’s Imports

Elisabeth Braw

Last week, in response to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, a major Taiwanese cargo shipping line declared force majeure—a contractual clause that frees parties from liability and obligation in the case of extraordinary events such as wars and natural disasters—and canceled a planned stop by one of its vessels at Israel’s Ashdod Port, citing the “persisting unsafe situation.”

How Israel reset the energy map


The oil price shock delivered around the Yom Kippur War did more to define the 1970s as a decade of energy crisis than any other event. As Egyptian troops crossed the Suez Canal on 6 October 1973 in an attack co-ordinated with that of Syria on the Golan Heights, the Egyptian navy blockaded the Bab al-Mandeb Strait – the narrow body of water that connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden – cutting off Israel’s access to its principal supply of oil from Iran. A week and a half later, the six Persian Gulf members of the OPEC oil cartel raised their posted oil price from $3 to $5.12. Determined to raise the market price, too, the Arab members of OPEC (OAPEC) began the following day to reduce production. While these two moves affected most importers, OAPEC then responded to President Richard Nixon’s request to Congress for $2.2 billion in military aid for Israel by embargoing the sale of oil to the United States and the Netherlands. Although the war ended with a ceasefire on 25 October, OAPEC cut production again in November and the Persian Gulf OPEC members increased the posted price to $11.60 the following month. The embargo remained in place until March 1974, having earlier been extended to include South Africa, Portugal, and Rhodesia. As a cumulative result of these actions, market prices for oil more than doubled between the start of the war and the end of the embargo.

The immediate effects on daily life were dramatic. All western states introduced some form of energy rationing. Several European governments banned driving on Sundays. In Japan, ministers cut the supply of oil and electricity to industry by a fifth. Across the Pacific, the Nixon administration legislated for a 55 miles per hour speed limit on the country’s highways and extended daylight saving time. On 7 November 1973, Nixon, who was in no psychological condition to deal with the crisis as his presidency was simultaneously being overwhelmed by Watergate, made a national televised address, declaring that ‘until we provide new sources of energy for tomorrow, we must be prepared to tighten our belts today’.

Israel's Four Biggest Challenges in War with Hamas, According to Former PM

Tom O'Connor

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has outlined in an exclusive interview with Newsweek what he termed the four "constraints" in Israel's ongoing war effort against the Palestinian Hamas movement.

Barak served as Israeli premier from July 1999 to March 2001, having succeeded current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after his first of what would be three non-consecutive stints in office. Before entering politics, Barak oversaw Netanyahu as commander of the elite special forces unit known as Sayeret Matkal in which they both served. He's also held a number of other senior military and political positions over the decades, and has emerged as one of Netanyahu's most influential critics.

But today, Barak sees the war as the most important issue his country is facing. He points to four "constraints" in particular that weigh on the Israel Defense Forces' (IDF) "Operation Swords of Iron," launched October 8, one day after Hamas' unprecedented Operation "Al-Aqsa Flood" air, land and sea assault took Israel by surprise.

With the IDF set to launch a ground campaign into Gaza, Barak detailed the considerations that will have to be taken into account regarding hostages, escalations, governance and public support in order to produce a winning outcome.

A picture taken from the southern Israeli city of Sderot on October 23, shows smoke ascending over the northern Gaza Strip following an Israeli strike, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militias led by Hamas. Thousands of people, both Israeli and Palestinians have died since October 7, when Hamas launched its unprecedented "Al-Aqsa Flood" suprise attack and the IDF commenced a historic bombing campaign called "Operation Swords of Iron.


Amin Soltani, Peter Mills, Kathyrn Tyson, Ashka Jhaveri, Brian Carter, and Johanna Moore

The Iran Update provides insights into Iranian and Iranian-sponsored activities abroad that undermine regional stability and threaten US forces and interests. It also covers events and trends that affect the stability and decision-making of the Iranian regime. The Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) provides these updates regularly based on regional events. For more on developments in Iran and the region, see our interactive map of Iran and the Middle East.

Key Takeaways:
  • Palestinian militias continued attacks at their usual rate from the Gaza Strip into Israel while IDF airstrikes targeted Palestinian militant groups affiliated with Hamas in Gaza.
  • Militants in southern Lebanon and Iranian-backed militants, including Lebanese Hezbollah, conducted nine attacks as part of an ongoing attack campaign targeting IDF radar and sensor sites and military targets. The IDF also intercepted two drones traveling from Lebanese territory north of Haifa.
  • The Islamic Resistance of Iraq—a coalition of Iranian-backed Iraqi militias—may have expanded the locations of its attacks against US forces in Syria.


Brian Carter, Andie Parry, Amin Soltani, and Nicholas Carl

The Iran Update provides insights into Iranian and Iranian-sponsored activities abroad that undermine regional stability and threaten US forces and interests. It also covers events and trends that affect the stability and decision-making of the Iranian regime. The Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) provides these updates regularly based on regional events. For more on developments in Iran and the region, see our interactive map of Iran and the Middle East.

Note: CTP and ISW have refocused the update to cover the Israel-Hamas war. The new sections address developments in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Lebanon, and Syria, as well as noteworthy activity from Iran’s Axis of Resistance. We do not report in detail on war crimes because these activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We utterly condemn violations of the laws of armed conflict, Geneva Conventions, and humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.

Key Takeaways:
  • Palestinian militias continued attacks at their usual rate from the Gaza Strip into Israel. Palestinian militias increased their targeting of the Israel Defense Forces in these attacks, likely as part of their preparations to defend against a possible Israeli ground operation.
  • Clashes between Palestinian militants and Israeli forces in the West Bank dropped by roughly half.
  • Iranian-backed militants, including Lebanese Hezbollah, conducted 17 attacks as part of an ongoing attack campaign against Israeli forces and assets.
  • Iranian leaders have reached a consensus approving limited cross-border Lebanese Hezbollah attacks into Israel, according to Reuters. This report and others indicate that Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah are coordinating a carefully calibrated escalation to draw Israeli attention away from the Gaza Strip.
  • The Israel Defense Forces Air Force conducted airstrikes on the Damascus and Aleppo international airport runways. The Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry indicated that the airstrikes in Syria are part of an Israeli effort to prevent Iran from moving weapons into Syria and/or opening a front against Israel from there.
  • Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force Commander Brigadier General Esmail Ghaani arrived in Syria to monitor Iranian-backed militias on the Israel-Syria border, according to Israeli media. Ghaani previously warned Syrian President Bashar al Assad that Iran intends to use Syria as a second front if the war expands.
  • The Islamic Resistance in Iraq—a coalition of Iranian-backed Iraqi militias—conducted a one-way drone attack on US forces at Ain al Asad air base in Iraq, marking the fifth consecutive day of attacks targeting US forces in the Middle East. These attacks are part of the Iranian-led effort to deter the United States from providing meaningful support to Israel.
  • The Houthi prime minister said that the Houthis will target Israeli ships in the Red Sea if Israel continues operations in the Gaza Strip after meeting with Palestinian militia officials in Sanaa, Yemen.

Hamas’s October 7 Attack: Discourse in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Ofira Seliktar

Hamas’s massacre of Israeli civilians, known as ‘Black Sabbath,’ caught virtually everyone by surprise, even though the group had a long history of violence. One reason for this situation is the lack of information on several aspects of Hamas’s modus operandi. The resulting lacuna has biased the algorithms underpinning search engines that drive artificial intelligence (AI) on the subject.

The AI Challenge

The prominence of AI has profoundly and irrevocably changed the human discourse. From its inception on Google and other search engines to the most recent iteration of chatbots such as ChatGPT or Bard, complex algorithms have increasingly driven this process.

A large literature, mostly highly specialized, has analyzed numerous possible biases of the AI discursive products. Bias is created when one idea/topic/concept is disproportionally weighted against another. Faulty algorithms can introduce bias and need to be adjusted. But other issues are also at play.
  • Choosing representative data to correct for bias is also recommended, but in cases where voluminous data is generated on a daily basis over extended periods of time, such remedies are not practical. Experts point out biases which occur when there is imbalance in available data, in the sense that certain topics are overrepresented, whereas information on others hardly exists.
  • Quality of data in the discourse varies from rigorous research appearing in respectable academic publications to conspiracy theories found in niche outlets and social media. The sheer magnitude of ideas/topics/concepts in the discursive universe makes it hard to evaluate their quality. As a rule, discerning players in the discourse shy away from outlandish conspiracy theories, but evaluation of the in-between narratives is exceedingly hard.
  • Relations and causations between variables, two distinctive concepts, are regularly confused in discursive practices, creating a host of fallacies and biases in the narrative. When correlation is mistaken for or misrepresented as causation, it generates a “reality” that does not exist.

If Israel invades Gaza it will be a disaster for both Palestinians and Israelis

Michael Barnett

Israel’s stated war aim is to destroy Hamas and ensure there is no return to the situation before 7 October. This will not be a replay of past wars with Hamas, Israel insists, where it degraded Hamas’s capacities and bought a few years of relative quiet before everything heated up again. Yet this is exactly what is about to happen – but on a much more horrific scale. This outcome can and must be avoided for the sake of the Palestinians and to diminish Israel’s capacity for self-harm in the guise of self-defense. There is an urgent need for a ceasefire.

To see the disaster that lies ahead for Israel and the Palestinians, let’s begin with what we know and consider how the situation may evolve. What would it take for Israel to eradicate Hamas from Gaza? According to most estimates, a bloody, grinding ground war that will last weeks if not months. Whether such an operation would even accomplish this goal is anyone’s guess: Hamas is deeply entrenched in Gaza, has hundreds of miles of tunnels in which to play hide and seek, and could head south and disappear into the refugee camps.

But what if Israel does succeed in wiping out Hamas? Then what? Israel says that it will not reoccupy Gaza. What will emerge from a destroyed Gaza and in the political and security vacuum? Hamas will regroup, or there will be a Hamas 2.0 that might make Hamas 1.0 pale by comparison.

Regardless of whether a ground war succeeds or not, the costs will be enormous and long-lasting. Palestinians will die in the tens of thousands and once again experience trauma beyond belief. Israel will be in a prolonged state of mourning as hundreds, possibly thousands, of its soldiers are buried. Arab states will halt, and maybe reverse, the current normalization process. The longer the campaign goes on, the more likely there will be a wider war, including with Hezbollah and in the West Bank.

The political factors behind China’s disappearing leaders

Mark Parker Young

Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping has shaken China’s military and foreign affairs establishments in the past two months by abruptly replacing several senior military officers and China’s minister of foreign affairs. The removals were all the more surprising because Xi had promoted many of these same officials to lead their organizations less than a year earlier. A close look at the officials involved suggests that a variety of personal and institutional factors contributed to their downfall, but the disruptive impact of the sudden disappearances indicates underlying mistakes and misjudgments on the part of Xi and the personnel apparatus he oversees.

The recent removals suggest that Xi has approved prosecutions of several discrete pockets of corruption and misconduct rather than a repeat of the sweeping and interconnected purges of his first term. The senior officials involved had crucial roles within their respective military and civilian bureaucracies, but none was part of Xi’s core apparatus of political control.

Interpreting patterns among ousted officials

The reshuffles in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) constitute its most significant internal upheaval since 2017. Recent anti-corruption investigations appear to be radiating outward from the traditional locus of military corruption: procurement and logistics. In the last two months, investigators have reportedly detained Minister of National Defense Li Shangfu, Rocket Force Commander Li Yuchao, Rocket Force Political Commissar Xu Zhongbo, and several of their deputies. Li Shangfu served from 2017 to 2022 as chief of the PLA’s armaments and procurement department and the Rocket Force is an extremely capital-intensive service that has expanded rapidly in the past decade, likely affording numerous opportunities for graft. Xu also previously served as political commissar of the Joint Logistics Department and is the latest in a long line of its former leaders to fall under suspicion. The new Rocket Force leaders have no prior experience with the force and its incoming political commissar significantly outranks the new commander in the CCP hierarchy, signaling Xi’s determination to uproot their predecessors’ personal networks and reimpose discipline.

China removes Defense Minister Li Shangfu after two-month disappearance

Nectar Gan and Wayne Chang

China’s Defense Minister Li Shangfu was fired on Tuesday two months after he disappeared from public view, becoming the second high-profile minister to lose his job recently without any official explanation.

Li was also removed from his state positions as a member of the Central Military Commission – a powerful body headed by Chinese leader Xi Jinping who ultimately commands the armed forces – and as one of China’s five state councillors – a senior position in the cabinet that outranks a regular minister, state broadcaster CCTV reported Tuesday.

The decision was approved by the standing committee of the country’s rubber-stamp legislature, the National People’s Congress, according to CCTV. The committee did not name any successor to Li.

Li, who was appointed defense minister in March, has not been seen in public since late August, fueling intense speculation about his fate.

The general’s disappearance follows a series of unexplained personnel shakeups that have roiled the country’s upper ranks, including the dramatic ousting of former Foreign Minister Qin Gang in July.

Qin was also removed as a state councillor on Tuesday, CCTV reported.

The disappearance and dismissal of two senior ministers in quick succession has raised questions about the governance of Xi, who has made China’s political system even more opaque as he concentrates power and enforces strict party discipline.

Xi has also ramped up a campaign to bolster national security, seeking to eliminate any perceived threats and vulnerabilities to the ruling Communist Party amid rising tensions with the West.

China Dismisses Defense Minister Amid Swirl of Speculation

Chris Buckley

Just four months ago, China’s defense minister, Gen. Li Shangfu, was at a forum for regional officials in Singapore, serving as the face of his country’s bold vision for reshaping Asia’s balance of power. He cast China as a force for stability and accused the United States of stirring trouble in the region, suggesting that its leaders should “mind your own business.”

Now, General Li has been dismissed after nearly two months out of public view — the latest example of the opacity of high-level politics in China under Xi Jinping, the country’s top leader.

General Li, who had been appointed defense minister in March, is the second senior official to be purged this year without explanation and under a cloud of suspicion.

The foreign minister, Qin Gang, was dismissed in July, amid speculation about a potentially compromising affair while he was an ambassador in the United States. The removal of the defense minister also followed an abrupt shake-up in August in the leadership of China’s nuclear force, the highest-level upheaval in China’s military in recent years.

The announcement on Tuesday ended some uncertainty about General Li’s professional fate but leaves open questions about whether he is being investigated over any offenses. Officials in the United States said last month that the Chinese authorities had placed him under investigation over corruption.

Beijing removes defense minister, latest move in the high-level military and diplomatic shake-up


China has officially removed its defense minister, state media reported today, the latest high-level shake-up for the Asian giant’s military and diplomatic corps. It’s also a move a Pentagon official indicated could lead to opportunities for improved military-to-military relations between Beijing and Washington.

The removal of Li Shangfu, announced on state-owned CCTV, was not explained. He has not been seen in public since late August, leading most experts to conclude he was headed the same direction as the last Chinese foreign minister, Qin Gang. Qin vanished from sight as well and was formally removed in July after weeks of speculation.

Li’s descent was complete as he was also reportedly removed from the Central Military Commission, which is much more powerful than the defense ministry. Prior to Li’s official departure, there were clear signs of turmoil in the Chinese military, with several top leaders of the Rocket Force having been drummed out.

The report by CCTV came just hours after a Pentagon official revealed the US had accepted a Chinese invitation to the Beijing Xiangshan Forum to be held next week in Beijing. Michael Chase, deputy assistant secretary of defense for China, was asked during a talk at the Atlantic Council in Washington on Monday about Li’s disappearance — news had not come out yet that he’d been formally replaced — and whether a new defense minister could lead to more engagement between the militaries.

China may struggle in electromagnetic spectrum fighting, Pentagon says

Colin Demarest

The Chinese military is wrestling with shortcomings in fights where access to and control of the electromagnetic spectrum is hotly contested, according to a U.S. Department of Defense assessment.

The spectrum is a critical resource in modern conflicts, as its manipulation enables navigation, communication, deception and even weapons guidance. A dizzying amount of electronic jamming and spoofing is expected in a fight between world powers.

China is aware of its perceived deficiencies and is trying to remedy them, a senior U.S. defense official told reporters in a discussion about the 2023 China Military Power Report. The document is published annually and provides the public in-depth analysis of the People’s Liberation Army, or PLA, and Beijing’s modernization goals.

“Some of the things that they talked about are how they can operate — or need to be better prepared to operate — in what they call a complex electromagnetic environment,” said the official, who declined to be named under rules set by the Defense Department. “They still talk about some of the challenges they’re involved in command and control and coordination, among others.”

China’s Age of Malaise

Evan Osnos

Twenty-five years ago, China’s writer of the moment was a man named Wang Xiaobo. Wang had endured the Cultural Revolution, but unlike most of his peers, who turned the experience into earnest tales of trauma, he was an ironist, in the vein of Kurt Vonnegut, with a piercing eye for the intrusion of politics into private life. In his novella “Golden Age,” two young lovers confess to the bourgeois crime of extramarital sex—“We committed epic friendship in the mountain, breathing wet steamy breath.” They are summoned to account for their failure of revolutionary propriety, but the local apparatchiks prove to be less interested in Marx than in the prurient details of their “epic friendship.”

Wang’s fiction and essays celebrated personal dignity over conformity, and embraced foreign ideas—from Twain, Calvino, Russell—as a complement to the Chinese perspective. In “The Pleasure of Thinking,” the title essay in a collection newly released in English, he recalls his time on a commune where the only sanctioned reading was Mao’s Little Red Book. To him, that stricture implied an unbearable lie: “if the ultimate truth has already been discovered, then the only thing left for humanity to do would be to judge everything based on this truth.” Long after his death, of a heart attack, at the age of forty-four, Wang’s views still circulate among fans like a secret handshake. His widow, the sociologist Li Yinhe, once told me, “I know a lesbian couple who met for the first time when they went to pay their respects at his grave site.” She added, “There are plenty of people with minds like this.”

Europe’s Tech Curbs Are a Double-Edged Sword

Jeremiah Johnson

In July, the European Commission released a new strategy agenda for the so-called metaverse. The metaverse is a broad grouping of immersive virtual reality worlds, where everything from work to gaming to socializing could take place. It’s widely seen as a giant flop right now, with only a handful of users registered even on the most popular platforms like Meta’s Horizon Worlds, and few practical applications.

Still, many in the industry are convinced the metaverse will dominate tech’s future, and it’s no surprise that states are jockeying for influence. But as with other technologies, Europe doesn’t seem capable of—or even interested in—leading in the actual technology around the metaverse. Instead, it is interested in leading the policy discussion, or the regulation of that new technology.

That’s a common dynamic on the continent—and in the United Kingdom. The U.K. is hosting a summit on AI safety this year, and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wants the country to be a world leader in “the governance of AI.” Of course, few of the most important AI firms—except Google’s DeepMind—are located in the U.K. The U.K. has little to no chance to lead in AI development, but it is eager to lead in AI regulation.

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Digital Markets Act (DMA), and Digital Services Act (DSA) are all regulatory bills aimed at internet commerce and technology companies and have been described as leading efforts in their respective legislative areas. The EU is also trying to become the first entity to comprehensively regulate AI with its upcoming Artificial Intelligence Act. The EU’s practice of aiming for and achieving global regulatory dominance is so common it even has a name and Wikipedia page—the Brussels effect.

Russia, Ukraine and Thinking Extreme Thoughts

George Friedman

In a recent article, I wrote that the war in Ukraine is over, but nobody knows how to end it. What I meant by that was that the general outline of the military aspects of the war is locked in, and the conflict is contained. The war was started by the Russians, who wanted to take control of Ukraine to create a buffer zone that would prevent the United States and Ukraine from threatening Russia. The United States intervened by sending weapons to Ukraine to block a Russian advance that could threaten NATO and Western Europe. The Ukrainians wanted to block the Russians from taking any territory from their homeland.

The war was part of a series of defensive moves by Russia, the United States and Ukraine, with each more offensive and dangerous than the last. The Russian thrust failed to break the Ukrainians and the Americans. Their defensive capabilities, coupled with their fear of defeat, blunted the Russian advance. The Russians’ fear prevented them from abandoning their constant efforts to disrupt the defenses.

The Russians are not, in my opinion, breaking their enemies. At the same time, the Ukrainians will not be able to break the Russians, in part because the improbability of success will limit any attack, and because the United States, having succeeded in blocking threats to its interest, has little will to sustain the battle. This would seem to impose the endgame on all sides, but the matter is more complex.

Biden Sells Public on Long-Term Support for Israel, Ukraine After Campaigning Against ‘Forever Wars’

Nicole Gaudiano and Rebecca Morin

President Joe Biden pledged to Israel after Hamas' terrorist attacks earlier this month that the United States "will not let you ever be alone.” And he has repeatedly promised to support Ukraine's fight against Russian aggression for “as long as it takes.”

His challenge will be convincing the American public that full-throated support and tens of billions of dollars in proposed aid for allies engaged in wars abroad with no end in sight should be a priority for the long haul — particularly after he campaigned in 2020 on ending “forever wars."

The conflicts in Israel and Ukraine are in many ways different from the one Biden put an end to in Afghanistan, where U.S. troops were on the ground dating back 20 years. Ukraine is fighting its own war against Russia with U.S. assistance and a decision this week to send additional military assets to the Middle East is “all about deterrence,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby said.

But chances are, the violence will still be ongoing — and part of the debate — by this time next year as Biden is in the heat of his reelection campaign. His likely Republican opponent, former President Donald Trump, claims he will “prevent World War III” and blames the conflicts on Biden.

Presidential elections don’t typically turn on foreign policy, as voters are usually more concerned about domestic economic issues. And so far, most Americans agree with Biden that the U.S. should support Ukraine and Israel. But some fatigue is growing for U.S. involvement with Ukraine and Biden’s low approval ratings have yet to show any signs of improving.

If you want peace, prepare for war — and diplomacy

Robert Einhorn

At this Kim Dae-jung Peace Forum, it’s useful to recall seemingly paradoxical advice offered by a fourth-century Roman general: Si vis pacem, para bellum. “If you want peace, prepare for war.”

This Roman-era aphorism has come to mean that if you face an aggressive adversary, build your military strength so that the adversary knows that, if it launches an attack, it will receive a punishing response — and will therefore be discouraged from pursuing such an attack. The idea of achieving peace by preparing for war has been a critical foundation of security strategies for many centuries. Today we call it “deterrence.”

Of course, not all countries prepare for war in order to have peace. Some have prepared for war as a prelude to waging war. Hitler built the Nazi war machine to conquer Europe and beyond. But for countries genuinely seeking peace and facing significant security threats from well-armed adversaries, building countervailing military strength has usually been the chosen strategy. They feared that failure to build and maintain adequate deterrent capabilities would signal weakness and might only invite aggression.

Deterrence — or peace through strength, as it is sometimes called — has stood the test of time because it is widely believed to have worked. Deterrence of the Soviet Union by the United States and its NATO allies during the Cold War is credited with avoiding a major East-West conflict.



In today’s pop-culture-driven world, most people tend to think the American Defense and Intelligence apparatus has spy satellites silently monitoring every square inch of the globe, collecting data from on high to take out threats to American sovereignty or interests as they emerge. Of course, despite how pervasive this belief is, news stories regularly refute the premise, with the Marine Corps losing a crashed F-35 in South Carolina for nearly 24 hours last month, and Hamas managing to launch a large and well-organized surprise attack against Israel in just the past few weeks.

The truth is, despite the incredible intelligence value spy satellites can offer, they are also extremely limited. Today’s spy satellites are exceedingly predictable, and are often relegated to their orbital paths. They are also vulnerable to a variety of ground and space-based attacks – all of which can limit their efficacy in supporting any sort of operation against a near-peer opponent.


The notion that spy satellites can meet all of America’s intelligence-gathering needs may be the result of a combination of the popular culture of recent decades (see 1998’s Enemy of the State film) and world-renowned intelligence agencies not going out of their way to dispel rumors about their alleged capabilities. This topic even came up in a discussion held last year on an episode of the Modern Warfare Institute’s Irregular Warfare podcast between Dr. James Kiras, a professor of Strategy and Security Studies at the U.S. Air Force School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS), and former SOCOM commander, Retired Lieutenant General Thomas Trask.

The Sources of American Power

Jake Sullivan

Nothing in world politics is inevitable. The underlying elements of national power, such as demography, geography, and natural resources, matter, but history shows that these are not enough to determine which countries will shape the future. It is the strategic decisions countries make that matter most—how they organize themselves internally, what they invest in, whom they choose to align with and who wants to align with them, which wars they fight, which they deter, and which they avoid.

When President Joe Biden took office, he recognized that U.S. foreign policy is at an inflection point, where the decisions Americans make now will have an outsize impact on the future. The United States’ underlying strengths are vast, both in absolute terms and relative to other countries. The United States has a growing population, abundant resources, and an open society that attracts talent and investment and spurs innovation and reinvention. Americans should be optimistic about the future. But U.S. foreign policy was developed in an era that is fast becoming a memory, and the question now is whether the country can adjust to the main challenge it faces: competition in an age of interdependence.

The post–Cold War era was a period of great change, but the common thread throughout the 1990s and the years after 9/11 was the absence of intense great-power competition. This was mainly the result of the United States’ military and economic preeminence, although it was widely interpreted as evidence that the world agreed on the basic direction of the international order. That post–Cold War era is now definitively over. Strategic competition has intensified and now touches almost every aspect of international politics, not just the military domain. It is complicating the global economy. It is changing how countries deal with shared problems such as climate change and pandemics. And it is posing fundamental questions about what comes next.


Angelica Evans, Nicole Wolkov, Karolina Hird, and Frederick W. Kagan

Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations in eastern and southern Ukraine on October 24 and advanced south of Bakhmut and in western Zaporizhia Oblast. Geolocated footage published on October 23 indicates that Ukrainian forces advanced east of Andriivka (10 km southwest of Bakhmut), and geolocated footage published on October 24 indicates that Ukrainian forces marginally advanced west of Robotyne.[1] The Ukrainian General Staff also reported on October 24 that Ukrainian forces continued offensive actions south of Bakhmut and achieved partial success near Robotyne.[2]

Russia appears to be increasingly supplementing the use of Shahed-131/136 drones with cheaper and lighter domestically produced drone variants during strikes on Ukrainian infrastructure. Russian media speculated on October 23 that Russian forces used new long-range "Italmas" drones and Italmas variants for the first time in Ukraine during a drone attack on Kyiv Oblast.[3] Russian sources noted that Italmas drones are lighter than Shaheds and are harder to detect and shoot down. Russian milbloggers noted that Italmas drones are cheaper than Shaheds, which means that they can be more widely manufactured and used, but that they deliver lighter payloads, which restricts their usefulness in isolation.[4] Russian sources noted, therefore, that Russian forces will likely use the Italmas drones in tandem with Shaheds.[5] ISW previously assessed that Russia is likely trying to expand and diversify its arsenal of drones, missiles, and guided bombs for strikes against Ukrainian critical infrastructure in advance of the fall-winter season, and increased use of Italmas drones is likely part of the wider munitions diversification effort.[6]

Russian authorities are intensifying mobilization efforts targeting Central Asian migrant communities in Russia. Russian Internal Affairs (MVD) Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev met with the MVD board to discuss “migration problems” and “ethnic crime” and insinuated that migrants commit crimes at a higher rate than natural born Russian citizens.[7] Kolokoltsev defended recent Russian law enforcement mobilization raids on migrant communities and claimed that Russian law enforcement is enforcing standard legal norms.[8]

Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2024

Esther Shein

Artificial intelligence garners the spotlight, taking the top three positions.

Gartner has released its 10 top strategic technology trends that organizations need to explore in 2024. It’s not surprising that different types of AI are in the top three.

“For the past few years and through 2023, the number of organizations that started to work with AI has exploded. This is not expected to slow down,” said Gartner Vice President Analyst Bart Willemsen, in an email interview with TechRepublic.
Top strategic tech trends for 2024

Gartner’s top 10 strategic tech trends for 2024 are the following, in order of their ranking:
  1.  Democratized generative AI.
  2. AI trust, risk and security management.
  1. AI-augmented development.
  2. Intelligent applications.
  3. Augmented-connected workforce.
  4. Machine customers.
  5. Continuous threat exposure management.
  6. Sustainable technology.
  7. Platform engineering.
  8. Industry cloud platforms.

Hacking against humanity: Are Red Cross cyber rules credible?

Christopher Whyte

Civilian hacking in conflict is on the rise. Recent non-state cyber activity surrounding the Ukraine and Israel conflicts has contributed to destabilizing both situations and enhanced risk of harm to civilian populations. A recent set of notional rules for non-state hacker behavior during ongoing conflict seeks to address this reality, suggesting that hacktivists and patriotic hackers alike should limit their activities to protect civilian populations in line with the principles of International Humanitarian Law (IHL).

To the surprise of some in the global community, these rules - promulgated in early October by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) - were received with some acceptance by hacker groups tied to ongoing conflicts. The surge of non-state cyber aggression in the wake of Hamas's October 7 attack, however, has thrown cold water on the idea that constraining norms of behavior surrounding civilian hacking in conflict are achievable. After all, the time between general acceptance of these principles and deviation from that position was measured in mere days for some hacker groups.

Against the grain of these developments, there is reason to be optimistic about new progressive, constraining norms against counter-population hacking led by neutral intermediaries like the ICRC. There is evidence of growing global awareness that cyber for cyber's sake is rarely as gainful as desired, and of patterns of support for digital restraint vis-a-vis civilian populations that align with norm emergence features seen with other disruptive technologies. It's also worthwhile to distinguish between conflict and crisis. In particular, state interests appear to drive civilian hacking at such critical junctures in ways that demand recognition. As such, the ICRC and advocates of the applicability of IHL to cyberspace should be bullish about their initiative, so long as they remain pragmatic about the scope and strength of norm evolution.