30 March 2024

India Suffering a Quiet Decline in Foreign Direct Investment

Mohamed Zeeshan

This month, India signed a rare free trade agreement with four countries in Europe that make up the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Coming after 16 painful years of negotiations, the deal will see India lift most import tariffs for industrial products from Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. In return, the EFTA countries will invest $100 billion in India over the next 15 years.

The announcement comes on the back of flagging foreign direct investment (FDI) into India in recent years. Between April and September of last year, India pulled in just a little over $10 billion in FDI — the lowest tally for the first half of a financial year since the 2008 global recession, according to data from India’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). That comes on the back of an overall decline in FDI inflows as a percentage of GDP under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

There are several well-recorded factors for why foreign investment into India has been so tepid in recent years: bureaucratic red tape, a poor record in contract enforcement, and relatively low labor productivity. But an even more significant factor is simply that India hasn’t been signing enough deals to facilitate foreign investment.

In the mid-1990s, amid the push to liberalize its economy, India initiated a series of bilateral investment treaties (BITs) to promote investment from companies abroad. The idea was to codify a set of rules and norms to ensure that the concerns and interests of foreign investors are protected, especially through international arbitration.

The result was a barrage of claims and disputes by foreign businesses operating in India. In 2011, White Industries, an Australian foundry business, took India to international arbitration for breaching its obligations under the India-Australia bilateral investment treaty. The litigation was successful and India was ordered to pay White Industries over $4 million. That was followed by another successful arbitration effort by the British oil company, Cairn Energy, which secured a $1.2 billion award against the Indian government on a 2015 tax complaint.

Why the Rohingya Are Being Treated the Way They Are

Nasreen Chowdhory

Rows and rows of neatly set blocks of two-roomed tenements line the eastern corner of Bhasan Char, a 40-square kilometer sand-bar island off the coast of Bangladesh on the Bay of Bengal within Bangladesh’s territorial waters.

Women cradle their babies in the narrow and cramped balconies of this sprawling mass of concrete while the men idly wander about this bleak island colony. Bhasan Char is now home to about 20,000 Rohingya refugees, relocated a few years ago when the settlements in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar began to get over-populated.

This is just a fraction of the total number of Rohingya refugees – about a million now in Bangladesh – who were settled in temporary shelters in Cox’s Bazar in the wake of the 2017 violent ethnic conflict in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. Around the same time, about 40,000 Rohingya fled to India – via Bangladesh – while several thousands were settled in Indonesia and Malaysia as part of an international effort to address the emergent refugee-humanitarian crisis.

The Bangladesh government’s effort to resettle the Rohingya refugees in Bhasan Char, which has an eerie and ominous ring about it – bhasan in English translates to “drifting” – has met with little success. Several Rohingya dared the sea, often with fatal consequences, to return to Cox’s Bazar, bringing into sharp focus the limits and extent of humanitarianism, especially when these efforts have mostly been “top-down.”

Even as the Bangladesh government aims to relocate 100,000 refugees to Bhasan Char, the Rohingya’s insecurities spring primarily due to extreme weather conditions and restrictions imposed on their right to mobility. The Rohingya have refused to be resettled to such a distant location that was, until recently, submerged under water. This has contributed further to their uncertain and precarious future in Bangladesh.

Today, as the military situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, home to the Rohingya, has turned in favor of the rebel Arakan Army, the spotlight has squarely shifted back on the refugees and their condition in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, and Malaysia. After all, the conflict in Arakan State seven years ago forced the Rohingya to cross the borders into Bangladesh and further afield.

India: Clouds of Injustice – Bhopal Disaster 20 Years On

This report notes the steps taken by governments in India to assist the victims of the Bhopal tragedy and makes recommendations about actions to be taken by the various governments and companies involved. Twenty years after toxic gases leaked from a pesticide plant owned by Union Carbide Corporation, the survivors still await just compensation, adequate medical assistance and treatment, and comprehensive economic and social rehabilitation. The plant site has still not been cleaned up and no one has been held to account for the leak and its consequences.

Why Did the Islamic State Target Russia?

On March 22, 2024, four masked men wielding automatic weapons opened fire on concertgoers at the Crocus City Hall outside of Moscow. They then set the concert hall on fire. At least 137 people were killed in the brutal terrorist attack, with more than 180 injured.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, and media reports said the attackers were Tajikistan nationals. That suggests that the Islamic State’s recent efforts to radicalize and recruit Central Asians for transnational attacks need to be taken seriously as a deadly threat.

Lucas Webber, the co-founder and editor of militantwire.com, discusses the horrific attack in Russia, and the links to Islamic State’s Afghan branch, also known as ISKP.

‘ISIS-K’ Terror in Russia


The terrorist attack on a concert hall outside of Moscow on Friday was shocking in its savage brutality. The animals who unleashed themselves upon hundreds of innocents in a crowded Crocus City Hall were merciless. The hall is part of a larger shopping complex. The camouflaged assailants slithered inside, opened fire with automatic weapons, methodically shot anyone within range, tossed grenades and incendiary bombs, and engulfed the whole edifice in a giant fireball. It was hellacious. Hundreds were injured and thus far 133 murdered.

The attack was carried out by ISIS-K — Islamic State-Khorasan — the Afghanistan affiliate of the so-called and self-proclaimed “Islamic State.” ISIS-K has thrived since the Biden withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in August 2021 and subsequent Taliban return to power. (READ MORE: Flashback: Biden’s Afghanistan Withdrawal: More Risk Than Reward)

For the record, ISIS-K is not part of the Taliban, and in fact opposes the current Taliban regime. It existed prior to the Taliban’s return. But of course, the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan— sadly and unpredictably — removed a crucial stabilizing force that aimed to keep a lid on Islamic terror throughout the region, including the dastardly doings of the ISIS-K strongholds north and east of Kabul. Recall the August 26, 2021 ISIS-K suicide bombing at the Kabul airport that killed 13 U.S. military personnel and 169 Afghans during the U.S. withdrawal.

US Does Not Support Pakistan Iran Pipeline

Sarah Zaman

The U.S. State Department has said it does not support Pakistan’s plan to build a pipeline to import gas from Iran.

State Department spokesperson Mathew Miller refused to comment on the nature of sanctions Pakistan could face for importing energy from Iran. However, he cautioned Islamabad against going ahead with the plan.

“But we always advise everyone that doing business with Iran runs the risk of touching upon and coming in contact with our sanctions, and would advise everyone to consider that very carefully,” said Miller, adding that “the assistant secretary made clear last week, we do not support this pipeline going forward.”

Donald Lu, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia told the House Foreign Affairs committee last Wednesday in a hearing that importing gas from Iran would expose Pakistan to U.S. sanctions.

Pakistan’s outgoing caretaker government approved the construction of an 80-kilometer section of the pipeline in February, largely to avoid paying Iran $18 billion in penalties for years of project delays.

Miller’s remarks came after Pakistani media reported Tuesday, Islamabad was planning to seek a U.S. sanctions waiver.

“We will seek exemption from U.S. sanctions. Pakistan cannot afford sanctions in the gas pipeline project,” Minister for Petroleum Musadik Malik told media during an informal chat, according to a report in Dawn News.

Afghan Vortex: Pakistan’s Turn To Reap What It Sowed – Analysis

Sushant Sareen

If bombing by fighter aircraft and drones, covert targeted killing operations, and hit-and-run raids on jihadist bases in Afghanistan worked, the United States (US) wouldn’t have been defeated.

Similarly, if the Pakistan Army top brass and the nominal civilian regime think that they will be able to control, or deter, the huge uptick in terror attacks inside Pakistan by striking at suspected militant camps/bases inside Afghanistan, they really need to rethink their policy on tackling the terrorism threat that is becoming more menacing with every passing day. But a national security strategy run by high-school pass generals who either think a lot and don’t act enough, or are heavy on action but don’t think things through, will always swing between masterly inactivity and an aggressive forward policy towards Afghanistan.

Even so, to be fair to Pakistan, it doesn’t have too many options—all of them bad—to choose from. Worse, no matter what option it exercises—aggressively taking the fight into Afghanistan, adopting a defensive approach by fighting a war of attrition within its borders, making peace with the Pakistani Taliban, or some combination of these three options—there is no stopping Pakistan’s inexorable slide into the Afghan vortex, which ironically is of Pakistan’s own making.

Strikes & counterattacks

In the wee hours of March 18, Pakistan carried out airstrikes in Paktika and Khost provinces of Afghanistan against targets linked to one of the most formidable and dreaded jihadist groups led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur. The air attack was in retaliation to a complex terror attack two days earlier on a Pakistan Army camp in Mir Ali in which seven soldiers, including two officers, were killed. Hafiz Gul Bahadur’s group had claimed responsibility for that attack.

The Bitter Choices in Fighting Terrorism

Walter Russell Mead

President Biden’s churchgoing appears to be paying off. The first big international terror attack planned in the newly strengthened terrorist haven of Afghanistan struck Russia, not the U.S. Let’s hope Mr. Biden’s luck holds. A similarly audacious attack on America that was orchestrated in Afghanistan and involved operatives who entered through America’s chaotic southern border would hit the Biden administration like a nuclear bomb.

For now, it is Vladimir Putin who must manage the attack’s political aftermath. So far he is doing all he can to blame Ukraine and the U.S. for ISIS-Khorasan’s raid Friday on a concert hall near Moscow. This is neither surprising nor particularly effective. But what Mr. Putin must now face is a problem for everyone.

Between the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Hamas attacks of Oct. 7, the global backlash against Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, a string of jihadi successes in Africa, the failure to clear the Red Sea of Houthi attacks, and now a daring strike in the heart of Mr. Putin’s police state, the terrorists are crushing it.

Not that the terrorists are all on the same side. From the government of Iran to the militias it has spawned across the Middle East, the Shiite terrorsphere hates the Sunni terrorsphere almost as much as they both hate Western civilization. The Sunnis are divided among themselves. ISIS hates al Qaeda and they both hate the Shiites. But none of that stops Shiite Iran from arming, training and funding Sunni Hamas to murder Jews, nor will it stop other forms of tactical cooperation when it comes to slaughtering Americans, Russians, Europeans or Indians.

We oversimplify when we characterize these movements as “terrorist.” Fear is only one of the emotions these groups hope to spark as they wage war against the rest of the human race. Their goal is to manipulate a range of feelings through atrocity, hostage-taking and propaganda.

U.S. High-Tech Companies on the Front Lines in New Cold War with China

Dan Goure

A new Cold War is upon us. Unlike the prior one between the democratic West and the Soviet Union, this time the U.S. and its allies do not have the advantage of superior technology with which to counter its adversary’s advantages.

Beijing learned a lesson from watching Moscow’s defeat at the end of the last century as the result of superior Western technological and economic power. Most importantly, it learned that it had to match or exceed the West in advanced technologies in order to win the approaching political, economic and military struggle.

China is investing heavily in an array of advanced technologies in an attempt to be the dominant power of the 21st century. In order to prevail in this new Cold War, the U.S. must ensure that its high-tech companies are able to compete successfully against their Chinese rivals. Unless the U.S. responds to the China threat by taking steps to maintain its advantage in high tech, this country and the free world could face defeat in the new Cold War.

The signs of a Cold War between the democratic world and China are becoming more numerous and increasingly clear. China is building up a massive military designed to counter that of the U.S. and its allies. It is encroaching on the air and sea spaces of neighbors—most significantly, those of Taiwan.

Unlike the old Soviet Union, Beijing understands that if it were to build a military capable of taking on the U.S. and its allies, China must simultaneously be an economic and technological powerhouse. To that end, it is conducting what can only be described as economic warfare against the rest of the world, especially the United States. This involves flouting the rules of the current economic order, conducting massive economic espionage and seeking to ensnare countries in the Belt and Road Initiative.


Larry M. Wortzel, PhD


The entire system of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership and control of the armed forces and society is built on a foundation of strict, top-down guidance from the central leadership, covering all aspects of national security and military affairs. Ultimately, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is the guarantor of the CCP’s continued leadership of China.

The CCP does not allow deviation from party guidelines provided by Xi Jinping, CCP General Secretary, Chairman of the party’s Central Military Commission (CMC) and President of China. At a meeting of political commissars at the PLA, the “All Army Party Building Meeting” in 2013, Xi Jinping directed the PLA to “unswervingly support the party and its spirit, [and] ensure the party and the people are under the command of the Central Military Commission.”1 In the same speech, Xi told political commissars that the PLA must increase its technological and scientific advancements. Xi’s challenge to the PLA is not a call to innovate, understand the commander’s intent or use creativity and initiative to accomplish military missions. It is a call to innovate in developing new weapon systems and ways to control them.

The concept of mission command and independently carrying out the commander’s intent would therefore seem anathema in the political culture of the CCP and PLA.

In 2022, however, four field grade officers from various organizations and backgrounds in the PLA authored an exploratory article on the theory of mission command (任务式指挥的理论). It was published in the PLA’s authoritative doctrinal journal, China Military Science (中国军事科学), a publication of the Academy of Military Sciences (中国解放军军事科学院), or AMS.2

The published article is important because AMS is China’s premier military theory and doctrinal institution that directly advises the CMC.3 The fact that the PLA has followed the concept of mission command and its practice in the U.S. Army is worthy of study. The level of initiative expected of officers, NCOs and soldiers embodied in the mission command concept seems so antithetical to the rigid, top-down structure of command and control and political culture; in particular, the practice of the dual command of units by commanders and CCP political commissars (PCs) (政治委员) would seem to dictate that China’s military could not adopt mission command.4

Chinese Hackers Charged in Decade-Long Global Spying Rampage


For years, China’s state-backed hackers have stolen huge troves of company secrets, political intelligence, and the personal information of millions of people. On Monday, officials in the United States and United Kingdom expanded the long list of hacking allegations, claiming China is responsible for breaching the UK’s elections watchdog and accessing 40 million people’s data. The countries also issued a raft of criminal charges and sanctions against a separate Chinese group following a multiyear hacking rampage.

In August last year, the UK’s Electoral Commission revealed “hostile actors” had infiltrated its systems in August 2021 and could potentially access sensitive data for 14 months until they were booted out in October 2022. The deputy prime minister, Oliver Dowden, told lawmakers on Monday that a China state-backed actor was responsible for the attack. In addition, Dowden said, the UK’s intelligence services have determined that Chinese hacking group APT31 targeted the email accounts of politicians in 2021.

“This is the latest in a clear pattern of malicious cyber activity by Chinese state-affiliated organizations and individuals targeting democratic institutions and parliamentarians in the UK and beyond,” Dowden said in the UK’s House of Commons. The revelations were accompanied by the UK sanctioning two individuals and one company linked to APT31.

Alongside the UK’s announcement on Monday, the US Department of Justice and Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control unveiled further action against APT31, also known as Violet Typhoon, Bronze Vinewood, and Judgement Panda, including charging seven Chinese nationals with the conspiracy to commit computer intrusions and wire fraud.

The DOJ claims the hacking group, which has been linked back to China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS) spy agency, has spent 14 years targeting thousands of critics, businesses, and political entities around the world in widespread espionage campaigns. This includes posing as journalists to send more than 10,000 malicious emails that tracked recipients, compromising email accounts, cloud storage accounts, telephone call records, home routers, and more. The spouses of one high-ranking White House official and those of multiple US senators were also targeted, the DOJ says.

War In Syria Has Enters 14th Year: There Is No Solution In Sight – Analysis

Matija Šerić

Although the global mainstream media has consciously and persistently ignored the Syrian Civil War for several consecutive years, as if it was over, it continues. Although the average observer would conclude that the war in Syria is over because newspapers and websites don’t write about it, this is unfortunately not true.

War is a terrible reality. More than 4,361 people, including soldiers and civilians, were killed in Syria last year. At the beginning of this year, according to some estimates, around a 1,000 people have already lost their lives. On March 15, the Syrian war reached its infamous 13th birthday. Few major wars in recent decades have lasted so long but a solution is still not in sight, even though the situation in Syria and the surrounding countries threatens a major humanitarian disaster. For years, the civil war in Syria has been a low-intensity war and the country is divided into several areas that are effectively states within states with loose borders depending on the course of military operations.

Divided Syria

At the time of writing, the largest part of the internationally recognized territory of Syria (about 2/3) is under the control of the legal and internationally recognized government of President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus. The government of the Syrian Arab Republic controls major cities such as Homs, Aleppo, Damascus province as well as the provinces of Sweidu, Daraa and Quneitra in the south, the central province of Homs and most of neighboring Hama, as well as all of Tartus and most of Latakia province on the west coast.

Much of Aleppo province in the north is also under government’s control, as are parts of Raka and Deir ez-Zor provinces in the east. About a quarter of the Syrian territory is under the control of the Kurdish Autonomous Administration of Northern and Eastern Syria (AANES) or Rojava. The Kurds established a semi-autonomous administration in the area and gradually expanded the territory with the help of the US. They control most of the province of Raqqa including the city itself, half of the neighboring province of Deir ez-Zor and part of the province of Aleppo in the north. The Kurdish forces (SDF) control Hasakeh province in the northeast, although Syrian government forces are also present in some areas, including the cities of Hasakeh and Qamishli.

Why America Is Still Failing in Iraq

Renad Mansour

Hamas’s October 7 attack and Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip began a fresh eruption of violence across the Middle East. Peace in the region, which has long been Washington’s stated aim, has proved illusory once again. No matter how many times the United States has tried to pivot away from the Middle East, violence always seems to pull it back in. In this latest cycle, the Biden administration’s hasty withdrawal from the region was based on its claim that it was the most stable it had been for decades. And yet, in Iraq, U.S. bases are once again under attack from armed groups, endangering the temporary ceasefire which had allowed Baghdad and Washington to sign the Joint Security Cooperation Dialogue in August 2023 and to begin wider negotiations, including on the removal of U.S. troops from the country. Regional violence after October 7 has complicated this process.

So has the rise of an “axis of resistance,” a network of Iran-allied armed groups that includes Kataib Hezbollah, Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada in Iraq and Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the Houthis in Yemen. These groups are politically, economically, militarily, and ideologically entrenched in their states, and are united by their shared opposition to foreign occupation.

U.S. forces have attacked these groups in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, killing their senior leaders and destroying their trading hubs and weapons depots. Washington has also sanctioned their banks and businesses. But these strikes and punitive measures—described by a senior U.S. official as “whack-a-mole”—have not been successful in securing peace or stability. The groups that Washington targeted have not gone away. Instead, they have flourished, becoming even more powerful within their countries and the wider region. Washington has proved itself unable to tackle the true sources of these groups’ power, which lie not in military infrastructure alone but in the social and political structures of the Middle East. Armed groups thrive under fragile governments, and their networks include cabinet ministers, parliamentarians, judges, senior bureaucrats, and civil society organizers. This influence allows these groups, along with the wider political establishment in these countries, to profit from state coffers and enjoy impunity from any prosecution—all while performing key state functions at the national and local level.

Preparing for World War III: The Home Front

Michael Hochberg & Leonard Hochberg

During an interview on Tuesday, March 5, 2024, Brigadier General Amit Sa’ar of the IDF disclosed that he penned a letter intended for Prime Minister Netanyahu just before October 7, 2023, cautioning “that Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah recognized an opportunity to attack Israel … due to internal conflict … as well as the level of readiness of the IDF at the time.” His reflection, which focused on military preparation, domestic politics, and international threats, should be taken as a warning for the United States.

On June 6, 2021, the anniversary of D-Day, the authors of this essay predicted that the major Eurasian autocratic powers—China, Russia, and Iran—would soon launch multiple opportunistic or coordinated attacks. Thus far, three of the four fronts of a new global conflict have emerged.

Given that the upcoming general election will likely provoke political instability, we believe the following warning must now be issued: Eurasian autocracies will see this election and any associated instability as a strategic opening for asymmetric and grey-zone attacks against the United States. At the same time, China will escalate its campaign to reincorporate Taiwan through blockade, invasion, or economic coercion.

How did we get here?

The ongoing conflicts have strained the military and policy resources of the United States and its allies. The perception of these conflicts as disconnected, rather than as parts of one coherent conflict, has produced profound confusion among the American and Western polities. The piling-on by our adversaries has stretched the military and industrial capacity of the United States to the point that allies are running short of key warfighting materiel, such as artillery shells. The resources to fully support our allies are not available. None of the Western Powers have shifted their economy onto a wartime footing.

October 7 and American Grand Strategy

Russell A. Berman

As late as September 2023, American foreign policy circles seemed to have settled on the need for the U.S. to redirect its attention away from the Middle East. The experience in Iraq was viewed as having led to disappointing outcomes, while the war in Afghanistan had ended in a humiliating exit. A general malaise about “endless wars” had gained sway in parts of the public, despite genuine achievements and underestimated prospects for success. The argument justifying U.S. power in the Middle East because of oil and gas lost ground to environmentalist claims about a global transition to renewable energies. Furthermore, the perception that China would pose a military threat to US interests in the western Pacific was taken as a reason to exit the Middle East in order to shift military assets to the defense of Taiwan. There was of course a fatal flaw in that argument: given the global competition with China and Russia, it makes little sense to relinquish American power in one region in order to move to another, since any American departure only facilitates the expanded influence of America’s adversaries: Russia entering Syria or China’s making inroads with Riyadh.

The illusion that the U.S. could give up on the Middle East came to an abrupt end on October 7, with the brutal Hamas attack on Israel and the subsequent unfolding of the Gaza War. October 7 has been likened to 9/11 or even Pearl Harbor, the violent end of an era of self-deception. For Israel that illusion involved the expectation that a modus vivendi had developed with Hamas, which naive optimists misperceived as growing into a responsible governing power in Gaza. That foolish vision has ceased to be tenable; hence the Israeli war goal of eliminating Hamas as a military and political force. That goal is part of a profound shift in Israeli national self-understanding, reflecting the heightened priority of national security in the wake of the attack.

Yet what does October 7 mean for the U.S.? Clearly support for Israel, the key American ally in the region, informs American policy, but U.S. global interests require the distinct analytic framework of a super-power. Israel needs to secure its borders, but the U.S. faces adversarial pressures from the emerging coalition of opponents: China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea. The Middle East is only one theater in America’s multifront power struggle. Gaza, Ukraine, and Taiwan are three fronts in one war, competing for resources and attention, even as conflict threatens to erupt in other arenas, most notably the Sahel of Africa.

Why Europe Sacrificed Ukraine

Arta Moeini

The West’s Ukraine policy appears to have reached an inflection point. Washington and Brussels have now spent more than $200 billion on the war—a figure that, adjusted for inflation, far exceeds the entire cost of the Marshall Plan, which rebuilt Europe in the wake of World War II. After the failure of last year’s much-touted Ukrainian counteroffensive, leaders on both sides of the Atlantic have found allocating new money to the war effort an increasingly daunting task. The European Union finally pushed through a €50 billion ($54 billion) funding package for Ukraine last month, but this came after months of pushback from Hungary. Meanwhile, war-skeptical parties are surging in the polls in several countries, propelled by voters reeling from the severe cost-of-living crisis the war and Western sanctions have unleashed.

The Ukraine war has also been a strategic disaster for the Continent, quashing any lingering aspirations for Europe to achieve genuine strategic autonomy, vassalizing Europe to the United States and leaving it at its weakest since the end of World War II. Regardless of how the Ukraine conflict eventually turns out, Europe—especially Western Europe—has lost.

So why do European leaders remain so hostile to diplomatic efforts to end the war? In recent weeks, French President Emmanuel Macron went so far as to suggest European or NATO troops could be deployed to Ukraine, then doubled down when his remarks drew criticism, insisting that the war is “existential” for Europe and nothing should be “off the table.” Such claims aren’t based on reality, however. European security isn’t “at stake”: Russia is unable to conquer and hold even half of Ukraine, let alone expand beyond it. And the common myth in the West that Putin aims to restore the Soviet empire is just that: hyperbolic mythology detached from reality.

Still, EU elites’ commitment to Ukraine, no matter the costs, is too deliberate and systematic to be dismissed as madness or sheer incompetence. Lurking beneath the clamor for European unity is a political struggle to establish supranational EU sovereignty—a project that trumps all other considerations, including Europe’s own strategic autonomy. Macron’s worry that the Russian victory in Ukraine (a non-EU state) would obliterate Europe’s “credibility” makes sense when we recognize that he and other leaders are engaged in a comprehensive project of top-down state-building in which Ukrainian plight plays a foundational role.

America’s Year of Living Dangerously


More than six dozen countries will hold elections this year, but none will be more consequential than the one scheduled for November in the United States. After all, what happens in the US invariably has outsize impact, given America’s economic, military, and diplomatic power and influence. Countries in both Europe and the Indo-Pacific count on the US to guarantee their security – a guarantee they have not had reason to question for three-quarters of a century.

Moreover, unlike most presidential elections in American history, this is one in which the differences between the two likely major party candidates far outweigh their similarities. Much the same can be said about which of the two parties wins control of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

What makes the coming year so fraught for America and the rest of the world, though, is the reality that American democracy faces multiple hurdles. Indeed, the near future consists of three distinct phases, each with its own challenges and dangers.

Why Julian Assange Must Be Freed – OpEd

Jon Miltimore

John Joseph Mearsheimer recently summed up in a single sentence why Julian Assange should go free.

“Journalists don’t go to jail for publishing classified information in the United States,” Mr. Mearsheimer, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, said in a recent video.

There has been endless ink spilled on Mr. Assange, whose lawyers on Feb. 20 made an eleventh-hour attempt to kill an effort to extradite the Australian journalist to the United States.

Since 2019, the WikiLeaks founder has been held in Belmarsh Prison in Britain and faces 17 charges of espionage and a single charge of computer misuse.

One item WikiLeaks published titled “Collateral Murder” was video footage of a U.S. military airstrike in Baghdad from July 12, 2007. The classified footage shows an Apache helicopter firing a 30 mm cannon into a group of people that included two Reuters journalists. Around a dozen people were killed, and two children were injured.

Mr. Assange’s decision to publish the footage, which he received from U.S. intelligence analyst Bradley Manning (now Chelsea Manning), is why he is today in prison.

As the government’s indictment against Mr. Assange states, the WikiLeaks founder didn’t have a security clearance, which is why he “conspired” with Mr. Manning to obtain the footage and other records, including U.S. State Department cables.

Mr. Manning was convicted of 20 charges in 2013 and was sentenced to 35 years behind bars at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, a sentence that was commuted in January 2017 by President Barack Obama.

Mr. Assange, whose hearing at the British High Court in London concluded on Feb. 21, will likely find out this month whether he’ll be extradited to the United States.

The Terrorist Attack In Moscow: What Are The Consequences? – Analysis

Richard Rousseau

It is not easy to analyze this tragic event. But there are some elements that stand out. Let’s start with emotions. Regardless of how one feels or perceives the conflict in Ukraine, we must sympathize with the Russian victims and refrain from judging them. This is a horrible attack and the victims are all civilians. They gathered in a cultural venue to see a performance that has nothing to do with the Ukrainian theater of war. When examining this tragedy, we must also take into account the tactics employed by the Islamic State Organization (ISO). Terrorists break into a concert hall, weapons in hand, to kill as many people as possible in a cold, cowardly, highly organized, indiscriminate manner.

And yet, there are many people who have doubts about this line of inquiry. With the memory of the Kremlin’s many lies, false flag operations, and Vladimir Putin’s manipulations still fresh in their minds, many Ukrainians don’t buy the Russian version of events. They recall that as soon as Putin came to power in the late 1990s, he organized attacks, particularly in Moscow and nearby towns, that killed hundreds of innocent Russian civilians. Investigations later revealed that Russia’s own intelligence services (FSB) had planted the bombs in apartment blocks, but quickly blamed Chechens for the bombings. These were fake attacks to create a need for a strongman in the Kremlin and revenge against the North Caucasian people, as well as to respond in kind by waging a bloody war against Chechnya.

In the minds of many Ukrainians, the March 22 attack in Moscow is part of the same logic, and the mode of operation is similar. They anticipate that Ukraine will bear the same blame as Chechnya did in the 1990s. This will allow the Kremlin to justify further mobilization of the population. What better way to attract young Russian men to defend the homeland in what the Russian government is now willing to call a war rather than a “special military operation”? However, the Islamic State Organization has never claimed responsibility for an attack it did not carry out. The ISO doesn’t usually bluff when it comes to terrorist attacks. This marks its bloody return to the forefront of the international stage. And we can expect more communiqués about its rampage in Moscow.

Israel Cancels Visit to Washington After U.S. Abstains on U.N. Cease-Fire Resolution

Michael R. Gordon, Vivian Salama and Dov Lieber

The United Nations Security Council approved a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza after the U.S. allowed it to pass by abstaining, prompting Israel to withdraw from coming high-level meetings with the Biden administration.

The unusual U.S. move signaled the administration’s growing frustration with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose relations with the White House have deteriorated over their clashing political agendas and conflicting views of military tactics.

By abstaining rather than vetoing the resolution, the U.S. enabled the Security Council for the first time since the war began in October to pass a resolution calling for a cease-fire.

The resolution calls for “an immediate cease-fire” during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends April 9, “leading to a lasting sustainable cease-fire, and also the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.”

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant arriving Monday at the State Department in Washington. 

Netanyahu’s office said that the wording of the resolution was unacceptable because it didn’t explicitly make a cease-fire conditional on the release of hostages held by Hamas.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., told the Security Council the American position on that link was unchanged. “A cease-fire of any duration must come with the release of hostages,” she said. “This is the only path.”

‘The goal was a massacre of Tel Aviv’: Hamas's full plan for October 7 revealed


In an interview with KAN to promote his new book, Ilan Kfir claimed that Hamas had an operative plan to reach the heart of Tel Aviv on October 7, but was ultimately thwarted. The veteran journalist published "Gaza Division Conquered," in March, the first book published in Hebrew about the October 7 massacre.

"Today the picture is much clearer than it was on October 7. Hamas was not satisfied with the phase one plan - but the test was if the phase one plan was successful, they would go on to phase two - and it was prepared with large forces ready on standby and prepared to set off at noon. At the heart of the plan was a breach in two areas, in the north as well as in the south and east, towards Dimona, which was singled out by the group as a very central target. The goal of the operation would have been a raid on Tel Aviv. They marked several focal points in the city that were expected to be crowded in the afternoon and evening in order to carry out a mass massacre in the city," the author stated.

“Whoever from Hamas was planning to arrive in Tel Aviv and the north would have been forces with the mental willingness to commit suicide, because they knew they had no chance of returning from there. It was a plan that was formulated and in very advanced stages," Kfir said.

Hamas sought to initiate second phase on October 7

Russia May Be Prepping for Imminent War With NATO


The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin is potentially preparing for war with NATO sooner than previously anticipated. This assessment is based on various Russian financial, economic, and military indicators.

Putin's recent military decrees, which re-establish the Moscow and Leningrad Military Districts, are seen by the ISW as preparation for a "large-scale" war with NATO. These decrees have reorganized Russia's military-administrative structure and incorporated territories of Ukraine into the Leningrad Military District, suggesting Russia's intent to maintain control over these areas.

NATO has expressed unwavering support for Ukraine's sovereignty and has provided unprecedented levels of support since Russia's full-scale invasion. The alliance has condemned Russia's aggression and has imposed severe sanctions to weaken Russia's war capabilities.

Amid rising tensions, Baltic nations are enhancing their military defenses in preparation for potential conflict. This includes the creation of "kill zones" to funnel Russian soldiers in the event of war.

With US funding for Ukraine in limbo, European allies are increasing their support as Russia continues its military strikes. The ISW notes that Russia is preparing for a wider conflict with NATO, and while the timeline is not immediate, it is likely shorter than previously thought.

NATO's principle of collective defense means that an attack on one member is considered an attack on all. While Ukraine is not a NATO member, it has been promised eventual membership, and the alliance works closely with Ukraine to modernize its armed forces.

Navigating the Future of Work

Erik Brynjolfsson, Adam Thierer, and Daron Acemoglu


The Workforce Futures Initiative is a research collaboration among the American Enterprise Institute, the Brookings Institution, and the Project on Workforce at Harvard Kennedy School’s Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy. The initiative aims to develop concise and actionable reviews of existing research for federal, state, and local policymakers. Since August 2021, the group has provided a forum for researchers and practitioners to discuss policy ideas, evaluate evidence, and identify priorities for new research on the future of work and the public workforce system.

In the first report, Beyond the Turing Test: Harnessing AI to Create Widely Shared Prosperity, Erik Brynjolfsson revises his view on AI, criticizing the Turing Test for equating human mimicry with intelligence and warning against economic consequences. He argues that true technological progress lies in augmenting—not replacing—human capabilities, historically increasing the value of labor. He criticizes the current trend of developing technology that substitutes for human labor, citing misaligned incentives among technologists, entrepreneurs, and policymakers. He advocates for innovation that complements human abilities, exemplified by companies like Cresta, which uses AI to assist, not replace, human operators. Brynjolfsson emphasizes the need for policy changes—such as equal taxation of capital and labor—to encourage such human-centered technology, arguing that the future of work depends on our choices regarding technology’s role in the labor market.

In the second report, We Can’t Predict the Future of Work, Adam Thierer explores the skepticism surrounding predictions about technology’s impact on employment. Highlighting the tendency for overly pessimistic forecasts, he challenges the accuracy of such predictions with historical data. As examples of this overestimation, Thierer cites the recalibration of AI-related job loss estimates and the unexpected growth in certain job sectors. His report emphasizes the complexity of predicting future jobs and skills, advocating for flexible, adaptive workforce development rather than rigid government programs to navigate the evolving technological landscape.

United States Cyber Force

Dr. Erica Lonergan & RADM (Ret.) Mark Montgomery

Executive Summary

In the U.S. military, an officer who had never fired a rifle would never command an infantry unit. Yet officers with no experience behind a keyboard are commanding cyber warfare units. This mismatch stems from the U.S. military’s failure to recruit, train, promote, and retain talented cyber warriors. The Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines each run their own recruitment, training, and promotion systems instead of having a single pipeline for talent. The result is a shortage of qualified personnel at U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM), which has responsibility for both the offensive and defensive aspects of military cyber operations.

For the last decade, Congress, on a bipartisan basis, has made clear its sharp concern about cyber personnel issues. In 2022, it required the secretary of defense to deliver a report that addresses “how to correct chronic shortages of proficient personnel in key work roles” at CYBERCOM. The report is due on June 1.1

Often, however, military leaders have addressed personnel shortages by massaging statistics rather than fixing the underlying problem. In 2018, CYBERCOM appeared to reach a major milestone when it certified that all 133 of its Cyber Mission Force (CMF) teams had enough properly trained and equipped personnel to execute their missions. Yet multiple officers revealed these certifications to be hollow; CYBERCOM merely shifted a limited number of effective personnel from team to team to make them appear complete at the time of certification.

To deepen the understanding of the cyber personnel system and its flaws, this study draws on more than 75 interviews with U.S. military officers, both active-duty and retired, with significant leadership and command experience in the cyber domain.2 The study identifies these officers by rank and service but withholds their names for reasons of privacy.

Here’s Why You Can’t Afford An Electric Car – OpEd

Sonali Kolhatkar

It seems that there has never been a better time than now to buy an electric vehicle in the United States, especially if you read news headlines and White House press releases. You might be forgiven for thinking that you can actually afford to upgrade your old gas-guzzling sedan with a sleek, new zero-emissions EV. And if you can’t afford one, the various local, state, and federal rebate programs will surely knock thousands off the price tag, right?

Wrong. In order to be able to qualify for the ever-changing and complicated federal $7,500 rebate on EVs, one has to be rich enough to be able to afford to buy a new EV (some used ones qualify but good luck figuring out which one, and then even better luck finding such a car available for purchase). But, in order to qualify for the rebate, one can’t be too rich. If you’re middle-income, like me, you can lease an EV, but then you don’t qualify for the rebate—your leasing company does—and you’re left paying a hefty monthly lease.

News headlines about Tesla slashing its EV prices might still convince you that a new EV is within reach—that is if you don’t mind enriching one of the worst humans on the planet. But Teslas are still among the more expensive cars on the market.

Meanwhile, there are sensationalist headlines about EV sales falling over the past year, so much so that one might be forgiven for thinking that maybe most people wanting an EV already purchased one and demand is simply weakening. Dig past the headlines however, and the news reports all come to the same conclusion: EVs are still unaffordable for the majority of Americans, especially those who simply want to reduce their carbon footprint and their financial expenses at the same time. “Pricing is still very much the biggest barrier to electric vehicles,” according to one research analyst.