17 November 2023

Climate Risk In A World At War

Dhesigen Naidoo

Since the Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October, the world has seen the unfolding of possibly the worst humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. This runs parallel to the Ukraine war and several African conflicts – all markers of a world at war. Three of the 10 Economist Intelligence Unit critical global risk scenarios for 2024 are military conflict-related.

The African Union Peace and Security Council has highlighted the climate-development-security nexus as a strategic analysis tool. Globally, there’s growing acceptance of climate as a threat multiplier, with extreme weather events and higher levels of global heating catalysing potential conflict. The United Nations (UN) Framework Convention on Climate Change emphasises how climate change can exacerbate conflict.

What do war and conflict mean for climate risk? An obvious answer is that they generally divert political attention and investment focus. This has been the case with the Ukraine war and will almost certainly be so with Gaza’s war. This has a huge impact on commodity access and affordability.

On 30 October, the World Bank said the current Middle East conflict could bring a ‘dual shock’ to global commodity prices. Looking at oil prices, it says a regional expansion of events in Gaza could produce a ‘medium disruption scenario’ akin to the Iraq war that started in 2003.

War and conflict generally divert political attention and investment focus

That would see an oil production deficit of three to five million barrels per day, pushing up the price by 21% (initially 35%). A ‘large disruption scenario’ with an impact on the scale of the 1970s Arab oil embargo would see a six to eight million barrels per day supply curtailment with a 56% price increase, after a 75% initial shock.

How the War in Gaza Is Reshaping Geopolitics

Bharat Bhushan

The Hamas attack on October 7 and Israel’s retaliation have also destroyed the prospect of peace in the Middle East anytime soon. As major pro-Palestinian protests erupt in response to the Israeli onslaught, the threat of wider regional war seems all too real.

The Palestine-Israel conflict comes in the aftermath of the Abraham Accords in September 2020 – so named for the patriarch of the three Abrahamic religions – signed between Israel, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, facilitated by the US under then-President Donald Trump.

The Accords recognised the sovereignty of Israel and established full diplomatic ties between the signatories. While doing so, the Palestinian issue was consigned to the back burner. The Accords were followed by normalisation agreements between Israel, Morocco and Sudan, leading to the prospect of more Arab countries recognising Israel.

US President Joe Biden continued the Middle East policy of Trump and took it to another level by trying to normalise relations between two hitherto implacable adversaries – Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Perhaps a fear of Iran’s growing assertiveness also drove the Arab countries towards establishing friendly ties with Israel. These policy shifts inevitably meant backing away from their traditional position on Palestine and aligned well with US policy towards the Middle East.

No Way To Avoid Fighting Hamas and No Other Way To Fight

Alexander Yakobson

“Hamas is deliberately hiding behind civilians,” says Israel. But people look at the horrible pictures coming from Gaza, and their heart refuses to be convinced – though nobody can seriously contest the fact that Hamas is operating among civilians. Why are civilian casualties so heavy? Some ask: Doesn’t every urban (and non-urban) guerilla group unavoidably operate among civilians, like Mao’s “fish that swims in the sea”? And, moreover, do not states also put military and strategic facilities in their cities, especially capitals? Aren’t there many “legitimate military targets,” starting with IDF headquarters, in Tel Aviv? What is the difference, except that the guerillas are much weaker?

In order to get some idea of what Israel is facing, it is important to realize that in this war, virtually 100% of the military targets of the enemy are in the very midst of civilian population. This is really unlike any other war, symmetrical or asymmetrical, because of the unique nature of the jihadi mini-state that Israel tolerated in Gaza for many years, in the vain hope of containing and deterring it, and aware of the tremendous human cost of dismantling it.

There is simply no such thing as a Hamas military unit or target that can be attacked outside the centers of civilian population. In a “normal” war, there are always plenty of such targets. The main military forces of the enemy, of all kinds, will usually be deployed outside population centers, while various other significant targets, including “dual purpose” ones such as communications and production centers, are indeed located among civilians and can only be attacked at the risk of “collateral damage.” But the first category, “purely” military targets, simply doesn’t exist in the case of Hamas in Gaza – uniquely so.

Take rocket fire as an example. Thousands of rockets have been fired on Israel, indiscriminately targeting population centers, since the Oct. 7 massacres; many thousands, increasingly powerful and long-range ones, had been fired since Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, during the periodic rounds of fighting and between them, provoking those rounds. In traditional terms of guerilla warfare, this would be the equivalent of Viet Cong rockets falling on American cities; of course, apart from lacking the means to strike at American cities, Viet Cong was also not fighting in order to “liberate” America.

The Rules-Based International Order Is Collapsing in Gaza


ISTANBUL – In 2007, I found myself in a car with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and then-Israeli President Shimon Peres en route to Turkey’s Grand National Assembly. During their historic visit to Ankara, which I had the privilege of hosting, both leaders addressed the Turkish parliament, advocating peace and a two-state solution. This was just two years after Turkey launched its Industry for Peace project, which sought to rehabilitate the Erez industrial park in Gaza. When my Palestinian and Israeli counterparts and I endorsed this initiative, we were all optimistic that developing the Palestinian economy would pave a path toward sustainable peace in the region.

Regrettably, this dream was extinguished by Israel’s decision that year to impose a land, sea, and air blockade on Gaza. Sixteen years later, having witnessed the events of October 7 and its aftermath, I am once again overcome by disappointment and sorrow over this lost opportunity for lasting peace.

October 7 marks a major turning point in Israeli-Palestinian relations, with far-reaching domestic, regional, and global implications. At this critical juncture, we must ask ourselves: Are we truly committed to maintaining a rules-based international order rooted in shared values, or are we prepared for a fragmented and polarized world where these values are obsolete?

Make no mistake: I unequivocally condemn the loss of civilian lives on both sides. Hamas’s killing and abduction of Israeli civilians must not be endorsed under any circumstances. At the same time, the disproportionate response of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government will not only lead to more violence and suffering across the region but also fuel the spread of hatred and division around the world. Ultimately, it is civilians who suffer the consequences.

Joe Biden, Western Allies Face Reckoning Over Israel-Gaza War

David Brennan

Political clouds are gathering over the U.S. and Europe as acrid smoke columns rise over the Gaza Strip. Israel's latest campaign against Hamas militants in the Palestinian territory is roiling Western capitals and reigniting fierce debates over freedom of expression, immigration, and religion.

Western governments and opposition parties have largely lined up behind Israel following the October 7 Hamas attack, in which some 1,200 people were killed and around 240 abducted. The support remains strong, despite mounting concerns about the scale of the Israeli assault on Gaza, which has killed more than 11,070 Palestinians, per the Associated Press citing the Palestinian Health Ministry.

But administrations in the U.S., U.K., France, and Germany—among others—are grappling with a pluralistic electorate. Hundreds of thousands are marching in protests against Israel's Gaza campaign and in support of Palestinian national liberation, while counter-protests demand the end of Hamas, support for Israeli security, and stronger action against antisemitism at home.

The turmoil has unleashed extremism on both sides, prompting renewed concerns of antisemitism, Islamophobia, and genocide entwined in an Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has scarred the region across generations.

President Joe Biden is fighting on three fronts. The White House is seeking to restrain Israel from the worst brutalities, while backing its right to strike Hamas. Meanwhile, American military might has been deployed to cow Iran and its regional allies and prevent an escalation of the conflict.

Hamas Needed a New Way to Get Money From Iran. It Turned to Crypto.

Angus Berwick and Ian Talley

In mid-2019, Israel’s military used a precision strike on a narrow street to kill a Hamas commander whom it called Iran’s money man in Gaza.

The commander ran an off-the-books system of remittances in which trusted agents shuttled physical cash and goods across borders to settle customers’ balances. This so-called hawala network, as it is known in the Middle East, funneled tens of millions of dollars in financing from Iran to Hamas’s military wing.

Can Our Leaders Avoid the Terrorism Trap?

Yousef Munayyer
As a devastating crisis continues to unfold with the horrific bombardment of Gaza, there is little sense of how it will end. As a lifelong student of Israel-Palestine, I found my mind racing through many historical dates to find parallels, meaning, and direction.

Perhaps the date that comes to mind for most people is Oct. 6, 1973, the start of an Arab war effort to regain land taken by Israel in 1967. The 1973 surprise attack, which was 50 years and a day from the Oct. 7 Hamas assault, caught a recalcitrant and hubristic Israel off guard and fundamentally changed the way it thought about its policies toward Egypt in the years that followed, paving the way for a historic peace agreement a few years later.

I thought about the 1968 Battle of Karameh. This battle, little known in Western narratives of the conflict but hugely consequential in Palestinian ones, came after the 1967 war, when Israel enjoyed an aura of invincibility. PLO fighters alongside Jordanian soldiers fought the Israeli military, destroyed some military equipment, and captured more. The battle sent the message that Israeli power was not what it seemed, and it helped swell the ranks of militant factions across the region.

But a more important date stands out: Sept. 6, 1972. The day prior, Palestinian guerrillas had killed an Israeli coach and athlete and taken nine other members of the Israeli team hostage at the Munich Olympic Village, where all the cameras of the world had assembled, and by the time a botched rescue attempt by the German police had concluded, all the hostages and most of the Palestinian guerrillas were dead.

Independent Thinking: Will Iran escalate the Hamas–Israel war?

Bronwen Maddox, Shashank Joshi, Dr Sanam Vakil & Dr Renad Mansour

On this episode

Bronwen Maddox is joined this week by Shashank Joshi, the Defence Editor at The Economist, to discuss Iran’s role in the Hamas–Israel War.

Joining them are our experts, Dr Sanam Vakil, Director of our Middle East and North Africa programme and Dr Renad Mansour, a Senior Research Fellow with the MENA programme.

About Independent Thinking

Independent Thinking is a weekly international affairs podcast hosted by our director Bronwen Maddox, in conversation with leading policymakers, journalists, and Chatham House experts providing insight on the latest international issues.

What Gaza might look like ‘the day after’ the war


Less than a week after Hamas’s devastating attacks on October 7, Israel’s intelligence ministry produced a chilling document. It advocated that Israel remove all of Gaza’s Palestinian population and forcibly resettle them in the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula.

In November, a poster advertising a far-right rally in Tel Aviv juxtaposed an image of two cherubic Jewish-Israeli children on a beach (presumably in a vision of a future Gaza) with the ominous policy prescriptions of “occupy, expel, settle.”

Most worryingly, a cabinet minister suggested that Israel could use nuclear weapons against the Gaza Strip. Does this bellicose and dehumanizing rhetoric suggest that Israel’s long-term plan for Gaza is to ethnically cleanse the territory, or even commit genocide there?

There is scant evidence that Israel’s government has any intent or capability to achieve these unsettling goals. Israel’s regional and international partners – Egypt and the US – steadfastly reject any population transfer. Jordan has gone further, claiming that any such policy would constitute a “declaration of war.”

Turnout at the far-right Tel Aviv rally was negligible, and neither the minister who considered “nuking” Gaza, nor the intelligence ministry have any tangible input in Israel’s national security decision-making.

Hamas envisioned deeper attacks, aiming to provoke an Israeli war

Shira Rubin

The first clues came from the bodies of slain terrorists: Maps, drawings, notes and the weapons and gear they carried.

In Beeri, a kibbutz town overrun by Hamas on Oct. 7, one dead fighter had a notebook with hand-scrawled Quranic verses and orders that read, simply, “Kill as many people and take as many hostages as possible.” Others were equipped with gas canisters, handcuffs and thermobaric grenades designed to instantly turn houses into infernos.

Each was like a piece from a grisly puzzle, a snippet of fine detail from a terrorist operation that called for hundreds of discrete crimes in specific locations. Four weeks later, the reassembled fragments are beginning to reveal the contours of Hamas’s broader plan, one that analysts say was intended not to just kill and capture Israelis, but to spark a conflagration that would sweep the region and lead to a wider conflict.

The evidence, described by more than a dozen current and former intelligence and security officials from four Western and Middle Eastern countries, reveals an intention by Hamas planners to strike a blow of historic proportions, in the expectation that their actions would compel an overwhelming Israeli response. Several officials who had not previously spoken about the matter said the intelligence about Hamas’s motivations has become stronger in recent days.

Palestinians break into the Israeli side of Israel-Gaza border fence after gunmen infiltrated areas of southern Israel on Saturday.

What Israelis Think of the War With Hamas


New opinion polls just released from Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University's Peace Index indicate that Israeli attitudes towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are more hawkish than at any point in recent memory.

Both surveys were conducted in the aftermath of the Oct. 7 massacre and the resulting war with Hamas, and sampled approximately 600 people each. The polls are part of a series conducted several times per year and attempt to be representative of the various factions of Israeli society, including Israeli citizens of Palestinian descent.

Despite thousands of protesters gathering in Tel Aviv to demand the release of the hostages held by Hamas, only 10% of Israeli Jews in the Israel Democracy Institute poll said they would support a pause in fighting in order to exchange hostages. Meanwhile, 44.3%, the plurality of Israeli Jews, said they want the government to negotiate for the hostages immediately without pausing the fighting.

Yossi Mekelberg, an associate fellow at Chatham House who specializes in writing about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, says that while many Israelis want the hostages returned home, they are also worried that releasing Palestinian prisoners will lead to more attacks like the one perpetrated on Oct. 7.

“There is a view that in the past… Israel released more than a 1,000 prisoners for one soldier, including the head of Hamas in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, and look what happened,” says Mekelberg.

Of Israelis who responded to the Israel Democracy Institute poll, 26.6% said that Israel should not negotiate with Hamas for the release of the Israeli hostages at all.

Pakistan opens new border crossings to expedite Afghans' repatriation

Saleem Ahmed

Pakistan, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Pakistan on Monday opened three new border crossings to accelerate the repatriation of undocumented Afghan nationals who have been ordered to leave the country or face expulsion, officials said.

Many Afghans have opted to go home voluntarily to avoid deportation under a government push for undocumented migrants to be expelled. Pakistan's move affects more than 1 million Afghans, many of whom Islamabad says have been involved in militant attacks and crime, a claim Kabul rejects.

The new crossings were set up at the Afghan border in southwestern Balochistan province in addition to the main crossing in Chaman district, said Jan Achakzai, information minister for the provincial caretaker government.

The main crossing had been overwhelmed with Afghan refugees seeking to return home voluntarily, he said.

More than 280,000 Afghan nationals have left Pakistan since the new policy was announced in early October, according to the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees (UNHCR).

Islamabad has begun round-up operations across the country after the deadline for voluntary departure expired on Nov. 1.

Fighting to Govern Myanmar, From a Teeny Office in Washington

Hannah Beech

Three blocks from the White House, at the end of a fluorescent-lit hallway on the sixth floor of a co-working space for “business nomads, freelancers and energetic entrepreneurs,” sits the American headquarters of the National Unity Government of Myanmar.

This pro-democracy government was formed after a military coup in Myanmar deposed civilian authorities in 2021. Although Western nations condemned the putsch — and the massacres and mass arrests that followed — no national government has formally recognized the N.U.G. as the legitimate leadership of Myanmar.

But Washington attracts political refugees from all over the world who hope proximity to power will draw attention to their national plights. Ma Aye Chan Mon and U Moe Zaw Oo of the N.U.G. remain optimistic they can get the world to care about Myanmar, despite the destructive forces of apathy and ignorance.

“They don’t even know how to pronounce Myanmar,” said Ms. Aye Chan Mon, about the reception she often receives in Washington. “They think it’s Yemen.”

“It’s not Yemen,” she added.

Fortified by her mother’s curries — enlivened with roselle leaves and shrimp paste — Ms. Aye Chan Mon, 26, spends her days trying to arrange meetings with anyone willing to listen to her recount her homeland’s desperate present situation and its history of military tyranny and civil war. In September, she testified before Congress.

The Great Illusion: Why DOD’s Reinvigoration of the Term 'Perception Management' is Just Old Wine in a New Bottle with a Different Label

Brad C.

The term "perception management" has been associated with a range of activities aimed at shaping the perceptions of various audiences to align with desired strategic outcomes. It has been gaining traction again within the halls of the Pentagon and the Department of Defense (DoD) Components recently (https://nsiteam.com/smaspeakerseries_03october2023/). However, in the early 2000s, DoD deleted the term "perception management" as it is the de facto definition and function of Psychological Operations (PSYOP) under the Information Operations/Operations in the Information Environment (IO/OIE) construct. The deletion of the term from DoD lexicon reflected and affirmed that perception management is a core function of PSYOP, a critical component of a more comprehensive IO framework. The current push for the reintroduction of "perception management" as a separate term and concept within the DoD shows a misunderstanding of history, terminology, the operational environment, and established capabilities. These capabilities have already been resourced by DoD for multiple decades with policies, doctrine, funding, etc., and already reside within the DoD’s Joint Staff, Service Component, Combatant Command, task force J39/Service equivalent architecture, and Public Affairs Commander’s Communication Synchronization (CCS) process. If anything, it is another contemporary highlight showing a lack of understanding of influence activities overall within DoD. Specifically relating to this article, it shows how PSYOP has been increasingly neglected within SOF/DoD writ large, allowing its real capabilities and strategic efficacy to diminish since the PSYOP Master Plan of 1985; it is an issue that must gain greater and focused attention by senior leaders in DoD and Congress.

By definition, PSYOP is aimed at conveying selected information and indicators to audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of governments, organizations, groups, and individuals. The purpose of PSYOP is to induce or reinforce behavior favorable to objectives. To affect emotions, cognition, reasoning, and behavior, there is a direct link to perceptions. This is supported by the predominance of Psychology literature and studies. Thus, any successful PSYOP campaign inherently manages perceptions. It is a fundamental aspect of OIE as currently practiced and defined by DoD. One of the last definitions of Perception Management used within DoD before it was deleted was as follows:

The US Wants China to Start Talking About AI Weapons


When US president Joe Biden meets with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in the San Francisco Bay Area this week, the pair will have a long list of matters to discuss, including the Israel-Hamas war and Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Behind the scenes at the APEC summit, however, US officials hope to strike up a dialog with China about placing guardrails around military use of artificial intelligence, with the ultimate goal of lessening the potential risks that rapid adoption—and reckless use—of the technology might bring.

“We have a collective interest in reducing the potential risks from the deployment of unreliable AI applications” because of risks of unintended escalation, says a senior State Department official familiar with recent efforts to broach the issue and who spoke on condition of anonymity. “We very much hope to have a further conversation with China on this issue.”

Biden’s meeting with Xi this week may provide momentum for more military dialog. “We're really looking forward to hopefully a positive leaders meeting,” the State Department official says. “We can really understand from that conversation, where our possible bilateral arms control and non-proliferation conversation could progress.”

The US is already leading an effort to build international agreement around guardrails for military AI. On November 1, Vice President Kamala Harris announced that 30 nations had agreed to back a declaration on military AI that calls for the technology to be developed in accordance with international humanitarian law, using principles designed to improve reliability and transparently and reduce bias, so that systems can be disengaged if they demonstrate “unintended behavior.”

With the US-China Meeting, History Repeats Itself, Sort Of

George Friedman

U.S. President Joe Biden will meet this week with Chinese President Xi Jinping. It’s an important meeting in that both presidents are weak and thus seek to improve their standing at home and their respective countries’ positions in the world.

One can’t help but be reminded of a similar trip in 1972, when U.S. President Richard Nixon famously met Chinese leader Mao Zedong. By then, Mao’s age and health had reduced him to a shadow of his former self, while Nixon was dealing with the Watergate scandal, which, I’m sure, he knew would eventually destroy him.

The international context is similar too. In October 1973, Egypt and Syria attacked Israel from two directions. Israel, unprepared for the attack, was questioning how its intelligence could fail so miserably. Its opponents took to the streets to condemn its actions, while the Israel Defense Forces conducted the war indifferent to the court of public opinion. The Soviet Union played a key role in arming Egypt and Syria, particularly with surface-to-air missiles and anti-tank systems, while the U.S., already an Israeli military benefactor, rushed more arms to Israel after the onset of the attack. Arab countries placed an embargo on oil, which went a long way to sending the U.S. economy reeling.

That these events all took place in a short space of time made it seem as though the world was coming apart.

The U.S., of course, was the driver of most of these events. It was still fighting the Cold War, so it was still obsessed with the Soviet Union and the threat it posed to Europe. It knew that Moscow had become involved in a major border dispute with China, and it was, as always, looking for a way to weaken it. China had blocked Soviet forces but was aware that they might strike again. It needed a counterweight. The meeting with Nixon was about an informal and undocumented alliance between the United States and China against the Soviet Union. Neither liked each other, but practicality makes strange bedfellows. Ultimately, the meeting would open the door to Chinese exports to the U.S. and U.S. investments in China.

How America Should React to China’s Economic Slowdown

Daniel Rosen and Logan Wright

The need to take a more hawkish approach toward China is one of the only issues that commands bipartisan agreement in Washington. Lately, the growing evidence of a sharp slowdown in China’s economy has opened up new lines of debate. Although there have long been signs that China is entering an age of slower growth, Washington did not expect the extent of this slowdown, and both parties and the policy community are scrambling to decide what to make of it, why it happened, and what to do about it.

The changes in China’s economic performance, which for decades seemed immune from the business cycles and growth constraints that apply to the rest of the world, have certainly been profound. From 1980 to 2019, China reported economic growth at a rate that was on average three times faster than the United States’. But since 2021, that outperformance has slowed. According to China’s official numbers, its growth rate barely surpassed that of the United States in 2022, at three percent to 2.1 percent. These numbers are suspect, however: the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on both consumption and investment, and the deep contraction of the property sector, mean that real economic growth in China was almost certainly negative in 2022. This year, growth in household consumption in China has been limited, investment has been flat, government spending has been limited by debt servicing costs, and net exports have contracted. Real economic growth in China in 2023 is likely below two percent, which is far short of the officially reported 5.2 percent in the first three quarters. Medium-term accounting forecasts now have China in the three percent range from the medium term onward, with the United States expected to achieve average growth of around two percent, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. China’s exchange rate is likely to depreciate because of persistent capital outflows, further reducing China’s share of the global economy in U.S. dollar terms. Since the U.S. economy is about $10 trillion larger than China’s at present, the United States will likely contribute more to global growth than China over the next two decades.

Is this the Middle East escalation we've been fearing?


U.S. forces launched a third strike against Iran-linked groups on Sunday, the latest in an increasingly destructive series of exchanges that have cast a new light on the continued U.S. troop presence in the Middle East.

American aircraft struck a weapons storage facility and command-and-control center used by Iran-backed groups in Syria, according to officials. "Within the last two hours, the U.S. has taken precision defensive strikes against two sites in Syria," an official told ABC News. The two structures were located near the eastern Syrian cities of Mayadin and Abu Kamal, according to statements issued on Sunday by the Department of Defense and U.S. Central Command (CENTOM).

"The President has no higher priority than the safety of U.S. personnel, and he directed today's action to make clear that the United States will defend itself, its personnel, and its interests," Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement. Up to seven “Iranian proxy fighters” were killed at one of the two locations struck by U.S. warplanes, according to Jennifer Griffin, chief national security correspondent for Fox News, citing a senior defense official.

This is the third such strike since October 26, reflecting a continued effort by the U.S. to retaliate against Iran-linked groups that the White House says are responsible for a spate of ongoing rocket and drone attacks against U.S. military personnel in Iraq and Syria.

The U.S. sent forces including two carrier strike groups headlined by the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, squadrons consisting of F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft and A-10 close-air-support (CAS), and the USS Bataan Amphibious Ready Group to the region following the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel and subsequent outbreak of war in Gaza. High-ranking officers including a Marine three-star general were reportedly sent to help advise Israeli leadership as it proceeds with its campaign and another 2,000 U.S. personnel were ordered to prepare to deploy last month.


Macdonald Amoah, Gregory Wischer, Juliet Akamboe and Morgan Bazilian

Minerals have defined key periods in technological development for much of warfare’s history. The Stone Age featured mineral-tipped spears and arrows; the Bronze Age included swords and shields of bronze, a metal alloy of copper and tin; and in the Iron Age, iron replaced bronze in many weapons, making them both lighter and cheaper. Since then, minerals have remained formative in changing human history—and warfighting. The cheap, mass production of iron was central to the First Industrial Revolution, while steel, an alloy of iron and carbon, was vital to the Second Industrial Revolution. Both periods contributed to the industrialization of war.

Today, minerals still undergird warfighting technology, including defense platforms and munitions. Virtually every US military system requires mineral components, from steel and titanium to graphite composites and cadmium alloys. Global defense spending shows that military demand is increasing for these platforms, munitions, and thus minerals. Like previous junctions in human history, the current period will be defined by minerals and the warfighting technology that they enable.

US military demand for minerals is expected to grow against a backdrop of rising US-China competition and the prospect of a US-China war in Asia. However, US mineral supply chains presently rely heavily on China, which can restrict supply to the United States, and Asian countries like Japan and South Korea, whose sea lines of communication to the United States would be disrupted in a US-China conflict. Importantly, the Russia-Ukraine war has shown that attrition rates for this war materiel in a conflict often outpace replenishment rates. In short, future US access to adequate supplies of warfighting-enabling minerals is endangered. To reduce this mineral vulnerability, the US government could stockpile more minerals, source these minerals from domestic mines and refineries, and provide grants to existing refineries to process byproducts that are currently not processed.

Defense manufacturers fear fallout from ‘Buy American’ politics


President Joe Biden and an influential bloc of lawmakers from both parties want more U.S. military hardware to be made in America.

But the defense industry — the beneficiary of the movement — says now is the wrong time. Supply chain problems, towering global demands for weapons and the need to work with allies to get it all done means that the America First movement should wait.

The “Buy American” campaign, fueled by the promise of a domestic manufacturing boom and well-paying jobs right here at home, is gaining steam in Congress. Both versions of the can’t-fail National Defense Authorization Act contain provisions that require a certain percentage of American weapons be made domestically.

Yet the politics is crashing into the reality facing the defense industry. Already wobbling from the demands of arming Taiwan and Ukraine, American weapons makers have the added task of producing for Israel — while also rearming the U.S. after its shelves were raided to help other countries.

The unprecedented race to build weapons has blown a hole in the system, forcing the Pentagon to seek more help from Europe and elsewhere to fill orders for desperate customers in Taipei, Kyiv and Jerusalem.

“We don’t believe it’s the right time,” said Keith Webster, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Defense and Aerospace Council, when asked about the Buy American provisions.

Nuclear weapons sharing, 2023

Hans M. Kristensen, Matt Korda, Eliana Johns, Mackenzie Knight

Collectively, the world’s estimated 12,512 nuclear warheads belong to just nine countries. However, there are more than two dozen additional countries that participate in nuclear mission-related arrangements. While these countries do not have direct launch authority over any nuclear warheads, they play an important role in their storage, planning, delivery, and safety and use-control, and therefore merit a degree of scrutiny alongside their nuclear-armed peers.

Nuclear sharing: what it is and is not

A common misconception surrounding nuclear sharing is that it refers to one country simply handing its nuclear weapons or launch authority to another country. While there have been specific instances during the Cold War when the United States’ allies maintained a relatively high degree of control over the nuclear weapons stationed on their soil, this is no longer the case in peacetime.

Nuclear sharing, not to be confused with burden sharing, generally refers to the practice of allowing non-nuclear countries to operate specially configured launchers to employ a nuclear-armed state’s nuclear weapons in time of war. The nuclear sharing mission is a subset of a much broader range of nuclear-related activities that can take several forms 
  • Maintain nuclear forces to provide nuclear protection for non-nuclear countries;
  • Permanently hosting another country’s nuclear weapons or delivery systems;
  • Providing delivery systems to be capable of employing another country’s nuclear weapons;
  • Providing conventional capabilities to support another country’s nuclear strike mission; or
  • Cooperating with another country on nuclear planning and targeting.

Ukraine’s counter-offensive has failed for now – the West needs a new plan

Lewis Page

It’s mud season again in Ukraine, a phenomenon with such significance there that it has a special name: “bezdorizhzhia”, the season of bad roads. The Russians say “rasputitsa”. It’s most severe in the spring, when melting winter ice makes the earth muddy, but it generally happens with the autumn rains too.

Bezdorizhzhia has a paralysing effect on armies, especially armies on the attack. Even tanks, which are specifically designed for off-road mobility and exert much less pressure on the ground than cars or trucks do (the enormous weight of the tank is spread over a much greater area by the tank’s tracks), frequently can’t move off paved roads during mud season.

They often can’t move at all, as paved roads laid across mud country may break up if you drive heavy vehicles on them during bezdorizhzhia.

Most soldiers and most of an army’s supplies move in wheeled vehicles, rather than tracked vehicles such as tanks. Almost all wheeled vehicles are strictly road-bound in mud season and often the rest of the time too. A marching soldier also can’t cross the mud with any ease.

Attacking during mud season, then, is a terrible idea.

The Russian army, reinforcing the impression of incompetence it has given ever since the invasion, is of course mounting a huge attack in the Avdiivka area right now.

Russian Military Officer Predicts How Nuclear War With NATO Could Begin

Thomas Kika

A retired Russian military official recently outlined a possible way by which his country could end up engaging in a nuclear conflict with members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Russian threats of a potential nuclear conflict with the West have escalated over the course of the country's invasion of Ukraine, which began in late February 2022. Numerous Kremlin officials, military leaders, and media propagandists have strongly suggested that nuclear weapons could be deployed against Western nations, like the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany, that continue to provide aid to Ukraine, though experts differ on how serious these threats actually are.

Earlier this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin temporarily suspended his country's participation in the joint New START Treaty with the U.S. and in March announced that Moscow would build tactical nuclear weapon storage facilities in Belarus, a country run by close Putin ally Alexander Lukashenko.

On Saturday, Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to the Ukrainian minister of internal affairs and a prolific social media commentator, shared a clip of retired Russian colonel Mikhail Khodaryonok appearing on a state-run news program, discussing tensions with nations on the Baltic Sea. He warned Sweden, which has not yet joined NATO but is in the process of trying to do so, against antagonistic behavior towards Russia. He also suggested that tensions in the region could lead to an inevitable nuclear conflict with other NATO members in the region.

This New Tool Aims to Keep Terrorism Content Off the Internet


TERRORIST GROUPS HAVE found a home on smaller, less well-known online platforms in recent years where they store, share, and link to content such as violent beheading videos and recruitment propaganda.

Those platforms have struggled to deal with the problem due to a lack of resources and expertise, but a new tool being built by a Google subsidiary in collaboration with a terror-tracking NGO is seeking to solve that problem.

Launched in Paris on Friday, Altitude is a free tool built by Jigsaw—a unit within Google that tracks violent extremism, misinformation, and repressive censorship—and Tech Against Terrorism, a group that seeks to disrupt terrorists’ online activity. The tool aims to give smaller platforms the ability to easily and efficiently detect terrorist content on their networks and remove it.

The project is also working with the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, which is an industry-led group founded in 2017 by Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube that hosts a shared database of image hashes—a kind of digital fingerprint—of terrorist content.

After years of missteps and failing to deal with the problem of removing terrorist content from their networks, big tech platforms like Facebook, Google, and X (formerly Twitter) have—with the help of dedicated NGOs and law enforcement—largely removed this content from their networks, with the notable exception of Telegram. As a result, terrorists have moved to less regulated and under-resourced platforms where their presence either goes unnoticed or cannot be dealt with because the companies involved simply don’t have the resources to cope with a flood of takedown requests.

The NSA Seems Pretty Stressed About the Threat of Chinese Hackers in US Critical Infrastructure


The United States National Security Agency is often tight-lipped about its work and intelligence. But at the Cyberwarcon security conference in Washington DC on Thursday, two members of the agency’s Cybersecurity Collaboration Center had a “call to action” for the cybersecurity community: Beware the threat of Chinese government-backed hackers embedding in US critical infrastructure.

Alongside its “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance counterparts, the NSA has been warning since May that a Beijing-sponsored group known as Volt Typhoon has been targeting critical infrastructure networks, including power grids, as part of its activity.

Officials emphasized on Thursday that network administrators and security teams need to be on the lookout for suspicious activity in which hackers manipulate and misuse legitimate tools rather than malware—an approach known as “living off the land”—to carry out clandestine operations. They added that the Chinese government also develops novel intrusion techniques and malware, thanks to a substantial stockpile of zero-day vulnerabilities that hackers can weaponize and exploit. Beijing collects these bugs through its own research, as well as a law that requires vulnerability disclosure.

The People’s Republic of China “works to gain unauthorized access to systems and wait for the best time to exploit these networks,” Morgan Adamski, director of the NSA’s Cybersecurity Collaboration Center, said on Thursday. “The threat is extremely sophisticated and pervasive. It is not easy to find. It is pre-positioning with intent to quietly burrow into critical networks for the long haul. The fact that these actors are in critical infrastructure is unacceptable, and it is something that we are taking very seriously—something that we are concerned about.”