10 March 2024

​​Joe Biden’s Plan for a Palestinian State Will Harm America and Israel

John Hannah & Michael Makovsky

Hamas commits the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust. Hundreds of civilians from Gaza actively participate in the slaughter. Spontaneous celebrations erupt from Khan Yunis to Ramallah. Washington’s preferred partner, the Palestinian Authority (PA), has yet to condemn the atrocities.

How does President Joe Biden propose to counter this assault on American values and interests? Unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state, reportedly. It’s hard not to conclude that this appalling betrayal of one of America’s closest allies is all about helping Biden carry the key state of Michigan in November’s elections.

Saying this pains us. Following October 7, Biden’s support for Israel at its darkest hour was magnificent. He traveled to the war zone to grieve with Israelis, declared America’s support for destroying Hamas, deployed U.S. forces to deter Iran and Hezbollah, and resupplied Israel with weapons.

Perhaps most admirably, he did so despite widespread opposition from his own party. It was an act of true political courage: Joe Biden, the Democratic Party’s last unapologetic Zionist.

Now, all that is in danger of being undone. Biden’s poll numbers have declined; his administration appears panicked. In a cringe-worthy performance, Biden’s deputy national security advisor bent over backward to appease Arab-American voters in Michigan, privately disparaging Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and apologizing for Biden’s failure to sympathize with Palestinians more publicly.

This political damage control is understandable. Far more alarming is how this impulse to reverse course on Israel is now overtaking the administration’s policies. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has pressed for “a concrete, time-bound and irreversible path” toward a Palestinian state. This amounts to saying that it doesn’t matter how corrupt and incompetent the Palestinian leadership remains, if they continue to incite their people to hate Jews, or if their ultimate goal remains Israel’s destruction. What matters is that when the clock runs out on Blinken’s “time-bound” process—in a month, a year, or five years—the Palestinians will be rewarded with their state. Apparently, this will be done as part of a plan to bring about Israel-Saudi normalization.

How to distract a starving child: Hunger in Rafah amid Israel’s war on Gaza

Ruwaida Amer

A tiny little girl called Wafaa is sitting in front of a tent in Tal as-Sultan, playing in the sand listlessly as she cries with hunger.

It is difficult to tell how old she is given her emaciated frame, but her mother, Tahrir Baraka, 36, tells Al Jazeera that Wafaa is two years old.

Baraka is despondent in the family’s worn-out tent, holding a can of peas and trying to start a fire to cook something for her five children.

“I’m worried so much about my children. I don’t care if I eat, I worry about them, they’ve done nothing wrong to be starved like this,” she says.

Hunger stalks the children

Children up and down the Gaza Strip are going hungry every day, as are their parents who often go without to try to give their children at least one meagre meal a day.

With Israeli bombing overhead and a severe shortage of aid coming into the already aid-reliant and besieged enclave, families split their waking hours between wondering where they can keep their children safe and where they can find a bit of food or a little water.

Baraka and her family were displaced from Khan Younis, where they had a house in the city’s western refugee camp.

“It was a struggle to find enough flour to make some bread for the kids,” Baraka said. “Then we had displaced family members from Bani Suhaila come to stay with us as well and things got worse.

Israel’s illegal West Bank settlement plans face global condemnation

Israel’s plan to build thousands of new homes in the occupied West Bank is facing widespread condemnation from several countries, including some of Tel Aviv’s staunchest allies.

The country’s settlement-planning authority on Wednesday greenlit permits for nearly 3,500 new illegal settlement housing units in the occupied Palestinian territory, the first such approval since Israel’s war on Gaza began on October 7 last year.

Israeli settlements have long been viewed as a violation of international law, and a hindrance to Palestinian statehood by the international community. Officials say the latest constructions, planned in Maale Adumim, Kedar and Efrat, are in retaliation for a February shooting targeting illegal settlers.

“The enemies try to harm and weaken us, but we will continue to build and be built up in this land,” far-right Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich in charge of civil affairs in the West Bank, said on X.

Smotrich said the constructions add to the 18,515 housing units in illegal settlements approved in the past year.

The Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called the settlements illegal and illegitimate, adding that they “are a call for the cycle of violence to persist”.

“The ministry calls for swift international sanctions that would deter Israel from building more settlements and to include [National Security Minister Itamar] Ben-Gvir and Smotrich as well as any other Israeli official who plays a role in deepening and funding illegal settlements,” the ministry said in a statement.

Why Did Modi’s Gujarat Fail In Poverty Alleviation, Despite India Emerging As New Hub For Industrialization? – Analysis

Subrata Majumder

According to a NITI Aayug survey report, Gujarat is failing in the reduction of poverty despite emerging as the fastest growing state in industrialization. The ranking of Gujarat in poverty alleviation is even lower than West Bengal – one of the poorest states in the country.

Gujarat ranked 16th with a population living below the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) in 2019-21. West Bengal was above Gujarat, ranking 15th. In Gujarat, the population below MPI was 9.03 percent and in West Bengal, it was 8.60 percent.

Surprises sprung, arguments and counterarguments indulged in a brickbat over Gujarat failing in poverty reduction and trailing behind West Bengal. Opposition parties claims this as a challenge to the Modi model economy for elevating Gujarat as an industrial hub for the country and eradicating poverty in the state.

Why has Gujarat failed to reduce poverty, while it is a hegemony for industrialization? Faster growth in industrialization should have opened up more scope for employment opportunities in the state. In the recently held Global Summit, foreign and domestic investors crowded to invest in Gujarat. It was focused as the only state for potential growth in India and better livelihood in the state.

The fallacy lies with the geographical landscape of Gujarat. It is a adesert prone area. Nearly, 52 percent of the land in Gujarat is covered by desert. This demon strates disadvantage for Gujarat to generate agricultural employment. Given that India is an agro-based economy and a larg part of people make a living in agriculture, the livelihood in Gujarat should have been generated mainly from agriculture.

But, Gujarat is deprived of the scope for generation of agriculture employment and livelihood because of its geographical characteristics. This imparted a cascading impact on agricultural income in the state and potential to reduce poverty alleviation.

Between Protests and Border Incursions, Insecurity Is Rising in Ladakh

Stanzin Lhaskyabs

On February 3, thousands of people in Ladakh, India’s northernmost frontier region, took part in a peaceful protest. They were agitating against New Delhi’s delay in meeting their demands since August 5, 2019, when Ladakh was set up as a Union Territory (UT) after being separated from the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). In response, New Delhi called for a meeting between Ladakh and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on February 19.

The local discontent in Ladakh has geopolitical overtones. The Indo-China border in eastern Ladakh has remained sensitive since 2020, when Indian and Chinese forces clashed in Galwan Valley. There have been persistent reports of India losing access to land, and villagers in the region claim to have encountered troops from China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) freely patrolling inside long-held Indian territory.

Rapid Infrastructure Growth and National Projects

In the four years since becoming a UT, Ladakh has witnessed incredible growth, especially in terms of infrastructure. Since 2019, there has been a heavy emphasis on connectivity, with large projects helmed by the central government increasing in pace amid the border tensions. Ladakh has seen 750.21 kilometers of roads constructed or upgraded and 29 new bridges and 30 new helipads built, with ongoing projects including the all-weather Zoji-la tunnel, Kargil-Zanskar road, and Nimmo-Padum-Darch road. In addition, in 2023 the survey for the all-weather Bilaspur-Manali-Leh railway line, which will stretch 498 kilometers with 40 stations, was completed with the budget for the project estimated at 990 billion Indian rupees (around $12 billion).

Such a significant investment in Ladakh’s infrastructure is not surprising.

Pakistan says TTP could soon pose global terrorist threat; urges UN to investigate source of financing

Pakistan has urged the United Nations to investigate the sources of financing of the banned outfit Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and how they acquired advanced military equipment, stressing that they could soon pose a global terrorist threat, The Express Tribune reported.

Speaking at the UN Security Council on Afghanistan, Pakistan's permanent representative to the UN in New York Ambassador Munir Akram also urged the UN Security Council to join Islamabad in its demand from the interim Afghan government to sever its ties with the banned TTP.

"I am confident that this Council will join Pakistan in demanding that the AIG terminates its relationship with the TTP and its affiliates and prevents them from having free rein to conduct cross-border attacks against Pakistan or other neighbours," Ambassador Munir said.

Further, he warned that if left unchecked, the TTP, supported by Al-Qaeda and some state sponsors, could soon pose a global terrorist threat, according to The Express Tribune.

"The UNAMA mandate does not cover issues relating to terrorism. Yet, terrorism, within and from Afghanistan, poses the most serious impediment to normalization in Afghanistan," he said.

Further, he stated that the terrorist organisations pose a security threat to each one of Afghanistan's immediate neighbours.

"Counterterrorism must be the highest priority in any future Road Map for engagement with the Afghan Interim Government," he said.

Meanwhile, many countries including the US, China, Russia, the UK and India, participated in the debate.

Australian PM Closes Special ASEAN Summit With Calls to ‘Destiny’

Sebastian Strangio

Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese issued an emphatic commitment to Southeast Asia as he brought the special Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to a close in Melbourne yesterday.

In remarks to Southeast Asian leaders on the closing day of the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit, Albanese described the diverse, sprawling region as the key to his nation’s future.

“More than any other part of the world, Southeast Asia is where Australia’s destiny lies,” Albanese told ASEAN leaders. “This is why we will continue to support your ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific and ensure the stability and peace of our region.”

Albanese’s remarks came as he and co-host Laos, this year’s ASEAN chair, wrapped up the March 4-6 summit, which marks 50 years since Australia became the bloc’s first official Dialogue Partner. The summit was intended to build on the progress in ASEAN-Australia relations that has taken place under Albanese’s Labor government, which came to office in 2022, pledging to bolster the country’s relations with the region. The summit was also attended by Xanana Gusmão, the leader of aspiring ASEAN member Timor-Leste, and New Zealand’s Prime Minister Christopher Luxon.

Anchored by Albanese’s paeans to the future of relations with ASEAN, the summit focused predominantly on economic cooperation, particularly in renewable energy. However, it was overshadowed by the disputes in the South China Sea, where a collision between Chinese and Philippine coast guard vessels took place on Tuesday, in the vicinity of Philippine-occupied Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands. In his address to ASEAN leaders, Albanese referred to the collision and expressed his concerns about “unsafe and destabilizing behavior” in the disputed waterway.

“It is dangerous and it creates risks of miscalculation, which can then lead to escalation,” he said of the incident.

Bangladesh: Hope Is Fading For Democracy – Analysis

Saimum Parvez

On 7 January 2024 the incumbent Awami League (AL) was re-elected in Bangladesh in an election that was neither free nor fair. The election was described by the international media as a bad day for democracy and a charade, while many doubted the legitimacy of the election results. Due to major opposition parties’ boycott of the election, only the AL and its affiliates competed. For the competing candidates, winning the elections was dependent on pre-election negotiations with the ruling party.

The lead-up to the election was rife with protests and counter-protests by the opposition and ruling parties. The opposition, led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), drew huge crowds to Dhaka and other urban centres.

Their key demand was the establishment of a neutral, interim caretaker government to oversee the election. The opposition’s demand was grounded in previous controversial and rigged elections in 2014 and 2018 under the regime of AL Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. In contrast, the four elections held under a caretaker government in 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2008 were recognised as free, fair and credible. The opposition and a section of the civil society have been demanding the reinstatement of the caretaker government system since the AL abolished it in 2011.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a new visa policy in May 2023 that ‘restrict[s] the issuance of visas for any Bangladeshi individual, believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh’. This seemed to invigorate opposition leaders and activists, who hoped that the 2024 election would be different to 2014 and 2018 with the international community watching more closely.

The visa restrictions also attracted attention from Russia and China, who sided with the Hasina regime and condemned ‘Western interference’ in Bangladesh. India, Bangladesh’s influential neighbour, has also supported the Hasina regime thanks to its business and security interests in Bangladesh.

Will Myanmar Become the Next North Korea?

Jong Min Lee

On February 21, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted Japanese Yakuza leader Takeshi Ebisawa on charges of international trafficking of nuclear materials from Myanmar beginning in early 2020. Ebisawa had already been in U.S. custody since April 2022, after he was charged in New York City for illegal arms trading and narcotrafficking. The recent indictment raises the stakes by alleging that he attempted to trade weapon grade plutonium and uranium concentrate powder known as “yellowcake” on behalf of unnamed insurgents in Myanmar. In exchange, he wanted to receive surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) and other military-grade weapons.

The indictment outlined that Ebisawa and his co-conspirators had explicitly stated to undercover Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agents on February 4, 2022 that production of roughly five tons of nuclear materials is possible in Myanmar. Also, Ebisawa asserted that he had access to roughly 2,000 kilograms of Thorium-232 and 100 kilograms of yellowcake, and sent photographs as evidence. The indictment noted that a “U.S. nuclear forensic laboratory later analyzed the samples and confirmed that the samples contain uranium and weapons-grade plutonium.”

Ebisawa believed he was discussing the sale of nuclear materials with a general from Iran, but he was actually speaking to undercover agents for the DEA. Although the attempted transaction was neutralized by the DEA’s sting operation, this incident highlights that non-conventional nuclear threats posed by non-state actors are still a clear and present danger. In particular, the event underscores the danger of nuclear production and proliferation in Myanmar, where oversight is nearly non-existent amid a devastating civil war.

A Brief History of Myanmar’s Nuclear Program

Myanmar’s first attempt to utilize nuclear energy came through the establishment of the Union of Burma Atomic Energy Center in 1955, which was later reestablished as the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) under the Ministry of Science and Technology (MST) in 1997. Also in 1955, Myanmar (then known as Burma) participated in the United Nations Conference on Atoms for Peace. Then in 1957, the country became one of the founding members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

China Seems Destined to Sink a U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier

Brandon J. Weichert

Summary: The escalating tensions between the United States and China highlight a potential conflict over Taiwan, exacerbated by the U.S.'s reliance on aircraft carriers, which China aims to neutralize with its missile arsenal. The U.S. strategy in the Indo-Pacific is criticized for not adapting to China's military advancements, suggesting a pivot towards enhancing submarine fleets and developing countermeasures against hypersonic weapons. The critique emphasizes the urgency for the U.S. to rethink its military posture, advocating for a defense strategy that prepares Taiwan for insurgency and moves away from traditional power projection methods that are increasingly vulnerable to China's capabilities.

The United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) seem destined for war. Unless a major diplomatic offramp is taken—soon—the conflict will become a fait accompli.

Currently, the US military’s best strategy for fighting China’s military resides in the hands of three branches that would operate seamlessly together: the US Navy, the US Marine Corps, and the US Air Force. These three branches would be the proverbial tip of the spear in any conflict with China.

Specifically, the US Navy’s aircraft carriers would be the most likely forward deployed assets that would be charged with breaking whatever Chinese forces were being arrayed against the US military.

The only problem facing the United States is that the Chinese military is aware of America’s preference—obsession, really—with big, beautiful aircraft carriers and they have tailored their strategy for specifically denying America’s use of aircraft carriers in any potential conflict with China.

Swarms of Missiles: How China Plans To Win a War Against America

Brandon J. Weichert

Summary: China aims to challenge U.S. military dominance in the Indo-Pacific by 2049 through modernizing its forces, expanding its navy, and excelling in the fourth industrial revolution. Central to its strategy is the cost-effective "anti-access/area denial" (A2/AD) approach, focusing on missiles rather than matching U.S. capabilities ship-for-ship. This strategy includes neutralizing U.S. forward-deployed forces and bases, such as Guam, with long-range and hypersonic missiles, targeting aircraft carriers, and disabling critical military infrastructure through cyberattacks and electromagnetic disruption. China's comprehensive plan underlines the need for the U.S. to reassess its military posture in the region.'

China has committed itself to challenging the US military in its near-abroad. First, by modernizing their forces over the last decade. Second, by expanding the size and scope of their navy. Third, by enhancing their rocket forces. All the meanwhile, China has become a key player in the global race to dominate what most experts refer to as the “fourth industrial revolution,” thereby strategically benefiting from all the advancements made in industries, like quantum computing, biotechnology, hypersonic weaponry, and many others.

At its core, though, China has married its grand ambitions of displacing the United States as the dominant power, at least in the Indo-Pacific, by the hundredth-year anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China—2049—with an affordable and practical defense strategy (unlike the decadent war planners in Washington).

Missles: China Plans to Beat America Cheaply

Specifically, China has made a commitment to rebuffing the threat that forward deployed US military forces pose to them. This has come in the form of what’s known as “anti-access/area denial” (A2/AD). Rather than do as the Soviet Union once did in the Cold War, Beijing is not trying to match their American rivals ship-for-ship or plane-for-plane. They are seeking cost-effective weapons that can keep US forces over-the-horizon, buying Chinese forces the time and space they need to conduct offensive operations against their neighbors, such as Taiwan.

Aircraft Carriers are Obsolete: Let the Age of the Submarine Begin

Brandon J. Weichert

Submarines Over Aircraft Carriers: Adapting U.S. Naval Strategy for the China Challenge - The age of aircraft carriers is over. The age of submarines has arrived.

But has Washington gotten the message?

It appears that the Pentagon can’t seem to quit flat tops, even if it means these technological marvels are little more than a sunk cost—both figuratively and literally. The longer the US Navy fails to adapt to the current reality, that aircraft carriers are wildly expensive and woefully exposed to China’s immense missile threat, the greater the likelihood is that the United States may lose any opening engagement with the Chinese military.

A better solution to handling China’s military challenge in the Indo-Pacific is to deemphasize the Navy’s obsession with the aircraft carrier and emphasize the Navy’s ailing submarine capability.

While not as sexy as an aircraft carrier, the submarine is the weapon platform that can deal the most amount of damage to any Chinese invasion force heading toward Taiwan. A stealthy craft capable of carrying an assortment of armaments—nuclear and non-nuclear alike—submarines are maneuverable, stealthy, and deadly. What’s more, they are nowhere near as expensive as flat tops are, but they still offer the US military critical power projection capabilities in a highly contested environment.

At present, the US Navy’s fleet has about 49 fast-attack submarines, 14 ballistic-missile submarines, and four guided-missile submarines. These assets are spread throughout the world, operating in various theaters at any given time. But these numbers are insufficient to both respond to any Chinese provocation over Taiwan and secure US interests elsewhere. Specifically, the US Navy lacks fast-attack submarines.

Why Russia Might Put a Nuclear Weapon in Space

Aaron Bateman

When Mike Turner, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, issued a cryptic warning last week about the “serious national security threat” represented by a secret Russian military capability, the Republican representative from Ohio generated a wave of anxiety. Concern about Turner’s statement deepened when White House spokesperson John Kirby confirmed that Moscow is developing a “troubling” antisatellite weapon. Soon, multiple news outlets, such as The New York Times, were reporting that Moscow might be preparing to deploy a nuclear weapon in space.

The purpose of such a weapon may well be to destroy the large-scale satellite constellations used for communications and reconnaissance. Obliterating these kinds of space systems could degrade the effectiveness of Ukrainian defense forces that heavily rely on commercial satellite communications and imagery. It would also reduce the effectiveness of the U.S. military and those of its allies, which are similarly dependent on these systems. Russia’s decision to detonate a nuclear weapon in space would almost certainly affect the Kremlin’s satellites, too. But even if Russia never used a nuclear space weapon, Moscow might view its deployment as a new source of leverage, a sword of Damocles it could dangle over every other state’s space systems. And it is hard to know the Russian calculus for employment.

Moscow and Washington have tested antisatellite weapons since the Cold War, but if Russia deployed a nuclear weapon in space to attack other satellites, it would be an unprecedented development and a clear violation of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. Yet for the Kremlin, the costs of a violation may well be outweighed by the benefits. The antisatellite weapons that Moscow has demonstrated are not capable of effectively destroying the large-scale satellite constellations owned and operated by private companies. A nuclear antisatellite weapon, however, could destroy large numbers of these satellites in one fell swoop. If Russian officials decide to deploy this capability, Washington has no good options for stopping them.

Russia Is Burning Up Its Future

Andrei Kolesnikov

From March 15 to 17, Russia will hold a presidential election to refresh Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hold on power. There have never been any real doubts about the outcome, which will herald his fifth term in office. But the Kremlin has taken extraordinary steps to make sure: On February 8, the Central Election Commission announced that the antiwar candidate Boris Nadezhdin was disqualified from running. Eight days later, Alexei Navalny died in an Arctic prison colony, an event widely blamed on the Russian state, eliminating Russia’s most prominent opposition leader. Navalny was not running in the election, but Russian politics had been until recently reduced to a Navalny-Putin confrontation. Now Putin is alone on the political Olympus. With such figures as Navalny and Nadezhdin out of the way, the vote can provide a resounding affirmation of Putin and his pet project, the war in Ukraine.

Russia is neither stable nor normal. The presidential election brings to maturity the late-stage Putinism that began with the constitutional referendum in the summer of 2020, when Putin’s potential mandate was extended until 2036. There is more to this stage, however, than mere autocracy. Putin has made clear that Russia is fighting a permanent background war with the West, which gives him both an ideological raison d’être and a way for his ruling elite to maintain power. And to keep it all going, he must continually burn up the country’s resources, financial, human, political, and psychological. All of which points to the country’s political and economic fragility.

Consider the financial and economic situation. Although it retains market fundamentals, the Russian economy is increasingly dependent on government investment. The military-industrial complex has become the overwhelming driver of this unhealthy and unproductive economy, as the 2024 budget makes clear: military expenditures will be 1.7 times higher even compared with last year’s inflated figures, to reach 25 percent of all spending. Meanwhile, Russian exports, primarily of oil and gas resources, are providing diminishing returns because of the closure of Western markets and discounted sales. Nonetheless, these nonrenewables are not exhausted yet, and Putin, at least, seems to hope they will be enough to last his lifetime.

The Navy's Nightmare Has Arrived: The Aircraft Carrier Age Looks Done

Harrison Kass

Summary: Critics argue that the era of the aircraft carrier, a cornerstone of U.S. naval warfare and power projection for nearly eighty years, may be ending due to evolving defense technologies. Modern threats like submarines, surface vessels, and especially hypersonic missiles, which the U.S. currently lacks defenses against, pose significant risks to these expensive vessels. Despite their iconic status and ability to project airpower globally, the growing capabilities of potential adversaries like China question the aircraft carrier's future viability. This shift reflects a broader pattern in military history, where advances in warfare render previous dominant technologies obsolete.

Some pundits are calling for the United States to stop investing in their aircraft carrier fleet. Why? Because, as the argument goes, the age of the aircraft carrier is over; defense systems have evolved to the point where the aircraft carrier is a vulnerability.

A multi-billion-dollar vulnerability.

While the modern supercarrier costs many billions of dollars (the new Ford-class costs $13 billion per unit), the vessel is susceptible to relatively inexpensive weapons. Submarines. Surface Vessels. Hypersonic missiles. All can pick off an aircraft carrier. And in today’s shifting geopolitical climate, where the US and China seem to be trending towards a bipolarity, the viability of the US’s naval fleet is increasingly important.

Times change for Aircraft Carriers and the U.S. Navy

The aircraft carrier has been the seminal vessel, the most iconic boat, in naval warfare for nearly eighty years. Bursting into prominence during World War II, the aircraft carrier is a staple of US strategy – and the most recognizable type of boat in the fleet. The aircraft carrier confers prestige, and inspires awe, as a floating airbase capable of projecting airpower, and operating indefinitely, around the world.

M1 Abrams Tanks Are Being Destroyed in Ukraine by Russia

Peter Suciu

Summary: In under a week, Ukraine witnessed the destruction of three U.S.-made M1 Abrams tanks, reportedly by Russian anti-tank guided missiles. These losses, particularly highlighted on social media, have served as a propaganda boost for Russia. The U.S. initially supplied thirty-one M1 Abrams to Ukraine, a contribution that has been critiqued as insufficient to alter the battlefield dynamics significantly. The introduction of Western tanks, including the British Challenger 2s and German Leopard 2s, has been challenged by the steep learning curve for Ukrainian crews accustomed to Soviet-based models. Amidst these developments, Ukraine's conflict zone has been labeled a "graveyard of tanks."

In less than a week, Ukraine has reportedly seen three of its U.S.-made M1 Abrams main battle tanks (MBTs) destroyed in the ongoing fighting. Videos have circulated online showing the respective destruction of the latest two tanks—including the third that was reportedly hit by an anti-tank guided missile north of the village of Berdychi.

One video shared on X—the social media platform formerly known as Twitter—purported to show an Abrams after it was struck by two ATGMs fired by units of the Russian Twenty-Fourth Separate Guards. It appeared that the crew of four was able to escape from the disabled tank. It is unclear, however, if they actually made it safely to their own lines or if the tank could be recovered.

The destruction of three M1 Abrams MBTs in less than a week has become a mini propaganda coup for the Kremlin, and another video was quickly posted to social media that showed a Russian Army soldier addressing President Joe Biden and thanking him for sending the Abrams to Ukraine.

Over a year ago, the United States committed thirty-one M1 Abrams to Ukraine, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced last September that his government had received the first of the American tanks.

With an eye on Ukraine, Army revamps training to reflect modern war


From the air, the camouflaged headquarters of Maj. Gen. Jim Isenhower looked much like any other rocky hill in the barren desert landscape.

The effect was almost perfect—except for the distinctive white square of a Starlink satellite antenna that would be all too visible to the commercially available drones used by Blackhorse, the Army unit playing Isenhower’s adversary.

“Throw a blanket on that,” Maj. Gen. Curt Taylor, commander of Fort Irwin’s National Training Center, instructed one soldier.

As the Army absorbs the lessons of Ukraine, the service’s top training centers are pushing more and more realistic scenarios on soldiers, while also giving them opportunities to try new ideas, often based on commercial tech such as Starlink.

The changes reflect the priorities of the new Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Randy George, who is pressing units to adapt to the increasingly surveilled battlefield and to embrace cheap, commercially available tech over multi-billion dollar weapons.

The Army has “a real sense of urgency,” about operating under constant observation, George said in a January interview.

Part of the solution is technology that can reduce the threat “in a lot of cases out there,” he said at the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) in Louisiana.

Many of these lessons are based on observations of Ukraine, commanders said.

“We have been really studying,” said NTC’s Taylor, who cited Ukraine’s New Year’s Eve strike on a Russian base located by tracking soldiers’ cellphones.

The Narrative of Nuclear Deterrence: Shaping Strategy in an Uncertain World

Aaron Holland

China’s nuclear breakout and Russia’s ongoing aggression leave many Western analysts uncertain as to what is in the mind of Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin. Nuclear deterrence remains the most potent strategy at preventing great-power war and the escalation that would entail the death of many millions.

In nuclear deterrence, where the stakes are high and the consequences of failure are catastrophic, narratives play a crucial role in shaping strategy and influencing outcomes. Narratives surrounding nuclear weapons have profound effects on perceptions of credibility, intentions, and, ultimately, shaping the behavior of states. Understanding the role of narratives in nuclear deterrence is essential for policymakers and strategists seeking to navigate the complexities of nuclear politics.

Role of Narratives in Shaping Perceptions of Credibility

Narratives are important in nuclear deterrence strategy in shaping perceptions of credibility. The credibility of a state’s nuclear deterrent is essential for its effectiveness in deterring potential adversaries. States that possess clear escalation dominance and nuclear superiority will hold an advantage in perceptions of resolve and strength. However, credibility is exclusively tied to a state’s willingness to use the bomb.

In the United States, the president is responsible for influencing the perceptions of his adversaries through crafting a compelling narrative that will properly induce fear into his enemy. Narratives that emphasize a state’s willingness and capability to use nuclear weapons can enhance its deterrence posture, dissuading others from taking aggressive actions. The only other way to enhance credibility beyond strategic narratives is to employ nuclear weapons in some capacity. Such acts are unpalatable for moral and ethical reasons, which leaves crafting convincing narratives as the preferred means of influencing an adversary.


Nathan Jennings

On the evening of April 13, 2022, two Neptune antiship missiles streaked out from the northern coastline of the Black Sea to fatally strike the Russian cruiser Moskva. The flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet sustained heavy damage and sank the next day as it attempted to return to Sevastopol in Crimea, becoming the largest warship to be sunk in wartime since World War II. This event, which represented a cross-domain solution to an asymmetric disadvantage, immediately transformed the maritime complexion of the Russo-Ukraine War. While anecdotal, the Ukrainian army’s successful attack demonstrated how ground forces equipped with long-range strike systems have unrealized potential to impact, and potentially transform, fundamental aspects of joint warfare.

This episode suggests that warfare may be evolving in ways that are empowering ground forces to more decisively influence tactics and strategy in maritime environments. For the US Army, in particular, it means that modernization of an older idea called the fortress fleet concept could allow novel contributions to joint and coalition seapower. Defined by naval strategist James R. Holmes as an approach where ground forces employ “long-range precision-guided weaponry” to “clear adversaries from a massive offshore zone,” the concept, echoing the Ukrainian army’s attack on the Russian navy, employs an array of artillery, missiles, drones, electronic warfare, and amphibious assault measures across both mobile platforms and hardened facilities to deny adversary access while enabling power projection.

Once disdained by naval theorists such as Alfred Thayer Mahan for limiting naval freedom of action and distracting from massive fleet battles, the dramatic expansion of long-range strike by land-based batteries with advanced detection and targeting mechanisms invites reconsideration of a fortress fleet strategy. This more robust approach to maritime affairs would allow the Army, as mandated in its capstone doctrine, to better “support joint defeat of enemy integrated air defenses, fires and strike complexes, surveillance, and reconnaissance, and integrated C2 networks to enable success.” It would enable, if optimized for the coastal mission, the landpower institution to protect maritime decisive points and forward basing while ultimately facilitating survivable naval offensive maneuvers at a larger scope and scale.

Slouching Towards World War III

Francis P. Sempa

The United States, led by President Joe Biden (who a few weeks ago recalled recently speaking to two foreign leaders who had been dead for many years and confusing the names of the current Egyptian and Mexican presidents), Secretary of State Antony Blinken, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (who recently disappeared for a significant medical procedure without telling anyone), is once again engaged in an ideological crusade on the side of “democracy” in a global struggle with “autocracy.” “Democracy,” we are told, is under assault by a new “axis” of autocratic powers that seek to replace the “liberal world order’ (sometimes called the “rules-based international order”) with an autocratic order. The champions of this crusade tell us that China, Russia, and Iran are coordinating their foreign policies to attack U.S. interests in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, though they supply little, if any, evidence of such coordination. Our 21st century crusaders want to pour more American resources into proxy wars we are helping to wage in Ukraine and the Middle East, while simultaneously aiding Taiwan and building-up our military forces in the western Pacific, even as we suffer at home from skyrocketing deficits and an invasion on our southern border. We are slouching towards a global conflict that has the potential to dwarf in destruction the two world wars of the twentieth century.

Biden, Blinken and Sullivan are the policy architects of the current crusade, but they are supported by the neoconservative intelligentsia, much of the foreign policy establishment, the mainstream media, and what President Eisenhower called the “military-industrial complex.” The current crusade is fueled by neo-Wilsonianism on steroids. President Woodrow Wilson said we fought the First World War to make the world safe for democracy. Wilson’s disciple Franklin Roosevelt told Americans that we waged World War II to establish the principles of the Atlantic Charter throughout the world. FDR’s successor Harry Truman pledged to “support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.” President John F. Kennedy pledged to “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” George W. Bush waged a “Global War on Terror” to promote democracy throughout the world. These crusading presidents are the forerunners of the Biden administration’s crusade against “autocracy.”

Russia attacks Ukraine’s Odesa as Greek PM visits war-stricken city

Several people have been killed in a Russian strike on Ukraine’s port city of Odesa, according to a spokesperson for Ukraine’s navy.

The attack came as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was giving a tour of the war-ravaged city to Greece’s prime minister on Wednesday.

Russia said it successfully attacked a hangar housing Ukrainian naval drones in a strike on the port.

“The goal has been achieved. The target has been hit,” the Russian Defence Ministry said in a statement.

Zelenskyy was showing Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis around the destruction in the city where 12 people – including five children – were killed in a drone attack on March 2 at the time of the Russian strike.

“You see who we’re dealing with, they don’t care where to hit,” Zelenskyy told reporters following the attack on Wednesday.

Mitsotakis said the delegations were getting into their cars when they heard the blast, which he said is a “vivid reminder” that the city is embroiled in war with Russia.

It is one thing to hear about the war and “quite another to experience war firsthand”, Mitsotakis said.

Senior Russian officer warns Ukraine conflict could escalate into full-scale war in Europe

A senior Russian military officer has warned that the conflict in Ukraine could escalate into a full-scale war in Europe and said the probability of Moscow's forces becoming involved in a new conflict is increasing "significantly."

Colonel-General Vladimir Zarudnitsky, head of the Russian army's Military Academy of the General Staff, made the comments in an article for "Military Thought", a defence ministry publication, the state RIA news agency reported on Thursday.

"The possibility of an escalation of the conflict in Ukraine - from the expansion of participants in 'proxy forces' used for military confrontation with Russia to a large-scale war in Europe - cannot be ruled out," RIA cited him a saying.

"The main source of military threats to our state is the anti-Russian policy of the United States and its allies, who are conducting a new type of hybrid warfare in order to weaken Russia in every possible way, limit its sovereignty and destroy its territorial integrity," he was quoted as saying.

"The likelihood of our state being purposefully drawn into new military conflicts is significantly increasing."

The war in Ukraine has triggered the deepest crisis in Russia's relations with the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and President Vladimir Putin has warned that the West risks provoking a nuclear war if it sends troops to fight in Ukraine.

Putin Allies Quietly Gathering Private Armies

Isabel van Brugen

"Española was created by fans, mostly of Spartak [soccer club]. Then the Rotenbergs came in with the idea of taking a PMC [private military company] under their own control," one source told Important Stories, an independent Russian publication. "A lot of major companies are creating their own private armies right now, and the brothers wanted to create their own private army on the basis of Española."

Russian companies and state agencies have financed dozens of pseudo-mercenary groups that are now fighting in Ukraine, reported Meduza, an independent Russian- and English-language news outlet. This includes the Uran battalion, which is supported by Russian state space corporation Roscosmos, and the Soyuz unit, which is funded by state-owned firms Sberbank and Rosatom.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry Intelligence Directorate has also said that Gazprom, a state-owned monopolist energy company in Russia, is working to develop a private military company. It said Gazprom's plans were inspired by the "example" set by the Wagner Group, a private military company founded by the late Yevgeny Prigozhin, who led a failed mutiny and march on Moscow before his death last summer.

The Rotenberg brothers placed Shendrik in charge of this new private army "because he had been working in their security service for a long time," the source told Important Stories.

With Starlink and Satellite Launches, Mongolia’s Digital Transformation Reaches a Milestone

Bolor Lkhaajav

Mongolia’s digital transformation has taken some big leaps in recent days, with the launching of the ONDO Space (OWLSAT-1 and OWLSAT-2) Satellite via SpaceX and the start of Starlink services. The new developments not only showcase Ulaanbaatar’s approach to modern digital technologies, but also shed light on how Mongolia’s third-neighbor foreign policy supports developmental projects.

On March 1, SpaceX launched Starlink services in Mongolia after two years of preparation, marking a major milestone in Mongolia’s digital transformation efforts. Mongolia and SpaceX formalized their cooperation in 2023 during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

The discussions on having Starlink as a high-speed internet provider required some legislative changes to provide a framework for such cooperation. The changing of the legislation unblocked many opportunities, allowing Mongolia to seek investment and establish partnerships with the United States, France, and India in space-related projects. After updating certain laws and regulations, in 2023, Mongolia granted two licenses for SpaceX to operate and provide internet service in the Mongolian domestic space.

Mongolia’s digital transformation is inevitable. Currently, only 23.8 percent of Mongolian territory – less then a quarter – is covered by telecommunications services, including access to high-speed internet. Another 40 percent of the territory is sparsely populated by nomadic people with no access to the internet. One way Mongolia chose to solve this issue is through establishing a national satellite and forging partnerships with developed third-neighbor countries.

In a press conference, Minister of Digital Development and Communications Uchral Nyam-Ochir explained that because of Mongolia’s vast territory, the nation requires massive financial investment to connect the remote population to internet services using physical infrastructure. He also added that even if local administrations were to lay down internet cables, the local subdivisions, or soums, and other remote areas would still have problems connecting.

Air Force provides more details about plans for ‘battle management’ of AI


The Air Force updated a broad agency announcement and offered additional insights into the service’s vision for adapting AI capabilities on the battlefield.

The amendment to the BAA, published Feb. 29, revises a key technical area and adds three subsections to the document that was originally issued in August 2023 regarding “artificial intelligence and next generation distributed command and control.”

The changes provide more information about the operational context for the Air Force’s pursuit of new techniques to tailor and replace faulty algorithms on deployed systems, as well as its plans for addressing related challenges. They also come as the service is working to develop and field new AI and machine learning tools for a variety of tasks, including target identification and operating autonomous drones known as collaborative combat aircraft.

Officials recognize that some artificial intelligence capabilities developed in a lab might not be up to snuff when they’re sent into a warzone.

“Because models are trained a priori on data (and simulations) in an anticipatory fashion, AI-based systems encounter situations in the real world that are incompatible with training feature distributions and parameterization of employed algorithms. The result is degradation to model performance that can negatively impact mission effectiveness and safety. Therefore, the Air Force requires new battle management processes to monitor the performance of AI-based systems and update incumbent models in response to changing battlespace conditions,” the amended BAA states in the section for Technical Area 1, which deals with command and control of artificial intelligence systems to achieve mission-tailored AI.

“In the trivial case, operators will simply repurpose a pretrained model that fortuitously fulfills unanticipated mission requirements. In the extreme case, operators will coordinate a distributed workflow, known as an AI COA, to retrain, test, and deploy new models in line with mission execution, so that dependent systems can continue to function as intended with minimal loss of service,” it added.