18 January 2024

A Dangerous Tit-for-Tat in the Middle East

James S. Robbins

In the last week, a series of moves between Israel and Lebanese-based terrorist group Hezbollah have raised the question of whether escalation toward general war has begun. But such a development would be in neither side’s interest.

A low-intensity conflict has simmered along Israel’s northern border since just after the October 7, 2023, Hamas campaign of terror, which killed around 1,200 Israelis in the country’s south and sparked the current Israel Defense Forces (IDF) incursion into Gaza. Persistent, small-scale Hezbollah attacks have been met with counterstrikes, which have resulted in the death of around 130 terrorists to date. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Israelis have been evacuated from their homes in the north to protect them from possible rocket attacks (or a future Hezbollah incursion).

But the conflict began to escalate last week, when senior Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri was assassinated in a targeted strike in Beirut. The killing was carried out despite a warning issued by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah last August that he would regard any such actions as an attack on Lebanon itself. In an address last Wednesday, Nasrallah threatened revenge for the “major, dangerous crime,” but did not call for all-out war.

Revenge arrived Saturday morning, when Hezbollah struck the airbase at Mt. Meron, the Israeli Air Force's northern air control unit, using anti-tank guided missiles. Israeli officials conceded that the attacks caused severe damage, while Hezbollah said the attack was only an “initial response.”

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Hezbollah that “no terrorist is immune” and that if Israel could not achieve pacification in the north diplomatically, “we will work in other ways.” Those were demonstrated on Monday, when a senior member of Hezbollah’s elite Radwan Force, Wissam Tawil, was killed by an Israeli UAV strike in southern Lebanon. The ball is now in Hezbollah’s court; the Shi’ite militia needs to decide whether to end the escalation and revert back to lower-intensity conflict or begin to prepare for a general war.

C.I.A. Homes In on Hamas Leadership, U.S. Officials Say

Julian E. Barnes and Adam Goldman

The C.I.A. is collecting information on senior Hamas leaders and the location of hostages in Gaza, and is providing that intelligence to Israel as it carries out its war in the enclave, according to U.S. officials.

A new task force assembled in the days after the Hamas-led Oct. 7 terror attacks on Israel, in which 1,200 people were killed and some 240 taken hostage back in Gaza, has uncovered information on Hamas’s top leaders, according to U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence assessments.

Immediately after the Oct. 7 attack, Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, sent a memo to the intelligence agencies and Defense Department ordering the task force’s creation and directing increased intelligence collection on Hamas’s leadership, officials said.

The establishment of the task force has not created any new legal authorities, but the White House raised the priority of collecting intelligence on Hamas.

It is not clear how valuable the information has been to Israel, though none of the most senior leaders of Hamas has been captured or killed. The United States is not providing Israel with intelligence on low or midlevel Hamas operatives.

Israel had estimated before Oct. 7 that Hamas had 20,000 to 25,000 fighters. By the end of 2023, Israel had told American officials they believed they had killed roughly a third of that force.

Some American officials believe targeting low-level Hamas members is misguided because they can be easily replaced and because of the unwarranted risk to civilians. They have also said the Israeli military bombing campaign in Gaza — which according to Gaza’s Health Ministry has killed some 23,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians — could end up replenishing Hamas’s bench of fighters.

Oct. 7 was the opening attack in Iran’s ‘ring of fire’ war against Israel


When Hamas launched its blitzkrieg from Gaza on Oct. 7, it did not mark the onset of yet another Arab-Israeli war. Nor was it a war of Palestinians against Israel. Instead, the barbaric onslaught marked the beginning of an Iranian war against Israel, carried out by Tehran’s terrorist proxies. The war’s future course and duration are murky, but the ayatollahs’ underlying strategy is clear: close their long-envisioned “ring of fire” around Israel, permanently weakening or even paralyzing the Jewish State.

Jerusalem’s leaders and most neighboring Arab rulers grasp this reality. Sadly, however, the threat has not fully registered throughout the West. Instead, too many decisionmakers see only unrelated regional crises. They worry about an imminent “wider war,” heedless that the wider war began Oct. 7. The West is not thinking strategically about defeating Iran’s coalition, but is distracted by criticisms, often implicitly or explicitly antisemitic, purportedly expressing “humanitarian” concern for Gazans or the hostages Hamas kidnapped.

Also unclear is whether Israel has sufficient resolve to persevere until achieving true peace and security for its people. What Thomas Paine wrote of America now applies to Israel: “these are the times that try men’s souls.”

Consider the politico-military battlefield as it now stands.

Gaza remains the most active front in this multi-front war. Since the Oct. 7 surprise, timed almost exactly to the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, which also caught Israel off-guard, Israel Defense Forces have made steady progress. Right after Oct. 7, U.S. military advisers cautioned the IDF to proceed prudently, minimizing its own and Gazan civilian casualties.

India’s defence minister visits the UK

Rahul Roy-Chaudhury

On 10 January 2024, India’s Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh concluded a three-day visit to the United Kingdom. As the first defence ministerial visit in 22 years it signifies a ‘reset’ of bilateral defence ties, even as the two countries acknowledge their different stances on the Russia–Ukraine war. The visit demonstrated both sides’ willingness to prioritise bilateral defence cooperation and to further prospects for the delivery of military capabilities to India. Yet several challenges remain.

Increased strategic convergence

The lengthy absence of an Indian defence ministerial visit was due to several factors. India’s trust was eroded through a combination of legacy issues such as the disruption of arms and equipment deals, concerns over the UK’s ‘golden era’ of relations with China, as well as its perceived tilt towards Pakistan over the Kashmir dispute. This last concern was exacerbated by the activities of pro-Kashmiri independence movements and pro-Khalistani (Sikh separatist) extremism in the UK. India instead deepened defence ties with France, Israel, Russia and the United States. The last major arms deal with the UK took place in July 2010 during then-prime minister David Cameron’s visit to India, when a US$1.1 billion deal was signed for a second batch of BAE Systems’ Hawk pilot-trainer aircraft.

After 2016, several shifts illustrated the growing strategic convergence between the two countries. The UK’s post-Brexit ‘Indo-Pacific tilt’, its de-hyphenation of India and Pakistan, and concerns over China’s assertive actions aligned more closely with India’s priorities as it faced Chinese aggression on its northern land border in June 2020 and was preoccupied by Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean. In May 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and prime minister Boris Johnson launched the 2030 Roadmap for India–UK Future Relations, a ten-year plan for bilateral cooperation along five pillars, including defence and security, and elevated ties to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Meetings held between the two National Security Advisors in 2022 and 2023 helped build greater trust and facilitated progress in the bilateral security relationship.

The Plight of Deported Afghans

Shanthie Mariet D’Souza

The unrelenting season of forced homecoming continues for Afghans who had sought refuge in neighboring countries in the past. Thousands of Afghan refugees have been forcefully relocated from countries like Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, and Tajikistan, back into Afghanistan. In a country where the current set of rulers has had little to offer other than regressive policies over the past 29 months to its citizens, these men, women, and children will find it difficult even to survive without an immediate increase in international attention and assistance.

In the erstwhile conflict-affected Afghan Republic as well as the state now controlled by the Taliban, displacement of Afghans was almost a given. Fear of persecution, natural disasters, and the search for better avenues in life combined to make, according to an estimate, 5.9 million Afghans into either internally displaced persons (IDPs) within the country or refugees abroad in the years since 2001. In the past year, however, Afghanistan’s neighbors have engaged in concerted efforts to send Afghans back – to a state that has little to offer them.

There is no single reason why the tolerance shown by host governments, many of them neighbors, for years has begun to taper off.

For Pakistan, which started a massive and well-publicized eviction drive targeting Afghan refugees in September 2023, it was possibly a way to pressure the Taliban to act against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which the Pakistani government alleges has found shelter in Afghanistan. Iran, too, wishes to exert pressure on Kabul to seek concessions on a host of demands including sharing of Helmand River water.

Tajikistan, the poorest of the former Soviet republics in Central Asia, hosts many Tajik Afghans en route to Canada. It has deported some non-Tajik Afghans back to Afghanistan.

Pakistan: Religious Minorities Issue ‘Charter Of Demands’ In Context Of General Elections – OpEd

Aftab Alexander Mughal

Religious minorities in Pakistan issue their demands for equal rights and protection of their lives, properties, and worship places ahead of national elections.

Pakistan is holding general elections on 8 February this year. At the beginning of the year, religious minorities, including Christians and Hindus, presented a “Charter of Demands” to political parties and the future government for the creation of a true democratic state in which non-Muslim citizens have equal rights without discrimination.

The list of demands was issued by Minority Concern, which has called on Pakistan’s “future government” to create genuine democratic space and protect the rights of non-Muslim citizens.

Minority Concern is a group that advocates for religious freedom and equal rights of religious communities in Pakistan. The 10-point ‘Charter of Demands’ says:

1. Minority rights should get significant space in the political process and the governance system of Pakistan.

2. Political parties take concrete measures to make Pakistan a pluralistic state by putting Qauide-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s speech in the parliament.

3. Implementation of the judgment (SMC No. 1/2014), given by the former Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice (Retd.) Tasaduq Hussain Jilani on 19 June 2014 on minority rights.

4. Minorities should have an effective presence in decision- making bodies, especially for the nomination of non-Muslim’s reserved seats, which should be representative, merit-based, and transparent.

Philippines to Upgrade South China Sea Outposts, Military Chief Says

Sebastian Strangio

The Philippines plans to upgrade the features that it occupies in the South China Sea in order to make them more habitable for troops, the country’s military chief said yesterday, at a time of heightened tension with China over clashing maritime claims.

Speaking to reporters, after attending a command conference led by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at the military headquarters, Romeo Brawner said that the country would develop the nine “islands and other features” that it held, Reuters reported.

These include Thitu Island, the most strategically important feature in what Manila terms the Kalayaan Island Group, which lies around 480 kilometers from Palawan island. Another is Second Thomas Shoal, around 225 kilometers closer to Palawan, which has been the subject of a loose Chinese blockade for much of the past year.

“We’d like to improve all the nine, especially the islands we are occupying,” Brawner said. “We are just trying to make it more livable, more habitable for our soldiers because they really have poor living conditions.”

Brawner said that the government hoped to install desalination machines and communications equipment on Thitu Island and Nanshan Island. Thitu, known to Manila as Pag-asa, is the largest Philippine-occupied feature in the South China Sea, boasting an airstrip and landing dock, and supporting a population of around 200. A handful of Philippine soldiers and their families are stationed on Nanshan or Lawak Island. All nine Philippine-occupied outposts exist in a precarious umbilical relationship to the Philippine mainland, reliant on regular navy supply missions and acutely vulnerable to blockade by Chinese vessels.

Most notably, Brawner said that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) also hopes to deliver a desalination machine for the small group of troops living aboard the MRP Sierra Madre, a warship that the Philippines deliberately grounded on Second Thomas Shoal in 1999 in order to assert its claim over the feature.

Xi Jinping is in a battle with China's own military, and the outcome could drag the US into WWIII

  • Xi Jinping and Joe Biden. Getty Images© Getty Images
  • Xi Jinping is in a struggle with China's military, purging senior commanders to reshape it.
  • He wants generals ready and willing to go to war, analysts told Business Insider.
  • A Chinese invasion somewhere like Taiwan could drag the US into a Third World War, one analyst said.
Xi Jinping is fighting with China's own military, seeking to purge commanders he sees as unwilling or unable to go to war, military analysts told Business Insider.

The Chinese leader is "trying to gain control of the military, and I think that he is thinking that he needs officers who are prepared to actually fight," said Gordon Chang, a senior fellow at the Gatestone Institute and author of "China Is Going to War."

"There is a sense that many of China's general officers don't want to fight," according to Chang. "And so we really have a force led by an officer corps that is ambivalent about going to war."

Since taking power in 2012, Xi has overhauled China's military by cutting deep into its personnel, seeking to improve military-civilian cooperation, and reshaping its structure, among other reforms.

His efforts reached a crescendo on December 29, 2023, when Xi dismissed nine senior officers in one stroke.

Since then, reports and US intelligence have suggested the decisions were to root out corruption — a motive often cited when Chinese officials are abruptly dismissed.

However, to Chang, this theory misses the point.

"Because if that were the case, all of them would be sacked," he said.

China’s “Little Giants” turn up the heat on Europe's Hidden Champions

Alexander Brown

Germany is considered the land of "Hidden Champions." Countless small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have successfully developed specialized products and sold them globally, often over generations. What larger companies have been dealing with for some time is now threatening them as well: competition from China. Under Xi Jinping, the government is supporting thousands of high-tech SMEs, from machinery manufacturers to suppliers for electric vehicles. The ultimate goal: replace foreign imports with domestically produced products.

In 2018, Beijing launched a program inspired by Germany to cultivate so-called "Little Giants." It aims to help promising companies grow into leaders in their respective fields. The program received a new boost recently when Premier Li Qiang visited several such companies and called on them to develop key technologies to ensure the country's economic security. Beijing's priority today is less economic growth (and thus less trade with Europe) and more technological self-reliance.

Beijing's means to support smaller high-tech companies are abundant: a dynamic, multi-tiered evaluation system helps identify innovative firms. Provincial governments have identified 98,000 "Specialized SMEs," while national authorities have selected more than 12,000 particularly promising Little Giant firms.

Smoothing the pathway to China's stock exchanges

To be included in the Little Giants program, companies must operate in one of ten priority sectors from the “Made in China 2025” plan. These include computer numerical control (CNC) machining, electric vehicles, or medical devices. Additional evaluation criteria include a company's potential to replace imports or to secure a significant global market share in innovative niche products.

US vs Russia & China Together in Massive War .. Who Wins?


The prospect of a combined China-Russia threat to the US is becoming more realistic and concerning, according to the US Navy’s Fleet Forces Commander in charge of projecting power, conducting deterrence missions and ensuring safe passage of global waterways.

Should Russia and China combine forces to rival the US, a scenario which appears to be growing more likely, the US military might be challenged to prevail. It is a relevant question likely entertained by wargamers exploring the ominous prospect of a US and allied war against a united Russian-Chinese force.

US Navy Adm. Daryl Caudle, Commander US Fleet Forces, identified what he called a “no-limits relationships” between Russia and China marked by a rapid uptick in joint patrols, training exercises and large-scale military cooperation.

“Bombers from both Russia and China operated out of China then they flew a joint mission into the Philippine Sea towards Guam. In December, four Russian and two Chinese aircraft flew a joint military air patrol composed of H-6 and T-U-95 bombers and S-U-35 and J-16 fighters, which then entered the South Korean Air Defense Identification Zone then turned east toward Japan,” US Navy Fleet Forces Commander Adm. Daryl Caudle, told an audience at the 2024 Surface Navy Association Symposium.

Russian and Chinese forces have been strengthening military-to-military cooperation in recent years as well, with senior commanders and weapons developers regularly visiting one another in pursuit of various collaborative efforts. Last Summer, Russia and China conducted joint maritime naval war exercises in the Sea of Japan.

“The sea has once again emerged as a primary focal point for peer competition. Where the international commons are threatened and attacked with kinetic and non-kinetic fires that are growing in range, complexity, and precision,” Caudle said.

US military shoots down missile fired from Houthi-controlled area of Yemen


A U.S. fighter aircraft on Sunday shot down a missile fired from a Houthi-controlled area of Yemen, amid the ongoing tensions between the U.S. and the rebel group, according to the U.S. military.

The anti-ship cruise missile was fired from Yemen towards the USS Laboon in the southern Red Sea before it was shot down near the coast of Hudaydah, Yemen, the U.S. Central Command said in a statement posted to X, formerly Twitter.

There were no injuries or damage reported, according to the U.S. Central Command.

The incident comes days after the U.S. and United Kingdom conducted a series of retaliatory strikes against the Houthi rebels in Yemen in response to the group’s ongoing attacks at vessels in the Red Sea. The retaliatory attack came in response to the Houthis’ largest attack last Tuesday, in which the group fired a barrage of rockets and missiles at the U.S. and U.K. forces in the Red Sea.

The Houthis claimed last Thursday’s strikes killed at least five people and wounded six others.

A day later, the U.S. launched a second spate of strikes against a Houthi radar facility in Yemen and threatened additional attacks if the Houthis do not back off from attacking commercial ships.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards


The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is the ideological custodian of Iran’s 1979 revolution. Charged with defending the Islamic Republic against internal and external threats, the corps has gained an outsize role in executing Iran’s foreign policy and wields control over vast segments of the economy. The IRGC’s ties to armed groups in the region, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian territories, help Iran project influence and power. Answering directly to the supreme leader, the corps is also influential in domestic politics, and many senior officials have passed through its ranks.

The United States designated the IRGC as a terrorist organization in 2019, having already labeled Iran a state sponsor of terrorism, and the European Union (EU) is considering its own terrorist designation for the IRGC. But in recent years, the corps has apparently focused on developments closer to home, as the organization has struggled to suppress months of domestic unrest and now finds itself embroiled, though mostly indirectly, in the latest Israel-Hamas war.

Why was the IRGC established?

The IRGC was founded in the immediate aftermath of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s fall, as leftists, nationalists, and Islamists jockeyed to set the course of the revolutionary republic. While the interim prime minister controlled the government and state institutions such as the army, many clerics and disciples of Iran’s founding supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, organized counterweights to those inherited institutions. Among them was the IRGC, which operated beyond the bounds of the law and the judiciary. Answering to the supreme leader, its command structure bypasses the elected president.

The guards were conceived as a “people’s army,” helping consolidate the revolution as Khomeini instituted a state based on the concept of velayat-e faqih, or guardianship of the jurist. The aim was to set up Iran as a constitutional republic, enveloped in a theocratic structure. Khomeini intended for the IRGC to protect the new regime from a coup d’état, such as the one in 1953 that ousted the democratically elected government of Mohammed Mossadeq and restored the shah to power.

Navy still searching for 2 SEALs missing in the Gulf of Aden


Service members from the destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill board a stateless dhow off the coast of Somalia on Feb. 12, 2021. (Louis Thompson Staats IV/U.S. Navy)

Two Navy SEALs still are missing in the Gulf of Aden more than two days after conducting nighttime operations off the coast of Somalia.

The incident happened Thursday as the SEALs were attempting to board a suspicious vessel in rough seas, The Associated Press reported Saturday, citing unnamed U.S. officials.

One SEAL was attempting to board the vessel when they were knocked off by high waves, AP reported. The other SEAL jumped into the sea to rescue their team member, according to the AP report.

Search and rescue efforts are ongoing in the Gulf of Aden, where the waters are warm, AP reported.

U.S. Central Command confirmed in a statement on Friday that the sailors were missing but did not offer additional details out of operational security concerns and respect for the families. The statement did not say what Navy ships or other U.S. military personnel may have been involved.

It wasn’t clear why the vessel drew the team’s attention. Naval forces in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations regularly conduct operations intercepting weapons being sent to Iranian-backed Houthi militants in Yemen.

Why Future Amphibious Assaults May Need Tanks, Artillery & Heavy Armor


Island hopping warfare in the South China Sea, high-speed air-sea-land combat along the Chinese coastline or perhaps even a full scale amphibious assault to liberate Taiwan … are all likely the kinds of missions the US Marine Corps trains to be prepared for. Yet the prospect of amphibious warfare now introduces an entirely new generation of variables and threat circumstances given the advent of longer-range sensors, precision-guided anti-armor weapons, AI-enabled sensing and targeting systems and many new kinds of armed unmanned platforms.

Citing the success of anti-armor weapons in Ukraine, the text of Marine Corps Force Design 2030 roadmap for the future force makes groundbreaking observations such as …highlighting the need for a massive increase in unmanned systems, drones and manned-unmanned teaming along with agile, expeditionary, high-speed lightweight platforms, multi-domain weaponry, tactics and networking technologies designed to enable a more disaggregated, yet highly networked and lethal assault force.

Clearly the futurists, weapons developers and combat tacticians within the Corps seem to understand the increasing importance of the need for the Corps to be true to its maritime, multi-domain roots and move quickly across air, land and sea with unprecedented and unparalleled speed and lethality…yet in totally new threat environment. In a modern combat environment, it seems this would require upgraded anti-armor weapons, hand-launched drones, high-speed amphibious platforms and the ability to leverage now-operational Marine Corps 5th-generation stealth air power. What about heavy armor platforms and traditional weapons such as Howitzer artillery, tanks, armored reconnaissance vehicles and helicopters? How much will they still be needed .. and what is the future role of the Corps’ famous Marine Air-Ground-Task-Force (MAGTF)?

Part of the impetus behind Corps cutting edge thinking is likely related to new technologies such as the growing ability to attack from stand-off ranges with precision weaponry, paradigm-changing developments with AI, autonomy and unmanned systems, an ability to operate in more dispersed, disaggregated formations and leverage the best available multi-domain transport layer networking technology … At the same time, the text of the Corps’ future plan (Marine Corps Force Design 2030) carves out a special, enduring place for what it calls “stand-in” combat forces, a term quite close to the Marine Corps ethos and fundamental spirit.. Referring to an ability to “close” with and destroy an enemy in the “close-in” fight.

Navy SEALs describe how boarding a ship is a team’s ‘sketchiest’ mission


A Navy SEAL who spent a dozen years in the elite combat units said the “sketchiest” training of his career was intercepting a ship and boarding it at night — the tactic at the heart of the mission from which two SEALs went missing Thursday when their team boarded a ship in the waters off of Somalia looking for Iranian weapons.

The high-risk tactic, known as Visit, Board, Search and Seizure, or VBSS, puts SEALS in a uniquely dangerous, exhausting and miserable spot, the veteran SEAL told Task & Purpose.

“It’s the sketchiest thing I did in the teams,” he said. “Everything is slippery, it’s dark, everything is moving, it’s f**king cold so you can’t feel sh*t.”

And a misstep at any moment could send a SEAL into the black ocean below.

Several other former SEALs who spoke to Task & Purpose echoed those sentiments, roundly describing VBSS ops as among the more dangerous — and just outright miserable — skills that SEALS practice.

The 12-year SEAL said he was more anxious doing VBSS operations than he was during HALO jumps, the practice of freefall parachuting, usually at night, with perhaps 100 pounds of gear attached.

“It’s sketchier than HALO,” he said. “The only other time I felt similar was fast-roping from an Osprey. The rope shoots out 45 degrees and you’re barely hanging on with hundreds of pounds of gear and if you fall it’s 50 feet to the ground. That’s the only other time I felt the kind of sketch I did doing VBSS.”

Welcome to 2034 : What the world could look like in ten years, according to nearly 300 experts

Mary Kate Aylward, Peter Engelke, Uri Friedman, and Paul Kielstra

Picture a world with competing power centers, an unstable Russia stumbling into its post-Putin era, a nuclear-armed Iran emerging in the midst of an unruly nuclear age, and a United Nations incapable of carrying out its core functions—including convening the world’s countries to tackle problems, such as climate change, that no one state can solve and that pose a grave threat to global security and prosperity.

That’s just a glimpse into the future that leading global strategists and foresight practitioners forecast when the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security surveyed them in November on how they expect the world to change over the next ten years.

If this sketch leaves you gloomy, you’re in good company: Sixty percent of the experts who participated in our annual Global Foresight survey think the world will be worse off a decade hence. But despite the pessimism about the overall direction of global affairs that many expressed, their responses also turned up cause for hope when we asked more specific questions regarding geopolitics, the environment, disruptive technology, the global economy, and other domains.

The 288 respondents were mostly citizens of the United States (60 percent of those polled), with 17 percent from Europe and 11 percent from Latin America and the Caribbean. In total, respondents’ nationalities were spread across forty-eight countries.

The Case Against Nationalism

Alex Nowrasteh and Ilya Somin

Nationalism is particularly dangerous in a diverse nation like the United States, where it is likely to exacerbate conflict. The ideology is virtually impossible to separate from harmful ethnic and racial discrimination of a kind conservatives would readily condemn in other contexts. Like socialism, with which it has important similarities, nationalism encourages harmful government control over the economy. Nationalism also poses a threat to democratic institutions. Finally, nationalist ideology is at odds with America’s foundational principles, which are based on universal natural rights, not ethnic particularism.

In crucial ways, nationalism is just socialism with different flags and more ethnic chauvinism. All Americans, but especially traditional conservatives, classical liberals, and libertarians, should recognize nationalism’s dangers and recommit instead to the core principles of our founding.

What Is Nationalism?

American conservatism is a dynamic movement that has shifted its ideological emphases over the last several decades. In the aftermath of the September 11th attacks on the United States, neoconservatism was briefly ascendant. After the financial crisis of 2008–2009, a quasi‐​libertarian Tea Party that emphasized free markets and government restraint came to the fore. The rise of Donald Trump marked another ideological shift, this time toward nationalism — a fuzzy concept that includes national greatness, toughness, support for entitlement programs, and greater skepticism of interactions with foreigners through trade and immigration. President Trump used the term in 2018 to summarize his own ideology: “[Y]ou know, they have a word, it sort of became old‐​fashioned. It’s called a nationalist.…You know what I am? I’m a nationalist. OK? I’m a nationalist.…Use that word. Use that word.”

Trump’s policy positions and rhetorical style differed from those of others on the political right, prompting some conservative intellectuals to attempt to construct a coherent ideology around their new figurehead’s pronouncements. Intellectuals may be much less important to the conservative movement than they have been in years past, but they crave an ideologically consistent model of the world in which to place Trump — the apparent leader of modern American conservatism.

The West needs to get real about security


The United States Senate’s failure to pass an aid package for Ukraine last month will likely be remembered as the first domino to fall in Russia’s war of aggression, potentially setting the stage for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s victory. And while the U.S. Congress is expected to try again in 2024, this was a clear sign that the West has grown weary of an open-ended “as-long-as-it-takes” approach.

If this is to change, it’s time for a new strategy.

It’s true that U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration succeeded in leading NATO toward a common response to Russia’s unprovoked invasion — and this will be remembered as a splendid manifestation of America’s strategic DNA. But what followed has muddied the waters — especially the drawn-out and overly cautious process of providing military assistance to Ukraine.

Most importantly, the U.S. and its allies should have laid out a clear vision for victory. Instead, we heard from various officials that it’s either up to Ukraine to decide what the end state should be, that Putin can’t be allowed to win, or that Ukraine can’t be allowed to lose. Like the saying goes: If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.

And as a result, what has come to pass in Washington, Berlin or Paris for a discussion on our common Ukraine strategy over the last two years has now morphed into familiar mantras of “freezing the conflict.” Meanwhile, the sanctions regime supposed to cripple Russia has been so porous, the country’s sovereign wealth fund is projected to be 40 percent bigger at the end of 2023 than 2022.

But no factor has had a more deleterious impact on the course of this war than NATO’s failure to offer Ukraine a clear path to alliance membership at the Vilnius summit. The notion that Ukraine wasn’t ready for NATO membership arguably did more to embolden Putin and prolong the war than the West’s self-deterring approach to aiding Ukraine.

OPINION: Where is General Gerasimov and Why Does it Matter?

Jonathan Sweet & Mark Toth

It has been a week since Ukraine conducted two deep fire missile strikes against Russian targets in Crimea on January 5th. British Storm Shadow and French SCALP cruise missiles were used to strike a command post near Sevastopol and a radar station in Uyutne near the coastal western city of Yevpatoria.

Visegrád 24 reported shortly afterwards that 23 Russian troops were killed in the Ukrainian attack on the Russian airbase in Saky, Crimea. Nine were purported to be special forces – and five “high-ranking commanders.”

Soon thereafter rumors quickly began circulating that one of those high-ranking commanders was Russian General Valery Gerasimov. WarVehicleTracker tweeted an image from the Telegram channel known as “Ordinary Tsarism” that suggested Russian President Vladimir Putin’s theater commander had been “in a command post near Sevastopol at the time of the attack.”

It is doubtful that he is dead. Indeed, on January 6th, former deputy chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ General Staff, Lieutenant General Ihor Romanenko warned “against believing rumors about the elimination of the head of the Russian General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, in an interview with Radio NV.”

Yet Gerasimov’s continued absence from the public stage and Moscow’s ‘radio silence’ to date on his status are interesting. Gerasimov was last seen in public was December 29th, presenting awards to “military personnel who distinguished themselves during the liberation of Marinka' in occupied Donetsk region, Ukraine.”

It is odd that there has been no response to explain the whereabouts of Gerasimov – the commander of all Russian armed forces in Ukraine. Especially given the lengths the Kremlin went to deny the death of its commander Admiral Viktor Sokolov immediately following the Storm Shadow missile attack on the Black Sea Fleet Headquarters on September 22nd.

A Navy In Crisis: It’s Time For The Conference Of Admirals

John Konrad

By Captain John Konrad (gCaptain OpEd) Today, the US Navy is experiencing two contrasting situations. On one hand, the USS Carney and other warships continue to demonstrate their power and capabilities in the Red Sea. On the other hand, it has been reported that the Navy’s latest ship, the Constellation class frigate, has been delayed by a year as ongoing schedule assessments are being conducted.

There is a one-year delay in the delivery of the first Constellation-class frigate, named the future USS Constellation (FFG-62). This delay is mainly due to workforce shortages at Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Wisconsin and numerous construction change orders. A legislative source has confirmed that an independent review of the shipyard’s delays has resulted in a new anticipated delivery date of 2027, as reported by the US Naval Institute.

This news comes just two weeks after USS Carney, the formidable Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer renowned for its role in safeguarding ships in the Red Sea last month, triumphantly returned to its base in the Persian Gulf. In a ceremony held in Bahrain, the entire crew was honored with navy combat medals for successfully neutralizing 14 unmanned drones launched by Houthi forces in the Red Sea.

This is the dichotomy. Operationally, the world is dazzled by the US Navy’s success but flabbergasted by the fact the Chinese Navy now has more hulls and over 200 times the shipbuilding capacity while the US Navy is unable to build a single ship on time and on budget.

There is no doubt that the best combat ships of the US Navy are effective. However, the issue lies in the fact that the Red Sea is approximately the size of California, and the US Navy lacks sufficient destroyers to escort all the ships passing through to the Suez Canal. Furthermore, the US has only managed to persuade a few nations to contribute warships in support of Operation Prosperity Guardian (OPG), the US-led coalition aimed at safeguarding merchant ships in the Red Sea.


Sam Biddle

OPENAI THIS WEEK quietly deleted language expressly prohibiting the use of its technology for military purposes from its usage policy, which seeks to dictate how powerful and immensely popular tools like ChatGPT can be used.

Up until January 10, OpenAI’s “usage policies” pageOpens in a new tab included a ban on “activity that has high risk of physical harm, including,” specifically, “weapons development” and “military and warfare.” That plainly worded prohibition against military applications would seemingly rule out any official, and extremely lucrative, use by the Department of Defense or any other state military. The new policyOpens in a new tab retains an injunction not to “use our service to harm yourself or others” and gives “develop or use weapons” as an example, but the blanket ban on “military and warfare” use has vanished.

The unannounced redaction is part of a major rewrite of the policy page, which the company said was intended to make the document “clearer” and “more readable,” and which includes many other substantial language and formatting changes.

“We aimed to create a set of universal principles that are both easy to remember and apply, especially as our tools are now globally used by everyday users who can now also build GPTs,” OpenAI spokesperson Niko Felix said in an email to The Intercept. “A principle like ‘Don’t harm others’ is broad yet easily grasped and relevant in numerous contexts. Additionally, we specifically cited weapons and injury to others as clear examples.”

Felix declined to say whether the vaguer “harm” ban encompassed all military use, writing, “Any use of our technology, including by the military, to ‘[develop] or [use] weapons, [injure] others or [destroy] property, or [engage] in unauthorized activities that violate the security of any service or system,’ is disallowed.”

Drones Are Changing How Wars Are Fought

Jemal R. Brinson, Juanje Gómez, Daniel Michaels and Stephen Kalin

Drones are transforming warfare, from Red Square to the Red Sea.

Over the past decade, uncrewed aerial vehicles—and recently naval vessels—have put increasingly lethal and effective military equipment in the hands of insurgent groups such as Islamic State, Yemen’s Houthi rebels and underdogs like the Ukrainian military. Kyiv used drones to slow Russia’s invasion in 2022 and later sent longer-range UAVs to hit targets as far away as Moscow.

When Hamas struck Israel on Oct. 7, its attack began with strikes from hobbyist drones on Israeli surveillance posts. The Iran-backed Houthis are using drones to target Red Sea shipping lanes.

The question for the U.S. and its allies now is how to defend against cheap drones without using expensive missiles.

Here’s a look at some of the ways drones are reshaping warfare.

RANGE: Drones expand the battlefield

Like operating from a hilltop, drones extend fighters’ line of sight and field of fire. They improve the accuracy of weapons fired from afar, such as artillery. They can help locate and target logistical networks, stretching enemy supply lines and complicating operations. Long-range drones put civilian areas far from the frontline into play without the risk of sending pilots into danger.

Cyber security in modern world

Rabeya Islam Rima

CYBER security plays an important role in the field of technology, but securing information has become one of the biggest challenges in the present world. In this modern world, everything depends on various technologies. Billions of people worldwide rely on technology for their data-related activities. In today’s interconnected world, the vast majority of countries rely on technology for data management, communication and others. It would be challenging to pinpoint exact numbers, as almost all countries integrate technology into their industries and public services. As a result, cyber security challenges are increasing day by day.

According to the US Department of Justice, it expands the definition of the main cyber security challenge of cybercrime to include any illegal activity that uses a computer for the storage of evidence. According to reports, around 236.1 million ransomware attacks occurred globally in the first half of 2022. One in 10 US organisations has no assurance against cyber-attacks. It globally increased by 125 per cent in 2021 compared to 2020, and increasing volumes of cyber-attacks continued to threaten businesses and individuals in 2022. In Asia, organisations suffered the most attacks worldwide. The UK had the highest number of cybercrime victims per million internet users at 4,783 in 2022, up 40 per cent over 2020 figures. In 2021, there was an average of 97 data breach victims every hour worldwide.

In modern society, cyber-attacks are increasing exponentially. The main reason can be said to be that it is convenient and less risky than physical attacks with the expansion of cyberspace. Cyber threats are growing day by day. It is becoming more powerful and creating more challenges too. To define that, we can see some notable cyber-attacks, such as the Stuxnet worm (2009–2016). This attack is a computer worm that is widely believed to be a joint US-Israel cyber weapon. It specifically targeted Iran’s nuclear programme, damaging centrifuges used for uranium enrichment. Another cyber-attack was the Wonna Cry ransomware in 2017. This attack affected over 200,000 computers across 150 countries. It exploited a Windows vulnerability and demanded ransom payments in bitcoin. This incident highlighted the global reach and impact of ransomware on affected organisations like the NHS in the UK. Equifax Data Branch, one of the major credit reporting companies, suffered a massive data breach that exposed the personal information of nearly 147 million people. The incident highlighted the vulnerability of a large database and the importance of protecting sensitive personal data. Another example of a dangerous cyber-attack is AP (cosy bear). It is believed to be associated with Russian intelligence. It has been involved in various cyber-espionage campaigns globally. It has targeted government organisations.

What’s Wrong with Outer Space Colonialism?

Alina Utrata

In October of 2023, the New York Times published an article entitled: “Maybe in Your Lifetime, People Will Live on the Moon and then Mars”. NASA landed on the Moon for the first time over half a century ago, and by 2040 they plan to return—this time, to stay. Outer space colonialism is usually believed to belong to the world of science fiction. But there are very real projects currently underway to ensure that both astronauts and civilians can survive for lengthy periods on the Moon, and thus begin the process of settling space. This includes, for instance, developing 3D printers that could construct homes with the capacity to withstand conditions on the Moon—such as temperatures upwards of 600 degrees, a “vicious combination of radiation and micrometeorites”, and Moon dust “so abrasive it can cut like glass . . . [which] swirls in noxious plumes and is toxic when inhaled” (Kamin 2023).

As I detail in my article in the American Political Science Review (Utrata 2023), there are many reasons why one might object to colonies on the Moon. These include the enormous emissions in the midst of the climate catastrophe (Rubenstein 2022; Utrata 2021); the continued dispossession of indigenous lands and displacement of vulnerable communities for rocket launch sites (Sammler and Lynch 2021) and entrenchment of coloniality and colonial relationships (Trevino 2020; Bawaka Country et al. 2020); or the risk of geopolitical conflict and militarization of space (Deudney 2020). However ill-advised colonizing outer space might be, it is often assumed to be fundamentally different from earthly colonialism for one key reason: outer space is actually empty. As Mary-Jane Rubenstein (2022, 158) puts it:

Corporate space enthusiasts insist that the game is different this time because the lands they’re aiming for aren’t inhabited… when it comes to space… we can finally feel good about frontierism because we’ve finally got an empty frontier.

In this article, I want to draw out one aspect of my critique about outer space colonialism and its claim to have found genuinely “empty space”, both for what it suggests about the ethics of settling space as well as what it reveals about terrestrial colonization.

A new era beckons for UAVs at sea

Nick Childs

A revolution is underway in the deployment of uninhabited aerial vehicles from ships at sea. It is enabling new and more adaptive approaches to maritime air power for navies with traditional aircraft carrier and opening the door to shipborne aviation for more naval forces.

The past year saw a raft of developments that signal a looming transformation in the employment of uninhabited aerial vehicles (UAVs) from ships at sea. The changes include the potential introduction of a new class of vessel, the ‘UAV carrier’, and other efforts that would expand the distribution of maritime air power around major fleets and among more navies in a way not seen for decades.

Turkiye, in April 2023, commissioned what it declared to be the world’s first UAV carrier, the TCG Anadolu. The United Kingdom embarked on trials in September and November to bring UAVs performing a range of missions onto its carriers. And the Portuguese Navy, in November, awarded a contract to Dutch shipbuilder Damen for an ocean research and maritime support ship that could be a precursor to a new class of aviation-capable warships dedicated to UAV operations.

Sea change

Navies have pressed UAVs into service in relatively limited ways, mainly for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) purposes. The United States Navy, for instance, operates the MQ-4C Triton high-altitude long-endurance UAV, but from land. UAVs operated from ships have tended to be more tactical. The Iranian-backed Ansarullah (Houthi) movement in Yemen has demonstrated the utility of UAVs in the maritime domain in a different way, grabbing headlines with the employment of one-way attack UAVs (and various types of anti-ship missiles) against shipping in and around the Red Sea.

More advanced uses of UAVs deployed from ships have been slower to develop, but that is changing. From 2026, the US Navy plans to operate Boeing MQ-25 Stingray UAVs from its fleet of aircraft carriers for inflight refuelling. That is just the start of its plans to incorporate UAVs and autonomous air systems into its carriers to restore the reach, lethality and mass of its air wings, and to help reinforce the survivability of the carriers themselves.