9 December 2023

The 7 Reasons Iran Won’t Fight for Hamas

Arash Reisinezhad

Since its start, the war in Gaza has been thought of as potentially foreshadowing a direct conflict between Iran and Israel. Hezbollah continues to threaten to open a new front in the war, and Iranian hard-liners have welcomed their country’s direct intervention. Last month, Iran’s former foreign minister, Javad Zarif, mentioned a letter written by hard-line officials to Iran’s supreme leader attempting to persuade him to engage in the conflict with Israel on behalf of Hamas.

Israeli settler violence brings destruction and fear to West Bank as war rages

Jeremy Bowen

A few nights ago, the school in Khirbet Zanuta, a small Palestinian village in the hills south of Hebron, was destroyed along with most of the houses, by a bulldozer.

Its tracks lay fresh and undisturbed in the sand when we arrived. The village was empty as its population of about 200 Palestinians left around a month ago, after sustained pressure and threats from armed and aggressive Jewish settlers who live in nearby outposts that are illegal under both Israeli and international law.

A twisted metal sign lies in the rubble of the school in Khirbet Zanuta. In bold black letters it reads "Humanitarian Support to Palestinians at risk of forcible transfer in the West Bank". The sign records the donors who gave money to the project. The European Union was the lead donor and, among a panel of European development agencies, is also the coat of arms of the British royal family over the words British Consulate-General Jerusalem.

Nadav Weiman came with the BBC to the village. He is a former Israeli special forces soldier who is now an activist with Breaking the Silence, a group of former combatants who campaign against Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories. Nadav believes that Jewish settlers, the most militant of whom are known by name to local Palestinians, were once again flouting the law with the police and army.

"They're demolishing Palestinian villages, beating up Palestinian farmers, stealing their olives, trying to open a third front, an eastern front against the Palestinians in the West Bank. Why? Because they want the land without Palestinians."

Two Israeli soldiers came to investigate what we were doing. One of them told an Israeli member of the BBC team that he was a traitor for visiting Palestinians. They filmed us but took much less interest in what had happened in Khirbet Zanuta, a few miles down the road.

Opinion: A perfectly reasonable, highly unrealistic path to peace

Frida Ghitis

The brief respite from the fighting between Hamas and Israel has ended, as many of us expected, reigniting the wrenching conflict that has produced so much suffering on both sides of the Gaza border. The battles are likely to continue. Unless, that is, key players in the Middle East and the rest of the international community step in to exert the necessary pressure and take risks to resolve this conflict.

Is there a way to stop the carnage? Is there any way to bring an end to this war and open a path to lasting peace?

The answer is yes. There is a perfectly reasonable, though extremely difficult and perhaps unrealistic solution. But it’s not an impossible one.

Every plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace, every element of a plan, immediately brings to mind the many obstacles it contains. And yet, there are glimmers of light, reasons for some hope. They are faint, but they are remarkable, and they hold the potential for at least a modicum of optimism.

The answer to ending the war, and even the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is hardly a mystery. Negotiators have come close to solving the decades-long conflict before. Right now, the first order of business is Hamas, a terrorist organization opposed to reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians and committed to Israel’s destruction.

No country can allow a hostile group backed by a near-nuclear armed enemy (Iran, in this case) to govern a territory on its doorstep. Removing Hamas from Gaza by military force is impossible without adding to the despairing conditions of Gazan civilians.

Why Arab States Must Lead on Gaza

Lina Khatib

When Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, it was 50 years and a day after the start of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. That conflict had also begun with a surprise attack, when forces from Egypt and Syria caught the Israeli military and intelligence services off-guard. Back then, the Arab world stood united against Israel, with Arab oil-producing countries using an oil embargo to gain leverage in postwar peace negotiations and Arab armies supporting Egypt and Syria’s military campaign by sending forces into Syria.

Today, the regional picture is much more complicated. The Arab world is not united against Israel. Instead, on the eve of October 7, each Arab state had a different relationship with Israel. Egypt and Jordan signed peace deals with Israel decades ago and continue to cooperate on security today. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) normalized its diplomatic relations with Israel more recently, signing the Abraham Accords in 2020. Before Hamas’s attack, Saudi Arabia and Israel, with the backing of Washington, were finalizing a deal to normalize ties. Qatar, adhering to its position of openness to communicating with all sides, kept its relationship with Israel informal while also hosting the political leadership of Hamas in Doha. Although these countries were frustrated with the growing tension between Israelis and Palestinians, none of them expected the situation to turn into war any time soon. Considering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict contained, they focused on their own political and economic objectives, which often meant doing business with the Israeli government.

But Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip, which has killed some 15,000 people, according to health officials in Gaza, has altered these relationships overnight. It is driving Arab states toward a more unified public position on the Israel-Palestine conflict. By the time Israel struck the Jabalya refugee camp at the end of October, the response from Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE had become almost uniform, with all strongly condemning the attack and calling for a cease-fire.

Israel Gaza: Hamas raped and mutilated women on 7 October, BBC hears

Lucy Williamson

The BBC has seen and heard evidence of rape, sexual violence and mutilation of women during the 7 October Hamas attacks.

Several people involved in collecting and identifying the bodies of those killed in the attack told us they had seen multiple signs of sexual assault, including broken pelvises, bruises, cuts and tears, and that the victims ranged from children and teenagers to pensioners.

Video testimony of an eyewitness at the Nova music festival, shown to journalists by Israeli police, detailed the gang rape, mutilation and execution of one victim.

Videos of naked and bloodied women filmed by Hamas on the day of the attack, and photographs of bodies taken at the sites afterwards, suggest that women were sexually targeted by their attackers.

Few victims are thought to have survived to tell their own stories.

Their last moments are being pieced together from survivors, body-collectors, morgue staff and footage from the attack sites.

Police have privately shown journalists a single horrific testimony that they filmed of a woman who was at the Nova festival site during the attack.

Gaza Vs. Fallujah: Barbaric Blitzkrieg Highlights US Marines Superiority – OpEd

Ilana Mercer

In their recent military campaigns, America and Israel have waged what to the inexpert, keen observer is largely old-fashioned, Third-Generation Warfare—a blitzkrieg, by any other name, against civilian populations.

The ostensible use of “tanks, mechanized infantry, and close air support” to “collapse an enemy’s defenses” are really unthinking, disproportionate shows of brute military force, reliant on massive amounts of materiel.

Yet when military mavens predicted and depicted the next form of warfare; it was the contours Fourth-Generation Warfare that they were tracing. Fourth-Generation Warfare was to be the distinguishing characteristic of the modern military. Boosted by technology, “advanced” armies would be relying on “small, highly mobile elements, composed of very intelligent soldiers, armed with high technology weapons.” These precision units and attendant weapons were expected “to range over wide areas seeking critical targets.”

In addition to technology; predicted and depicted was a military whose central impetus was augmented by ideas. In America, the controversial changing of hearts and minds, historically, has included fomenting coups around the world with the connivance afforded by psychological operations.

Near as I can tell, Fourth-Generation war was meant to be smart; to see Mind dominate and direct materiel.

Israel’s Failed Bombing Campaign in Gaza

Robert A. Pape

Since October 7, Israel has invaded northern Gaza with some 40,000 combat troops and pummeled the small area with one of the most intense bombing campaigns in history. Nearly two million people have fled their homes as a result. More than 15,000 civilians (including some 6,000 children and 5,000 women) have been killed in the attacks, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run Ministry of Health, and the U.S. State Department has suggested that the true toll may be even higher. Israel has bombed hospitals and ambulances and wrecked about half of northern Gaza’s buildings. It has cut off virtually all water, food deliveries, and electricity generation for Gaza’s 2.2 million inhabitants. By any definition, this campaign counts as a massive act of collective punishment against civilians.

Even now, as Israeli forces push deeper into southern Gaza, the exact purpose of Israel’s approach is far from clear. Although Israeli leaders claim to be targeting Hamas alone, the evident lack of discrimination raises real questions about what the government is actually up to. Is Israel’s eagerness to shatter Gaza a product of the same incompetence that led to the massive failure of the Israeli military to counter Hamas’s attack on October 7, the plans for which ended up in the hands of Israeli military and intelligence officials more than a year earlier? Is wrecking northern Gaza and now southern Gaza a prelude to sending the territory’s entire population to Egypt, as proposed in a “concept paper” produced by the Israeli Intelligence Ministry?

Whatever the ultimate goal, Israel’s collective devastation of Gaza raises deep moral problems. But even judged purely in strategic terms, Israel’s approach is doomed to failure—and indeed, it is already failing. Mass civilian punishment has not convinced Gaza’s residents to stop supporting Hamas. To the contrary, it has only heightened resentment among Palestinians. Nor has the campaign succeeded in dismantling the group ostensibly being targeted. Fifty-plus days of war show that while Israel can demolish Gaza, it cannot destroy Hamas. In fact, the group may be stronger now than it was before.

Why Hamas Attacked When It Did

Daniel Byman and Mackenzie Holtz

The Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7, 2023, were by far the most deadly terrorist attack in the country’s history, and the resulting war is one of the most devastating to Palestinians, with over 15,000 dead so far, a number that will surely rise further as Israel tries to destroy Hamas completely. Why did Hamas attack when it knew that the consequences for it and the Palestinian people would be so deadly? From the statements of Hamas leaders, reporting drawing on documents captured from Hamas fighters, and Hamas’s long track record, some answers can be gleaned.

One of Hamas’s goals was simply to kill Israelis—many of them. The Washington Post reported that instructions found on dead Hamas fighters included, “Kill as many people and take as many hostages as possible.” Among other weapons, Hamas also equipped its fighters with thermobaric grenades, which can quickly cause massive fires in a home. The fighters also had enough ammunition and food to keep going into Israel if they were able to do so, as well as maps, suggesting an even higher death toll was possible.

Indeed, part of what Hamas wanted involved revenge for what it saw as past Israeli attacks and the constant Israeli occupation of the West Bank, arrest of Hamas leaders, isolation, and bombing of Gaza. Until October 7, most Israelis could live their lives believing that Hamas’s situation and that of other Palestinians mattered little to them on a day-to-day basis. No longer.

Yet Hamas’s hatred of Israel is a constant, and it does not explain Hamas’s decision to strike on October 7 and not before. Part of the explanation may be that what Hamas saw as its gestures toward moderation before the October 7 attacks brought it few rewards. Hamas publicly rebranded in 2017, releasing an updated charter in which the group signaled its acceptance of a two-state solution as an appropriate temporary measure. The charter still contained many hateful and bellicose components, but it was a change from the group’s 1988 founding statement, which fundamentally rejected any accommodation with Israel.

Yemen’s Houthis target Israel-linked ships in Red Sea. Here’s what to know

Maziar Motamedi

The Iran-backed Houthi movement in Yemen has launched a series of new attacks against Israel-linked vessels in the Red Sea that drew a response from a United States warship deployed in one of the world’s busiest maritime routes.

The powerful group, which controls Yemeni capital Sanaa and commands an expanding military, has promised more attacks will be launched if Israel and the US refuse to put a stop to the war on Gaza, which has killed more than 15,500 Palestinians since October 7.

Let’s take a look at the latest attacks, why the Bab al-Mandeb Strait where they took place is important, and how the situation could unfold as the Israeli war machine shows no signs of stopping.

What’s the latest?

The US military said late on Sunday that three commercial vessels came under attack in the strait – a narrow sea passage that separates the Arabian Peninsula from the Horn of Africa. The Houthis claimed strikes on only two ships.

Several projectiles are believed to have been fired at the Bahamas-flagged bulk carrier Unity Explorer, with at least one hitting its target and inflicting damage.

The USS Carney, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, said it shot down a drone that appeared to be headed its way, and also downed two more drones while responding to distress calls by the ships.

The other two commercial ships, the Panamanian-flagged bulk carriers Number 9 and Sophie II, were also struck by missiles. US Central Command did not report any casualties.

It said Washington has “every reason to believe that these attacks, while launched by the Houthis in Yemen, are fully enabled by Iran”.

What’s the Buzz at the India-Bangladesh Border Fence?

Rajeev Bhattacharyya

Personnel of India’s Border Security Force (BSF) patrol along the India-Bangladesh BorderCredit: Border Security Force

The Indian government plans to deploy bee warriors to check criminal activities along its border with Bangladesh.

It has decided to install beehives on the India-Bangladesh border fence to curtail cattle smuggling and other crimes such as drug peddling and infiltration. The effort is also aimed at generating livelihood for the local populace.

The project has been launched first in Nadia district in the border state of West Bengal by the Border Security Force (BSF), which is tasked to guard the border. The beehives on the fence are expected to prevent smugglers from punching holes in the fence as any such effort will trigger an attack by the bees and injure them.

A senior BSF officer was quoted by the media as saying that the bee boxes would be placed above the ground near flowering plants and a shade over them to create a natural habitat.

In addition, the BSF will also focus on growing medicinal plants along the border to help the local populace generate additional income. The Ministry of Ayush has provided the paramilitary force with saplings of tulsi, ekangi, satmuli, ashwagandha and aloe vera, which have a high demand in the market. The medicinal plants will be an added source for the bees to pollinate.

The BSF will market the medicinal plants and honey from the beehives and villagers will benefit monetarily. The ministry will also collect the produce to prepare herbal products.

The dangers of guerrilla triumphalism in Myanmar


Over a month after the launch of the most successful campaign by anti-junta resistance forces in Myanmar’s civil war, some overarching realities are emerging from events that have been widely hailed as a turning point in the conflict.

The most important is arguably the least obvious: the dangers of triumphalism and a rush to victory by guerrilla forces that are militarily still ill-prepared to confront a trained army in conventional combat.

Those dangers are arguably today playing out on the streets of Loikaw, the capital of eastern Karenni state, and in other smaller towns where lightly armed fighters have been thrown into battles against heavy artillery and unremitting air strikes launched by a military that appears unconvinced by reports of its own imminent demise.

As widely reported and opined, the sweeping insurgent offensive across the north of Shan state by the tripartite Brotherhood Alliance of Kokang Chinese, Palaung and Rakhine ethnic insurgents which opened on October 27 was unprecedented on a range of levels.

Operation 1027, named after its launch date, seized a string of towns along the Chinese border, claimed to have overrun up to 200 military posts and bases capturing huge stocks of munitions, and saw the surrender of three Myanmar army battalions.

Even in the darkest days of early 1968 when Communist Party of Burma (CPB) forces surged into northeastern Shan state from launchpads inside China, the Myanmar Army had never suffered such a rapid and crushing series of defeats.

Military manpower has become a critical factor for Myanmar’s junta

Andrew Selth

Victories by Myanmar’s ethnic insurgents over the past three months have resulted in a strategic shift in the civil war, and in the balance of power in Myanmar. Manpower is a key factor in an existential conflict.

Myanmar’s generals have always known that the armed forces, or Tatmadaw, could never maintain a physical presence throughout the entire country. To exercise control, they counted on a divided opposition, superior intelligence and mobile strike forces. They also relied on a large element of bluff. Operation 1027, launched in northern Myanmar in October by the Three Brotherhood Alliance (TBA), and later joined by several other ethnic armed organisations (EAO) and militias, has effectively called that bluff.

Myanmar is the largest state in mainland Southeast Asia, covering 676,578 square kilometres. Much of it consists of rugged mountains, dense forests and major waterways. Vast tracts of land, mainly around the country’s borders, are thinly inhabited, or visited only by small bands of hunters, smugglers and refugees. Even now, after a major road building program begun in 2004, there are barely 150,000 kilometres of roads, of which only 40% are paved.

These harsh geographical realities have posed major challenges to central governments in Myanmar throughout history. Such difficulties have been compounded even further for the Tatmadaw which, ever since the 1962 military coup, has acted as an army of occupation, particularly in those peripheral areas dominated by the country’s many ethnic minorities.

No-one has ever determined the precise number of men and women in the Tatmadaw, but until the late 1980s it was less than 200,000 strong. This meant that large parts of the country had no permanent military presence and many others saw only an occasional patrol to show the flag. Even after a massive expansion of the Tatmadaw in the 1990s, perhaps to 400,000, there were still not enough troops to dominate the entire country.

Russia’s ‘Powerful’ Air Defense Systems ‘Helpless’ Against Ukraine’s Cheap Drones – Russian Report

Ritu Sharma

Russian air defense systems are poorly equipped to combat modern drones, which are smaller and cheaper. The West is not saying so, but a Russian report analyzing the country’s anti-drone capabilities does.

Small drones have become a bane for Russia in the ongoing conflict against Ukraine. It has become more apparent with each passing day, and a recent video showing Ukrainian drones stalking the Russian air defense systems that are supposed to be shooting them down and bombing or directing precision artillery fire onto them.

The 193-page report is written by Professor Sergey Makarenko of St Petersburg Electrotechnical University (LETI) and is titled Countering Unmanned Air Vehicles. Makaranko studies military applications of technology, and this is one of the few open-source documents giving a peep into Russian anti-drone capability.

The report analyses why Russia has been so bad at hitting drones in particular. The report looks into the efficacy of the layer anti-air defenses available for Russian forces like the short-range air defense system Pantsir S1, self-propelled anti-aircraft guns Tunguska, surface-to-air missile system Tor and Strela-10 tracked vehicles with heat-seeking missiles for close-in defense and shoulder-fired Igla-S.

The War for Ukraine


This is the story of part of a war. It is only part of a war because, at least when this manuscript was completed, the war in Ukraine that was the result of Russia’s invasion of February 2022 remained an active conflict. It is part of a war because, as with all wars, there are many things about it, even in this age of social media and greater battlefield transparency, that are yet to be revealed.

Mick Ryan, The War for Ukraine (2024)

Over the last few days, besides keeping up with events in Ukraine, Gaza and the Western Pacific (my daily strategic scan), I have been busy reviewing the copy edits for my next book. The subject of the book is the war in Ukraine. Tentatively, it will be called The War for Ukraine, and will be published in August 2024 by US Naval Institute Press (who also published my 2022 book, War Transformed).

As my quote above notes, the book tells part of the story of a war that is still underway. In such circumstances, one has to decide which part of the war’s chronology to cover, and where the story must end (for the time being at least). Therefore, my forthcoming book explores the period from the beginning of the Russian large-scale invasion in February 2022 through to 2023 NATO Summit in Vilnius, during which the initial phase of the Ukrainian 2023 counteroffensive was being executed.

269. Policy Planning Staff Memorandum

The inauguration of organized political warfare.


1. Political warfare is the logical application of Clausewitz’s doctrine in time of peace. In broadest definition, political warfare is the employment of all the means at a nation’s command, short of war, to achieve its national objectives. Such operations are both overt and covert. They range from such overt actions as political alliances, economic measures [Page 669](as ERP), and “white” propaganda to such covert operations as clandestine support of “friendly” foreign elements, “black” psychological warfare and even encouragement of underground resistance in hostile states.

2. The creation, success, and survival of the British Empire has been due in part to the British understanding and application of the principles of political warfare. Lenin so synthesized the teachings of Marx and Clausewitz that the Kremlin’s conduct of political warfare has become the most refined and effective of any in history. We have been handicapped however by a popular attachment to the concept of a basic difference between peace and war, by a tendency to view war as a sort of sporting context outside of all political context, by a national tendency to seek for a political cure-all, and by a reluctance to recognize the realities of international relations—the perpetual rhythm of [struggle, in and out of war.]1

3. This Government has, of course, in part consciously and in part unconsciously, been conducting political warfare. Aggressive Soviet political warfare has driven us overtly first to the Truman Doctrine, next to ERP, then to sponsorship of Western Union [1–1/2 lines of source text not declassified]. This was all political warfare and should be recognized as such.

4. Understanding the concept of political warfare, we should also recognize that there are two major types of political warfare—one overt and the other covert. Both, from their basic nature, should be directed and coordinated by the Department of State. Overt operations are, of course, the traditional policy activities of any foreign office enjoying positive leadership, whether or not they are recognized as political warfare. Covert operations are traditional in many European chancelleries but are relatively unfamiliar to this Government.

Japanese Space Strategy: Deploying a Credible Deterrent

Christophe Bosquillon

On August 31, 1998, North Korea fired a Taepodong 1 missile into Japanese airspace, taking allies and adversaries by surprise. Fifteen years later, China emerged as an even more ominous concern for Japan’s security. Following the summer 1998 incident, it took another quarter of a century for Japan to emancipate itself from pacifist policies, revamp its space sector activities, outfit its military force with a space component, and consider effective deterrence in space, which is yet materialize.

The concept of a successful deterrence strategy in any domain boils down to three key requirements: a credible threat (capability to support such a threat), the will to carry out the threat, and effective communications. Part of the problem for Japan is that it failed to develop a credible capability. Furthermore, the three non-nuclear principles (not possessing, not producing, and not permitting the introduction of nuclear weapons on the Japanese territory) leave Japan fully dependent on the American nuclear umbrella.

For Japan’s effective deterrence in all domains, mere rhetoric about threats is insufficient. As an island nation entirely dependent on maritime access, Japan needs a military capability and clear communication of its determination to achieve domain superiority and escalation dominance over adversaries.

Credibility is based on a nation’s past behavior and its demonstrated willingness to respond to aggression. Clearly, Japan has baggage in its history of aggression and colonization in the Indo-Pacific. Both North Korea and China consistently frame a pacified post-war Japan as the aggressor every time Japan makes a move to survive and claim its right to defend itself in a hostile neighborhood. Japan, however, is now rearming itself.

Miscalculations, divisions marked offensive planning by U.S., Ukraine

On June 15, in a conference room at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, flanked by top U.S. commanders, sat around a table with his Ukrainian counterpart, who was joined by aides from Kyiv. The room was heavy with an air of frustration.

Austin, in his deliberate baritone, asked Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov about Ukraine’s decision-making in the opening days of its long-awaited counteroffensive, pressing him on why his forces weren’t using Western-supplied mine-clearing equipment to enable a larger, mechanized assault, or using smoke to conceal their advances. Despite Russia’s thick defensive lines, Austin said, the Kremlin’s troops weren’t invincible.

Reznikov, a bald, bespectacled lawyer, said Ukraine’s military commanders were the ones making those decisions. But he noted that Ukraine’s armored vehicles were being destroyed by Russian helicopters, drones and artillery with every attempt to advance. Without air support, he said, the only option was to use artillery to shell Russian lines, dismount from the targeted vehicles and proceed on foot.

“We can’t maneuver because of the land-mine density and tank ambushes,” Reznikov said, according to an official who was present.

Miscalculations, divisions marked offensive planning by U.S.

The meeting in Brussels, less than two weeks into the campaign, illustrates how a counteroffensive born in optimism has failed to deliver its expected punch, generating friction and second-guessing between Washington and Kyiv and raising deeper questions about Ukraine’s ability to retake decisive amounts of territory.

The Right Response to Red Sea Ship Attacks: Dismantle Iran’s Proxy Axis

Seth Cropsey

Responding to initial reports of an attack on the USS Carney in the Red Sea on Sunday, the Biden administration belatedly declared that the warship was not attacked; it simply shot down drones heading for an unspecific target during a series of attacks on shipping off the Yemeni coast.

Yemen’s Houthi rebels, an Iranian proxy, readily claimed credit for the attacks, which are part of a broader campaign to push the U.S. out of the Middle East and isolate its crucial ally, Israel. A rational Washington would respond with force to reset — or, more accurately, establish — deterrence, destroying Houthi launch sites and compelling Iran either to escalate elsewhere or to accept the loss of its proxy.

Indeed, the best way to defeat Iran’s current offensive is to destroy its “Axis of Resistance,” member by member.

Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack against Israel was the most barbaric element of a much broader plan by Iran. The Islamic Republic has constructed the Axis of Resistance, an alliance of proxies and state-enablers, with painstaking care since the late 2000s. The axis operates through a unique combination of standard non-state tactics and regular state activities.

Its model member, Lebanese Hezbollah, demonstrates Iran’s underlying objective in each geography. Hezbollah infiltrated and displaced the Lebanese state over a 20-year period and, today, is capable of ruling half the country while manipulating politics in the other half.

Iran’s strategy through the Axis of Resistance is, therefore, one of state capture on a longer timescale.

Revenge of the feudalists


‘The Earth does not belong to us’, said King Charles at COP28 in Dubai last week. I don’t know about that, Your Majesty: a lot of it certainly belongs to your family. When he was Prince of Wales, Charles oversaw the Duchy of Cornwall, which consists of 205 square miles of land spread across 23 counties in England and Wales. Upon his ascension to the throne last year, he handed this vast territory to his son, William. Since 1337, you see, it’s been the heir to the throne who has enjoyed command over the duchy. Imagine the brass neck it takes to pontificate to the plebs about their non-ownership of the Earth while you and your family sit atop vast tracts of land worth £1 billion. What the king should have said is: ‘The Earth does not belong to you.’

Rarely has the feudalistic streak in green politics been so fantastically exposed. Here we have a king of unimaginable wealth and unearned power flying by private jet to a tribal autocracy to wag his finger at the global masses over their eco-unfriendly behaviour. At COP, Charles rubbed shoulders with the monarchs of the United Arab Emirates – ‘an autocracy with the sheen of a progressive, modern state’, in the words of the New York Times – and other kings, sultans and emirs. He chinwagged with the Sultan of Brunei, who owns 7,000 luxury cars, including 300 Ferraris. Then they’ll tell you you’re killing the planet by driving to Tesco once a week in your Skoda. He made merry with the Emir of Qatar, a multi-billionaire who has an entire ‘fleet’ of private jets, some of which can carry his limousines. Then they’ll damn you for polluting the skies with your annual Ryanair flight to Mallorca.

So many monarchs, billionaires, CEOs, celebs and climate-change windbags are flocking to Dubai for COP that the carbon footprint of the blasted event is expected to be stratospheric. For some perspective, COP26, held in Glasgow in 2021, had over 38,000 delegates and together they pumped out a whopping 102,500 tonnes of CO2 – the same amount produced by 8,000 Britons in a year. The Dubai COP has more than double that number of delegates (97,000), many of whom are rocking up in a ‘flurry of private jets’ and some of whom will mingle in the freshly built Leadership Pavilion, with its ‘shades of cream and gold’, ‘designer lighting’ and general ‘vibe of a luxury car dealership’, where the strictly non-alcoholic tipples include ‘iced Americanos’ made with a ‘gem of a bean from the Kaw Kaw Mountain in Papua New Guinea’. Then they’ll tell you to turn off the heating in your terraced house to ‘save the planet’.

Is Ukraine turning on Volodymyr Zelenskyy?


In his former life as a heavyweight boxer, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko landed some well-timed blows. But perhaps none have had as much impact as his recent comments regarding Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Castigating his leader as increasingly isolated and authoritarian, Klitschko claimed that “at some point we will no longer be any different from Russia, where everything depends on the whim of one man.” He added that “people wonder why we weren’t better prepared for this war”, and that Zelenskyy is “paying for mistakes he has made”.

That Klitschko should reserve opprobrium for the Ukrainian leader is unsurprising — the former boxer has been an ardent supporter of ex-president Petro Poroshenko, who was defeated by Zelenskyy in the 2019 election. The two also have a history of personal feuding, with Zelenskyy taking to the airwaves in November 2022 to publicly criticise Klitschko and his officials for having “not performed well” when establishing shelters for Kyiv’s citizens after Russian attacks.

In this instance, though, Klitschko’s criticisms speak to a broader malaise rather than just a quarrel between two men. The Kyiv Mayor has not been alone in criticising Zelenskyy in recent weeks — former presidential advisor turned critic Oleksii Arestovych last month claimed the Ukrainian leadership was “leading the country down an authoritarian path” and “spreading mass corruption”.

One need not search too hard to find the motivations of Zelenskyy’s critics. Although he stressed that he would not want to see a change of president during wartime, Klitschko said it would be “unwise” to discuss his own political ambitions currently, while Arestovych has not disguised his own desire to run for the leadership.

Why is the Biden Administration Scared of Iran?

Lawrence J. Haas

With Israel and Hamas still vowing to destroy one another, and with full combat resuming after a tenuous truce, Washington says it doesn’t want to do anything to provoke Iran into a wider regional conflict.

That’s reportedly why, in recent days, Washington and its European allies chose not to censure Iran over its growing defiance of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors who seek to monitor Iran’s nuclear activities.

Washington’s concerns about provoking Iran, however, seem oddly misplaced. As events make clear, Tehran is already stirring a wider regional conflict, including a conflict with the United States, through its “Axis of Resistance” – a proxy network that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) coordinates and that includes Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Shia militias in Iraq, and Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Nor is Tehran making any secret of it. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei told IRGC forces the other day that while Hamas attacked “the Zionist regime,” that attack was part of a larger war between Iran-backed forces and the United States, one he vowed would bring a “de-Americanization” of the region. Meanwhile, Iran’s foreign minister warned of “consequences” if Washington maintains its support of Israel.

Iranian aggression demands a stronger, more consistent, more comprehensive U.S. response. Rather than fear provocation, Washington should commit more fully to deterrence in the form of Cold War-style containment.

Consider the points of military conflict in today’s Middle East and the tentacles of Iranian influence.

IBM shows new quantum computing chip, targeting 2033 for large systems

Stephen Nellis

Dec 4 (Reuters) - International Business Machines (IBM.N) on Monday showed a new quantum computing chip and machine that it hopes will serve as the building blocks of much larger systems a decade from now.

Researchers around the world are trying to perfect quantum computing, which relies on quantum mechanics to reach computing speeds far faster than classical silicon-based computers. The challenge has been to create quantum computers that are reliable enough in the real world to consistently beat conventional computers.

Microsoft (MSFT.O), Alphabet's Google (GOOGL.O) and China's Baidu (9888.HK), along with startups and nation states, are all racing to develop quantum machines.

As quantum researchers have made the machines big enough to outpace classical computers, they have struggled with data errors. On Monday, IBM showed what it says is a new way of connecting chips together inside machines and then connecting machines together which, when combined with a new error-correction code, could produce compelling quantum machines by 2033.

The first machine to use them is called Quantum System Two, which uses three "Heron" chips. Dario Gil, IBM's senior vice president and director of research, said that progress will appear fairly steady until 2029, when the full effect of the error-correction technologies come into play.

Past Guns and Grenades: The Emergence of Cyber Warfare in the Middle East

Clay Arnold

Cyber warfare has become a significant component in the Israel-Hamas conflict, with hacktivist groups adopting tactics similar to those used against Russia. However, their effectiveness is decreasing due to the global community’s enhanced cybersecurity preparedness. Although cyberspace has emerged as an important battleground in the modern era, it lacks clear rules of engagement.

I believe there are strong benefits to a flexible approach to cybersecurity. The evolution of cyber warfare, as seen in the Israel-Hamas conflict, saw over 100 hacker groups from countries such as Indonesia, Morocco, Bangladesh, India and Sudan, as well as pro-Russia groups like Killnet targeting Israeli infrastructure.

Distributed denial of service attacks are one element of cyber conflict. These attacks have been aimed at various Israeli entities, including government websites, news outlets, financial institutions and telecommunications companies. The primary goal of these attacks is to manipulate information and restrict civilian access to essential news and instructions.

These developments indicate a shift in how conflicts are waged in the current age. The involvement of numerous covert actors in cyber warfare points toward a potential benefit to adopting flexible and adaptable approaches in cybersecurity. Identifying the perpetrators of these cyber-attacks is challenging, often leading to difficulties in establishing responsibility and accountability, contrasting with the focus on policy actions to address cyber vulnerabilities in the U.S. military context, a topic discussed by the National Defense University Press.

Concerns grow over military response to Iran proxy attacks: 'We are not taking this seriously'

Mike Brest, Defense Reporter

A handful of former United States military leaders have argued in recent days that the Department of Defense has not adequately responded to a series of attacks against U.S. forces carried out by groups with Iran's backing.

U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria have been attacked dozens of times by Iranian proxies since the middle of October. Houthi rebels in Yemen are the most likely culprit in a series of attacks against commercial vessels in nearby waterways, with the most significant incident occurring just days ago.

Retired Vice Adm. John Miller, the former commander of U.S. 5th Fleet, said, “We are not taking this seriously,” according to Politico, adding, “We’re not deterring anybody right now." He also said the attacks in Iraq and Syria “have gone largely unanswered.”

Three commercial vessels were attacked four times Sunday in the southern Red Sea by forces that originated from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen. The Unity Explorer, Number 9, and Sophie II were struck by missiles fired from that area, while the USS Carney, which responded to distress calls, shot down multiple drones heading in its direction as it assisted those vessels in need.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan pointed the finger at Iran for the attacks on Monday, telling White House reporters, "We have every reason to believe that these attacks, while they were launched by the Houthis in Yemen, were fully enabled by Iran."

Sullivan also noted that the U.S. is speaking with other allies about the possibility of a "maritime task force of sorts involving the ships from partner nations alongside the United States in ensuring safe passage — passage of ships in the Red Sea."


David C. Clouse 

The rapid evolution of war, or as Carl Von Clausewitz describes it, “politics by other means,” is reaching a point where “soldiers no longer have a monopoly on war,” as two People’s Liberation Army colonels wrote in the late 1990s. In their book Unrestricted Warfare, they predicted that the “boundaries lying between the two worlds of war and non-war, of military and non-military, will be totally destroyed” so that even the “rules of war may need to be rewritten.” Their notion of soldiers losing their monopoly on war emerged shortly after one of the US Army’s greatest triumphs, the defeat of Iraqi forces during Operation Desert Storm. In the decades since, our adversaries have covertly manipulated the boundaries between war and nonwar to shape the future battlefield. For much of that period, the US Army was largely preoccupied with counterterrorism and the post-9/11 wars. More recently, it has turned its focus to preparing for large-scale combat operations, but this focus avoids actually envisioning this battlefield. Instead, it envisions a one slightly altered from the battlefield experienced during Operation Desert Storm.

There have been a few, important voices calling for change. General Mark Milley, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, seems to recognize the blurring of boundaries between war and nonwar and an evolving battlefield where the soldier is not the primary participant. In February, he signed the Joint Concept for Competing, which warns the joint force about the risks of relinquishing strategic influence, advantage, and leverage while preparing for a war that never occurs, as well as the potential to “lose without fighting.” In other words, the US Army risks losing its current contest by preparing to fight on the wrong battlefield, and even worse, failing contribute to the contest all together. To address this risk, the Army must reimagine how it understands war and the modern battlefield—which Milley describes as vast, amorphous, and an undefined competitive space. More specifically, it must redefine how it conceptualizes tactical actions and how it connects those actions to strategic objectives.