5 November 2023

Does Fatah stand to reap gains after Israel-Hamas war in Gaza?

Daoud Kuttab

You're reading an excerpt from the Palestine Briefing, where Daoud Kuttab brings you Palestine's top political, security and business stories each week. To read the full newsletter, sign up here.

Depending on which way you look at it, the Oct. 7 attack carried out by the military wing of Hamas, dubbed the “Al Aqsa Tsunami,” has either permanently destroyed the Palestinian national movement or given it new life.

Fatah, the main pillar of the Palestinian national movement within the Palestine Liberation Organization, has been politically crushed and seen sagging popularity in recent years, which has given a boost to Hamas, founded in 1987.

The military success of Hamas’ recent deadly attacks shocked Israel, the region and the world, bringing to center stage the worst images of terrorism that many Palestinians have been trying very hard to overcome. Israel’s harsh response in the Gaza Strip, however, has now tempered any early Israeli public relations gains. Increasingly, global decision-makers are now focusing on “day after the war” scenarios.

For decades, Fatah had called for an armed struggle. In a 1974 speech before the UN, late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat said he had “come bearing an olive branch and a freedom-fighter’s gun.” But ever since Arafat made the political decision to reconcile with Israel in 1993, the so-called hand with the gun was brought down. Arafat's successor, Mahmoud Abbas, 87, has insisted on the single method of political negotiations, emphasizing popular nonviolent protests as a means of showing that Palestinians reject the status quo.

Does the notion of a "Global South" still make any sense?


The Israel-Gaza war has caused a lot of heated rhetoric to be thrown around. One of the big talking points is that the U.S.’ support of Israel will cause it to lose support among the nations of the “Global South”. I don’t know if that’s true or not — Muslim countries seem likely to be at least annoyed with the U.S., but India seems more on the pro-Israel side. But regardless, this has drawn my attention to the highly questionable way in which the categories “Global North” and “Global South” are used — not just in online discussions, but by official organizations like the United Nations.

A lot of people use “Global South” interchangeably with “developing countries”, since countries in the north of the globe tend to generally be richer than countries in the south. In fact, I used it myself, in a post about global development, back in 2021:

But as soon as you try to actually categorize all the countries of the world into two groups, you run into difficulties. For example, in 1980 the Brandt Report, issued by an independent international commission, drew a nice clean line:

The red and blue map at the top of this post, which is from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), is clearly based on the Brandt Line, with just two changes: It moves South Korea and Israel into the “developed” category.

Ehud Barak on Israel’s Next Steps

Ravi Agrawal

There is perhaps no other person alive who has Ehud Barak’s range of experience for what war in Gaza looks like—and how Israel’s wartime decisions get scrutinized by the media. Barak led the army when Israel first pulled out of the Gaza Strip in 1994 after the Oslo Accord negotiations. In 2000, during the Second Intifada, a major Palestinian uprising, Barak held the dual roles of defense minister and prime minister. And then in a later stint as defense minister at the end of 2008, Barak led what was called Operation Cast Lead—a three-week conflict with Palestinian paramilitary groups that has been Israel’s largest ground operation in Gaza to date.

I spoke with Barak on FP Live, the magazine’s forum for live journalism. Barak is Israel’s most-decorated soldier and remains in close contact with Israel’s top military officers. We discussed whether it was possible to eliminate Hamas, how Israel was weighing a fall in U.S. and global support for its actions, and how prepared it was for a wider war. Barak has not been afraid to criticize his former colleague, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but he believes it will be a few weeks before anger against Israel’s leader reaches a tipping point.

Subscribers can watch the full interview on the video box atop this page. What follows is a lightly edited transcript.

Ravi Agrawal: Israel says it’s begun a new phase of the war. It won’t call it a ground invasion, but it certainly looks like one. How do you see it?

Ehud Barak: Our objective is to limit the military and government capabilities of Hamas in the Gaza Strip. This could not be accomplished by airstrikes alone. We have to deploy probably many thousands of boots on the ground.

America, Iran and the threat of a wider war in the Middle East


Historians are fascinated by the outbreak of the first world war. How could the assassination of an Austrian archduke in Sarajevo in June 1914 have led, just a few weeks later, to a conflict that dragged in every major power in Europe, and eventually the US? 

The question is particularly troubling because many of the leaders involved tried hard to avoid a general European war. The German and Russian emperors exchanged numerous messages trying to defuse the month-long crisis that led to conflict. But they failed. 

A similar danger of inadvertent escalation now hangs over the Middle East. The horrors of the Gaza conflict are so compelling that it is tempting just to concentrate on the fighting there. But western policymakers are increasingly focused on the wider region — and the danger of a general war in the Middle East that could pull in Iran, the US and even Saudi Arabia. 

For the Biden administration, that threat of a wider war is now regarded as the central challenge in the entire crisis. As one Washington insider puts it: “All the countries involved have thresholds that, if crossed, will make them believe they have to act. But nobody really knows what the other side’s threshold is.” 

Over the weekend, Iran issued a clear threat that its own threshold is getting closer. Ebrahim Raisi, the country’s president, took to X (formerly Twitter) to state that Israel’s actions in Gaza have “crossed the red lines, and this may force everyone to take action.” He added: “Washington asks us to not do anything, but they keep giving widespread support to Israel.” 

Treading a Fine Line: Iran and the Israel–Gaza War

Dr Louise Kettle 

After initial speculation around Iranian involvement in the Hamas attacks, Tehran is coming under increasing pressure over how to respond to the conflict.

From the moment Hamas attacked Israel, Iran has been extremely vocal, praising the assault and warning Israel and the US of reprisals for military action. However, while initially seen as a beneficiary of the events, the pressure on Iran is now starting to mount.

After the events of 7 October there was immediate speculation over Iranian involvement, with evidence soon surfacing of meetings between Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas. Iran has long viewed Israel as its greatest regional threat, and vice versa. Israel has been involved in a number of successful security operations against Iran, while the Islamic Republic does not recognise the State of Israel. In 2005, former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad famously gave a speech that was translated as saying Israel ‘should be wiped off the map’.

In addition, the Islamic Republic has made supporting Palestinians a key pillar of its foreign policy. As a result, Hamas has long been backed by Tehran, both for its cause and as part of a network of groups across the Middle East that forms an ‘axis of resistance’ against the US, Israel and its allies. Consequently, over many years, Iran has provided funding, equipment and expertise to help Hamas develop its capabilities.

U.S. officials hold their breath for Iranian cyberattacks


The U.S. government is prepping for a potential onslaught of Iranian cyberattacks in retaliation for support for Israel in its conflict with Hamas.

It’s far from just Israel at risk of cyberattacks from the Hamas-aligned regime’s cyber operatives, U.S. officials say. They also see the U.S. and other nations that support the Israeli government as likely targets.

Such attacks could take the form of attempting to damage critical systems like water or electricity, would likely involve widespread disinformation efforts and could also involve proxies to keep Iran’s fingerprints off the incidents.

“The cyber targeting of American interests and critical infrastructure that we already see conducted by Iran and non-state actors alike we can expect to get worse if the conflict expands, as will the threat of kinetic attacks,” FBI Director Christopher Wray testified to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Tuesday.

Multiple U.S. federal agencies have stressed that they have yet to see any intelligence suggesting that Iran is planning an imminent attack on U.S. critical infrastructure. But they’re on heightened alert and hoping that new defenses they created after Russia invaded Ukraine — which brought worries about cyberattacks in the U.S. to the fore — will be able to adapt and grow to accommodate threats on multiple fronts.

The Gaza Invasion Will Not Make Israel Safer


There are many reasons why Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered a ground invasion of Gaza. He wants to ensure that Hamas can never again murder 1,400 Israelis. He needs to take bold action to restore the confidence of his people in their nation’s security. He may also believe that his political survival depends on erasing the shame his government faces following the most consequential security failure in Israel’s history.

None of that makes a ground invasion of Gaza the right thing to do.

We must begin with the most obvious point. There are more than two million Palestinians now trapped inside a war zone with nowhere to go. Nearly half of them are children, to whom no one can assign even indirect blame for Hamas’ mass murder. Yes, Israeli forces will take steps to minimize civilian casualties, but with so many people trapped inside one of the world’s most densely populated areas, those precautions won’t be nearly enough.

Beyond the moral problem, Netanyahu should understand that the invasion of Gaza will make Israel less safe.

Inside Gaza, with Hamas dug in, even an Israeli victory would prove extraordinarily costly in Israeli lives too. With so many people trapped inside an area that measures around 140 square miles, it will be too easy for Hamas to use blameless Palestinians as human shields, slowing Israel's ability to respond. The group has a vast network of tunnels in which to hide that Israel has not been able to map. Israel is much more likely to be sucked into a long and brutal war than to score the hoped-for decapitation of Hamas anytime soon.


Johanna Moore, Andie Parry, Kathryn Tyson, Annika Ganzeveld, Peter Mills, 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 and 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:
  • Lebanese Hezbollah-affiliated al Mayadeen reported that an Israeli armored unit advanced from the northwestern Gaza Strip south along the coast.
  • Axis of Resistance and Palestinian media reported that the al Qassem Brigades clashed with an IDF unit in Beit Hanoun.
  • Palestinian militias in the Gaza Strip conducted indirect fire attacks into Israel at their usual rate. Multiple Palestinian militias appeared to conduct joint indirect fire attacks on locations in Israel, which would suggest greater coordination between these groups.
  • Anti-Israel militancy and protest activity in the West Bank returned to regular levels after surging on October 31. The Lions’ Den released a statement calling for further anti-Israel militancy in the West Bank.
  • Iranian-backed militants, including Lebanese Hezbollah, conducted six 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 responsibility for a one-way drone attack targeting US forces in Syria.
  • Iran and LH are continuing to promote the expectation in the information space that LH will announce some kind of escalation against Israel on November 3.
  • Iranian-backed Iraqi militias are signaling that they may escalate against US forces in Iraq and Syria, as LH similarly messages against Israel.
  • The Houthi movement may have conducted an attack targeting southern Israel, which would mark the fourth attempted Houthi attack on Israel since the war began.
  • Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Affairs Minister Hakan Fidan in Ankara.

Why India Is Worried About the China-Bhutan Border

Aadil Brar

Nestled between two Asian giants, Bhutan, a small Himalayan kingdom, is moving closer to formalizing ties with China—a development that has India watching anxiously. In recent years, Beijing has gained territorial leverage, bringing the Bhutanese side to the negotiating table.

China and Bhutan share a 248-mile-long border but don't have official diplomatic ties. If that situation changes, it could have profound implications for the region.

A Bhutanese delegation led by Foreign Minister Tandi Dorji held the 25th round of boundary talks with Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Sun Weidong on October 23-24.

"During the talks, the heads of both sides signed the Cooperation Agreement between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Royal Government of Bhutan on the Functions of the China-Bhutan Joint Technical Group on Boundary Delimitation and Demarcation," said the joint statement by China and Bhutan after the latest round of talks in Beijing.

The language may have been dry and technical, but the repercussions could be anything but. In an unprecedented meeting, the Bhutanese foreign minister also met with China's Vice President Han Zheng, a former member of the Chinese Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee.

The latest talks are significant because they illustrate how the pace of discussion between China and Bhutan to establish normal diplomatic relations has picked up—a development that will unsettle New Delhi, amid worsening relations between the two regional giants.

What's Holding Back the Military's Plan to Institute Integrated Theatre Commands?

Rahul Bedi

New Delhi: Progress in instituting Integrated Theatre Commands (ITC) by the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Anil Chauhan, to augment inter-service synergy, is reportedly stalled, principally over the knotty and lingering issue surrounding the overall operational control of the proposed formations.

According to recent media reports, citing official sources, the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) which General Chauhan heads, is also ‘re-evaluating’ its earlier plans of creating three ITCs – one each for the northern and western borders, in addition to an overarching maritime/peninsular command-and opting for ‘additional others’.

This latter provision is reportedly under consideration, primarily to ‘accommodate service interests’, a euphemism for senior service officers retaining their ranks, multiple privileges and perquisites which, other than existing exaggerated pomp and majesty, included exclusive use of aircraft and rotary assets by them.

But a cross-section of senior military veterans maintain that determining the overarching operational head of the ITCs remains the CDS’s principal challenge, before formally forwarding the architecture of these joint battle groups to the government, which was scheduled earlier for completion by 2022.

“While the proposed structure of the theatre commands seems to have been finalised, there are some important issues where greater deliberation is required,” declared military analyst, retired Lieutenant General H.S. Hooda in an analysis for the Delhi Policy Group think tank in August. The issue of how the command and control over the theatre commands will be exercised remains unclear, he added.

Afghan refugees forced to leave Pakistan say they have nothing

Caroline Davies

Pakistan has started to arrest Afghans as the country begins a nationwide crackdown on foreign nationals it says are in the country illegally.

Thousands of Afghans in Pakistan have made their way back to Afghanistan in the last two months. But many of them, who have called Pakistan home for decades, say they have nothing to go back to, while others say they are terrified to be heading back to the Taliban government.

You know you are getting closer to the border when the stream of trucks thickens. Faces old and young watch the road, sitting atop piles of furniture, firewood, cookers and air conditioning units that judder precariously as the vehicles weave through traffic on their way to Afghanistan.

We meet Abdullah at a petrol station in Punjab province. He has hired a truck to bring all 22 of his family members out of the country - 20 of them were born in Pakistan, he says.

"I initially came here when the Russian war started, I used to work in a brick kiln as a labourer. There are fewer job opportunities in Afghanistan," he tells the BBC.

"I am very sad about leaving my house. I can't express in words the pain I felt leaving it. Our house was made of mud, and we built it ourselves. I planted many trees there. My neighbours and friends were in tears [when I left] - It's the cruel government that is making us leave."

Abdullah, who had a house in Punjab, left together with 22 family members

In the last two months around 200,000 Afghan nationals have already left Pakistan ahead of the 1 November deadline, according to the Pakistan government. The recent daily returnee figures are three times higher than normal, says the Taliban refugee ministry spokesman Abdul Mutaleb Haqqani.

Sheikh Hasina and the Future of Democracy in Bangladesh


Sheikh Hasina floats into the reception room of her official residence swathed in a luxurious silk sari, the personification of iron fist in velvet glove. At 76 years old and silver-haired, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister is a political phenomenon who has guided the rise of this nation of 170 million from rustic jute producer into the Asia-Pacific’s fastest-expanding economy over the past decade.

In office since 2009, after an earlier term from 1996 to 2001, she is the world’s longest-serving female head of government and credited with subduing both resurgent Islamists and a once meddlesome military. Having already won more elections than Margaret Thatcher or Indira Gandhi, Hasina is determined to extend that run at the ballot box in January. “I am confident that my people are with me,” she says in an interview with TIME in September. “They’re my main strength.”
als are as stark as the 19 assassination attempts that Hasina has weathered over the years. In recent months, supporters of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) have clashed with security forces, leading to hundreds of arrests, police vehicles and public buses set ablaze, and several people killed. The BNP has vowed to boycott the election as they did in both 2014 and 2018 unless Hasina hands power to a caretaker government to shepherd elections. (Their request has historical precedent but is no longer required following a constitutional amendment.)

Huawei surges into the 5.5G lead


Huawei is moving ahead into the 5.5G era, a marked advance over current 5G networks and a practical halfway house on the road to 6G. Also known as 5G-Advanced, 5.5G promises big improvements in factory automation, autonomous driving and various other applications. At the company’s 14th Global Mobile Broadband Forum held on October 10-11 in […]

China's military ambitions are mostly regional, not global — for now

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
Source Link

The goal of China's military modernization plan is to ensure China has the ability to win a war against the U.S. in the Indo-Pacific, not to replicate America's global military power projection capabilities, experts tell Axios.

Why it matters: Becoming Asia's dominant military power would support China's bid to be the center of regional trade and influence, and help secure its territorial claims. But Beijing is reluctant to seek that kind of dominance globally because it would risk embroiling China in responsibilities far beyond its borders.
  • "China certainly has global ambitions, but I don't think it has global military ambitions the way the U.S. does," says Raymond Kuo, director of the RAND Corporation's Taiwan Policy Initiative.
  • "It doesn't want to get involved in conflicts that are peripheral to its interests."
Driving the news: Officials from more than 100 countries have gathered in Beijing this week for China's annual defense forum, where Zhang Youxia, the vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission, accused the U.S. of "continuing to stir trouble around the world" and interfering in other countries' affairs.

Zoom out: Last year Chinese President Xi Jinping introduced the Global Security Initiative, which he is pushing as an alternative to the U.S.-led order.
  • The initiative has seen China expand its military cooperation with numerous countries around the world and become more involved in global conflict mediation efforts.
  • But Beijing seeks to expand its global military influence through means other than direct intervention in armed conflict, Kuo said, such as by increasing arms sales and putting itself at the center of international norms and decision-making.

US, China and 26 other nations agree to co-operate over AI development

Cristina Criddle, Madhumita Murgia and Anna Gross

Twenty-eight countries including the US, UK and China have agreed to work together to ensure artificial intelligence is used in a “human-centric, trustworthy and responsible” way, in the first global commitment of its kind.

The pledge forms part of a communique signed by major powers including Brazil, India and Saudi Arabia, at the inaugural AI Safety Summit. The two-day event, hosted and convened by British prime minister Rishi Sunak at Bletchley Park, started on Wednesday.

Called the Bletchley Declaration, the document recognises the “potential for serious, even catastrophic, harm” to be caused by advanced AI models, but adds such risks are “best addressed through international co-operation”. Other signatories include the EU, France, Germany, Japan, Kenya and Nigeria.

The communique represents the first global statement on the need to regulate the development of AI, but at the summit there are expected to be disagreements about how far such controls should go.

Country representatives attending the event include Hadassa Getzstain, Israeli chief of staff at the ministry of innovation, science and technology, and Wu Zhaohui, Chinese vice minister for technology.

PUBLICATIONThe surge of activity in relations between North Korea and Russia

Kim Jong-un’s September 2023 summit with Vladimir Putin attracted global attention, given that South Korea, Ukraine, and Western countries more broadly view the possibility of enhanced military cooperation between Pyongyang and Moscow as an ominous development. A month later, in mid-October, the United States claimed that North Korea had sent 1,000 containers of ‘equipment and munitions’ to Russia on 7 September, days before the start of Kim’s trip, and that some of these containers were bound for an ammunition depot located 200 kilometres from Russia’s border with Ukraine. Satellite images taken by private companies indicate at least five such shipments have occurred to date, starting in late August. These weapon shipments may have been reciprocal, according to the US, and likely set the stage for Kim’s visit to occur.

Despite this, Kim’s week-long trip, from 10 to 19 September, yielded no public agreements. During a follow-up trip to Pyongyang on 18–19 October, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that bilateral relations ‘have reached a qualitatively new, strategic level’. Yet, the recent history of relations between North Korea (the DPRK) and Russia suggests that the countries will have difficulty sustaining cooperation. It seems clear that Kim is willing to provide Putin with military equipment to support his war effort in Ukraine; Putin may help Kim launch military satellites, but it is unlikely that he will aid North Korea’s nuclear-, biological- or chemical-weapons programmes. A tripartite alliance with China is also implausible, and Xi Jinping may have looked askance at Kim’s trip. 

Are Chinese Battery Companies the Next Huawei?

Craig Singleton

The Biden administration wants half of all new cars sold in the United States to be electric by 2030. Meanwhile, the European Union has taken even bolder steps, mandating that all new cars and vans sold after 2035 emit zero emissions. Taken together, that’s good news—for China.

Today, companies with close ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) control nearly half of the global supply of electric vehicle (EV) batteries. While there is certainly merit in decarbonizing the transportation sector, a hasty embrace of EVs would do more than cement the market positions of Beijing’s battery behemoths. It could also expose the United States and European nations to dangerous cyber threats, similar to how Chinese technology giant Huawei’s unchecked expansion paved the way for China to gain access to critical Western telecommunications networks.

In developing the production of advanced batteries to power tomorrow’s high-tech revolution, Chinese central planners have been well ahead of the West. China’s 13th five-year plan, which governed its industrial investments between 2016 and 2020, highlighted how controlling battery and EV supply chains, including critical rare earth minerals, could give Beijing a competitive advantages over the United States and other countries. China’s current five-year plan goes further, linking breakthroughs in these two fields to China’s emergence as a “science and technology powerhouse.”

Two Chinese industry giants, CATL and BYD, now dominate the global EV and battery markets. CATL, frequently linked to Uyghur forced labor, produces one in three EV batteries, and BYD is on track to become the world’s top EV seller. Both companies owe their ascent to massive Chinese subsidies as well as their corporate connections with powerful CCP institutions. These and other linkages serve as structured channels through which the CCP exerts direct and indirect control over each company’s internal governance, operations, and hiring, with serious implications for battery supply chains.

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.”

The Real Washington Consensus

Charles King

Among American foreign policy whisperers and assessors of the state of the world, no one had a more checkered reputation than Walt Rostow—academic economist, influential author, adviser to presidents, and, as the U.S. diplomat Averell Harriman once called him bitingly, “America’s Rasputin.” In the administrations of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, nearly every strategic move Rostow advocated turned out to be wrong, from escalating the commitment of U.S. combat troops for South Vietnam to rejecting peace talks with the North Vietnamese. Since he continued to defend those positions after most other people had concluded they were mistakes, his name became a byword for a specific kind of Washington virtue: offering terrible advice but at least doing so consistently. “[Zbigniew] Brzezinski aspires to be the Henry Kissinger of this administration,” the historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., noted in his diary in May 1978 as the administration of President Jimmy Carter was developing a harder line toward the Soviet Union. “I fear he will end up the Walt Rostow.”

But before Rostow became a punch line, he was a thinker. Despite his policy errors and his diminished status inside the Beltway, his ideas and worldview lodged themselves deep inside the collective unconscious of the American foreign policy establishment—and remain there today, although sometimes in ways that are hard to see at first.

Rostow had come into the White House from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology after publishing the must-read foreign policy book of 1960, The Stages of Economic Growth. Around the world, the Soviet Union was peddling a seductive model of development, one built from a one-party dictatorship, state monopolies, and five-year plans. To Rostow, the West desperately needed its own theory for how societies evolve, a coherent set of principles translatable into a practical blueprint.

Assessing Hybrid War: Separating Fact from Fiction

Sophie Berdoz

For close to a decade, analysts and defense planners have now warned of the looming menace of “Hybrid War”. Yet, it remains strikingly unclear which instruments of power politics this involves, and the extent of a threat Hybrid War actually poses. Nonetheless, Western states have expended significant resources to fend off this threat. This year, the EU has announced an entire mission in Moldova tasked with countering “hybrid threats”, its first mission of this kind. Hence, it is both urgent and important to assess these threats.

Unfortunately, Hybrid War is notoriously ill-​defined. Both policy debates and academia use it mostly as an umbrella term for all kinds of aggression short of all-​out warfare. These include, but are not limited to, disinformation, sabotage, subversion, and cyber operations. Russia’s takeover and illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, its support of armed separatists in Ukraine’s Donbass region (including through unmarked troops of “little green men”), and a arge-​scale cyber campaign were perceived to demonstrate the power of these instruments. Academic interest skyrocketed and many scholars have argued that such low-​intensity aggression would become the future of warfare. Policymakers picked up these arguments and associated threat perceptions, and have shifted strategy and defense priorities accordingly.

Biden’s dangerous stance on the war in Israel and Gaza

Shibley Telhami

President Joe Biden has been a strong supporter of Israel throughout his long political career. Yet it has been stunning to watch his seeming tolerance of the calamity that has been visited on the people of Gaza and his reluctance to condemn the actions behind it. Biden was rightly lauded for reaching out to Israelis after Hamas’ horrific attack killed and wounded thousands of Israelis, mostly civilians, including many children, and took over 200 hostages. He signaled support for a people under attack during a moment of pain and vulnerability, displaying timely solidarity. Nothing justifies targeting or recklessly endangering civilians, which also constitutes war crimes.

But since that first moment, many of the president’s actions have been misguided, even dangerous. They serve neither Israeli nor Palestinian long-term interests, and they threaten to undermine the U.S. national interest.

The failure of private counsel

One charitable take on Biden’s approach, privately encouraged by some administration officials, is that Biden’s full public support for Israel, without loud, overt calls for restraint, is tactical: to gain leverage with Israeli leaders in the hope of influencing them, while counseling restraint privately. But if this is the intent, the outcome has been a demonstrable failure.

Despite Biden’s full support for Israel, including a trip to the country, during which he described himself as a “Zionist” and joined a meeting of Israel’s war cabinet, his chief accomplishment has been to get a few truckloads of aid to Gaza. If the president counseled Israel to be restrained in its bombing and to avoid a ground attack on Gaza, as has been reported, there is little evidence the Israeli government is taking his advice. Yet this has not stopped Biden from seeking $14 billion of support for Israel’s war effort, which speaks louder than private or public words.

Don’t be fooled: Net neutrality is about more than just blocking and throttling

Tom Wheeler

On October 19, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 3-2 to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to reinstate the agency’s 2015 decision that brought internet service providers (ISPs) under the agency’s jurisdiction as Telecommunications Carriers. This action is necessary because the Trump FCC repealed the previous rule in 2018 at the request of the ISPs. Predictably, the telecom industry and its allies in Congress have come out with guns blazing in opposition to the recent FCC proposal.

Also, predictably, the debate is being mischaracterized around a few tried-and-true buzz phrases that obscure the importance of what is being proposed.

The term “net neutrality” was coined in 2003 by Columbia professor Tim Wu. It was an innovative nomenclature that picked up on the ability of the ISPs to discriminate for their own economic advantage. Net neutrality became commonly described as whether the companies could create “fast lanes” and “slow lanes” for internet traffic. That such a problem was not hypothetical was demonstrated five years later when the Republican FCC fined Comcast for slowing the delivery of video content that could compete with cable channels.

For the longest time, both advocates and opponents of net neutrality have spoken in terms of preventing “blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization” by ISPs. It is, however, a mischaracterization of the policy challenge that cheapens the importance of the real issue: that the nation’s most important network has no public interest supervision.

Europe’s Coming Reckoning on Immigration

Howard W. French

This time of year, the days in Ferrara, a slightly out-of-the-way medieval castle town in northern Italy that I visited in late September, have a charming monotony to them.

In the warmth of early fall mornings, tourists from other parts of Italy as well as further afield in Europe circle around the 14th-century castle’s moat and drawbridges or wander inside for the baronial view from there. On the main street nearby, where cars are banned, crowds file past a towering statue of the ascetic friar Jerome Savonarola. Judging from the conversations I could overhear, the pedestrian traffic was mostly made up of Italians.

There was one feature of this movement above all that caught my attention, though, and it is a good thing that it did: Weaving their way through the flow of shoppers and gawkers were well-dressed people on clanky bicycles, gliding through the crowds with a speed and self-assurance that suggested it was other people’s duty to get out of their way.

These are not, I promise, idle observations. Nor is this an essay about tourism or regional life in Italy. The distinguishing feature of the locals, and especially of the brazen cyclists, was their advanced average age, which I pegged at late 50s or early 60s. I could not, of course, poll these crowds, but as I observed them day after day, what demographers have been writing about Italy and certain other parts of Europe became obvious: This is a rapidly aging society where children, and hence young people, are becoming increasingly scarce. In 2022, Italian childbirths hit a record low, having declined for the 14th consecutive year. Nationally, more than 12 people died for every seven who were born.

On my second day in Ferrara, I had lunch with two Italian radio journalists, both well into their careers. Without any prompting from me, their conversation moved quickly and ineluctably to the topics of aging and childlessness. As I was to learn, these subjects have an unavoidable force, like gravity, as population dynamics here and in much of Europe shift in dramatic and, for many, deeply ominous ways.


Karolina Hird, Riley Bailey, Grace Mappes, Angelica Evans, and Frederick W. Kagan

Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief General Valerii Zaluzhnyi assessed on November 1 that the war in Ukraine has taken on a positional nature and offered a series of recommendations for Ukraine to restore manoeuvre to the battlespace.[1] In an essay entitled "Modern Positional Warfare and How to Win It" and an interview with The Economist, Zaluzhnyi outlined the current operational environment in Ukraine and noted that, despite several previously successful Ukrainian counteroffensive operations in 2022, the war is now "gradually moving to a positional form."[2] Zaluzhnyi heavily stressed that the current positional nature of the war is largely a result of military parity between Ukrainian and Russian forces, noting that a deep and dramatic Ukrainian penetration of Russian lines will likely not be possible with the relative technological and tactical equilibrium currently between Ukrainian and Russian forces.[3] In his interview with The Economist, Zaluzhnyi acknowledged that technological and tactical parity between opposing forces in Ukraine has resulted in a "stalemate" similar to the case of the First World War.[4] In the more extensive essay on the subject, Zaluzhnyi notably refrained from classifying the situation as a full stalemate and instead framed it as a "positional" war resulting from aspects of this technological-tactical parity.[5] According to Zaluzhnyi, Ukraine's ability to overcome this technological-tactical parity will be contingent on Ukraine's ability to secure five main operational components that have become particularly significant since the summer of 2023 — gaining air superiority; breaching Russian mine barriers in depth; increasing the effectiveness of counterbattery combat; creating and training the necessary reserves; and building up electronic warfare (EW) capabilities.

Zaluzhnyi offered a series of specific tactical solutions to the five aforementioned operational components that have created the conditions for positional warfare, which in his view will allow Ukraine to overcome military parity with Russian forces.

AI in the Global South: Opportunities and challenges towards more inclusive governance

Chinasa T. Okolo

The advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its accompanying technological advancements has commanded the attention of countries worldwide, leading to an unprecedented adoption and interest in leveraging artificial intelligence (AI). As AI increases in ubiquity, countries in the Global South, including Africa, Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean, have begun to capitalize on the opportunities presented by these technologies despite early development being primarily concentrated in the West. Given the historical development challenges that countries in the Global South have faced, AI stands to help advance progress in critical domains such as agriculture, healthcare, and education. However, rising concerns about the ethical implications of using AI also present new challenges for countries in this region to address, along with handling existing development priorities.

As the development of AI advances rapidly and demonstrates the potential to bolster economic growth, governments in the Global South must understand how to make progress toward enacting robust AI regulation and building thriving AI ecosystems that sustainably support startup growth and the development of research and engineering talent. A part of this progress will involve the equitable inclusion of countries from the Global South in roundtable convenings, working groups on AI, and high-level advisory bodies such as those initiated by the U.K. government, OECD, and the United Nations. However, the inclusion of the Global South in these initiatives should also be a goal of countries that have dominated the current AI discourse. The White House’s plans to lead critical global conversations and collaborations on AI, as outlined in the recently issued Executive Order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence, should deliberately seek participation from stakeholders and governments in the Global South to inclusively work towards an equitable era of AI.