6 April 2024

China Renames 30 Places In Indian-Controlled Arunachal Pradesh

Tenzin Pema

Beijing has issued Chinese names for 30 locations in Arunachal Pradesh to bolster its claims on the territory that is controlled by India, which quickly dismissed the move as meaningless.

It was the fourth time since 2017 that China released place names for geographical locations in what it refers to as Zangnan and claims is part of southern Tibet, in Chinese territory.

“If today, I change the name of your house, will it become mine?” asked India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on the sidelines of an event in the western state of Gujarat earlier this week.

“Arunachal Pradesh is a state of India,” he said. “It was, is, and will continue to remain a state of India. Changing the name of [various places] does not amount to anything.”

Tensions between India and China have escalated in recent weeks after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh on March 9, prompting China to lodge a diplomatic protest.

The list issued by China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs includes standardized names for at least 11 residential areas, four rivers and 12 mountains among geographical locations in Arunachal Pradesh.

“In accordance with the relevant regulations on place name management of the State Council, our Ministry, together with relevant departments, has standardized some place names in southern Tibet,” the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs said in its official announcement. “The fourth batch of additional publicly used place names in southern Tibet is now officially announced.”

India in the Quad: insider or outlier?

Urmika Deb

The Raisina Dialogue, India’s flagship conference on geopolitics and geoeconomics, was held from 21 to 23 February this year, and discussions on and around the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) took centre stage. Indian Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar summed up his opening remarks at the inaugural Raisina Quad Think Tank Forum, stating ‘The Quad is here to stay. The Quad is here to grow. The Quad is here to contribute.’ However, India’s commitment to double down on its ties with Russia, coupled with the potential impact of Japan’s new security bill on India–Japan relations, raises concerns over India’s suitability and reliability as a partner within the Quad alliance.

The Quad is a diplomatic partnership between Australia, India, Japan and the US initially formed in 2004 to provide humanitarian relief and disaster assistance after the Indian Ocean tsunami. In 2017, the focus shifted to the Indo-Pacific region to counter China’s growing assertiveness there. Over the years, the Quad has formed multiple working groups. While member nations have progressed bilaterally and trilaterally, substantial collective progress is missing. Security cooperation between the four members looks more like a symptom of regional instability than a solution.

The Quad essentially suffers from the drawbacks of minilaterals. Minilaterals are voluntary, non-binding and consensus-based, and, therefore, while the motivation to shape policies and actions is present, they lack effective implementation mechanisms. Minilaterals are issue-specific partnerships with shared interests and security concerns, as is the Quad, but the national interests and priorities of individual countries might take precedence, resulting in poor execution efforts. India’s relations with Russia could be a classic example of national interests being embedded in strategic decisions.

India losing friends and looking vulnerable


The Ukraine-Russia war and Hamas-Israel conflict have both significantly altered India’s strategic and security calculations.

The upheavals have in many ways contradicted the predictions and assessments of many Indian strategists, plunging India into a precarious situation calling for a serious reevaluation of its foreign policy priorities.

One immediate repercussion of the conflicts is the heightened vulnerability India faces along its northern border and the Indian Ocean regions, including from potential Chinese kinetic actions in the strategic areas where India acts and operates mainly in isolation from partners and allies.

There is a noticeable and worrying absence of publicly available consolidated documents outlining the foreign policy strategies and implementations of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government.

To be sure, certain insights into India’s foreign policy priorities and trajectory can be gleaned from the various interviews, speeches and writings of External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar.

As India approaches the 2024 Lok Sabha election, Jaishankar’s recently released book “Why Bharat Matters” serves as a valuable resource for understanding some of Modi’s foreign policy shifts since 2014.

The book encapsulates Modi’s changed foreign policy stance and aims to broaden popular support for his government by emphasizing India’s supposedly enhanced power, posture, intent, and strength during his decade-long tenure.

It also underscores the importance of sustaining India’s rising global standing, a not-so-subtle call for continued popular support for Modi and his BJP at the upcoming general election.

Vietnam’s Flexible Nonalignment – Analysis

Abdul Rahman Yaacob

Vietnam’s relations with major powers are often described as non-aligned. This is usually linked to Hanoi’s ‘Four Nos’ policy — no military alliances, no siding with one country to act against another, no foreign military bases or using Vietnam as leverage to counteract other countries and no threat or use of force.

The nonalignment strategy and healthy, balanced relations with major powers has served Vietnam well. Vietnam has good trade relations with China while receiving assistance from Washington on issues such as maritime security, information sharing and cybersecurity.

While nonalignment currently serves its strategic interests, Vietnam may replace this strategy if a deteriorating regional security situation threatens its territorial integrity and sovereignty. Events leading to the Soviet Union’s military presence in Vietnam during the late 1970s and 1980s are an example.

In 2002, Russian military forces left Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay and handed over control of the military facilities to the Vietnamese. That event marked the end of the Russian military presence in Vietnam, which lasted nearly 25 years. The significance of the Russian military presence in Cam Ranh Bay demonstrated Hanoi’s swiftness in aligning itself with a major power when faced with regional dynamics threatening its territorial integrity and sovereignty.

When the Vietnam War ended in 1975, Hanoi was caught in the Soviet Union–China rivalry for influence in the communist world. The Soviet Union attempted to draw Vietnam into its orbit by providing military aid and forgiving Hanoi’s debt. Moscow approached Hanoi to form a military alliance and access the Vietnamese naval base at Cam Ranh Bay, but Hanoi rejected these requests.

What is China doing in the Philippines?


In March, coastguard ships under the direction of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) opened fire with water cannons on a wooden resupply vessel belonging to the Philippines. This caused the Unaizah May 4 to collide with a Chinese boat, resulting in injuries to three of the Filipino crew and heavy damage to the vessel itself.

This skirmish in the South China Sea may seem like a minor incident, but it is of huge geopolitical significance. What happens to the Philippines today gives us a hint of what could befall Taiwan tomorrow. Beijing’s threats towards Manila are part of an attempt to project power throughout Southeast Asia – and to send a message to America, Japan, South Korea and Australia not to push their luck there. They certainly give the lie to the CCP’s claim that it has no desire to upturn the current world order.

This particular incident took place by the Second Thomas Shoal, a small reef situated just 120 miles from the Philippines and a very long way from China. The Shoal is part of the Spratly Islands, some of the many islands in the South and East China Seas and in the Pacific that are being fought over by China, Japan and other regional powers.

The Philippines has claimed sovereignty over the Second Thomas Shoal ever since it dumped a rusting Second World War ship, the Sierra Madre, on it in 1999. Beijing, however, has never accepted Manila’s claims. It has consistently asserted its own sovereignty over the Shoal and the waters that surround it.

The incident will certainly come up on 11 April, when Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos Jr is in Washington, DC at a three-way summit with Joe Biden and Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida. The trio will no doubt talk up the ‘ironclad’ military alliances between the US, Japan and the Philippines. As Biden’s press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, recently put it, theirs is a partnership ‘built on deep historical ties of friendship, robust and growing economic relations, and… a shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific’.

Chinese Smartphone Brands May Lag Behind A Generation Due To AI – Analysis

Kung Chan and Xia Ri

Recently, there have been reports that Apple is in discussions with Google on a large-scale collaboration agreement that could redefine the rules of the artificial intelligence industry by integrating Google’s Gemini artificial intelligence (AI) engine into the iPhone. There are also reports suggesting that this exposes Apple’s progress in AI may not be as smooth as expected, while also potentially exacerbating the antitrust scrutiny faced by both companies. There are various opinions surrounding such an issue, with some industry giants expressing concerns; some of these opinions are sensational while others are imaginative.

However, this matter is actually corresponding to the terminal model for the future AI era of laptops previously established by ABOUND’s founder Mr. Kung Chan. This model includes features such as natural language replacing keyboards, intense competition between two major operating systems, hardware design templates trending towards the iPad, further intelligentization in software devices, and primary supporting devices being headphones and various wireless broadband interfaces. Based on this model, Mr. Kung Chan believes that Chinese smartphone brands such as Huawei and Xiaomi may fall behind a generation due to AI, becoming not unlike Nokia phones in the past.

Firstly, AI development in China is lagging behind the productization trend. During the initial stage, large-scale model enterprises were competing in terms of parameters and computational power, while the second stage focused more on commercial applications. Ultimately, AI applications need to be reflected in products, and the competitiveness of products relies on AI to bridge generational gaps. As of now, AI products have emerged in South Korea. On January 17 this year, Samsung held its annual flagship product launch event in San Jose, California, United States, and unveiled the world’s first AI smartphone, the Galaxy S24 series. Among them, the most astonishing feature of Galaxy AI is its real-time voice translation and text translation capabilities, which can almost render all simultaneous interpreters worldwide unemployed. According to Samsung, this feature currently supports 13 languages, including Chinese, Korean, English, French, German, Japanese, etc., and to some extent, it breaks through human language barriers. Therefore, when Apple saw Samsung’s products and realized that this sets the standard for generational divisions, it sought cooperation to catch up with Samsung. 

Microsoft faulted for ‘cascade’ of failures in Chinese hack

Ellen Nakashima and Joseph Menn
Source Link

A review board, mandated by President Biden, issued a scathing report Tuesday detailing lapses by the tech giant Microsoft that led to a targeted Chinese hack last year of top U.S. government officials’ emails, including those of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.

The Cyber Safety Review Board’s report, a copy of which The Post obtained before its official release, takes aim at shoddy cybersecurity practices, lax corporate culture and a deliberate lack of transparency over what Microsoft knew about the origins of the breach. It is a blistering indictment of a tech titan whose cloud infrastructure is widely used by consumers and governments around the world.

The board issued sweeping recommendations that if implemented would dramatically strengthen the openness and security of the booming cloud computing industry.

The intrusion, which ransacked the Microsoft Exchange Online mailboxes of 22 organizations and more than 500 individuals around the world, was “preventable” and “should never have occurred,” the report concludes.

Perhaps most concerning, the board report makes clear, Microsoft still does not know how the Chinese carried out the attack.

In a statement to The Post, Microsoft said it appreciated the board’s work.

A Microsoft spokesman said that “recent events have demonstrated a need to adopt a new culture of engineering security in our own networks,” noting that the company had created an initiative to do so. “While no organization is immune to cyberattack from well-resourced adversaries, we have mobilized our engineering teams to identify and mitigate legacy infrastructure, improve processes, and enforce security benchmarks."

China’s Advancing Efforts to Influence the U.S. Election Raise Alarms

Tiffany Hsu and Steven Lee Myers

Covert Chinese accounts are masquerading online as American supporters of former President Donald J. Trump, promoting conspiracy theories, stoking domestic divisions and attacking President Biden ahead of the election in November, according to researchers and government officials.

The accounts signal a potential tactical shift in how Beijing aims to influence American politics, with more of a willingness to target specific candidates and parties, including Mr. Biden.

In an echo of Russia’s influence campaign before the 2016 election, China appears to be trying to harness partisan divisions to undermine the Biden administration’s policies, despite recent efforts by the two countries to lower the temperature in their relations.

Some of the Chinese accounts impersonate fervent Trump fans, including one on X that purported to be “a father, husband and son” who was “MAGA all the way!!” The accounts mocked Mr. Biden’s age and shared fake images of him in a prison jumpsuit, or claimed that Mr. Biden was a Satanist pedophile while promoting Mr. Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.

“I’ve never seen anything along those lines at all before,” said Elise Thomas, a senior analyst at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a nonprofit research organization that uncovered a small group of the fake accounts posing as Trump supporters.

Ms. Thomas and other researchers have linked the new activity to a long-running network of accounts connected with the Chinese government known as Spamouflage. Several of the accounts they detailed previously posted pro-Beijing content in Mandarin — only to resurface in recent months under the guise of real Americans writing in English.

A Détente Option for Iran

Jon B. Alterman

On April 1, Israeli warplanes attacked a building in Damascus that is part of the Iranian embassy there, killing seven senior figures in the Iranian military. Tehran has yet to respond. But when it does, the scale and nature of its actions will help answer a basic question at the heart of many debates about the current situation in the Middle East: Has U.S. deterrence worked against Iran?

Washington has had its difficulties with Iran since the Islamic Republic was founded in 1979, and since then, the United States has struggled to find a successful strategy for dealing with it. Despite the fact that the U.S. economy is more than 16 times as large as Iran’s and its military budget more than 100 times as large, Iran has consistently blocked U.S. efforts to create a stable regional order. Although it is hard to think of any measure in which Tehran is even vaguely competitive with Washington, all U.S. efforts to sideline Iran have failed for most of the last four decades. This presents a puzzle. The disparities between the two sides are so great that it could be supposed that deterring Iran’s malign behavior would be a straightforward question of properly calibrating U.S. policy and resolve. This was the logic behind the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign from 2018–21, and it has also informed Washington’s course in the Middle East following Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel. But that assumption is mistaken.

The problem is not with deterrence. Rather, it is that Washington has been trying to do too much with Tehran, with too limited a set of tools, over too long a period of time. Although prioritizing U.S. objectives and adopting a more flexible set of responses will not fix the Middle East, it will certainly improve it. Iran may remain a challenge for U.S. policymakers—but it will at least become a more predictable one.

Iran’s Proxy Wars Reshape Middle East Security – Analysis

Can Kasapoğlu

1. Iran, China, and Russia Unite Their Navies for a Geopolitical Power Play in the Gulf of Oman

Iran, China, and Russia flexed their military muscles in a significant joint naval drill in the Gulf of Oman. The bold show of strength, led by Iran, signifies a mounting threat to the West and underlines Tehran’s commitment to using its strategic partnerships with Beijing and Moscow to reshape regional security dynamics.

The trilateral showcase, dubbed Marine Security Belt 2024, marks the fourth combined military exercise the three nations have conducted since 2019. This year’s maneuvers were timed to follow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)’s Nordic Response, one of the most significant NATO exercises since the end of the Cold War and the first since Sweden joined the alliance.

The Marine Security Belt drills covered an expansive maritime area and were observed by Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Oman, Pakistan, and South Africa. Per United States reports, the exercise involved more than twenty ships, including two warships from the Russian Pacific Fleet (including its flagship), multiple platforms from the 45th China Naval Escort Task Force, and vessels from the Iranian Navy and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN). The drill featured both daytime and nighttime live-fire tests against surface targets and aerial mimics.

Tehran, Beijing, and Moscow designed the maneuvers to showcase the coalition’s leverage in the region and highlight its most capable naval platforms. The trilateral exercise illustrates its participants’ increasing cooperation in the naval domain, which poses a significant challenge to the US and its allies in the Middle East.

2. Houthi Missiles Strike Israeli Territory

This month the Houthis continued to attack Israeli territory, commercial maritime traffic, and warships from the US-led coalition in the Red Sea. In early March, the militia struck a Barbados-flagged bulk carrier ship, the MV True Confidence. The attack claimed the lives of at least three sailors and significantly injured other crew members. Then, on March 15 and 16, Houthi forces allegedly targeted a Marshall Islands–flagged liquefied petroleum gas tanker in the Red Sea.

Leading the charge: Transforming US Army systems through digital engineering


The U.S. Army faces a critical challenge in the immediate and near-future: the efficient modernization of existing systems to meet the demands of an ever-evolving threat landscape. Traditional methods to solve that challenge no longer suffice in a rapidly advancing technological era, which means the Army must embrace innovative approaches to ensure it remains agile, adaptable and ready for any potential engagement.

Presently, the U.S. Army employs a vast array of systems of which many have been in service for decades. While these systems are fully capable today, there are many challenges in updating them to keep pace with emerging technologies and evolving mission requirements. Traditional approaches to modernization often involve lengthy procurement cycles, inefficient interoperability of proprietary systems, and fragmented technology insertion processes. This results in inefficiencies, expense and limited interoperability between systems, hindering mission readiness. The industrial base must do better.

The Army is already shifting to digital engineering combined with technology-agnostic open integration, complementing the recent Department of Defense Digital Engineering Directive. Digital engineering involves the use of advanced modeling, simulation and data analytics to design, analyze and optimize complex systems throughout their lifecycle. By adopting digital engineering practices, we can streamline development processes, improve collaboration between stakeholders and accelerate the delivery of cutting-edge capabilities to the warfighter.

Furthermore, embracing technology-agnostic open integration allows users to break free from vendor lock-in and proprietary solutions. Instead of being tied to specific vendors or platforms, we can leverage open standards and interoperable architectures to seamlessly integrate components from multiple sources. This not only enhances flexibility and choice but also fosters innovation and competition across the defense ecosystem.

NSA fears quantum computing surprise: ‘If this black swan event happens, then we’re really screwed’

Ryan Lovelace

The National Security Agency fears a quantum computing breakthrough by America’s adversaries would jeopardize the security of the global economy and allow foes to peer inside top-secret communications systems.

The agency’s concern is that an unforeseen advance in quantum technology would crack encryption systems used to protect everything from financial transactions to sensitive communications involving nuclear weapons, according to NSA Director of Research Gil Herrera.

Speaking at an Intelligence and National Security Alliance event last week, Mr. Herrera said no country has a quantum computer that he would consider useful — yet.

He said there are a lot of teams around the world building with different technologies and someone could achieve a development representing a “black swan” event, an extremely unexpected occurrence with profound — and dangerous — consequences for U.S. national security.

“If this black swan event happens, then we’re really screwed,” Mr. Herrera said.

Americans could suffer consequences from such a quantum leap in several ways. Mr. Herrera said the world economy, and the U.S. market in particular, are vulnerable because most financial transactions are secured by encryption systems that can’t be cracked by non-quantum means.

If quantum tech weakens or eliminates such encryption walls, then financial institutions may have to resort to older transaction methods and banks would look for other means to protect their dealings with other banks, according to Mr. Herrera.

Water For Peace, For Now? – Analysis

Dr Farah Hegazi, Dr Kyungmee Kim and Dr Karen Meijer

Amid the profound challenges of fragile and conflict-affected settings, development and peacebuilding actors do commendable work improving the quality and accessibility of one of the most critical resources for human life and livelihoods: clean water. Their work has undoubtedly helped to defuse intercommunal tensions over scarce water resources and has perhaps prevented many localized conflicts from breaking out.

This year’s World Water Day, which falls on 22 March, has as its theme ‘Leveraging water for peace’. This theme underlines the fact that water management projects can have wider social benefits, improving troubled relations between communities and providing valuable experience of cooperation and peaceful negotiation. This blog examines what it takes to consolidate these gains and thus contribute to sustainable, long-term peace.

Water management and its complex relationship with peace

Water scarcity can increase tensions and conflict risk. The Pacific Institute’s Water Conflict Chronologylists 285 conflicts in which water issues have acted as a trigger since 2020. For example, in 2021members of the Cameroonian Massa and Musgum ethnic groups clashed with Arab Choas over theownership of a water point, killing at least 22 people and displacing hundreds. In 2023, Afghan and Iranian forces came to blows over a cross-border water rights dispute, leading to multiple deaths and injuries, while fighting between Oromo and Somali pastoralists erupted in Ethiopia over water and grazing land, leaving seven people dead.

In theory, reducing water scarcity should reduce conflict risk. Technical solutions that increase supply and decrease demand can mitigate competition that might otherwise increase the risk of conflict.

North Caucasus: Militant Underground Becoming More Active – Analysis

Paul Goble

Since the start of Russia’s expanded invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, underground militants, both ethnic and Islamist, in the North Caucasus have been relatively quiet. This lull is the result of Russia’s security services and, perhaps more importantly, the product of the militants’ decision not to take action lest they benefit one of the countries involved in the war against Ukraine. (On that pattern, see Kavkaz Uzel, March 31.)

Now, Akhmed Yarlykapov, a specialist on the North Caucasus at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, argues that the situation appears to have changed (Kavkaz Uzel, April 1). The Russian government blames outsiders like the Ukrainians for the shift. It is far more likely, however, that the revival of militancy has its roots in the deteriorating situation in the North Caucasus, where poverty and unemployment remain high and combat deaths in Ukraine are mounting. The militants presumably sense that the time to take action has come as Moscow is distracted with the fighting in Ukraine (Kavkaz Uzel, March 29).

The unrest in the North Caucasus is not a copycat crime in the wake of the March 22 attack on Crocus City Hall. (For more on the attack, see EDM, March 25, 26, 28, April 1 [1], [2].) On the one hand, the upsurge in violence in the region began weeks before the terrorist attack and appears to be growing. On the other hand, those who carried out the Moscow attack were not from the North Caucasus but Central Asia. Besides the possible calculation Yalykapov points to, however, there is one way in which the current developments in the North Caucasus are very much connected to the Moscow attack.

After the Russian security services failed to prevent the Crocus City attack, they are keen to show both Russian President Vladimir Putin, who rose to power by suggesting that he alone was able to suppress terrorism and militancy in the North Caucasus, and the Russian people, who view the North Caucasus as a much more immediate threat than Central Asia, that they are actively fighting terrorism and having success. Much of what is known about the shadowy world of underground militancy in the region comes from Russian counterterrorist actions there.

Strike in Damascus Is an Escalation in Israel’s Undeclared War With Iran

Steven Erlanger

Israel’s bombing of an Iranian Embassy building in Damascus, which killed senior Iranian military and intelligence officials, is a major escalation of what has long been a simmering undeclared war between Israel and Iran.

Iran promises major retaliation, and the danger of a miscalculation is ever-present. But given the stakes for both countries, neither Israel nor Iran wants a major shooting war, even as they press for advantage in Gaza and southern Lebanon.

Instead, the strike is a vivid demonstration of the regional nature of the conflict as Israel tries to diminish and deter Iran’s allies and surrogates that threaten Israel’s security from every direction.

It is often called “the war between the wars,” with Israel and Iran as the main adversaries, sparring in the shadows of the more evident hostilities around the region.

The Iranian officials who were killed Monday had been deeply engaged for decades in arming and guiding proxy forces in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen as part of Iran’s clearly stated effort to destabilize and even destroy the Jewish state.

For Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who presumably approved such a sensitive attack, the successful elimination of such key Iranian military figures is a political coup. It comes at a time when demonstrations calling for his resignation have increased in intensity, as the war against Hamas drags on and Israeli hostages remain in Gaza.

Displaying its ability to infiltrate Iranian intelligence, Israel is trying to hit the operational part of Iran’s regional proxies, its so-called Axis of Resistance to Israel, aiming to disrupt and deter them, even as the war in Gaza continues.

The Moscow Attack Showed Terrorism Is Asia’s Problem Now

Kabir Taneja

The March 22 terrorist attack targeting concertgoers in Moscow, which was later claimed by the Islamic State, was an eerily familiar shock for Russians. In 2002, approximately a year after 9/11, Islamist terrorists claiming allegiance to a separatist movement in Chechnya besieged the crowded Dubrovka Theater in Moscow. More than 130 people were killed in the operation to clear the theater.

Europe’s new energy risk: Trading Russia for America


On cloudy days, from his house John Beard can see the fireballs lighting up the dark sky, flares from the distant fossil fuel plants where he once made his living as a technician.

The fiery discharge of excess gas is a constant reminder of the industry that dominates life for Beard and his neighbors in Port Arthur, Texas, where one in four people live in poverty and the rate of cancer, heart and lung disease is well above the state average. Many locals blame the situation on the dark chimneys dotting the horizon.

"Texas is known for two things: barbecue and gas," Beard said. "There's money being made and the people making the money don't look like me and they don't live in Port Arthur."

The Lone Star State is America's largest producer of liquefied natural gas (LNG), much of which gets shipped to Europe. Worryingly for the EU, it's also ground zero for a growing protest movement pressuring Washington to wind down those exports to save the climate.

Ahead of a tight election in November, U.S. President Joe Biden has ordered a temporary pause on approving new LNG projects, effectively freezing the country's expansion of export infrastructure in a nod to climate-conscious voters.

While green groups have praised the decision, Europeans are growing anxious about supply squeezes and price hikes. The EU bet big on U.S. LNG in 2022 after shunning the cheap Russian energy it had relied on for years. It spent billions on LNG infrastructure, and signed scores of new contracts.

Those decisions are now being called into question: Did Europe trade its misbegotten reliance on Russia for a short-sighted reliance on America? The U.S. currently provides Europe with nearly 50 percent of its LNG — up from roughly a quarter before the war — and LNG has overtaken pipeline gas as the most important source of supplies.

The Abraham Accords will probably survive - opinion


Six months into the Gaza war and world opinion – widely in support of Israel’s initial onslaught on Hamas following the horrendous events of October 7 – has steadily hardened and turned.

Appeals for a pause in the fighting have grown ever more strident, culminating in the resolution passed on March 25 by the UN Security Council calling for an immediate ceasefire.

The resolution, while also demanding the immediate and unconditional release of all the hostages held by Hamas, did not link the ceasefire call to the hostage release. In short, the UN is instructing Israel to stop fighting Hamas, giving it time to revive and regroup and leaving it free to continue bombarding Israel with rockets and drones.

Security Council members knew, of course, that demanding Hamas release all its hostages was simply virtue signaling, since it is quite unenforceable. Hamas is a terrorist organization, unbeholden to the UN or anyone else.

Arab street opinion and the self-interest of Arab sovereign states rarely coincide. The Abraham Accords were initially sold to a skeptical Arab public on the grounds that they would give rich Arab countries unprecedented financial leverage on Israel, and would eventually improve conditions for the Palestinians.

Israel's Attack on Rafah Must Proceed. Here's Why | Opinion

Arsen Ostrovsky and Richard Kemp

In 1944, as the Allies were preparing for the D-Day landings in Normandy, it is unfathomable that anyone sought to pressure British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Franklin D. Roosevelt to halt the landings and enter a ceasefire agreement with Nazi Germany. Yet that is exactly what the international community is seeking to do with Israel, in pressuring the Jewish state to enter a one-sided ceasefire with Hamas and avert a necessary operation in Rafah.

Although the perpetrators may have changed 80 years later, Hamas' monstrous savagery and agenda is no different to the Nazis. And just as Normandy was a pivotal turning point in World War II, putting the Allies on a decisive path toward victory, so too can be an IDF operation in Rafah, the last remaining Hamas stronghold in southern Gaza.

Yet since its establishment in 1948, the Jewish state has been the only democracy repeatedly denied the right to achieve total victory against enemies who have time and again initiated wars and now pogroms too, seeking no less than its very annihilation.

This week, for the first time, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution calling for a unilateral ceasefire in Gaza, following the United States' decision to abstain from the vote. Meantime, both the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and British Foreign Secretary David Cameron, have been exerting overwhelming pressure on Israel to avoid a ground operation in Rafah.

However, any leader's primary duty is, first and foremost, to defend their nation. In Israel's case, this follows in response to the most heinous massacre perpetrated against the Jewish people since the Holocaust, and one in which 134 people, including children, elderly people, and women, suffering horrific ongoing sexual abuse at the hands of their Hamas captors, remain hostage in Gaza.

Divided by Politics, Israelis Unite to Defy Global Isolation

Ethan Bronne

As 100,000 protesters shouted outside for early elections, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a press conference Sunday to defend his conduct of the Gaza war. He was asked why the world is increasingly against Israel.

“The virus of antisemitism,” he replied. That’s why the state of Israel was created, to provide physical security to Jews, he added. Of all the things he said, that remark was probably the one that resonated most strongly with the furious citizens outside.

Israeli society may be deeply divided politically, but it is increasingly unified in the belief that the country stands alone. Six months after it was attacked by Hamas and then responded with the longest, most destructive war since its creation, that poses new risks both for how Israel conducts itself internationally and for how it views and reacts to external events.

“Even for left liberals, there is a sense of isolation and frustration,” said Daniel Ben Simon, a former Labor Party lawmaker and author. “The right will tell you this is the nature of being Jewish. But even people who hate Netanyahu are feeling they can’t count on the world community. They accuse anyone who does of being naive.”

There is no more fraught topic in Israel these days than international isolation, symbolized by a recent cover of The Economist magazine showing a solitary windswept Israeli flag against a backdrop of war with the headline “Israel Alone.”

Ukraine is at great risk of its front lines collapsing


Wayward entrepreneur Elon Musk’s latest pronouncements regarding the war in Ukraine set teeth on edge, as he warned that even though Moscow has “no chance” of conquering all of Ukraine, “the longer the war goes on, the more territory Russia will gain until they hit the Dnipro, which is tough to overcome.”

“However, if the war lasts long enough, Odesa will fall too,” he cautioned.

With a history of urging Ukraine to agree to territorial concessions — and his opposition to the $60 billion U.S. military aid package snarled on Capitol Hill amid partisan wrangling — Musk isn’t Ukraine’s favorite commentator, to say the least. And his remarks received predictable pushback.

But the billionaire entrepreneur’s forecast isn’t actually all that different from the dire warnings Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made in the last few days. According to Zelenskyy, unless the stalled multibillion-dollar package is approved soon, his forces will have to “go back, retreat, step by step, in small steps.” He also warned that some major cities could be at risk of falling.

Obviously, Zelenskyy’s warnings are part of a broad diplomatic effort to free up the military aid his forces so desperately need and have been short of for months — everything from 155-millimeter artillery shells to Patriot air-defense systems and drones. But the sad truth is that even if the package is approved by the U.S. Congress, a massive resupply may not be enough to prevent a major battlefield upset.

And such a setback, especially in the middle of election campaigns in America and Europe, could very well revive Western pressure for negotiations that would obviously favor Russia, leaving the Kremlin free to revive the conflict at a future time of its choosing.

The Cold War Has Ended, A Multi-Polar War is Replacing It


Karl Von Clausewitz, who wrote the book “On War”, once opined “war is not merely a political act but a real political instrument, a continuation of political intercourse, a carrying out of the same by other means.” If that is so, then politics in not merely a violent act, but a real organized violence instrument, a continuation of violent behavior, a carrying out of the same by other means, must be true as well.

Most historians agree that the Cold War ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall in December of 1989, yet the elites of American diplomacy and foreign policy do not seem to grasp this quite simple fact. From the end of World War Two, to the fall of the Berlin Wall, the titanic struggle between the United States and the then Union of Soviet Republic dominated the world’s international scene. This struggle differed from other contests in history in that the conflict was not based on a struggle for raw materials or for land and riches, it was a struggle between two vastly different economic systems, capitalism versus communism. That struggle is over, and it has been over for 35 years. Yet the diplomacy of the United States has continued to operate as if the cold war never ended. A new global multi-balance of power political environment is emerging, and the United States diplomacy must change to meet these new challenges.

With the echoes of the endless wars in its wake, the United States has come to the point where its “uni-polarity moment” is also in the past. While still an economic, political, and military power, its main competitor Russia, has been able to withstand the economic sanctions placed on it because of its aggression against Ukraine.

With its ability to evade western sanctions, especially in the matter of oil exports to India, China, Europe and the United States, Russia’s economy, though hobbled by these sanctions, has been able to survive, and to press its current advantage on the battlefield in Ukraine funded by the sale of its oil.

Countries undergo ‘mindset’ shift in counterspace capabilities as Israel makes its entry


An exoatmospheric intercept by Israel of a Houthi-launched ballistic missile in November 2023 highlighted Jerusalem’s growing counterspace prowess, according to a new report from the Secure World Foundation.

That feat, among other new information gleaned from the war in Gaza, earned Israel its own entry into the Secure World Foundation’s annual Global Counterspace Capabilities report [PDF] this year — the “biggest change” over previous editions, according to report editor and Secure World Foundation Chief Program Officer Brian Weeden.

According to the report, Israel’s Arrow-3 missile defense system used for the November intercept demonstrates a “theoretical” ability to directly attack satellites on orbit, though it has not been tested for that role.

The report notes widespread GPS interference operations connected to Gaza, but also to the war in Ukraine, with spillover effects from both conflicts affecting civil aviation and shipping via attacks on navigational systems. Those attacks are typically aimed at receivers and ground systems through steps like jamming or spoofing signals, rather than directly attacking the satellites themselves.

“That is just growing out of control. And I don’t see anybody talking about what we’re going to do about it,” Weeden said of the GPS interference in a briefing with reporters Thursday.

Israel’s potential for counterspace operations comes as other space players like Australia and France have been “actively researching and looking to get offensive counterspace capabilities,” said report co-editor and SWF Chief Director, Space Security and Stability Victoria Samson, who argued that the push for offensive rather than just defensive counterspace tools is “proliferating” around the globe.

AI Will Transform Manufacturing Robotics—Eventually

Bill Conerly

Many people hear about artificial intelligence and think “robots!” But the great gains in Large Language Models that power ChatGPT, Claude and Gemini are having trivial impact on industrial robots, at least so far. The future looks much better, according to experts in the industry, but not right away.

The LLMs process words and images in ways that enable them to summarize information, ask questions and generate images. The capabilities of the LLMs have blossomed in the past few years, but that does not immediately translate into a factory setting.

“There's a whole lot of robots out in the world that don't have any AI component in them whatsoever and are doing meaningful work,” Erik Nieves, CEO of Plus One Robotics told me on a video chat. He said that whatever was “… sitting in your garage was built by robots that don't know what AI is.”

Welding has been performed by robots in automobile manufacturing since 1967. Key to success there is a controlled environment and large quantity of repetitive operations. A fender weld for a given model car is the same over and over. Car model production runs typically amount to over 100,000 units per year and can be much larger. A customized robotic welder makes sense. But a company making 1000 units of some product may not find a robot cost effective. A robot would make even less sense for field repairs with variable temperature and humidity. That’s true even though robots are cheaper than ever before, according to Nieves.

Advances in machine learning (the mathematical operations behind AI) enable better robotics when there is more data and information. That’s why Nieves’ company specializes in package sorting equipment. There were 161 billion packages shipped in 2022, according to Pitney Bowes. That’s enough data for AI to learn the shape of packages and how to figure out where they are going.

How One Tech Skeptic Decided A.I. Might Benefit the Middle Class

Steve Lohr

David Autor seems an unlikely A.I. optimist. The labor economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is best known for his in-depth studies showing how much technology and trade have eroded the incomes of millions of American workers over the years.

But Mr. Autor is now making the case that the new wave of technology — generative artificial intelligence, which can produce hyper-realistic images and video and convincingly imitate humans’ voices and writing — could reverse that trend.

“A.I., if used well, can assist with restoring the middle-skill, middle-class heart of the U.S. labor market that has been hollowed out by automation and globalization,” Mr. Autor wrote in a paper that Noema Magazine published in February.

Mr. Autor’s stance on A.I. looks like a stunning conversion for a longtime expert on technology’s work force casualties. But he said the facts had changed and so had his thinking.

Modern A.I., Mr. Autor said, is a fundamentally different technology, opening the door to new possibilities. It can, he continued, change the economics of high-stakes decision-making so more people can take on some of the work that is now the province of elite, and expensive, experts like doctors, lawyers, software engineers and college professors. And if more people, including those without college degrees, can do more valuable work, they should be paid more, lifting more workers into the middle class.

The researcher, whom The Economist once called “the academic voice of the American worker,” started his career as a software developer and a leader of a computer-education nonprofit before switching to economics — and spending decades examining the impact of technology and globalization on workers and wages.