8 March 2024

The Gaza Dilemma: Israel's Complex Road to Victory Amidst Calls for Ceasefire

Seth J. Frantzman

Five months of war between Israel and Hamas has led to Israel defeating Hamas in many parts of Gaza. However, Israel’s path to victory is still complex and uncertain as Hamas has retreated to an area along the Egyptian border. The longer the war goes on, the more there are calls for a ceasefire and humanitarian pause in the fighting. However, neither of Israel’s primary goals in Gaza have been met: the total defeat of Hamas and the release of the remaining hostages.

Meanwhile, Israel continues to face threats from the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hezbollah has launched thousands of rocket and anti-tank missile attacks on Israel since October 7. Hezbollah also continues to strike at sensitive military sites in northern Israel, including an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) base on Mount Meron and the headquarters of IDF Northern Command in Safed. Pro-Iran media also continues to claim that Hezbollah is striking communications and surveillance sites along Israel’s northern border. The message is clear: Hezbollah is saying it knows how to target Israel’s military and it can increase the attacks if necessary.

Israel is now fighting on multiple fronts, including in Gaza, and retaliating against Hezbollah attacks. Israel is also fighting armed groups in the West Bank, particularly the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Iranian-backed groups in Syria and Iraq also threaten Israel and U.S. forces, and the Houthis in Yemen are attacking ships in the Red Sea. Israel has sought to manage all these fronts, ignoring the Houthi threats while U.S. Central Command and U.S. partners try to defend shipping in the Red Sea and keeping the Hezbollah front on low heat.

The focus on fighting Hamas in Gaza has diminishing returns. First of all, the IDF has redeployed many units out of Gaza. These include reserve units that made up the bulk of the fighting force called up after the Hamas attack on October 7. Around 300,000 reservists were called up, and Israel put nine divisions in the field, sending five to fight in Gaza and three to stand guard in the north. With the reservists now taking time off, there are three divisions in Gaza. Israeli units now control a corridor across central Gaza that essentially splits the Gaza Strip in two. In the south, the Ninety-Eighth Division is fighting Hamas in Khan Younis, where it has been fighting since early December. Meanwhile, the 162nd Division continues to sweep areas in the north, re-entering areas where the IDF had already fought in November.

The Aims of the War in Gaza—and the Strategy for Achieving Them

Azar Gat

In the aftermath of October 7, a discussion began in Israel about the right goals of the war against Hamas and the most suitable strategy for achieving them—a discussion that has intensified after the start of the ongoing ground offensive in the Gaza Strip. Most military commentators have supported the aim of the war to topple Hamas, while others have criticized them as echoing the IDF’s spokesmen and expressing the public indiscriminate sentiment to strike Hamas in every possible way after the massacre.

Indeed caution, criticism, and skepticism regarding fleeting sentiments are justifiable and necessary, given the problematic record of Israel’s wars in recent decades. The experiences of the First and Second Lebanon Wars, marked initially by enthusiasm but followed by disappointment, complications, and accumulated casualties, are deeply ingrained, and rightly so, in the mind of commentators. By contrast, Israel’s Operation Defensive Shield (2002) stands out for its success in regaining control of the West Bank and completely suppressing the Second Intifada, despite initial skepticism from some military commentators. Does the current war in the Gaza Strip resemble more closely Operation Defensive Shield or to the First and Second Lebanon Wars? Neither analogy is perfect, of course. We will therefore turn to a concrete analysis of the aims of the current war, the strategy for achieving them, and the alternatives that have been suggested.

The aims of the war in Gaza as defined by the cabinet are the destruction of Hamas’s military and governing infrastructure and the release of the hostages. This article proposes that the aims relating to Hamas, as interpreted by the cabinet and the military, and the way that the war is being conducted, are both necessary and achievable. But there are those who have rejected this position—from various directions.

Understanding the Israel-Hamas War

George Friedman

Understanding why Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7 requires an understanding of Hamas’ fundamental goal: the creation of a Palestinian state. The group understood that the attack would all but necessitate a shift in Israel’s national security strategy, but it likely believed that weakening the alliance that was coalescing around it – comprising Arab states such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia – made the risk worth it. Hamas further understood that it lacked the military capacity to defeat the Israeli military, so ahead of the attacks, it sought support from the Arab world. It’s difficult to believe Hamas could have done this without Israel finding out, so it’s likely that Israel did find out and dismissed its goal as impossible to achieve.

In a sense, Israel was correct. No Arab or Islamic country or movement was prepared to ally militarily with Hamas. The group thought that while a direct, combined attack on Israel would not succeed, it was still possible to force Israel into an untenable position. We now know that this was the line of thinking because Hamas did indeed attack Israel and, in doing so, isolated it from other potential allies. This decision shows Oct. 7 was more complex and, to an extent, more successful than initially thought.

The attack surprised Israeli intelligence, which had failed to understand Hamas’ thinking. Oct. 7 was designed not to break the Israeli military but to create a situation in which Israel could neither decline combat nor bring decisive force to bear because it did not want to endanger the lives of the hostages Hamas was holding. The taking of hostages was meant to drive Israel into a sense of rage and impotence and to sow seeds of doubt in Israeli intelligence.

It’s possible that Hamas expected other Arab forces, particularly Hezbollah, to join the fray. When that didn’t happen, Hamas went to Plan B. If reinforcements weren’t coming, then it wanted to focus Israel on a target that did not have decisive value but was essential to attack and would incur political costs. 

The Myth of Israel’s “Moral Army”

Avner Gvaryahu

The atrocities committed by Hamas on October 7 did not end that day. Over 130 Israelis are still held hostage in the Gaza Strip, many hundreds are in mourning, and the prospect of a similar attack keeps every Israeli family up at night. And yet the ongoing offensive in Gaza, ostensibly aimed at dismantling militant networks and making a repeat of Hamas’s attack impossible, does not promise to deliver any certainty for Israelis or their neighbors. It has dragged on with no end in sight, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu now insists that he wants to maintain an indefinite occupation of the Gaza Strip. The staggering Palestinian civilian death toll, which U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said had crossed 25,000 in late February, has even driven U.S. President Joe Biden—a staunch ally who responded to the October 7 attacks by extending Israel carte blanche to retaliate—to press Netanyahu to exercise restraint and to ensure that Israel’s military operations accord with the basic principles of just war and international law.

Israel claims that it is doing everything in its power to minimize civilian casualties in Gaza—that it maintains complex targeting procedures aimed at ensuring that any military strike is proportionate and does not kill an excessive number of civilians. “The army,” Netanyahu insisted in October, “is the most moral army in the world.” When pressed on the issue of Palestinian deaths in November, Netanyahu said, “Any civilian death is a tragedy. And we shouldn’t have any because we’re doing everything we can to get the civilians out of harm’s way …. That’s what we’re trying to do: minimize civilian casualties.”

In truth, Israel is not doing that. It has waged a brutal campaign in Gaza, only loosely upholding the protocols its armed forces are supposed to follow to minimize civilian deaths. But even those guidelines are insufficient: an investigation of prior campaigns in Gaza reveals the inadequacy of Israeli targeting guidelines, which do not truly curb civilian casualties. In the latest round of fighting in Gaza, Israel has failed to follow even those restrictions—leading to untold devastation and making a resolution to the conflict even harder to reach.

Hamas’ Delusional War Propaganda

Rany Ballout

“Abu Obaida” is the nom de guerre of the military spokesman of the Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas. Clad in a green military uniform and a red keffiyeh, he has regularly appeared on TV screens throughout the Middle East, providing updates on Hamas’ war effort and related political developments since October 7. In short speeches delivered with a defiant tone, he announces Hamas’ purported tactical achievements and consequential losses for Israel while promising an imminent victory.

According to media reports, the persona’s first public appearance as Al Qassam’s military spokesman can be traced back to the 2006 Gaza-Israel conflict. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said in October 2023 that his real name is Hudhayfah Kahlout, with Israeli media further reporting that his hometown is the village of Naliya in Gaza. Neither Hamas nor Al Qassam has commented on the matter.

Since October 7, Abu Obaida has gained massive popularity and traction across the Arab and Muslim world. The hype around Abu Obaida’s broadcasted speeches is vast, with prolific commentary and reactions largely praising him as a savior, with thousands of captions across the web. Arab social media depicts people, including children, glued to TV screens awaiting his speeches. Large banners featuring his picture appear in many Arab and Muslim states and cities, such as Beirut, Turkey, and Jordan. His banners have also appeared in soccer stadiums in Tunisia and Libya, and his image has even been featured in a tifo display by a prominent soccer team in Algeria. As a result, large segments of the Arab and Muslim population embraced Hamas’ information war against Israel, celebrating the October 7 assault as a major military breakthrough.

Remarkably, Arab and Muslim artists, actors, and even academics have expressed their admiration and support for Abu Obaida as a symbol of Palestinian resistance. One Syrian actress described how she preferred to listen to Abu Obaida’s voice in the morning over Lebanese icon Fairuz. Egyptian actor Mohamed Ramadan said he would be featuring the character of Abu Obaida in a future drama in response to Israeli media’s call to boycott his dramatic work.

Dropping aid from planes is expensive and inefficient. Why do it?

Sarah Dadouch and Claire Parker

The United States on Saturday became at least the fifth country to drop aid to Gaza since the start of the war in October.

Between 3 and 5 p.m. local time, U.S. Central Command said, Air Force C-130s, working with the Royal Jordanian Air Force, dropped containers packed with more than 38,000 halal meals onto the besieged enclave. The containers, equipped with parachutes, were dropped over the enclave’s Mediterranean coastline to allow “civilian access to the critical aid,” Central Command said.

Aid professionals say dropping aid from planes is an expensive, inefficient way to deliver aid to a population, and that the missions now being flown are insufficient to meet the needs of the more than 2 million people trapped inside Gaza.

Here’s what to know:

How dire are conditions in Gaza?

Over the past week, when people in the enclave have spotted parachutes swaying in the skies above them, they have run to meet them. Since Sunday, Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and France have dropped tons of prepared meals, diapers and other essential supplies.

After nearly five months of war, Gazans have resorted to eating grain ordinarily used to feed livestock or plants they scavenge. Famine, U.N. officials warned on Monday, is “almost inevitable.” Twenty-four of the enclave’s 36 hospitals have been destroyed by Israeli bombardment, the World Health Organization reported Tuesday; those that remain are functioning only partially. The Israeli military campaign against Hamas has killed more than 30,000 people in Gaza, the health ministry there says.

Food convoy carnage distills what’s gone terribly wrong in Gaza - Opinion

David Ignatius

The drone videos taken early Thursday over Gaza City brought a new level of horror to this conflict: They showed hundreds of people, so tiny in the images that their human forms had almost vanished, desperately swarming a convoy of food trucks to grab what they could.

And then, off camera, the worst happened: The crowd stampeded, trucks crushed people under their wheels and a few Israeli troops opened fire, according to U.S. officials. The pre-dawn mayhem had an appalling toll. Gaza health officials said more than 100 Palestinians died and 700 were wounded as the aid convoy moved toward Gaza City.

How to describe this tragedy? For me, it was like watching a real-life version of “Lord of the Flies,” illustrating the hell on Earth when order and security disappear and life becomes a primitive battle to survive. Israel’s war aim is to destroy Hamas, but sadly, it is also destroying any vestige of orderly life in Gaza.

Here’s how President Biden put it Friday as he announced the United States would start airdropping assistance to Palestinians: “Innocent people got caught in a terrible war unable to feed their families, and you saw the response when they tried to get aid.” The U.S. airdrops will be the most dramatic American intervention yet in Gaza. Officials say the administration will try to “flood the zone” with assistance by air, land and sea.

The Biden administration sees this incident as a distillation of what’s gone wrong in Gaza. ‘“Israel doesn’t have a plan” for maintaining order, a senior administration official told me. Israeli officials have been “dismissive” of American warnings about their muddled plans for “the day after.” But these latest events suggest that Israel’s stated plan for loose control of Gaza by clans and local leaders is hollow at its core.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu argued last week that future governance in Gaza should be “civil management by local groups” unaffiliated with Hamas. But as former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak wrote Friday in Foreign Affairs, “In practice, this would mean empowering a number of influential Gazan families, some of which are involved in organized crime.”

The lost humanity of the crisis in Gaza

Jonathan Panikoff

Last week, as Israel sought to distribute humanitarian aid in northern Gaza, more than one hundred Gazans were left dead and hundreds more were injured. Palestinians on the ground said Israeli forces engaged in “extensive shooting.” Israel said that there were two different incidents and that its fire caused fewer than ten casualties. The competing narratives are a microcosm of the war itself, one in which neither Israelis nor Palestinians, nor the millions of supporters of each, can credibly recognize the pain or humanity of the other side.

Those of us out of harm’s way in Europe, the Americas, or Asia, on college campuses and in the privacy of our own homes, have enthusiastically participated in sorting ourselves into algorithmically fueled binary bins on social media. Doing so allows us to avoid being confronted with hard truths that dissent from our preconceived notions, but also prevents us from seeing the humanity in the other side, and in each other.

For Israel, the declaration that its actions resulted in the deaths of “fewer than ten” casualties was an attempt to take responsibility for some of the deaths while highlighting its innocence as to most of them. But at a time in which 30,000 Palestinians have died, such a statement does not come off as a demonstration of restraint but one of callousness. Such a dismissal ignores the fact that even if Israel’s narrative is completely accurate, it is still responsible for the deaths of several Palestinians, even if they were too close to the trucks. The narrative ignores the basic humanity of Gazans, who were starving and desperate and are now dead because they sought a scrap of the limited food available.

On the other hand, there has been almost no recognition or acknowledgement, especially on social media, that the incident was based off of good intentions by Israel. The goal of the distribution was part of an Israeli plan to get additional food to Gazans by working with Gazan businessmen.

That lack of recognition is quintessentially human. In the face of such a tragedy—and the broader ongoing one in Gaza—it’s easy to dismiss intentions as irrelevant. But intentions do matter. It’s within intentions that we recognize humanity. Not pausing to understand the intentions here, while understandable, encourages Palestinians to dismiss Israel’s humanity, as well. So it becomes easy to believe the Hamas-run health ministry’s version of events as simply a “massacre,” alternative explanations being unnecessary given how they interfere with preconceived notions.

A Guide to India’s 2024 Elections

Milan Vaishnav and Caroline Mallory

Indians will vote in general elections in April–May 2024, for the first time in five years.

The 2024 election will be the largest democratic exercise in history. India has the most expensive elections in the world, surpassing even the United States. In 2019, parties and candidates spent an estimated $8.7 billion to woo more than 900 million eligible voters.

In 2019, 8,054 candidates representing 673 parties stood for elections for a shot at becoming a Member of Parliament (MP).

Nearly 615 million people—67.4 percent of Indians—voted in 2019: this was the highest voter turnout on record. For the first time in history, the persistent gender gap between male and female turnout disappeared.

As of January 1, 2023, there were over 945 million registered voters in India.

What’s at stake?

The 2024 general elections will decide who gets to sit in India’s lower house of parliament, the Lok Sabha or House of the People.

It is the more powerful of the two houses that make up India’s parliament:
  • It can hold the government accountable by introducing and passing no confidence motions.
  • It is in charge of the purse strings: all tax, borrowing, and spending bills only require the approval of the lower house.
  • It has more seats than the upper house (543, compared to a maximum of 250 for the latter), giving it greater heft in legislative negotiations.
The party or coalition that attains a Lok Sabha majority will nominate one of their elected members to serve as prime minister. The prime minister will be entrusted with selecting ministers to serve in the cabinet. In India’s parliamentary system, there are no term limits.

India: On Track to Become the World’s #3 Econom

Ed D'Agostino

India’s growth story is unprecedented.

It has the fastest-growing major economy in the world—GDP grew 8.4% in the final quarter of 2023, according to data released last week. Many analysts expect it to pass Germany and Japan to become the world’s third-largest economy. Deloitte South Asia CEO Romal Shetty thinks that will happen by 2027.

Much of this growth stems from favorable demographics. Last year, India surpassed China to become to the largest nation by population. It’s also the only top-five economy that’s young—40% of people there are under age 25. And India will stay relatively young because it’s the only top-five economy where births exceed the replacement rate.

EM to DM in 25 Years

India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, wants to turn India into a developed country “within the next 25 years.” That is ambitious, but not implausible.

Modi, who’s up for reelection this year, has been opening the economy to foreign investment since he came to power in 2014. Foreign direct investment reached $71 billion for the 2022–23 financial year, and India’s information technology minister says they’re targeting $100 billion in annual FDI “in the next few years.”

Modi is turning India into a manufacturing hub through programs like Make in India, capturing business from Western companies seeking a cheaper and friendlier alternative to China. Manufacturing accounts for 17% of India’s GDP, but projections show that figure reaching 25% as early as next year.

B-21 Raider: Capable Of ‘Breaching’ Multi-Layered Chinese Defenses, Top US Official Calls For More 6th-Gen Bombers

Sakshi Tiwari

During a US Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on February 29, the chief of the US Strategic Command emphasized the need to produce B-21 bombers at a faster pace and wanted to acquire more than 100 aircraft.

General Anthony J. Cotton, USAF, Commander, United States Strategic Command, told the committee, “The limited production rate of the B-21 is the only thing that I wish we could do a little quicker.”

Emphasizing the cutting-edge capabilities of the platform, Cotton said, “The fact that it is an incredible sixth-generation platform, all indications are that the weapons system is moving along at a great pace as far as delivery. The ability for production and the number of production, as a warfighter, obviously I would love more.”

“It’d be nice to have more than 100,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) insinuated. “Yes sir,” Gen. Cotton replied without giving a specific number of B-21 Raiders he would like to see going into production.

As per the plan, long-range bombers in the US fleet will be replaced by the stealthy B-21 instead of the Air Force’s B-1 Lancers and B-2 Bombers. The Pentagon has said it intends to purchase 100 of these bombers, with deliveries scheduled to begin in the middle of the 2020s.

The Pentagon’s acquisition chief, William LaPlante, announced in January that the B-21 had entered production. The low-rate production was authorized in the fall of 2023 following the impressive results of ground and flight testing.

“One of the key attributes of this program has been designing for production from the start — and at scale — to provide a credible deterrent to adversaries,” LaPlante said. “If you don’t produce and field warfighters at scale, the capability doesn’t really matter.”

China’s Economic Slump Is Here to Stay


China is in the midst of a profound economic crisis. Growth rates are flagging as an unsustainable mountain of debt piles up; China’s debt-to-GDP ratio reached a record 288% in 2023. But even that eye-popping figure does not capture the uncomfortable fact that much of it was borrowed to buy assets that no longer yield enough income to repay the debt. This is especially true in the housing sector, where sales have fallen by a third since the pre-pandemic peak, and new construction is down 60%. This is one of the worst housing crashes in the world over the last three decades.

Many Western pundits and politicians view this crisis as a sign of the bankruptcy of China’s leadership and economic system. But it is more akin to the cyclical debt crises that have plagued capitalist countries throughout history. An apt comparison is Japan’s crisis of 1989, which ended decades of high growth and rising asset prices, fueled by a ballooning debt bubble. Japan’s Nikkei stock index peaked in late 1989 and fell almost 80% over the next 13 years. Real estate prices fell for two decades starting in 1991. Neither of these major asset classes has exceeded the pre-crisis price peak ever since. Japan transitioned from being the fastest growing major economy during 1954-73, typically growing over 10% per year, to the slowest, with growth averaging only 1.75% per year from 1981 to 2023. China may be facing similarly prolonged difficulties.

China’s astonishing rise was propelled by an even greater expansion of debt following Deng Xiaoping’s market-oriented “Four Modernizations” in the late 1970s. Like Japan during its postwar “economic miracle,” China’s growth was led by an export and real-estate boom. In less than a half century, China went from an impoverished centrally-planned economy with minimal international trade to the world’s leading exporter and close second to the U.S. in the number of billionaires.

The World Is in for Another China Shock

Jason Douglas

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the U.S. and the global economy experienced a “China shock,” a boom in imports of cheap Chinese-made goods that helped keep inflation low but at the cost of local manufacturing jobs.

A sequel might be in the making as Beijing doubles down on exports to revive the country’s growth. Its factories are churning out more cars, machinery and consumer electronics than its domestic economy can absorb. Propped up by cheap, state-directed loans, Chinese companies are glutting foreign markets with products they can’t sell at home.

Some economists see this China shock pushing inflation down even more than the first. China’s economy is now slowing, whereas, in the previous era, it was booming. As a result, the disinflationary effect of cheap Chinese-manufactured goods won’t be offset by Chinese demand for iron ore, coal and other commodities.

China is also a much larger economy than it was, accounting for more of the world’s manufacturing. It had 31% of global manufacturing output in 2022, and 14% of all goods exports, according to World Bank data. Two decades earlier China’s share of manufacturing was less than 10% and of exports less than 5%.

Everyone is investing in manufacturing

In the early 2000s, overproduction mainly came from China, while factories elsewhere shut down. Now, the U.S. and other countries are investing heavily in and protecting their own industries as geopolitical tensions rise. Chinese firms such as the battery maker
Contemporary Amperex Technology are building plants overseas to soothe opposition to imports, though they already produce much of what the world needs at home.

China Targets Overseas Social Media Influencers in Its Latest Transnational Repression Scheme

Chauncey Jung

“Currently, the [Chinese] Ministry of Public Safety is tracking and investigating my 1.6 million followers. Once they have identified them, they will notify local police and summon those individuals for further actions.” Li Ying posted this warning in Chinese on his account on the popular social media site X (formerly Twitter) on February 25.

Li’s account, @whyyoutouzhele, primarily shares first-hand social media content blocked and censored in mainland China. Li’s X account became popular amid the White Paper Protests in late 2022 across China and has been one of the most followed political social media accounts on X since.

“Indeed, I also find the strategy of going through my followers list and investigating them individually absurd, but what I have discovered in recent days was true. They are using the most rudimentary method,” Li said in a subsequent post. He asked followers to unfollow the account and prioritize their safety. On the next day, Li revealed that he had lost 200,000 followers on X in 24 hours.

As Li’s messages indicated, Chinese authorities are adopting a cumbersome but intimidating tactic to control the flow of negative information concerning the country. Li is not the only victim. Wang Zhi’an, a former journalist for CCTV, China’s state broadcaster, made a similar post on his X account.

These warnings are having a ripple effect among Chinese-language X accounts. Multiple social media influencers who primarily comment on political issues in China also reported declines in followerships on X, YouTube, and other social media platforms since Li’s warning.

Chinese authorities target social media influencers like Li with a tactic that requires massive manpower. The strategy shows little consideration of the costs associated with its policing resources. Instead, the tactic aims to intimidate individuals from having contact with social media influencers like Li. By having police officers demand that individuals unfollow accounts like Li’s, the Chinese authorities also attempt to put economic pressure on influencers who rely on subscription numbers to generate income on YouTube and other platforms.

Service Before Self Might Just Resonate

Steve Cohen

Two stories made news a few weeks ago, but neither mentioned the other. They should have.

First, five members of the armed services were killed – and dozens more wounded – in Jordan and off the coast of Somalia. Second, still unable to meet its recruiting target, the Navy has dropped its requirement for either a high school diploma or a GED. This comes just a year after the Navy lowered the required score on the Armed Services Qualification Test to 50 out of 99. Out of desperation, they will take just about anybody.

The first story is tragic and concerning; the second damning.

For several years now all the services – save for the Marine Corps – have failed to meet their recruiting targets. Last year, the Army missed its recruiting goal by 25 percent—some 15,000 soldiers; the Navy missed its target by 19 percent; the Air Force by 10 percent, and the Coast Guard by 8 percent. Until the Navy’s recent announcement, 15 percent of the target population was ineligible because they didn’t graduate high school or earn a GED. And then there is the weight issue: a staggering 31 percent can’t enlist because they are obese.

A significant reason for these recruiting shortfalls is that fewer and fewer young people know anyone who has served; they have no personal connection to the armed forces. Only about 6 percent of American have served in the military, down from 18 percent in 1980. Yet fully 70% of current enlistees report they have a family member in the service. The military, it appears, is becoming a vanishing family affair.

Another oft cited reason for the military’s inability to attract people is its focus on “woke” policies. While a popular rationale among some politicians, a more insightful explanation has been offered by the Army’s chief of marketing, Maj. General Alex Fink: young people “just don’t see the Army as something that’s relevant. They see us as revered, but not relevant, in their lives.”

What Is Going On With Europe’s Economy?

Rogé Karma

The Old World has new problems. Over the course of 2023, the European economy saw close to zero growth. The continent’s two largest national economies—Germany and the U.K.—may both be in recession. Flagship European companies such as Volkswagen, Nokia, and UBS have collectively announced tens of thousands of layoffs. Angry farmers are currently blockading roads in and out of Paris, and tens of thousands of German transport workers have recently walked off the job. The approval ratings of some European heads of state make Joe Biden look like JFK. And recent polling shows that support for far-right parties is surging across the continent, with the “cost-of-living crisis” cited as voters’ top issue.

This was all supposed to happen to the U.S. too—but it didn’t. Eighteen months ago, nearly every economist, forecaster, and pundit was predicting that the combination of a global pandemic, rampant inflation, and an energy crisis would plunge both Europe and America into recession. Instead, as Europe flounders, the U.S. economy is doing spectacularly well by almost every measure (even if not all Americans seem to think so). Unemployment is at historic lows, businesses are being created at a record rate, and wages are rising fast. And America achieved this by stealing from Europe’s big-government, welfare-state playbook—and executing it better than Europe itself.

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, governments around the world opened the money taps. The U.K. and Germany spent more than $500 billion. France spent $235 billion, Italy $216 billion. But the United States was in a league of its own, spending an astonishing $5 trillion on pandemic relief. That’s more, even in today’s dollars, than America spent on the New Deal and World War II combined—and, crucially, it’s more than double what most European countries spent on pandemic relief relative to the sizes of their respective economies.

Ukraine Says It Sunk Another Russian Warship Using High-Tech Sea Drones


Ukraine claimed Tuesday it has sunk another Russian warship in the Black Sea using high-tech sea drones as Kyiv’s forces continue to take aim at targets deep behind the war’s front line. Russian authorities did not confirm the claim.

The Ukrainian military intelligence agency said a special operations unit destroyed the large patrol ship Sergey Kotov overnight with Magura V5 uncrewed vessels that are designed and built in Ukraine and laden with explosives. The patrol ship, which Ukraine said was hit near the Kerch Strait, reportedly can carry cruise missiles and around 60 crew.

The Ukrainian claim could not immediately be independently verified, and disinformation has been a feature of the fighting that broke out after Russia’s full-scale invasion of its neighbor in February 2022.

Kyiv's forces are struggling to keep the better-provisioned Russian army at bay at some points along the largely static 1,500-kilometer (930-mile) front line, but are also taking aim at targets deep beyond the battlefield.

Last month, Ukraine claimed it twice sank Russian warships using drones. On Feb. 1, it claimed to have sunk the Russian missile-armed corvette Ivanovets, and on Feb. 14 it said it destroyed the Caesar Kunikov landing ship. Russian officials did not confirm those claims.

Kyiv officials say some 20% of Russian missile attacks on Ukraine are launched from the Black Sea, and hitting Russian ships there is embarrassing for Moscow.

Almost a year ago, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, the Moskva guided-missile cruiser, sank after it was heavily damaged in a missile attack.

Red Sea cables have been damaged, disrupting internet traffic

Hanna Ziady

Damage to submarine cables in the Red Sea is disrupting telecommunications networks and forcing providers to reroute as much as a quarter of traffic between Asia, Europe and the Middle East, including internet traffic.

Cables belonging to four major telecoms networks have been “cut” causing “significant” disruption to communications networks in the Middle East, according to Hong Kong telecoms company HGC Global Communications.

HGC estimates that 25% of traffic between Asia and Europe as well the Middle East has been impacted, it said in a statement Monday.

The company said it is rerouting traffic to minimize disruption for customers and also “extending assistance to affected businesses.”

HGC did not say how the cables had been damaged or who was responsible.

South Africa-based Seacom, which owns one of the cable systems affected, told CNN that repairs wouldn’t begin for at least another month, partly because of the length of time it takes to secure permits to operate in the area.

Underwater cables are the invisible force driving the internet, with many funded in recent years by internet giants such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook parent Meta. Damage to these subsea networks can cause widespread internet outages, as happened following the Taiwan earthquake in 2006.

The destruction of cables in the Red Sea comes weeks after the official Yemeni government warned of the possibility that Houthi rebels would target the cables. The Iranian-backed militants have already disrupted global supply chains by attacking commercial vessels in the crucial waterway.

Individual error let Moscow intercept military call, Germany says

Kate Connolly

Germany’s defence minister has said that one of the generals on a military conference call on Ukraine that was intercepted by Russia may have broken security protocol by using a non-secure line to dial in.

Boris Pistorius said the 38-minute phone call held over the platform WebEx that was subsequently leaked by Kremlin-controlled TV, had not been intercepted by an individual Russian spy but was most likely the result of a random sweep of insecure data on the sidelines of the Singapore airshow. One of the participants dialled in from his hotel room, and either his mobile phone or an insecure connection in his hotel provided the vulnerability, Pistorius said.

Speaking to journalists in Berlin on Tuesday morning, Pistorius said that disciplinary measures were being looked into, as the participant had contravened rigid security guidelines by not using a secure, authorised connection.

He said Germany was taking technical and organisational steps to ensure a similar incident was not repeated.

Amid widespread criticism towards Germany as well as sheer embarrassment over the call in which information about military tactics of Germany and its European and US allies were revealed – including that Britain and the UK had “troops on the ground” – Pistorius said he had spoken to many of his counterparts on Monday, and they had expressed “no sense of annoyance towards Germany”, and “reassured me that trust in Germany is uninterrupted”. He said there had been unanimity among Germany’s partners, that “we won’t let ourselves be divided by this Russian attack”.

He said that every one of Germany’s partners was “familiar” with such attacks, adding that the “breadth of such attacks is getting ever broader”.

Ukraine's Defence Intelligence reports on hacking Russian Defence Ministry servers: much information obtained


Defence Intelligence of Ukraine has reported that its cyber specialists have gained access to the servers of the Russian Defence Ministry and obtained a lot of data about the Russian military leadership, orders, reports and directives.

Corrected: At first, DIU reported a DDoS attack on the Russian Defence Ministry’s servers, but later edited their post on social media, deleting the information concerning the DDoS attack.

Quote: "The Ukrainian intelligence service now possesses software for information protection and encryption, previously used by the Russian Defence Ministry, as well as a trove of classified official documents belonging to the Russian Ministry of War."

Details: The information obtained includes orders, reports, directives, reports and other documents circulated among more than 2,000 structural units of the Russian Defence Ministry.

DIU said this information allows it to establish the complete structure of the Russian Defence Ministry and its branches.

"Analysis of the data obtained has also helped identify the generals, other senior officials of the Russian Defence Ministry structural units, as well as deputies, assistants and specialists − everyone who used the electronic document circulation software called Bureaucrat," DIU said.

The intelligence service specified that they obtained official documentation from Russian Deputy Defence Minister Timur Vadimovich Ivanov, who "played an important role in making the cyberattack successful".

What National Culture Teaches Us About Mission Command

Colonel Joe Junguzza and Colonel Kelly Lelito

Mission Command was made in America. While the formal term Mission Command was not coined until 2003, it has been in practice throughout American military history.[2] Three core tenets of Mission Command are Commander’s Intent, Mutual Trust, and Common Understanding.[3] In essence: Commanders communicate intent; subordinates must understand this intent and then determine how it is best accomplished. A bedrock of mutual trust bolsters and strengthens relationships between commanders and subordinates, and optimizes the execution of commander’s intent on the battlefield. According to Army doctrine, “Mission command is the approach to command and control that empowers subordinate decision making and decentralized execution appropriate to the situation.”[4] Mission Command is how the Joint Force grants agency to the lowest appropriate echelon.

While the doctrinal designation of Mission Command may be fairly recent, its practice is deeply embedded in American history. During the Civil War, Brigadier General Warren coordinated the occupation of Little Round Top at the Battle of Gettysburg based solely on Major General Meade’s guidance to protect the Army’s left flank, a maneuver which ultimately led to the Confederacy’s defeat.[5] In World War II, Major General Gavin took the initiative to conduct a river crossing during Operation Market Garden to meet the intent of seizing northern end of the Nijmegen Bridge when the allies initially failed to take it.[6] During Operation Desert Storm, Captain H.R. McMaster’s decision to push past the limit of advance in the Battle of 73 Easting led to a decisive victory over Iraqi forces.[7] Mission Command doctrine reflects the reality of how the United States military has always operated. It is a core advantage and always has been; it is reflective of the independent spirit and initiative upon which the nation was conceived and founded. A society that values initiative breeds a Force capable of exercising initiative.

Why the execution of Mission Command is more important than ever

In 21st-century warfare, battles will be won with technology… but also through initiative. The speed of technological advance will not slacken; the pace with which technological advances insert into the fight will not recede. New technologies bring permanent change to the art and practice of warfare; they always have and always will. Although maintaining a technological edge matters, human factors are equally in play, and ever have been as well.

How to Win an Information War — a history lesson in effective counter-propaganda

David Aaronovitch

How do you win an information war?” asks Peter Pomerantsev in the introduction to his new book, before addressing its animating question with a personal flourish: “What can you do when those you love . . . slip away from you under a quicksand of lies, and move mentally into an alternative reality where black is white and white is black?” 

The critical word here, it took me some time to realise, is “war”. In a war you do everything possible not to lose. It isn’t about posing your better values against the enemy’s, but about undermining popular belief in their “truth”. 

Pomerantsev’s main current enemy is Vladimir Putin’s Russia, about whose complex and effective propaganda regime the academic and writer — who was born in Soviet Ukraine to dissident parents — has already written two books: Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible (2014), and This Is Not Propaganda (2019). Both were written before Putin launched his all-out bombs and guns war on his European neighbour. 

How To Win an Information War was written in a time when Russians who are contacted by their Ukrainian friends and relatives, and told what is actually happening, usually respond with disbelief and rejection. Ordinary Russians have become unreachable by the living truth. Meanwhile in the US up to 40 per cent of Americans believe that the last presidential election was “stolen” and it is conceivable that the corrupt author of this fiction will become US president again. 

So that’s what we face, and few questions keep democrats — conservative or liberal — awake at night like the one that Pomerantsev poses. It’s a question he answers by suggesting to us that we reflect on the extraordinary career of Britain’s top wartime counter-propagandist, Sefton Delmer, who was an all-out commander in the information war against Nazi Germany. 

The son of an Australian academic teaching at the University of Berlin, Delmer was 10 in August 1914 when the first world war broke out. All around him were celebrations of German virility, predictions of victory and expressions of contempt for the Reich’s enemies. Young Sefton was bullied at school and his father was interned. 

Mistakes, Misfiring And Trident: Britain’s Flawed Nuclear Deterrence – OpEd

Binoy Kampmark

Nuclear weapons are considered the strategic silverware of nation states. Occasionally, they are given a cleaning and polishing. From time to time, they go missing, fail to work, and suffer misplacement. Of late, the UK Royal Navy has not been doing so well in that department, given its seminal role in upholding the doctrine of nuclear deterrence. In January, an unarmed Trident II D5 nuclear missile fell into the Atlantic Ocean after a bungled launch from a Royal Navy submarine.

The missile’s journey was a distinctly shorter than its originally plotted 6,000 km journey that would have ended in a location somewhere between Africa and Brazil. In language designed to say nothing yet conceal monumental embarrassment, UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps called it “an anomaly” while the Labour opposition expressed concern through its shadow defence secretary, John Healey. An anonymous military source was the most descriptive of all: “It left the submarine but it just went plop, right next to them.”

The anomaly in question, which Shapps witnessed on board the HMS Vanguard, took place off the coast of Florida during a January 30 exercise at the US’s Navy Port site. Its failure is the second for the missile, which was also tested in 2016 and resulted in its automatic self-destruction after veering off course and heading to the United States. It was therefore galling for the Defence Secretary to then claim in a written statement to Parliament that Trident was still “the most reliable weapons system in the world”, a claim also reiterated by the missile’s manufacturers, Lockheed Martin. With a gamey sense of delusion, Shapps continued to argue that the test merely “affirmed the effectiveness of the UK’s nuclear deterrent, in which the government has absolute confidence. The submarine and crew were successfully certified and will rejoin the operational cycle as planned.”

Reports of the misfiring were first noted in The Sun, a newspaper otherwise given to bellicose airings and tits-and-bums rhetoric. “The government has absolute confidence that the UK’s deterrent remains effective, dependable, and formidable,” Shapps insists. “That is why we are continuing to invest in the next generation of Dreadnought Class ballistic missile submarines, in extending the life of the Trident missile and replacing the warhead, to keep us safe for decades to come.”

How to Win Arguments on the Internet

Maj. Joseph D. Levin

You are the brigade judge advocate for a brigade combat team. The brigade commander, Col. Smith, calls you to discuss a high-profile incident from your brigade that is receiving substantial media attention while under investigation. Smith learned that anonymous accounts, private citizens using their real names, and some news stations are spreading false information and rumors about the incident on social media. This misinformation risks harming the investigative process, the installation’s relationship with the local community, and the Army’s overall reputation.1 Capt. Stephens, a company commander from a different brigade, is also forwarding and reposting memes on his social media accounts ridiculing the situation and Smith’s brigade. Stephens uses an unofficial account with a profile picture of himself in his Army uniform. Smith initially called to ask your thoughts on whether the investigation can move more quickly and whether the results can be released once done to help put this issue to rest quickly. While talking, Smith also mentions that she wants to respond to these rumors on social media directly and set the record straight. She also plans on directly responding to Stephens’ social media posts with some pointed mentoring. What is your advice to Smith?2

The role of the information environment has grown rapidly in the past few decades. The military has always understood the importance of information on the battlefield, but its role has evolved and grown with the evolution of digital and social media. This is true in domestic operations and in combat. The modern information environment and social media have a deeper and more complicated impact on the military’s relationship with its civilian leadership and the public, which impacts civilian oversight of the military and recruiting efforts.

A public affairs (PA) crisis is defined as “an event that affects an organization’s long-term sustainability and reputation … [and] has the potential to create significantly negative media coverage.”3 Public affairs crises can happen at different echelons, from local matters of interest to individual units (e.g., receiving an unfavorable mention on a social media website such as U.S. Army WTF! Moments) and up to national or internationally noted incidents like Fort Hood’s response to the murder of Spc. Vanessa Guillén.4 In the current era of the 24/7 news cycle and the rise of social media, most major incidents or events have a PA aspect. This means that—in addition to pure PA crises—most crises are also PA crises.

Central Bank Digital Currencies Are Dangerous And Unnecessary – Analysis

Daniel Lacalle

The main central banks have been deliberating on the concept of introducing a digital currency. However, many citizens fail to grasp the rationale behind it when the majority of transactions in major global currencies are carried out electronically. Nevertheless, a central bank digital currency is much more than electronic money. I will explain why.

Central banks are raising interest rates and enacting restrictive monetary policies as quickly as governmental regulations allow because they are aware that monetary factors are the primary cause of inflation. Central banks have recently lost credibility by initially disregarding the inflation danger, then attributing it to transitory factors, and finally responding belatedly and gradually.

In a world where there is an excess in money supply growth, there are mechanisms in place to prevent a significant rise in consumer prices caused by the destruction of the purchasing power of the issued currency. Quantitative easing is subject to some constraints that partially prevent inflationary forces. As the banking channel serves as the transmission mechanism of monetary policy, credit demand acts as a constraint on inflationary pressures.

Now, consider if the transmission mechanism was direct and utilizing only one channel, the central bank. It is not the same to have a police officer walking down your street than to have a police officer in your kitchen watching your every move.

A central bank digital currency would be directly issued to your account held at the central bank. At best, it is surveillance masquerading as currency. The central bank would have precise information of your currency usage, savings, borrowing, spending, and transactions. It can enhance the fungibility of money to prevent the common but unfounded problem of “excess savings.” Moreover, as central banks become more politically involved, they might impose penalties on individuals who spend in a manner they consider unsuitable, while rewarding those who follow their recommendations. The entire privacy system and monetary limit mechanism would be removed. Moreover, if the central bank makes a mistake and creates an excess of money supply, as shown in 2020, it would immediately make consumer prices rocket. If the money supply increases dramatically in a year, we would experience massive inflation levels as the existing constraints of the transmission mechanism are eliminated.