7 January 2024

Killing Innocents in Israel and Gaza


The graphic footage recorded by Hamas attackers as they slaughtered Israeli civilians on October 7 makes the desire for revenge understandable. But to choose to act on a desire for revenge usually makes a bad situation worse.

MELBOURNE – Last month, I was invited to join other Princeton University academics in viewing a compilation of raw footage from GoPro cameras carried by Hamas gunmen killing civilians in Israel on October 7. Additional video and audio material came from dashboard cameras, traffic cameras, phone intercepts, and victims’ phones.

The invitation carried a warning that the footage would show horrific violence and murder. I avoid violent movies, so my instinctive response was to decline the invitation. But as someone who often points to the progress that we have made, over millennia, in expanding the circle of moral concern, I decided that I should be willing to see something that would challenge my optimism.

Evil is a word I rarely use, but what I saw was evil in its purest form: men armed with assault rifles going house to house to shoot defenseless and terrified families in their simple kibbutz homes, recording their murders and shouting “God is Great.” They kill a father in front of his two young children. They cut off the head of one of their victims, saying they will give it to the crowd to play with. We see panicked young people at a music festival shot dead as they try to hide or flee. I was seeing only a fraction of the 1,200 murders Hamas forces committed on that day, according to official Israeli figures.

Israel is winning. Its enemies are powerless to stop it

Israeli soldiers fire mortars at an area near the border with the Gaza Strip© Provided by The Telegraph

If any lesson is to be drawn from the assassination of a senior Hamas commander in Beirut this week, it is that Israel never wavers in its quest to hunt down and destroy its foes.

The Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, a major architect of the Holocaust, no doubt believed that he would never be held to account for his crimes after he fled to Argentina and made a new life for himself. That was until his whereabouts were finally identified by the Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, leading to his eventual capture by an elite unit of Israel’s Mossad intelligence service. Eichmann was smuggled back to Israel, where in 1962 he was convicted of war crimes and hanged.

Israel adopted a similarly uncompromising approach to the Palestinian terrorists responsible for carrying out the massacre of Israeli athletes participating in the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. While the PLO faction responsible for the atrocity quickly dispersed, they were eventually hunted down by Israeli spymaster Zvi Zamir, the mastermind behind Operation Wrath of God, the mission to target those responsible for the Munich attack.

Now the people behind the terrible atrocities committed against Israeli civilians on October 7 by Hamas look set to suffer the same terrible retribution, as Israel’s security forces intensify efforts to achieve their objective of wiping the Palestinian terrorist group from the face of the earth.

While Israel has a long-standing policy of not commenting publicly on intelligence operations it conducts overseas, Hamas was quick to blame the Israelis for Tuesday’s carefully-targeted assassination of Saleh Al-Arouri, the deputy head of the terror group’s politburo, who had a $5 million US bounty on his head.

Israel focuses on security in north amid Hezbollah threats


As Israel transitions to a lower intensity war in Gaza, its Ministry of Defense and security establishment is focused on returning security to northern Israel. This comes after ninety days of Iran-backed Hezbollah firing rockets, anti-tank guided missiles, and drones into northern Israel from Lebanon.

On January 4, Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant met with U.S. Senior Advisor to President Biden, Amos Hochstein, at the Ministry of Defense headquarters in Tel Aviv. Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi also took part in the meeting, as well as Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Herzog. Israel is determined to return the 80,000 evacuated after the October 7 attacks to their homes in communities along Israel’s northern border. Israel has a Special Coordinator focused on the security situation at its northern border, according to a statement from Gallant’s office.

“Minister Gallant reflected the determination of Israel’s defense establishment to changing the security reality in northern Israel and along the border with Lebanon, and emphasized the top priority of enabling over 80,000 displaced Israelis to return to their homes,” Gallant’s office noted in a statement. “There is only one possible result – a new reality in the northern arena, which will enable the secure return of our citizens. Yet we find ourselves at a junction – there is a short window of time for diplomatic understandings, which we prefer,” Gallant said.

He said Israel will not tolerate the threat that Hezbollah poses to northern Israel, one in a series of similar statements from Israeli officials about being prepared for escalation in the north. This follows the killing of deputy Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri in Beirut this week. While Iran, Hezbollah, and other pro-Iran groups have blamed Israel, Jerusalem has not taken responsibility for the killing. Halevi said on January 3 that Israel was in a high state of readiness in the north.

Analysis: Despite significant losses in Gaza, Hamas has yet to unleash an ace up its sleeve


Since the beginning of the Oct. 7 war against Hamas and its allies in the Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have not slowed down their efforts to destroy the groups. Numerous leaders from assorted factions, including those involved in orchestrating the Oct. 7 act of terrorism, have been neutralized by the IDF. Additionally, the bulk of Hamas’ military troops have been compelled to vacate northern Gaza and relocate to the southern areas of the Gaza Strip.

Despite these setbacks, Hamas and its allies remain a threat to Israeli ground troops and civilians in Israel. Hamas has published propaganda videos demonstrating fighters on foot attacking Israeli mechanized forces with some success. Additionally, ambush operations, including suicide bombings, have reportedly had some success on the battlefield. And long-range rockets continue to be fired on central Israel. However, the current phase of the Israeli military’s operation has not been enough to destroy Hamas’ leadership that remains in Gaza; this is essentially the crown jewel the Israeli army is after.

The elimination of senior Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, his brother Muhammad Sinwar, and commander Muhammad Deif are the key to potentially collapsing Hamas’ rule in the Gaza Strip.

It has been more than eighty days since the war began, and the IDF has failed to successfully target any of these high-value individuals it aims to eradicate. This lack of progress indicates the arduous nature of the task at hand. It is essential to recognize that Gaza hosts an extensive labyrinth of tunnels spanning hundreds of kilometers, where these leaders are presumably taking refuge. This far, the IDF has only managed to discover and demolish a meager portion of these tunnels.

India’s Russia Defense Gambit

Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

Indian Foreign Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar was in Russia on a five-day visit in late December. Upon conclusion of the visit, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) issued a press release saying that he had meetings with a number of senior Russian officials including President Vladimir Putin, which is considered unusual for the Kremlin in normal circumstances. Following his meeting with Putin, Jaishankar said in a tweet that he “(A)pprised President Putin of my discussions with Ministers Manturov and Lavrov. Appreciated his guidance on the further developments of our ties.” As he noted, Jaishankar also met with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov and his counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

According to the MEA press release, the minister had extensive discussions on various aspects of bilateral relations, including economic, trade and energy as well as defense cooperation. Jaishankar also traveled to St. Petersburg, where he met with the governor and explored possibilities for economic and cultural cooperation.

During the visit, Jaishankar signed three documents pertaining to the Kudankulam nuclear power plant, an MoU on cooperation in healthcare and pharmaceuticals, and a protocol on Foreign Office consultations. The press release noted that the minister’s visit was an occasion to take stock of bilateral relations, which, it noted, “have remained strong and steady building upon strategic convergences, geopolitical interests, and mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries.”

How Social Media Will be Weaponized in Bangladesh’s Election

Md. Sayeed Al-Zama

As Bangladesh prepares for its 2024 elections, a familiar but chilling specter haunts the political landscape: the potential misuse of social media, which has reshaped the landscape since the 2018 parliamentary election.

The stakes are high. More than 50 million Bangladeshis, more than half the population, are on social media, particularly young people who constitute a critical voting bloc. Yet, their disillusionment with the state of justice, education, and security casts a shadow over the political promises of a digitalized Bangladesh.

Facebook reigns supreme in the country, with over 93 percent of Bangladesh’s social media users scrolling through its feeds.

Political parties have seized this opportunity, crafting narratives carefully tailored to resonate with their target audiences.

The ruling Awami League paints a picture of progress and praises Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s virtues, while the Bangladesh Nationalist Party spins a tale of democracy under siege, urging followers to resist authoritarianism.

In the realm of digital political campaigns, the Awami League has invested in 1,653 paid posts since 2022. There has been a notable surge in 2023, encompassing 1,450 paid posts, including 84 posts in December alone, averaging five posts a day. The financial footprint tallies approximately 490,000 Bangladeshi taka ($4,479), averaging 296 taka ($2.70) per ad, with premium ads costing 9,999 taka ($92).

China Has New Full-Scale Target Of America’s Ford Supercarrier


China has constructed a new aircraft carrier target on a sprawling range in the northwestern end of the country that is a dead-ringer for the U.S. Navy's newest supercarrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford. The target underscores the People's Liberation Army's continued focus on expanding and refining its ability to engage American carriers and other warships over long distances, which includes a growing arsenal of anti-ship ballistic and cruise missiles. This is all part of China's evolving anti-access and area denial strategy across much of the Western Pacific.

The image of the new carrier target on the range in the Taklamakan Desert in China's Xinjiang province was taken on January 1 by Planet Labs. A full-scale black-colored silhouette in the shape of the USS Gerald R. Ford, and future carriers in that class, roughly 1,085 feet long, is plainly visible. There is also a structure in the same position as Ford's island, as well as four catapult tracks marked on the 'deck' in the same places they appear on the real ship. The unique sponsons and other outcroppings, including a broader, squared-off stern, that are found on the Ford are also present in the target silhouette.

China space warfare includes cyberattacks, jamming and on-orbit grappling, intel survey says

Bill Gertz 

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a Long March-4B rocket carrying the Fengyun-3 07 satellite blasts off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, northwest China’s Gansu Province, Sunday, April 16, 2023. Flights out of northern Taiwan … 

China’s plans for space warfare include the use of cyberattacks and electronic jamming to disrupt and disable U.S. satellite systems, while the Chinese military in the future will have small robot satellites for grabbing or crushing U.S. military space sensors, according to a report by a senior U.S. intelligence official.

China’s three types of anti-satellite missiles capable of blasting satellites at all orbits are under the control of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Military Commission headed by President Xi Jinping and represent a deterrent force, according to Kristin Burke, deputy national intelligence officer for space at the National Intelligence Council, a senior analysis unit.

Ms. Burke disclosed new details of Chinese space warfare capabilities in a Dec. 11 report, identifying the People’s Liberation Army units in charge of space cyber warfare, electronic jamming and directed energy attacks on satellites. The report also revealed the locations of PLA bases and units armed with road-mobile anti-satellite missiles.

China and Russia's Unhackable Quantum Satellite Link

Aadil Brar

Scientists in Russia and China have successfully tested a highly encrypted quantum communication system that promises to be virtually unhackable, in a landmark development for quantum technologies.

The feat, first reported by Hong Kong's South China Morning Post last month, spanned a distance of 2,300 miles between a ground station near Moscow and another near Urumqi in China's northwestern Xinjiang region.

The quantum communication breakthrough underscored a growing international effort to harness the emerging technology, offering a glimpse into a future where data security could reach new levels. It also hinted at deepening high-tech cooperation between Beijing and Moscow for military purposes beyond their already robust political and economic ties.

President Vladimir Putin recently lauded his country's military-to-military collaboration with its neighbor to the south during his November meeting with Gen. Zhang Youxia, the No. 2 official on the Central Military Commission chaired by Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

According to The Post, the recent "full cycle" test of an encrypted transmission contained two images secured by quantum keys.

The project was led by Alexey Fedorov of Russia's National University of Science and Technology and the Russian Quantum Center, a nongovernmental research institute. It was accomplished with the help of Mozi, China's quantum satellite launched in 2016, which has been pivotal in Beijing's quantum research and advancements.

Xi’s latest purge targets the military. Why did powerful generals fall out of favor?

Nectar Gan

New recruits for the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Rocket Force participate in a send-off ceremony at the Fuyang Institute of Technology on December 26, 2021 in Fuyang, Anhui Province of China.Wang Biao/VCG/Getty Images/File

For much of 2023, a storm has been quietly engulfing the world’s largest military – the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China.

Behind the walled government and military compounds of the Chinese capital, powerful generals have disappeared from public view one after another. Some were subsequently removed from their positions without explanation, even for roles as high-profile as the defense minister.

After months of intense public speculation and evasive non-answers from government spokespersons, the clearest sign of a sweeping purge inside China’s military came last Friday, when nine high-ranking PLA officers were ousted from the country’s top legislature.

While the National People’s Congress (NPC) itself is just a rubber-stamp parliament, its members enjoy a degree of immunity from arrest and criminal prosecution granted by the constitution. Previously, such sudden expulsions often served as a prelude to further disciplinary or legal action.

In keeping with the opacity that shrouds Chinese elite politics, no reason was given for the generals’ sudden ouster from the legislature.

But experts who have long studied China’s military point to a corruption purge as the likely cause – possibly over the procurement and development of advanced equipment that has been a key element in leader Xi Jinping’s efforts to “modernize” the PLA and transform it into a “world class” fighting force.

An Overview Of China’s Economy In 2024 – Analysis

He Jun

On the last day of 2023, most cities in China did not hold official countdown events, and some places even canceled the celebrations. This reflects the current atmosphere of the country, that the economy is still in a downturn, while the market and public confidence remain insufficient. The government is both financially constrained and hesitant to take responsibility for many issues, fearing to overstep its bounds.

From 2020 to 2023, most people and businesses in the country have not had an easy time. Under the complex international and domestic environment, China is facing significant development and survival pressures. Facing 2024, some in China are not without worries, and some feel disheartened. Yet there is also a considerable number of individuals with hopes and aspirations, unwilling to resign to fate.

Regardless of their emotions, individuals and business entities in China still need to face the challenges of 2024.

“Our goal is both inspiring and simple. Ultimately, it is about delivering a better life for the people. Our children should be well taken care of and receive good education. Our young people should have the opportunities to pursue their careers and succeed. And our elderly people should have adequate access to medical services and elderly care. These issues matter to every family, and they are also a top priority of the government. We must work together to deliver on these issues”, said Chinese President Xi Jinping in his New year speech.

Compared to the grand narratives commonly seen in recent years, these straightforward statements might just garner more public approval. Researchers at ANBOUND posit that from a positive perspective, such statements reflect at least two points: first, the top leadership has an understanding of the grassroots situation. Second, Xi has actually pointed out many problems in past development, i.e., there are still significant gaps in improving people’s livelihood, education, employment, healthcare, and elderly care. In this regard, Researchers at ANBDOUND believe that objectively recognizing problems and straightforwardly acknowledging them is, in fact, the first step to solving problems.

Iran doesn’t need a war to crush the West

Philip Pilkington 

The crisis in the Middle East looks like it might be spiralling out of control. The Red Sea and the Suez Canal are now largely blocked to container ships after Houthi rebels have been targeting ships. Suez traffic is reportedly down 28 per cent in the past 10 days, and the rates for shipping containers has risen 173 per cent. With tensions rising after Israeli strikes in Lebanon and in Iran after a blast next to the grave of General Qassem Soleimani, the recent attacks on shipping might be just the beginning.

When economics students take classes on inflation, they are typically taught about interest rates and the money supply. The basic insight is some variation on the theme of “inflation is caused by too much money chasing too few goods”. What they are typically not told is that most inflations we have seen in the West have been a result of war and geopolitical conflict.

While people will endlessly debate the reaction of central banks to the recent bout of inflation, the reality is that they only had a secondary impact. The main drivers were, first, the supply chain disruptions caused by the lockdowns and, second, the disruptions of energy and fertiliser markets associated with the war in the Ukraine and the sanction on Russia.

Likewise, the previous major bout of inflation in the 1970s was triggered by an OPEC oil embargo in response to Western countries backing Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur war. How inflation hits an economy and how long it sticks around certainly depend on the fragility of the economy and the robustness of the central bank response, however.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Accuses West Of Ukraine War Conspiracy

Michael Rubin

“The Ukrainians fight and get killed so that weapons can be sold.”

When Russia invaded Ukraine, Iran initially professed neutrality; however, this official neutrality did not last long.[i] In July 2022, Putin visited Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in Tehran. Khamenei unequivocally endorsed Russia’s invasion stating, “If you [Russia] had not taken the helm, the other side would have done so and initiated a war.” In the below-excerpted speech featured on Khamenei’s website, Khamenei.ir, the Supreme Leader provided more insight into his thinking about Ukraine. Khamenei sees the Ukraine war within the context of his own worldview in which all evils originate in the West. Specifically, he embraces the belief the military-industrial complex shapes all policy in Washington, stating: “The Ukrainians fight and get killed so that [American] weapons can be sold, so that Europe is forced to buy their [American] weapons, so the arms-producing companies can produce and sell weapons and fill their pockets.” Interestingly, his embrace of Russia weakens a main pillar of the Islamic Revolution during the Cold War, which is that Iran would rely on “neither East nor West,” both of which revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini believed to be equally exploitive. Instead, the tenet holds that Iran is best served by an independent foreign policy.[ii] Additionally, Khamenei asserted that the United States seeks to steal Syrian oil. He claimed: “A government like that of the United States is stealing oil from Syria and is doing it openly in plain view of everybody.” This assertion shows his embrace of another conspiracy theory and suggests that Iran could be an impediment to any reconciliation between the Syrian regime and the predominantly Kurdish Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) in whose territory the United States bases a small force. AANES currently controls many of Syria’s oil fields.

Some Lessons for Putin from Ancient Rome

S. Frederick Starr

Vladimir Putin, having sidelined or destroyed all his domestic opponents, real or imagined, now surrounds himself with Romano-Byzantine pomp and grandeur. The theatrical civic festivals, processions of venerable prelates, cult of statues, embarrassing shows of piety, endless laying of wreaths, and choreographed entrances down halls lined with soldiers standing at attention—all trace directly back to czarism, to Byzantine Constantinople, and ultimately to imperial Rome. Indeed, Putin considers himself as Russia’s new “czar,” the Russified form of the Latin “Caesar.”

But besides all the parallel heroics, Roman history offers profound lessons for today’s world. All of America’s Founders saw the Roman Republic as the best model for their own constitution. Napoleon, Mussolini, and Hitler, by contrast, found in imperial Rome a stunning model for their own grandeur. True, some of Rome’s ancient chroniclers, including the celebrated Livy, so admired specific politicians that they saw only their good sides and ignored the problems and failures. Yet there were others, notably the pessimistic Sallust, who not only wrote bluntly of history’s painful issues but delved deep into their causes and consequences.

Is Putin likely to delve into the history of Rome for insights on his own situation? Unfortunately for Russia, Putin is not a reader, preferring instead to engage in exhibitionist athletic activities, preside at solemn ceremonies, or offer avuncular obiter dicta. However, if he would study the Roman past, he might come to realize that that model presents more than a few chilling prospects that he will ignore at his peril.

The Pentagon is Trying to Rebuild the Arsenal of Democracy

Jack Detsch

If U.S. President Joe Biden wants to check the pulse of the arsenal of democracy, all he has to do is look at Bill LaPlante’s wall in the Pentagon. The U.S. Defense Department industrial chief’s office is covered with production charts for every weapon that the United States is building to fend off a potential war with China while helping countries such as Ukraine and Israel fend for themselves in wars of their own.

It’s like an electrocardiogram of the U.S. defense industry: There’s a line going up to count the number of units moved and a line going sideways for the time that it took to move them. There are production rates for the Patriot missiles that the United States has sent to the Middle East to provide backup for Israel, the sea-launched Standard Missile-6 that the United States has deployed to the Indo-Pacific to potentially bloody China’s nose if it launches an assault on Taiwan, and the guided multiple launch rockets—known as GMLRs—that helped the Ukrainians liberate Kherson and the areas around Kharkiv in a one-two punch to the Russian army in 2022.

“It’s a whole stair step,” LaPlante told a small gaggle of reporters at the Reagan National Defense Forum in California in early December 2023. The chart, he said, “keeps going and going.”

And even though business is booming, Defense Department officials are facing a problem from hell. How can the Pentagon mobilize the U.S. defense industry to respond to not just one conflict or two, but potentially three wars? Foreign Policy talked to a dozen defense ministers, officials, and experts across the NATO alliance. They described an almost Sisyphean task to rebuild the trans-Atlantic—and trans-Pacific—defense industrial base to fight three wars not during a world war, but when much of the Western world is at peace.

Ukraine Rues 'Disastrous' Russian Cyber Hack: 'Big Warning' to the West

Isabel van Brugen

Russian hackers infiltrated Ukraine's communications giant Kyivstar months before launching an attack that left customers without phone or internet access in December, the country's cyber spy chief revealed, calling the breach "disastrous."

In an interview with Reuters published on Thursday, Illia Vitiuk, head of the Security Service of Ukraine's (SBU) cybersecurity department, said Russian hackers had gained access to the private company's system from at least May 2023, seeking to gather intelligence and land a psychological blow. Some 24 million users were left without service for days starting December 12.

Kyivstar, Ukraine's largest electronic communications operator, is part of the international telecom group VEON, which has its headquarters in the Netherlands. It has more than 24 million mobile customers and 1 million home internet users.

"This attack is a big message, a big warning, not only to Ukraine, but for the whole Western world to understand that no one is actually untouchable," Vitiuk said.
A woman walks past a Kyivstar, a Ukrainian telecommunications company, in Kyiv on December 12, 2023. Ukraine's main phone operator denounced an act of "war" on December 12, 2023, after a hacker attack that led to large-scale failures in its services.

The attack destroyed "almost everything," including thousands of virtual servers and PCs, and was likely the first example of a cyber attack that "completely destroyed the core of a telecoms operator."

The Global Economy Is Not Out Of The Woods


The global economy was full of surprises in 2023. Despite the sharp rise in interest rates, the United States successfully avoided a recession, and major emerging markets did not spiral into a debt crisis. Even Japan’s geriatric economy exhibited stunning vitality. By contrast, the European Union fell behind, as its German growth engine sputtered after China’s four-decade era of hypergrowth abruptly ended.

Looking ahead to 2024, several questions loom large. What will happen to long-term inflation-adjusted interest rates? Can China avoid a more dramatic slowdown, given the turmoil in its real-estate sector and high levels of local-government debt? Having maintained near-zero interest rates for two decades, can the Bank of Japan (BOJ) normalize rates without triggering systemic financial and debt crises? Will the delayed effects of the Federal Reserve’s interest-rate hikes eventually push the US into a recession? Can emerging markets maintain stability for another year? Lastly, what will be the next major source of geopolitical instability? Will it be a Chinese blockade of Taiwan, former President Donald Trump winning November’s US presidential election, or an unforeseen event?

The answers to these questions are interconnected. A recession in the US could lead to a significant decrease in global interest rates, but this may provide only temporary relief. After all, several factors, including extraordinarily high debt levels, creeping deglobalization, rising populism, the need to increase defense spending, and the green transition, will likely keep long-term rates well above the ultra-low levels of 2012-21 for the next decade.

Meanwhile, Chinese leaders’ significant efforts to restore 5% annual economic growth face several daunting challenges. For starters, it is hard to see how Chinese tech firms can remain competitive when the government continues to stifle entrepreneurship. And China’s debt-to-GDP ratio, which surged to 83% in 2023, compared to 40% in 2014, constrains the government’s ability to provide open-ended bailouts.

The Ukraine War May Be Decided at the Ballot Box

Eugene Chausovsky

2023 was, by many measures, a disappointing year for Ukraine. Russia’s war rages on, and the highly anticipated Ukrainian
counteroffensive against Russian forces did not produce the kind of territorial gains that leaders in Kyiv and the West had hoped. Diplomatic agreements such as the Black Sea Grain Initiative have fallen apart. And the West’s support has shown signs of stress as the war has grinded on for nearly two years without major progress toward decisive victory.

Ruchir Sharma: top 10 trends for 2024

Europe’s economy will be more resilient than the US, the dollar will weaken and investors will demand a premium on long-term debt © FT montage/AFP/Getty Images/Bloomberg/Reuters Ruchir Sharma: top 10 trends for 2024 on x (opens in a new window) Ruchir Sharma: top 10 trends for 2024 on facebook (opens in a new window) Ruchir Sharma: top 10 trends for 2024 on linkedin (opens in a new window) Save current progress 0% Ruchir Sharma JANUARY 4 2024 187 Print this page Stay informed with free updates Simply sign up to the Global Economy myFT Digest -- delivered directly to your inbox. The year gone by played out as if the pandemic had never happened. The widely anticipated global recession never came. Markets surged. Disinflation was the buzzword. The post-pandemic world unexpectedly resembled 2019 — the year before the coronavirus supposedly changed our lives forever. Yet in the end, 2023 was a reminder that most years turn out to be a mix of the surprising and the predictable. Not all the purely contrarian bets would have paid off. Europe’s economy fell farther behind the US. American mega cap tech stocks again led the charge. With that in mind, my top 10 predictions for 2024 focus on how current trends will evolve. 

The price of money, inflation and big tech will remain at the heart of the global conversation, though not in quite the same ways. Meanwhile, politics will command centre stage for a simple reason: the world has never seen a bigger year for elections. Democracy in overdrive Elections are scheduled to occur in more than 30 democracies including the three largest — the US, India and Indonesia. In all, 46 per cent of the global population will have an opportunity to vote, the largest share since 1800 when such records first began, says Deutsche Bank research. And voters will bring their dissatisfaction with them. The recent rise of angry populists reflects a deeper trend — distrust of incumbents. In the 50 most populated democracies, seated politicians won re-election 70 per cent of the time in the late 2000s; now they win 30 per cent of the time. 

Conflicts to Watch in 2024

Paul B. Stares

For the first time in its sixteen-year history, the Council on Foreign Relations’ (CFR) annual Preventive Priorities Survey (PPS) found that the leading concern for foreign policy experts is not a foreign threat to U.S. interests, but the possibility of domestic terrorism and acts of political violence in the United States, particularly around the 2024 presidential election.

Conducted by CFR’s Center for Preventive Action (CPA) every November, the survey asks foreign policy experts to evaluate thirty ongoing or potential violent conflicts based on their likelihood of occurring or escalating this year, as well as their possible impact on U.S. interests.

Top Conflicts to Watch in 2024

Three scenarios were judged to be both high-likelihood and high-impact—an unprecedented number since the PPS began in 2008. In addition to election-related violence in the United States, experts are concerned about an escalation of the Israel-Hamas war into a wider regional conflict, and a surge of migration to the southwest U.S. border caused by criminal violence, corruption, and economic hardship in Central America and Mexico. The surveyed experts also warn that the risk of a U.S. military confrontation with China or Russia is growing.

“The foreign terrorist threat to the U.S. homeland has receded significantly, but other concerns have emerged,” said Paul B. Stares, CPA director and General John W. Vessey senior fellow for conflict prevention. “Of those, by far the most worrisome is the growing risk of armed conflict with Russia, especially since the war in Ukraine began in 2022, as well as with China, as a result of rising tensions across the Taiwan Strait and in the South China Sea. The trend toward less armed conflict around the world since the end of the Cold War is now moving in the opposite direction.”

The War in Ukraine Is Not a Stalemate

Jack Watling

Since the failure of offensives in 2023 by both Ukraine and Russia, a narrative is coalescing that the war in Ukraine has reached a stalemate. The perception of an indefinite but static conflict is causing a sense of fatigue in the capitals of Ukraine’s partners: if neither side is likely to make substantial progress, the status quo appears stable, demanding little urgent policy attention.

This perception of stalemate, however, is deeply flawed. Both Moscow and Kyiv are in a race to rebuild offensive combat power. In a conflict of this scale, that process will take time. While the first half of 2024 may bring few changes in control of Ukrainian territory, the materiel, personnel training, and casualties that each side accrues in the next few months will determine the long-term trajectory of the conflict. The West in fact faces a crucial choice right now: support Ukraine so that its leaders can defend their territory and prepare for a 2025 offensive or cede an irrecoverable advantage to Russia.

Uncertainty about the long-term provision of aid to Ukraine risks not only giving Russia advantages on the battlefield but also emboldening Moscow further. It has already undermined the goal to push Russia to the negotiating table because the Kremlin now believes it can outlast the West’s will. Unless clear commitments are made in early 2024, the Kremlin’s resolve will only harden.

What the United States and Europe do over the next six months will determine one of two futures. In one, Ukraine can build up its forces to renew offensive operations and degrade Russian military strength to the degree that Kyiv can enter negotiations with the leverage to impose a lasting peace. In the other, a shortage of supplies and trained personnel will mire Ukraine in an attritional struggle that will leave it exhausted and facing eventual subjugation.

Marine Corps using exercises to mature new Information Command


Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 aviation ordnance technicians load compatible software for a U. S. Air Force Guided Bomb Unit 38 to be employed on a U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet proof of concept mission at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, March 14, 2022. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Christopher Parr)

Ayear after being established, Marine Corps Information Command is focusing on maturing regionally — specifically in the Pacific — with the longer-term goal of global integration and synchronization of information capabilities with traditional military operations.

The MCIC, activated in January 2023, is designed to more tightly link the service’s information forces — including cyber, intelligence and space — in theater with the broader joint force.

The organization is still at initial operational capability and is using a variety of exercises to build up its prowess and relationships.

“It grows with every exercise. Our ability to do it globally [is] not there. Trying to get [it] to regional, start with a couple exercises, and then really start to focus on a particular region and get good there and be able to pick up and pivot,” Maj. Gen. Ryan Heritage, commander of Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace and Marine Corps Forces Space Command, said in a December interview.

Heritage, who was selected to be the next deputy commandant for information, is also the head of the MCIC.

L3Harris secures near half a billion-dollar USSOCOM contract for tactical radios

Harry McNeil

Technologies Inc. has clinched a contract with the USSOCOM to continue procuring tactical communications radios and associated support services.

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The single award, indefinite-delivery contract spans seven one-year periods with a potential maximum value of $479m.

The contract focuses on the continuous procurement of next-generation tactical communications radios, emphasising the role of these technologies in modern military operations. Alongside acquiring the radios, the agreement includes associated sustainment and support services.

This approach ensures that USSOCOM not only acquires equipment but also benefits from ongoing maintenance and support, maximising operational efficiency.

GlobalData’s “The Global Tactical Communications Market 2021-2031” report highlights L3Harris’s historical relationship with the US military. In January 2017, the US government awarded a contract to L3Harris Corporation of $403m to provide spare parts to support various tactical radio systems for the US Defense Logistics Agency.

5 Myths About the U.S. Military That Need to Go Away

Jahara Matisek Derek Reveron

Pop culture understandings of the American military dominate the minds of most people. Whether it’s Hollywood making a war movie like Pearl Harbor with numerous historical inaccuracies or an unrealistic depiction of wartime conditions in The Hurt Locker, numerous narratives emerge that misrepresent the U.S. military.

Pop culture understandings of the American military dominate the minds of most people. Whether it’s Hollywood making a war movie like Pearl Harbor with numerous historical inaccuracies or an unrealistic depiction of wartime conditions in The Hurt Locker, numerous narratives emerge that misrepresent the U.S. military. Overcoming some of these misperceptions means addressing five common myths that most assume about the U.S. Armed Forces.

The U.S. military is everywhere.

Numerous public intellectuals like to push the narrative that the U.S. has become some kind of neo-colonial empire with military bases everywhere to dominate countries for the exploitative gain of the American capitalists. However, these assertions do not match reality. For instance, a policy organization proclaimed in a 2021 study that the U.S. had about 750 military bases in eighty different countries and “colonies” (an odd term for the U.S. territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Unfortunately, the report does not distinguish between actual military facilities for projecting American military power and facilities for civilians and contractors. For instance, the dataset identifies a War Dog Cemetery in Guam, six small research and development sites in the Bahamas, and an aircraft runway as “military” facilities.

Why America fell out of love with its Army


For the past several years now, a phalanx of defense officials and retired senior officers have been lamenting the dearth of people willing to serve in the U.S. military.

The problem is particularly acute for the Army, the largest of the U.S. forces, which fell short of its target by 25,000 recruits over the past two years. The situation is so grave that experts claim it imperils the all-volunteer force, an institution that has provided manpower for the American military for half a century.

Why does the Army, an organization that prides itself on achievement, fail at this fundamental task? Excuses tend to focus on market dynamics such as shrinking recruiting pools, lack of knowledge among American youth about service opportunities, and impacts from COVID 19. These factors are undoubtedly relevant, but are they the actual cause of the Army’s failure?

Current officials seem to think so. After failing in 2022, the Army increased its efforts to convince young people to serve. This, combined with a campaign to overcome “misperceptions” about life in the military, was a primary focus of the branch’s $104 million advertising budget in 2023.

Additionally, the Army estimated it invested over $119 million in the future soldier preparatory course. This new program enabled young Americans, initially disqualified because of low aptitude scores or high body-fat results, the opportunity to improve their marks. The Army claimed over 8,800 recruits completed the course and moved on to basic combat training. In the end, however, none of these initiatives enabled the force to achieve its quotas.

If market dynamics are not the underlying cause of the crisis, what is? I believe that the Army fails to meet its recruiting goals not because of a challenging market environment, but rather because a sizable portion of the American public has lost trust in it and no longer sees it as an institution worthy of personal investment.