14 November 2023

The punishing military doctrine that Israel may be following in Gaza

A few days after Hamas’s horrific Oct. 7 rampage through southern Israel, a top Israeli military official was blunt about his nation’s military response. Israeli security officials repeatedly stress the steps they take to minimize civilian harm and claim they are only striking legitimate military targets. In recent days, Daniel Hagari, spokesman of the Israel Defense Forces, accused Hamas of “cynically” deploying its assets in civilian areas and near critical infrastructure, like hospitals. But when speaking in the offensive’s early stage, Hagari revealed that the “emphasis” of the IDF’s reprisal was “on damage and not on accuracy.”

At that time, Israeli warplanes had already dumped hundreds of tons of bombs on targets in the Gaza Strip. The ongoing campaign in the month since has claimed more than 10,000 lives in the besieged territory, including those of more than 4,000 children. It’s triggered a humanitarian crisis, displacing the bulk of Gaza’s 2.3 million people and driving tens of thousands into a desperate search for food, safety and water. Hunger and disease stalk Gaza’s blasted neighborhoods. Aid agencies place little hope in Israel’s latest decision to offer four-hour “pauses” in its operations so that residents in north Gaza can trek southward.

There are reams of commentary on what Israel’s strategy and endgame may be as it seeks to nullify the long-standing threat posed by Hamas and purge the Islamist militant faction from its Gaza redoubts. But looming behind it — and implicit in Hagari’s “emphasis” on damage over accuracy — is a long-standing Israeli military doctrine that appears to be in play now.

The so-called “Dahiya Doctrine” took shape in the wake of the bruising 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Dahiya refers to the southern Beirut suburbs where Hezbollah maintained its strongholds and which were pummeled by Israeli jets after hostilities began when Hezbollah fighters abducted two Israeli soldiers. The onslaught then took Hezbollah by surprise, whose senior leadership had not expected to see their headquarters turned into rubble nor had planned for such a relentless bombardment. “I said that we shouldn’t exaggerate, that Israel will just retaliate a bit, bomb a couple of targets and that would be the end of it,” a Hezbollah operative told former Washington Post reporter Anthony Shadid in 2006.

Eastern Mediterranean Energy Hangs in the Balance of the Israel-Hamas War

Antonia Colibasanu

As the Israel-Hamas conflict threatens to spread, oil traders are paying a premium for their annual supply of most grades of Middle Eastern crude for 2024, according to Reuters. Though this seems to confirm what many suspect – that the conflict has irrevocably triggered increases in the price of energy – it’s unclear how much, and for how long, these increases will affect the global economy.

The usual caveats about the fog of war apply, of course, but so far businesses in the region are operating under two potential scenarios. The first is a confined war in which prices jump only a little ($4-$7 per barrel) and thus lead to a marginal increase in inflation (0.1 percent). The second is a larger war that spreads throughout the region. If it does escalate, oil prices could jump to as much as $150 per barrel, according to some estimates, potentially leading to a global recession with serious inflationary pressures.

For its part, the Israeli economy is already starting to adjust to the new normal, after what some consider an Israeli equivalent to 9/11. Consumer spending is down, and as reservists get called up for the fight, serious shortfalls in manpower have hurt supply chains at seaports and supermarkets alike. GPF sources say daily rocket attacks continue, and in some areas, rocket sirens are heard at least twice a day, so the economic uncertainty in Israel isn’t going away any time soon. The government, meanwhile, has vowed “no limit” spending to finance the war and compensate affected individuals and businesses, implying a larger budget deficit and more debt. The Economy Ministry has established a war room that as of late October had created a database connecting at least 8,550 people with failing firms. The Bank of Israel cut its economic growth forecast for 2023 to 2.3 percent from 3 percent and its forecast for 2024 to 2.8 percent from 3 percent. These forecasts assume the war will be limited to Gaza.

Winning the Peace Is Just as Crucial to Israel’s Future


In a time of war, as Israel now finds itself after the brutal Hamas terrorist attacks—the worst slaughter of Jews since the Holocaust—it is hard to think beyond the current conflict. At a moment when the Jewish state finds itself in a day-to-day existential fight that could still spin out of control, the future can seem an abstract concept and discussing it an intellectual luxury Israeli leaders can ill afford. But it is imperative Israel and her allies, including the United States, look over the horizon, because if recent events have taught us anything, it is that the future of Israel is not a forgone conclusion. Israel is not a certainty.

As an American Jew, I am thinking about the future of the Abraham Accords, the series of diplomatic breakthroughs in which five Arab and Muslim majority states—the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, Kosovo, and Sudan—joined Egypt and Jordan to recognize and establish diplomatic and economic relations with the State of Israel. It took decades to achieve the level of external recognition and security that came with the Accords. In one fell swoop, Israel went from being a democratic orphan in a sea of hostility to part of a partially stable, largely friendly regional community.

For the moment, the Accords remain “status quo ante.” But they could prove a useful bargaining chip or provide domestic political leverage to regional leaders like Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, who is facing the largest street protests since normalization, and Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, where large throngs have protested in front of the Israeli Embassy in Manama—over Israel’s war to destroy Hamas.

U.S. weapons, taxpayer dollars end up with Taliban, Hamas

Casey Harper 

Concerns that American weapons and tax dollars are increasingly going to groups such as the Taliban and Hamas are coming under increasing scrutiny.
Debate over whether the U.S. should send funds to Hamas-controlled Gaza has re-sparked the issue, with foreign aid to the Middle East and weapons left behind in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of U.S. troops, front and center in the conversation.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., has been among the most outspoken opponents of funding for Gaza, saying that aid will fall into the hands of the terrorist group, Hamas, which kicked off a war with Israel when it killed more than 1,400 Israelis and took hundreds of hostages, including Americans.

Biden announced $100 million in humanitarian aid to Gaza last month.

“If we send aid into Gaza, it is almost guaranteed the money will fall into terrorists’ hands,” Blackburn wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “We must focus first on eradicating Hamas to help the Palestinian people.”

Blackburn pointed to a new document from the federal watchdog for the U.S. Agency for International Development, which oversees foreign aid. That watchdog already raised the alarm earlier this month about the risk of this funding falling into the hands of terrorists.

The USAID Office of Inspector General released a “situational alert” saying it has “identified this area as high-risk for potential diversion and misuse of U.S.-funded assistance.”

Cyber ops linked to Israel-Hamas conflict largely improvised, researchers say


In the wake of Hamas’s attack on Israel, researchers and cybersecurity firms observed an uptick in operations by hacktivists and state-sponsored hacking groups. But more than one month into the conflict, researchers are increasingly concluding that cyberoperations linked to the war have been mostly opportunistic in nature and frequently exaggerated in terms of their impact.

In a pair of reports presented Thursday at the CYBERWARCON computer security conference in Arlington, Va., researchers from Microsoft and Mandiant, the Google-owned cybersecurity firm, described a wide range of cyber operations, ranging from influence operations to ransomware attacks that have attempted to shape the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Shortly after Hamas fighters crossed into Israel, for example, researchers from the two firms said that Telegram channels were spun up to disseminate videos of massacres carried out at kibbutzim along the Gaza border. Pro-Iran mass media picked up on these videos and amplified them, while a number of different hacktivist groups claimed to have breached various Israeli critical infrastructure entities, in what appear to be exaggerated claims of cyberattacks.

Taken together, the cyber operations around the conflict point toward an improvised effort. “We have no evidence that Iranian threat actors were actually prepared for the attack,” said Simeon Kakpovi, a senior threat intelligence analyst at Microsoft.

Having been caught flat-footed by the Hamas attack, Iranian hacking groups instead used their existing operations and access to compromised systems and tried to pivot these operations to support Hamas, Kakpovi said.

How Would a Humanitarian Pause Work in Gaza?

Steve Coll

As the war in Gaza completes its fifth week, the death toll suffered by Palestinian civilians has left behind all precedent in the grim conflict between Israel and Hamas. The daily images from Gaza of flattened blocks, sheared-off apartment buildings, and rescue workers searching through mounds of rubble for survivors evoke scenes from Mosul in 2017, after the heavy U.S.-led bombing campaign there against isis. Since Israel counterattacked Hamas after the atrocities of October 7th, more than four thousand children have died in Gaza, according to the Hamas-controlled health ministry. That figure is more than three times all of the combat-related child deaths in Gaza recorded by the U.N. since 2008, when it started keeping count. (The U.N. has not verified the casualty figures released by Gaza’s health ministry, but in the past, a unicef spokesman told the Guardian, the ministry’s figures have generally held up under review.) Doctors in Gaza’s hospitals supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross “have never seen this level of mass casualties,” Robert Mardini, the I.C.R.C.’s director-general, told me. An estimated two-thirds of Gaza’s population of more than two million people have been displaced from their homes. “No place is spared by the hostilities,” Mardini said.

On Friday, the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, rejected calls for even a temporary ceasefire until Hamas and its allies return the more than two hundred and thirty hostages, many of them civilians, whom the militants seized in the October 7th attacks. Gilad Erdan, Israel’s Ambassador to the U.N., told CNN that no humanitarian break in combat was necessary, because Israel had allowed “the number of trucks entering Gaza now with food and medicines to reach almost a hundred trucks every day.” (Prior to October 7th, about five hundred trucks carried supplies to Gaza daily. On Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the current rate of supply to Gaza is “good, but it’s grossly insufficient.”) Erdan also said that “we shouldn’t believe or take any numbers coming out of Gaza at face value,” because “everything is being controlled by the terrorists of Hamas.” At one point during the interview, the Ambassador said, “There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza.”

Gaza, Asia, and the Crisis in Global Governance

Dustin Barter

For people living in or engaged with the Asia-Pacific, the violence in Gaza and the accompanying rhetoric are all too familiar, mirroring much of what Myanmar’s military has unleashed against ethnic minorities for decades.

Being forced to live in “open air prisons” matched by systematic dehumanization and state-backed violence are exactly what the Rohingya of Rakhine State have experienced at the hands of Myanmar’s military. The insurgent attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) on August 25, 2017, triggered the military’s euphemistically called “clearance operations” that resulted in the violent displacement of over 700,000 Rohingya into Bangladesh. The military justified the atrocities as a form of self-defense aimed at protecting the nation, but the offensive was quickly labelled a “textbook case of ethnic cleansing” by the United Nations.

The international response was painstakingly slow, but it was near unanimous in its condemnation, even at the fractious U.N. Security Council. By 2022, the United States had declared the military’s actions as genocide.

Israel is now deploying a similar dehumanizing discourse about Palestinians as it begins “ground operations” that, following the forced displacement of over 1.4 million people, are strikingly similar to the Myanmar military’s “clearance operations” against the Rohingya. While this should result in a similar level of condemnation, the international response could not be more different. This has major implications for the Asia-Pacific and for global governance writ large.

Israel and Hamas – A Fair Fight?

Tom Copeland

I met a Hamas commander in 2010 when I visited an Israeli prison holding convicted terrorists. What he said to my group through a fellow terrorist translator captures the real reason why Israel is fully justified in its response to the vicious and evil October 7 attacks by Hamas.

Israel is being encouraged to respond “proportionately” (or not at all) by those who are claiming a moral equivalence between Hamas’ terrorist attacks and Israel’s military response. The claim that a proportionate response is required is in fact an argument from Just War Theory. But the laws of war are only being applied to Israel and not to Hamas.

Hamas has violated nearly all the prescriptions of Just War – their just cause (elimination of Israel and the Jews) is not a legitimate one; their terrorist attacks are not a last resort; their leadership is not competent or just; they do not humanely treat their prisoners of war or distinguish between civilian and military targets; and they perform acts that are evil by nature.

Hamas’ just cause, as they claim it, is not only the question of Palestinian authority over their divinely promised lands (“waqf”) or throwing off the Israeli blockade of Gaza. It is the complete annihilation of the Jewish people. Despite some public statements to the contrary, it is in their 1988 charter and clearly that goal is held personally by Hamas leaders.

Inside the Israeli prison, we asked the commander a series of questions in light of two important concepts: hudnah, a temporary truce to rebuild and fight again, and salaam, a state of peace and harmony where all people have become Muslim.

Will the Israel-Hamas War Spread?

Few conflicts involve just two actors, and the Israel-Hamas war is no exception. From Iran and its proxies to the Palestinians’ Arab backers, as well as Turkey, governments throughout the Middle East are carefully calculating how to respond to the conflict.

In this Big Question, we ask Comfort Ero, Negar Mortazavi, Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, and Sinan Ülgen to weigh in on the incentives and constraints shaping regional dynamics since October 7.

The Hypocrisy Of America And The UN On Criticism Of Israel’s Urban Warfare

Michael Rubin

Few defend the Islamic State. The group was cruel. They enslaved minorities, raped women, and tortured children and men. They tossed suspected gays off tall buildings and executed young men for infractions as minor as smoking a cigarette or watching a soccer game.

Still, the fight against them was not easy. In 2014, the group seized Mosul, a city the size of San Diego. It made its capital in Raqqa, a Syrian city the size of Miami.

Five years later, I visited both cities. Both had been free from the Islamic State scourge for more than two years, but still lay largely in ruins. To access Raqqa required passing miles of the empty shells of what once were apartment buildings. Every few blocks, piles of rusted vehicles lay stacked nearly a dozen high.

The Islamic State did not level Raqqa; American bombardment did. Syrian Kurds fought alongside U.S. troops, going block-by-block to rid the town of the Islamic State.

Because of their sacrifice, life had started to return to Raqqa. A youth soccer team scrimmaged in the stadium that just a couple years previously the Islamic State used as a prison and torture center. Some stores in the market had opened, selling falafel and fruit, wedding gowns, toys, and school supplies.

Mosul was in bad shape, too. Again, it was not the Islamic State that destroyed the city, but rather the urban fighting necessary to liberate it. Aerial bombardment, artillery barrages, and door-to-door fighting destroyed more than 130,000 houses. The Islamic State was ruthless. Several houses bore the telltale signs of suicide bomber detonation.

Is Gaza on track for permanent war?


The absence of any viable plan for governing the Gaza Strip after the Israeli military’s devastation of the territory has increasingly been noted by puzzled commentators both here and abroad.

That absence is remarkable in view of the scale of the Israeli military assault and the carnage it has caused. The number of Palestinians in Gaza whom Israeli attacks have killed has now passed 10,000. One would have to go back to the fighting in 1948 — in what Israelis call their war for independence and Palestinians call the Nakba — to see a Palestinian death toll of comparable magnitude.

The Biden administration seems to have spent nearly all of its considerable time and attention on this crisis in trying first to exude support for Israel and then, in the face of the lethal Israeli assault on Gaza — which in one month has killed more children than have been killed in all the conflicts in the world in any full year since 2019 — saying it is trying to restrain Israeli excesses. It has said very little about what should, or will, come after the bloodshed in Gaza.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a press appearance after a recent G7 meeting, mentioned several criteria for post-war Gaza, including no blockade or siege, no reoccupation, no reduction of the territory, and no use of it as a base for terrorism. Those criteria are reasonable but left unanswered basic questions about exactly who would govern the Gaza Strip and how.

Three Things about the Israel-Hamas War

Michael Doran, Can Kasapoğlu & Jonathan Schachter

Three Things about the Israel-Hamas War is a new series from the Hudson Center for Peace and Security in the Middle East. Every week, Hudson Senior Fellows Michael Doran, Can Kasapoğlu, and Jonathan Schachter will each offer an analysis of one thing—and one thing only—that is of particular importance to understand the Israel-Hamas war. Subscribe here.

Iran and Hezbollah blinked.

With his speech last Friday, Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Hezbollah, disappointed Hamas and its supporters by revealing no immediate intention to escalate Hezbollah’s attacks on Israel along its northern border with Lebanon. In the weeks after October 7, as Israel bombed Gaza from the air in preparation for its subsequent ground incursion, Iranian officials seemed to promise that, if Israel were to enter Gaza on the ground, Hezbollah would join the fray with greater gusto than it has so far displayed.

“I know about the scenarios that Hezbollah has put in place,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on October 14 after meeting with Nasrallah. “Any step the resistance [Hezbollah] will take will cause a huge earthquake in the Zionist entity.”

But no earthquake has occurred, and if Nasrallah’s speech is anything to go by, there probably will not be one. While he kept his options open—stating that Hezbollah was prepared for any eventuality—he also seemed comfortable in a secondary, supporting role.

“Our battle has not reached the stage of victory by knockout,” Nasrallah said, in words addressed directly to the Palestinians. Victory, he explained, will come “with steadfastness, patience, and the ability to endure. This is what the enemy does not have.”

Internet Blackouts in Gaza Are a New Weapon in the Israel-Hamas War


Since Hamas’ tragic October attack on Israel that killed at least 1,400 people, the country’s retaliation in Gaza has led to more than 10,000 deaths, according to unverified claims from the Hamas-run Gazan Health Ministry, and broad destruction of the community's basic utilities and infrastructure. This includes its internet and communication systems, with dwindling connectivity largely cutting off 2.2 million Gazans from the outside world.

On October 27, Israel reportedly imposed a full internet shutdown in the area, cutting off the last remaining connectivity for about 34 hours as its troops moved into the Gaza Strip. After what’s left of Gaza’s internet access was restored—data shows it stands at around 15 percent or less of usual connectivity—the area has suffered two other, similar connectivity blackouts. The most recent lasted for about 15 hours on Sunday as Israel was carrying out an intense operation to cut off Gaza City in the north from southern Gaza

While researchers and technologists who monitor internet connectivity can’t conclusively say that Israel was behind the blackouts—or that they were imposed using technical controls rather than physical destruction of infrastructure—the fact that some connectivity could be restored so rapidly seems to indicate deliberate shutdowns over incidental destruction.

What the War in Gaza Means for Saudi Arabia

F. Gregory Gause III

Hamas is going to be able to claim very few victories in its war with Israel, but one that it has already notched is an abrupt halt in the momentum toward a U.S.-brokered deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia. The Israeli-Saudi agreement would have broken historic ground, normalizing relations between the two countries, bringing Saudi Arabia more firmly into the U.S. security fold, and eliciting Israeli commitments on the Palestinian issue. In fact, fears of an Israeli-Saudi rapprochement may have been one of the key drivers of Hamas’s October 7 attack.

The war leaves Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS, in a difficult position, at least in the short term. He craves regional stability, which would make it easier for him to pursue his goal of diversifying Saudi Arabia’s economy and reducing its reliance on oil exports. The horrific violence and threat of a wider escalation threaten his progress on this front. MBS is now also facing competing pressures at home and abroad, with U.S. and European leaders calling for Saudi Arabia to take a leading role in a post-Hamas Gaza and with regional and domestic groups urging Riyadh to more actively support the Palestinians in their hour of need.

Both sides in the tug-of-war on Riyadh will likely be disappointed. Saudi Arabia has neither the ability nor the desire to put boots on the ground in a postwar Gaza or to massively finance Gaza’s reconstruction. Nor has it demonstrated any willingness to wield the tools at its disposal, such as its ability to cut oil output or exports to put pressure on Israel and the United States. Although an Israeli-Saudi deal is off the table for now, the incentives that brought Saudi Arabia to consider recognizing Israel have not gone away. MBS’s ambitious economic goals for Saudi Arabia can be achieved only in a stable Middle East and with strong ties to the United States. This long-term agenda will shape his course of action in the current conflict.

"Thank You For Your Service"

Francis P. Sempa

Any true postmortems on the 21st-century wars in Iraq and Afghanistan should factor in the domestic human costs of those conflicts. Not just the casualty lists--the dead, wounded, and missing that litter every war--but also the effect of the wars on those who survived. Two new books written by veterans of combat--one a memoir by a Marine combat cameraman who served in Helmand Province in Afghanistan, the other a novel about the postwar life of a survivor by a Marine combat veteran of both wars--shed light on the hidden costs of endless wars and should be read by U.S. policymakers before they send more young Americans into harm’s way.

Miles Lagoze’s Whistles from the Graveyard: My Time Behind the Camera on War, Rage, and Restless Youth in Afghanistan is a raw, introspective look at the harsh realities of war, a vivid snapshot of some of the soldiers who were sent to fight the “Global War on Terror,” and a story of the human “costs” of endless wars at the micro level. Lagoze was not a “gung-ho” Marine when he joined up, and his service there--what he saw and experienced--soured him even more on the Marine Corps and the “military-industrial complex” that sent young Americans to wage a “forever war” that seemed to have no real purpose. Officially, successive U.S. administrations said we were fighting in Afghanistan and later in Iraq to avenge the attacks of 9/11, to find and kill the terror masters who planned the attacks, to find and destroy weapons of mass destruction, to prevent another 9/11 from occurring, to form stable democratic governments in Afghanistan and Iraq, to defeat insurgencies that arose in both countries after we “won” the wars. Some neoconservative writers and policymakers said we were fighting a “world war” against Islamic fascism. The goalposts kept moving. Soldiers, who endured multiple combat deployments, kept dying and suffering terrible wounds. Like in Vietnam, we were repeatedly told that there was light at the end of the tunnel, but we never seemed to reach the end of the tunnel.

China's biggest lender ICBC hit by ransomware attack

Pete Schroeder and Zeba Siddiqui

Nov 10 (Reuters) - The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China's (ICBC) U.S. arm was hit by a ransomware attack that disrupted trades in the U.S. Treasury market on Thursday, the latest in a string of victims ransom-demanding hackers have claimed this year.

ICBC Financial Services, the U.S. unit of China's largest commercial lender by assets, said it was investigating the attack that disrupted some of its systems, and making progress toward recovering from it.

China's foreign ministry said on Friday the lender is striving to minimise risk impact and losses after the attack.

"ICBC has been closely monitoring the matter and has done its best in emergency response and supervisory communication," ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told a regular news conference.

Wang added businesses remained normal at ICBC head office and other branches and subsidiaries across the globe.

Hackers lock up a victim organisation's systems in such attacks and demand ransom for unlocking it, often also stealing sensitive data for extortion.

Several ransomware experts and analysts said an aggressive cybercrime gang named Lockbit was believed to be behind the hack, although the gang's dark web site where it typically posts names of its victims did not mention ICBC as a victim as of Thursday evening. Lockbit did not respond to a request for comment sent via a contact address posted on its site.

The Wars of the New World Order


The crises, conflicts, and wars that are currently raging highlight just how profoundly the geopolitical landscape has changed in recent years, as great-power rivalries have again become central to international relations. With the wars in Gaza and Ukraine exacerbating global divisions, an even more profound geopolitical reconfiguration – including a shift to a new world order – may well be in the works.

These two wars heighten the risk of a third, over Taiwan. No one – least of all Chinese President Xi Jinping – can watch the United States transfer huge amounts of American artillery munitions, smart bombs, missiles, and other weaponry to Ukraine and Israel without recognizing that American stockpiles are being depleted. For Xi, who has called Taiwan’s incorporation into the People’s Republic a “historic mission,” the longer these wars continue, the better.

US President Joe Biden understands the stakes and is now seeking to defuse tensions with China. Notably, after sending a string of cabinet officials to Beijing, Biden’s planned summit talks with Xi on the sidelines at the November 15-17 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in San Francisco is set to steal the spotlight. And he and his G7 partners have stressed that they are seeking to “de-risk” their relationship with China, not “decouple” from the world’s second-largest economy.

The Chinese military’s skyrocketing influence in space

Ashley Lin

At the end of May, China conducted its first crew handover for its recently completed space station, Tiangong. That included China’s first civilian taikonaut (astronaut). Alarmingly, Tiangong is expected to soon be the world’s primary space station with the International Space Station’s decommissioning in 2030. Then the US and its partners may only operate commercial platforms under NASA’s commercial low-earth-orbit destinations program.

The passing of this baton comes after the success of China’s launch of 41 satellites at once, an effort that brought it closer to SpaceX’s record of 143 satellites. China has already begun leading the world in military launches, sending 45 defence-related satellites into orbit in 2022. That was 15 more than the US sent into orbit.

While the People’s Liberation Army’s space plans are not reliably disclosed to the public, its actions make it clear that China has found its way to space, and it plans to stay.

China’s multiplying presence in ‘the final frontier’ is part of a reawakening to the importance of space around the world. The fundamentals aren’t new. In 1970, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) noted the importance of space exploration, and China is one of a growing number of countries recognising the tremendous economic, strategic, military and political potential of activity in space. The annual number of payloads launched into orbit has increased tenfold in the past decade, and the global space economy is estimated to sit at US$469 billion, with yearly revenues from space 6.4% higher in 2022 than in 2021.

Xi holds four aces as he meets Biden


China’s leader Xi Jinping will meet President Biden Nov. 15 in San Francisco with four high cards in his hand. Policy advisers close to Xi express an unprecedented kind of confidence in China’s strategic position.

First, the collapse of Ukraine’s offensive against Russian forces and its commander’s admission that the war is a “stalemate” is a setback for America’s strategic position and a gain for China, which has doubled its exports to Russia since the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

Second, the US tech war on China has flopped, as Chinese AI firms buy fast Huawei processers in place of chips from Nvidia and other US producers.

Third, the Gaza war provoked by Hamas on October 7 gives China a free option to act as the de facto leader of the Global South in opposition to Israel, an American ally. China now exports more to the Muslim world than it does to the United States.

And fourth, the US military wants to avoid confrontation with China in the Northwest Pacific region as well as its home waters in the South China Sea, where the PLA’s thousands of surface-to-ship missiles and nearly 1,000 fourth- and fifth-generation warplanes give China an overwhelming home-theatre advantage in firepower.

30,000 Ukrainian recruits go through largest UK military training effort since Second World War

David Sivills-McCann

More than 30,000 Ukrainian recruits have been trained in the largest military training programme of its kind on British soil since the Second World War.

The UK-led Operation Interflex was launched in June 2022 and had the target of reaching the milestone by the end of 2023.

The training package has been delivered in a variety of locations across the UK and takes volunteers who joined Ukraine's armed forces with little or no previous military experience, teaching them the skills required to survive and be effective on the battlefield.

This allows the Ukrainian armed forces to accelerate their deployments, rebuild their numbers and scale-up their resistance against the Russian invasion.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: "I am incredibly proud of all the British and Ukrainian soldiers, sailors, airmen and women involved in this major undertaking. Their dedication and professionalism today is ensuring peace for our continent in the future.

"Op Interflex has changed the equation of this war, harnessing Ukraine's spirit, courage and determination, and matching it with global military expertise.

"The crucial contribution of our international partners to this programme reinforces the global support for Ukraine and underlines our united belief that Ukraine can and will win this war."

Disinformation and the limits of yelling ‘Liar’ in a Crowded Theater

Jeff Kosseff 

The Reviewer — Cipher Brief Expert Glenn S. Gerstell is a Principal with the Cyber Initiatives Group and Senior Adviser at the Center for Strategic & International Studies. He served as General Counsel of the National Security Agency and Central Security Service from 2015 to 2020 and writes and speaks about the intersection of technology, national security and privacy.

REVIEW — When asked at a Cipher Brief conference several years ago, to name the most serious security threat facing the United States, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper had a short and ready answer: disinformation.

General Clapper elaborated that cyber-propelled foreign and domestic disinformation could have the pernicious effect of corroding the legitimacy of our democratic institutions, leading to loss of trust in government and ultimately to autocratic reactions.

That deep concern over the threat posed by disinformation and other lies spread and turbocharged by social media is at the heart of Liar in a Crowded Theater, a new book by Jeff Kosseff, a Professor of Cybersecurity Law at the U.S. Naval Academy.

The author of The Twenty-Six Words that Created the Internet, a highly regarded explanation of the statute that insulates social media from liability for users’ wrongful content, Kosseff sets forth his goals clearly for his new work: “This book explains why courts have set such a high bar for protecting false speech, why we should not relax those standards in the face of serious threats, and how we can address those threats without defaulting to government censorship.”

The book’s title refers of course, to the commonly held notion that one cannot falsely yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theater — stemming from Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’ opinion in a 1919 Supreme Court case upholding some government restrictions on speech, notwithstanding the constitution’s First Amendment. Kosseff asserts that this notion is of little help in resolving the challenges of today’s disinformation: “[t]he real problem with the ‘fire in a crowded theater’ discourse is that it too often is used as a placeholder justification for regulating any speech that someone believes is harmful or objectionable.”

Sustaining peace in Ukraine: the Sinai model

Adam E. MacAllister

The timing and nature of a negotiated peace, or truce, in Ukraine are the subject of uncertainty and speculation. Adding to the uncertainty is the question of how to sustain peace if it were achieved. Traditional logic would look to the United Nations, whose 71 missions over 75 years has drawn more than two million peacekeepers from 125 countries with the aim of enabling peace, supporting political and diplomatic processes, preventing human suffering and guaranteeing ceasefires.

Despite some commendable actions by UN-affiliated organisations and leaders, Russia’s veto has prevented the UN Security Council from passing a single resolution on the Ukraine war. This is not likely to change when Russia’s representative on the Security Council sardonically asks, ‘Does the council seriously expect Russia to consider and support … a draft resolution that condemns one of the members of the council?’ Russia has used the veto 30 times in the past 15 years. The US has used its veto four times. China is the only other permanent member to apply a veto in this period—it has voted with Russia 43% of the time and never independent of a Russian veto.

The UN isn’t the only peace- or truce-monitoring model. Regional entities such as NATO, the EU and the African Union; missions such as those mounted by Russia; and Nonviolent Peaceforce operations have all served this function in partnership with, or in the absence of, the UN. The Nonviolent Peaceforce is unlikely to be able scale sufficiently to meet the scope and nature of this crisis, and the most relevant regional entities, the EU and NATO, have already been dismissed as ‘reckless and extremely dangerous’ by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who said: ‘This [international peace mission] will be the direct clash between the Russian and NATO armed forces that everyone has not only tried to avoid but said should not take place in principle.’


Karolina Hird, Grace Mappes, Christina Harward, Angelica Evans, and Frederick W. Kagan

Russian forces launched a large-scale missile and drone strike series against Ukraine on the night of November 10 to 11, targeting Kyiv Oblast for the first time in 52 days. Ukrainian military sources reported on November 11 that Russian forces launched 31 Shahed 131/136 drones, two Kh-59 missiles, one Kh-31 missile, one P-800 Onyx anti-ship missile, and an S-300 missile against various targets in Ukraine, and specifically targeted Kyiv Oblast with either an Iskander-M or an S-400 missile.[1] Ukrainian air defenses downed 19 Shaheds (primarily targeting front line areas), one Kh-59 missile, and used a Patriot air defense system to destroy the ballistic missile targeting Kyiv Oblast.[2] Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces were targeting an air defense system at the Boryspil Airport near Kyiv City.[3] The Kyiv City Administration stated that it has been 52 days since Russian forces last launched a missile strike against Kyiv Oblast.[4]

Ukraine’s Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) was reportedly involved in at least one of three strikes on Russian territory on November 10-11. Ukrainian outlet Suspilne Crimea reported that sources in the GUR stated that the GUR orchestrated an explosion of railway tracks in Ryazan Oblast that caused 19 railroad cars of a freight train to derail on the morning of November 11.[5] The GUR source stated that the explosion will complicate Russian military logistics for the near future. A prominent Russian milblogger claimed that the train was carrying mineral fertilizer.[6] Moscow Railways stated that the situation did not affect passenger and commuter trains and that Russian Railways created a headquarters to coordinate any disruptions caused by the derailment.[7] Russian state news outlet RIA Novosti stated that the derailment was due to an “intervention of unauthorized persons.”[8] The Main Directorate of the Ministry of Emergency Situations for Tambov Oblast also stated that a fire covering 300 square meters broke out in a gunpowder factory near Kotovsk on the night of November 11.[9]

The US and 30 Other Nations Agree to Set Guardrails for Military AI


When politicians, tech executives, and researchers gathered in the UK last week to discuss the risks of artificial intelligence, one prominent worry was that algorithms might someday turn against their human masters. More quietly, the group made progress on controlling the use of AI for military ends.

On November 1, at the US embassy in London, US vice president Kamala Harris announced a range of AI initiatives, and her warnings about the threat AI poses to human rights and democratic values got people’s attention. But she also revealed a declaration signed by 31 nations to set guardrails around military use of AI. It pledges signatories to use legal reviews and training to ensure military AI stays within international laws, develop the technology cautiously and transparently, avoid unintended biases in systems that use AI, and continue to discuss how the technology can be developed and deployed responsibly.

“A principled approach to the military use of AI should include careful consideration of risks and benefits, and it should also minimize unintended bias and accidents,” the declaration says. It also says that states should build safeguards into military AI systems, such as the ability to disengage or deactivate when a system demonstrates “unintended behavior.”

The declaration is not legally binding, but it is the first major agreement between nations to impose voluntary guardrails on military AI. On the same day, the UN announced a new resolution from its General Assembly that calls for an in-depth study of lethal autonomous weapons and could set the terms for restrictions on such weapons.

AI Is Here. What’s Going to Change?

Eric Bradlow, Kartik Hosanagar & Stefano Puntoni

Anyone who stays on the tracks because they think the train will see them and slow down is going to be overrun by it. “The only thing you can do — and you have to do — is get to the station, board the train, and be part of the process of shaping where it goes,” he said.

Hosanagar — who is part of Wharton’s Department of Operations, Information and Decisions — captures the paralysis that many people feel about generative AI and what it means for their jobs. The release of ChatGPT a year ago catapulted AI into the spotlight and sparked fears that the robot revolution is finally here, threatening to replace humans in nearly every conceivable task from writing copy to performing surgery.

But a new special series from Wharton titled “AI in Focus” aims to put this rapidly changing technology into context and help audiences understand not only the legitimate concerns that come with AI, but also its enormous potential. The series, hosted by Eric Bradlow, marketing professor and vice dean of Analytics at Wharton, also highlights some of the school’s leading research on AI as it relates to business. Topics include the impact of AI on sports, management, neuroscience, health care, education, automakers, innovation, productivity and, more broadly, industries and organizations.

How AI Is Changing Human Behavior

Marketing professor Stefano Puntoni joined Bradlow and Hosanagar for the first episode of the series, which was a general discussion on “What Is the Future of AI?” (Watch the episode here.) Puntoni is co-director of AI at Wharton, and he studies how technology is changing human behavior, including consumption and labor patterns.

Here’s How Violent Extremists Are Exploiting Generative AI Tools


Extremist groups have begun to experiment with artificial intelligence, and in particular generative AI, in order to create a flood of new propaganda. Experts now fear the growing use of generative AI tools by these groups will overturn the work Big Tech has done in recent years to keep their content off the internet.

“Our biggest concern is that if terrorists start using gen AI to manipulate imagery at scale, this could well destroy hash-sharing as a solution,” Adam Hadley, the executive director of Tech Against Terrorism, tells WIRED. “This is a massive risk.”

For years, Big Tech platforms have worked hard to create databases of known violent extremist content, known as hashing databases, which are shared across platforms to quickly and automatically remove such content from the internet. But according to Hadley, his colleagues are now picking up around 5,000 examples of AI-generated content each week. This includes images shared in recent weeks by groups linked to Hezbollah and Hamas that appear designed to influence the narrative around the Israel-Hamas war.

“Give it six months or so, the possibility that [they] are manipulating imagery to break hashing is really concerning,” Hadley says. “The tech sector has done so well to build automated technology, terrorists could well start using gen AI to evade what's already been done.”