10 February 2024

An Israeli Diplomatic Strategy To Undercut Hamas Propaganda – Analysis

Ted Singer

Hamas is an acronym for the Islamic Resistance Movement and means “zeal” in Arabic. This wordplay foreshadowed the October 7 disaster, in which 1,200 people were killed.

In response to the October 7 attack, Israel launched Operation Iron Sword, a large-scale military campaign in Gaza. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has articulated the following “prerequisites for peace”: destroy Hamas, demilitarize Gaza, and deradicalize Palestinian society. These goals are impossible to achieve, counterproductive to Israel’s long-term security, and risks setting Israel into a trap set by Hamas. Instead, Netanyahu should undercut the appeal of Hamas among Palestinians by engaging credible Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim voices to undercut Hamas’ powerful propaganda.
The Meaning of the “Islamic Resistance Movement”

Hamas founders in 1987 carefully curated their words to propagate an ideology that would endure beyond inevitable efforts to capture and kill individual adherents.


Islamic, of course, means of or relating to Islam, which itself means peace or submission to God. Worldwide, there are some 1.8 billion Muslims. Among the estimated 14 million Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank and diaspora, the vast majority are Sunni Muslim. Drawing on their Muslim Brotherhood roots and tapping into the ascendant, conservative Islam in Saudi Arabia and Iran, Hamas founders sought to broadly interlink the Palestinian cause to religion. Among Palestinians, Hamas aimed to starkly differentiate itself from its rival, the Palestinian Liberation Organization, and other Palestinian militant groups, which has secular, if not Marxist, origins.


Opinion: Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army’s silence amid Myanmar conflict should alarm India

Rami Niranjan Desai

The Rohingya insurgent group may just be following a strategy of wait and watch, allowing other ethnic armed organisations to fight this battle for them. Their silence could also mean their consolidation.

A recent advisory issued by the Ministry of External Affairs asked all Indian citizens to leave the Rakhine state in Myanmar immediately, given the deteriorating situation in the country. Myanmar has been in a state of conflict since the Tatmadaw -- Myanmar’s military -- took over from the democratically elected National League of Democracy (NLD) in February 2021.

However, it was only in 2023 with the launch of Operations 1027 and 1107 (both representing the month and date of the launches) that the conflict became a full-blown civil war-like situation. In a definitive shift in the conflict, several of Myanmar’s ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) put their differences aside to launch a joint attack on military installations and key outposts.

With the success of Operation 1027 led by the Three Brotherhood Alliance -- comprising the Arakan Army (AA), the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) -- many of the remaining EAOs led by the Karenni National People’s Liberation Front, the Karenni Army, and the Karenni Nationalities Defence Force joined the offensive with Operation 1107.

India saw the spillover of the conflict in Manipur and Mizoram with the Chin National Army (CNA), capturing key towns and military installations across India’s borders with the key port town of Paletwa in Chin state falling into the hands of the Arakan Army operating from Rakhine state, jeopardising India’s ambitious Kaladan Multimodal Project.

Decoding India’s FTA Journey: What does the Future Hold?

Prerna Prabhakar

International trade forms an important part of an economy’s growth profile, and the recent numbers by the World Bank indicate that trade as a percentage of the gross domestic product stood at 74 per cent in 2022. For India, this figure was about 49 per cent in the year 2022, and while it is lower than the substantive figure of 56 per cent in 2011, it is almost double the figure of 26 per cent in 2001 ( The World Bank, 2023). While India is ramping up its exports, it is yet to emerge as a global export leader. Data shows that 13.6 per cent of world exports is dominated by the United States followed by China (10 per cent), and Germany (5.6 per cent); in contrast, India constitutes just 2 per cent of global exports. As the global trade policy has moved away from World Trade Organisation (WTO) led multilateralism, towards Regional Trade Agreements, this blog tries to understand the evolution of India’s Regional Trade Agreement (RTA) strategy.

13.6 per cent of world exports is dominated by the United States followed by China (10 per cent), and Germany (5.6 per cent); in contrast, India constitutes just 2 per cent of global exports.

Data from the WTO shows that RTAs have demonstrated an unprecedented rise from 5 in 1970 to 361 in 2024, establishing their importance in global trade. India has 19 RTAs in place, till date. An RTA can take various forms. A free trade agreement (FTA)[1] implies elimination of tariffs on substantial trade between the partner countries. Other forms of bilateral agreements include Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA), Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA). While FTAs ensure substantive trade coverage, PTAs imply elimination of tariffs on non-substantive trade. CEPA and CECA offer more integrated packages of goods, services and investment liberalisation, along with other areas like intellectual property rights.

Pakistan’s Worst-Case-Scenario Year Bodes Ill For 2024 – Analysis

Michael Kugelman

In 2023, Pakistan was convulsed by three crises — economic, political and security. They originated in 2021 and 2022 but became more serious, forcing the country to pay the price of many years of problematic public policies that have been repeated rather than rectified.

In 2023, Pakistan experienced record inflation. Foreign exchange reserves fell to their lowest level in nearly a decade. External debt servicing was the highest ever. Over the 2022–2023 fiscal year the economy fell by US$33.4 billion and per capita income declined by 11 per cent — also new records. Pakistan came perilously close to a default.

Disaster was averted in July after Islamabad finalised an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan. But hardships continued for the general public, especially with IMF-mandated austerity policies further increasing inflation. Economic stress hit not only the poor. Government data shows that a whopping 900,000 skilled workers departed Pakistan in 2023, including doctors, paramedics and accountants.

The severe economic stress can be blamed in part on a government that failed to respond with sufficient urgency. It can also be attributed to external factors, like pandemic-induced global supply chain shocks and the war in Ukraine, which sent global commodity costs soaring.

The Centrality of Security in the Pakistan-US Relationship

Bantirani Patro

On his maiden visit to the United States in December 2023, General Syed Asim Munir, Pakistan’s chief of Army Staff (COAS), was greeted with red-carpet treatment from key government and defense officials, from Secretary of State Antony Blinken to General Michael Erik Kurilla, chief of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), among others. These high-level visits reaffirmed Pakistan’s status as a major non-NATO ally and sparked discussions about a positive reset in Pakistan-U.S. ties.

In 2024, keeping up with the spirit of continuity, Pakistan’s interim foreign minister, while meeting with the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, emphasized “building on the recent exchanges and the momentum gained in bilateral ties.”

A Marriage of Necessity

Following the hasty U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021, Islamabad’s strategic relevance within Washington’s strategic calculus diminished. The Pakistani establishment’s initial jubilation with the takeover soon dissipated, as an ensconced Taliban government in Afghanistan had emboldened the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Pakistan’s deadliest terror group, which seeks to overthrow the Pakistani state and impose Shariah, or Islamic law.

Today, the United States is putting more onus on developing the non-traditional facets of the relationship, which had long been ignored or remained nascent at best, while Pakistan is keen on reviving the traditional security aspect, especially in the face of a burgeoning TTP threat.

Do Pakistan’s Elections Matter for Balochistan?

Somaiyah Hafeez

As Pakistan gears up to take to the polls on Thursday, February 8, to elect representatives of the National Assembly, concerns are being raised about the credibility of the elections. In its restive province of Balochistan, largest in terms of land but least populated, the situation is grimmer: Violence has marred elections campaigns of several candidates, a boycott campaign is running in the background, and several sit-in protests have continued in cities like Turbat and Gwadar against enforced disappearances.

This year’s election season has been unusually muted across the country, with many calling it the most lackluster election campaign Pakistan has seen. Balochistan in particular is totally devoid of the traditional election fervor. With security threats looming, both candidates and voters are scared due to escalating violence in the province.

Over two dozen attacks have been carried out in Balochistan in the last week alone. Almost 80 percent of the province’s 5,028 polling stations have been declared “sensitive,” as per Balochistan’s caretaker home minister, Muhammad Zubair Jamali.

Caretaker Information Minister Jan Achakzai said that internet services will be suspended around sensitive polling stations in the province ahead of the February 8 poll. “There is a concern that terrorists may exploit social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and other similar channels for communication purposes,” he said in a tweet on X (formerly Twitter). In Turbat, mobile internet services remain suspended days before the poll.

Why China Won’t Fight the Houthis


WASHINGTON, DC – Chinese policy in the Middle East is shaped by two factors: China’s threat perceptions and its strategic calculus regarding its great-power competition with the United States. And when it comes to dealing with the US, China’s approach comes down to three “nos”: no cooperation, no support, and no confrontation. This credo underlies China’s decision not to push back against the Iran-backed Houthis as they carry out drone and missile attacks on Red Sea shipping lanes.

The Red Sea attacks – a response to Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza – have not directly threatened Chinese ships, and the Houthis insist this will not change: neither Chinese or Russian vessels will be targeted, a senior Houthi official declared last month, as long as they are not connected with Israel. But the attacks will still affect China’s economic interests, and not only because of the need to avoid links with Israel. (COSCO, China’s largest shipping conglomerate, has already been forced to suspend all shipping to Israel, owing to security concerns.)

The identification of ships (or their flag countries) is not always straightforward, and shipping that affects China’s interests can still be targeted. But avoiding the area is costly. The Red Sea is one of the most sensitive chokepoints for world trade. If Chinese ships heading to Europe must circle around the Cape of Good Hope, rather than following the traditional route through the Suez Canal, a 26-day journey grows to 36 days and adds significantly to costs.

The Coming Taiwan Crisis


NEW DELHI – The more US President Joe Biden’s administration has sought to ease tensions with China through high-level dialogue, the more brazenly Chinese President Xi Jinping has applied coercive pressure to Taiwan. Never was this pattern more obvious than late last month, when China sent 33 warplanes and seven combat ships toward Taiwan, just as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan were holding talks in Bangkok. Fears that Xi will soon launch an even more overt push for “reunification” with Taiwan are rising.

Taiwan was never part of the People’s Republic of China. It is a self-governing island that, for most of its history, had no relationship with China and has remained fully outside Chinese control for the last 129 years. Even so, Xi has made no secret of his intention to enforce China’s claim to the island. In fact, Xi has called “reunification” with Taiwan his “historic mission.”

Xi reportedly reaffirmed his intentions to Biden at their recent summit in San Francisco, noting that the only matter left to be decided is when to take over the island. And there are good reasons to believe that the time might be near. With the wars in Ukraine and Gaza claiming America’s attention and resources, and the world undergoing a broader geopolitical reconfiguration, Xi might see a window of opportunity. And Taiwanese voters’ delivery of a third consecutive presidential term to the pro-sovereignty Democratic Progressive Party has likely bolstered Xi’s motivation to assert control over the island.

Already, Xi has been stepping up intrusions into Taiwan’s air-defense zone and encircling the island with warships. China has also fired missiles into the waters around the island and carried out large-scale war games simulating attacks on it. According to a recent survey by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, two-thirds of US experts now believe that a Taiwan Strait crisis is likely this year. In November, the bipartisan US-China Economic and Security Review Commission warned that China is preparing to wage war over Taiwan – and position itself to launch cyberattacks against the United States that would “wreak havoc” during such a conflict.

An expert's point of view on a current event.

Jerome M. Segal

In November 1988, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) met in Algiers and issued a Declaration of Independence, proclaiming the state of Palestine. The declaration grounded the new state in the 1947 U.N. Partition Resolution, which called for two states, one Arab and one Jewish. The PLO’s goal, as with Hamas today, had previously been the “liberation” of all of Palestine, from the river to the sea. In the 1988 declaration, the PLO reversed that position. Four weeks later, the PLO recognized Israel’s right to exist.

Multilateralism and China’s Hedging Strategy

Kaize ZHU

When countries find themselves tactically navigating the push and pull of larger global forces, they master the art of hedging. From India to Indonesia, Turkey to South Africa, Saudi Arabia to Brazil, nations constantly balance their economic ties with China against their security alliances, predominantly with the United States. This balancing act is becoming a daily reality as the world witnesses an evolving multipolarity and intense geopolitical competition between the U.S. and China. This diplomatic combination involves a blend of trade agreements, military alliances, and sometimes strategic ambiguity, allowing these nations to harness benefits from all sides without unwavering allegiance to any.

Simultaneously, global powers like the United States and China are not mere spectators but active players in this game of hedging. Even with their formidable global stature, they employ hedging strategies to safeguard their national and global interests while fostering stability in a world of growing unpredictability.

The U.S. strengthens its alliances across Europe and Asia while keeping the lines of communication open with rivals like Russia and China, trying to collaborate with strategic competitors in areas like climate change and counterterrorism. Meanwhile, China is expanding its economic reach through ambitious initiatives like the Belt and Road Initiative and the Three Global Initiatives, asserting its leadership in the Global South. At the same time, China continues integrating itself within existing global institutions, endorsing the current world order from which it benefits, and maintains ongoing dialogue with the United States

This strategic maneuvering demonstrates a deep understanding of the complexities inherent in a multipolar world. In this landscape, absolute allies or adversaries are rare, and a diversified, flexible approach is paramount for sustaining a stable yet influential global presence. Hedging goes beyond simple risk management; it’s about seizing and generating opportunities, which requires an astute grasp of global dynamics, precise timing, and the ability to operate effectively on multiple fronts. As the global power structure continues to shift with new challenges on the horizon, hedging remains a vital strategy in the playbook of nations, regardless of their size or power.

The China-US Tech War Comes to the Cloud

Megha Shrivastava

The ongoing technology war, which prominently featured the United States’ export controls against China’s semiconductor industry, has taken an intriguing twist. The competition involves the cloud platforms used for artificial intelligence (AI) modeling. China’s domestic capabilities in cloud technology lie far behind U.S. firms. Its rising computing power broadly relies on easy access to U.S. cloud companies. With that in mind, the Biden administration is considering whether reporting cloud users can resolve the problem of China developing AI using the United States’ cloud infrastructure.

In the latest salvo, the U.S. Department of Commerce (DoC) has proposed rules to regulate cloud service providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. These rules are targeted to ensure the monitoring and reporting of cloud usage and AI training by developers in countries that are not U.S. allies. The regulations are widely understood as indirectly targeting China, where many tech companies use U.S. cloud providers as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). The draft regulations would demand mandatory “Know Your Customer” (KYC) services, akin to the financial services industry, in the cloud industry. Public cloud service providers will be required to run a “Customer Identification Program,” obtain the same information from their foreign resellers in other countries, and report compliance to the DoC when large AI models are trained using their IaaS.

The proposed rules include an explicit measure for cloud providers to ensure compliance. The “special measures” provide the right to the cloud providers to restrict access to their IaaS by certain customers or actors, i.e., China. This can be enforced by U.S. companies when a significant number of foreign entities directly use or resell U.S. IaaS or when the cloud company can find a pattern that a particular company has been repeatedly using their IaaS for malicious purposes. The regulations also put a threshold of one year for such a restriction without an explicit revision.

US cracks down on network fuelling Iran’s Ballistic Missile and UAV programmes

Harry McNeil

At the Iranian Military Museum, an Israeli drone used for espionage purposes is exhibited with a monitor displaying Ali Khamenei in the background. Source: saeediex/Shutterstock

The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has revealed a series of sanctions against a network of suppliers facilitating Iran’s development of ballistic missiles and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

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The move aims to disrupt illicit procurement channels and hold accountable those involved in exporting weapons to terrorist proxy groups.

In a decisive move aimed at curbing Iran’s military ambitions, the US Treasury has imposed sanctions on a prominent procurement network facilitating the development of Iran’s ballistic missile and UAV programmes. The targeted entities, spanning Iran and Hong Kong, have been identified as covert procurement fronts for individuals actively supporting Iran’s military organisations, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Iran is currently supplying Russia with weapons, including loitering munitions, which are being used in Ukraine. The US, the UK, and the EU have all sanctioned either Iran or firms linked to the weapons supplied by Iran, marking a new conflict point in Iranian/US relations, as per GlobalData’s US defence market intelligence.

Is NASA a National Security Organization?

Peter Garretson

Is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) a national security organization? The answer matters greatly in the division of labor between government agencies, as well as how NASA should interpret national guidance.

The United States’ current National Security Strategy states that an era of “strategic competition” exists, which the recent Joint Concept for Competing defines as “a persistent and long-term struggle that occurs between two or more adversaries seeking to pursue incompatible interests without necessarily engaging in armed conflict with each other.” It notes how America’s “adversaries are employing cohesive combinations of military and civil power, below the level of armed conflict, to pursue objectives that threaten the strategic interests of the United States, its allies, and its strategic partners” and to “win without fighting.”

If NASA is a national security organization, then it may be a primary, even principal tool to protect America’s strategic interests and to achieve America’s strategic objectives and should act responsibly as a custodian of America’s security interests, rather than merely as a science and exploration agency. So, is NASA a national security organization?

Many will say no and argue that NASA has a science and exploration mission, and that “NASA doesn’t do security.” Some assert that NASA was specifically created by President Eisenhower, distinct from the military industrial complex to be a tool of diplomacy, with national security belonging elsewhere.

Of course, that might come as news to President Dwight D. Eisenhower himself, who partially created NASA as a cover for his top-secret National Reconnaissance Organization (NRO). It likely would also come as a surprise to President Kennedy and to the first generation of Cold Warriors at NASA, who heeded President John F. Kennedy’s call that “the eyes of the world now look into space, to the Moon, and to the planets beyond. And we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace.” They won the first great victory of the Cold War—America’s first strategic competition.

Intel officials warned well before Tower 22 attack of increased risks from drones


The Pentagon reinforced the base’s defense, but an Iranian drone got through.

President Joe Biden stands as an Army carry team moves the transfer case containing the remains of Army Sgt. Kennedy Ladon Sanders at Dover Air Force Base, Del., on Feb. 2, 2024. Sanders was killed in a drone attack in Jordan on Jan. 28. | Matt Rourke/AP

Intelligence officials had warned for months of a rising risk that Iranian-made weapons would penetrate U.S. defenses in the Middle East and kill American forces — long before last week’s deadly drone strike against a U.S. outpost in Jordan.

Officials in the intelligence agencies and at the Pentagon issued those warnings both internally and in briefings on Capitol Hill starting in late October, when Israel invaded Gaza and Iran-backed groups in Iraq and Syria ramped up their attacks on American forces in response.

Those officials claimed that it was only a matter of time before one of the Iranian-made drones targeting American forces in the region got through U.S. air defense systems and caused fatalities, according to two officials familiar with the matter. Both were granted anonymity to speak freely about sensitive internal administration discussions.

Intelligence officials also raised alarms about the potential for attacks on U.S. personnel in Jordan from Iran-backed groups, one of the officials said. Those concerns were part of a broader assessment made by the intelligence community that American troops and diplomats in the region were particularly vulnerable after the Gaza invasion.

New Ukrainian ‘Kamikaze’ Jet Drone Appears In Russia


The wreckage of a new Ukrainian jet-powered attack drone has appeared in Russia. So far, we know very little about the origins of the drone or its precise capabilities. Still, it signals, once again, Ukraine’s increasingly active development of long-range one-way attack drones as a means of taking the fight more directly to Russia.

A series of photos that appeared today on social media show the wreckage of one of the drones — the name and manufacturer of which remain unknown — and reveal some details about its construction and components. At this stage, it’s unclear if this particular drone crashed or was brought down by Russian air defenses.

The sleek, black-painted drone appears to be roughly 10 feet long, with a delta wing of a similar span and with a slightly curved ‘ogival’ leading edge. The drone has a swept tailfin but seems to have no horizontal tail surfaces. Based on accounts from Russian military bloggers, the drone is said to make use of a wooden construction with some carbon-fiber parts and fiberglass skin.

Inspection of the wreckage indicates that the drone is powered by a commercially available micro turbojet, installed in the tail section, and fed by a conformal intake below the fuselage. Specifically, the engine is a P400-PRO from the German JetCat company. This turbojet weighs only around eight pounds, has a diameter of a little under six inches, and has a thrust output of 95 pounds. This engine is often used by hobbyists in high-end remote control aircraft and is ready available for purchase online, with prices generally around $10,000 to $12,000.

Ukraine’s Victory at Sea

Mark Cancian

When Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, Kyiv’s maritime prospects looked bleak. Ukraine had inherited a small number of ships when the Soviet Union broke apart, but Russia destroyed or confiscated most of these when it occupied Crimea in 2014. Then, in 2018, Russia seized three of Ukraine’s remaining vessels and prevented its civilian ships from entering the Kerch Strait, the waterway separating the Crimean Peninsula from mainland Russia. Russia quickly reopened the strait and eventually returned the ships, but the moves laid bare Ukraine’s naval impotence. By the time of the next invasion, the Ukrainian navy’s flagship—an aging frigate—led a meager force consisting of one small warship, several small missile boats, and a handful of helicopters. Two weeks after the war began, Ukrainian commanders were compelled to scuttle the flagship, lest it fall into Moscow’s hands. Russia sank many of the smaller vessels.

Over the next year and a half, however, Ukraine turned the naval war around. Using drones, cruise missiles, and a variety of unconventional techniques, Ukraine had, by October 2023, driven the Russian fleet from its main base in Crimea to the eastern corner of the Black Sea. The country’s navy succeeded in sinking nine major Russian ships and even reoccupying some lost territory. These victories have been a bright spot for a country that is under continual air attack and stuck in a costly stalemate on the ground.

Kyiv’s maritime accomplishments will not win the war, but those victories will help the country succeed more broadly. Winning at sea has allowed Kyiv to take troops that were stationed along the coast and send them to the front. It has secured shipping lanes that are crucial to exporting grain and complicated Russian efforts to supply and reinforce Crimea. Over time, Ukraine can build on this success, increasing its leverage in future peace negotiations. For this strategy to succeed, however, Kyiv will require an uninterrupted flow of military aid from the West.


How Long Has Humanity Been At War With Itself? – Analysis

Deborah Barsky

Is large-scale intra-specific warfare Homo sapiens‘ condition or can our species strive to achieve global peace?

The famous American astronomer Carl Sagan once said, “You have to know the past to understand the present.” But can we ever know the history of human origins well enough to understand why humans wage large-scale acts of appalling cruelty on other members of our own species? In January 2024, the Geneva Academy was monitoring no less than 110 armed conflicts globally. While not all of these reach mainstream media outlets, each is equally horrific in terms of the physical violence and mental cruelty we inflict on each other.

Do massive acts of intra- or interpopulational violence conform with Darwinian precepts of natural selection, or is this something we do as a competitive response to the stresses of living in such large populations? Looking back in time can help us find answers to such questions. Evidence preserved in the archeological record can tell us about when and under what conditions the preludes to warlike behaviors emerged in the past. Scientific reasoning can then transform this information into viable hypotheses that we can use to understand ourselves in today’s world.

The Demise Of The Nation Formerly Known As Syria – OpEd

Artis Shepherd

The most recent bombing campaign undertaken by the Biden regime, ostensibly against Iran-backed targets in eastern Syria, is the latest such event in a long line of war and misery for that country. But unlike others, Syria appears to be a nation with no sovereign agency and therefore no way to influence events on its own soil, with the Syrian government relying instead on regional supporters to push for certain outcomes – usually those that benefit a small group of individuals within that government.

Far from being a sovereign nation with citizens capable of self-determination, Syria now appears to be a battleground for tribes and empires fighting wars of their own interest. While the Syrian people flee the country in droves, the fabric of Syria as a nation of any sort has frayed.

Brief History

For several decades prior to 2011, Syria was a country in tentative equilibrium. While majority Sunni Muslim (65-70%), Syria’s population also comprised a substantial number of Christians, at 10-15%. Filling in the remaining 15-20% were various Shi’a offshoots including Ismailis, Druze, Yezidi, and Alawites. From this latter group, the Alawites, came the ruling Asad family, with Hafez al-Asad officially taking power in 1971.

From this context – a Shi’a minority elite ruling over a largely Sunni population – much can be interpreted in terms of the events and dynamics that subsequently took shape in Syria.

America's Biggest Foreign Policy Weakness: No Grand Strategy

Michael C. DiCianna

As 2024 begins, the global threat to American interests is on the rise as the interests of adversaries continue to align. However, Washington policymakers appear either unable or uninterested in displaying resolve.

The late Henry Kissinger noted, “Convictions that leaders have formed before reaching high office are the intellectual capital they will consume as long as they continue in office.” From the opera box, it seems American leaders walked into their current positions without any ideas or historical understanding to take on the crises erupting before them. Bets are being hedged, and punches are pulled. Conflicts are crises to be managed, not wars to be won. Adversaries shun every treaty and deal they’ve signed, but diplomats insist on more talks. The United States has always struggled with producing a coherent grand strategy, and whether Washington has the ability to create one is a matter of debate. To the extent that a U.S. grand strategy exists, it seems to be the hope that things don’t deteriorate further—a precarious stance that falls short of effective policy, especially in today’s geopolitical minefield.

If the U.S. support for Ukraine continues to arrive slowly and only after significant deliberation in Washington, it will be the first and most glaring case study of American strategic lethargy after the next global war. Following stunning successes in 2022, the Ukrainian summer counteroffensive struggled to achieve objectives, facing fortified Russian lines without sufficient air cover or armor. Ukraine’s great successes—driving the Russian Navy out of Sevastopol and clearing the Black Sea—are thanks to Ukrainian ingenuity and the material support of the United States, the United Kingdom, and France.

Experts react: US retaliation for the deadly attack in Jordan has begun. What’s next?

Atlantic Council experts

Prepare for round two. On Sunday, John Kirby, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, said that US strikes over the weekend in Iraq and Syria were “just the first round” in response to the January 28 killing of three US servicemembers in a drone attack in Jordan. He spoke after B-1 bombers and other US forces conducted more than eighty-five strikes against targets linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iranian proxies. So what message is the United States sending to Iran and other countries in the region with its ongoing response? And what’s coming next? Our experts are in the ring.

This post will be updated in the coming days as the US response continues to unfold.

The US makes the case for escalation dominance—without giving Iran justification to respond

The recent US strikes in Iraq and Syria represented the most significant series of US military strikes in the region for the Biden-Harris administration to date. The US strikes were probably the minimum level for an initial US response to the Iranian proxy group attack against Tower 22 in Jordan, which killed three US soldiers and wounded dozens more. Despite some public criticism of the time delay in the US response and the geographic limitation to Iraq and Syria, the US message to the region was clear.

First, based on the use of strategic bombers to strike some of the targets, the United States is demonstrating what it showed during Exercise Juniper Oak in January 2023. Juniper Oak was the largest ever joint US and Israeli military exercise. Strategic bombers were employed during the exercise in such a way as to communicate the ability to conduct US long-range strikes into the Middle East. Last week’s response strikes were a reiteration of this capability as a clear warning to Iran.

Russia’s Adaptation Advantage

Mick Ryan

Throughout the war in Ukraine, Kyiv and Moscow have waged an adaptation battle, trying to learn and improve their military effectiveness. In the early stages of the invasion, Ukraine had the advantage. Empowered by a rapid influx of Western weapons, motivated by the existential threat posed by Russia’s aggression, and well prepared for the attack, Kyiv was able to develop new ways of fighting in remarkably short order. Russia, in contrast, fumbled: a big, arrogant, and lumbering bear, overconfident of a rapid victory. The institutional shock of Russia’s lack of success, in turn, slowed its ability to learn and adapt.

But after two years of war, the adaptation battle has changed. The quality gap between Ukraine and Russia has closed. Ukraine still has an innovative and bottom-up military culture, which allows it to quickly introduce new battlefield technologies and tactics. But it can struggle to make sure that those lessons are systematized and spread throughout the entire armed forces. Russia, on the other hand, is slower to learn from the bottom up because of a reluctance to report failure and a more centralized command philosophy. Yet when Russia does finally learn something, it is able to systematize it across the military and through its large defense industry.

These differences are reflected in the ways the two states innovate. Ukraine is better at tactical adaptation: learning and improving on the battlefield. Russia is superior at strategic adaptation, or learning and adaptation that affects national and military policymaking, such as how states use their resources. Both forms of adaptation are important. But it is the latter type that is most crucial to winning wars.

The longer this war lasts, the better Russia will get at learning, adapting, and building a more effective, modern fighting force. Slowly but surely, Moscow will absorb new ideas from the battlefield and rearrange its tactics accordingly. Its strategic adaptation already helped it fend off Ukraine’s counteroffensive, and over the last few months it has helped Russian troops take more territory from Kyiv. Ultimately, if Russia’s edge in strategic adaptation persists without an appropriate Western response, the worst that can happen in this war is not stalemate. It is a Ukrainian defeat.

Merchant Shippers Fear Another Tanker War Is Coming

The Strait of Hormuz is getting ever more dangerous as Washington and Tehran square off.

U.S. President Joe Biden has taken steps to avenge the deaths of William Rivers, Kennedy Sanders, and Breonna Moffett, the three U.S. service members killed by an Iranian-backed militia strike in Jordan on Jan. 28. The United States launched strikes on Iranian-linked targets in Syria and Iraq on Feb. 2.

IJ Infinity Group

Military Strategy Magazine, Winter 2024, v. 9, no. 2 

Deterring War without Threatening War: Rehabilitating the West’s Risk-averse Approach to Deterrence

Erich Ludendorff: Failed Strategist or War Visionary? Rereading Ludendorff in Light of the War in Ukraine

How France's Lack of a Strategy in West Africa Indirectly Led to the Coups D’états

Principles and Pitfalls for the Budding Strategist

Making Sound Strategy: Back to the Basics of Ends, Ways, and Means

Rule Guided Behavior and Violence – A Cultural Evolutionary Strategy to Foster Peaceful Cultural Entities

How to Democratize AI


PARIS – The rapid advance of artificial intelligence evokes both wonder and dread. Many regard AI as an object of marvel and awe (a Stupor Mundi, to borrow a Latin phrase), while others believe it can be a benevolent savior (a Salvator Mundi). Regardless of whether AI is seen as miraculous or merely helpful, the question remains: How can we ensure that its benefits are available to everyone?

To answer this question, we need a nuanced understanding of AI. That means rejecting several simplistic narratives: functionalism, which says humans should adapt and augment themselves to keep up with technological progress; sensationalism, which depicts AI as an existential threat; cynicism, which seeks to exploit AI for profit; and fatalism, which implies a resigned acceptance of AI’s inevitable rise.

What these scenarios overlook is that the future is still ours to shape. Adopting the verum-factum principle – knowing through making – is crucial to developing a more profound understanding of AI’s capabilities and implications.

To prevent a minority from co-opting AI’s transformative potential, it must be democratized. Equitable access is the key to ensuring that the benefits of technological progress are broadly shared, and that AI serves as a unifying force, rather than exacerbating the divisions within our fragile societies.

The potential benefits are enormous. In the 1990s, Joseph Stiglitz observed that “a child anywhere in the world who has access to the internet has access to more knowledge than a child in the best schools of the industrial countries did a quarter-century ago.” By democratizing access to AI, we can empower today’s children to engage with humanity’s brightest minds in a way that caters to their individual needs.

Diplomacy in a Changing World

Shivshankar Menon

This blog is adapted from a piece written for St Stephen’s College in December 2023

I. A Death Often Foretold

“My God! This is the end of diplomacy,” said Lord Palmerston, the British prime minister, when he received the first diplomatic telegram in 1860. He was not the first to express this sentiment, nor would he be the last.

With each advance in technology, and each generation’s conviction that they are better than those that came before and face an entirely new level of challenges, diplomacy’s death has been proclaimed or foretold.

With each advance in technology, and each generation’s conviction that they are better than those that came before and face an entirely new level of challenges, diplomacy’s death has been proclaimed or foretold. When Woodrow Wilson spoke of “open covenants openly arrived at” in 1918, democracy was said to now make diplomacy, that autocratic monarchical invention, an unnecessary anachronism. When information and communications technology made conversations across continents possible and facile from the eighties onwards, diplomats were said to be about to lose their relevance. When summit meetings between leaders, with their attractive possibilities of photo ops and image building (for leaders), became increasingly common in the nineties, we were told that diplomats would lose all agency.

And yet here we are, with more diplomats and diplomacy in a globalised world knit together by the same technologies that were supposed to kill off diplomacy.