7 February 2024

The Two-State Solution Is a Recipe for Carnage

Manlio Graziano

Since the Israel-Hamas war erupted in Gaza, leaders of the great and middle powers not directly involved in the armed conflict have consistently stated that the only way out is to create two states—one for the Israelis and another for the Palestinians. U.S. President Joe Biden has made this idea the mantra of his strained relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; leaders worldwide, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, French President Emmanuel Macron, U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, have echoed this idea.

After a spate of warnings, Israel went down the 9/11 path anyway


Like 9/11, the raid on Israel by the paramilitary wing of Hamas on October 7 is frequently held to be a game changer — an “inflection point.” But, like 9/11, it seems instead to have been a desperate foray by an increasingly irrelevant group that got horribly lucky.

After the attack, many in the United States, including President Joe Biden, urged the Israelis not to repeat the mistakes the U.S. made after 9/11. Those mistakes included exaggerating the strategic significance of the terrible event and of the capacities of those perpetrating it, and then understandably but counterproductively reacting in anger to the provocation in a manner that resulted in far more damage than the initiating event and created far more dedicated enemies than had existed before.


The 9/11 attack was horrific — indeed, scarcely any terrorist act in history, in war zones or outside them, has inflicted even ten percent as much total destruction.

However, although the attacks were in many respects clever and well planned, their success was more the result of luck than of ingenuity. Before 9/11, al-Qaeda, a fringe group at the time, had launched several terrorist attacks, but even those that succeeded were laced with screw-ups, and there were many missteps in the execution of the 9/11 plot — participants took unauthorized foreign trips, failed to get trained, and loudly bragged about how they would soon be famous.

In fact, it is not at all clear that the planners truly appreciated how successful they would be or why. Indeed, the 9/11 planners had been working on a “second wave” of hijackings, suggesting they were oblivious to the fact that the first attack would make a “second wave” vastly more difficult, and likely impossible because, as pilot Patrick Smith points out, “Any hijacker would face a planeload of angry and frightened people ready to fight back.”

India’s Carrot And Stick Approach Towards Recalcitrant Maldives – Analysis

P. K. Balachandran

The two governments make contradictory statements after the core group’s meeting in New Delhi on Friday.

In pursuit of its strategic objectives in the Western Indian Ocean, India has adopted a carrot and stick policy towards a recalcitrant Maldives.

The two countries are battling over an Indian military presence in the in the Indian Ocean archipelago.

There are 88 Indian military personnel, with two choppers and a Dornier aircraft, running emergency medical evacuation and search and rescue operations in the Maldivian archipelago.

India wants to retain its military presence here in view of China’s expansionist moves in the Western Indian Ocean. But the Maldivians see the Indian boots on their ground as an affront to their sovereignty.

One the one hand, India is trying to woo the Maldivians by allocating INR 600 crore (US$ 72 million) for the Maldives in its 2024-2025 budget, brushing aside the growing bitterness in the relationship.

But on the other hand, it is wielding a stick by getting one of its Coast Guard vessels to intrude into Maldivian waters, intercept some Maldivian fishing vessels, and interrogate the crew. The Indian action sent the Maldivians into a tizzy. And the government sent a missive to New Delhi seeking an explanation. New Delhi reportedly did not reply.

At the Indo-Maldivian Core Group meeting in New Delhi on Friday, the Maldivians pressed for the withdrawal of the Indian military personnel from the islands by March 15. But India said that it would “replace” the personnel in question beginning on March 10 and ending on May 10.

Is India-Maldives Conflict Reaching A Flash Point? – Analysis

P. K. Balachandran

While the Maldives is readying to host a Chinese “spy” vessel flouting India’s request not to do so, the Maldives is accusing India of intimidating Maldivian fishermen in Maldivian waters.

The Indo-Maldivian conflict over increasing Chinese influence on the Maldives since Mohamed Muizzu became President, now appears to be heading for a flash point.

While the Maldives is readying to host a Chinese “research” vessel which India claims is a “spy” vessel, the Maldives is accusing the Indian Coast Guard of intimidating Maldivian fishermen in Maldivian waters, not once, but twice, in the past few days.

These could have serious repercussions unless taken up and defused at the highest levels in the two countries.

The website www.maldivesrepublic.mv reported that a Maldivian fishing boat, ‘Maahoara-3,’ was stopped and searched by Indian soldiers for a second time on February 3 while the vessels were fishing within the country’s territorial waters.

The location was in the vicinity of a previous boarding incident on January 31.

The boat’s captain, Ibrahim Rasheed, recounting the ordeal to the local media, stated that the event occurred around midnight on Saturday, three miles from a buoy, near Molhadhoo in the Haa Alifu Atoll.

According to Rasheed, armed Indian military officers boarded the fishing vessel and demanded that the crew hand over their satellite phones—a request firmly rejected by the crew, citing instructions from the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).

Rashid highlighted the aggressive posture of the Indian personnel, who kept their weapons aimed at the crew during the verbal confrontation, claiming that it was the protocol during such operations.

The Military Is Still Pulling the Strings in Pakistan’s Elections

Muneeb Yousuf

Pakistan is scheduled to hold elections on Feb. 8, the latest crucial date in the country’s democratic experiment. Some observers feared Islamabad’s election commission could postpone the vote due to worsening security conditions, but even as the elections go ahead, many analysts worry they may not be free or fair. Pakistan has a long history of political interference in democratic processes by its powerful military.

It Started in Afghanistan

Haydon N. Parham

It’s evident that within weeks of the August 30, 2021, withdrawal, Vladimir Putin began amassing troops on the Ukrainian border. It’s no coincidence that as soon as progress was announced on talks between Saudi Arabia and Israel, Hamas launched the deadly attack with Iranian assistance. It’s also no coincidence that since August 2021, China has only stepped up its bellicose rhetoric regarding a forceful unification of Taiwan.

While the particulars of each conflict are different, one commonality underlies them all: a failure of American deterrence. The threat of overwhelming American force has historically been a check on regional actors that has prevented further escalation. In both Ukraine and Gaza, American politicians mistook our adversaries’ vital interests and failed to anticipate their responses.

For Ukraine, its potential induction into the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the perceived existential threat this posed to Russia played a significant role. Although the decision to go to war ultimately rested with Putin, the conditions and objectives that fueled the conflict had been evolving for years. Namely, Russia sought to reinstall a pro-Moscow régime in Kyiv, not unlike the one ousted during the Euromaidan Revolution in 2014. While the United States has benefited by supplying Ukraine to continue the fight, it was not the objective of U.S. diplomacy and happened despite U.S. actions. It should not erase the failure of American deterrence to prevent the war in the first place, especially since American intelligence was more than aware of the coming invasion months before it began.

Similarly, in Gaza, the failed détente attempted by the Biden administration toward Iran, combined with the push to facilitate a peace deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, incentivized the current conflict. Such an alliance could only threaten Iranian interests by uniting its competitors in the region, prompting Tehran to turn to its network of terrorist proxy groups throughout the Middle East to derail the deal. In this case, giving the go-ahead to Hamas so that the fallout of the Israeli backlash would exacerbate latent tensions between Jerusalem and Riyadh, squashing any olive branches between the two.

Debt-stricken Sri Lanka Signs a Free Trade Pact With Thailand

Bharatha Mallawarachi

Debt-stricken Sri Lanka signed a trade pact with Thailand on Saturday in a bid to boost trade and investment as the Indian Ocean island nation is struggling to recover from its worst economic crisis that hit two year ago.

The Sri Lanka-Thailand Free Trade Agreement covering trade in goods, investment, custom procedures, and intellectual property rights was signed in the capital Colombo in the presence of Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin.

Sri Lanka began talks with Thailand on a free trade agreement in 2016.

The countries’ two-way trade was worth about $352 million in 2022, with Thailand’s exports at $292 million and Sri Lanka’s exports at $58 million, according to Sri Lankan government’s data.

Sri Lanka exports include mainly precious stones, apparel, tea, and spices while exports from Thailand include smoked rubber sheets, natural rubber, plastic, and cement. Sri Lanka’s government expects the trade pact would boost two-way trade up to $1.5 billion.

Thavisin said that the countries agreed to promote investment in areas such as fisheries, food processing, tourism, and green energy. Thailand has made over $92 million in direct investment in Sri Lanka from 2005 to 2022.

Giving further boost to tourism, Thavisin said that Thailand’s flag carrier Thai Airways would resume daily flights from Bangkok to Sri Lanka next month.

Asian defence spending ambitions outstrip growth

Karl Dewey

Asia’s defence spending reached a record USD510 billion in 2023. Sustained Chinese military modernisation and North Korean belligerence have increased tensions in the region, while the prospect of a return of former United States president Donald Trump, with his isolationist tendencies, suggests the figure will only grow.

This year’s spending consolidates the wider regional trend of increasing defence budgets, with a nominal 2.8% increase on the previous year, and a 4.6% increase in real terms. However, with defence spending growing faster than economic growth, the affordability and sustainability of defence plans is questionable.

Spending for an arms race

Beijing announced a defence budget of RMB1.55 trillion (USD219.5bn) in March 2023, representing a nominal increase of 7.2% over the previous year. It marked the 29th consecutive year of increasing Chinese defence expenditure. China is outspending its neighbours – The Military Balance 2024 assesses that China represented 43% of regional defence spending in 2023 – at a time it is also becoming more assertive, prompting concerns about Beijing’s military intent. China’s potential use of force against Taiwan, increasing aggression in the South China Sea, establishment of overseas military bases and enhanced expeditionary operations are fuelling anxiety in the region.

Neighbouring states have responded by hiking spending plans. In August 2023, Taiwan proposed its largest-ever defence budget of TWD606.8bn (USD19.1bn) for 2024. The figure represents a 3.5% increase on the previous year and will contribute towards ongoing acquisition programmes such as the 2021 Sea–Air Combat Power Improvement Plan. The plan aims to build up Taiwan’s defence industrial capacity and field locally produced weapons ranging from precision missiles to air defence capabilities.

China’s Quiet Move Toward Moderation

Robert Sutter

A steady drum beat of Chinese rhetoric regarding China’s resolve against the United States and its allies and partners has led some observers to warn of military conflict over Taiwan, the South China Sea, or some other flashpoint. However, the posturing also coincides with a degree of Chinese compromise and moderation in dealing with these same competitors.

Beijing is making unacknowledged compromises and failing to take action after warnings in dealing with the United States and its allies and partners in Europe and Asia. Meanwhile, these same partners are increasingly working together to counter the wide array of challenges posed by China.

A significant compromise involving the United States came at the Joe Biden-Xi Jinping summit on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting in Bali, Indonesia in November 2022. The two leaders met in the wake of Beijing’s show of force surrounding Taiwan following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei that August. The Biden government and Congress stood firm. Following the episode, Congress approved legislation providing over half a trillion dollars for high technology competition with China and executive action from the White House cut off U.S. advanced computer chip technology to hobble China’s ambitions. Biden also publicly reaffirmed that if China attacked Taiwan, the United States would take military action to defend the island.

Against that background, Xi scrapped China’s list of preconditions for talks aimed at establishing what the Biden administration called “guardrails” that would help avoid war as U.S. competition with China increased. Originally, Beijing’s demands involved lists of steps the United States needed to take to improve relations with China before the U.S.-desired talks could go forward. In contrast, at the 2022 Bali summit, Xi made no reference to any such preconditions in agreeing with Biden that such talks to avoid military conflict should begin.

At Least 6 Kurdish Fighters Are Killed in a Drone Attack on a Syrian Base Housing US Troop

Baseem Mroue and Kareen Chehayeb

A drone attack on a base housing U.S. troops in eastern Syria killed six allied Kurdish fighters late Sunday, in the first significant attack in Syria or Iraq since the U.S. launched retaliatory strikes over the weekend against Iran-backed militias that have been targeting its forces in the region.

The U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said Monday the attack hit a training ground at al-Omar base in Syria’s eastern province of Deir el-Zour, where the forces' commando units are trained. No casualties were reported among U.S. troops.

An umbrella group of Iran-backed Iraqi militias, dubbed the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, released a video claiming responsibility for the attack and showing them launching a drone from an unspecified location.

In late January, a drone attack by the same group killed three U.S. troops and wounded dozens more at a desert base in Jordan. The U.S. military launched dozens of retaliatory strikes targeting Iran-backed militant groups in western Iraq and eastern Syria and also struck the Houthis in Yemen.

The SDF initially accused “Syrian regime-backed mercenaries” of carrying out Sunday's attack but in a second statement blamed “Iran-backed militias” after investigating the attack.

The umbrella group has launched dozens of drone attacks on U.S. military bases and troops in Iraq and Syria, and has called for the withdrawal of American soldiers from both countries.

Why Iran Won't Back Down to Joe Biden

Dov S. Zakheim

On January 28, the Iranian-backed Islamic Resistance in Iraq launched a drone strike on the American Tower 22 facility in Jordan that left a serviceman and two servicewomen dead and at least 34 others wounded. Almost immediately, President Biden and his leading officials announced that Washington would respond at a time and place of its choosing. Washington did not retaliate until February 2, however. Moreover, although the president publicly held Iran ultimately responsible for the attack, when American B-1 bombers launched their strikes on February 2, their targets were not to be found on Iranian territory. Instead, the more than eighty-five facilities linked to the militia and its Iranian sponsor, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force, were all located in either Syria or Iraq.

The following day, U.S. Navy F/A-18 and British Typhoon fighter aircraft, supported by Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, and New Zealand, struck thirty-six Houthi targets at thirteen locations in what the U.S. Central Command described as “Iranian-backed Houthi terrorist-controlled areas of Yemen.” Ironically, despite Central Command’s characterization, the Biden administration removed the Houthis from the terrorist list three years ago and only re-designated them on January 17.

Presumably, the strike against the Houthis represented a continuation of Washington’s retaliation against Iran’s proxies. It was the third such major attack against the Iran-supported group, which has targeted international shipping for the past several months and has continued to do so despite previous Anglo-American attacks on its launchers and facilities.

Critics have pointed out that the Biden announcement of American plans to retaliate for the Tower 22 attack came so far ahead of the B-1 operation that Iranian personnel were able to evacuate the likely American targets well before the strike took place. Although as many as forty people reportedly died in the attack, it is not clear how many of them were Iranians. Given the American signals that preceded the operation, it is almost certain that senior Iranians located at the various targeted locations escaped to safety well before the bombers took off from Britain’s Lakenheath air base.

Iran: Here we go with another game of whack-a-mole


U.S. President Joe Biden is getting drawn into a game of whack-a-mole eagerly engineered by Iran.

Up pop the Tehran-backed Houthis, threatening maritime traffic in the Red Sea. And the U.S. whacks ’em down. Next, it’s the Iran-sponsored, Iraq-based Shiite militias’ turn to target American forces in Jordan or Syria. And the U.S. whacks ’em down again.

What’s next? A repeat of the 1980s tanker war between Iran and Iraq against merchant vessels in the Gulf and Strait of Hormuz? Tehran can play this game forever.

And, of course, all this is unfolding at the worst possible time for Biden — namely, as he prepares for the electoral tussle of his life with former U.S. President Donald Trump, who will enjoy the great luxury of any presidential challenger and harrumph that he could do better. And maybe he could.

Trump’s unpredictability scares not only foes but friends — even Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, apparently. The hawkish Israeli leader had balked at joining the U.S. in the 2020 killing of General Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Quds Force. “We had everything all set to go, and the night before it happened, I got a call that Israel will not be participating in this attack,” Trump claimed last October. “We were disappointed by that. Very disappointed . . . But we did the job ourselves, with absolute precision . . . and then Bibi tried to take credit for it,” he said.

Not that unpredictability is vice free.

As noted by scholars Daniel Nexon and Dani Nedal, it can be “a recipe for instability, confusion, and self-inflicted harm to U.S. interests abroad.” It undermines rules-based long-term relationships, puts allies on edge and can be an easy substitute for disciplined joined-up thinking. Plus, with Trump, unpredictability can all too often just be visceral caprice.

Less than half of young American adults view the US military positively, new poll finds amid recruitment struggles

Ella Sherman

The results of a new poll show that over half of America's young adults, 53 percent, have a negative opinion of the US military, a potential problem as the armed forces grapple with recruitment challenges.

The Pew Research Center reported Thursday that overall, 60 percent of Americans hold positive views of the US military, however, only 43 percent of adults in the US ages 18 to 29 expressed positive views.

Pew determined that older Americans are more likely to have a favorable opinion of the military. Adults ages 65 and over expressed the highest positive outlook of the US military at 71 percent and seven out of ten adults ages 50 and over say the military "is having a positive impact."

The Pew data offering insight into the prevalence of negative views of the military among young American adults comes as the US military deals with an ongoing recruiting crisis.

New enlistments were down for the Army last year, for instance. Only 55,000 active-duty soldiers were enlisted last year compared to the 65,000-person goal, according to Military.com.

Quantum Talent: An American Civil-Military Fusion

William Treseder

There is a small but growing movement of reservists behind the deployment of new capabilities in support of national security. Think of these reservists as “quantum talent,” occupying a role in both the military and commercial worlds. These tech-savvy reservists bring an enormous amount of critical experience to the table, whether they’re working with cutting-edge companies or running their own startups.

Think what could happen if we truly harnessed the skills and passion of these reservists. They could be game-changers for the U.S. economy, accelerating the development of new capabilities that enhance America’s technological dominance, deterring our adversaries and strengthening our allies.

Calling in the reserves

In the last few decades, the defense industrial base has drifted far apart from commercial industries. The intertwined communities of researchers, engineers, and technicians from previous eras are now split apart into distinct communities with little overlap. They work on different problems, for different organizations with different values and goals, instead of pulling together in the nation’s interest.

Attempts to address this split haven’t worked well. The infamous Google Maven insurrection, when over 4,000 employees forced the company to exit a contract supporting the U.S. Defense Department is a notable case in point. There are many examples of commercial technology companies walking back from defense, and even avoiding it all together.

One strategy to bridge the gap is gaining traction, however. The Defense Department is realizing how valuable reservists with high-demand / low-density skill sets – so called “quantum talent” – can be. The reserve community could be a strategic tool to close the many skill gaps facing the military, including areas such as cybersecurity, product management, and data science.

The Return Of Bipolarity: Tom Friedman Prophesies A New Round Of Global Conflict (And Mostly Gets It Wrong) – OpEd

Richard E. Rubenstein

In a recent long opinion article for the New York Times, pundit Thomas Friedman announces “a titanic geopolitical struggle between two opposing networks of nations and nonstate actors over whose values and interests will dominate our post-Cold war world.” (NY Times, January 26, 2024, p. A26). This perception is not silly. The essentially unipolar hegemony enjoyed by the United States since the end of the Cold War is surely under fire, and new constellations of power and influence are forming. But Friedman’s description of the emerging conflict is a sophomoric mashup of historical theory and primitive moralism. It is as if he were a sportscaster announcing a match between villainous and heroic boxers or wrestlers.

Welcome to the Fight of the Century! In the far corner is the Resistance Network, consisting of nations like Iran and Russia, and organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah, that are “dedicated to preserving closed, autocratic systems where the past buries the future.” (You may hiss now). In the near corner is – no, not Rocky Balboa, but the Inclusion Network, “trying to forge more open, connected, pluralizing systems where the future buries the past.”

Guess which network the United States, the NATO countries, Israel, and Ukraine are part of! We “secularizing, pluralizing, more market-driven” nations are the wave of the future – in Friedman’s adoring terms, the home of “business conferences, news organizations, elites, hedge funds, tech incubators and major trade routes.” Wall Street is our Main Street! We weave things together like high-tech globalists should, and our reward is not just power but legitimacy.

The Resistance baddies, by contrast, want to return us to the rotten old days of great power competition and backward-looking cultures. They are good only “at tearing down and breaking stuff.” What it is, exactly, that they are resisting? Friedman can’t or doesn’t want to say. His conclusion is that the members of this network “have shown no capacity to build any government or society anyone would want to emigrate to, let alone emulate,” while the Includers, by contrast, “have the potential to redefine power structures and create new paradigms of regional stability.”

2024 Global Forecast: A World Dividing - Part III

Craig Cohen & Alexander Kisling

The last two years have witnessed significant global developments that brought geopolitics back to center stage and exacerbated global divisions. The CSIS 2024 Global Forecast—A World Dividing—offers insights from dozens of CSIS scholars on the most urgent questions for the year ahead around security, technology, geoeconomics, alliances, and regional influence.

This third installment of A World Dividing examines conflicts raging in two theaters: Ukraine and the Middle East. Two years into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, CSIS scholars analyze the battlefield outlook, whether Western support for Ukraine will hold, and how to begin rebuilding the Ukrainian economy. At the same time, experts forecast the possible long-term consequences of the Israel-Hamas conflict for Middle East geopolitics and security, as well as the regional economy.

This volume follows the first two installments of A World Dividing, which explore the myriad issues facing U.S.-China competition in 2024 and the rapidly shifting contours of global economic and technology competition. The issues examined in the next installment are of equal importance, with expert insights on the defining factors in the battle for influence in the Global South.

Don't count on a soft landing for the global economy

Kenneth Rogoff

A month into 2024, the consensus forecast for the global economy remains cautiously optimistic, with most central banks and analysts projecting either a soft landing or potentially no landing at all. Even my colleague Nouriel Roubini, famous for his bearish tilt, regards the worst-case scenarios as the least likely to materialise.

The CEOs and policymakers I spoke to during last month’s World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos echoed this sentiment. The fact that the global economy did not slip into recession in 2023, despite the sharp rise in interest rates, left many experts upbeat about the outlook for 2024. When asked to explain their optimism, they either cited the US economy’s better-than-expected performance or predicted that artificial intelligence would catalyse a much-hoped-for productivity surge.

The world’s economists appear to share this outlook. The WEF’s Chief Economists Outlook for January 2024 found that while a majority of respondents foresaw a mild global downturn in 2024, most were not overly concerned and viewed the expected slowdown as a healthy correction to the inflationary pressures caused by excessive demand.

Even the disruption to global trade caused by Yemeni Houthi attacks against commercial ships in the Red Sea and the ongoing wars in Ukraine and Gaza have not dampened the jubilant mood of analysts and business leaders. The US stock market is at record levels, and even the normally conservative International Monetary Fund revised its growth forecasts upward, with the latest World Economic Outlook describing the risks to global growth as “broadly balanced.”

Despite the relatively buoyant consensus, recent developments suggest that the risks to global growth are still tilted to the downside. For starters, I am deeply sceptical of the Chinese government’s announcement that its economy grew by 5.2 per cent in 2023.

Gross domestic product (GDP) growth figures have long been a politically charged issue in China, particularly over the past year, as President Xi Jinping consolidated his one-man rule by sacking numerous top officials, including his defence and foreign ministers.

Biden’s emerging new Ukraine policy


The Biden administration wants the Ukraine war to continue at least until after US presidential elections in November but there is a lurking danger that won’t be possible, especially if Russia mounts a really big offensive. For that reason, there is a new emerging plan, one that is not in writing but seen in politics.

An example: When Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky decided to fire armed forces commander Valerii Zaluzhny, US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, who is directly responsible for US and NATO Ukraine policy, rushed to Kiev.

There are no photo ops with Nuland and Zelensky. She briefed the press standing outside in front of a hastily assembled table with some microphones on it.

Why did Nuland run to Kiev? Almost certainly the White House told her to get herself over there immediately in case things went south in Kiev. There was apparently real worry that Zaluzhny might turn the army around and use it to go after Zelensky.

So far, Zaluzhny has not made a move. He still can, of course, so one supposes that Nuland was in Kiev to talk more to Zaluzhny than to Zelensky. There is no public record of any meeting but it would seem that her job was to calm Zaluzhny down and offer him incentives to behave.

Washington is saying nothing officially about the changing of the military guard in Kiev. The White House says it is an “internal Ukrainian” issue, not one Washington would have anything to say about.

Certainly, this is pure nonsense. Washington has been manipulating Ukraine’s internal politics since before 2014, and Nuland was the sparkplug to get what Washington wanted.

A Call for Nuclear Deterrence in Europe

Alexander Kostyuk

The general public in Western European countries challenged the doctrine of nuclear deterrence in the 1970s and 1980s, when almost all Western European countries were caught up in protests against the deployment of new nuclear weapons.

Numerous surveys have continued to demonstrate this public skepticism about nuclear deterrence, and a substantial portion of the European publics have been largely in favor of withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Europe. The most famous of which was the NATO public opinion survey on nuclear weapons conducted in January 2020, before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Moreover, a 2019 YouGov poll commissioned by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) found a stark rejection of nuclear weapons in the four EU states hosting US nuclear weapons on their soil: Belgium, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.

Nuclear deterrence in the wake of the Ukraine war

In June 2023, President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia had moved a number of its nuclear weapons to Belarus, its ally and neighbor, with more nuclear weapons on the way, and that “by the end of the summer, by the end of this year, we will complete this work.”

In January 2024 the defense minister of Belarus declared that their country will put forth a new military doctrine that for the first time provides for the use of nuclear weapons. Moreover, Security Council Secretary Alexander Volfovich said the deployment of Russian nuclear weapons in Belarus is intended “to deter aggression from Poland,” a NATO member.

Why the U.S. Trade Office No Longer Runs Trade

Edward Alden

Who runs U.S. trade policy? For many decades, the answer was clear: the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office (USTR), an elite team of trade lawyers that has negotiated every big deal from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and been responsible for enforcing their terms. But under the Biden administration, the center of power has moved one mile southeast in Washington—from the USTR, headed by Katherine Tai, to the Commerce Department under Gina Raimondo.

Washington’s New Trade Consensus

Gordon H. Hanson

If the era of hyperglobalization started in 1995, with the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO), its death throes began in early 2018, when U.S. President Donald Trump raised tariffs on U.S. imports of Chinese solar panels and washing machines. Those levies were followed by tit-for-tat increases in import duties between the two countries. By the end of 2019, the world’s two largest economies were in open trade war. President Joe Biden has left Trump’s tariffs largely intact, signaling that economic antagonism toward China enjoys bipartisan support and will remain the United States’ position for the foreseeable future.

U.S. Hits Hard at Militias in Iraq and Syria in Retaliation for Fatal Drone Attack


The U.S. military launched an air assault on dozens of sites in Iraq and Syria used by Iranian-backed militias and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Friday, in the opening salvo of retaliation for the drone strike that killed three U.S. troops in Jordan last weekend.

The massive barrage of strikes hit more than 85 targets at seven locations, including command and control headquarters, intelligence centers, rockets and missiles, drone and ammunition storage sites and other facilities that were connected to the militias or the IRGC’s Quds Force, the Guard’s expeditionary unit that handles Tehran’s relationship with and arming of regional militias. And President Joe Biden made it clear in a statement that there will be more to come.

The U.S. strikes appeared to stop short of directly targeting Iran or senior leaders of the Revolutionary Guard Quds Force within its borders, as the U.S. tries to prevent the conflict from escalating even further. Iran has denied it was behind the Jordan attack.

It was unclear what the impact will be of the strikes. Days of U.S. warnings may have sent militia members scattering into hiding. With multiple groups operating at various locations in several countries, a knockout blow is unlikely.

Though one of the main Iran-backed militias, Kataib Hezbollah, said it was suspending attacks on American troops, others have vowed to continue fighting, casting themselves as champions of the Palestinian cause while the war in Gaza shows no sign of ending.

“Our response began today. It will continue at times and places of our choosing," Biden warned, adding, “let all those who might seek to do us harm know this: If you harm an American, we will respond.” He and other top U.S. leaders had been saying for days that any American response wouldn't be just one hit but a “tiered response” over time.

Artificial Intelligence vs. Human Stupidity


Since returning from this year’s World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, I have been asked repeatedly for my biggest takeaways. Among the most widely discussed issues this year was artificial intelligence – especially generative AI (“GenAI”). With the recent adoption of large language models (like the one powering ChatGPT), there is much hope – and hype – about what AI could do for productivity and economic growth in the future.

To address this question, we must bear in mind that our world is dominated far more by human stupidity than by AI. The proliferation of megathreats – each an element in the broader “polycrisis” – confirms that our politics are too dysfunctional, and our policies too misguided, to address even the most serious and obvious risks to our future. These include climate change, which will have huge economic costs; failed states, which will make waves of climate refugees even larger; and recurrent, virulent pandemics that could be even more economically damaging than COVID-19.

Making matters worse, dangerous geopolitical rivalries are evolving into new cold wars – such as between the United States and China – and into potentially explosive hot wars, like those in Ukraine and the Middle East. Around the world, rising income and wealth inequality, partly driven by hyper-globalization and labor-saving technologies, have triggered a backlash against liberal democracy, creating opportunities for populist, autocratic, and violent political movements.

Unsustainable levels of private and public debt threaten to precipitate debt and financial crises, and we may yet see a return of inflation and stagflationary negative aggregate supply shocks. The broader trend globally is toward protectionism, de-globalization, de-coupling, and de-dollarization.

Moreover, the same brave new AI technologies that could contribute to growth and human welfare also have great destructive potential. They are already being used to push disinformation, deepfakes, and election manipulation into hyperdrive, as well as raising fears about permanent technological unemployment and even starker inequality. The rise of autonomous weapons and AI-augmented cyber-warfare is equally ominous.

The Rise Of AI And ChatGPT And Its Global Implications – OpEd

Simon Hutagalung

AI stands for Artificial Intelligence, which refers to the development of computer systems that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and language translation (Schroer).

AI is based on the idea that machines can learn from experience, adjust to new inputs, and perform human-like tasks. AI is used in various industries, including healthcare, finance, education, and transportation, and is becoming increasingly important as technology advances. Developments and innovations in the area of AI over the years have resulted in several machine learning models and ChatGPT (GPT stands for Generative Pre-Trained Transformer) is one of them. ChatGPT is the fastest-rising machine learning model based on the GPT-3.5 architecture, which uses deep neural networks to generate human-like text based on the input it receives from users. Essentially, ChatGPT is an AI chatbot that can answer questions, provide information, and engage in conversations on a wide range of topics.

ChatGPT was launched in November 2022 – within a week, it attracted a million users, and within two months, it had 30 million active users. Interestingly, as of January 2023, ChatGPT has crossed 100 million active users. When questioned about which industries could be impacted by this kind of AI, David Nguyen, the Edson W. Spencer Chair for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Minnesota, responded, “I don’t know. Possibly all.” (Hrapsky).

Now, AI-powered chatbots like ChatGPT have largely disrupted traditional search engines providing greater convenience and accuracy. However, according to CNET, when the company used a self-designed AI engine to write a few financial articles, the articles were not free of factual errors and plagiarism and so, required significant human editing.

Navy Looks to Industry to Digitize Ships

Laura Heckmann

Most software aboard Navy ships is older than the sailors and less sophisticated than home gaming systems. Bridging the digital gap presents the biggest opportunity for the defense industry since the Cold War, a Navy official said.

Lt. Artem Sherbinin, chief technology officer for Task Force Hopper — established in 2021 to enable artificial intelligence and machine learning integration across the surface force — said the Navy is in the midst of what he called digital innovation and to fully realize it, the service needs to embrace software and networking approaches that are currently “changing the world.”

How software is being used today represents a “fundamental shift in how we think about traditional industry,” he said during a recent panel discussion at the Surface Navy Association’s 36th National Symposium. “Defense never caught on to this trend.”

Windows XP — an application released in 2001 and discontinued in 2014 — is still used aboard Navy ships, he said. The Navy re-upped its contract in 2015, and sailors are still dealing with it.

“Today’s sailor demands a completely new experience than what we’re giving them: a digital experience,” Sherbinin said.

The average service member is under the age of 25, yet the average shipboard software application used by sailors to perform day-to-day maintenance and administrative tasks is 23 years old, he said.

“That means the average sailor is younger than the average piece of software that they’re using,” he said.

Furthering his point, Sherbinin noted that a Tesla Model S car has 10 times the computing power of an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.