1 November 2023


Ashka Jhaveri, Andie Parry, Annika Ganzeveld, 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.

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 and the Geneva Conventions and crimes against 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. The al Qassem Brigades claimed to fire rockets at Dimona for the first time since the war started.
  • Israeli ground forces advanced into the Gaza Strip. The al Qassem Brigades claimed to attack advancing IDF forces in Beit Hanoun and east of Bureij. Palestinian militias, including Hamas, are framing the IDF advances into the Gaza Strip as a failure likely to encourage civilians to stay rather than try to evacuate toward the southern part of the strip.
  • The Lions’ Den—a West Bank-based Palestinian militia—appeared to implicitly call for further mobilization and violence against Israel in the West Bank after the IDF conducted ground operations into the Gaza Strip. Iranian and Palestinian sources are describing Israeli settlers in the West Bank as legitimate military targets. Palestinian militants clashed with Israeli forces and held large, anti-Israel demonstrations at their usual rate across the West Bank.
  • Iranian-backed militants, including Lebanese Hezbollah, conducted 12 attacks into Israel as part of an ongoing attack campaign targeting IDF radar and sensor sites and military targets.
  • The Islamic Resistance in Iraq—a coalition of Iranian-backed Iraqi militias—claimed to attack US forces at al Tanf Garrison in eastern Syria.
  • Iran is conducting a messaging campaign (1) to signal to the United States the potential for further Iranian-backed attacks against US forces in the region and (2) to reassure members of its Axis of Resistance, especially LH, of Iran’s commitment to supporting them in the event that the United States enters the war in support of Israel.
  • IRGC-affiliated media is continuing to provide the informational cover for Iran and the Axis of Resistance to conduct attacks against US positions on the false grounds that the United States is directing Israeli operations into the Gaza Strip.

The Israel-Hamas War Has Entered a ‘New Phase.’ Here’s What to Expect.

Daniel Byman

Israel has entered “a new phase in the war” against Hamas in Gaza, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Saturday. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has sent tanks and other ground forces into Gaza and kept them there while continuing its intense artillery attacks and aerial bombardment, but for now it has held off on an all-out ground invasion. It is not clear if there will ever be a formal D-day for such an operation, but Israel is steadily increasing its ground operations within Gaza, conducting raids into the strip and severing telecommunications there.

As Israel shifts from an air-only approach to one involving its ground forces, it is coming face-to-face with many challenges and even more dilemmas, some of which involve risks to Israeli troops while others concern broader strategic and humanitarian objectives. Already, these challenges may have delayed a full-scale invasion of Gaza, and they could cause Israeli leaders to limit the scope and scale of military operations in other ways as well.

The first challenge is the very nature of the fighting. Gaza is built-up and densely populated, with a population per square mile comparable with London. In its warren of narrow streets and tightly packed buildings, many of the Israeli military’s advantages in speed, communications, surveillance, and long-range firepower are neutralized.

Instead, the IDF will need to break up its forces, which will then be vulnerable to small bands of Hamas gunmen. The rubble created by Israeli bombing also offers opportunities for small groups of fighters to find cover against Israeli troops, set up sniper positions, and plant booby traps.

The U.S. Faces a Public Relations Crisis in the Arab and Muslim World

Farah Pandith

How is the Israel-Hamas war affecting opinions of the United States in Arab and Muslim communities globally?

In the wake of Hamas’s horrific terrorist attack on innocent Israeli citizens on October 7, much of the world is aflame with anti-U.S. rhetoric, particularly Muslim and Arab communities. Many in the Middle East see a seamless connection between the actions of Israel and the United States. The Joe Biden administration’s declarations that “the United States has Israel’s back” and its reaffirmation of the United States’ “ironclad commitment” to Israel’s security have further contributed to that perception, despite the fact that Biden has engaged robustly with a diverse array of faith communities.

Is there a divergence of opinion between regional leaders and publics?

In general, leaders and publics have been quick and united in calls for a cease-fire and increased humanitarian aid to Gaza. Yet, there has been little criticism of Hamas. Significantly, Saudi Arabia’s initial official response to October 7 referred to Hamas simply as a “Palestinian faction” and displayed a shocking lack of leadership about terrorism given 9/11’s impact on that nation. Some leaders, however, are meaningfully engaging with the United States. These include Qatar’s prime minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, who is negotiating with Hamas to release its hostages, and Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who is working with the Biden administration to send humanitarian aid into Gaza.

Iran and the axis of resistance vastly improved-hamass operational capabilities

Colin P. Clarke

For the past several years, Hamas has often been overlooked in discussions regarding the top global terrorist threats. The Islamic State and its worldwide network of affiliates occupy much of the counterterrorism bandwidth, along with al-Qaeda affiliates such as al-Shabaab in Somalia. Even Lebanese Hezbollah has ranked higher on the agenda of terrorist organizations that the United States and Israel are chiefly concerned with.

There are several important reasons why Hamas has been relegated to something of an afterthought, related to both its intent and capabilities. Israeli intelligence agencies had wrongly assumed that Hamas was content with enjoying the economic benefits of assistance to Gaza and had little desire to fight. This belief was reinforced when Hamas remained on the sidelines of recent fighting between Palestine Islamic Jihad and Israel in the West Bank, where the Israelis had shifted significant resources to deal with the rising threat in that territory. Relatedly, Hamas’s capabilities were believed to be limited. When skirmishes did break out, Hamas would fire rockets from Gaza, most of which were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.

So how is it possible that Hamas was able to stage such a complex terrorist attack on October 7, an attack that killed more than 1,400 Israelis and wounded hundreds more? Put simply: Iranian support. As journalist Kim Ghattas noted, “the highly choreographed, multipronged, day-long operations and incursion into Israel itself … required months of planning and training that only Iran and Hezbollah could have provided.” There is a long and sordid history linking Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas. After Israel deported more than 400 Hamas figures to Lebanon in 1992, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force and Hezbollah worked closely with the Hamas fighters, training them on how to build and deploy suicide bombs, long a Hezbollah calling card. Cooperation between the triumvirate continued through the Second Intifada (2000–2005), when suicide bombings became a hallmark of Hamas attacks against Israel.

Despite incendiary rhetoric, Iran walks tightrope to avoid direct Israel war

The commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) warned on Thursday that Gaza will "devour" Israel should the latter invade the densely populated coastal enclave controlled by Tehran-backed Hamas militants.

"Upon setting boots in Gaza, they will be buried there," declared Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami, using his signature anti-Israel rhetoric.

To the hard-line commander, the Hamas operation "was one of the most exceptional defeats ever suffered" by the United States, Great Britain and Israel. "They will be mistaken by thinking that the Muslim world will sit back watching them destroy part of the Islamic world," he warned.

Yet the IRGC chief refrained from speaking of any direct Iranian engagement, and followed Tehran's official line since Israel began pounding Gaza in response to Hamas' Oct. 7 onslaught in southern Israeli communities.

From the onset of the escalating conflict, Iranian diplomats and generals have warned that the "resistance front" — the moniker they apply to their proxies scattered across the region — will come into action if Israel launches a ground offensive into Gaza.

The rhetoric has in recent days been particularly redirected at the United States, as the "accomplice" in the Israeli bombardments of Gaza. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused Washington of "managing the Zionist regime's crimes" in a speech in Tehran on Wednesday. Khamenei's remarks have been followed by a series of attacks on military bases hosting American forces in Syria and Iraq. Blaming them on Tehran-controlled Shiite militias, Washington has retaliated by hitting their IRGC-run bases.

IDF says dozens of Gaza gunmen killed overnight; tanks seen on outskirts of Gaza City


The Israel Defense Forces pushed further into the northern Gaza Strip overnight and on Monday, engaging in a series of battles with Hamas terrorists and killing dozens of them, the military said.

By midmorning, Palestinian witnesses said Israeli tanks were on the outskirts of Gaza City and had blocked a key road linking northern Gaza to the south.

According to the army, troops, including tanks and infantry, backed by the Air Force fought overnight with Hamas members who barricaded themselves in homes and tried to attack the soldiers.

Hamas also said it was engaged in “heavy fighting… with the invading occupation force” in northern Gaza.

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said additional forces entered the Gaza Strip in the past day, as the military expands its ground operation.

“Overnight, troops eliminated dozens of terrorists who barricaded themselves in the buildings and tried to attack the forces that were moving in their direction,” he said, adding that fighting was ongoing.

“We are carrying out an expanded ground operation into the Strip… forces are moving towards the terrorists, the terrorists are barricading themselves in staging grounds, and we are attacking them from the air,” Hagari added

Israel’s Palestinian challenges

Karolina Zielińska

The conflict with the Palestinian side is a long-term existential challenge for Israel. A resolution of the dispute or its absence will be decisive for the future ethnic character of this state and for its political system, as well as its external and internal security. This text highlights the key parameters of the dispute from the Israeli perspective and reveals what internal and external factors are shaping their approaches to the issue. In particular, it emphasises the role of interested social groups, the significance of the formation of the “government of change”, the importance of a new regional reality and the involvement of the United States. Windows of opportunity pertaining to the dynamisation and evolution of the international context of the conflict do not change the nature of the Palestinian challenges to Israel and the inevitability of confronting them. They also do not guarantee that a fundamental breakthrough will emerge within the foreseeable future.

Israel’s “War Cabinet”: What Does It Tell Us about Netanyahu’s Plans for Gaza?

Five days since Hamas launched “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood” on 7 October 2023, targeting Israeli military sites and settlements in the area surrounding the Gaza Strip, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader, Benny Gantz, announced the formation of a national emergency government. Under this agreement, five members of Gantz’s National Unity camp joined the government, without obtaining ministerial portfolios, making a total of 38 ministers, the largest cabinet in the history of Israel. The next day, the Knesset approved the agreement, in accordance with which the security cabinet was expanded, to include the same National Unity MKs, Gantz, Gadi Eizenkot, Gideon Sa'ar and Hili Tropper as full members and Yifat Shasha-Biton as an observer, bringing the total members up to 15. The emergency government will continue to carry out its duties until the end of the war, which may last for months.

Forming a “War Cabinet”

The agreement stipulates that a “war cabinet” is to be formed, including Netanyahu, Gantz and the Defence Minister, Yoav Galant, in addition to two observer members, Gadi Eizenkot, from National Unity, and Ron Dermer, Likud’s Minister of Strategic Affairs, who previously served as the Israeli ambassador to Washington (2013-2021) and whose principle mission seems to be to coordinate positions with the White House. Gantz conditioned his membership of the emergency government on the formation of said War Cabinet and the exclusion of National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich. Netanyahu stands widely accused of being responsible for the failure to prevent, or even confront, “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood”. This unprecedented failure handed Gantz and Eizenkot, both of whom previously served as Army Chief of Staff, a mandate to play significant roles in the wartime decision process, to restore the confidence of Israelis in the government and military establishment. The cabinet will facilitate the decision-making process, with the number of participants in security cabinet meetings averaging 35-40 people, including, in addition to its members, ministers, the army chief of staff, and the head of National Security, security leaders, the military secretary to the prime minister, and military commanders. Membership of the political and security cabinet is also influenced by partisan considerations, and most of its members do not have the military and political background necessary to make decisions related to war and national security.

Modi’s ‘Tiger Warrior’ Diplomacy Is Harming India’s Interests

Kunal Purohit

Even as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was set to land in Paris on July 13 for his state visit last month, the European Parliament’s plenary session in the French city of Strasbourg was about to deliver an embarrassing blow to his credibility.

The parliament was debating a sharply worded resolution around the ongoing ethnic conflict in the northeastern state of Manipur, which started in May. Manipur is ruled by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)—but Modi had neither visited the region, nor had he publicly made any appeal for peace when the resolution came up.

The resolution noted that “intolerance towards minority communities” had contributed to the violence that had claimed some 120 lives and left more than 50,000 displaced. It stopped short of naming the Modi government, but barely disguised who it sought to blame for the violence, saying there “have been concerns about politically motivated, divisive policies that promote Hindu majoritarianism in the area.” The resolution was approved by the parliament.

Even as Modi kicked off his diplomatic engagements in Paris, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs had to scurry to offer a response. Predictably, ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi called the resolution an “interference in India’s internal affairs” and described it as “unacceptable” since it “reflects a colonial mindset.”

This isn’t a one-off.

India’s diplomacy is increasingly courting controversy, thanks to the Modi government’s Hindu nationalist agenda. The government’s right-wing ideological beliefs are increasingly driving the country’s actions inside and outside India. While some diplomats resist the push, others—including the country’s own foreign minister—adopt it. We might dub them the “tiger warriors” after the infamous “wolf warrior diplomacy” of India’s neighbor, China. Increasingly, there is pushback—from parliamentary resolutions to full-blown protests, from subtle digs by friends to whispers in the corridors of foreign governments.

China and India Aren’t Reaching a Strategic Détente


Recent analyses have pointed to the potential implications of a thaw in India-China relations and have also suggested that a new understanding is indeed underway. They argue that in building up ties with India, the United States should keep in mind that India may not assist it during a conflict in the Taiwan Strait and may thus be a “much less committed American partner.” However, the ground realities of India-China ties tell a different story—that India and China will not be reaching a détente anytime soon. Second, India-U.S. cooperation is not limited to the Taiwan question, and India’s reliability as a counterweight to China should not be reduced to this.

First, although deep economic ties are put forward as a reason for an India-China détente, they are hardly a metric to judge the health of relations by. Trade is extensive but lopsided, with a deficit of $101.02 billion. Thus, in recent years, economic ties have become a source of concern rather than a factor of stability. As far back as 2017, then commerce minister and current Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman informed the Lok Sabha that India’s trade deficit with China was a “matter of concern” and that the government was working to reduce it. This was echoed by commerce minister Piyush Goyal in 2018, who detailed India’s efforts to reduce the trade deficit in a written reply to the Lok Sabha. Notably, this was three years before the Galwan crisis. The incentive to reduce dependency on the Chinese economy, and efforts to this end, have only increased since then.

Second, a careful analysis reveals that the keenness to “defuse their quarrel” only seems to be present on the Indian side. On the contrary, China has a keen interest in keeping the border active. Retaining the initiative and engaging in proactive coercion on the border is intended to underscore China’s strength relative to India. It is undertaken to show the United States and the rest of the Indo-Pacific, particularly South Asia, that India is unable to manage its own security at its frontier. Therefore, it cannot be relied upon to bolster deterrence in the Indo-Pacific, or to be a net security provider in South Asia.

Pakistan’s Afghan Gamble: Refugees as a Strategic Tool Against the Taliban

Shanthie Mariet D’Souza

In the Chinese city of Nyingchi in Tibet, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani met his Afghan counterpart Amir Khan Muttaqi on October 5. They were both attending the 3rd Trans-Himalaya Forum for International Cooperation hosted by China. Bilateral relations and trade between Afghanistan and Pakistan were supposed to be the core of the discussion between the two sides. What dominated the proceedings, however, was the issue of Afghan refugees in Pakistan, who have been asked to voluntarily leave the country by November 1.

In no uncertain terms, Muttaqi told Jilani that “negative media outbursts, hindering transit and travel, and mishandling Afghan refugees can adversely affect bilateral relations and the economic scenarios of both countries.”

The UNHCR estimates that Pakistan currently hosts 3.7 million Afghan refugees, 700,000 of whom fled Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover in August 2021. It states that about 1.73 million are deemed to be in Pakistan illegally, with little legal protection or means to get asylum. Pakistan has decided to act tough against undocumented Afghans in its territory, and Taliban ministers and officials have decried the decision. Worried that the return of 1.73 million refugees would subject the beleaguered administration in Kabul and its failing government system to additional pressure, the Taliban authorities have asked Islamabad not to carry out its decision in haste.

“Pakistan’s decision to expel Afghans is unjustifiable and inhumane, and we condemn it,” Taliban Defense Minister Muhammad Yaqoob said on October 5. U.N. agencies also fear that Pakistan’s forcible deportation for Afghans would trigger a humanitarian catastrophe.

China touts global security vision at a defense forum in Beijing – with Russia by its side

Simone McCarthy, Steven Jiang and Wayne Chang

China is hosting defense officials from across the world for its flagship military diplomacy conference this week – a key opportunity for Beijing to promote its alternative vision for global security that has also underscored its increasing alignment with Moscow against the United States.

More than 30 defense ministers and military chiefs, as well as lower-level representatives from dozens more countries and organizations, including the US, gathered for the three-day Xiangshan Forum in the Chinese capital.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was given prominent billing as the first visiting official to address the forum Monday, where he and China’s keynote speaker both took aim at what they see as a failed US-led security system.

Noticeably missing from the line-up was China’s own defense minister.

Beijing last week announced it had removed defense minister Li Shangfu from his position, without naming a replacement or providing an explanation for the sudden demotion – the latest in a series of high-level shakeups under Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

South China Sea: U.S. Must Draw a Line on China’s “Grey Zone” Threats

James Borton

Over the previous decade, the United States appears to have overlooked China’s maritime insurgency too often, dismissing it as a small ploy to influence events and distract from the more serious problem of China’s worrisome naval capability for full-scale kinetic attacks, including counter-drone technology deployments.

In response, the Carnegie Corporation of New York has supported the US Naval Institute’s Maritime Counterinsurgency Project, which aims to bring together prominent maritime strategy experts to analyze effective ways for the U.S. and its allies to shine a brighter light on China’s escalating illegal activities to harass, intimidate, and bully other states in the South China Sea.

The new project’s collaborators include well-known South China Sea experts: James Holmes, Geoffrey Till, Bryan Clark, Peter Swartz, Brent Sadler, Steve Wills, and Collin Koh.

Timing is everything. China is currently implementing a two-pronged approach, wherein it is both prepared for potential conflicts between states and actively striving to achieve its objectives through non-military means.

China’s most recent high stakes maritime moves occurred on October 22 with two ship collisions at the Ayungin Shoal (also known as the Second Thomas Shoal), both well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. A Chinese Coast Guard vessel brushed up against a tiny Philippines government-contracted resupply boat; then a Chinese armed militia vessel bumped into a smaller Philippines Coast Guard vessel.

Ten years of the Belt and Road


China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which now includes 44 African countries, got under way 10 years ago. President Xi Jinping launched it in 2013 with a first speech in Kazakhstan and a second one in Indonesia. The initiative is something of a trial-by-doing development policy enigma: it keeps China watchers chasing Xi’s next move to help define just what it is.

The two speeches, however, give some lasting guidance. The Kazakhstan speech outlined five elements of the “Belt”:
  • strengthening policy communication,
  • road connectivity,
  • currency circulation,
  • people-to-people ties,
  • promoting unimpeded trade.
In Indonesia, the five points were more abstract and diplomacy-oriented. They were framed as pursuing win-win cooperation, mutual assistance and affinity and remaining open and inclusive.

So, what’s happened since then? As an economist with a keen interest in the political economy of China-Africa relations, I have studied the Belt and Road Initiative since its inception.

Among the more tangible achievements so far is fostering “road connectivity.” China has helped to finance and construct highways, rail and energy projects in various countries. People, goods and commodities flow more smoothly in many places than before, within and between countries.

The US and its allies should engage with China on AI law and policy

Mark MacCarthy

For all the energy and excitement surrounding new AI regulation in the U.S., the United Kingdom, and the European Union, China is first out of the box with a regulatory structure for AI, including for the new generative AI services that burst onto the scene less than a year ago with the release of ChatGPT to the public. Engagement with China’s regulators and experts on their experience developing and implementing AI law and policy would be in the best interests of Western regulators as they work to set their own policies. As China expert Matt Sheehan said in a recent Foreign Policy comment, the United States and its allies “can actually learn a lot from China’s approach to governing AI.”


China’s internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) has established a series of regulatory measures for advanced algorithms. In March 2022, it promulgated rules for recommendation algorithms that included a requirement for filing information with a government registry and a user right to opt out of personalization. In November 2022, it adopted deep synthesis rules for synthetically generated images, video, audio, and text. This was just before the release of ChatGPT in December, but the agency quickly reacted to the new issues raised by ChatGPT. In April 2023, it proposed new rules for developers and deployers of generative AI.

Many measures in this proposal are familiar from discussions of AI ethics, including requirements for labeling of AI content, non-discrimination, and the protection of privacy and intellectual property. The new AI proposal also required those providing generative AI services to file information with the previously established algorithm registry.

Why China won’t win the Global South

Michael Schuman


Concern has gripped policymakers in Washington that the United States and its democratic partners in Europe and the Indo-Pacific have “lost” the Global South to China. Support among the world’s developing countries will prove critical in deciding who wins and who loses in the widening and intensifying competition between the United States and China over global governance, the role of international institutions, the norms and principles of diplomacy, methods of trade and finance, and the shape of the global order itself.

Beijing has devoted ample diplomatic and financial resources to wooing the governments of the Global South to support its goals and ideas—from the lavish infrastructure-building Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to the formation of special forums—all wrapped in a pointed message: China won’t do the awful things the West did to you. It’s an appealing package to many leaders in the Global South, who are frustrated with their countries’ slow pace of development and lack of influence within the US-led global system, and they are looking for alternative sources of finance, assistance, and support to advance their desire for greater wealth and influence. Beijing has been able to capitalize on these justified complaints and concerns to portray China as the defender and partner of the Global South against what Chinese messaging characterizes as an unsympathetic West intent only on maintaining its political and economic dominance.

By contrast, the United States and its partners have appeared to lack the same commitment to the wants and needs of the Global South or have taken their influence within the developing world for granted. Distracted by domestic divisions,

US to build new nuclear gravity bomb

Stephen Losey

The U.S. Defense Department on Friday announced the government is moving forward with developing a new version of the B61 nuclear gravity bomb.

The bomb, designated B61-13, would have a yield similar to the B61-7 and replace some of those older gravity bombs, the Pentagon said in its announcement. The B61-7′s yield is higher than the B61-12, the most recent bomb being added to the military’s arsenal.

The Pentagon said the decision to build this weapon was made to reflect the changing security environment in line with the 2022 Nuclear Posture Review. That study said the military needed to modernize its nuclear forces to properly deter its two main nuclear-armed competitors, China and Russia.

The B61-13 will use the same modern safety, security and accuracy features now incorporated into the B61-12, the Pentagon said in a fact sheet accompanying the release. It would also give the president more options to strike “harder and large-area military targets,” the Pentagon said, while the department works to retire legacy bombs such as the B61-7 and B83-1.

Hans Kristensen, a nuclear weapons expert at the Federation of American Scientists who was briefed by the Pentagon on the bomb earlier this week, told Defense News the weapon will incorporate the same warheads from the 1980s- and 1990s-era B61-7s, transplanted into the same style casing and tail kit as the B61-12.

How to End the US Marine Corps’ Intellectual Civil War


When the former Commandant of the Marine Corps introduced his new strategic approach, dubbed Force Design (FD) 2030, many in the administration and Congress applauded it as a forward-thinking, innovation-based approach based on emerging technologies.

They were subsequently puzzled when many senior retired marines, including virtually all the living former commandants, expressed dismay.

The resulting intellectual civil war has been unprecedented in the history of the corps.

Battle of Poitiers: Not All Innovation Is Good

Those who think FD 2030 is a disaster waiting to happen point out that not all innovation is necessarily good.

During the 1356 Battle of Poitiers, French knights were ordered to dismount and attack the army of the English Black Prince on foot. The rationale for this was that the English had defeated a similar French force 10 years earlier with an army made up overwhelmingly of infantry. It was a disastrous French innovation.

The French king failed to realize that the English victory at Crécy a decade earlier came about due to the range and killing power of English longbows, not the fact that they were fighting as infantry.

Beyond The Hockey Stick: What We’re Missing When We Talk About Climate Change


On April 22 (Earth Day) of 1998, the warmest year that had yet been observed, my co-authors and I published the now famous “hockey stick” curve. It was featured on the pages of the New York Times and other leading newspapers, helping it garner worldwide attention.

Here was a simple graph, derived from sources of “proxy” climate data such as tree rings, ice cores, coral, and lake sediment, depicting the average temperature of the northern hemisphere over the past six centuries. It resembled an upturned hockey stick, with the “handle” corresponding to the relatively constant temperatures over the pre-industrial era, and the “blade” corresponding to the dramatic subsequent warming that coincided with the industrial revolution.

A year later, we extended the graph back 1,000 years. The millennial hockey stick, published on the dawn of a new millennium, conveyed clearly the unprecedented nature of the warming taking place today.

That made it a threat to carbon polluters, and it was subject to a crescendo of attacks by fossil fuel companies and those doing their bidding. The hockey stick has nonetheless stood up to the scrutiny; indeed, other teams of scientists have even extended it back two millennia.

The irony, in my view, is that some of the more important lessons we can learn from studying the climate of the common era (the period spanning the past 2,000 years)—a few of which I discuss below—have been eclipsed by the almost single-minded focus of climate advocates and climate deniers alike on this one curve developed in the late 1990s.

Deceit, Dread, and Disbelief: The Story of How Ukraine Lost Its Nuclear Arsenal

George E. Bogden

The House of Representatives, after three agonizing weeks, has a speaker in Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA). But the question remains: will Ukraine now get U.S. taxpayer dollars for its fight against Russia? A major contributor to the ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the question remains at the heart of House Republican angst and is by no means settled, whatever President Joe Biden may say.

But while most in official Washington trumpet their support for Ukraine, never-before-released archival evidence dating back 30 years proves their forebears in office share blame for the current crisis. The documents show conclusively how two American administrations, senior Pentagon leadership, and NATO, all pressured Ukraine into giving up its only deterrent against Russian aggression—nuclear weapons—despite the credible risk of Russian invasion.

With this information coming to light as Putin himself threatens to deploy nuclear weapons on the battlefield, how willing might Ukraine skeptics in the House GOP be to listen to the foreign policy establishment urging more money and arms for ill-defined objectives?

In 1994, American officials browbeat Ukraine’s newly independent leaders into giving up the nuclear weapons they inherited from the Soviet Union—weapons which could have staved off future aggression from Moscow—in exchange for nebulous “security assurances,” declared as part of the so-called Budapest Memorandum.


Angelica Evans, Kateryna Stepanenko, Christina Harward, Grace Mappes, and Frederick W. Kagan

Remnants of the Wagner Group appear to be fighting in the Avdiivka direction subordinate to Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) controlled formations. A Russian military correspondent published an interview on October 25 with the commander of the Russian “Arbat” Separate Guards Special Purpose Battalion that is serving the Avdiivka direction, who claimed that an element of the Arbat Battalion is almost entirely composed of former Wagner personnel.[1] The commander claimed that the Avdiivka direction is the Arbat Battalion’s “main direction” because the unit is part of the “Dikaya Division of Donbas” and the “Pyatnashka” Brigade — a Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) formation that is responsible for the defending Donetsk City.[2] The commander noted that the Wagner-staffed unit sends drone operators, electronic warfare (EW) specialists, and other fighters to other units in different frontline sectors as needed. The correspondent also indicated that the Arbat Battalion is part of the Russian Armed Forces, and it is likely that the brigade consists of former Wagner personnel who signed military contracts directly with the Russian MoD following Wagner financier Yevgeny Prigozhin’s rebellion and or his death.

A Ukrainian military observer also stated on October 25 that Wagner Group remnants are fighting near Avdiivka.[3] Ukrainian and Russian sources have previously stated that small groups of former Wagner personnel, possibly under Russian MoD-controlled formations, are deployed to the Bakhmut area.[4] It is too early to determine what role former Wagner personnel may play in Russian offensive operations against Avdiivka. The Arbat Battalion’s commander noted that the battalion’s situation on the front line is “good but not great” due to heavy personnel losses near Avdiivka.[5] Ukrainian military observers expressed concern about continued Russian operations in the Avdiivka direction, however.[6]

A World at War

Emma Beals and Peter Salisbury

Violent conflict is increasing in multiple parts of the world. In addition to Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel, and the Israeli offensive on Gaza, raising the specter of a wider war in the Middle East, there has been a surge in violence across Syria, including a wave of armed drone attacks that threatened U.S. troops stationed there. In the Caucasus in late September, Azerbaijan seized the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh—forcing an estimated 150,000 ethnic Armenians to flee their historical home in the territory and setting the stage for renewed fighting with Armenia. Meanwhile, in Africa, the civil war in Sudan rages on, conflict has returned to Ethiopia, and a military takeover of Niger in July was the sixth coup across the Sahel and West Africa since 2020.

In fact, according to an analysis of data gathered by the Uppsala Conflict Data Program, conducted by the Peace Research Institute Oslo, the number, intensity, and length of conflicts worldwide is at its highest level since before the end of the Cold War. The study found that there were 55 active conflicts in 2022, with the average one lasting about eight to 11 years, a substantial increase from the 33 active conflicts lasting an average of seven years a decade earlier.

Notwithstanding the increase in conflicts, it has been more than a decade since an internationally mediated comprehensive peace deal has been brokered to end a war. UN-led or UN-assisted political processes in Libya, Sudan, and Yemen have stalled or collapsed. Seemingly frozen conflicts—in countries including Ethiopia, Israel, and Myanmar—are thawing at an alarming pace. With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, high-intensity conflict has even returned to Europe, which had previously enjoyed several decades of relative peace and stability. Alongside the proliferation of war has come record levels of human upheaval. In 2022, a quarter of the world’s population—two billion people—lived in conflict-affected areas. The number of people forcibly displaced worldwide reached a record 108 million by the start of 2023.

Army War College PressParameters, Autumn 2023, no. 53, no. 4 Winter Demi-issue

Was the Russian Invasion of Ukraine a Failure of Western Deterrence?

Ukraine’s Lessons for Future Combat: Unmanned Aerial Systems and Deep Strike

How Open Source Intelligence Can Help Journalists Cover Conflicts

Subramaniam Vincent

The blast at Gaza’s Al-Ahli Arab hospital on October 17th led to one question: Who did it? It has taken days of analysis of video, audio, images and data using a new capacity called Open Source Intelligence to sort through the claims.

The Wall Street Journal posted this video four days after the blast, which is a classic example of OSINT work. The team analyzed images from four verified cameras and proposed a justification for a rocket that was fired from Gaza going east towards Israel and changed course, eventually leading to the blast at the hospital. Two of the cameras were in Israel pointed towards Gaza, and the other two in Gaza, one of which was Al Jazeera’s. Jane Lytvynenko, a widely respected OSINT investigative journalist, has reporting credits for the article.

This week, George Brumfiel, an NPR science journalist authored another article citing OSINT audio analysis by the NGO Earshot that analyzed the sound of the moving rocket to determine whether it was going towards Israel or coming from Israel. Brumfiel explained why determining responsibility for the Al-Ahli blast is going to be hard.

What Is Open Source Intelligence?

OSINT, simply put, is the analysis of openly available or accessible digital footage and data - video, audio, pictures including satellite images, geolocation data, weapons movements and so forth - to answer intelligence questions. They could be about sensitive troop movements, explosions, hidden weapons locations and more. Footage is often but not always posted on social media platforms.

Behind the Mask: Uncovering the Extremist Messages of a 3D‑Printed Gun Designer

About this Study

Within the world of 3D-printed guns, one pseudonymous figure has emerged as a symbol for the cause of universal access to firearms: “JStark1809”. He created the world’s most popular 3D-printed gun and established an influential network of 3D-printed gun designers. Since his death in July 2021, he has been memorialised as a martyr for the right to bear arms.

Based on open sources, this report identifies “JStark1809” as Jacob Duygu, a German national born to Kurdish parents who arrived as refugees from Southeast Turkey in the 1990s.

Using a combination of authorship attribution techniques, JStark can be identified as the author of over 700 seemingly “anonymous” comments on 4chan’s /pol/ board. He disclosed hitherto unknown details about his life, broader political views, and extremist attitudes.

Designing a 3D-Printed Gun

JStark’s choice to design a 3D-printed gun arose from frustration at not being able to own a gun on his terms in Germany. This morphed into a belief that owning firearms is a human right. JStark thus designed a 3D-printed gun with no regulated parts to ensure anyone worldwide could make it.

The gun he designed, the FGC-9 (“Fuck Gun Control 9mm”), has been seen on five continents, in: Australia, Brazil, Finland, Germany, Myanmar, Netherlands, New Zealand, Slovakia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, the UK, and the United States. It has been seen in the hands of gun enthusiasts, organised criminals, paramilitaries, insurgents, and terrorists.

He also created a network of 3D-printed gun designers and enthusiasts to create new designs, disseminate the digital blueprints online, and encourage their adoption. That network is known as Deterrence Dispensed and remains active even after JStark’s death.

Political Views

When speaking pseudonymously, JStark stated he was sharing 3D-printed gun designs to enable people to resist tyranny and defend against authoritarianism. He presented a universal message and spoke out against xenophobia and racism.

Writing anonymously, however, JStark made numerous xenophobic, racist, and antisemitic comments over multiple years. He regularly used dehumanising slurs and racist tropes.

On several occasions, JStark made anonymous threats of violence. These included threats to kill so-called “traitors” of Germany and threatened politicians, law enforcement, and left-wing individuals. He instigated online and lamented how a “right-wing” terrorist group had not emerged.

Life as an Incel

JStark’s “anonymous” comments reveal his life as an incel (involuntarily celibate). He felt his autism, height, looks, and ethnicity would shatter his chances of having a sexual or romantic relationship in Germany. In 2018, he travelled to the Philippines to escape his life as an incel.

He regularly made misogynist comments. He sometimes revelled in female suffering and despaired at his lack of relative power. He varied between condoning incel-motivated violence and seeing it as inevitable. Shortly before his arrest in June 2021, he threatened violence: “I will literally kill , (sic) or kill myself soon if i can’t sleep in a bed with a girl again …”.

In the final months of his life, JStark expressed profound suicidal ideation. Anonymously, he wrote of his loneliness and depression – which he attributed to his status as an incel – and shared detailed plans to commit suicide. His chosen method is relatively new; routine toxicological analysis may fail to detect it. It is possible that after his arrest in late June 2021, JStark decided to take his life.