25 March 2024

Bhutan and India: Decoding the Strategic Saga

Rishi Gupta

Bhutan’s newly elected Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay was on a five-day visit to India from March 14 to 18. It was his first foreign visit after assuming office in February 2024, following the parliamentary elections in January 2024.

Tobgay’s visit to India came against the backdrop of ongoing border talks between Bhutan and China, which has raised concerns among strategic hawks who warn that a Bhutan-China deal would represent India’s crucial loss in the Himalayas. Located in the foothills of the strategic Himalayas, Bhutan holds critical prominence in India’s border policy toward China.

Bhutan and China have held 25 rounds of border talks since 2016 and more than ten rounds of Expert Group Meetings to discuss a “Three-Step Roadmap” aimed at delimiting the border, undertaking surveys, and concluding final demarcation. As the two countries inch toward finding a final resolution to the border, India certainly has worries, as any agreement will directly affect India’s national security.

The Siliguri Corridor, also known as the “Chicken’s Neck,” is a narrow strip of land in India that connects the northeastern states to the rest of the country. Since the corridor is close to disputed areas between Bhutan and China, any resolution will force India to revisit its entire Himalayan security structure.

On the sidelines of these border talks, China is also aiming to establish diplomatic ties with Bhutan, which Bhutan has been able to resist in the last seven decades. What Bhutan faces is a classical dilemma of a “small state.”

Thus far, closer relations with India have helped Bhutan’s economy and development, while Thimphu has stayed away from China due to Beijing’s expansionist efforts to deepen its foothold in the Himalayas. Yet today, amid economic woes, the aspiring youth in Bhutan are seeking to diversify avenues for education and employment in the neighborhood. This could prove more worrying to India in the long term.

The Dawn of India’s Semiconductor Era

Sitakanta Mishra and Nisarg Jani

India is not a passive onlooker in the unfolding global geopolitics of semiconductor production. As both one of the largest markets for electronics and a major source of technical talent, India has the advantage of being a predominant player in the global technology drive.

Realizing the economic potential and geostrategic importance of the technology over the decades to come, India has embarked on a quest to build a robust semiconductor ecosystem. Drawing lessons from the upheaval in the global semiconductor value chain during the COVID-19 pandemic, India in the post-pandemic phase is venturing into the entire ecosystem – research and development, fabless chipmaking, design, and fabrication along with equipment supply, besides incubating a talent pool – rather than just focusing on a single aspect of the industry.

Since 2021, with the unveiling of the India Semiconductor Mission (ISM) along with the provision of unprecedented subsidies and a conducive business environment to the major industrial players, the Indian semiconductor era seems to have dawned. India is likely to establish itself as a reliable supply chain hub, taking advantage of geopolitical turbulence between major powers.

The semiconductor value chain – including the design, manufacturing, and sale of final products – is a complex global network, traditionally concentrated in the United States, its allies (South Korea, the Netherlands, Japan, and Taiwan), and China. Owing to pandemic-related disruptions and subsequent rise in labor costs, most global producers decided to diversify supply chains away from China, at least in part. In addition, the geopolitical uncertainties involving the China-U.S. trade war, followed by the Biden administration’s de-risking measures, have compelled companies to seek alternative production bases or sourcing locations outside China.

Taliban’s Outreach to Iran Worsens Pakistan’s Afghanistan Dilemma

Muhammad Shoaib

The Afghan government’s decision to approach Iran for the prospective use of Chabahar port indicates the uncertainty it attributes to long-term relations with Pakistan. The Afghan government is trying to anticipate Pakistan’s potential moves and limit whatever leverage the latter holds over Afghanistan. A successful arrangement between Afghanistan and Iran can provide the ruling Taliban regime in Kabul with policy alternatives and reduce its dependence on Pakistan.

As for Pakistan, a potential Iran-Afghanistan corridor that connects Iran with Central Asian countries (with the Afghan Taliban as beneficiaries and security guarantors) will negatively affect its strategic importance. This corridor will impact Pakistan’s plans to become the trade passage connecting Central Asia with the world and thereby benefit from the vast natural resources of the region.

For Pakistan, therefore, the Iran-Afghanistan-Central Asia corridor can be a problem for at least two reasons. First, in the regional context, it does not leave sufficient space for Pakistan and may enable India to expand its footprint in the region. A significant Indian presence to the west is a nightmare that the Pakistani leadership has tried to avoid at a great cost of blood and treasure. Such an arrangement is also financially troublesome, as the leadership is optimistic about a potential China-led regional connectivity with Islamabad playing the role of intermediary. In recent years, both political and military leaders have repeatedly proposed the expansion of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) into Afghanistan and beyond.

Second, it limits Pakistan’s leverage to solve the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) problem. In the fight against militancy and terrorism, the country and its populace have paid a cost beyond their capacity and suffered from unimaginable tragedies. However, after two decades of war – costing thousands of lives and billions of dollars – and suffering, there is still no end in sight. The TTP as well as non-aligned militant groups, which operate independently, are ever-strong and have no plans to end their struggle against the state. Their familiarity with the difficult political and economic situation of Pakistan urges them to continue with attacks.

Afghanistan withdrawal errors came despite military concerns

Leo Shane III

Former Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley on Tuesday reiterated concerns that political decisions made outside the Defense Department led to the chaos and violence of the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021, but also emphasized that no single mistake can be blamed for the failures.

“The outcome in Afghanistan was the result of many decisions from many years of war,” the retired Army general told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “Like any complex phenomena, there was no single causal factor that determined the outcome.”

Milley and former Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr., head of U.S. Central Command at the time of the withdrawal, appeared before the panel as part of ongoing congressional investigations related to the final days of the withdrawal, which included the deaths of 13 U.S. service members and hundreds of civilians after a suicide bombing at the Kabul International Airport.

Republican leaders of the committee said the hearing was designed to provide still-unanswered questions from the families of those fallen troops — some of whom attended Tuesday’s hearing — and to determine how mistakes were made.

“The president and his administration refuse to acknowledge their failures,” said committee chairman Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas. “We launched this investigation to make sure the mistakes made in Afghanistan never, ever happen again.”

But Democrats dismissed the hearing — the latest in a long series of the issue over the last three years — as another attempt by congressional Republicans to score political points ahead of this year’s elections, noting that the chaotic withdrawal was preceded by mistakes from multiple presidential administrations.

Vietnamese Prosecutors Demand Death Penalty for Alleged Graft Mastermind

Sebastian Strangio

Vietnamese prosecutors are calling for the death sentence for the businesswoman who allegedly masterminded the biggest fraud in the country’s history, state media reported yesterday.

Truong My Lan, 68, the chairperson of the Ho Chi Minh City-based real estate developer Van Thinh Phat Holdings Group, is accused of using “thousands of ghost companies” to embezzle 304 trillion dong ($12.54 billion) from Saigon Commercial Bank (SCB), in collusion with family members and scores of accomplices.

On March 5, Lan’s trial opened in Ho Chi Minh City, and she faces a variety of charges, including bribery, violating banking regulations, and embezzlement. The proceedings are expected to last until the end of April.

In a hearing yesterday at Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court, prosecutors said that Lan had not shown contrition or remorse for her alleged actions, “making evasive statements and blaming subordinates,” in the paraphrase of VnExpress.

“The criminal behaviors of Lan, her accomplices and the inspection team have infringed on the government’s economic management, causing a loss of public trust, and therefore needs to be dealt with strictly,” prosecutors said. She therefore needs to be “ostracized from society forever.”

As VnExpress reported, prosecutors yesterday “recommended 19-20 years for bribery, 19-20 years for violating banking regulations, and death for embezzlement. The combined sentence recommended for her is death.”

They called for life sentences for several former SCB executives, including chairmen Dinh Van Thanh and Bui Anh Dung and CEO Vo Tan Hoang Van, who prosecutors said actively helped facilitate Lan’s fraud. They also recommended life prison for Do Thi Nhan, former chief bank inspector at the State Bank of Vietnam, who is alleged to have taken $5.2 million in bribes from Lan, in order to turn a blind eye to her machinations.

The South China Sea Could Boil Over


For over a decade now, China has been working stealthily to alter the territorial and maritime status quo in the Indo-Pacific – an effort that has increasingly stoked tensions with regional neighbors like Australia, India, Japan, Taiwan, and several Southeast Asian countries, as well as the United States. And with US attention and resources focused on conflicts in Europe and the Middle East, China has lately become even more aggressive in its expansionism. Chinese regional hegemony is closer than ever.

Almost daily, China finds a new way to bully Taiwan, which Chinese President Xi Jinping has repeatedly pledged to “reunify” with the mainland (though that objective has no basis in international law or history). As China takes steps like encroaching on Taiwan’s air-defense zone and encircling the island with warships, it raises the risk of a war that would transform global geopolitics.

There are war clouds also gathering over the Himalayas, where a military standoff triggered by China’s repeated furtive encroachments on India’s borderlands has dragged on for nearly four years. And in the East China Sea, China’s intrusions into the territorial waters and airspace of the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, which China claims as its own, are fueling Japan’s drive toward rearmament.

But the biggest risks of escalation may well lie in the South China Sea, where China’s aggressive efforts to entrench its dominance have regularly led to dangerous near-confrontations, including with US warships and aircraft. For years, China has been working relentlessly to cement its dominance over the South China Sea and exploit that region’s vast resources and strategic position as a critical corridor through which one-third of global shipping passes.

America Is Sliding Toward Chinese-Style Capitalism

Greg Ip

Who decides whether TikTok stays Chinese, is banned or sold? Washington. Who determines whether an American or Japanese company gets to buy United States Steel? Washington. Who is giving Intel $8.5 billion to make semiconductors in the U.S.? You get the picture.

Across the U.S., business decisions once made in boardrooms or shareholder meetings increasingly depend on politics. The U.S. isn’t sliding toward socialism, in which the government controls the means of production. It may, however, be slouching toward state capitalism, in which government regularly intervenes in business to ensure it serves the national interest.

The problem, as both the TikTok and U.S. Steel affairs show, is that the national interest is constantly being redefined to fit the political priorities of the day.

While the U.S. has never been a laissez-faire paradise, more than other countries it believed in free-market capitalism and let efficiency and profits determine the allocation of capital.

Neither Donald Trump nor President Biden believe in that. Both are happy to use all the levers of the federal government, whether taxes, subsidies, regulations or the bully pulpit, to tilt business decisions toward their own vision of the national interest.

When the House of Representatives voted to force the sale or ban of TikTok, the short-video app owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, China’s Ministry of Commerce demanded, according to Xinhua, that the U.S. “earnestly respect the market economy and the principle of fair competition, and provide an open, fair, just and nondiscriminatory environment for enterprises from all countries.”

There will be no ‘short, sharp’ war. A fight between the US and China would likely go on for years.

Brian Kerg

Everyone loves a short, sharp war. They end on time, are won decisively, and provide tight narrative completion for the stories we want to tell.

Among military commanders, planners, and theorists, this often manifests itself in the quest for the decisive battle—one that will inflict such a stunning defeat on the enemy that its will to fight is broken, forcing enemy leadership to sue for peace or otherwise accept terms of surrender. In naval warfare, Alfred Thayer Mahan embodied this ideal in his prescription to mass one’s superior fleet against an adversary’s inferior fleet, seek and win decisive battles, and thereby win command of the sea.

This bias is borne out in modern US war games, in which players command opposing armed forces in simulated warfare. Usually sponsored by military commands or think tanks, such games generally open with a compressed “road to war,” or a backstory and the conditions under which the notional war begins. The players—usually a mix of military officers, officials, policymakers, and think tankers—“fight” a highly kinetic scenario at the opening stage of a conflict. While a war game might theoretically play out over a longer period, time constraints in the real world typically compel game sponsors and facilitators to end these games in a short period, often in a few days or a little over a week. Conclusions are then made based off of the snapshot provided by this brief gameplay. The results inform commanders and policymakers as they approve war plans and military investments.

In the United States, war-game results might, for example, inform prioritization of weapons procurement by the Office of the Secretary of Defense or the enthusiasm for Congress to invest in security infrastructure across the Indo-Pacific. Recently, an unclassified Center for Strategic and International Studies war game played out a scenario in which the United States fought China and won—albeit at great cost. While informative, this game focused largely on a short, decisive fight in and around Taiwan and the first island chain.

Tone Deaf at West Point: Once again, the Army fails to “read the room.”'

Martin Stanton

I wasn’t commissioned out of the United States Military Academy / USMA (given my habitual truancy and dismal academic record in high school, I wouldn’t have been accepted even if I’d applied) but I have a lot of respect for West Point as an institution. Sadly, it’s gotten to the point that whenever I see that the USMA is in the news, I inwardly cringe before I even read the story. Watching West Point step on rake after rake these past few years has been painful. Nobody likes to see an old friend fallen on hard times.

The latest public relations debacle is taking “Duty, Honor, Country” out of the school’s mission statement.

Granted, “Duty, Honor, Country” is still the motto of West Point and it’s carved into all sorts of edifices up there and on uniform patches and for all I know it’s embroidered on each cadet’s underwear. “Duty, Honor, Country” isn’t going away.

So why take it out of the school’s mission statement and replace it with “Army Values”? Sure, mission statements get re-written from time to time, but why drop the school’s motto from the mission statement? It’s three words and two comma’s – they couldn’t have been that hard up for space on the document. Here’s the change:

“To build, educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets to be commissioned leaders of character committed to the Army Values and ready for a lifetime of service to the Army and Nation”.

Could the authors of the updated mission statement not have embraced the healing power of “and”? for example:

“To build, educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets to be commissioned leaders of character committed to Duty, Honor, Country and the Army Values, ready for a lifetime of service to the Army and Nation”.

Middle East crisis: consensus among US and Arab allies on need for immediate, sustained Gaza ceasefire, says Blinken – as it happened

Maya Yang


Here is a wrap-up of the day’s key events:
  • The French ambassador to the UN security council addressed reporters on Thursday regarding Israel’s ongoing war in Gaza, saying, “The first bridge to cross … is to have this Ramadan ceasefire now.” His comments come after the US, which has vetoed numerous ceasefire resolution in the UN security council, drafted a new resolution calling for an “immediate ceasefire” and hostage deal in Gaza.
  • US secretary of state Antony Blinken said that negotiating teams are working “every single day” on a deal to get a ceasefire in Gaza in conjunction with a deal to release the remaining hostages taken from Israel into Gaza by Hamas. He added that there are still “real challenges” to a deal and he can’t put a timeline on it, Reuters reports.
  • Mike Johnson, the Republican speaker of the US House of Representatives, said on Thursday that he plans to invite Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before the US Congress. The comments come a week after Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate leader, called for elections in Israel which could oust Netanyahu, claiming the prime minister has “has lost his way”.
  • Cyprus is planning to get “as many boats as possible” to Gaza along a maritime corridor, Cyprus’s foreign minister, Constantinos Kombos, said, Agence France-Presse reports. In a meeting on Thursday, Cyprus hosted representatives from 36 countries, UN agencies and humanitarian groups in the port of Larnaca, where the first aid vessel set sail to Gaza earlier this month.
  • World Health Organization chief Tedros Ghebreyesus said that the “future of an entire generation is in serious peril” in Gaza. Adding that children are dying from the effects of malnutrition and disease, and from a lack of adequate water and sanitation, the WHO director-general said: “Recent efforts to deliver food by air and sea are welcome, but only the expansion of land crossings will enable large scale deliveries to prevent famine.”

U.S. vs Russian “Hybrid Warfare” Doctrine: A Comparative Glance


1.0 Introduction

In my recently released book, Hybrid Warfare: the Russian Approach to Strategic Competition and Conventional Military Conflict, I analyze Moscow’s employment of hybrid warfare as an asymmetric means of shaping its security environment. U.S. and Russian doctrine can look very different at times. At the operational level, the Russians employ a whole-of-government approach to combat operations without an official declaration of war. This includes non-military and non-kinetic influence campaigns that use:
  1. Targeted propaganda
  2. Political subversion
  3. Diplomatic coercion
  4. Economic leverage
  5. Financial sanctions
All of these factors move the needle in Moscow’s favour. However, at the tactical level, the Russians employ a series of preparatory activities and covert actions, utilizing intelligence operatives, the Spetsnaz, and other elite forces to tailor the battlespace ahead of heavy ground forces.

Russia’s tactical-level preparatory activities should look familiar to students of American military doctrine. Preparing the battlefield for combat operations is doctrinally captured under Operational Preparation of the Environment (OPE), and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) employs numerous doctrinal missions beneath this campaign-level activity to maximize prospects for victory. (Source)

1.1 Russian Approach

Russia is not unique: There is very little in the tactical and kinetic execution of Russian hybrid warfare that Western militaries are not functionally capable of doing themselves. The difference lies in how the Russians conceptualize and execute interventions in contrast to their American counterparts.

A Suspicious Pattern Alarming the Ukrainian Military

Graeme Wood

Earlier this month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky got unusually testy over the failure of the United States to deliver anti-missile and anti-drone systems. On March 2, a strike in Odesa had killed 12 people, five of them children. “e world has enough missile-defense systems,” he said. Debates over funding have kept those systems from being delivered. “Delaying the supply of weapons to Ukraine, missiledefense systems to protect our people, leads, unfortunately, to such losses.”

Others in Ukraine’s government, however, have expressed an even deeper frustration. What if Americans, in addition to not sending defensive assistance to Ukraine, are sending offensive assistance to Russia? A Ukrainian military source told me he believes that Russia’s long-range strikes, by cruise missiles that are among the most costly weapons in its nonnuclear arsenal, are aimed using satellite imagery provided by U.S. companies. He says the sequence is clear: A satellite snaps pictures of a site, then some days or weeks later a missile lands. Sometimes another satellite is sent to capture additional images afterward, perhaps to check the extent of the damage. “e number of coincidences, where the images are followed by strikes, is too high to be random,” the source told me. (I agreed not to name him because he is not authorized to speak publicly.)

Sometimes a coincidence is just a coincidence. But the suspicious cases have added up, and because many satellite-imagery companies offer a backlist of archived images.

The One Idea That Could Save American Democracy

Astra Taylor and Leah Hunt-Hendrix

These days, we often hear that democracy is on the ballot. And there’s a truth to that: Winning elections is critical, especially as liberal and progressive forces try to fend off radical right-wing movements. But the democratic crisis that our society faces will not be solved by voting alone. We need to do more than defeat Donald Trump and his allies — we need to make cultivating solidarity a national priority.

For years, solidarity’s strongest associations have been with the left and the labor movement — a term invoked at protests and on picket lines. But its roots are much deeper, and its potential implications far more profound, than we typically assume. Though we rarely speak about it as such, solidarity is a concept as fundamental to democracy as its better-known cousins: equality, freedom and justice. Solidarity is simultaneously a bond that holds society together and a force that propels it forward. After all, when people feel connected, they are more willing to work together, to share resources and to have one another’s backs. Solidarity weaves us into a larger and more resilient “we” through the precious and powerful sense that even though we are different, our lives and our fates are connected.

We have both spent years working as organizers and activists. If our experience has taught us anything, it is that a sense of connection and mutualism is rarely spontaneous. It must be nurtured and sustained. Without robust and effective organizations and institutions to cultivate and maintain solidarity, it weakens and democracy falters. We become more atomized and isolated, suspicious and susceptible to misinformation, more disengaged and cynical, and easily pitted against one another.

Six More Years For Putin: Five Things To Watch For – Analysis

Mike Eckel

This we can say with high confidence: Vladimir Putin will be declared the victor of the now ongoing three-day election, ushering in another six years as Russia’s president.

There’s less confidence in what comes next, but there are strong clues: more men for the Ukraine war, new taxes to fund the war, new personnel shuffling within the Kremlin, new threats for NATO, and new repression of dissent.

The strongest clues came in Putin’s state-of-the-nation speech last month. Above all, says Tatyana Stanovaya, a veteran expert of Russian politics, was how confident Putin and the Kremlin are about Russia’s geopolitical position.

“This is not empty propaganda, but a reflection of plans for ideological expansion, the export of ‘Putinism’ to Western countries, and active work with potential ‘friends,'” she wrote in an analysis for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “In other words, the geopolitical battlefield for values is once again moving to Western territory, and Putin feels more confident than ever.”

“The horizons of this ‘holy war’ have now expanded,” she said.

War Is (Not) Over

More than two years into the mass invasion of Ukraine, Russian forces currently have the momentum, building on last month’s symbolic victory of capturing the industrial city of Avdiyivka and advancing further against Ukrainian forces.

The cost, in terms of Russian soldiers and equipment, is on a scale not seen since World War II, with upward of 320,000 soldiers killed or wounded and thousands of weapons, tanks, vehicles, and weapons systems destroyed, according to Western estimates.

Ukraine-Russia war live: Child among dozen injured as major missile attacks on Kyiv foiled

Maryam Zakir-Hussain, Tom Watling & Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

A girl child was among 13 people who suffered injuries yesterday as Russian forces launched one of the biggest airstrikes on the Ukrainian capital in weeks.

The Ukraine air force said Russia launched 31 missiles, including two ballistic missiles, and 29 Kh-101/Kh-555 cruise missiles. All the missiles fired toward Kyiv were downed by air defences.

Schools, residential buildings and industrial facilities were also damaged, Ukrainian officials said.

The attack on Kyiv comes a day after a Russian missile hit an industrial area in Ukraine’s northern city of Kharkiv, killing five.

Meanwhile, a leading war think tank has said several indicators point to Russia preparing for a large-scale conflict with Nato.

The US-based Institute for the Study of War said: “Putin’s attempts to set conditions to stabilise Russia’s economy and finances are most likely part of... preparations for a potential future large-scale conflict with NATO and not just for a protracted war in Ukraine.”

The think tank also referred to Polish president Andrzej Duda’s interview in March where he cited German research that indicates “Putin is intensifying efforts to shift Russia to a war economy with the intention of being able to attack NATO as early as 2026 or 2027”.

Ukraine Drones Attack Russian Nuclear-Capable Aviation Hub

Ellie Cook

Drones attacked a southwestern Russian city, home of one of Russia's strategic bomber bases overnight, according to Russian authorities.

An unspecified number of drones were destroyed over the city of Engels in Russia's Saratov Oblast, regional governor Roman Busargin said in a post to the Telegram messaging app on Wednesday. The Russian official did not offer any information on how many uncrewed vehicles were shot down, nor precise details on the target of the drones.

Three of four drones fell close to the military airbase just outside of the city, independent Russian Telegram channel Astra reported, citing anonymous sources. The fourth drone is unaccounted for by the channel. Russia's Defense Ministry said early on Wednesday that four drones were intercepted over the Saratov region, but did not elaborate.

The Engels-2 airbase houses Russian Tu-95 and Tu-160 strategic bombers, which have repeatedly launched missile strikes on Ukraine throughout the more than two years of war. The bombers are part of Russia's long-range aviation forces, capable of carrying out nuclear and conventional long-range strikes.

Engels-2 is around 300 miles from the Ukrainian border, deep in Russian territory. Kyiv has previously targeted the base with drones.

Ukrainian media reported on Wednesday that Kyiv's military intelligence agency, the GUR, had orchestrated the drone attack. Ukraine rarely officially takes responsibility for strikes on internationally-recognized Russian territory.

Symbolism or Strategy? Ukraine Battles to Retain Small Gains.

Andrew E. Kramer and Maria Varenikova

Ukrainian soldiers spent hours ducking in trenches as artillery exploded around them, then dashed for the safety of an armored personnel carrier — only to be chased through the open rear ramp of the vehicle by an exploding drone.

“All I could see were sparks in my eyes,” said one of the soldiers, a sergeant, recounting how the pursuing drone blew up, leaving him and his team wounded but somehow still alive. He asked to be identified only by his first name, Oleksandr, according to military protocol.

Fighting on the plain in southern Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region, where Oleksandr’s vehicle was hit earlier this year, has raged for 10 months now in two phases: first with Ukrainian forces on the offense, and now on defense, as Russia escalates attacks on the area where Ukraine gained ground in last summer’s counteroffensive.

Military analysts have described Ukraine’s strategy as “hold, build and strike” — holding the line in the country’s southeast, replenishing its units with fresh troops and hitting back with long-range drones attacks on oil refineries and military logistics targets inside Russia.

In Zaporizhzhia, this has meant defending an area created by last summer’s counteroffensive, a 10-mile-deep semicircle that presses into Russian-held territory, forming a bulge. Soldiers describe ruined villages, trenches and fields that are a moonscape of shell craters.

At the southern tip of the semicircle lies the village of Robotyne. Ukraine recaptured it last summer, in the high-water mark of a counteroffensive that not only failed to achieve a breakthrough, but left the Russians in a strong enough position to start pushing back across the southern front.

Uncle Sam’s Guide to Peace and Prosperity

Kevin Warsh

Economic and geopolitical instability are frequent bedfellows. That’s because policy errors are contagious. Absent the creation of a new American-led economic and security framework, it’s doubtful the U.S. can sustain prosperity and achieve a durable peace.

Massive government spending, surging debt burdens and bank rescues over the past several years have alarmed America’s allies and emboldened its adversaries. The surge in inflation has added considerable weight to America’s woes. It shocked central banks, knocked the economy, and prompted foreign adversaries to challenge America’s geopolitical standing.

The U.S. government is striving to mask the country’s economic and financial troubles. In the past several months, the Treasury Department has issued more short-term bills and fewer long-term notes than expected. Its machinations have lowered 10-year Treasury yields by nearly 1 percentage point, to about 4%. The Federal Reserve has gotten into the act, too. It pledged at its year-end press conference to deliver interest-rate cuts and other policy easing in the new year.

The immediate results include a melt-up in asset prices, a loosening of financial conditions, and higher and less stable prices. Hardworking Americans aren’t fooled. They see the country going down the wrong track. And they watch adversaries plotting to take advantage. Bad actors operating in the Black, Red and South China seas are undeterred. A foreign axis of resistance is unimpressed by the American economic engine, unintimidated by U.S. military might, and unconvinced Washington will rise to the geopolitical challenge. The axis seeks to divide our allies and, worse, to sow domestic discord. U.S. deterrence is flailing. American diplomats are being asked to carry too heavy a burden.

The relationship between the U.S. and the rest of the world is more fragile than it’s been in half a century. French statesman Georges Clemenceau (1841-1929) feared that peace might be no more than the interlude between wars. If he’s right, current prosperity will serve as a fleeting interval between economic shocks.

Israel Has Killed a Top Hamas Commander in Gaza. It Took Five Months.

Dion Nissenbaum and Summer Said

In years of battle with Israel, Marwan Issa earned the nickname “Shadow Man” for his behind-the-scenes orchestration of Hamas operations as he evaded repeated attempts on his life.

As the Islamic holy month of Ramadan was about to begin in March, Israel finally got its man. An Israeli airstrike in Gaza killed Issa, the No. 3 official in Hamas’s Gaza hierarchy, the White House said.

It was the first time in five months of war that Israel has successfully met one of its key military objectives in the Gaza Strip: killing the top-tier Hamas leaders responsible for the Oct. 7 attack on Israel, the worst in the nation’s history.

Issa’s death could hamper Hamas’s ability to fight Israeli forces at a crucial time in the war, but doesn’t represent a decisive blow, analysts said.

It “contributes to the continuous degradation of Hamas’s capabilities as a cohesive fighting force and their ability to coordinate operations against Israeli forces in Gaza in the short-medium term,” said Tariq Kenney-Shawa, the U.S. policy fellow at Al-Shabaka, the New York-based Palestinian think tank.

Satellite images show there are few options in Gaza where the population can go if Israel proceeds with a ground operation. 

But Hamas has repeatedly rebounded from previous Israeli assassination campaigns that have killed the group’s leaders over more than two decades.

The ‘Lost Decade’ of the US Pivot to Asia

Mercy A. Kuo

The Diplomat author Mercy Kuo regularly engages subject-matter experts, policy practitioners, and strategic thinkers across the globe for their diverse insights into U.S. Asia policy. This conversation with Richard Fontaine – CEO of the Center for a New American Security in Washington, D.C. and co-author, with Robert Blackwill, of “Lost Decade: The U.S. Pivot to Asia and the Rise of Chinese Power” (2024) – is the 406th in “The Trans-Pacific View Insight Series.”

Identify the key factors that led to the failure of the U.S. “Pivot to Asia” policy.

In “Lost Decade,” we looked at a perplexing question. The pivot to Asia, first articulated in 2011, won support from political leaders and policymakers, Republicans and Democrats, and successive administrations. So why did it not produce more results? There are several reasons.

For too long, Washington underestimated the China challenge, believing that a combination of incentives and discouragements would induce Beijing to support rather than undermine the international order. That sapped some of the urgency necessary for a major pivot. In addition, crises emerged in other places – from wars in the Middle East to Russia’s invasions of Ukraine. And by declaring an Asia-first foreign policy, the Obama administration attempted a grand strategic shift in the absence of cataclysmic events that might force a reassessment. In the history of American foreign policy, it has generally required such an upheaval – or the emergence of a major new threat, like the Soviet Union or international terrorism – to turn the great ship of state.

The final reason why the United States did not pivot to Asia, and why it did not adequately respond to the rise of Chinese power, is, however, the simplest: It was more than successive administrations could manage. Moving military assets away from Europe and the Middle East, overcoming domestic opposition to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership, divesting legacy weapons systems in favor of arms tailored for a China contingency, sustaining intense diplomacy in the Indo-Pacific – each step proved too hard, in the event, to get done.

Who Was Marwan Issa, the Hamas Commander Killed by Israel?

Adam Rasgon

Marwan Issa, the deputy commander of Hamas’s military wing in Gaza and a presumed mastermind of the Oct. 7 assault on southern Israel, was confirmed dead on Monday by a senior U.S. official after an Israeli airstrike more than a week ago.

Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security adviser, told reporters that Mr. Issa, one if the highest-ranking officials in Hamas, had been killed. Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said on March 11 that Israeli military warplanes had targeted Mr. Issa and another senior Hamas official in an underground compound in central Gaza.

With his death, Mr. Issa, who had been among Israel’s most wanted men, became the senior-most Hamas leader to be killed in Gaza since the start of the war. Israeli officials have characterized the strike as a breakthrough in their campaign to wipe out the Hamas leadership in Gaza.

But experts cautioned that his death would not have a devastating effect on Hamas’s leadership structure. Israel has killed Hamas’s political and military leaders in the past, only to see them quickly replaced.

Here is a closer look at Mr. Issa and what his death means for Hamas and its leadership.

What was Mr. Issa’s role in Hamas?

Mr. Issa, who was 58 or 59 at the time of his death, had served since 2012 as a deputy to Mohammed Deif, the elusive leader of the Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing. Mr. Issa assumed the role after the assassination of another top commander, Ahmed al-Jabari.

Mr. Issa served both on Hamas’s military council and in its Gaza political office, overseen by Yahya Sinwar, the group’s highest-ranking official in the enclave. Mr. Issa was described by Palestinian analysts and former Israeli security officials as an important strategist who played a key role as a liaison between Hamas’s military and political leaders.

Armenians Wonder Who to Trust After Lost Wars

Ani Chkhikvadze

Driving through the dark streets of Yerevan, Aram, a local taxi driver, vented his frustration: “We will hang [Prime Minister] Nikol Pashinyan,” he declared while skillfully navigating pothole-covered roads, passing by the grim Soviet-era buildings and soulless modern constructions that dot the cityscape. “We can’t rely on anyone but ourselves—not the Russians, not anyone else,” he added.

The World’s Biggest Crisis Is the End of Scarcity

Francis J. Gavin

Imagine an alien observer, sent undercover to Earth every half-century, to account for the status of human life on the planet. What would she convey to her extraterrestrial colleagues about 2024?

Replicating the Mobile Revolution

Daniel F. Runde, Austin Hardman, and Paula Reynal


On April 3, 1973, Martin Cooper, an engineer from Motorola, made the first-ever call on a mobile phone to another engineer at a telecommunications rival company. Fifty years later, the mobile phone is arguably the most transformational invention in recent human history. In just 50 years, the number of people using the device went from zero to more than 7.1 billion as of 2021. Over 91 percent of the world owns a mobile phone, and 90 percent of the world is covered by a commercial wireless signal. Once seen as a consumer luxury, mobile phones have become a near necessity for people of all income levels. More people today have mobile phones than have access to clean water or electricity. Of the roughly seven billion mobile telephone subscriptions around the world, over 70 percent belong to citizens of low- or middle-income countries. According to a Pew Research Center report, approximately 93 percent of people in emerging economies reported that mobile phones help them keep in contact with people living far away. Mobile phones have proved to be more than a tool for communication; they are a catalyst for economic empowerment, and there is no indication that these devices will stop playing a central role in global development.

The mobile revolution is a global phenomenon that has changed how civilization exists and operates. With how commonplace mobile phones are, it is easy to forget the arc in human existence that the technology ignited. Beginning with the shattering of physical boundaries as a restraint for instant communication, the mobile phone revolution has profoundly affected the human experience and processes of societal development. How this transformative technology came to fruition is worthy of inspection and, if possible, replication.

The themes among innovations that have contributed to heightened levels of human flourishing must not be overlooked. Administrative adjustments to public and private development programs to improve efficiency have yet to jolt economies across nations of all income levels and varying quality of institutions to the same intensity as market-creating innovations have. The field of economic development would benefit from organizing and strategizing accordingly.

Robert Reich: Who Do You Trust More With TikTok — China, Or American Billionaires? – OpEd

Robert Reich

Should you be more worried about China siphoning off your personal data and manipulating your thoughts via TikTok, or American billionaires siphoning off your personal data and manipulating your thoughts via TikTok?

Personally, I don’t trust either.

Which is why the current brouhaha in Washington over the fate of the popular platform is utterly beside the point.

Rich Americans now lining up to buy TikTok, if the Senate goes along with the House and bans the platform from our shores as long as it’s owned by Chinese investors, include a hit parade of irresponsible billionaires — such as the corrupt former Trump Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Trump lapdog investor Kevin O’Leary, and right-wing megadonor Bobby Kotick.

Not to forget multibillionaire Republican megadonor Jeff Yass, who already owns a $15 billion (yes, billion) stake in TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance.

Yass is the biggest Republican donor in the 2024 election cycle so far, having spent $46.4 million. (He was the fourth-largest donor in the 2022 midterms, spending $56.2 million. In 2020, he donated $25.3 million, all to Republican candidates.)

According to ProPublica, Yass has focused on candidates pushing for lower taxes, charter schools, campaigns against so-called critical race theory, abortion bans, and candidates who deny Biden won the 2020 election.

He also spends on Trumpish “think tanks.” In 2020, he donated $20.7 million to the Club for Growth. And he and one of his partners, Arthur Dantchik — who, not incidentally, sits on the board of ByteDance — are responsible for a large portion of the donations to the Kohelet Policy Forum, a conservative right-wing Israeli think tank.