4 January 2024

Hawks pushing for more fronts in Israeli military operations


A recent essay from Israeli writer Gadi Taub in Tablet makes clear that Israel’s war in Gaza is not its last. Israel is going “to shed its defensive strategy and go on the offensive.” That means taking out Hezbollah and then taking on “a multifaceted struggle against Iran over its drive for regional hegemony and its nuclear weapons program.”

Taub, whose hawkish views in many ways reflect the vital center of Israel opinion, sees the Biden administration as following a longstanding Democratic policy of appeasing Iran. In sharp contrast to Henry Kissinger, whose 1970s diplomacy he lauds, Taub finds Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s policy to be a disaster. “By empowering the Iranians, Blinken’s policy will inevitably also further the penetration of the region by Iran’s patrons, the Russians and the Chinese, at America’s expense. Kissinger’s policy was focused on pushing America’s great power rivals out. American policy today is inviting them in.”

The Dream Palace of the Israelis

The most extraordinary feature of Taub’s essay is its unreal portrait of the regional forces arrayed for and against Israel. Iran, Taub writes, “is at war with the old American regional alliance system — which includes Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. But Secretary Blinken and President Biden are appeasing the new radicals, not containing them.”

In this imaginary tableau, shared by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel is in an unspoken but deep alliance with the Sunni Arab states, who want to see Hamas crushed and Iran and its proxies relentlessly attacked. What these rulers say in public, so the story goes, is miles apart from what they say in private. In public, of course, Arab leaders are breathing fire about Israel’s mad amplification of the Dahiya Doctrine in Gaza. In private, these Arab leaders are reportedly telling U.S. and Israeli insiders (but seemingly no one else) that they heartily approve Israeli’s operations.

What Israel's Partial Withdrawal Means for Future of Gaza War

Nick Mordowanec

The Israel military is shifting the deployment of personnel out of the Gaza Strip, potentially in preparation for a wider regional war in the weeks and months to come.

On Monday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced that thousands of troops would be redeployed and that some reservists from at least two brigades would return home to their families and jobs as soon as this week. Soldiers that belong to three other brigades will return to scheduled training, marking the largest troop drawback since Israel was attacked by Hamas nearly three months ago.

After Hamas launched on October 7 the deadliest Palestinian militant attack in Israel's history, the country unleashed its heaviest-ever airstrikes on Gaza. Israeli officials have said that 1,200 people were killed in Hamas' assault, according to the Associated Press, while the Gaza Ministry of Health says more than 21,900 Palestinians have died in the conflict.

Speaking of the troop drawdown, the IDF told Newsweek on Monday, "This move is expected to significantly alleviate economic burdens and enable them to gather strength for upcoming activities in the next year, as the fighting will persist and their services will still be needed."

The IDF spokesperson added: "These adaptations aim to ensure effective planning and preparation for the continuation of operations in 2024. The IDF recognizes the need to plan ahead, anticipating additional tasks and warfare throughout the year."

Israeli soldiers organize tank shells after returning from the Gaza Strip on Monday. The military has announced its biggest troop drawback since the October 7 attack by Hamas.

Israel said that more than 8,000 Hamas militants have been killed, according to the AP, but has not provided evidence. The nation blames Hamas for the high civilian death toll and turmoil in the region. Approximately 85 percent of Gaza's 2.3 million residents have been displaced.

Israeli Military Signals New Phase In Gaza Offensive

Israel signaled a new phase in its offensive in the Gaza Strip by announcing Monday it will be reducing the number of its soldiers in Gaza while pursuing more targeted operations against Hamas in the enclave.

A statement by the Israel Defense Forces said the soldiers’ withdrawal is expected to “significantly alleviate economic burdens” and allow the troops “to gather strength for upcoming activities in the next year, as the fighting will persist, and their services will still be needed.”

Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said the war is expected to continue. The objectives of the war “require prolonged fighting” he said Sunday.

Israel also pulled tanks out of some Gaza districts, according to residents there.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said at a news briefing Monday that some of the Israeli communities north of the Gaza Strip that were evacuated in the wake of the October 7 attack by Hamas will be able to return soon as military operations progress.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy announced that the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier was returning to its home port in Virginia after being deployed to the Eastern Mediterranean following the outbreak of hostilities.

Israel has been under pressure from the United States, its top ally, to shift to lower-intensity operations in Gaza and to protect Palestinian civilians.

Fighting rages on

Despite Israel’s shift in military operations, fighting rages on in the enclave. Hamas militants in Gaza fired a barrage of rockets Monday, prompting air raid sirens to sound across Israel.

There were no reports of damage or casualties from the rockets, which Hamas has continued to use to target Israel as Israeli forces carry out an offensive to eliminate Hamas in Gaza.

Terrorist Financing: Hamas And Cryptocurrency Fundraising – Analysis

Liana W. Rosen, Paul Tierno and Rena S. Miller

Policymakers, including some Members of Congress, are scrutinizing U.S. efforts to counter the role that cryptocurrency fundraising plays in the financing of terrorism. A key question for Congress is whether further regulation of the virtual asset sector and/or the introduction of additional countermeasures are necessary to prevent terrorist financing.

The issue has attracted congressional attention in the wake of the October 7, 2023, attacks on Israel perpetrated by Hamas—an Iran-supported Palestinian group identified by the United States and some others as a terrorist organization subject to sanctions. U.S. government reports indicate that Hamas has sought cryptocurrency through donation drives since at least 2019.

Role of Cryptocurrency Donations in Hamas Fundraising Campaigns

Although Hamas has reportedly solicited cryptocurrency donations, the scale and effectiveness of these efforts remain unclear. Citing two cryptocurrency analytics firms and Israeli government seizure orders, the Wall Street Journal reported on October 10, 2023, that cryptocurrency wallets connected to Hamas received about $41 million between 2020 and 2023 and that wallets connected to another U.S.-designated terrorist organization, the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ), received as much as $93 million over a similar period.

Some observers have questioned whether such figures overestimate the amount Hamas received and note the role of other, larger funding sources that sustain Hamas (e.g., the Iranian government, extortion and de facto taxation in Gaza, foreign investments, and charities).


In 2019, Hamas engaged in a cryptocurrency donation campaign that led to the U.S. seizure of several websites and 150 cryptocurrency accounts linked to the armed wing of Hamas, the Izz al Din al Qassam Brigades, in 2020. In connection with these enforcement actions, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) charged two foreign nationals for money laundering crimes related to their involvement in converting cryptocurrency into other forms of value. DOJ also prosecuted an individual for concealing material support to Hamas, including through Bitcoin. U.S. enforcement actions in 2023 revealed that Qassam Brigades used Binance, a cryptocurrency exchange, to facilitate cryptocurrency transactions since as early as 2019.

Women’s Rights In Afghanistan Under Taliban 2.0: Strategies For A Sustainable Change – Analysis

Ekampreet Kaur, Ratnadeep Chakraborty, and Dr. Shanthie Mariet D’Souza

Upon capturing power in 2021, the Taliban swiftly implemented regressive policies, particularly curtailing rights of women and girls, which have had profound implications, particularly in the realm of education and employment. Despite initial optimism for collaboration and projection of reformed (moderate) Taliban to seek recognition and legitimacy from the international community, promises to reopen secondary schools for girls were reneged upon. It, at one level, revealed the international community’s inability to moderate the Taliban’s position. The Taliban’s discriminatory approach manifested early on, with the opening of secondary schools exclusively for boys, starkly contrasting with the silence on girls in the Ministry of Education’s official statement on 18 September 2021. This marked the beginning of the imposition of a series of restrictions, exemplified by the directive for female employees of the Kabul city administration to stay at home unless their roles could not be fulfilled by men.

In May 2022, a significant turning point occurred with the imposition of new dress codes for women, endorsed by Taliban leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada. This shift in women’s attire led to a noticeable increase in disappearances from public life, exacerbating economic hardships and fostering a rise in early marriages among women deprived of educational and employment opportunities. By the end of 2023, women faced ban from universities, public spaces such as NGO work and even beauty salons, as the Taliban’s severe restrictions had reversed all achievements over the last two decades. Eroding the rights of women and girls not only suppresses half of the population but also undermines the Taliban’s attempts at economic recovery in the aftermath of war.

The existing humanitarian crisis, compounded by a political and women’s rights crisis, is grave, if not unparalleled. To add to context, approximately 23 per cent of Afghans in urgent need of humanitarian aid are women, and more than 80 per cent of secondary school-age Afghan girls and young women are out of school, including more than 100,000 female university students. The Taliban’s ban on secondary education for girls has led to a decline in their attendance in all Afghan provinces, including Kabul, where there has been a 63 per cent decrease. This marks a significant erosion of two decades of progress in attendance rates. Further, this fosters a widespread feeling of despair among women and girls in Afghanistan, coinciding with an increase in instances of suicidal tendencies among girls.

Why Pakistan Is Deporting Afghan Migrants

Megan Fahrney

Pakistan’s announcement in October 2023 that it would expel all unregistered migrants has sparked fears among the country’s nearly two million undocumented Afghans that they will be deported back to dangerous conditions. Pakistan says the measure is necessary to stem the growing influence of terrorist groups operating in its border region, but critics, including both the United States and Afghanistan’s Taliban government, warn it could lead to further radicalization.

What is Pakistan’s deportation policy?

The deportation order applies to all “unregistered foreigners” remaining in Pakistan as of November 1, 2023. Afghan citizens are most directly affected: more than 4 million reside in Pakistan, and an estimated 1.7 million are undocumented. Many have lived there for decades, having fled Afghanistan in the 1980s during the country’s occupation by the Soviet Union. Smaller numbers of undocumented Somalians and Yemenis living in Pakistan are also threatened by this new policy.

To carry out the policy, Pakistan’s government has had to hastily create forty-nine new deportation centers, and conditions there are reportedly grim. Some 15,000 Afghans are crossing the border daily and an estimated 450,000 have already left. Pakistani officials have offered assurance that Afghan residents with legal documentation will not be expelled, but there have been reports that some have been targeted anyway. This has led many legal residents to preemptively flee the country, fearing intimidation by Pakistani authorities and eviction by landlords. Meanwhile, the country’s Supreme Court has begun hearings challenging the order.

Why is Pakistan deporting migrants?

Islamabad says the policy is mainly designed to fight terrorism. The disputed Pakistan-Afghanistan border, also known as the “Durand Line” after the British diplomat who negotiated it, has been home to an array of extremist groups for decades.

In A War Without Precedent, Is Myanmar’s Military Headed For Defeat? – OpEd

Ramar Kyaw Saw

It is fair to say Myanmar’s political stage has been turned upside down. The Myanmar military’s political ploys are no longer effective, and the regime is short of ideas on how to create a new political landscape. The junta’s attempt to use the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) and a new election as a way out of the current political crisis seems to have failed.

Military dictators never really try to solve the problems facing the countries they claim to lead. They only care about maintaining their grip on power. With support from China, successive military dictators did as they pleased in Myanmar. China and Russia have also provided diplomatic support on the international stage. Today, however, it appears that Beijing only cares about its national interests, neglecting the Myanmar military.

Given the fact that the regime has lost one town after another along the Chinese border, it is obvious that China has turned a blind eye to the fighting in northern Shan State. The regime has also been shunned by the majority of fellow members in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). But the junta leaders are still too stubborn to accept the reality.

So-called nationalists, who are stooges of the regime, staged anti-China protests in downtown Yangon and outside the Chinese Embassy last month, accusing Beijing of selling weapons to ethnic armed organisations. It was the first protest against China since the 2021 coup, and came after junta forces suffered heavy losses in attacks involving China-made drones in northern and central Myanmar. The protest is a tacit admission that the Myanmar military is struggling on the battlefield.

Myanmar’s border trade with China is halted as the regime has lost control of border towns, and the junta’s income has been slashed as a result. It has vented its anger on civilians, imposing draconian travel restrictions. The regime has used travel restrictions as a strategy to curb resistance attacks, but family members of junta personnel are suffering from sky-high commodity prices too.

China: Former Navy Commander Appointed New Defense Minister

Chinese lawmakers last Friday approved the appointment of Adm. Dong Jun, the former commander of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) to the position of defense minister, state Xinhua news agency said.

The decision was passed at the closing meeting of the 7th session of the Standing Committee of the 14th National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature.

The defense minister’s post had been vacant since October, when Chinese leader Xi Jinping signed a presidential decree removing Li Shangfu as Minister of National Defense. Li was also ousted from the State Council, or the central government of China.

No reasons were given for the removal of Li, who became defense minister and state councillor just seven months prior and had been missing from public view since Aug. 29.

Reuters, citing several people in direct contact with the Chinese military, reported in September that Li was under investigation by Chinese authorities in connection with the procurement of military equipment.

Military career

Dong was born in 1961 in Shandong province. He joined the PLAN in 1978 and was promoted to the rank of admiral in 2021.

Dong left his post as PLAN commander earlier this week. His successor is Adm. Hu Zhongming, who until December 2023 held the position of the navy’s chief of staff.

Hu’s appointment was seen by analysts as an indication of China’s increasing focus on maritime affairs, especially in the disputed South China Sea.

Dong has not yet been appointed to the state council or to the Central Military Commission but those appointments could be made in the coming months. China’s defense ministers normally serve on all three fronts – the military, the Communist Party’s military commission and the cabinet.

Houthis Vow Revenge For US Navy Red Sea Killings

Saeed Al-Batati

Yemen’s Houthis have threatened to turn the Red Sea into hell for the US in response to American marines killing 10 fighters on Sunday.

The official Houthi news agency ran an editorial under the headline “America has opened the door to hell for itself” on Monday, vowing vengeance for US Navy attacks on their boats in the Red Sea, accusing the US of supporting Israel’s heavy bombardment of Gaza by preventing them from imposing their ban on Israel-linked ships sailing through the Red Sea.

The news agency said that the US Navy performed “a foolish act by targeting three boats, as a result of which ten members of the Yemeni naval forces martyred, thus opening the door of hell upon itself, its ships, and its military bases in the region.”

The US Navy destroyed three of four Houthi boats in the Red Sea on Sunday, killing the crews after they tried to hijack a commercial ship and opened fire on the helicopters.

According to the Houthis, 10 of their men were killed in the US Navy attack.

Houthi leader Mohammed Al-Bukhaiti said the group would attack the US ships that killed their troops and would continue to prohibit ships traveling to Israel from crossing the Red Sea.

“This is an attack on Yemen, and there must be retaliation, and America must suffer the repercussions of this attack and crime,” Al-Bukhaiti told France 24 Arabic TV on Sunday night.

On Nov. 19, the Houthis launched their Red Sea attacks by hijacking a commercial ship called Galaxy Leader and rerouting it to the coast of Yemen’s western city of Hodeidah.

In the days that followed, they launched drones and ballistic missiles at commercial and navy ships to force them to avoid the Red Sea.

The Monster Returns: Stalin Looms Large Over Putin’s Russia – Analysis

Robert Coalson

In the second-largest city in Russia’s Tatarstan region, Naberezhnye Chelny, there is an unusual statue of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin on the grounds of an unlicensed private school.

Seated casually on a bench, the figure of Stalin leans into a conversation, inviting passersby to sit down and engage with him. By his posture and gesture, the tyrant seems simultaneously to be listening thoughtfully and patiently explaining something – a stark contrast to the brutal reality of his rule.

More than 100 monuments to Stalin can now be found across Russia, the majority of them erected over President Vladimir Putin’s 24 years in power. But the one in Naberezhnye Chelny may come closest to capturing the country’s paradoxical and ongoing interaction with a man who died 70 years ago but whose legacy continues to touch and even shape the lives of so many of its citizens. And key parts of that legacy are being manipulated by Putin’s Kremlin as it advances a statist, nationalist, militarized vision of Russia that many analysts say is effectively, if not ideologically, “neo-Stalinist.”

“In Russia today, ‘Lenin’ is just a figure in the mausoleum and in museums and nothing more,” wrote Leonid Nevzlin, a businessman who fled Russia for Israel in 2003 amid Putin’s takeover of the oil giant Yukos, in a 2020 essay for RFE/RL’s Russian Service.

“‘Stalin’ is our everyday reality. The Putin regime has a completely defined relationship to Stalin, to Stalinists, to Stalinism. This relationship is primarily tied to the roots of the regime. The KGB [and other Soviet security agencies] cannot be against ‘Stalin’ as an idea and as a practice. Stalin is their patron, their fate, and their biography.

“‘Stalin’ is a special operation under which the population is being drawn into the process of Stalinization and being recruited to become neo-Stalinists,” he wrote. “In the cultural-psychological sense, we remain a Stalinist society.”

The world should fear 2024


When asked in 2020 to envisage the world after Covid, Michel Houellebecq proclaimed, accurately enough, that “it will be the same, just a bit worse”. It does not take a soothsayer to foresee that the same will hold true for this coming year. The year 2023 saw the greatest global resurgence of armed conflict since 1945: 2024 will be worse. We are living, if not through a World War, then a world at war, the great post-globalisation jostling to divide up the spoils of what was once America’s unipolar imperium. This will be as epoch-defining a period as the late Forties were for Britain, or 1991 for Russia.

Unlike the two World Wars, the rival great powers are not challenging the superpower directly — at least, not yet. Instead, American hegemony is being challenged obliquely, as its rivals nibble at the edges of empire, targeting weaker client states in the confidence that the United States now possesses neither the logistical capacity nor the domestic political stability necessary to impose its order on the world. In the Nineties and 2000s, at the height of its unipolar moment, the United States made almost all the world its client state, writing cheques for their security it now struggles to cash: like bankruptcy, decline comes slowly at first, then all at once. The overriding theme of 2024 then, like 2023, will be that of imperial overstretch precipitating retreat from global dominance. From the Red Sea to the Donbas, the jungles of South America to the Far East, America’s security establishment finds itself struggling to contain local blazes that threaten to become a great conflagration.

Yet bad as things are, they could always be worse. We perhaps too easily forget that only six months ago, in the immediate wake of Prigozhin’s dramatic and unexpected rebellion, Russia’s security establishment was engaged in vigorous and public discussion over whether it was necessary to conduct a nuclear strike either in Ukraine, as a warning against the West, or against the West itself. So endemic has the sense of crisis, both globally and domestically, become that the most dangerous nuclear escalation since the Cold War went largely unremarked. We should be grateful that this moment passed, yet the fact it did pass is itself evidence of America’s weakening global position. The brief episode of nuclear anxiety came at a time when Putin’s Kremlin faced both an unprecedented internal threat and the risk of battlefield defeat, on the brink of Ukraine’s much-anticipated summer offensive. But the offensive, as we now know, faltered into a costly defeat for Ukraine, upturning the expected outcome of the war. For our now-lowered risk of nuclear war, Kyiv will pay a heavy price.

10 Key Questions for the World in 2024

Tom Nagorski

As The Messenger looks to 2024 and what to watch for beyond America’s shores, here are 10 key questions for the year ahead. The answers may determine what sort of year the world has in store.

Will the Ukraine stalemate be broken?

President Joe Biden meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the Oval Office of the White House.

Ukraine had a rough 2023. A much-anticipated counteroffensive fizzled, U.S. and allied support frayed and the usually optimistic-sounding Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy now says the country needs hundreds of thousands more troops, billions more dollars in foreign assistance, and that the war in Gaza has sapped support for the Ukrainian cause. And the year's last days, Russia unleashed one of its biggest aerial assaults of the war, piercing Ukrainian air defenses and killing at least 39 people.

Ukraine may be hard-pressed to change the game on the battlefield anytime soon. The key things to watch for will be any breakthroughs in Washington and Brussels over a resumption of aid, Ukraine’s ability to ramp up domestic production of desperately needed ammunition and its success at stealth attacks in Crimea or other Russian-held territories, to keep the Russians off-balance.

But as the war nears its two-year mark (the anniversary is February 24), analysts believe “stalemate” might be the operative word. With that in mind, the U.S. has advised Ukraine to pursue a “hold and build” strategy in 2024–as in, hold the territory it has, while building capabilities to fight another day.

Ukraine war: Three ways the conflict could go in 2024

President Volodomyr Zelensky has admitted his country's spring offensive has not been the success he hoped. Russia still controls about 18% of Ukraine.

We asked three military analysts how they think events may unfold in the coming 12 months.

War will drag on but not indefinitely

The prospects for an end of the war in Ukraine remain bleak. Compared with this time last year, Vladimir Putin is stronger, politically more than militarily.

The situation on the battleground remains uncertain. Recently, Ukraine's winter offensive seems to have come to a halt. But there is no Russian breakthrough, either. More than ever, the outcome depends on political decisions made miles away from the centre of the conflict - in Washington and in Brussels.

The West's impressive show of unity displayed in 2022, and that endured throughout 2023, is starting to vacillate.

The US defence aid package is held hostage by what President Biden rightly labelled "petty politics" in Washington. And the future of the EU's economic aid is seemingly dependent on Hungary's incongruous stance.

Hesitation in the West's capitals has emboldened Putin. His recent public appearances and defiant statements demonstrate that as far as he is concerned, Russia is in this for the long haul.

Russia Hammers Kyiv With Missiles in Large-Scale Attack

Constant Méheut and Anatoly Kurmanaev

Russian missiles and drones hammered Kyiv on Tuesday morning, officials said, in a large-scale attack on the Ukrainian capital and other cities that killed at least five people and injured nearly 130 others, a day after President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia promised to retaliate for a Ukrainian assault on a Russian city.

The barrage — which the Ukrainian Air Force said involved about 100 missiles, including hypersonic weapons that fly at several times the speed of sound — was the latest in an escalating cycle of air assaults between the two countries, as both sides look for ways to inflict damage away from the largely deadlocked front line.

Moscow claimed that Ukraine retaliated hours later on Tuesday, firing at least eight missiles on the Russian city of Belgorod. The attack killed one civilian and injured four others, according to the local governor. Later in the day, a strike hit the nearby town of Shebekino, the governor said, damaging an administrative building but causing no injuries.

The recent strikes against Ukraine may also be the start of another Russian air campaign against critical infrastructure. The Ukrainian authorities had warned for months that Russia was stockpiling high-precision missiles to pound cities once the weather turned cold in a repeat of last year’s bombing campaign. Experts believe that strategy is aimed at diminishing Ukrainian morale and weakening its military and industrial capacities.

Russia launches a record 90 drones over Ukraine during the early hours of 2024


Russia launched a record 90 drones over Ukraine during the early hours of the new year, and Russian President Vladimir Putin said the country would intensify its attacks.

The Ukrainian Air Force said it destroyed 87 of the 90 drones, and the attack was carried out in waves that came from four different directions. The military shared the message online and said, “Let’s keep the sky! Together — to victory.”

Putin spoke at a New Year’s Day visit to a military hospital after Ukraine struck the Russian border city of Belgorod, killing more than two dozen people and wounding 100 others, The Associated Press (AP) reported.

It was one of the deadliest Ukrainian attacks on Russian soil since the start of the war nearly two years ago. Putin called the attack a “terrorist attack” and said, “They want to intimidate us and create uncertainty within our country.”

“We will intensify strikes. Not a single crime against our civilian population will go unpunished,” Putin said, per the AP.

Ukrainian Air Forces intercept all Russian ‘hypersonic’ missiles

Dylan Malyasov

The Ukrainian Air Forces have reported successfully neutralizing a barrage of Russian ‘hypersonic’ missiles, countering a replicated assault by the aggressor early on January 2nd.

As per the Ukrainian Air Force statement, the interception shot down all Kh-47M2 Kinzhal hypersonic missiles launched from MiG-31K aircraft.

The targets of this assault encompassed crucial infrastructure, industrial, civilian, and military sites, with the primary focus aimed at the capital city of Ukraine.

“At 07:30, launches of ten aeroballistic missiles X-47M2 ‘Kinzhal’ from MiG-31K fighters were detected,” the statement read.

All ten missiles were reported successfully neutralized in the defensive action. Additionally, the interception also accounted for the destruction of 59 cruise missiles of the Kh-101/Kh-555/Kh-55 types, along with three Kalibr cruise missiles.

The Kh-47M2 “Kinzhal” is a Russian hypersonic aviation missile complex. In terms of dimensions and appearance, the missile of the “Kinzhal” complex resembles ballistic missiles of the Iskander missile system. The maximum claimed speed of the missile is 10 Mach. It is carried by the modified interceptor aircraft MiG-31K, which is capable of carrying one missile and striking targets at distances up to 2000 kilometers.

This advanced missile complex represents a formidable threat due to its high-speed capabilities, allowing it to travel at speeds beyond Mach 10, rendering interception and defense exceedingly challenging for conventional air defense systems.

It’s 2024. Is America still indispensable?


Joe Biden is neither an original thinker nor a profound one. Granted, few if any figures laboring in the trenches of contemporary American politics can claim to be either. On that score, it would be unreasonable for us to hold Biden’s lack of depth and originality against him. He is, after all, just an Average Joe.

Somewhat more problematic is Biden’s penchant for appropriating the words of others without attribution. The habit has not enhanced his reputation. Yet to be fair, when the President recently described the United States as the “indispensable nation,” he did credit the origin of that phrase to his “friend” Madeleine Albright.

Such honesty is commendable. Even so, wary Americans might find Biden’s resurrection of Albright’s several decades-old phrase to be more than a little troubling.

The provenance of the expression is worth noting. Speaking on national television in 1998, then Secretary of State Albright had used the occasion to articulate an Albright Doctrine of sorts. “If we have to use force,” she declared with sublime confidence, “it is because we are America; we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future.”

In Albright’s defense, she issued this grandiose pronouncement at a moment when American elites were enjoying a prolonged post-Cold War victory lap. In political circles, chest-thumping triumphalism had become the lingua franca. Had not the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 ostensibly brought history itself to its intended conclusion? A mere decade later, had not Operation Desert Storm definitively affirmed history’s verdict? By the 1990s, America was on a roll, destined, it seemed, to remain the world’s number one in perpetuity.

Soon enough, however, all of this came to seem like so much hot air. First came the terrorist attacks of 9/11, with the follies of the Global War on Terrorism following in short order. The epic failure of the Afghanistan War in tandem with costly and bungled efforts to “liberate” Iraq left America’s reputation for peering into the future in tatters. Sundry other missteps demolished claims that the United States possessed some special knack for anticipating what comes next. Then came the election of Donald Trump, unforeseen by those ostensibly in the know.

How Global Conflict Shapes The Green Transition – Analysis

Siddharth Anil Nair

A global green transition—our best bet to counter climate change—has been underway for about 10 years. Countries around the world have begun to leverage the power of technology with the objective of moving to more sustainable sources of energy and to cut emissions and limit global mean temperature increases. This is the good news.

The global green transition, however, is not without its challenges. The biggest of these are found in the massive disparities in access to two things: money and technology. It is the main reason why we won’t make the deadline that most of the international community committed to, which is cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 45 per cent by 2030. In light of the hottest period on record and highest emissions in history, such targets have become completely unrealistic. These are formidable challenges—and they are worsened by the highly conflictual nature of the international system. The wars in Eastern Europe and West Asia are turning the rally for a greener world into a race.

Uneven Resource and Technology Access

A country’s ability to undertake a green transition depends entirely on whether it has the requisite access to money and technology. Many around the world have neither. Take Bangladesh, for example. In order for Dhaka to successfully implement initiatives under its National Action Plan, it needs US$ 230 billion over the next 17 years—as of now, it is able to muster only a few billion each year. Bangladesh desperately needs low-cost, investment-intensive capital to effectively mitigate or adapt to climate change. Another example is Nigeria. Abuja has access to many forms of renewable energy but is unable to exploit them. Poor technology transfer arrangements and developmental financing has stymied the Nigerian green transition.

Brazil: Food Prices, Interest Helped Curb Inflation In 2023

Bruno de Freitas Moura

The behavior of food prices and monetary policy, which imposed high interest rates on the economy in 2023, helped keep inflation under control this year. Such is the assessment of experts heard by Agência Brasil Thursday (Dec. 28), when the country’s official inflation forecast for 2023 was released: 4.72 percent, the lowest in the last three years. The data come from statistics bureau IBGE.


In the view of economist Gilberto Braga, the figures show the success of the macroeconomic policy of the government and the Central Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee, which is tasked with setting the country’s benchmark interest rate, the Selic.

Throughout the year, the Selic was kept at high levels as a means of deterring the economy, consequently fighting inflation. The year began with a rate of 13.75 percent. After four consecutive cuts in the second half of the year, it will close out 2023 at 11.75 percent.

Braga pointed out there are price groups still putting pressure on the rates, “especially rents, which have been rising above the average inflation.” However, he went on to note, “food prices in general have been on the wane, which has offset the upward pressure in a positive way.”

The specialist expects the trend to continue next year. “In 2024, this price behavior should continue, with inflation tending to decline.”

However, he stressed there are risks coming from outside Brazil—“external pressure, above all due to Russia’s war conflicts with Ukraine and the Middle East, which influence oil prices, insurance, and the free flow of international trade,” he declared. “Despite these threats, the outlook for 2024 is quite positive,” he added.

Russia: Utility Breakdowns Almost Doubled From 2022 To 2023, Pointing Toward Infrastructure Collapse – OpEd

Paul Goble

The number of breakdowns in Russia’s already stressed utility system which involves supplying electricity, water and heat to millions of its citizens almost doubled between 2022 and 2023, a trend that puts Russia on the track to infrastructure collapse, Anatoly Nesmiyan who blogs under the screen name El Murid.

This is the second wave of breakdowns of Soviet-era infrastructure. The first involved the collapse a decade or so ago of what was built in Khrushchev’s time. Now, El Murid says, it involves primarily that built in the Brezhnev era, networks that haven’t been repaired or updated since (publizist.ru/blogs/113683/47447/-).

The consequences of this are severe, he continues, because Russia is both a northern country where the collapse of utilities leads to real suffering and an increasingly urban one in which an ever greater share of its population depends on such networks rather than on its own devices.

In a certain sense, El Murid continues, this situation is “much worse” for the population than was the collapse of the Soviet Union since at that time, “there were many fewer problems of this kind. There were some [widely reported] ones of course, but definitely not like those” Russia faces at present.

Organized Crime As Irregular Warfare: Strategic Lessons For Assessment And Response – Analysis

David H. Ucko and Thomas A. Marks

Organized crime both preys upon and caters to human need. It is corrosive and exploitative, but also empowering, and therefore pervasive. Indeed, though often out of sight, organized crime is everywhere: wherever governments draw the line, criminal actors find profitable ways of crossing it; wherever governments fail to deliver on human need, criminal actors capitalize on unmet desire or despair. For those excluded from the political economy, from patronage systems or elite bargains, organized crime can offer opportunity, possibly also protection. On aggregate, it amounts to an illicit form of governance, furnishing alternative services to a wide range of clients—be it the vulnerable and weak or a covetous elite. Reflecting the strength and resilience of this illicit order, those who stand in its way—individuals, institutions, even states—find themselves corrupted, co-opted, or violently eliminated.

The breadth of organized crime, its clandestine nature, and its blending of creative and destructive effects present acute analytical and policy-related challenges. Much like the response to the threat of terrorism post-9/11, our efforts to counter organized crime are stymied by 1) conceptual uncertainty of the problem at hand; 2) an urge to address the scourge head-on without acknowledging its socioeconomic-political context; and, therefore, 3) unquestioned pursuit of strategies that miss the point, whose progress is difficult to measure, and which may even be counterproductive. Thus, despite occasional operational success, the global illicit economy continues to grow so that, by 2021, 80 percent of the world’s population lived in countries with high levels of crime and low levels of resilience to its effects.1

In the case of counterterrorism, irregular warfare (IW) emerged as a corrective lens, in that it framed terroristic violence within its essential political context and as a component of a broader struggle of legitimacy. This approach has encouraged a more politically informed understanding of terrorism, insurgency, and other irregular challenges. Might a similar lens also improve our understanding and approach to organized crime? The convergence between the two phenomena suggests a way forward.

Center for the Study of IntelligenceStudies in Intelligence, December 2023, v. 67, no. 4

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3 Government and technology predictions for 2024

John Breeden II

The new year is almost upon us, and that means that it’s time for experts, technologists and columnists to try and predict some of the biggest upcoming trends for government and technology in 2024. What might make those predictions a bit more difficult this year is the fact that many technologies are moving ahead at warp speed. Changes that used to slowly shift into place over many years in some cases can now happen in weeks, or even almost overnight.

That said, I am fortunate enough to get to frequently talk with some of the leading experts in various evolving technology fields, as well as government officials who are setting long-term growth policies and strategies for both federal agencies and state and local governments. With a lot of those recent conversations in mind, I will do my best to predict some of the biggest trends for the coming year.

Prediction 1: Generative artificial intelligence will change the world in 2024

As impressive as 2023 was for the development of AI, and specifically generative AI, all of that will pale in comparison to what happens next. Unlike other emerging technologies like quantum computing that are taking years to develop, generative AI burst onto the scene and hit the ground running this year like almost no other technology ever has before.

And what a year AI has had in 2023. Not only did the general public get full and free access to some of the most powerful generative AI tools, but the technology was also used to accomplish things that were either seemingly impossible or which would have taken decades of research for humans alone to complete.

For example, Google’s DeepMind AI was recently tasked with solving an unsolvable math problem. Not only did the AI eventually solve the well-known but impossible mathematical task involving matrix multiplication, but it also produced a formula which will make future problem solving efforts possible — something human mathematicians were never able to do. The researchers working on the project know that the solution was not included in training data, so the AI must have somehow worked everything out on its own, thinking its way through that impossible problem.

Are You Ready for the Death of the Password?

Eric Geller

For as long as the web has existed, the password has been the internet’s imperfect protector. Finally, that’s changing, with 2023 marking what increasingly seems like the beginning of the end for that frustrating, flawed technology.

Over the past 12 months, a flood of big-name companies — from Amazon and CVS to PayPal and Uber — have begun letting people sign into their accounts with an easier and more secure technology known as passkeys. They’re safer from theft and require less human work, while passwords “are hard to use and easy to break,” said Christiaan Brand, product manager for identity and security at Google.

Big tech firms like Google, Apple and Microsoft have spent more than a decade preparing for this moment, and now their work is bearing fruit.

“I expect 2024 to be a big year” for passkeys, said Jeremy Grant, the managing director of technology business strategy at the law firm Venable and coordinator of the Better Identity Coalition, which pushes for improved login technologies. “As more case studies emerge showing how companies and government agencies have implemented passkeys with great success, I think you’ll start to see a tidal wave of new adopters.”

Passkeys have a successful login rate four times higher than that of passwords, according to Google data, and an industry survey shows growing interest in and familiarity with the technology, with 57% of Americans expressing openness to adopting it.

Fundamentally, passkeys are pieces of code stored on people’s personal devices that talk to companion pieces of code stored on websites when someone tries to log in. After the user unlocks their device — perhaps with a fingerprint or face scan — and gives it permission to talk to the website, the device sends its snippet of private, encrypted code to the website, and the website uses its own corresponding public code to authenticate the passkey. The resulting digital handshake verifies a person’s identity for the website and unlocks the account.

Welcome to the era of AI nationalism

The hottest technology of 2023 had a busy last few weeks of the year. On November 28th Abu Dhabi launched a new state-backed artificial-intelligence firm, ai71, that will commercialise its leading “large language model” (llm), Falcon. On December 11th Mistral, a seven-month-old French model-builder, announced a blockbuster $400m funding round, which insiders say will value the firm at over $2bn. Four days later Krutrim, a new Indian startup, unveiled India’s first multilingual llm, barely a week after Sarvam, a five-month old one, raised $41m to build similar Indian-language models.

Ever since Openai, an American firm, launched Chatgpt, its human-like conversationalist, in November 2022, just about every month has brought a flurry of similar news. Against that backdrop, the three latest announcements might look unexceptional. Look closer, though, and they hint at something more profound. The three companies are, in their own distinct ways, vying to become ai national champions. “We want ai71 to compete globally with the likes of Openai”, says Faisal al-Bannai of Abu Dhabi’s Advanced Technology Research Council, the state agency behind the Emirati startup. “Bravo to Mistral, that’s French genius,” crowed Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, recently. Chatgpt and other English-first llms “cannot capture our culture, language and ethos”, declared Krutrim’s founder, Bhavish Aggarwal. Sarvam started with Indian languages because, in the words of its co-founder, Vivek Raghavan, “We’re building an Indian company.”