28 October 2023

What Happens If Israel Strikes Iran?

Michael Rubin

Nir Barkat, Israel’s minister of economy and industry, did not mince words.

“The Ayatollahs in Iran are not going to sleep good at night,” Barkat declared.

“We are going to make sure they pay a heavy price if, God forbid, they open the northern front” by having Hezbollah attack Israel,

The threat of an Israeli strike on Iran is real.

While Qatar finances Hamas and Turkey provides it with diplomatic support, its command-and-control lies with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The Iranian budget has included open-line items for support to Palestinian movements. The Revolutionary Guards’ elite Quds Force conducts training for Palestinians in Iran and Lebanon. IRGC commanders help with training and logistics, even if Palestinians run operations. This continuous Iranian support for Palestinian terror groups has long been the basis for the U.S. State Department’s designation of Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Top Biden administration officials may argue they have seen no smoking gun to implicate Iranian involvement in the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks. But they ignore how Iran’s longstanding support facilitates these operations while giving the Islamic Republic plausible deniability.

If Israel were ever able to strike militarily in Iran, the Iranian regime’s major response would come via Hezbollah, which has accumulated more than 100,000 rockets and missiles, even under the watchful eye of the United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon. Indeed, when the UN secretary-general complains about Israeli actions in Gaza, he might consider how the UN’s false promises after the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war vaporized the UN’s credibility in Israel. If Hezbollah chooses to launch missiles in solidarity with Hamas, Israeli strategists will conclude that, since Israeli civilians have already suffered retaliation even without a strike on Iran’s nuclear program, there remains no downside to striking at Iran directly.

Hamas Is Using North Korean Weapons Against Israel

Bruce E. Bechtol Jr.

In 2021, I wrote a piece in which I outlined reported arms deals between North Korea and Hamas. These transfers helped Hamas increase its stockpile of rockets and upgrade its technology and other military capabilities. At the time, Hamas was launching thousands of rockets into Israel, but most of these were destroyed by the Iron Dome system, and the Israeli people largely considered themselves safe from attack.

Fast forward to October of 2023 and the threat perception has changed. Hamas’ actions are so horrifying that most Israelis agree the group needs to be completely destroyed. The Oct. 7 terrorist attacks targeting civilian communities in Israel were carried out with an extreme level of brutality. Hamas militants were seen using weaponry from several sources, but shockingly to some, an analysis of weapons seen in footage of the attacks shows several systems with North Korean origins.

North Korea-Gaza Go-Betweens

In 2009, arms shipments consisting largely of rockets and rocket-propelled grenades were interdicted in Thailand and the United Arab Emirates. The Israeli government at the time stated that these shipments were probably bound for Hamas and Hezbollah. The go-between was almost certainly Iran. Since interdicted shipments are often only the smallest portion of what is being sent, the find was quite disturbing.

How the End of Nagorno-Karabakh Will Reshape Geopolitics

Samuel Ramani

On Sept. 19, Azerbaijan launched a large-scale military offensive against the autonomous ethnic Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, known in Armenia as Artsakh. Within 24 hours, Azerbaijan secured effective control over Nagorno-Karabakh, and the Artsakh Defense Army was disbanded. These seismic events ended a three-decade frozen conflict, which included large-scale wars from 1988-1994 and in 2020, and resulted in the exodus of almost all ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia.

Azerbaijan’s dramatic takeover in Nagorno-Karabakh has far-reaching geopolitical implications. Turkey views it as a strategic victory but is wary of Armenia’s resistance to its plans to economically integrate Nagorno-Karabakh with Azerbaijan and Turkey. Iran regards Turkey’s win as its loss, as it fears Azerbaijan’s empowerment and opposes Turkey’s transport corridor projects, which could obstruct Iran’s shared border with Armenia.

While Russia was weakened by its refusal to defend its treaty ally Armenia, it maintains substantial capacity to destabilize and project power in the South Caucasus. Azerbaijan’s takeover of Nagorno-Karabakh could also create new opportunities for China’s Belt and Road Initiative. And Europe and the United States face an uneasy dilemma between providing humanitarian aid to Armenia and maintaining energy supplies from Azerbaijan.

Turkey believes that Azerbaijan’s takeover of Nagorno-Karabakh will enable its Zangezur corridor project. The corridor would facilitate trade between Azerbaijan and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, an Azerbaijani exclave located to the southwest of Armenia. This would allow for direct commercial ties between Turkey and Azerbaijan via Nakhchivan and fulfill Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s vision of uniting the Turkic world.

Turkey also supports Azerbaijan’s plan to construct a railway from Horadiz, Azerbaijan, to Kars, Turkey, which would cross through 25 miles of Armenian territory. Due to its infringement on Armenian territory, Armenia and Iran strongly oppose this railway project.

U.S. to Bolster Israel’s Missile Defenses

Anusha Rathi

The United States is preparing to send more missile defense systems to Israel, including two Iron Dome batteries and a lot more munitions for the batteries it already has, as Israel braces for even more rocket attacks from Hamas in the south and from Hezbollah in the north.

Israel’s Iron Dome has been a shield against rocket fire for years. It’s kept Israel safe from the smaller-scale airborne incursions that have pestered the country. The question now is twofold: Can the United States really stand up more arms for Israel while propping up another embattled country in a war with another merciless enemy, and can the Iron Dome do the job when faced with a genuine onslaught?

U.S. President Joe Biden assured critics that the United States is more than capable of maintaining its national defense while supporting Ukraine and Israel, and asked a leaderless House of Representatives for more than $100 billion in humanitarian and military aid last week. But experts remain skeptical of just how much an already stretched U.S. defense industrial base can support Israel’s air defense while also providing for other priorities.

“I think it [the Oct. 7 Hamas attack in Israel] probably highlights an underlying problem that we were already facing, which is [that] the defense industrial base is not sufficiently large enough to provide for U.S. national security priorities and those of our partners and allies across the globe,” said Jonathan Lord, the director of the Middle East Security Program at the Center for a New American Security.

The Iron Dome, manufactured by Israeli defense firm Rafael and co-produced by U.S. defense giant RTX (formerly known as Raytheon), is an air defense system. It uses a radar to detect incoming short-range missiles (launched from within 2.5 to 43 miles away) and assesses whether they are heading toward urban areas. If the threat is credible, the system launches a missile—known as the Tamir interceptor missile—to destroy the rocket.


Brian Carter, Peter Mills, Andie Parry, Amin Soltani, Annika Ganzeveld, Johanna Moore, 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 and 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:
  • Hamas and its allies are preparing the information environment to blame Israel for the possible deaths of hostages in the Gaza Strip, especially if Hamas begins killing hostages. Palestinian militias continued attacks at their usual rate from the Gaza Strip into Israel.
  • Clashes between Palestinian militants and Israeli forces have decreased significantly in the West Bank. Hamas has repeatedly tried to incite violence against Israel in the West Bank since the war began.
  • Iranian-backed militants, including Lebanese Hezbollah (LH), conducted six attacks as part of an ongoing attack campaign targeting IDF radar and sensor sites and military targets. These attacks are consistent with Western and Israeli reports that LH is trying to “keep Israeli forces busy.”
  • The Islamic Resistance of Iraq—a coalition of Iranian-backed Iraqi militias—has claimed daily attacks on US bases in Iraq and Syria since October 18. These attacks are part of the Iranian-led effort to deter the United States from providing meaningful support to Israel.
  • Iranian-backed Iraqi militia Alwiya Waad al Haq (the Righteous Promise Brigades) threatened to attack US forces in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
  • Iran is setting informational conditions to blame the United States and Israel for any further escalation of the war and deflect any responsibility from itself. This narrative that Iran is pushing ignores the fact that Iran has already facilitated the expansion of this war to Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen by directing its proxy and partner militias in these countries to attack US and Israeli targets.

What Happens If Israel Strikes Iran?

Michael Rubin

Nir Barkat, Israel’s minister of economy and industry, did not mince words.

“The Ayatollahs in Iran are not going to sleep good at night,” Barkat declared.

“We are going to make sure they pay a heavy price if, God forbid, they open the northern front” by having Hezbollah attack Israel,

The threat of an Israeli strike on Iran is real.

While Qatar finances Hamas and Turkey provides it with diplomatic support, its command-and-control lies with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The Iranian budget has included open-line items for support to Palestinian movements. The Revolutionary Guards’ elite Quds Force conducts training for Palestinians in Iran and Lebanon. IRGC commanders help with training and logistics, even if Palestinians run operations. This continuous Iranian support for Palestinian terror groups has long been the basis for the U.S. State Department’s designation of Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Top Biden administration officials may argue they have seen no smoking gun to implicate Iranian involvement in the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks. But they ignore how Iran’s longstanding support facilitates these operations while giving the Islamic Republic plausible deniability.

If Israel were ever able to strike militarily in Iran, the Iranian regime’s major response would come via Hezbollah, which has accumulated more than 100,000 rockets and missiles, even under the watchful eye of the United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon. Indeed, when the UN secretary-general complains about Israeli actions in Gaza, he might consider how the UN’s false promises after the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war vaporized the UN’s credibility in Israel. If Hezbollah chooses to launch missiles in solidarity with Hamas, Israeli strategists will conclude that, since Israeli civilians have already suffered retaliation even without a strike on Iran’s nuclear program, there remains no downside to striking at Iran directly.

Will the US Way of War Work in Gaza?

Harlan Ullman

The United States has a unique way of waging war. Simply put, it relies on a combined joint force operating across the sea, air, land, undersea, cyber and space domains, which it will dominate, achieving superiority over possible adversaries. This requires fielding the most technically advanced weapons and sensor systems, integrated and coordinated with its naval, air, land and space forces.

Furthermore, the U.S. has often tried to impose its way of war on friends and partners that did not possess these levels of technology. The U.S. tried this in Vietnam. While that was a counter-insurgency war, the North Vietnamese finally won using conventional land, and not guerrilla, forces.

The U.S. repeated this in Afghanistan, despite the cultural divides that were centuries apart. I recall visiting the grand opening of the training academy in Kabul for junior and non-commissioned officers. The first requirement was to use indoor plumbing, which was foreign to most. When the U.S. withdrew in 2021, that included contractors.

Contractors were responsible for keeping the Afghan military functioning. They ran training, maintenance for weapons systems such as helicopters and armored vehicles, and all communications and most logistics. With their removal, the Afghan military had no chance of remaining a functioning or fighting force.

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the U.S. and NATO allies, with others, provided huge amounts of military and financial support amounting to $200 billion. The U.S. also offered advice and recommendations — not only advice on how to use and maintain this equipment but also strategic and tactical advice to follow on official and unofficial levels.

Israel’s illusion of security


Two weeks on, are we any closer to explaining the catastrophic failure of Israel’s extremely expensive, high-tech Gaza border defences to stop the Hamas attack? I’ve seen a surprising number of people, on both Right and Left, argue or imply that the swift collapse of these supposedly impenetrable defences, along with the very slow response by the Israeli military to the attack, justifies a conspiratorial explanation — e.g. that Netanyahu, or Washington, or whomever on the inside must have wanted the attack to get through, as otherwise Hamas would have had no chance.

I find this idea ridiculous, but also telling. Telling in that many apparently find the notion that Israeli Jews were deliberately betrayed and allowed to be murdered by their own fiercely nationalist government to be a more readily believable theory than that complex technological systems could possibly fail. This fact speaks to something important about how we moderns have come to misperceive how things work, misplace our faith in systems, and often accidentally make ourselves more rather than less vulnerable to chaos.

Over the last few years, Israel spent more than $1.1 billion to construct a sprawling security barrier along the entirety of its nearly 40-mile border with Gaza. This was, allegedly, to be the fence to end all fences. In addition to 20-foot-high multi-layered wire, steel, and concrete barriers, the “smart fence” integrated a vast network of cameras, motion and other sensors, radars, and remote-controlled weapon systems, all monitored by dozens of towers that served as data hubs and high-tech observation and listening-posts. An underground wall and sensor system, designed to stop infiltration by tunnels, was extended far below the earth along the whole border, at great expense. Meanwhile, Israel’s advanced, exceptionally costly “Iron Dome” missile defence system protected the skies. “The barrier is reality-changing. What happened in the past won’t happen again,” the then-IDF chief of staff Aviv Kohavi declared at a ceremony marking its construction in 2019.

US expects Iran to continue to escalate Israel/Hamas war


Iran’s proxy forces are trying to widen the war between Israel and Hamas by targeting American forces based in nearby countries, U.S. officials are warning

Since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria have come under several drone attacks and the destroyer USS Carney destroyed four land attack cruise missiles and 15 drones off the coast of Yemen launched by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.

During an Oct. 22 episode of ABC News’ This Week,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the U.S. government is concerned about the conflict between Israel and Hamas escalating.

“What we’re seeing is a prospect of a significant escalation of attacks on our troops and our people throughout the region,” Austin said. “And because of that, we’re going to do what’s necessary to make sure that our troops are in the right — in a good position, and they’re protected, and that we have the ability to respond.”

The recent uptick in attacks against U.S. troops in the Middle East has “Iranian fingerprints all over it,” a senior defense official told reporters on Monday.

“We see a prospect for much more significant escalation against U.S. forces and personnel in the near term,” said the senior defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity under rules established by the Pentagon. “And let’s be clear about it, the road leads back to Iran. Iran funds, arms, equips and trains militias and proxy forces, all across the region that have consistently undermined the stability, cost in civilian life, and at a cost the entire region of security and stability.”

Belt And Road Initiative: China’s Grand Strategy For A New World Order

Dr. Punsara Amarasinghe

In the meeting between President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the Belt and Road Summit in Beijing, President Ranil stressed the importance of Sri Lanka for the overarching success of the BRI as an active member state from the very beginning.

President Ranil’s position in the BRI throws a more nuanced and timely light on China’s grand strategy than a mere aphorism. The fact that China places Sri Lanka in a unique position in its foreign policy platter relates to the island nation’s geopolitical significance for the ultimate triumph of Belt and Road Initiative(BRI), which is often described as China’s “Grand Strategy”. The concept of “Grand Strategy” has been developed parallel to military strategy as a distinct principle aiming to foster other means beyond warfare in attaining a higher victory for a state.

Celebrated military strategist Basil Liddle Hart traces the genesis of this concept to the modus opperandi deployed by famous Athenian statesmen Pericles in the advent of Peloponnesian War in the 4th century BC. In contrast to a direct military strategy, which seeks to dislocate the military balance of the rival powers, a grand strategy refers to the use of both military and non-military means to accomplish national interests in the long run. When Athens was outnumbered by the mighty infantry forces of the Spartan-led Peloponnesian league, Pericles opted for his grand strategy with the aim of draining the enemy’s endurance in order to convince him that he could not gain a decision.

China’s grand strategy dates back to the inception of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 as its leaders focused on Chinese history, in particular the wisdom of Sun Tzu, who authored “ The Art of War” in the 6th century BC. The meticulous analysis drawn by Sun Tzu epitomizes ultimate victory as winning the enemy without waging war and the current Chinese strategic thinking seems to have inspired from these intellectual contours.

A Robust Spectrum Pipeline Is the Key to Maintaining Global Leadership

James Marks

The power struggle between the United States and China is multifaceted and centers on the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) laser-focused quest for global supremacy. The CCP is using all elements of its national power to undermine U.S. security, prosperity, and freedom. Case in point: News recently broke that China’s military is targeting U.S. troops and veterans as part of an exploitation campaign to “fill gaps” in its own military capabilities. Just before that, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo traveled to China in an effort to improve U.S.-China business relations. The maxim coming out of her trip: “Actions speak louder than words.” While she’s talking about the need for China to treat U.S. businesses fairly, her words could easily be turned around and applied to other U.S.-China challenges under her purview, including technology policy.

Spectrum, the invisible radio frequencies that carry wireless signals, is a core driver of U.S. technology leadership and the digital age. But because spectrum is a finite resource, we as a county must have a reliable pipeline so we can continue to build the most advanced, reliable, and secure wireless networks in the world. The technologies of the future—artificial intelligence, robotics, cloud computing, quantum—all depend on digitalization and network capacity. The United States is the global leader in wireless innovation, but to maintain this position and stay ahead of China, we must maintain a robust focus on spectrum policies that enable U.S.-led innovation to continue to be the world’s leader. Our national and economic security depend on it.

Can the US compete with China? Not without strong patent rights.


In the second Republican presidential debate, candidates spoke forcefully about China, alternately calling for outright decoupling, claiming we are already in a new cold war, and pledging to “declare independence from China.”

Their rhetoric reflects a broader concern across government about strategic dependence and maintaining America’s technological edge, which the U.S. House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party addressed specifically in a hearing over the summer. What went unmentioned was the recent revelation that China’s Huawei’s release of its newest smartphone, which contains a domestically produced chip that is prompting questions about the effectiveness of U.S. export controls, demonstrates that a strategy of technology denial alone will not be sufficient to maintain U.S. leadership.

The passage of the CHIPS and Science Act was a significant initial step, providing more than $50 billion to expand U.S. semiconductor manufacturing capacity and promote scientific research. While we cheer this vital infusion of funding, federal investment on its own will never be enough for us to compete.

When China’s leaders want to dominate an emerging technology like 5G, artificial intelligence, or quantum computing, they direct their centrally planned economy to steer billions of yuan into those areas. Coupled with that are the inherent advantages of Beijing’s military-civil fusion strategy, which, unlike Western systems, seeks to break down firewalls and “create stronger linkages between its civilian economy and defense industrial base,” to share information, collaborate and synchronize efforts. The objective is to advance technological and military dominance hand in hand.

Net outflow of funds from China hits 7-year high in September


Outflows of investment capital from China are growing, marking their biggest net decline in seven years and eight months in September. The trend is driven by foreign companies scaling back their operations in China and wealthy Chinese shifting funds abroad, analysts say.

The government is nervously eyeing the capital flight, imposing new restrictions on investors, as downward pressure on the Chinese currency grows.

According to China's State Administration of Foreign Exchange, which tracks monthly international financial transactions by domestic banks on behalf of businesses and households, the net outflow reached $53.9 billion in September. This is the largest amount since January 2016, when China logged a net outflow of $55.8 trigged by a sudden devaluation of the yuan called the "renminbi shock," among other factors.

The exodus of funds related to direct investment, such as construction of manufacturing plants, was noticeable in the September figures. The net outflow in that category reached $26.2 billion, roughly half the total and the largest amount since 2010, when comparable data first became available.

"Foreign companies may have accelerated the outflow of capital as they wrote down or sold their assets as a result of their retreat from China," said Toru Nishihama, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute in Tokyo. The number of foreign companies in manufacturing and other industrial sectors reached its lowest point since November 2004 at the end of July, and it has remained flat since then.

US troops were attacked 13 times in Iraq and Syria in past week, Pentagon confirms


American and coalition troops have been attacked more than a dozen different times at bases in Iraq and Syria in the past week amid rising tensions in the Middle East, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

U.S. forces have seen attacks in recent days at the al-Tanf garrison in southeastern Syria and the al Asad and al-Harir air bases in Iraq. While the attacks have resulted in only minor injuries, the Defense Department said troops at the bases are repeatedly being targeted.

“Between Oct. 17 and [today] U.S. and coalition forces have been attacked at least 10 separate times in Iraq and three separate times in Syria via a mix of one-way attack drones and rockets,” said Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon’s top spokesman. “Those are the initial numbers. We are continuing to work to ensure we get you the facts.”

U.S. Central Command, which is responsible for American military operations in the Middle East, said 24 military personnel sustained minor injuries Oct. 18 in drone attacks at al-Tanf and al Asad. CENTCOM officials said they all quickly returned to duty. That same day at the Syria garrison, an American contractor died of a heart attack and an attack destroyed an aircraft hangar and small airplane.

The Defense Department declined to specifically identify what groups are launching the attacks but said they are supported by Iran.

“We know that the groups conducting these attacks are supported by [Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] and the Iranian regime. What we are seeing is the prospect for more significant escalation against U.S. forces and personnel across the region in the very near term,” Ryder said. “We know these groups are Iranian proxy groups.”

The Dangers Of A ‘Cashless’ Economy

Patrick Barron

Before delving into the dangers of eliminating cash and mandating that all transactions be conducted by digital means, let us briefly discuss the legal aspects of money. In the United States, as in all economies that have legal tender laws, only cash is recognized as money. Some may think that the balance of their bank accounts is money too, but that is not quite the case. Your bank balance is one step removed from legal money.

All banks must maintain minimum balances of reserves, in cash held either in their vaults—a very small amount—or in their “reserve accounts” with their local Federal Reserve Bank branch (there are twelve of them). These reserve account balances may be converted to real money, or cash, at your bank’s discretion. However, the total cash in our economy also includes cash held outside the banking system, such as the money in your wallet, cookie jar, or personal safe deposit vault.

The total of bank reserves plus cash held outside the banking system is known as the monetary base. The monetary base is not the same as the money supply. Most of the money supply is composed of bank credit not backed by reserves. When banks make loans, they credit your account, which becomes bank credit money. Yes, this money was created by the bank out of thin air. Notice that the banks did not create reserves, only credit money, which is not the same thing.

Bring hydrogen out of the shadows of the green transition


When Americans think of renewable energy, it is solar and wind power that comes to mind. Although few think of it, hydrogen is quietly becoming no less of a key part of our energy future — one on which the private sector and the Biden administration are making a very big bet.

It has been one of Washington’s best-kept secrets.

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. It is energy-dense, very light, easily stores energy and produces no polluting emissions, only water. Hydrogen fuel cells produce electricity and heat.

Hydrogen is currently used mainly for refining oil and producing fertilizers, and niche transportation such as pilot fleets of hydrogen-powered buses in some locales. Private investors and governments are ramping up efforts for large-scale uses such as industrial production of steel, cement and chemicals, energy storage and mass transportation.

Most hydrogen today is produced from natural gas, so it is not carbon neutral. But it can be produced from electricity or by electrolysis, separating the hydrogen from water. The former is known as gray hydrogen. The latter is zero-emission green or clean hydrogen produced from renewable energy sources, but it is expensive to produce.

Clean hydrogen is the big bet of Biden’s climate initiatives. Hydrogen initiatives are designed to incentivize investment and research and development to dramatically reduce costs of green hydrogen, reportedly by 80 percent to $1 per kilogram (currently $4.5/kilogram) initially, with up to $3 per kilogram tax credits to scale up production. This would be a similar trajectory to more widespread green technologies, as declining costs have scaled up solar and wind power.

California is right: Addictive tech design is not free speech


The Northern District of California’s injunction against the Age-Appropriate Design Code (AADC), stating it infringes upon the First Amendment, demands our immediate concern and response.

Indeed, last week, California Attorney General Rob Bonta filed a notice of appeal against the injunction, calling the court’s decision “wrong,” and saying California “should be able to protect [its] children as they use the internet.”

By incorrectly interpreting the definition of “free speech” and expanding it to encompass addictive technology design features, this injunction paves the way for potential dangers that could stall — or even reverse progress — in safeguarding the well-being of our youth.

Unlike previous battles over privacy rules, design regulation is an area that is still in its infancy and in which tech companies have avoided any meaningful oversight. The linchpin of what makes technology addictive lies in its design: the endless scrolling, the intermittent rewards, the dopamine hits. These designs are crafted explicitly to keep users engaged, thumbs scrolling and eyes glued to screens.

Yet, such elements should not be conflated with free speech rights and must be distinguished by the court from content regulation, something not proposed or required by the Age-Appropriate Design Code. If we set a precedent now that equates these manipulative design features with First Amendment protections, we will effectively disarm our legislators from ever being able to protect our children from the known harms of these platforms.

We are faced with a daunting scenario: Do we prioritize the interests of tech corporations over the well-being and mental health of our children? To be clear, the First Amendment was crafted to protect freedom of speech, not manipulative and predatory designs.

The U.S. Can’t Lead on Quantum Computing Alone

Bronte Munro

Quantum computing will be one of the most defining technologies of the century. It will intersect and enhance capabilities across sectors such as climate change, manufacturing, biotechnology, and artificial intelligence.

China is ranked second to the United States in terms of research about this technology, according to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Critical Technology Tracker, and the race to achieve quantum supremacy is intensifying.

In particular, the United States must work to mitigate the risks that quantum computers pose to national and economic security. These computers will be able to surpass existing cybersecurity encryption standards in minutes, even in situations that would take a conventional computer years to solve, compromising the confidentiality and integrity of the security used for everything from banking to data storage and internet communication.

Preparations for such a scenario are already being undertaken in the United States by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which has released its first batch of four cryptographic algorithms designed to withstand decryption by a future quantum computer.

However, the United States can’t safeguard its leadership on quantum computing by acting alone. In a similar situation to the semiconductor industry, there is a limited global talent pool of expertise in the sector, and Washington needs to coordinate the human capital, research and development, and the advanced manufacturing capabilities needed to bring quantum computing online in a time frame conducive to the pacing threat that China poses.

M39 Missile: Made In The USA, Smashing Putin Hard In Ukraine War

Christian Orr

In the alphanumeric naming conventions for weapons systems, the label “M1” has been applied to more killer gizmos than you can shake a stick at, from the M1 Garand battle rifle to the M1 .30 Carbine to the M1 Thompson submachine gun (aka the “Tommy Gun”) to the M1 Abrams main battle tank.

However, one should not overlook another letter and number combo that’s also been applied to its fair share of combat-proven weapons: M39. As in the Smith & Wesson Model 39, the first traditional double-action (TDA) semiauto pistol to be adopted by a domestic U.S. law enforcement agency – that being Illinois State Police in 1967 – which has been used to terminate the criminal careers of quite a few dangerous felons. Then there’s the M39 autocannon, which was used on a goodly number of U.S. Air Force fighter aircraft from the early 1950s through the 1980s and immortalized in the song “F-5E” by Vietnam War fighter pilot turned professional musician Dick Jonas (Lt. Col, USAF, Ret.).

Now, thanks to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, there’s one more addition to the list of killing machines bearing the M39 designation: the M39 missile.

The Basics

The news on the M39 missile’s lethal handiwork comes to us courtesy of Forbes’ staff writer David Axe: “I write about ships, planes, tanks, drones, missiles, and satellites” quoth his byline – in an October 22, 2023 article titled “Ukraine’s American-Made M39 Missiles May Have Wrecked 21 Russian Helicopters In A Single Operation.” To wit:

The Return of Nuclear Escalation

Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press

Nuclear weapons once again loom large in international politics, and a dangerous pattern is emerging. In the regions most likely to draw the United States into conflict—the Korean Peninsula, the Taiwan Strait, eastern Europe, and the Persian Gulf—U.S. adversaries appear to be acquiring, enhancing, or threatening to use nuclear weapons. North Korea is developing intercontinental ballistic missiles that can reach the United States; China is doubling the size of its arsenal; Russia is threatening to use nuclear weapons in its war in Ukraine; and according to U.S. officials, Iran has amassed enough fissile material for a bomb. Many people hoped that once the Cold War ended, nuclear weapons would recede into irrelevance. Instead, many countries are relying on them to make up for the weakness of their conventional military forces.

Still, optimists in the United States argue that the risk of nuclear war remains low. Their reasoning is straightforward: the countries that are building up and brandishing their nuclear capabilities are bluffing. Nuclear weapons cannot paper over conventional military weakness because threats to escalate—even by a desperate enemy—are not credible. According to the optimists, giving credence to the nuclear bluster of weak enemies is misguided and plays squarely into their hands.

Unfortunately, the optimists are wrong. The risk of nuclear escalation during conventional war is much greater than is generally appreciated. The conundrum that U.S. adversaries face today—how to convincingly threaten escalation and bring a nuclear-armed opponent to a stalemate—was solved decades ago by the United States and its NATO allies. Back then, the West developed a strategy of coercive nuclear escalation to convince the Soviet Union that NATO allies would actually use nuclear weapons if they were invaded. Today, U.S. rivals have adopted NATO’s old nuclear strategy and developed their own options for credible escalation. The United States must take seriously the nuclear capabilities and resolve of its foes. It would be tragic for Washington to stumble into nuclear war because it discounted the very strategy that it invented decades ago.

From Risk to Resilience

Anthea Roberts

In recent years, a fierce debate has raged among scholars and policymakers about the risks and rewards of economic interdependence. On one side are globalists who argue that economic globalization remains the best route to peace and prosperity, even if it comes with some risks. On the other are nationalists who contend that Western countries must decouple their economies from China and other authoritarian powers to avoid dangerous dependencies and reduce the vulnerability of their critical infrastructure and supply chains.

These debates tend to frame the tradeoffs in black-and-white terms: globalization versus deglobalization and interdependence versus decoupling. But such binaries have never been realistic. The COVID-19 pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and rising tensions between the United States and China have all made Western companies and countries more wary of the risks associated with economic interdependence. Few, however, are prepared to make the sacrifices that full-scale decoupling would entail.

No wonder that “de-risking” has entered the policy lexicon as a softer alternative to decoupling. In January 2023, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen coined the term as she laid out the EU’s strategy for reducing critical vulnerabilities while maintaining economic relations with China. The United States and the rest of the G-7 have since embraced de-risking, in part to assuage growing fears of a painful economic divorce from China. The idea is to differentiate connections that are high risk, for which selective decoupling is appropriate, from those that are low risk, for which it makes sense to maintain ties while also diversifying.

‘They’re running out of time’: Ukraine’s counteroffensive is gaining urgency as winter approaches

Holly Ellyatt

While the world is distracted by geopolitical turmoil in the Middle East, Ukraine continues to fight Russian forces across a swathe of the country, battling through deep Russian defenses along the south and east.

It’s an understatement to say Ukraine’s counteroffensive, launched in June, has not been as successful as Kyiv and its Western allies hoped it would be — with Russian forces deeply dug in to defensive positions, progress has been tough for Ukraine and only a dozen or so towns and villages have been recaptured.

Russia still controls around a fifth of Ukraine, including most of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions in the east; the Crimean Peninsula and Zaporizhzhia in the south; and a chunk of the neighboring Kherson region.

“Ukraine’s counteroffensive has not achieved the presumed military and political objectives so far and the prospects of a breakthrough appear limited,” Andrius Tursa, Central and Eastern Europe advisor at risk consultancy Teneo, said in a note Monday.

“Despite inflicting significant losses on Russian armed forces, Ukraine’s four-and-a-half-month-old counteroffensive has not achieved major territorial gains nor managed to slice through Russia’s ‘land bridge’ to Crimea,” he added.

Elon Musk Slammed by Ukraine: 'Catastrophic Mistake'

Shannon Power

Elon Musk attends the Viva Technology conference on June 16, 2023 in Paris, France. A Ukraine government representative slammed Musk's comments that some parts of his country should be handed to Russia.© Chesnot/Getty Images Europe

Ukraine has lashed out at Elon Musk over comments he made suggesting the U.S. re-calibrate relations with Russia to avoid World War III.

Musk made the comments on Monday during a live discussion on his social media platform X, formerly Twitter, where he said avoiding another global war was the "most important issue," and denied there was any "anti-Russian insurgency" in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine. He argued that the people in occupied territories such as Crimea actually "want to be part of Russia" and those areas should be officially ceded to Moscow.

The discussion, titled "Where is the Israel-Hamas war headed? Could this lead to WW3?," saw Musk discuss the implications of another potential world war that he said would be a "civilizational risk that we may not recover from."

Some of his suggestions focused on the war between Ukraine and Russia but have subsequently been rebuked by Mykhailo Podolyak, advisor to the head of the Ukrainian president's office.


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

Ukrainian forces marginally advanced in western Zaporizhia Oblast and continued offensive operations near Bakhmut on October 25. Geolocated footage published on October 24 indicates that Ukrainian forces made further marginal advances west of Robotyne.[1] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces also achieved unspecified partial success west of Verbove (9km west of Robotyne).[2] Ukrainian Ground Forces Spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Volodymyr Fityo stated on October 24 that Ukrainian forces are conducting offensive operations near Klishchiivka (7km southwest of Bakhmut) and Andriivka (10km southwest of Bakhmut).[3]

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky noted that Ukrainian forces are preparing for a fall-winter Russian strike campaign against Ukraine after another series of Russian drone strikes on the night of October 24 to 25. Ukrainian military sources reported that Ukrainian air defenses destroyed a total of 11 Russian Shahed-131/136 drones over Khmelnytskyi and Mykolaiv oblasts.[4] Zelensky stated that Ukraine is preparing to defend against a Russian fall-winter strike campaign against Ukrainian energy infrastructure and suggested that Ukraine is planning for its own strikes on Russian military assets in turn.[5] Zelensky stated that the Russian military is aware of Ukraine’s intentions to strike Russian military infrastructure in Crimea and Russia and is moving the Black Sea Fleet (BSF) away from Crimea and Russian aircraft further from the Russia-Ukraine border, likely in response to continued Ukrainian strikes against Russian naval and aviation assets.[6]

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited an Eastern Grouping of Forces command post in the south Donetsk direction (Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area) on October 25.[7] Shoigu awarded medals to the commanders of the 155th Naval Infantry Brigade (Pacific Fleet) and 810th Naval Infantry Brigade (Black Sea Fleet) and claimed that these units successfully repelled Ukrainian offensive operations.[8] ISW has observed recent claims that elements of the 810th Naval Infantry Brigade are operating in the Kherson direction, however.[9]

Analyzing the Role of Blockchain Technology in Strengthening Democracies

Noam Unger & Austin Hardman


Rapid technological change has led to a global deluge of data. Certain aspects of shared information—authenticity, verification, speed, and integrity—are key to good governance and to helping democracies deliver for their citizens. Blockchain and other types of distributed ledger technology (DLT) offer potential benefits that institutions and governments can leverage in various ways to support democratic governance. Blockchain’s increasing use for identity management, land rights, citizen representation, the tracking of goods and services, and other uses necessitates deeper and broader understanding by U.S. foreign policy stakeholders. Given that U.S. foreign policy prioritizes strengthening democratic governance around the world, including through more inclusive access to services and greater transparency, accountability, and integrity in the public sphere, U.S. policymakers must seriously grapple with the opportunities and challenges associated with the increased integration of blockchain technology. Ukraine’s embrace of digitization and use cases for blockchain offer helpful insights into how and in which contexts this technology may be applied.

Whenever there is a lack of transparency in elections, government transactions, bureaucratic systems, and media, there is an opportunity for corruption to ensue, diluting citizens’ trust in democratic institutions. Certain technological advancements can potentially be a valuable tool for increasing the transparency and accountability of democracies. One such innovative tool is blockchain, a form of DLT that allows a group of users to cooperatively maintain a record of transactions.