26 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’s 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 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

Bradley Bowman, LTG (Ret.) H.R. McMaster
Source Link

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.

Unfortunately, Iran and North Korea were happy to join the Sino-Russian axis.

The Houthis Proved Ballistic Missiles Can Hit Moving Vessels

Michael J. Armstrong

The Houthi conflict has provided some important data points for military analysts. It turns out that ballistic missiles can indeed hit vessels in motion, though not reliably. U.S. warships can block such missiles very well, with a dozen interceptions to their credit so far

Houthi missile attacks in the Red Sea region have aggravated regional tensions and disrupted global trade. They consequently pose challenges for trading nations generally and the U.S. in particular. However, those strategic impacts have been achieved despite the lackluster performance of their weapons against both land and sea targets.
Missing Israel

Houthi militants began launching missiles and drones across the Red Sea toward Israel last October. But none of the projectiles they’ve reportedly fired since then have struck that country, though one did injure six Egyptians. U.S. or Israeli forces instead intercepted most.

That zero percent hit rate is abysmal, though not unprecedented. Only about three percent of Hamas rockets struck Israeli targets back in 2014, thanks to Israel’s persistent airstrikes and Iron Dome interceptors. But Hamas rocketry improved considerably after that.

The Houthis did notably trigger the first hostile engagements in space. Five of their ballistic missiles were shot down by Israeli Arrow interceptor missiles high above the Earth’s atmosphere.

Also noteworthy were the interceptions of Israel-bound projectiles by Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Those demonstrated how a Middle East Air Defense alliance could someday protect the region if the countries could agree to cooperate.
Denting Ships

Houthi attacks at sea have gone slightly better. Since November, they’ve launched hundreds of cruise missiles, ballistic missiles, and drones at ships in the Red Sea or Gulf of Aden.

How Israel’s war went wrong

Zack Beauchamp

At the end of November, Israeli reporter Yuval Abraham broke one of the most important stories of the war in Gaza to date — an inside look at the disturbing reasoning that has led the Israeli military to kill so many civilians.

Citing conversations with “seven current and former members of Israel’s intelligence community,” Abraham reported that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) had changed its doctrine to permit far greater civilian casualties than it would have tolerated in previous wars. IDF leadership was greenlighting strikes on civilian targets like apartment buildings and public infrastructure that they knew would kill scores of innocent Gazans.

“In one case,” Abraham reported, “the Israeli military command knowingly approved the killing of hundreds of Palestinian civilians in an attempt to assassinate a single top Hamas military commander.”

Abraham’s reporting showed, in granular detail, the ways that this war would not be like others: that Israel, so grievously wounded by Hamas on October 7, would go to extraordinarily violent lengths to destroy the group responsible for that day’s atrocities. In doing so, it would commit atrocities of its own.

Houthis Shoot Down Second Air Force MQ-9 in Three Months

Chris Gordon

A U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper was shot down off the coast of Yemen by Houthi fighters, defense officials said Feb. 20.

“Initial indications are that it was shot down by a Houthi surface-to-air missile,” Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh told reporters.

The U.S. military believes the drone crashed into the Red Sea in the early morning hours of Feb. 19 local time. Footage circulating on social media shows the wreckage of a drone that was recovered by the Houthis, as well as video of the purported engagement released by the group.

It was the second time that an Air Force MQ-9 was downed by the Houthis since November as the Iranian-backed Houthis pursue a months-long campaign against commercial shipping and naval vessels in the region with drones, cruise missiles, and anti-ship ballistic missiles. Reapers cost roughly $30 million apiece.

Forces under U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) have been taking out Houthi targets in Yemen since mid-January as the U.S. and its allies seek to deter attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. Singh said that she did not know if the MQ-9 that was shot down earlier this week was armed.

“These are multimillion-dollar platforms,” said Singh. “The commander’s using them to keep commercial mariners safe, to keep our U.S. service members safe in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. So, of course, there’s a risk incurred, but it’s something that we’re going to continue to do to ensure that freedom of navigation can continue to be upheld, the rule of law can be upheld, and that commercial shipping can continue, whether it be in the Red Sea or the Gulf of Aden.”

Hamas’ Attack on Israel – an “Improvised Everything” Case Study

David G. Smith, Ph.D. and Allan O. Steinhardt, Ph.D.

During the Cold War and afterwards, some Pentagon strategists used to contemplate how much destruction ten men could do, as a barometer for how dangerous the world was becoming. The sages chose ten men because that was roughly the size of the core group of radicals behind the Russia Revolution.

Overthrowing a nation demonstrates an impressive amount of capability, but Pentagon analysts liked to think in terms of military, destructive capability. Since 2000, events have illustrated the power easily wielded by a small group has grown significantly. 9/11 showed how much devastation a group of 19 terrorists, albeit with offshore support, could wreak. Since then, mass killings have proliferated. The power of automatic weaponry is such that just one gunman, firing multiple automatic weapons, could kill 60 individuals and wound 413 in the Las Vegas shootings in 2021.

The rising destruction able to be wreaked by a small group of people has been abetted by another trend – the rising use of commercial technologies for destructive purposes. Writing from 2008 to 2015, Dr. Allan Steinhardt and I introduced the concept of “improvised everything,” a way to alert readers to the proliferation of military capability available from leveraging commercial products and technology.[1] We called the concept “Improvised Everything” as a way of warning that the phenomenon extended far beyond just the development of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), which were a major focus at the time. Using both current events and select historical examples, we showed that non-state actors, terrorists, and rogue states could assemble an impressive range of at least rudimentary military capabilities by leveraging commercial technology. In fact, while sometimes primitive, capabilities could be developed in every major military branch of service – army, air force, and navy. Planning, training, tactics, intelligence and logistics capabilities could be developed or aided as well. These improvised capabilities often do not stand alone, but are combined with widely available military technologies such as automatic weapons, explosives, and mortars to create a dangerous new threat environment. This military equipment is often available from rogue states or the black market.

Cheap Russian Oil Fuels India’s Response to Ukraine War

Biswajit Dhar

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has revived Cold War sentiments and triggered a major realignment of the global economy, with India at the center of it all.

In the first days of the conflict, the United States-led Western alliance imposed a slew of sanctions on Russia, including a ban on key Russian banks from the world’s dominant financial messaging system, SWIFT.

The ban prevented these banks, representing over 80 percent of total Russian banking sector assets, from conducting transactions quickly and efficiently.

The sanctions dealt a body blow to Russia’s ability to trade with partners, including India, one of Russia’s closest allies going back to the Cold War era.

Prior to its invasion of Ukraine, Russia was a relatively small trader with India, not figuring among India’s top 20 partners. In the 2021-22 financial year (1 April to 31 March), trade between India and Russia accounted for a meager 1.3 percent ($13 billion) of India’s total trade.

Where their relationship has been close has been in the supply of armaments, which has spanned decades. Since 2000, India has been the largest importer of Russian armaments, which was valued at $39.5 billion, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Russia’s supply of armaments to India is critical for a country in one of the most militarized and politically volatile regions of the world. In comparison, India’s imports from the U.S. were almost $5 billion.

What’s Behind Qatar’s Decision to Release 8 Indian Nationals Convicted of Espionage?

Seamus Duffy

Over the weekend, Qatar released eight Indian nationals previously arrested on espionage charges, all of whom were veterans of the Indian Navy. The eight suspects were accused by Doha in August 2022 of leaking details of their work for the Qatar-based firm Dahra Global to Israel. Although the details of the case have not been disclosed, the firm’s work advising the Qatari government on the acquisition of Italian submarines had led analysts to theorize that Qatari authorities suspected the eight Indian nationals of passing the details of Doha’s nascent submarine program on to Israeli intelligence.

After the eight were sentenced to death by a Qatari court in October 2023, Indian officials at the Ministry of External Affairs expressed their shock at the decision and announced their intention to “take up the verdict with Qatari authorities.” This weekend’s release of the prisoners represents the culmination of India’s efforts to seek the release of the prisoners after a Qatari court commuted the death sentences of the eight Indian nationals late last year.

Although this saga might seem to be good fodder for a spy thriller, it has played out amid a similarly dramatic shift in India’s Middle East policy over the last few months, namely with regard to Israel. At the outset of the war in Gaza back in October, India was quick to express support for Israel, even while reiterating its usual line of support for a two-state solution. Nonetheless, as Israel’s campaign in Gaza continued, New Delhi’s patience grew thin. In November 2023, India voiced its support for a United Nations resolution that condemned Israeli settlements in the West Bank and offered similar support in December for a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

While India has by no means abandoned Israel, the shift away from the more pro-Israel stances espoused by Israeli allies like the United States suggests that, at the very least, India’s approach to Israel is flexible. In light of India’s ongoing spat with Qatar, this should not be all that surprising.

India and the Red Sea Imbroglio

Anil Golani and Radhey Tambi

Confetti and smoke in the colors of the Indian national flag mark the entry of INS Vindhyagiri, a new warship for the Indian Navy, into the Hooghly river in Kolkata, India, Aug. 17, 2023.

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.

The Gulf region’s growing importance for India

Viraj Solanki

Growing strategic convergence between India and the Gulf region has resulted in deeper political, economic and defence ties, but the deteriorating security environment in the Middle East may hamper progress in some areas.

In one of his last foreign visits before India’s general election in April–May 2024, on 13–15 February India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi travelled to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar, a move which signalled the growing importance of the Gulf region for India. Under Modi, the Gulf has become a foreign- and security-policy priority and an integral part of India’s ‘extended neighbourhood’ in which India has increasing interests and influence.

Since Modi assumed office in 2014, India has transformed its relationship with the Gulf states from one focused on energy, trade and Indian expatriates into a new framework encompassing political relations, investment, and defence and security cooperation. India’s priorities include attracting investments to increase economic growth, addressing regional security concerns (including in the Arabian Sea and the Gulf), and enhancing its regional presence and influence.

The timing of Modi’s visit highlights the importance of the UAE as New Delhi’s key regional partner. Indeed, the UAE is the only regional country that India engages with bilaterally, trilaterally (along with France) and, since 2021, in the I2U2 quadrilateral grouping with the United States and Israel.

Changing relations Modi’s visit to the UAE was his seventh since he came to power, demonstrating India’s growing focus on engaging the Gulf region. Indeed, Modi’s August 2015 visit was the first by an Indian prime minister to the UAE in 34 years. Meanwhile, his August 2019 visit to Bahrain was the first ever made by an Indian prime minister.

China Is Practicing How to Sever Taiwan’s Internet

Elisabeth Braw

As the United States was watching the skies in the aftermath of the spy balloon incident, China may have been acting at sea. In early February, maritime vessels disabled the two undersea cables connecting Taiwan’s Matsu Islands, a tiny archipelago just 10 nautical miles off China’s coast, to the internet. Now residents of the islands face highly reduced internet connectivity until the cables are repaired. The activity looks like targeted harassment by Beijing—or an exercise in preparation for cutting off the whole of Taiwan.

The Real Roots of Xi Jinping Thought

Rana Mitter

In 2023, Hunan TV, China’s second-most-watched television channel, unveiled a series called When Marx Met Confucius. The conceit was literal: actors playing the two thinkers—Confucius dressed in a tan robe and Karl Marx in a black suit and a leonine white wig—met at the Yuelu Academy, a thousand-year-old school renowned for its role in developing Confucian philosophy. Over five episodes, Marx and Confucius discussed the nature of politics, arriving at the conclusion that Confucianism and Marxism are compatible—or that Marx may have subconsciously drawn his theories from a Confucian well. In one episode, Marx noted that he and his companion “share a commitment to [political] stability,” adding that “in reality, I myself was Chinese for a long time,” suggesting that his thinking had always been harmonious with traditional Chinese worldviews.

The series was backed by the Chinese Communist Party and formed part of President Xi Jinping’s sweeping political project to reconceptualize his country’s ideological identity. Since taking office in 2012, Xi has made it imperative for Chinese people to understand his interpretation of Chinese ideology, which he calls “Xi Jinping Thought.” Bureaucrats, tycoons, and pop stars have been required to endorse it; students now learn it in school; CCP members must use a smartphone app that regularly communicates its precepts. Key to Xi’s thought is pairing Marxism with Confucianism: in October 2023, he declared that today’s China should consider Marxism its “soul” and “fine traditional Chinese culture as the root.”

Xi’s efforts to redefine China’s ideological underpinnings feel increasingly urgent as a slowdown in growth has fed doubts among investors and public distrust at home. He leads a country whose economic might is far more respected than its form of government: China has now won a place among the world’s major economies but remains an aspirant within the international order. To the frustration of Xi and other Chinese leaders, Western countries will be reluctant to accept China’s global influence unless China conforms to modern liberal values. But his attempted synthesis of Marx and Confucius has prompted bafflement, even mockery, among observers outside and inside China.

The U.S. Is Playing the Wrong Game in the Competition with China

Christopher A. Preble, William D. Hartung

Washington should take a page out of Beijing’s playbook and rebalance its investments and energy towards economic and diplomatic interactions while at the same time moving toward a smaller but still robust defensive capability.

The Pentagon has defined China as the “pacing threat” driving U.S. military spending and strategy. Hawks on Capitol Hill have come together in a virtual Greek chorus sounding the alarm about how Beijing is outstripping the U.S. militarily—or will soon do so unless U.S. taxpayers spend far more on national security. These claims are both misleading and misguided. When it comes to competing with China for global influence, Washington is playing the wrong game.

One preoccupation of the “confront China” lobby is the assertion that Beijing spends far more on its military than meets the eye for two reasons.

First, China’s official defense budgets don’t cover all defense-related expenditures. Second, China supposedly gets more bang for its buck, spending less than the United States to achieve an equal increment of military power, be it ships or aircraft or numbers of uniformed personnel. To compensate for the latter problem, some analysts rely on purchasing power parity (PPP) to obtain a figure for comparison.

Even accounting for these differences, however, U.S. military spending continues to dwarf that of the PRC. The U.S. defense budget was at least four times larger than China’s official number ($905.5 billion vs. $219.5 billion) and more than twice as large as the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) estimate for China’s spending, adjusting for differences in purchasing power ($407.9 billion). The just-released edition of IISS’s Military Balance notes that China’s “official defense budgets have fallen as a percentage of GDP to an average of 1.23 percent between 2019 and 2023, from 1.28 percent between 2014 and 2018. The small increase in national-defense burden in 2023 to 1.24 percent of GDP mainly stems from the relative slowdown in economic growth.” By contrast, U.S. defense spending as a share of GDP has risen in the last three years, from 3.26 percent in 2021 to 3.36 percent in 2023.

Iran created a Frankenstein’s monster in the Middle East


The conventional wisdom these days is that Tehran is behind the various atrocities and aggressions committed by its partners and proxies throughout the Middle East. The reality, however, is far more complicated. Perhaps the best way to understand the relationship between Iran and the so-called “axis of resistance” is to view that relationship through the lens of Mary Shelley’s classical horror novel, “Frankenstein.”

Dr. Victor Frankenstein created his monster with an eye to improving his own fortunes and advancing his own interests, and Iran created a monster of its own for those very same generic reasons. Iran created the axis of resistance — which includes Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis — as a kind of defensive parapet, a protective shield that would keep the Israelis, the Saudis and especially the Americans from posing a military threat to the sovereignty and security of the Islamic Republic. The axis was thus meant primarily to be both a buffer and a deterrent. In more maximalist terms, it was also conceived as a means of consolidating Tehran’s power and influence throughout the Middle East.

In support of this strategy, Tehran provided its partners and proxies throughout the region with the resources they needed — funding, training, weapons and intelligence — for them to evolve into effective fighting forces. The goal was to create a constellation of forces capable not only of shielding Iran from attack, but also of inflicting harm on American, Israeli and Saudi assets if Iran thought that might advance its regional agenda. In other words, Tehran wanted to create a network of partners and proxies that would supplement Iran’s own defensive and deterrent capabilities.

But just as Dr. Frankenstein ultimately never really did control his monster, so too Iran has never really controlled the monstrous axis it created. At best, the interests of Iran and the members of that axis are broadly aligned. But each of Iran’s partners and proxies ultimately has its own agenda, its own internal political dynamics, and its own geopolitical anxieties. And each is motivated more by these factors than by the interests they share with Iran. In short, Iran’s partners and proxies are less like marionettes jumping around as Iranian officials pull their strings and more like monsters of the sort Dr. Frankenstein built and animated.

On the Death of Alexei Navalny

George Friedman

Alexei Navalny was an opponent of the Russian regime, and for his trouble, he was sent to prison – a gulag, as it was called under the Soviets – after being poisoned the previous year. The prison he was sent to was deep in the Russian Arctic, where someone who had already been weakened by poison might be expected to die, which he did, according to Russian reports, just before last weekend. The cause of death was not revealed, nor was his body turned over to his wife or mother for burial – a common practice even with ordinary criminals. There are perhaps two reasons why this is so. One is that Russian President Vladimir Putin did not want doctors to examine the body and find the cause of death. The other is that Putin has decided that he needs to intimidate and terrorize the population. The possibility remains, of course, that Navalny died of natural causes, but if that were the case, why act in this way?

The mystery runs this way. Russia scored a success in Ukraine. Putin’s interview with Tucker Carlson indicated that he is at least considering further conquest to the west and north of Ukraine. Making that threat publicly is a military liability. His primary enemy is the United States, and the issue of continued U.S. aid to Ukraine is in question. The explanation here is that he sees that the U.S. is at least divided on Ukraine and at most tired of the war. If this is so, then he might also have concluded that the more dangerous and ruthless Russia becomes, the greater the likelihood that the U.S. would choose to abandon the Ukraine project.

This week he has two poles to lean on. One is the fall of an important Ukrainian city. The other is that he is prepared to resort to Stalinism, blaming the U.S. for forcing him into this position and further undermining the U.S. position.

It is clear to me that his thoughts are on the United States, and that he wants to display his willingness to engage in ruthless action. It’s a low-risk move because failure simply preserves the status quo while destabilizing U.S. will. I am speculating, of course, but I think Putin has made his calculation.

How Russia and Ukraine's Losses Compare

Ellie Cook

On the eve of the second anniversary of Russian troops rolling across the Ukrainian border for Moscow's full-scale invasion, the human cost of 24 months of warfare is staggering.

On Thursday, Ukraine's military said Russia had sustained 407,240 casualties since February 2022, including 1,160 in the previous 24 hours. In an operational update on Wednesday, Russia's Defense Ministry said that Ukraine had lost almost 1,200 troops in the previous day. Moscow does not provide a running tally of purported Ukrainian losses.

It is impossible to know what the true casualty counts look like on both sides. "Nobody really knows accurate numbers" through the fog of war, said Kurt Volker, former U.S. special representative for Ukraine negotiations.

It is not entirely clear how Ukraine's military calculates its daily-updated figure, but if it includes overall casualties as well as Russian fighters who are missing or died in non-combat circumstances, it is a "perfectly plausible" tally, according to Nick Reynolds, a research fellow for land warfare at the London-based Royal United Services Institute think tank.

Newsweek has reached out to the Russian Defense Ministry and Ukrainian military for comment via email.

Russian Troops Left Their Warehouse Doors Open. Ukrainian Drones Flew Right Inside—And Blew Up A Bunch Of Armored Vehicles.

David Axe

FPV drones burn down a warehouse full of Russian vehicles.VIA CENSOR

Seemingly emboldened by the Russian conquest of Avdiivka, a former Ukrainian stronghold in eastern Ukraine, the Russian army reportedly shipped some of its best armored vehicles to southern Ukraine in anticipation of a separate offensive.

But Ukrainian forces located the warehouses where the Russians were stashing the T-72 and T-80 tanks, a BMP-3 fighting vehicle and a BREM engineering vehicle.

And then some very skilled Ukrainian drone operators from the Separate Presidential Brigade flew their explosives-laden first-person-view drones through the warehouses’ open doors and systematically demolished the vehicles inside. “As if in a shooting range,” according to Ukrainian media outlet Censor.

Soon the warehouses were burning. And the vehicles inside—two tanks, a BREM, a BMP and several gun-trucks and supply trucks together worth millions of dollars—cooked. There’s video of the whole debacle.

The cost of the strike to the Ukrainians? Just $5,000, according to Censor.

The drone raid is notable not just for the extreme skill of the Ukrainian operators, but also for the apparent range of the strike. The Russian army isn’t likely to pack tanks and BMPs into warehouses within normal range of Ukraine’s two-pound FPV drones. Two miles or so.

The implication is that the Ukrainians extended the range of their first-person quadcopters, possibly by flying them in a long formation with a larger “repeater” drone that captured, and rebroadcast, the FPVs’ command signals. With the help of a repeater drone, an FPV might range more than 10 miles.

What’s fueling the commercial fusion hype?

Victor Gilinsky 

The ITER tokamak will have the world's largest plasma volume of 840 m³. Despite billions of dollars invested over decades, controlled fusion has yet to be demonstrated experimentally and fusion power is nowhere near commercial application. 

Recent White House and Energy Department pronouncements on speeding up the “commercialization” of fusion energy are so over the top as to make you wonder about the scientific competence in the upper reaches of the government.

In April 2022, the White House launched what it called a “bold decadal vision” for a 10-year program to “accelerate the realization of commercial fusion energy.” The “bold” part is the proposal, in questionable analogy with high-speed computing, to do in parallel all the development steps that are typically done sequentially to bring a new technology to the market. According to the White House, this parallel processing would include: technology development, preparing a regulatory system (including rules for fusion reactor exports), securing the supply chain, identifying high-value markets, training a diverse workforce, and gaining public support, all “to support the rapid scale-up of fusion energy facilities.”

The special attraction of fusion is of course that it offers a potential source of abundant carbon-free energy that does not generate radioactive nuclear waste. But just because it would be nice if controlled fusion could work doesn’t mean it’s on the verge of doing so. The hard truth is that scientists and engineers don’t even know yet whether controlled fusion can be achieved to make useful work, at least anywhere outside the sun (and other stars, of course).

A historical perspective is useful to understand where the hype about commercial fusion is coming from.

The first space war is coming. Here are 3 things the US must do to win

Arthur Herman

Fox News White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich has more after U.S. allies are briefed on the national security threat that could be used against satellites on 'Special Report.'
NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

Americans got a wake-up call when House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner and the White House let us know that the Russians were thinking about sending nuclear weapons into space, to destroy U.S. satellites if we ever wind up in a shooting war with Moscow.

Russian nukes in space is the nightmare we’ve all worried about since the Russians launched their first Sputnik satellite back in 1957. Six and a half decades later, we are learning that international agreements that are supposed to stop that threat mean nothing to a dictator like Russian President Vladimir Putin — and that America needs to get serious about defending its assets in space, including GPS.

The truth is, whoever controls the space domain will dominate the future global economy. If America was the preeminent space power from Presidents John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan, we’ve let our edge slip away, while China and Russia aim to displace us altogether.

Air Defense Shapes Warfighting in Ukraine

Hunter Stoll & John Hoehn , William Courtney

Last month over territory controlled by Russia, three of its military aircraft were shot down or damaged. Ukraine’s ground-based air defenses showed their long reach. In another surprise, they have denied overall air superiority to Russia. An air defense revolution may be shaping how Ukraine and perhaps even NATO fight.

Since the Cold War, air defenses have ridden revolutions in microelectronics and computing. Radars detect aircraft at longer ranges. Surface-to-air missiles fly farther. High-value aircraft – such as airborne warning and control, and aerial refueling – retreat to safe distances. Modern aircraft need electronic warfare support to penetrate defended air space. Ukraine’s stealthy cruise missiles paired with radar-jamming MALD missiles have blinded Russian air defenses, but they are few in numbers.

Prior to the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, some observers foresaw that Russia’s air force would reign. Its best aircraft see and shoot farther than Ukraine’s and have countermeasures. It was not to be. Even Ukraine’s Soviet-era air defenses, including long-range S-300s, frighten off Russian aircraft. U.S.-supplied Patriots reach deep into Russian-controlled airspace, recently downing expensive A-50 early warning and battle management aircraft.

In Ukraine’s air war, neither side can overfly the other with impunity. Russian helicopter gunships provide some close air support to ground forces, but not enough to turn the tide. As a result, both sides are turning more to artillery and kamikaze drones to support ground operations. Offensive operations are undercut by the absence of air superiority.

Air defense has pushed manned combat aircraft to standoff distances that reduce their effectiveness and lethality. Partially as a result, ground fights may contest only hundreds of meters of territory. Engagement distances of maneuver forces can be below maximum ranges of their weapons systems. Some tank-on-tank skirmishes occur within a stone’s throw of one another.

Apple’s iMessage Is Getting Post-Quantum Encryption


APPLE IS LAUNCHING its first post-quantum protections, one of the biggest deployments of the future-resistant encryption technology to date.

Billions of medical records, financial transactions, and messages we send to each other are protected by encryption. It’s fundamental to keeping modern life and the global economy running relatively smoothly. However, the decades-long race to create vastly powerful quantum computers, which could easily crack current encryption, creates new risks.

While practical quantum computing technology may still be years or decades away, security officials, tech companies, and governments are ramping up their efforts to start using a new generation of post-quantum cryptography. These new encryption algorithms will, in short, protect our current systems against any potential quantum computing-based attacks.

Today Cupertino is announcing that PQ3—its post-quantum cryptographic protocol—will be included in iMessage. The update will launch in iOS and iPad OS 17.4 and macOS 14.4 after previously being deployed in the beta versions of the software. Apple, which published the news on its security research blog, says the change is the “most significant cryptographic security upgrade in iMessage history.”

“We rebuilt the iMessage cryptographic protocol from the ground up,” its blog post says, adding that the upgrade will fully replace its existing encryption protocols by the end of this year. You don’t need to do anything other than update your operating system for the new protections to be applied.

Quantum computing is serious business. Governments in the US, China, and Russia as well as tech companies such as Google, Amazon, and IBM are plowing billions into the (still) relatively nascent efforts to create quantum computers. If successful, the technologies could help unlock scientific breakthroughs in everything from drug design to creating longer-lasting batteries. Politicians are also vying to become quantum superpowers. The current quantum computing devices are still experimental and not practical for general use.

A Top White House Cyber Official Sees the ‘Promise and Peril’ in AI


When Anne Neuberger stepped into the newly created role of deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology on the White House’s National Security Council at the start of the Biden administration, she was already one of the government’s most experienced cyber veterans.

Neuberger spent a decade at the National Security Agency, serving as its first chief risk officer, and then assistant deputy director of operations, and then leading the newly created cybersecurity directorate. Just weeks after she started at the White House, the May 2021 Colonial Pipeline ransomware incident forever realigned the US government’s focus on online criminal actors. In the nearly three years since, her office at the National Security Council has helped drive both the Biden administration’s major executive order on cybersecurity as well as its recent executive order on artificial intelligence.

Ahead of her trip last week to the Munich Security Conference, Neuberger spoke with WIRED about the emerging technology issues that are top of mind in her office today, from the broadband needs of John Deere tractors to how Hamas’ attack in Israel identified the new national security threat posed by traffic cameras, to security concerns about software patches for autonomous vehicles, advancements in threats from AI, the push for quantum-resistant cryptography, and next steps in the fight against ransomware attacks. This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Anne Neuberger: Let me give you three because thankfully there’s more than one.

First, we've long been concerned about disruptive cyberattacks against critical infrastructure. Historically, we’ve relied on voluntary information-sharing partnerships between government and companies because pipelines, power plants, and banks are private-sector-owned and operated. But these partnerships have not achieved outcomes—cybersecurity improvements—on the scale and speed we need. The Colonial Pipeline cyberattack, which resulted in the US’s major East Coast pipeline being offline for six days, showed how much change was needed. With the president’s support, we took a new approach: interpreting existing safety rules to apply to cybersecurity, which gives regulators the ability to act. Today, that is driving major improvements to cybersecurity across the nation’s pipelines, airports, airlines, railroads, and energy systems.

When AI Helps Generate Inventions, Who Is the Inventor?

Andrei Iancu and Rama Elluru

This commentary from the CSIS-SCSP Task Force on IP in the AI Era was originally published in the Special Competitive Studies Project’s Substack on February 15, 2024.

With roots in the U.S. constitution, patent rights provide an exclusive property right in new inventions like drugs, new ways to make things like energy, and synthetic materials. However, as artificial intelligence (AI)—and specifically generative AI—are increasingly integrated across all fields such as health, education, and science, uncertainty exists in what inventions can be protected by patent rights when AI is part of the invention creation process.

In the U.S. government, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is working on resolving this and related questions. On Tuesday, in response to President Biden’s executive order, the USPTO issued Inventorship Guidance for AI-assisted Inventions to stakeholders and personnel on how the USPTO will analyze inventorship issues as AI systems play an increasing role in the invention creation process, as well as seeking public comment on this guidance.

SCSP also sought to answer this difficult question. We launched a Task Force on intellectual property (IP) in the AI Era (IP Task Force)—in collaboration with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Renewing American Innovation Project. Over the past year, the IP Task Force studied these patent inventorship issues through a series of workshops.

Working to provide clarity on this issue is critical because patent rights surrounding AI-generated inventions, inventors, creators, and investors will flounder in uncertainty at a significant cost to our society and the economy.

It Is Time to Democratize Wargaming Using Generative AI

Benjamin Jensen, Yasir Atalan, and Dan Tadross

The role of artificial intelligence (AI) in strategic decisionmaking is still evolving. There are concerns about ethics, escalation dynamics, testing and evaluation standards, and how best to align people and models in military planning. However, the role generative AI and large language models (LLMs) in wargames and strategic analysis often remain overlooked in these discussions.

If more people—from academics and concerned citizens to military professionals and civil servants—gained access to generative AI tools and understand how to integrate them into analytical wargames, the result will be a more diverse set of ideas and debates guiding foreign policy.

Wargaming Today: Central to Strategy but Costly and Opaque

A UK Ministry of Defence manual defines wargames as “structured but intellectually liberating safe-to-fail environments to help explore what works (winning/succeeding) and what does not (losing/failing), typically at relatively low cost.” Games are laboratories for decisionmaking, helping practitioners evaluate tradeoffs associated with everything from tactical choices to force design. Seen in this light, games have a long history in this context and often sit at the intersection of policy research and social science.

From the interwar period and Cold War to contemporary debates about countering Russia and China, wargames have been a staple of strategic analysis in the United States. These simulation-driven exercises evaluate theories, assumptions, and strategies related to warfare through the development of hypothetical conflict scenarios. As a result, wargames serve multiple purposes within policy circles. They facilitate dialogue across agencies and among stakeholders, fostering an environment where new ideas can emerge and analysts can evaluate key assumptions. This process is instrumental in shaping and informing policymaking decisions as it helps raise awareness across the policy circles. In fact, games often serve as a private forum for refining strategy and a vehicle for raising public awareness of these issues.