24 December 2023

For Israel, this war is about more than recovering hostages and destroying Hamas — and it could last a long time

Mick Ryan

For almost all of its modern history, the state of Israel has engaged in relatively short wars. This is a function of its geography and its small population.

The 1967 and 1973 wars lasted for six and 20 days respectively. Its wars in Gaza have also been short. None of its wars there in 2008, 2012, 2014 or 2021 lasted more than a couple of months. Similarly, the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War lasted a month.

However, despite its preferences, there have been times when Israel has had to fight for much longer periods. These include the first and second intifadas and the Lebanon War from 1982 to 1985.

Today's Israel-Hamas War may also continue for a considerable amount of time. There are three reasons for this.

The first reason is that Israel has extensive aims for the current conflict. While many reports characterise Israel's Gaza objectives in terms of Hamas and hostages, this is only part of the story. In addition to dismantling Hamas and recovering all Israeli hostages taken on October 7, Israel has four other objectives. These need to be understood when considering how long this war might last.

The four additional aims include ensuring there is no threat to it from Gaza in the long term, strengthening the security of Israeli citizens, restoring Israel's deterrence against repeat attacks on civilians, and vitally, restoring the physical and psychological security of border settlements in the south and the north.

A Year of War and Little Peace


The advantage historians have over journalists is that the passage of time offers them a perspective not available to those with immediate deadlines. But the year is about to end, which constitutes a firm deadline if the goal is to put 2023 into perspective. “Instant history” may well be an oxymoron, but it is worth the effort, especially in a year that will be remembered as one defined by war.

Two wars in particular stand out. The first is Russia’s continuing aggression in Ukraine. While Ukraine continued to hold its own against Russian forces and remains a viable, independent country that controls roughly 80% of its territory, the much-anticipated Ukrainian counter-offensive accomplished little. All told, the second year of this costly war will be known less for what changed on the field of battle than for what did not; the map does not look all that different in December than it did in January. Meanwhile, some cracks appeared in support for Ukraine in both Europe and the United States.

The second war was initiated by Hamas against Israel on October 7. Surprising Israeli intelligence and defense forces, Hamas’s savage terrorist attacks killed more than 1,200 people, with another 240 taken hostage. Most of the victims were civilians.

Israel declared as its goal the elimination of Hamas and has attacked Gaza heavily ever since, first by air and then on the ground, killing nearly 20,000 people so far and displacing almost two million. In its third month, the war shows no sign of ending. When it does, Israeli occupation of Gaza is likely to follow, but what will follow that is unknown. Prospects for peace and a Palestinian state appear more remote than ever.

Not surprisingly, the most important bilateral relationship of this era, between the US and China, also dominated headlines in 2023. The year began with a Chinese spy balloon traversing the US, prompting the US to shoot it down. Relations entered something of a deep freeze until high-level contacts resumed over the summer, culminating in a meeting between President Joe Biden and President Xi Jinping in San Francisco in November.

Hamas: Background, Current Status, And US Policy

Jim Zanotti

Hamas (or the Islamic Resistance Movement) is a Palestinian Sunni Islamist military and sociopolitical movement, and a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization (FTO). Hamas’s primary base of action and support is in the Gaza Strip, which it has controlled since 2007. It also operates in the West Bank and Lebanon, and some Hamas leaders and personnel live and/or work in various Arab countries and Turkey.

Hamas reportedly receives material assistance and training from Iran and some of its allies, including the Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah (another FTO). From its inception, Hamas has overseen a social welfare network that appears to have aided its popularity among Palestinians while serving as a conduit for some funding for Hamas military operations.

On October 7, 2023, Hamas led a surprise assault against Israel that killed some 1,200 Israelis and foreign nationals (including 35 Americans) and took around 240 persons hostage (including some Americans)—more than 100 of whom were released in November. The attack’s scope and lethality was unprecedented for Hamas. The ensuing conflict, which has reportedly killed more than 18,000 Palestinians in Gaza, has reshaped Middle Eastern dynamics, with implications for U.S. policy and Congress. A Hamas spokesperson has said the group is committed to repeating October 7-style attacks against Israel.

Origins, Ideology, and Leadership

An outgrowth of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas emerged in 1987 in Gaza during the first Palestinian intifada (uprising). After the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) entered into a peace process with Israel that created the Palestinian Authority (PA) to exercise limited rule in the West Bank and Gaza, Hamas established itself as an alternative to the secular Fatah movement, which leads the PLO, by violently attacking Israeli civilian and military targets. Hamas’s ideology combines Palestinian nationalism with Islamic fundamentalism. Hamas’s 1988 charter committed the group to the destruction of Israel and the establishment of an Islamic state in all of historic Palestine (comprising present-day Israel, the West Bank and Gaza), and included anti-Semitic (anti-Jewish) rhetoric.

Three State Solution – Part 2 – Protectorate

Steven Teplitsky

In a previous post, titled “The 4000 Year History of Gaza”, I suggested that we think out of the box. Specifically, we no longer consider a One-State Solution which would be demographic suicide, or even a Two-State Solution which only the external players want. Neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis are in favor of this “solution”. Otherwise it would be a reality today.

My proposal for a Three-State Solution calls for The State of Israel in a modified post-1967 border (not pre-1967) that includes the major settlement blocs. It calls for a totally de-militarized State of Gaza and a totally de-militarized State of West Bank Palestine. The State of Gaza would have links to Egypt and The State of West Bank Palestine would have links to Jordan (or what used to be called Trans-Jordan before the 1948 war). Both de-militarized states would be supervised and all states would have their security guaranteed by a consortium of stakeholders such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, United States, The UK, and France.

The United Nations and its Agencies would not be permitted in the area.

Could this be feasible?

I believe so. But only if we are willing to view the Middle East in a different light.

Let us examine the geo-political term “Protectorate”.

According to the National Museum of American Diplomacy, “A Protectorate is an autonomous territory that is protected diplomatically or militarily against third parties by a stronger state or entity. The protectorate retains formal sovereignty and remains a state under international law, but in exchange for this, they usually accept specified obligations that vary depending on the nature of their relationship.”

The Gaza War Has Convinced Russia It Was Right All Along

Nikita Smagin

The conflict in the Middle East is the perfect crisis for Russia, which is reaping a whole host of political benefits. The confrontation between Israel and Hamas has not only boosted the Kremlin’s hopes of changing the mood around the war in Ukraine, but also strengthened its belief that the Western-centric system of international relations is breaking down.

The full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 put an end to most internal Western disagreements when it came to Russia, uniting countries on both sides of the Atlantic. But the Israel-Hamas war has seen divisions resurface at a state level: while the United States insists Israel has a right to self-defense, there have been bitter disagreements between European countries about what position the European Union should take.

There are also societal divides, with protests by opponents and supporters of Israel taking place regularly from Washington to Stockholm. Even state agencies are not immune to these differing views, with media reports of widespread discontent among U.S. officials with the White House’s pro-Israel stance.

Against this backdrop, the war in Ukraine has slipped down the agenda. The United States has said it will provide help to both Israel and Ukraine. But how long can it really be fully engaged in two major conflicts? Moscow’s hopes that the West will eventually tire of providing open-ended support for Kyiv have never looked so justified.

In addition, Washington’s pro-Israel stance undermines the legitimacy of the West’s broader reasons for supporting Ukraine in the eyes of many in the Global South. The moral argument against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine now looks like empty words, particularly in Middle East nations.

Five challenges Israel will face in a post-war Gaza Strip


What lies ahead for the Gaza Strip the day after the war? It is clear what does not. There can be no Hamas, no terrorist military capabilities, and no education for the destruction of Israel.

The widening gap between Israel and its allies

The first challenge that Israel faces is the widening gap between Israel’s perception of the day after and that of its allies and potential partners who see control of Gaza passing into Palestinian hands while Israel withdraws from all of the Gaza Strip, back to the borders of October 7.

In Israel, top priority is given to security considerations, with an emphasis on effective control of the Philadelphi Route along the Gaza-Egypt border to prevent Hamas from regaining its strength. Israel also seeks to establish a buffer zone and continue its efforts toward the complete demilitarization of the Gaza Strip. In practice, there will be no full withdrawal. Therefore, it would be ideal to reach an agreement on the security framework within the Gaza Strip even before the intensive battles cease.

Gaza may descend into political chaos

The second challenge involves the transition period from high-intensity conflict to the phase in which a permanent arrangement will come into effect. Anticipating and addressing this transition period is necessary at the present time; we cannot wait for the results of the military campaign.

China is backing opposing sides in Myanmar’s civil war


When myanmar’s junta toppled the country’s elected government and seized power in February 2021, China called it a “major cabinet reshuffle”. After that bloody coup sparked a civil war, in which thousands have been killed, almost two million displaced and the generals’ crimes against humanity have mounted, China stood by the generals. It has condemned Western sanctions on Myanmar’s army as “exacerbating tensions”. As Myanmar’s largest trading partner, China has sold the junta over $250m in arms. Yet in late October China appeared to reconsider its interests in its war-ravaged neighbour.

This was illustrated by a major offensive against the army in northern Myanmar carried out by a coalition of ethnically based militias, known as the Three Brotherhood Alliance, which has links to China’s security services. Operating close to the border with China, in an unruly jungle area informally considered part of China’s sphere of influence in Myanmar, the alliance swiftly became the biggest security challenge to the junta yet. With no discouragement from China—and even modest help, Burmese analysts allege—its forces claim to have seized over 200 army bases and four border crossings that are vital for trade with China.

Storm Clouds Loom For Taiwan

Andrew Shirley

With China escalating its military aggression in the South Pacific, domestic political turmoil throughout the West, and pivotal Taiwanese elections next month, Beijing may see a golden opportunity to make its move on Taiwan.

Last week, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry announced that a Chinese naval fleet had been spotted sailing through the Taiwan Strait – an unusually aggressive move by Beijing. A week prior, Taiwanese officials also said that China had conducted a rare night mission over the contested waters.

China has long asserted complete sovereignty over the strait, a claim disputed by Taiwan and the United States. While the Chinese ships and planes remained on their side of the boundary line established by the U.S., it nonetheless marked another escalation of Chinese displays of force.

The military maneuvers sent a wave of unease across Taiwan less than a month before the island nation is set to hold presidential and parliamentary elections.

Taiwanese officials have repeatedly warned that Beijing is engaged in multiple efforts to influence the outcome of the contests, including both overt military threats like sending its navy within sight of the Taiwanese coastline and sowing confusion and discord among Taiwanese voters through online propaganda campaigns.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who was confirmed to an unprecedented third five-year term earlier this year, has made reunification with Taiwan, which broke away from Mainland China in 1949, a top priority. In September, Xi described “complete reunification” as “inevitable” and hinted at possible military action.

China opens fire on Lockheed for arming up Taiwan


China has vowed to sanction Lockheed Martin, the world’s and America’s largest defense contractor, for a fifth time after Washington approved on December 16 a US$300 million arms deal that will link Taiwan’s tactical information system with that of NATO allies.

The new system will help improve Taiwan’s command, control, communications and computer (C4) capabilities and enhance operational readiness to meet current and future threats, according to the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

The arms sale was the 12th to Taiwan since US President Joe Biden took office in January 2021.

Beijing has fired four rounds of countermeasures against Lockheed since July 2020, including placing it on an “unreliable entities list,” ordering the defense firm to pay fines equivalent to twice the amount of its arms sales to Taiwan in recent years, and banning the company’s executives and staff from entering China.

Taiwan to 'Handle' Chinese Balloons Based on Threat Level

Taiwan will "handle" Chinese balloons flying nearby based on threat assessments, though officials believe the current wave is for weather purposes, driven by the prevailing winds at this time of year, the defense ministry in Taipei said on Wednesday.

The potential for China to use balloons for spying became a global issue in February when the United States shot down what it said was a Chinese surveillance balloon. China said the balloon was a civilian craft that accidentally drifted astray.

Taiwan is on high alert for Chinese activities, both military and political, ahead of Jan. 13 presidential and parliamentary elections. Taipei has warned that Beijing may try to interfere to get voters to pick candidates China may prefer.

Taiwan's defense ministry has so far this month reported four instances of Chinese balloons flying over the sensitive Taiwan Strait, then crossing airspace to the island's north before vanishing.

Speaking to reporters, defense ministry spokesman Sun Li-fang said that from October to March Chinese balloons are more regularly spotted due to the winds at that time of year.

"Generally speaking, most of the ones we have spotted so far are weather balloons," he said. "They are from mainland China, and not necessarily from the People's Liberation Army." The ministry will "handle" Chinese balloons depending on the threat assessment level, but what exactly that entails is secret, Sun added.

China Warns US Ally About Its 'Red Line'

Micah McCartney

China has warned the neighboring Philippines its patience is limited as the Southeast Asian country continues its efforts to push back against Chinese activity within its exclusive economic zone.

Manila has disregarded Chinese goodwill and restraint and "repeatedly challenged China's principles and red line," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at Monday's regular press conference.

The two countries are locked in a territorial dispute in the South China Sea. Half a dozen countries, including the Philippines, contest China's claim over most of the energy-rich sea. Washington has recently reiterated that an attack on Philippine ships or aircraft anywhere would trigger its Mutual Defense Treaty with Manila. This follows several clashes between Philippine forces and China's coast guard and maritime militia ships.

"Over the past few months, it has been the Philippines who is breaching the common understandings with China and heightening tensions in the South China Sea," Wang said.

Wang faulted the Philippines for trying to rally "external forces" to join it in piling on pressure on China. He also accused the country of trying to change the status quo at the Spratly Islands' Second Thomas Shoal through its regular supply missions to the BRP Sierra Madre, a warship deliberately grounded there to stake Manila's claim.

China says the 1999 marooning of the Sierra Madre, where a contingent of Philippine troops is stationed, is illegal. In 2016, an international arbitral tribunal took no stance on the sovereignty of the unoccupied atoll but supported Manila's right to underwater resources within the Philippines' 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone.

Game-On With China! US To Restore Tinian Airfield Once Home To Largest B-29 Bomber Fleet During WWII

Ashish Dangwal

The US military is poised to achieve significant progress in restoring a World War II-era airfield on the Pacific island of Tinian in the coming months.

US Air Force General Kenneth Wilsbach shared this development in a discussion with Asia Nikkei, revealing that the military branch is increasing construction efforts at Tinian North Airfield and Tinian International Airfield.

This effort is a crucial component of a broader initiative to disperse aircraft strategically across the Indo-Pacific region, responding to the escalating missile threat posed by China.

“If you pay attention in the next few months, you will see significant progress, especially at Tinian North,” Wilsbach said. During World War II, the Tinian North Airfield served as the operational base for the largest B-29 bomber fleet.

Describing the airfield as having extensive pavement hidden beneath an overgrown jungle, he revealed plans to clear the jungle between now and summertime. The goal is to transform the site into a comprehensive facility upon completion.

B-29s line the taxiways at North Field.

Tinian, positioned approximately 200 kilometers north of Guam within the Northern Mariana Islands, is undergoing a revitalization in line with the US Air Force’s operational strategy, Agile Combat Employment.

A $2M missile vs. a $2,000 drone: Pentagon worried over cost of Houthi attacks


As American warships rack up kills against Houthi drones and missiles in the Red Sea, Pentagon officials are increasingly alarmed not just at the threat to U.S. naval forces and international shipping — but at the growing cost of keeping them safe.

U.S. Navy destroyers have shot down 38 drones and multiple missiles in the Red Sea over the past two months, according to a Defense Department official, as the Iran-backed militants have stepped up attacks on commercial vessels moving energy and oil through the world’s most vital shipping lanes. On Saturday alone, the destroyer USS Carney intercepted 14 one-way attack drones.

Houthi leaders have said the attacks are a show of support for the Palestinians, and that they won’t stop until Israel halts its operations in Gaza. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Monday announced a new international maritime coalition to safeguard shipping and counter the attacks.

The cost of using expensive naval missiles — which can run up to $2.1 million a shot — to destroy unsophisticated Houthi drones — estimated at a few thousand dollars each — is a growing concern, according to three other DOD officials. The officials, like others interviewed for this story, were granted anonymity to describe sensitive operations and internal deliberations.

Experts say this is an issue that needs to be addressed, and urge DOD to start looking at lower-cost options for air defense.

The U.S. Military Needs to Build Arctic Capabilities and Capacity

Scott Savitz & Abbie Tingstad

The U.S. needs to better secure its Arctic territories and waters, while working more with its allies to better secure theirs. Although the Arctic has been relatively peaceful since the end of the Cold War—a recurring mantra has been “high latitude, low tensions”—U.S. military forces need to be prepared for unexpected conflicts that can erupt quickly, like Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and Hamas’ devastating attack on Israel.

The U.S. military’s ability to operate effectively in the Arctic is impeded by various factors. As we described in a recent report, chief among these are the fact that it has so few assets that can operate in the region and so little infrastructure there, particularly in comparison with Russia. Increased investments in platforms, infrastructure, equipment, communications, multidomain awareness, and enhanced tactics and training would enable the U.S. to better secure its critical interests in the Arctic.

These interests span the vast Arctic region: the U.S. needs to work alongside NATO allies to secure North America’s Arctic approaches and its European allies’ long, vulnerable Arctic coastlines and borders with Russia. It also has a key interest in countering Russian submarines at the Arctic’s edge, where the gaps between Greenland, Iceland, and Britain are gateways for Russian submarines to enter the Atlantic. The U.S. also has homeland security responsibilities within its own Arctic territory and waters, where thousands of Americans live. This area also harvests roughly half of the nation’s seafood, plus substantial amounts of oil, zinc, and other resources. As sea ice abates during parts of the year, the Arctic’s maritime routes are becoming increasingly important shortcuts between oceans.

The importance of the region to overall U.S. interests is highlighted in the Implementation Plan for the National Strategy for the Arctic Region, released in October 2023, and in the 2022 National Security Strategy. It was also underscored by the U.S. Coast Guard’s publication of its Arctic Strategic Outlook Implementation Plan just a week ago. Although Coast Guard operations in the Arctic are particularly visible to civilians, the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Space Force also conduct training, exercises, and operations there.

Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Nears Its 10th Anniversary

Jim Hake

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in 2014. When I visited the front lines in Donetsk the following year, I met with Alexander Grozdkov, a Ukrainian army commander. He personally had recovered the bodies of more than 600 Ukrainian soldiers killed by Russians. In 2016 I was with Ukrainian soldiers in Chermalyk, another front-line position in the Donbas, a day after Russian artillery had killed two of their comrades.

More than 14,000 people died in the region between 2014 and 2021 thanks to Russian aggression. Moscow agreed to cease-fires in those years, but its fire never ceased. Vladimir Putin was never stopped. He launched a full-scale invasion on Feb. 24, 2022.

Since then I’ve been to Bucha, where locals are trying to overcome the horrors of mass graves and war crimes. In October 2022, I stood with a Ukrainian father in the bombed-out remains of his dining room as he showed me videos of his children playing there before Russia attacked. I spent an afternoon with a Ukrainian medic who requested we not provide ambulances marked with red crosses because that would make them bigger targets. I spoke with Ukrainian students whose village the Russians had occupied in a classroom the Russians had used for “interrogations.” The students told me how snipers had targeted them when they left their homes. Young and old, military and civilian, Ukrainians know Mr. Putin won’t stop unless he is defeated.

Russia Tried to Weaken Democrats Ahead of 2022 Midterm Vote, U.S. Spy Agencies Say

Dustin Volz

The Russian government and its proxies attempted to denigrate the Democratic Party and undermine voter confidence ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, an operation that most likely sought to weaken U.S. support for Ukraine, U.S. intelligence agencies said.

China also tacitly approved efforts to try to influence a handful of unidentified midterm races, though it refrained from favoring one party, as Beijing exhibited a greater willingness to target the U.S. with election-influence activities than it has previously, according to a newly released intelligence community assessment. Iran also was blamed for trying to undermine confidence in U.S. democracy, while other foreign governments, including Cuba, were said to have experimented with small-scale U.S. influence pushes.

The findings come amid rising concerns from U.S. officials and security experts about foreign adversaries potentially pouring ample resources into interfering in the 2024 presidential election contest eight years after Russia engineered a multipronged interference campaign to help Republican Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton, his Democratic foe in the 2016 election.

Such fears have been fanned by advances in artificial intelligence and other technologies that could be weaponized by bad actors to sow chaos and confusion in the lead-up to a likely rematch between President Biden and Trump. The former president has criticized U.S. military aid to Ukraine and claimed that, if elected again, he could broker a peace agreement between Ukraine and Russia in 24 hours.

The United States is producing more oil than any country in history

Matt Egan

As the world grapples with the existential crisis of climate change, environmental activists want President Joe Biden to phase out the oil industry, and Republicans argue he’s already doing that. Meanwhile, the surprising reality is the United States is pumping oil at a blistering pace and is on track to produce more oil than any country has in history.

The United States is set to produce a global record of 13.3 million barrels per day of crude and condensate during the fourth quarter of this year, according to a report published Tuesday by S&P Global Commodity Insights.

Last month, weekly US oil production hit 13.2 million barrels per day, according to the US Energy Information Administration. That’s just above the Donald Trump-era record of 13.1 million set in early 2020 just before the Covid-19 crisis sent output and prices crashing.

That’s been helping to keep a lid on crude and gasoline prices.

US output – led by shale oil drillers in Texas and New Mexico’s Permian Basin – is so strong that it’s sending supplies overseas. America is exporting the same amount of crude oil, refined products and natural gas liquids as Saudi Arabia or Russia produces, S&P said.

“It’s a reminder that the US is endowed with enormous oil reserves. Our industry should never be underestimated,” said Bob McNally, president of Rapidan Energy Group.

Record-shattering US production is helping to offset aggressive supply cuts meant to support high prices by OPEC+, mainly Saudi Arabia and Russia. Other non-OPEC oil producers including Canada and Brazil are also pumping more oil than ever before. (Brazil is set to join OPEC+ next year.)

Teens struggle to identify misinformation about Israel-Hamas conflict — the world's second "social media war"


Decimated neighborhoods. Injured children. Terrorized festivalgoers running for their lives. Since the brutal war between Israel and Hamas began nearly three months ago, Maddy Miller, a 17-year-old high school senior in Dallas, Texas, has been trying to make sense of the horrific scenes unfolding daily on her phone.

"I'll just open TikTok or Instagram and it's like, 'here's a clip from inside Israel or inside Palestine,'" Miller said. "Sometimes I just need to sit down for like 10 minutes and actually figure out what's happening. It's hard to know what's real and what's fake."

In February 2022, the war in Ukraine began to play out on Tik Tok and Instagram. The conflict in the Middle East is now the second war to be viewed in vivid, and often intimate, vignettes on social media, where 51% of younger Gen Z teens get their news, according to a Deloitte survey. The war between Israel and Hamas has also sparked a tidal wave of misinformation and disinformation, which is reaching American teens like Miller.

In a packed classroom at Highland Park High School, Miller and about 30 other students study media literacy, a course many teens across the United States are not required to take. Texas is one of only four states in the U.S. that mandate a media literacy curriculum in all public schools beginning in kindergarten. Fourteen other states offer some form of media literacy education or online resources to public school students.

Media literacy classes

As part of every lesson, Brandon Jackson teaches students the tools needed to spot misinformation, which is false or misleading, and disinformation, which is deliberately deceptive. He also tests his students using real-world examples of fake videos that circulate on social media.

High-tech trench warfare: 5 hard-won lessons-learned for the US from Ukraine


What high-tech weapons really work? What tactics make the difference between victory and death? There’s no test like the test of battle, and the US military has been watching the war in Ukraine with a keen and anxious eye. It’s another question whether the Pentagon bureaucracy is learning the right lessons about cheap drones, real-time intelligence-sharing and the weaponization of the Internet.

The dramatic defeats and victories of 2022 have settled in 2023 into a slow-motion meatgrinder, a conflict where cutting-edge technology combines with brutal battles of attrition over minefields and trench lines. Like the Malayan Emergency before Vietnam, the Spanish Civil War before World War II or the Russo-Japanese War before World War I, Putin’s bloody debacle in Ukraine is full of warnings for the next big conflict we all hope won’t ever come. But if it does come, the US had better have heeded at least these five lessons:

Over more than a decade of guerrilla warfare in Afghanistan and Iraq, American commanders got used to large, lavishly equipped Forward Operating Bases blessed with everything from Burger Kings to live video feeds from surveillance drones. As early as 2016, then-Chief of Army Staff Gen. Mark Milley warned such big, static targets would not last long against a well-armed foe with their own scout drones and long-range artillery. But it took Russia’s 2022 invasion of western Ukraine to drive the point home. Battlefield lessons began informing official Army doctrine and driving decisions on procurement of command, control, and communications gear.

Threat proliferation drives sharper focus on space surveillance

Robert Wall

Western armed forces are refining their thinking on space and trying to hone their situational awareness in that domain, spurred by elevated threat perceptions and the recognition of how vital such systems are.

NATO, for instance, has begun work on a space doctrine to focus more on an area that so far has been treated as just one part of the Allied Joint Doctrine for Air and Space Operations. The new doctrine is expected to be ready in 2025 and give the Alliance more focus on space.

Orbital unease

Russia’s full-scale attack on Ukraine has highlighted how much space systems can be in the crosshairs of an adversary. British and United States intelligence officials said Russia was behind a cyber attack on commercial communications satellite provider Viasat as the 2022 invasion unfolded. SpaceX last year also said that it had to adapt its Starlink space-based internet service, which is being used in Ukraine, in the face of Russian electronic attacks. During the Ukraine war, Russia has also reportedly jammed Global Positioning System signals and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) spacecraft.

Western defence planners are concerned over increasing efforts by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to use space for military purposes. Beijing has boosted investment in space systems and demonstrated interest in counterspace technology, at least as far back as a 2005 test of an anti-satellite system. The PLA ‘is developing, testing, and fielding capabilities intended to target US and allied satellites’, the Pentagon noted in a September report on space policy. The document said that these capabilities included ‘electronic warfare to suppress or deceive enemy equipment, ground-based laser systems that can disrupt, degrade, and damage satellite sensors, offensive cyberwarfare capabilities, and direct-ascent anti-satellite (DA-ASAT) missiles that can target satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO)’. The Pentagon report said that China has also deployed several experimental satellites that could be used to grapple other spacecraft. Similarly, the Pentagon’s latest annual report on Chinese military capabilities stated that Beijing ‘has an operational ground-based anti-satellite (ASAT) missile intended to target low-Earth orbit satellites, and China probably intends to pursue additional ASAT weapons capable of destroying satellites up to geosynchronous Earth orbit’.

Beyond the Neutral Card: From Civil-Military Relations to Military Politics

Thomas Crosbie & Anders Klitmøller

How should senior military officers in democratic states influence their domestic political environments? The flippant answer is that they should not; they should do as they’re told. The American civil-military relations literature, written largely in the shadow of Samuel P. Huntington’s myth of an apolitical military, has consistently downplayed the positive role officers play in politics, to such a degree that we have only a dim outline of what constitutes appropriate and effective political influence by officers Thus, in practice, we fear that too many officers find their professional military education fails to prepare them for the realities of being a commander. They discover to their chagrin that there is no neutral ground available; even doing nothing is a willful political act, rife with significance, which is easily turned against them. We do not believe that officers can remove themselves from politics by “playing the neutral card.” Apolitical neutrality often seems prudent from a traditional perspective, but can fail spectacularly when applied in practice. We argue instead for a new theoretical posture, for soldiers and scholars alike, that foregrounds the political agency of officers. We call this the military politics approach.

General Mark Milley with President Trump as he departs the White House en route to St. John's Church. 

Mark Milley and the Neutral Card

The fundamental problem with playing the neutral card was underscored when President Donald Trump told Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley to join him for a short walk (which ended up taking them to Lafayette Square).[1] When told to come, Milley played the neutral card and went. One week later Milley reflected, “My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics.”[2]

Make no mistake: The EU’s war on X is a war on free speech

Laurie Wastell

After months of potshots, the EU’s war with Twitter / X has now officially begun.

On Monday, Brussels opened formal proceedings against Elon Musk’s social-media giant, its first under its new internet-regulation law, the Digital Services Act (DSA).

The probe will focus on X’s suspected non-compliance with DSA obligations to remove illegal content on the site in the EU. “We will make full use of our toolbox to protect our citizens and democracies”, said Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market, the EU’s self-proclaimed “digital enforcer”.

The DSA, which came into force in August, obliges large online platforms like X, Meta, and YouTube to swiftly take down illegal content, hate speech, and so-called disinformation. And the law has teeth: firms that fail to comply can be fined up to 6 per cent of their annual global revenue and potentially even have their licence to operate in the EU revoked.

X under Elon Musk, which has a free-speech ethos quite unlike previous regimes and unlike other social-media giants, has long been in the European Commission’s crosshairs.

In September, Brussels singled out X for allegedly having an especially high level of disinformation compared with other sites. The following month, it launched an investigation into X over alleged disinformation following October 7 and the Hamas-Israel conflict.

After analysing X’s DSA transparency report last month, the Commission is calling for further access to internal X data for its investigation. The probe will also investigate a suspected “deceptive design” in the user interface regarding the blue tick, available through a premium X subscription.

Tru-Don’t: Canada Shows What Not To Do on Tech Policy

Adam Kovacevich
Source Link

When Canadian illustrator Chelsea O'Bryne told Politico that a recently passed piece of tech legislation was "going to make it virtually impossible for freelancers like me to continue finding new clients while residing in Canada," it would have been a fair assumption that she was criticizing protectionist American legislation preferencing U.S. industry over Canadians like her.

Instead, the call was coming from inside the house. O'Bryne was railing against a key part of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s technology policy agenda – a plan that is wreaking havoc on Canadians and the country's relationships with the rest of the world

The Online News Act (C-18) requires digital platforms to pay news outlets whenever a link or content is shared over their site. When a Canadian user shares a Toronto Star article with their friends on Facebook, the new law would require Facebook to pay the Toronto Star. That might sound good for news - but in reality, it’s a disaster for outlets and creators, as online platforms have begun cutting costly news content.

But the Online News Act is just one of several tech policy stumbles that Trudeau has made this year. The Prime Minister’s recently proposed Digital Service Tax (DST), a levy on certain digital services provided by multinational tech companies, is threatening to muck up a yearslong, international effort to fairly tax online platforms, potentially sparking a trade war that would lead to higher prices and even fewer choices for Canadians.

Canada's DST attempts to unilaterally tax international digital firms instead of working within a global procedure led by the OECD to fairly tax digital services across the world. As the U.S. Chamber of Commerce explained in a warning letter to the Canadian Department of Finance, the unmitigated double taxation of U.S. companies created by the DST would have real-world costs including "retaliatory measures" from the Biden Administration or even a trade war that would increase costs for American and Canadian goods of all kinds.

Unpacking the Concept of Digital Public Infrastructure and Its Importance for Global Development

Romina Bandura, Madeleine McLean and Sarosh Sultan

Digital transformation is accelerating worldwide, and there are several emerging concepts and terms describing these new trends. One such new construct is digital public infrastructure (DPI). In September 2023, the UN secretary-general selected DPI as one of 12 high-impact initiatives with the potential to accelerate Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with commitments from 100 countries. As countries continue their digital transformation journeys, investing in DPI can become a crucial tool to improve overall well-being and quality of life.

Q1: What is DPI?

A1: DPI is the foundation of digitization and the enabling system that allows digital services to be provided to citizens and the private sector. The internet and GPS are some of the earliest examples of DPI. In that sense, DPI is nothing new, but all these existing systems have remained largely siloed. New forms of DPI can unlock innovation that crosses different sectors.

DPI takes on many different definitions, but all share the same core principles of trust, safety, interoperability, inclusion, and accessibility. The G20, in the 2023 Digital Economy Ministers Meeting Outcome document, recognizes DPI as “shared digital systems that should be secure and interoperable, and can be built on open standards and specifications to deliver and provide equitable access to public and or private services at societal scale and are governed by applicable legal frameworks and enabling rules to drive development, inclusion, innovation, trust, and competition and respect human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

10 of the most advanced military robots in the world

Paul Ratner

In the iconic film “The Terminator” AI, armed with killer robots, takes over the world in 2029 — just a few years in the future from now. How close are we to that fictional reality? While we seem to be closer to creating our version of the AI-powered SkyNet, the military is also on track to develop some amazing robots.

The army is already using automated machines for a variety of purposes -- from transportation, training, search and rescue, to clearing mines, fighting fire, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

Most commonly, military robots can be broken down into three types: Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGV), Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), and Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUV).

Here are some of the most advanced military robots at this time (that we know about):

1. MQ-28 Ghost Bat

Manufactured in Australia by Boeing, the MQ-28 Ghost Bat UAV is a wingman drone that’s 38 feet long and can fly for over 2,000 nautical miles. Equipped with a variety of sensors, the Ghost Bat supports reconnaissance, surveillance, and intelligence missions, utilizing AI for independent flight.

Described as a “force multiplier,” it can also be used in conjunction with crewed aircraft. The U.S. Air Force interested in the Ghost Bat as it looks to create a fleet of 1,000 drones, or CCAs (“collaborative combat aircraft”), flying next to fighter jets in battle.