24 February 2024

The Strange Resurrection of the Two-State Solution

Martin Indyk

For years, the vision of an Israeli state and a Palestinian state existing side by side in peace and security has been derided as hopelessly naive—or worse, as a dangerous illusion. After decades of U.S.-led diplomacy failed to achieve that outcome, it seemed to many observers that the dream had died; all that was left to do was bury it. But it turns out that reports of the death of the two-state solution were greatly exaggerated.

In the wake of the monstrous attack Hamas launched on Israel on October 7 and the grievous war that Israel has waged on the Gaza Strip ever since, the allegedly dead two-state solution has been resurrected. U.S. President Joe Biden and his top national security officials have repeatedly and publicly reaffirmed their belief that it represents the only way to create lasting peace among the Israelis, the Palestinians, and the Arab countries of the Middle East. And the United States is hardly alone: the call for a return to the two-state paradigm has been echoed by leaders across the Arab world, the countries of the EU, middle powers such as Australia and Canada, and even Washington’s main rival, China.

The reason for this revival is not complicated. There are, after all, only a few possible alternatives to the two-state solution. There is Hamas’s solution, which is the destruction of Israel. There is the Israeli ultra-right solution, which is the Israeli annexation of the West Bank, the dismantling of the Palestinian Authority (PA), and the deportation of Palestinians to other countries. There is the “conflict management” approach pursued for the last decade or so by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which aimed to maintain the status quo indefinitely—and the world has seen how that worked out. And there is the idea of a binational state in which Jews would become a minority, thus ending Israel’s status as a Jewish state. None of those alternatives would resolve the conflict—at least not without causing even greater calamities. And so if the conflict is to be resolved peacefully, the two-state solution is the only idea left standing.

The U.S. Should Get Out of the Israel-Palestine Game

Peter Hitchens

The first time I went to Jerusalem (crouched in the back of Margaret Thatcher’s obsolete VC10 jet) in 1986, it was an easy matter to drive down to Bethlehem for the evening, and drive back again in time for bed. I recall no checkpoints and no fences. Try that now, after nearly 40 years of incessant peacemaking, and see how you get on.

The contrast in other parts of the region between those bad old days and now is even more striking and almost cruel to remember. We have since then had an awful lot of diplomacy, but no true improvement. As an Arab Israeli colleague of mine once said as we navigated the complexities of the wriggling frontier between Israeli Jerusalem and Arab Ramallah, “Oh, for the good old days before we had peace!”

He had a point. Unbelievably, Israelis living near Gaza used to go there at weekends for the nightlife—pleasant beach-front bars and hardly a hijab in sight. Jerusalem itself was reasonably relaxed, even around the Temple Mount. It was an entirely different world. Many thousands of Arabs from the West Bank and Gaza traveled daily into Israel to work, an arrangement which led to friendship, or at least mutual cooperation, between Jews and Arabs, and which enriched the Arab population.

In the same era, the Jewish state was still obviously descended from the original ramshackle arrangements of 1948, when much of the world’s Left had still supported the Zionist enterprise with money and Czech weapons. A fair number of kibbutzes, more or less communism in practice, still existed. The Foreign Ministry was still housed in temporary shacks, and offered visitors a type of coffee now almost extinct, the once-famous “Botz” (literally “mud”) made by pouring hot water into coffee grounds in a worn mug and not caring much what happened next. I only ever encountered this substance in Israel and in Soviet-occupied Prague, which may give a clue to its origins. No doubt these days there are plentiful cappuccinos in smooth modern offices. Israel, isolated as never before from its neighborhood, transformed by immigration and glowing with economic success, is now a wholly different place, harder to love and yet still just as important to the world.

What the Ukraine War, Taiwan, and Gaza Have in Common

Paul Heer

In confronting all three foreign policy dilemmas, Washington needs to incorporate an understanding and acknowledgement of the things the United States has done that contributed to them.

Washington is grappling with seemingly intractable foreign policy dilemmas involving the Russian war in Ukraine, percolating tensions across the Taiwan Strait, and the conflict in Gaza between Israel and Hamas. In each case, the United States has failed or refused to wholly confront its own share of responsibility for creating the problem. This has profound implications for establishing a stable peace in these three hotspots.

In the case of Ukraine, much ink has been spilt in the debate over the extent to which NATO expansion in the decades after the Cold War fueled Putin’s decision to launch the war. Washington’s response to the invasion has largely treated that debate as irrelevant. Instead, it has essentially adopted the premise that Putin never got over the collapse of the Soviet Union and always intended to reincorporate Ukraine into Russia forcefully. This perspective has largely ignored evidence and historical logic that the invasion was not inevitable and was contingent on external variables, including U.S. actions.

In his seminal 2021 essay “On the Historical Unity of Russian and Ukrainians,” Putin wrote that after the Soviet collapse, Moscow “recognized the new geopolitical realities and not only recognized but, indeed, did a lot for Ukraine to establish itself as an independent country.” This was because “many people in Russia and Ukraine sincerely believed and assumed that our close cultural, spiritual, and economic ties would certainly last. . . . However, events—at first gradually and then more rapidly—started to move in a different direction.” These “events” included Ukrainian political developments that led to closer ties between Kyiv and the West. “Step by step,” Putin wrote, “Ukraine was dragged into a dangerous geopolitical game aimed at turning Ukraine into a barrier between Europe and Russia.” But the West deflected Moscow’s concerns about this trajectory.

The Two-State Mirage

Marc Lynch and Shibley Telhami

Israel’s devastating response to Hamas’s shocking October 7 attack has produced a humanitarian catastrophe. During the first 100 days of war alone, Israel dropped the kiloton equivalent of three nuclear bombs on the Gaza Strip, killing some 24,000 Palestinians, including more than 10,000 children; wounding tens of thousands more; destroying or damaging 70 percent of Gaza’s homes; and displacing 1.9 million people—about 85 percent of the territory’s inhabitants. By this point, an estimated 400,000 Gazans were at risk of starvation, according to the United Nations, and infectious disease was spreading rapidly. During the same period in the West Bank, hundreds of Palestinians were killed by Israeli settlers or Israeli troops, and more than 3,000 Palestinians were arrested, many without charges.

Almost from the outset, it was clear that Israel did not have an endgame for its war in Gaza, prompting the United States to fall back on a familiar formula. On October 29, just as Israel’s ground invasion was getting underway, U.S. President Joe Biden said, “There has to be a vision for what comes next. And in our view, it has to be a two-state solution.” Three weeks later, after the extraordinary devastation of northern Gaza, the president said again, “I don’t think it ultimately ends until there is a two-state solution.” And on January 9, after more than three months of war, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken took up the refrain again, telling the Israeli government that a lasting solution “can only come through a regional approach that includes a pathway to a Palestinian state.”

These calls to revive the two-state solution may come from good intentions. For years, a two-state solution has been the avowed goal of U.S.-led diplomacy, and it is still widely seen as the only arrangement that could plausibly meet the national aspirations of two peoples living in a single land. Establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel is also the principal demand of most Arab and Western governments, as well as the United Nations and other international bodies. U.S. officials have therefore fallen back on the rhetoric and concepts of previous decades to find some silver lining in the carnage. With the unspeakable horrors of the October 7 attack and of the ongoing war on Gaza making clear that the status quo is unsustainable, they argue that there is now a window to achieve a larger settlement: Washington can both push the Israelis and the Palestinians to finally embrace the elusive goal of two states coexisting peacefully side by side and at the same time secure normalization between Israel and the Arab world.

Supporting Ukraine and Israel Will Help Deter Aggression Around the World | Opinion

Bradley Bowman and H.R. McMaster

The U.S. Senate voted 70-29 last week to approve more than $95 billion in assistance to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. The bill's fate in the House of Representatives remains uncertain. As our representatives in Congress contemplate next steps, it is worth surveying the increasingly connected threats Americans and our allies confront.

Americans tend to miss the connections between the conflicts and looming crises in Europe, the Middle East, and the Pacific. That is a problem because overlooking those connections results in missed opportunities to counter aggression and prevent violence from spreading.

Consider the relationship between Beijing and Moscow, which is closer today than it has been in decades. Just weeks before Russia's unprovoked reinvasion of Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin and Chairman Xi Jinping announced a "no limits" strategic partnership and a "new era" of international relations. Moscow expressed support for Beijing's position on Taiwan, and Beijing echoed Putin's talking points on NATO. Together, they denounced AUKUS, a trilateral partnership between Australia, Britain, and the United States designed to deter aggression and secure a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Accordingly, after Putin launched the largest invasion in Europe since World War II on February 24, 2022, it was hardly surprising to see Beijing take a number of steps to help him. Beijing diplomats and wolf warriors amplified the Kremlin's propaganda and misinformation, which has cynically characterized Putin's "special military operation" as an act of defense against NATO and an effort to "denazify" a country led by a Jewish president.

Beijing provided Putin with electronics and hardware for use against Ukraine and helped Moscow evade Western sanctions. Beijing also was happy to increase its purchases of Russian oil and gas, providing Putin the cash he needed to fund his increasingly expensive war. Moreover, China and Russia have been increasing their combined military exercises. In August 2023, an 11-vessel Chinese-Russian naval flotilla patrolled near the coast of Alaska after operating in the Sea of Japan.

India and the Red Sea Imbroglio

Anil Golani and Radhey Tambi

In August 2022, given that there had been no incident of attacks on merchant shipping off the coast of Somalia since 2018, industries representing various sectors such as shipping, cargo, tanker, and insurance conveyed their position to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) concerning the removal of the Indian Ocean High Risk Area, effective January 1, 2023.

It did not take too long for the Houthis in Yemen to upend the decision. They started attacking merchant ships in the Red Sea, a global maritime trade route that connects the Indian Ocean with the Mediterranean Sea, and further to Europe, as retaliation against Israel’s attack on Gaza following Hamas’ October 7, 2023 attack on Israel. These attacks have led to soaring oil prices, increased insurance costs, and detours of mercantile marine traffic resulting in a cascading effect on costs and the global economy.

This also puts the United States in a peculiar position, as its attacks on the Houthis in the region have had a negligible effect. The Houthis are aided and abetted by Iran, but the United States does not want to get into a direct conflict or confrontation with Iran, as this might lead to a wider conflict in the region beyond the ongoing Israel-Hamas war that continues to smolder without any end in sight. In this context, it is important to understand the relevance of Iran’s support to the Houthis and the implications of continued strife affecting global shipping and trade.

India, with its traditionally close ties with Iran and its increasing influence in the region, may have a role to play in alleviating this crisis.

Iran’s continued support to Houthis as it attacks ships in the Red Sea could well be another attempt to continue the escalatory spiral between the West and Iran. This needs to be understood against the backdrop of transition day (when the U.N. sanctions of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal lapsed) and the quick imposition of new sanctions by Western countries, mainly led by the United States, in an attempt to target Iran’s ballistic missile and drone programs.

What a Tamil Language School in Sri Lanka Tells Us About the Reconciliation Process

Niru Perera

The Sri Lankan government’s recent announcement that it would establish a much-delayed post-civil war reconciliation process in the country has been met with skepticism from many Sri Lankans.

Even as this latest attempt at reconciliation is being assessed, some Sri Lankans are finding their own ways to address the brutal historic divisions through what is being described as “linguistic reconciliation.”

Language has played a critical role in Sri Lanka, starting long before the civil war began in 1983. Immediately after independence, a reckless policy to make Sinhala the sole official language was implemented, negatively impacting the status of other minority languages, especially Tamil.

The civil war ended in 2009, with the final stage of the conflict marred by brutal killings of Tamil civilians. But when it comes to truth and reconciliation processes, Sri Lanka has remained stuck.

With the economic and social crisis of 2022, issues of language marginalization have fallen off the radar. Language is often treated as a trivial concern, less important than health or economic development. Yet, at the same time, the state’s powerful encroachment on Tamil language and culture poses a huge threat to peace.

In this climate of intense public distrust of the government’s capacity to progress post-war reconciliation, it is often individuals who step up to address the injustices of the past.

In 1983, Sabitha’s mother was traveling home in a van during the anti-Tamil riots known as Black July. A mob of Sinhala nationalists stopped the van and got on board, shaking bottles of kerosene and ordering the driver to say the Sinhala word for “bucket.” Bucket (baaldhyia in Sinhala) was a shibboleth during these times, an innocuous word that, if pronounced with a Tamil accent, would decide whether its speaker was subject to attack, or worse, death.

Data Protection Regulation in the Global South



Data regulation has remained an important topic of discussion globally. In the past decade or so, many countries, especially in the Global South, have enacted data protection legislation. In August last year, the Indian Parliament also passed the Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023, after more than five years of deliberations. Data protection regulation was also a prominent topic of discussion at the 2023 edition of the Global Technology Summit (GTS) held in New Delhi.

The perspectives of developing countries on data protection regulation, especially its design and implementation, took center stage at the summit. The discussions proposed regionally harmonized governance frameworks as the way forward for these countries and suggested a techno-legal approach as the way to achieve harmonization. This commentary encapsulates these deliberations and offers insights based on them.


Countries in the Global South face some unique challenges as they work toward building regulatory frameworks for privacy and data protection.

First, the lack of awareness regarding privacy issues, coupled with the perception of regulatory authorities as pro-government bodies, creates a trust deficit. Second, economic growth in a digital world requires greater data flows across jurisdictions. This complicates data regulation by pitting economic imperatives against national security concerns. Third, even when data protection legislations are in place, data protection authorities (DPAs) face hurdles in enforcement because laws often have extraterritorial implications, while DPAs operate with limited resources and capabilities. Therefore, these countries must adopt a distinct approach to data protection regulation compared to that of the Global North.

The Taliban Want a Piece of Pakistan

Lynne O’Donnell

Mohsin Dawar’s campaign for re-election to Pakistan’s parliament was almost cut short before it began in early January when his convoy was ambushed in a village just a few minutes’ drive from his home in Miran Shah in Pakistan’s North Waziristan district, near the lawless borderlands with Afghanistan. As his car came under attack from militants armed with automatic weapons, sniper rifles, and rocket-propelled grenades, he and his team were lured into a compound by residents who promised them safety.

Pakistan Elections: An Explainer – Analysis

Muneer Ahmed

None of the three main political parties in Pakistan were able to secure a majority in parliament following the 8 February election. Of the 266 contestable National Assembly (NA) seats, independent candidates backed by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) won 93. Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (PML-N) and Bhutto-Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) secured 75 and 54 seats, respectively.

Plagued by the army’s relentless intermingling, these elections delivered two dominant conclusions. One, Imran Khan appears large in Pakistani politics even while languishing in jail, and two, after failing to counter Imran’s popularity, his rivals, Nawaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, have been forced to form a coalition government, readying the country for another round of instability.

Why Imran Looms So Large

For decades, Pakistan’s government has been an army-run game of musical chairs between the PML-N and PPP, both led by two dynasties. Imran Khan’s PTI managed to create a niche for itself during the 2018 elections. Imran was unseated in April 2022 by a no-confidence motion brought by the opposition, with the support of the army.

The initial fault lines between Imran Khan and the military leadership occurred over a dispute related to the transfer of an Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officer. Imran, however, didn’t step down quietly, and indirectly accused Gen. Bajwa for his unceremonious ouster. In May 2023, Khan openly blamedthe new Army Chief Asim Munir for orchestrating his arrest. Imran’s allegations were seen as plausible, as he was arrested in the High Court by the Pakistan Rangers, who operate under the Interior Ministry and are commanded by officers on secondment from the army.

Slow Suffocation in Central Asia

Alva Omarova

Another winter in Central Asia is coming to an end, and smog has loomed over the cities of the region for many months now. At a glance, IQAir’s air quality map shows unhealthy or toxic air quality across numerous urban settlements in the Central Asian region on most days. It paints a disturbing picture that seems to only get worse despite increased focus on this systemic problem in recent years. People are simply not being given any meaningful incentives to reduce emissions, and industry and states are not making any significant changes either.

The Kyrgyzstani authorities have recognized pollution as a major cause of health problems, and a 2019 medical study concluded that the situation in Kazakhstan’s major cities presented an “unacceptable risk” for the population. However, despite the proven adverse effects on health of poor air, governments in Central Asia have done little to date to tackle the problem.

Even when authorities recognize the problem, they often fail to follow international recommendations. The authorities of Uzbekistan, for instance, stated last month that the World Health Organization’s air quality guidelines are difficult to follow, and have instead developed their own guidelines.

But, as our research on the environment in Central Asia indicates, the gap between governmental declarations of intent and concrete implementation, combined with authoritarian states’ obstruction of civil society’s work, and lack of recognition of civil society organizations as valuable partners, means that the situation is unlikely to improve in the near future. Meanwhile, the air quality is getting worse. In cities like Dushanbe, for example, although air quality improved in the 1990s and 2000s and levels in 2015-2016 were better than ever, since then, the picture has completely reversed and air quality levels have returned to toxic, Soviet-era levels.

Is Conscription A Constriction: The General’s Mistake, The People’s Checkmate – OpEd

Nicholas Kong

As the resistance forces gain momentum in the Spring Revolution, the Myanmar military, disparagingly known as the Sit-Tat, finds itself increasingly on the defensive. Amidst this backdrop, the State Administration Council (SAC) announced on February 10, 2024, the enforcement of the 2010 Conscription Law, a move widely perceived as another ill-judged attempt by General Min Aung Hlaing to drag the entire nation down with him.

The People’s Military Service Law, enacted by the State Peace and Development Council—the precursor to the SAC—and signed into law by General Than Shwe on November 4, 2010, mandates service in the armed forces for all men aged 18 to 35 (extending to 45 for those with professional expertise) and women aged 18 to 27 (extending to 35 for those with professional expertise) for a period of two years, which can be extended to five years during national emergencies. Failure to comply with conscription can result in imprisonment for up to five years, a fine, or both.1,2

The question arises: why resurrect this 14-year-old law now? The apprehensive coup leader highlighted the law at the Veterans Convention on November 22, 2021, and again at the SAC’s annual meeting on February 2, 2022.3,4

According to Ye Myo Hein, a visiting Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace, the Sit-Tat had approximately 150,000 members, including around 70,000 combatants, as of May 2023.5 However, there has been a significant decrease in morale and numbers among the military due to a series of defeats inflicted by the coordinated democratic forces across Myanmar as well as an increase in casualties, desertions, defections, and detentions as prisoners of war since Operation 1027 in October 2023.6,7In addition to colossal losses on the battlefields, the junta has also experienced severe setbacks on the economic front due to Western sanctions.

A China-Russia Arctic Alliance? Not So Fast.

Marc Lanteigne

With the Arctic finding itself under ever greater global scrutiny due to climate change, and opening up to increased economic activities, from shipping to mining to fishing, the question of whether great power competition is spilling over into the far north has assumed greater importance. One aspect of this attention has been the idea of a probable, and perhaps even inevitable, Arctic pact between China and Russia, one based on mutual northern interests and shared mistrust of the West.

At first glance, there is much evidence to support this view, especially with Beijing declining to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and instead adopting a nebulous policy of neutrality toward the conflict. China and Russia are both pushing back against what they perceive as NATO militarism and expansionism in the Arctic. The Polar Silk Road, which the two states began to jointly develop after 2017, was meant to further enhance Sino-Russian boreal cooperation, centering on the Northern Sea Route connecting Asia and Europe via the waters abutting Siberia.

These points of collaboration are now more commonly viewed as signals that a deeper Arctic pact is forming between the two powers. One recent example is a report, published earlier this month by American intelligence firm Strider Technologies, which argued that China is rapidly increasing its economic presence in the Russian Arctic and that Moscow has opened the door to Chinese interests in Siberia and Russia’s Far East. This would suggest the powers are now openly seeking to counterbalance the West in the Arctic in light of NATO’s expansion to include Finland and likely Sweden. In short, there is the conclusion that the Sino-Russian “no limits” partnership – declared in February 2022, on the eve of the invasion of Ukraine – is allegedly thriving in the Arctic.

A closer look at the pattern of Sino-Russian cooperation in the Arctic over the past decade, however, reveals much more ambivalence, especially on Beijing’s part. There are concerns within both governments as to each other’s future intentions in the Arctic. Far from pursuing an “unlimited” partnership, Beijing has instead selectively engaged Russia in the Arctic, in areas that reflect China’s own interests, such as increased science diplomacy, and has agreed to purchase Russian oil and gas (at discounted rates).

China’s Secret to Controlling the Internet

Minxin Pei

When the internet first became accessible worldwide, optimists hoped that it would be able to break authoritarian regimes’ ability to control information. Dictatorships, the thinking went, would be powerless in fending off the information revolution enabled by the decentralized nature of the internet. 

What the Western Media Gets Wrong About Taiwan

Clarissa Wei

In September 2022, I was working as a fixer in Taipei for a U.S. news segment about cross-strait tensions, handling local logistics for a visiting producer and cameraman. Fixers are freelance staff whose role is somewhere between journalist and tour guide—they can end up doing everything from arranging interviews to translation to booking hotels. One night, we arrived at an amateur radio meetup in a park, ready to shoot, and found an eccentric crew of local radio fans. One man hunched over a tangled web of equipment at the back of his truck, tapping away in Morse code; another fidgeted with an antenna as he walked around, trying to get a signal. The producer told me that the group was learning how to operate radios in case of war with China.

Preparing for war, social unrest or a new pandemic? Chinese companies are raising militias like it’s the 1970s

Laura He

Chinese companies are doing something rarely seen since the 1970s: setting up their own volunteer armies. At least 16 major Chinese firms, including a privately-owned dairy giant, have established fighting forces over the past year, according to a CNN analysis of state media reports.

These units, known as the People’s Armed Forces Departments, are composed of civilians who retain their regular jobs. They act as a reserve and auxiliary force for China’s military, the world’s largest, and are available for missions ranging from responding to natural disasters and helping maintain “social order” to providing support during wartime.

The forces, which do not currently operate outside China, have more in common with America’s National Guard than its militia movement, which refers to private paramilitary organizations that usually have a right-wing political focus.

The establishment of corporate brigades highlights Beijing’s growing concerns about potential conflict abroad as well as social unrest at home as the economy stumbles, analysts say.

The revival is also seen as a response to the pandemic, and part of Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s efforts to tighten Communist Party control over society, including the corporate sector.

“The return of corporate militias reflects Xi’s rising focus on the need to better integrate economic development with national security as the country faces a more difficult future of slower growth and rising geopolitical competition,” said Neil Thomas, a fellow for Chinese politics at Asia Society Policy Institute’s Center for China Analysis.

Red Sea Houthi Attacks Demand a Strategy Against Iran

Dr. Mohamed ELDoh

Over the past few months, the Red Sea has witnessed a series of attacks on commercial vessels, most of which have been attributed to Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. These attacks have raised concerns over the safety and security of maritime trade routes in the region, with significant implications for global trade and stability given that roughly 10 to 15% of the global trade volume passes via the Red Sea.

The attacks have prompted key shipping lines to shift to a longer route, the Cape of Good Hope, consequently negatively affecting major industrial corporations and thus global supply chains. On a more regional level, the Houthi attacks have severely impacted Egypt as major shippers shift to alternative routes and bypass the Suez Canal. This has led to losses for Egypt amounting to an estimated $508 million so far, along with expectations that such losses are likely to continue should the threat from the Houthis remain. In the same vein, the Houthis’ maritime attacks in the Red Sea are holding up vital aid shipments intended for Sudan as well as driving up the costs for humanitarian agencies in the region.

The unprecedented threat posed by the Houthis to commercial vessels has prompted the formation of a US-led coalition and the initiation of Operation Prosperity Guardian, which intends to counter the threats posed by the Houthis as well as degrade their maritime attack capabilities, notably their armed drones and anti-ship missiles. While the US-led coalition has been relatively effective in degrading some of these capabilities, the Houthis continue to attack commercial vessels to date, further prompting the US to sanction the regime and designate the group as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist.” Attacks have continued despite these US sanctions; in fact, they have been stepped up, with emerging reports indicating the confirmed first use of unmanned underwater vessels and new strikes against cargo ships now at risk of sinking.

'Combat Con Artists' of World War II Who Hoodwinked Nazis Get Long Overdue Top Honor from Congres

Richard Sisk

All warfare is based on deception, Chinese strategist Sun Tzu once said.

The battlefield flimflam practiced by the Army's top-secret 23rd Headquarters Special Troops unit during World War II took that ancient advice to another level as the "Ghost Army" in the drive to liberate Europe.

From D-Day to the crossing of the Rhine, the 23rd used inflatable tanks, trucks and artillery pieces; bogus radio traffic; 500-pound loudspeakers blasting recordings of divisions on the move; and other means of fakery to confuse the Nazis. In the process, it may have saved the lives of 15,000 to 30,000 American troops, according to Army historians.

Now, the unit is set to receive the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor Congress can bestow, at a March 21 ceremony on Capitol Hill. The medal was also awarded to a sister unit of the 23rd -- the 3133rd Signal Service Company -- which served in Italy and carried out two deception operations in 1945 near the end of the war.

President Joe Biden signed the "Ghost Army Congressional Gold Medal Act" in February 2022, but the commemorative coin had yet to be minted. It will be presented to the fewer than 10 surviving Ghost Army members at the ceremony.

"What made the Ghost Army special was not just their extraordinary courage, but their creativity," Rep. Annie Kuster, D-N.H., sponsor of the House bill that authorized the medal, said in a statement.

What the US National Defense Industrial Strategy Means for the Indo-Pacific

Monish Tourangbam

In a first of its kind, the U.S. Department of Defense released a National Defense Industrial Strategy (NDIS) complimenting the priorities of the U.S. National Defense Strategy (NDS). Both the strategy documents reflect the geopolitical environment unfolding in the Indo-Pacific, and the threats that the United States perceives primarily from the coercive and assertive actions of the People’s Republic of China.

Irrespective of leadership changes in Washington, the national security perspective in the country has continually seen China’s military and technological rise as the most prominent strategic challenge to the United States. What the NDIS has to say is critical for major stakeholders given the uncertain power balance in the Indo-Pacific, plus the role that the rise of new technologies and new partnerships will play in how the deployment of U.S. power pans out in the region.

Into an Era of Multi-Use Technologies

The advent of dual use technologies that have both civilian and military applications has driven discourse on technologies throughout the 20th and into the 21st centuries. From nuclear to outer space and new age cyber technologies, exploiting technological breakthroughs and treading the blurring line between war and peace has had an overwhelming impact on inter-state relations and rivalries.

The U.S. national security and defense strategies in general and the NDIS in particular acknowledge the tectonic shift that technologies are undergoing. With artificial intelligence exponentially growing in its ability to mimic and replicate human actions, the complexity is growing manifold. This is taking military competition in the Indo-Pacific into an era of multi-use technologies, whose applications and implications will go far beyond intended goals. To what extent the United States can shape this future to gain competitive advantage along with allies and partners vis-à-vis adversaries remains the drive for building a modern defense industrial ecosystem.

Sanctions on Russia and the Splintering of the World Oil Market

Chris Miller, Nick Kumleben, and Caroline Nowak

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Western governments have imposed a complex set of embargoes and sanctions on Russia’s oil industry. While the US and its allies have long used sanctions as a tool of economic statecraft against oil exporters, the sanctions on Russia target one of the world’s two largest exporters (the other being Saudi Arabia). Moreover, these sanctions come after two decades in which the US has imposed sanctions on other significant oil exporters, including Venezuela and Iran, limiting these countries’ production and export capabilities too.

This report explores how the sanctions on Russia have affected the world oil market. It has three primary findings. First, a larger share of world oil production is under some form of Western sanction today than at any point in a half century. Second, sanctions have caused a significant shift in oil export patterns, rerouting trade flows in an economically inefficient manner and forcing sanctioned countries such as Iran, Russia, and Venezuela to sell crude at below-market prices. Third, the primary beneficiaries of discounted sanctioned oil are China, India, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, which can buy oil at below-market prices.

We estimate that sanctions on Russian crude oil exports have reduced the import bill of buyers of sanctioned crude by as much as $22 billion over the past year, relative to where prices would have been without discounts to market benchmarks. This calculation excludes discounts on Russian refined product exports, also covered under the price cap, which would likely increase the discount substantially. Sanctions on Russian, Iranian, and Venezuelan crude have created a total discount of as much as $34 billion over the past year relative to traded benchmarks.

Sanctions have splintered the world oil market into “sanctioned” and “non-sanctioned” spheres. This imposes costs on sanctioned countries while offering benefits for countries such as China and India that transact in both sanctioned and non-sanctioned energy markets. Analysis of this partial splintering of the oil market provides new empirical evidence about the impact of current and potential future sanctions. Studying the oil market’s fracturing also provides a glimpse into potential futures for markets for other minerals such as lithium and cobalt that are being reshaped by competition and restrictions imposed by China and the West.

NATO's chief information officer on what Ukraine did right in its cyberwar with Russia

Daryna Antoniuk

Russia’s war in Ukraine has set an unprecedented example of how cyber and kinetic operations can be combined to help nations achieve their military goals. And there are numerous lessons that other countries can learn from this experience, according to NATO's chief information officer, Manfred Boudreaux-Dehmer.

One practical takeaway for NATO countries is to adopt “the speed and agility with which Ukraine has responded to the situation," Boudreaux-Dehmer told Recorded Future News during a cybersecurity conference in Munich last week.

“For those working in large public organizations where decisions take time, it is essential to learn how to adjust our policies and procedures to move as fast as possible,” he said.

Among the things that Ukraine managed to implement quickly was bringing together people from the government, the military, industry, and society to confront Russia in cyberspace, according to Boudreaux-Dehmer. “They came together in a way I've never seen before anywhere else.”

Another decision that proved beneficial for Ukraine was transitioning its major systems to the cloud. Speaking at the Munich Cyber Security Conference, Boudreaux-Dehmer said that Ukrainians accomplished this with “remarkable” speed — within two weeks.”

This shift was crucial since the physical tech infrastructure in Ukraine was continuously subjected to shelling and missile strikes, making the virtual environment the only safe space.

Russia Targets Ukraine With Hybrid Cyberattack

Davey Winder

Researchers at security vendor ESET have uncovered a two-pronged hybrid war-related cyberattack, comprising Psyops and credential-stealing campaigns, targeting Ukrainian civilians and businesses.

Researchers Uncover Russia-Aligned Psyops Campaign ‘Operation Texonto’

Researchers from security vendor ESET have confirmed that they discovered a cyber-psyops campaign, named Operation Texonto, following analysis of two waves of sysops messages sent in November and December 2023. The contents were based around typical Russian propaganda themes of drug and food shortages as well as interruptions to heating for Ukrainian citizens. The goal appears to be to make Ukrainian citizens believe Russia is winning the war.

The war-related disinformation was distributed by way of spam emails. In October, the researchers also saw a spear-phishing campaign targeting both Ukrainian organizations, including a defense company, and EU agencies. This was designed to steal login credentials for Microsoft Office 365 accounts. ESET says that “due to the similarities in the network infrastructure used in these PSYOPs and phishing operations,” it can be said with high confidence they are linked.

Russia-aligned pysops campaigns combine with spear-phishing attacks on Ukrain targetsESET RESEARCH

Operation Texonto Attributed With High Confidence To Russia-Aligned Operatives

Operation Texonto, attributed “with high confidence to a group that is Russia aligned” by ESET Research, appears to resemble previous operations by a Russia-aligned advanced persistent threat group known as Callisto. However, the ESET researcher behind the discovery of these latest cyberattacks, Matthieu Faou, says that without technical overlap “we currently do not attribute Operation Texonto to a specific threat actor.”

Why Europe Can’t Get Its Military Act Together

Stephen M. Walt

Former U.S. President Donald Trump set off alarm bells in Europe when he told a campaign rally that he would encourage Russia to “do whatever the hell they want” to any countries he judged to be delinquent on their defense obligations. European countries were already fretting about the possibility of a second Trump term, and these latest remarks sent these concerns into high orbit. European Commission President Ursula Van der Leyen told the Financial Times a few days later that Europe was facing a world “that has got rougher” and that “we have to spend more, we have to spend better, and we have to spend European.”

The Peril of Ukraine’s Ammo Shortage


Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, one type of weapon has loomed large over every other. Artillery has accounted for about 80% of casualties on both sides. Yet political deadlock in the U.S. Congress over military assistance to Ukraine, combined with a lack of production capacity in Europe, is leading to a critical shortage in artillery ammunition that could spell disaster for Ukraine’s war effort.

The shortage of ammunition is already being felt across the front, and contributed to Ukraine's recent withdrawal from the town of Avdiivka.

Artillery is both versatile and devastating. A Ukrainian battery of M109 howitzers, for example, can theoretically land around 530 lbs. of high explosive anywhere within 15 miles with a latency of about 3-5 minutes. Depending on the fuzing, these rounds can fill the air with shrapnel, or bury into the ground and collapse fortifications. The effect is not just the physical damage inflicted, but the psychological fear artillery instills in soldiers and the constraints it imposes on an opposing force that must plan to deal with this threat.

Ukraine today is facing around 470,000 Russian troops who every day attack Ukrainian positions using assault groups of infantry. If Ukraine had sufficient artillery, these attacks can be easily repelled because a few rounds of 155 mm caliber fire would kill the attackers as soon as they began to advance from their covered positions. But Ukraine is having to ration its units to fire only 2,000 rounds a day across a 750 mi. front. Ukraine fields around 350 artillery pieces, so that in many areas of the front Ukraine has no artillery at all.

The shortage of guns and shells not only reduces Ukraine’s ability to blunt Russian attacks, but also makes Ukrainian artillery more vulnerable to Russian Lancet-3M drones and counter battery fire. Russia has more than 4,000 artillery pieces in Ukraine, and is firing around 10,000 rounds a day across the front. So when a Ukrainian howitzer opens fire, it must either keep out of range of the Russian guns, limiting how much of the line it can protect, or move quickly to avoid being destroyed by the Russians firing back.



The Army is modernizing. More than 20 years of combat in the Middle East against terrorist groups and insurgencies forced the military into a particular mindset under which unconventional threats, such as improvised explosive devices (IEDs), were on top of the threat list. However, times have changed, and large-scale conventional warfare with near-peer adversaries like China and Russia is back on the menu.

Therefore, the Army is upgrading its arsenal to meet the challenges of the future. In 2023, the Army received 24 new systems as part of this modernization process. This year is expected to be similarly productive. When it comes to ground combat systems, there are three platforms to keep an eye out for in 2024.


The M10 Booker is an infantry-support armored vehicle designed to pave the way for mechanized infantry with its firepower and mobility.

The M10 Booker packs quite a punch. The armored vehicle is equipped with a 105mm M35 main gun, an M2 Browning 12.7mm heavy machine gun, and a 7.62mm light machine gun; it also sports several sensors for urban fighting. The M10 Booker’s heavy weaponry can even take out light enemy armored vehicles (or even a tank with a well-placed shot in a vulnerable spot).

With a weight of approximately 40 tons, the M10 Booker can hit a maximum speed of 45 miles per hour and operate up to 350 miles without any refueling. In terms of compliment, the Army stuck with the four-man crew with its newest armored vehicle. Moreover, the new combat vehicle comes with a modular design that can incorporate new technology as it develops.