1 April 2024

How Many Aircraft Carriers Does India Need?

Brandon J. Weichert

So, just how many aircraft carriers does the Indian Navy really need? It’s a trick question. India already has too many aircraft carriers as it is.

What India needs are countermeasures to overcome China’s anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) threat in the Indian Ocean. No one is really talking about this in defense systems. Everything remains fixated on making every allied military, whether it be Ukraine, Taiwan, or even India, into a miniature version of the US military, replete with legacy systems that are as suited for modern combat as the musket would be.

The aircraft carrier is increasingly obsolete in the age of advanced anti-access/area denial (A2/AD). Despite this fact, both India and China are racing each other to see which side can build the greatest number of aircraft carriers in the shortest amount of time. China has three functioning flat tops of varying degrees of sophistication, with a fourth, nuclear powered carrier in the pipeline.

India, meanwhile, has two carriers, with a third on the way. What the Indians fail to recognize is that China has an ace-in-the-hole that India otherwise lacks: Chinese A2/AD emplacements in the South China Sea can reachinto the Indian Ocean.

China’s A2/AD Threat Will Not Be Overcome with Aircraft Carriers

According to an analysis from the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS), China’s sophisticated arsenal of A2/AD throughout the South China Sea (SCS) not only covers the SCS but can strike at targets as far afield as the Bay of Bengal.

So, what is the point of India spending all this money to build aircraft carriers that will take years to learn how to operate properly, just to have China knock these systems out in the opening bid of any conflict with India?

India should be countering the rising Chinese A2/AD threat with their own versions of these systems. The Indian military should also look to further complicate China’s bid to become the dominant power not only in the Pacific, but the Indian Ocean, by expanding their already impressive presence in Ladakh, where Indian and Chinese have already clashed four years ago (and where armed conflict again could erupt at any moment).

America Botched Its Potential Alliance with India

Brandon J. Weichert

The United States faces an existential crisis in the form of China’s rise. To counteract the challenge from Beijing, Washington needs to find willing partners in the Indo-Pacific. One such country is India. The world’s largest democracy and possessing a robust demographic profile (unlike China with its aging population), India is the world’s fifth-largest economy in GDP terms.

India shares a land border with China, and the two powers have not had a positive relationship since the 1962 Sino-Indian War.

Most recently, conflict between the two sides erupted over control of India’s Ladakh Province, which is very near Chinese-held Tibet. The Chinese appear to have gotten the better of this exchange, and Beijing has since increased its sway over the mountainous region, expanding its military presence there. In turn, India has turned to the United States for military assistance and has received it.

One would assume, therefore, that India was an integral ally in America’s wider network of alliances. Indeed, during the Trump administration, great emphasis was placed on the United States working more closely with India.

America Needlessly Complicated Its Relationship with India for Ukraine

Sadly, however, the Biden administration has been far more circumspect in its dealings with India.

Mistakes over the last four years have alienated India and slowed the coalescence of the U.S.-India strategic partnership. Today, India has taken its own distancing measures from the United States in response to some of the Biden administration’s missteps.

How US is helping India eat into China's share of solar panel exports

India has the opportunity to be an exporter to the world in the solar equipment manufacturing, which is currently dominated by one country, said Eric Garcetti, the US ambassador in New Delhi.

The country Garcetti was referring to is China, which accounts for more than 80% of all of the world's polysilicon, a key input in the making of solar panels.

Overall, China's exports of solar modules grew by a third in 2023 to 220,000 megawatts of generation capacity, according to data from consulting firm Ember cited by Reuters in a recent report.

However, many small Chinese wafer manufacturers are reportedly on the brink of bankruptcy because of high production capacity, falling demand and plunging prices. Some of them are working at 40% capacity, according to a January report.

Europe, the biggest purchaser of Chinese solar modules, has cut back its share of imports from China to 46% in 2023 from 55% a year earlier.

Meanwhile, India exported solar panels worth over $1.1 billion in the first six months of the current financial year. Earlier, India did export over a billion dollar worth of modules in March 2022, but it took an entire year.

Almost all (98%) of the solar modules exported from India went to the US. However, supplies from India account for a little less than a tenth of what the US imported between January and November 2023, according to recent data from Bloomberg NEF.

A billion dollar worth of exports from India is still too small compared to China's dominance in solar panel manufacturing. In fact, solar project developers in India, which has the world's fifth largest deployment of solar modules — get half of their panels from China, according to data from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

US imposed anti-dumping duties on solar products made in China in 2021 because bulk of the solar panel manufacturing takes place in the Xinjiang province, allegedly using Uyghur Muslims as "forced labour".

After Attack in Russia, Focus Turns to ISKP in Afghanistan and Central Asia

Shanthie Mariet D’Souza

The March 22 terror attack in Russia, on the outskirts of Moscow, which killed 139 people has brought attention back to the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP). Notwithstanding the Kremlin’s proclivity to link the attackers to Ukraine and not ISKP, the group’s involvement in the attack is clear from its claim and the evidence that has emerged in the aftermath. However, the focus on and understanding of ISKP’s core area in Afghanistan and Pakistan needs to be expanded to include the large frontiers of Central Asia, where the group seems to be thriving and expanding its area of operations.

While for many the threat of the Islamic State ended in 2019 with the American military campaign that disintegrated the Caliphate in Iraq and Syria, the group’s capacity remained intact in many parts of Central and South Asia. The recent attack in Krasnogorsk isn’t so much an extension of ISKP’s presence, but a power projection of its existing presence and influence in Central Asia, where the group has been building its strength since 2014. This needs to be understood in attempts to understand the threat potential and construct strategies to tackle the group.

ISKP, which was formed in 2015 and started operating in Afghanistan in 2017, four years before the Taliban took power, has been prevented by the latter from acquiring territory in Afghanistan or increasing its violence levels in any significant manner. The shortcomings in the Taliban’s approach and its intention of underplaying ISKP’s potential notwithstanding, periodic raids, arrests, and killings have in a way diversified the group’s activities to other areas. In 2023, the Taliban claimed to have arrested and imprisoned up to 1,700 ISKP militants and killed close to 1,100 others, including key commanders, since August 2021.

The U.N. has termed ISKP “the greatest threat within Afghanistan,” but this needs to be seen in the context of the comparative weakness of other terror groups, except the TTP, that operate in Afghanistan. ISKP’s leader, 29-year-old Sanaullah Ghafari a.k.a. Shahab al-Muhajir, is now believed to be living in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, after surviving a Taliban intelligence-led operation in June 2023 in Kunar province. In September 2023, U.S. officials acknowledged that the Taliban’s sweeping operations, with a zeal to demonstrate its achievements, have increased pressure on ISKP, forcing many of its key leaders to flee the country. Further, there is little evidence that the group’s recruitment capacities within Afghanistan have been blunted after the initial surge that attracted disenchanted Taliban members into ISKP’s fold.

What Does the ISIS-K Attack Mean for Afghan-Russia Ties?

Giorgio Cafiero

According to Russian authorities, the horrific attack at Crocus City Hall on March 22 took at least 139 lives, marking the deadliest act of terrorism in Russia for many years. Islamic State-Khorasan (ISIS-K) quickly claimed responsibility.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has asserted that “radical Islamists” were responsible for the terror. As Putin put it, extremists “whose ideology the Islamic world has been fighting for centuries” carried out this attack. But he has also accused Ukraine of playing some role—a claim that officials in Kyiv strongly deny.

ISIS-K and other violent jihadist groups have long seen Russia as their enemy. Over many years, Islamic State and Al Qaeda propaganda has depicted Russia as an “infidel” power guilty of committing crimes against Muslims in Afghanistan in the 1980s, Chechnya in the 1990s and 2000s, and Syria beginning with Moscow’s intensified military intervention in 2015. Moscow, along with the Islamic Republic of Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, fought to keep President Bashar al-Assad’s government in power, which entailed the Russian military fighting ISIS directly in certain battles. In 2015, ISIS propaganda produced more anti-Russian material, with the so-called Caliphate identifying Russia as leading the “Crusader East.”

“Since Russia entered the war in Syria in 2015, it has been increasingly perceived as a vanguard of Shi’a interests. Putin has provided substantial military aid to Assad, allying Russia with avowed enemies of Sunni jihadists,” argues Colin P. Clarke, the director of policy and research at the Soufan Group and the author of After the Caliphate: The Islamic State & the Future Terrorist Diaspora. He added that the Islamic State sees Putin as a “Shia stooge.”

After the Taliban retook control of Afghanistan in August 2021, ISIS-K carried out attacks in a host of foreign countries, such as Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey, before this latest act of terrorism in Moscow. The group has also threatened the West and China, highlighting how the Islamic State’s Afghan branch is committed to a global agenda extending far beyond Afghanistan’s borders. The Taliban’s diplomatic engagement with the United States in Doha and with Chinese officials have been incorporated into ISIS-K’s anti-Taliban propaganda.

What to Make of the ISIS-K Attack on Moscow

Daniel Byman

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack that killed over 130 people at the Crocus City Hall theater in Moscow on March 22—the worst terrorist attack Russia has seen in 20 years. U.S. officials attributed specific blame to the Islamic State Khorasan Province, commonly referred to as ISIS-K, a group based in Afghanistan and Pakistan that professes loyalty to the Islamic State’s overall leadership.

Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to point the finger at Ukraine for the attack. But not only has the Islamic State claimed responsibility for it—the targeting of a concert hall also fits with the Islamic State’s past practices, as they conducted similar attacks in France and the United Kingdom. Russia’s own history dealing with jihadist threats from Chechnya and elsewhere in the Caucasus also suggests a jihadist link: Chechen jihadists in 2002 attacked a theater in Moscow. Ukraine has killed Russian commanders, ​​politicians in occupied territory who collaborated with Moscow, and even the daughter of one of Russia’s leading nationalists, but it has never conducted a mass attack on civilians.

As disturbing as the slaughter of innocents in Russia is, there are ominous signs that this attack is part of a new wave of ISIS-K attacks. ISIS-K formally emerged in the Afghanistan-Pakistan area in 2015, bringing together a group of disgruntled jihadists who opposed the Taliban and pledged loyalty to the then-ascendant Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria. They embrace a far more radical version of jihadism than even the Taliban, opposing any accommodation with states or entities they see as Islam’s enemies and embracing sectarianism, among other beliefs. These legitimate concerns, however, must be seen in the context of significant progress against the broader jihadist movement, including the Islamic State itself.

Afghan Terror's Return

Jeffrey Gedmin

Last week, Mark Milley and Kenneth McKenzie, Jr. testified before Congress on the United States' exit from Afghanistan. Republicans blamed President Biden for the debacle. Democrats blamed President Trump for his deal with the Taliban. The two men who led the withdrawal—Milley, the former Joint Chiefs of Staff chair, and McKenzie, the ex-chief of Central Command—blamed both sides. In the midst of our chaotic departure, on August 26, 2021, an Islamic State suicide bomber killed thirteen U.S. service members and more than 150 Afghans outside an airport gate in Kabul.

Last Friday, Afghanistan roared back into the news with the horrific attack on Russian concertgoers that left at least 137 dead and more than 180 injured. Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility. Behind the attack, U.S. officials believe, is IS-affiliate Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) in Afghanistan. ISIS-K has been stepping up activity at home. Last Thursday, the group sent a suicide bomber into a crowd of Taliban members at a bank in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar. Islamic State and the Taliban despise one another.

I suspect we’re starting to see the costs of foreign policy light. In Ukraine we decided against boots on the ground and pilots in the sky. We have provided large amounts of military assistance. But our reluctance to give Ukrainians the tanks, air power, and long-range missiles they need to defeat Russian invaders is showing its effect. Our worries about escalation paved the way for Vladimir Putin’s forces to overcome early setbacks.

President Biden took credit for ending America’s “forever war” in Afghanistan. But at the time of our exit there was no significant push from the American public for withdrawal. At the start of the Biden Administration we were already down to 2,500 troops, a level that might well have held the fragile country together. Security had improved.

That’s not all. Life expectancy had improved for both men and women. Fewer infants were dying and more women were surviving childbirth. Nine million Afghan children had started going to school over the time of our presence, some 40 percent of them girls. The bet was to buy time, said former U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, “for a young generation of Afghans to come of age.”

Philippine President Warns of Countermeasures in Response to Chinese Aggression at Sea

Jim Gomez

The Philippine president said Thursday that his government would take action against what he called dangerous attacks by the Chinese coast guard and suspected militia ships in the disputed South China Sea, saying “Filipinos do not yield.”

Ferdinand Marcos Jr. did not provide details of the actions his government would take in the succeeding weeks but said these would be “proportionate, deliberate, and reasonable in the face of the open, unabating, and illegal, coercive, aggressive, and dangerous attacks by agents of the China Coast Guard and Chinese maritime militia.”

“We seek no conflict with any nation,” Marcos wrote on X, formerly Twitter, but said the Philippines would not be “cowed into silence.”

Marcos’ warning is the latest sign of the escalating disputes between China and the Philippines in the contested waters that have caused minor collisions between the coast guard and other vessels of the rival claimant nations, sparked a war of words, and strained relations.

China and the Philippines, along with Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Brunei, have overlapping claims in the resource-rich and busy waterway, where a bulk of the world’s commerce and oil transits.

Chinese officials in Manila or Beijing did not immediately respond to Marcos’ public warning, which he issued during Holy Week — one of the most sacred religious periods in the largely Roman Catholic nation.

China’s Defense Ministry accused the Philippines of escalating the South China Sea disputes by undertaking provocative moves and spreading “misinformation to mislead the international community.”

“It is straying further down a dangerous path,” Senior Col. Wu Qian, the Chinese defense ministry’s top spokesperson, said in a statement issued Thursday by the Chinese Embassy in Manila.

Thais Are Wondering: What’s Up With PM Srettha’s Digital Wallet Scheme? – Analysis

Jitsiree Thongnoi

Ratawee Phuiphom is an ardent supporter of the “Red Shirts,” a Thai pro-democracy movement that took hold in the years after a military coup deposed Thaksin Shinawatra as prime minister in 2006.

This army of street activists has always been linked with Pheu Thai, the political party associated with the Shinawatra family. Pheu Thai is back in power as the head of Thailand’s first civilian-led government since 2014, but Rantawee says she feels let down.

“The government might be able to complete its four-year term,” the 54-year-old said. “But I don’t have any expectations for it. There is nothing tangible to see.”

She was alluding to electoral promises made last year by Pheu Thai and Srettha Thavisin – now the prime minister – to implement programs that would boost Thailand’s post-pandemic economic recovery.

A linchpin for this is Srettha’s campaign pledge to put a one-time cash handout of 10,000 baht (U.S. $275) each into the pockets of Thai citizens who are hurting economically, through a so-called “digital wallet” scheme.

But more than seven months after Srettha took office, the program has yet to take off. His government is facing criticism and questions over how it will raise the money to pay for this 500 billion baht ($13.7 billion) program.

“The people are waiting to see if the digital wallet policy can be done and why it is delayed,” said Rantawee, who lives in the northeastern province of Ubon Ratchathani. This former stronghold for both Pheu Thai and the red shirts lies within Thailand’s rice-farming belt, where much of their support comes.

Ratawee is among Thais who are questioning controversies surrounding the digital wallet, a populist policy which, critics say, Pheu Thai cooked up to deliver a quick-fix to the economy. The nation is still recovering from economic ravages of COVID-19, which caused Thailand’s GDP growth to plunge to by 6.1% in 2020, according to the World Bank.

China Infrastructure Pledges Falling Short in Southeast Asia, Report Claims

Sebastian Strangio

China’s infrastructure funding promises to Southeast Asia are falling short by more than $50 billion, according to a new report, with megaprojects undertaken under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) stagnating or failing due to poor planning, the global clean energy transition, and political lurches in recipient countries.

The report, released today by Sydney’s Lowy Institute, found that China remains “easily” the region’s largest infrastructure funder, involved in 24 out of the region’s 34 infrastructure megaprojects, which are defined as those costing $1 billion or more. At the same time, “there is a significant gap between China’s promises and its implementation, between what Beijing commits to and what it delivers.”

According to the Lowy report, this shortfall totals more than $50 billion, more than half of which is “allocated to projects that have been cancelled, downsized, or otherwise seem unlikely to proceed.” Currently, only 35 percent of China’s infrastructure projects have been seen through to completion, compared to 64 percent for Japan and 53 percent for the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Of the 24 megaprojects mentioned above, eight worth about $16 billion have been completed, including high-profile railway projects in Indonesia and Laos. Another eight, worth $35 billion, are on track, though two have been “substantially downsized.” Meanwhile, “five projects worth $21 billion have been cancelled, while another three projects worth $5 billion seem unlikely to proceed.”

The report puts this funding gap down to three factors. The first is China’s “almost exclusive focus on financing ambitious megaprojects especially prone to problems and delays.” Impressive megaprojects have always been a hallmark of Beijing’s BRI, but the greater cost and complexity of these projects means likely that they are more likely to run into political or financial hurdles.

3 Key Points for Understanding China’s Foreign Policy

Mu Chunshan

When I talk with foreign friends in Beijing, some of them mention that they are increasingly confused about China’s foreign policy. Does China want to change the status quo in the Asia-Pacific? Is China using Europe as a bargaining chip with the United States? How did “wolf warrior” diplomacy come about?

Their questions are interesting and universal. However, it is difficult to get introductions from experts in China because some are reluctant to talk to foreign media.

As a relatively independent journalist, I think it is necessary to make a brief summary of my observations of China’s foreign policy over the past 10 years. I do not speak for the Chinese government, and so my view is certainly not 100 percent correct, but I hope it will be helpful for foreign analysts to understand China’s diplomacy.

Global South Diplomacy

It is a diplomatic tradition for China to maintain good relations with small countries, poor countries, and what is now called the Global South. For instance, the Chinese foreign minister must go to Africa on his inaugural trip of every year. Why? It is not only an means of emphasizing that China is a member of the developing world, but also China’s diplomatic preparation for the present and future.

In addition to Africa, strengthening ties with the Muslim world is another manifestation of China’s Global South diplomacy. For decades, in multilateral forums, China has taken care not to contradict the collective stance of Muslim countries. Nowhere is this attitude more evident than in the current Gaza war. Muslim countries have not condemned Hamas, so China will not do so in the United Nations and other international conferences. If the Muslim world changes their stance one day, China will change with them accordingly.

Africa and Muslim countries are the two largest voting blocs in the United Nations, with more than 50 votes from Africa and more than 40 from the Muslim world, accounting for almost half of the U.N. membership. China must rely on their support on many issues in order to better safeguard its interests.

Chinese-Backed Cyberattacks Target New Zealand, U.K., U.S.

Alexandra Sharp

Welcome back to World Brief, where we’re looking at major hacking allegations against Chinese-backed actors, former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s extended Hungarian Embassy stay, and the presidential election results in Senegal.

The technology industry is fuelling US-China trade tensions

Isaac Hanson

US-China trade tensions have been rising since the Trump presidency imposed sanctions on Chinese goods in 2018, and are now at a fever-pitch. A new GlobalData report sheds light on what is fuelling the ongoing trade war, and how technology ended up at its centre.

Geopolitics in Tech, Media, & Telecom 2024 argues that the dominant force affecting the sector today is the trade war, with impacts reaching far beyond just the two countries. As each tries to decouple from the other, the processes of onshoring and friendshoring will become increasingly important, providing opportunities for friendly markets closer to each country.

As globalisation accelerated in the post-Cold-War period, offshoring led to Western companies moving much of their manufacturing and customer service work abroad to nations like China and India where wages were lower. Though this is still an integral part of the global economy, geopolitical tensions and increased awareness of issues such as climate change have meant a fundamental shift is taking place.

Manuel D Medina of Medina Capital discusses the markets and market players driving growth in data centre investment – and why Florida is well-positioned to benefit.By FPL

“The era of hyperglobalisation is over,” the report explains. “We are now moving towards a period of decoupling supply chains. Optimising production costs remains important, but the new order places a higher weight on security and resilience. The fragmentation of US-China relations has bifurcated supply chains and incentivised companies to reshore closer to home markets.”

EU caught between two superpowers

The EU finds itself caught between the two great powers, with its reliance on the US for political and military alliances encouraging the bloc to follow the country’s lead on China policy despite its close economic ties. For instance, the Dutch government banned tech company ASML from exporting machines used in semiconductor manufacture earlier in the year despite the company’s protestations, reportedly at the behest of the US.

Why the U.S. Faces a Delicate Balancing Act on Countering China in the South China Sea


For years, China has been testing the limits of its aggression in the South China Sea to see how much it can push before someone, meaningfully, pushes back. It’s a dangerous game that recently left three Philippine Navy personnel injured after their resupply ship to the Second Thomas Shoal—an atoll at the center of disputes over rival territorial claims of the all-important waterway through which a third of the world’s trade passes—was surrounded and fired upon with a water cannon by Chinese coast guard and militia vessels.

In video of the March 23 incident, crew members could be heard shouting as jets of water pummeled the Philippine ship, which sustained heavy damage.

It’s not the first such attack by Chinese forces on Philippine sailors, nor is it likely to be the last. But looming over the increasingly confrontational encounters between the two nations is the potential of future U.S. military involvement. A mutual defense treaty between Washington and Manila necessitates one to come to the support of the other in the case of an “armed attack”—though it remains unclear what exactly would constitute such. “Responding to coercive actions in the ‘grey zone’ is difficult precisely because the lines between peace and conflict are blurred,” says Veerle Nouwens, executive director for Asia at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

So far, China’s actions have only elicited sharp diplomatic protests. After the weekend incident, the Philippines summoned a Chinese diplomat to condemn “the aggressive actions by the China Coast Guard,” while the U.S. State Department reaffirmed its support for the Southeast Asian country, with a spokesperson saying China’s actions “are destabilizing to the region and show clear disregard for international law.” China’s defense ministry, meanwhile, called the Philippines a provocateur, warning that it should “cease making any statements that may escalate tensions and stop all acts of encroachment.”

Whether the war of words could one-day morph into an actual war, however, analysts say, is dependent on a number of competing considerations.

The Israel vs. Hamas Gaza War: Six Months In

Seth J. Frantzman

Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant flew to Washington this week for key meetings with American officials. He met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. The discussions focused on several significant developments, including Israeli procurement of more munitions and warplanes as well as the general trajectory of the war in Gaza as it enters its six-month mark.

Of the 250 hostages taken by Hamas on October 7, 134 remain in Gaza. Israel has waged a long campaign in Gaza, seeking to defeat Hamas and return the hostages. However, the campaign has shown signs of slowing. For instance, Israel has had to re-enter neighborhoods in northern Gaza where it had previously fought in November and December. Hamas has sought to return to the north. In addition, Hamas launched rockets at the Israeli cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon on March 25, showing that it still has some rocket capabilities remaining in Gaza.

There are two processes now taking place in Gaza. First, Hamas continues to hold out in areas such as Rafah city on the border with Egypt. Hamas has numerous battalions remaining, including thousands of fighters. Another process is Israel’s shift in tactics to conducting raids in Gaza designed to catch Hamas members off-guard. For instance, a multi-day raid at Shifa Hospital has netted almost 800 suspected terrorists and eliminated 180 others. This is a setback for Hamas. However, it remains to be seen if this will cripple Hamas in northern Gaza or if the group can continue to replace losses. Hamas’ leader, Ismail Haniyeh, was in Iran on March 26, and he says that Hamas is persevering and winning in Gaza and the region.

In Washington, Gallant discussed Israel’s plans for an operation in Rafah. A report at the Department of Defense said that “a significant portion of the meeting focused on Israel’s concept of operations in that city, with Austin expressing that the United States’ goal is to help Israel find an alternative to a full-scale military operation that could potentially endanger the city’s civilian population, according to one senior defense official familiar with the meeting.” The United States appears to support a “phased” operation in Gaza that would enable civilian areas to be slowly evacuated. Israel has said it is drawing up plans, but the meetings in Washington appeared to indicate that those plans need more development.

Official Says Proliferation Remains Best Deterrence Against Threats To US Space Access

C. Todd Lopez

The Defense Department relies heavily on space-based satellites for much of the work it does to defend the United States, and that reliance is expected to grow in coming years.

While space assets such as satellites will always be at risk from U.S. adversaries, the best way to ensure continued access to space capabilities is proliferation, Derek Tournear, director of the Space Development Agency, said.

“Proliferation is our biggest defense,” Tournear said while speaking Wednesday during a panel discussion sponsored by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, a nonpartisan policy research institute based in Arlington, Va. “That’s how we plan on really getting the resilience and the defense of our entire architecture.”

The SDA is responsible for orchestrating development and implementation of the Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture. The PWSA will include a mesh network of hundreds of satellites to provide space-based capabilities to the joint warfighter.

The strength of that network of satellites, he said, is expected to come not from defensive capabilities that focus on individual satellites, but rather from the sheer number of satellites launched. Protecting individual satellites becomes less important, he said, when there are so many of them.

“That’s the way you have to look at it when you’re talking about proliferated constellations,” he said. “Each individual one you can’t really care about. You have to care about the health of the whole herd, the health of the whole architecture. And so, we have everything in place to make sure that we can maintain that resiliency and maintain … operations even if you start to lose [individual satellites].”

Tournear also said that cybersecurity plays an important role in protecting the PWSA, however.

How False Assumptions Are Clouding The Postmortem Of Russia’s Terror Attack – Analysis

Michael Scollon

The deadly terrorist attack on Crocus City Hall outside Moscow has triggered a flood of unsubstantiated assessments spread widely in Russia.

They include suggestions that the Islamic State (IS) militant group, which claimed responsibility, could not have carried out the attack because its attackers die for the cause and never accept payment.

But experts say such conclusions are inaccurate and based on false assumptions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has blamed “radical Islamists” for the attack that left at least 143 people dead, while questioning whether members of a group who “position themselves as faithful Muslims” would carry out an attack during the holy month of Ramadan.

That, along with Putin’s steadfast avoidance of specifically identifying IS as behind the attack and allegations of Ukrainian involvement, has highlighted the doubt the Kremlin has tried to cast on both IS’s claim of responsibility and on foreign intelligence identifying a regional branch of the militant group as the perpetrator.

Experts widely agree that the attack was “classic IS,” while noting the claim was backed by video evidence released by IS’s multilingual propaganda machine and that the militant group had made its hostility to Russia publicly known.

“The attack in the Moscow region has been claimed by the Islamic State’s central leadership and its official propaganda apparatus,” said Lucas Webber, co-founder of Militant.Wire.com. “The attack was almost certainly conducted by the Islamic State and the brutal and indiscriminate nature of the attack fits with the MO [modus operandi] of the Islamic State’s international terrorists and operations.”

IS, which Russia has fought in Syria, Iraq, and Africa and which has regional affiliates near Russia’s borders, first identified Russia as one of its primary enemies in 2014. The enmity “intensified in 2015 when Russia intervened militarily in Syria to support [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad]’s government, and it continued to intensify after Russia’s various military and private military-contractor interventions across Africa,” Webber said.

Netanyahu’s Walls Are Caving In – Analysis

James M. Dorsey

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s walls are caving in.

Mr. Netanyahu’s multiple battles fall into two categories: keeping his increasingly fragile government in place and fighting a war he has already lost in the court of public opinion and possibly on the ground in Gaza if measured by the prime minister’s war goals.

On Monday, Israel suffered its most significant international setback since 2016 with the US allowing the United Nations Security Council to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

The US Gaza vote strains Israel’s relations with the United States, its main backer that prevented the Security Council from demanding a ceasefire for the past six months, as well as Europe, and most of the rest of the international community.

“The bilateral relation (with the US) suffered a serious blow,” said former Israeli foreign ministry director general Alon Liel. He said the same is true for Europe with European Security Council members voting in favour of a ceasefire.

“There should be no doubt: the US is signalling Bibi that his house is on fire, and he should not take the US for granted,” added Martin Indyk, a former US ambassador to Israel and US Middle East peace negotiator. Mr. Indyk was referring to Mr. Netanyahu by his nickname.

US ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield controversially attempted to soften the blow by declaring the resolution “non-binding,” even though UN Security Council resolutions are legally binding and constitute international law.

In doing so, Ms. Thomas-Greenfield was also trying to create a buffer against likely pressure on the United States to sanction Israel if it refuses to abide by the resolution.

Carnage Hall Of Terror In Moscow – Analysis

Prof. Ecaterina Matoi


On March 22nd, 2024, a terrorist attack on the outskirts of Moscow resulted in 133 deaths and more wounded at the moment of writing of these lines. It took place before the concert of rock band Piknik at Crocus Center, a band that had been banned in Ukraine (2016) after performing in Crimea.

The attack has been condemned by multiple officials around the world, including United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterrez, while the Russian Federal Security Service forces arrested 11 individuals, among which possibly Tajik nationals. Some of them were allegedly gunmen that shot people, while heading for the Ukrainian border. Following names were mentioned initially: Nasridinov Makhmadrasul, Ismonov Rivozhidin, Safolzoda Shokhinjonn and Nazarov Rustam (Morozov & Sudakov, 2024). A larger list of suspects was published by Anton (Gerashchenko, 2024) on Twitter/X: 1. Faizov Rivozhidin Zokirdzhonovich (20.05.2004), 2. Ismoilov Rivozhidin Islomovich (25.09.1972), 3. Faizov Muhammad-Sobir Zokirdzhonovich (20.05.2004), 4. Nasramailov Makhamadrasul Zarabidinovich Nasramailov (21.07.1986), 5. Safolzoda Shohinjon Abdugaforovich (28.07.2002), 6. Nazarov Rustam Isroilovich (02.01.1995).

While multiple media outlets propagate the so-called claim of Islamic State on the attack, an alleged increased activity of Center for Information and Psychological Operations of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (TsIPsO) has also been reported in Russian mass-media, along with the claim that whoever carried out the attack, the “organizers” or “customers” may be different (Topwar.ru, 2024). This analysis explores various past and present regional developments in relation to the Crocus terrorist attack, given the complex and dynamic background of what essentially can be equated to an American-led revival of the Cold War in a more complex, contemporary form.

NATO: A New Need For Some Old Ideas – Analysis

Dr Barbara Kunz and Dan Smith

As NATO approaches its 75th anniversary, there is a widespread sense that the alliance has come full circle. Created to deter the Soviet adversary, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s first core task is once again to deter and defend. After years of focusing on peacekeeping and fighting terrorists elsewhere, the NATO allies are now back to thinking about deterrence postures and territorial defence in Europe. However, NATO has not yet come full circle intellectually.

NATO was founded at the dawn of the nuclear age and successfully navigated the cold war, at least if ‘success’ is defined as avoiding armed conflict between the adversaries of the time. Much of the theorizing and thinking about strategic affairs developed as the approaches and policies of the alliance and the United States evolved. There is consequently a rich tradition of thought about strategy that fuelled many debates within NATO and in its member states during the cold war, and among a broader community of scholars, analysts, opinion leaders and concerned citizens. Much of this tradition retains its value today. Returning to it is a core step towards being better prepared for NATO Europe’s difficult relationship with Russia in the coming decades.

The fundamentals of strategic thinking remain valid

Much has changed since the cold war ended. The international system is no longer bipolar. The fact that the United States considers China the ‘pacing threat’ and bases much of its thinking on the ‘Taiwan scenario’ also has implications for Europe. Other potentially antagonistic actors such as North Korea and Iran are significantly more capable than during the cold war. What is more, the technological context is fundamentally changed. During the cold war, there were no conventional weapons that directly affected strategic stability. Nor was there a cyberspace domain nor the challenges posed by artificial intelligence (AI). Incorporating these new factors into conceptual frameworks is, of course, necessary and a process that is now in its early stages.

The U.S. Military’s Investments Into Artificial Intelligence Are Skyrocketing


U.S. government spending on artificial intelligence has exploded in the past year, driven by increased military investments, according to a report by the Brookings Institution, a think tank based in Washington D.C.

The report found that the potential value of AI-related federal contracts increased by almost 1,200%, from $355 million in the period leading up to August 2022, to $4.6 billion in the period leading up to August 2023.

This increase was almost entirely driven by the Department of Defense (DoD). The total amount committed by the DoD to AI-related contracts increased from $190 million in the period leading up to August 2022 to $557 million in the period leading up to August 2023.

The total that the DoD might spend on AI-related contracts if each contract were extended to its fullest terms grew even faster, from $269 million in the period leading up to August 2022 to $4.3 billion in the period leading up to August 2023. This potential surge in military spending was so large that “all other agencies become a rounding error,” the report's authors note.

The DoD has made a number of recent announcements regarding its use of AI. In November 2023 it released an AI adoption strategy, and in January of this year Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael C. Horowitz stated that the DoD had launched a number of AI initiatives and investments.

These announcements, and the dramatic increase in AI spending, come at a time of fierce technological competition between the U.S. and China. The AI superpowers are nurturing their domestic industries for the semiconductor chips required to develop the most powerful AI models, while the U.S. government has imposed export restrictions that aim to prevent China from acquiring the most advanced chips.

When asked for comment, a DoD official questioned the accuracy of the Brookings analysis, pointing out that, for example, the department requested $874 million in fiscal year 2022 for AI research, development, testing and evaluation and $1.8 billion for AI research, development, testing and evaluation in fiscal year 2024.

Army artillery needs more range, mobility and autonomy, study finds

Jen Judson

The U.S. Army’s recently completed conventional fires study determined the service should focus on more autonomous artillery systems with greater range and improved mobility, the Army Futures Command chief said Wednesday.

Speaking at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Global Symposium here, Gen. James Rainey said the Army will achieve these improvements by incorporating robotics into systems, improving artillery rounds and pursuing readily available mobile howitzer options.

The service began working last year on a conventional fires study intended to lead to a new strategy. Rainey said at the time the review would consider the existing capability and capacity and future Army needs. It was also going to assess new technology to enhance conventional fires on the battlefield, such as advances in propellant that make it possible for midrange cannons to shoot as far as longer-range systems.

The study has already influenced one program. The Army, after also conducting a prototyping effort for an Extended Range Cannon Artillery system, concluded the platform was not the right approach.

The service plans to focus instead on extending the range of current artillery systems with innovative munitions still under development as part of the ERCA program, Rainey said.

“We are in a resource constrained environment,” he added. “You can go after an exquisite system or you can take a more holistic approach.”

Global Sanctions Dashboard: How Hamas raises, uses, and moves money

Kimberly Donovan, Maia Nikoladze, Ryan Murphy, and Alessandra Magazzino

Terrorism, and specifically the financing of terrorism, has come back to the top of the national security agenda following Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel and the spillover effects of Israel’s subsequent war in Gaza.

This past October, the US Treasury sanctioned a network of financial facilitators managing a complex global investment portfolio for Hamas, with assets estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. These designations and subsequent actions likely disrupted Hamas’ finances and investments, but more importantly shed light on a persistent challenge: A heavily sanctioned entity, designated as a terrorist organization across multiple jurisdictions, was able to take advantage of the international financial system to raise, use, and move significant amounts of funds for its terrorist operations.

In this edition of the Global Sanctions Dashboard, we explore Hamas as a case study to illustrate how designated terrorist groups abuse the global financial system. We will walk you through:
  • How Hamas raises, uses, and moves money;
  • How sanctions are used to counter Hamas and combat the financing of terrorism; and
  • Where governments align and diverge in their approaches to combat this activity.
How Hamas raises and moves money despite sanctions

Hamas has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States since 1997 and the group is now sanctioned by the European Union (EU) and Group of Seven (G7) allies to varying degrees. Governments have further sanctioned hundreds of individuals and entities associated with Hamas, and thousands more with ties to Iran, Hamas’ primary benefactor. Nevertheless, the group has been able to access the global financial system to amass a diverse stream of income from multiple sources.

In addition to extorting money from the civilian population of Gaza and receiving varying amounts of annual financial support from Iran, estimated to be as much as $100 million, Hamas has created a global investment portfolio valued between $500 million and $1 billion. This portfolio is invested in companies in countries including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Turkey, and Qatar. 

'Now Is the Time of the Sword': Israelis Brace for the Big War in the North

Andrew Tobin

HANITA, Israel—It's been more than six months since Hamas terrorists rampaged through southern Israel, but here in the north, Oct. 7 never really ended.

On Oct. 8, the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah picked up where its ally left off, launching an ongoing barrage of rockets, missiles, and artillery shells into northern Israel. The violence has so far killed 14 soldiers and eight civilians in Israel, along with dozens of civilians and hundreds of terrorists in Lebanon. While Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza has enabled most of the some 129,000 Israelis who were evacuated from the south to return to their homes, nearly all of the 48,000 or so evacuees from the northern border area have remained displaced, according to government data obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The Biden administration has increasingly sought to restrain the Israel Defense Forces response to Oct. 7, with the president describing the Gaza war effort as "over the top" and driven by rage. For Israelis, though, the crisis in the north is a constant reminder that they are the ones under attack, and Gaza is just one front in their much larger war of self-defense.

"We need to get used to the fact that we will have to wage war on several fronts simultaneously because this is the Iranian strategy," Orna Mizrahi, the former deputy head of Israel's National Security Council, told the Free Beacon. "The Americans don't want a regional war. Nobody does. But for most of Israel's political and military leadership, the question is not if but when we will have to wage a full-scale war in the north."

Hezbollah and Hamas—two of the numerous Iran-backed terror groups that surround Israel in a "ring of fire"—have both refused to negotiate ceasefires with Israel unless the Jewish state effectively lays down its arms in Gaza. The Biden administration has held Israel back in the north and south, most recently warning against an IDF invasion of Rafah, Hamas's last stronghold in Gaza.

American Strategy on the Brink

Seth Cropsey and Harry Halem

The Eurasian rimland is nigh-ablaze. The Middle East sits on the brink of large-scale war, which will not end absent a fundamental regional reorganization, and an enormous amount of human suffering inflicted upon Jew, Arab, and Persian alike. On the burning edge of the European continent, the Ukrainian armed forces hold off the Russian onslaught. In Asia, China menaces Taiwan, a legitimately representative democracy of 23 million with only the desire to determine their own fate and live unharassed.

All three instances of ongoing violence stem fundamentally from a crisis in American power. These theaters are afire because Washington refuses to recognize what it is—the center of a loosely democratic system that spans Eurasia and the Americas. Culturally and strategically, the Rimland is being punished for the blindness at its core.

It is not precisely that states of similar ideology are natural allies. Ideology is a nebulous thing. But there are ideological similarities between the modern democracies on the Eurasian Rimland that, in turn, extend to the fundamentals of American strategy. Simply put, the three states within the line of fire—Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan—have all adopted identities that reflect their conscious choices to join the Western camp.

Israel made its choice first by virtue of its founding moment. It came not in 1948, given the socialist character of the Israeli political elite and American unwillingness to assist the nascent Jewish state in its struggle against the Arab alliance, but in 1950, when Israel chose to support U.S.-backed resolutions in the UN General Assembly that condemned Communist aggression against the Republic of Korea. Despite multiple strategic spats between Israel and the U.S., most notably their dustup over the Suez Crisis, Israel never seriously considered reorienting itself toward the Eastern Bloc from then on.

Taiwan made its first real choice not in 1949 but in 1990–1996. The Chinese Civil War gave Taiwan no option but to side with the West, even if Republican Chinese ideology was fundamentally a syncretic mix of Marxism, European nationalism, and what we would now understand as postcolonial grievance. However, Taiwan made the conscious choice to democratize between 1987 and 1996, transforming itself from a one-party authoritarian state complete with a secret police and political detainees into a flourishing multiparty democracy with a dynamic liberal capitalist economy.