24 April 2024

Modi’s ‘Make in India’ Didn’t Make Jobs

Anchal Vohra

A new multilane highway from Delhi to Meerut, a small town in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, has cut what used to be a three-hour journey by one full hour. From chai shops to roadside restaurants, or dhabas, it’s all everyone spoke about as I traveled to the country to cover the Indian elections that started today and asked them about the chances of incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi securing a third term.

Beijing Warns US After Missile Launcher Reaches 'China's Doorstep'

John Feng

China expressed "grave concern" on Thursday at the deployment of a U.S. missile system to the edge of the South China Sea, potentially putting Chinese territory within striking range.

The U.S. Army this month hailed the "historic first" arrival of a medium or mid-range capability launcher in the northern Philippines as part of an ongoing military exercise.

The "Typhon" transporter erector launcher can fire the Standard Missile 6 or Tomahawk Land Attack Missile. The latter is a long-range cruise missile with an operational range of over 1,000 miles, capable of reaching China-controlled territories in the South China Sea as well as military bases along its southern coast.

"China strongly opposes the U.S. deploying medium-range ballistic missiles in the Asia-Pacific and strengthening forward deployment at China's doorstep to seek unilateral military advantage," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian said at a regular press briefing in Beijing.

"The U.S.'s move exacerbates tensions in the region and increases the risk of misjudgment and miscalculation. We urge the U.S. to earnestly respect other countries' security concerns, stop stoking military confrontation, stop undermining peace and stability in the region, and take concrete actions to reduce strategic risks," Lin said.

The Typhon battery, from the Army's 1st Multi-Domain Task Force out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, was delivered to northern Luzon—the Philippines island south of Beijing-claimed Taiwan—to be demonstrated at Salaknib, the annual two-week bilateral drills that began on April 8. The Typhon is not expected to be permanently stationed in the Philippines.

Beijing waging political warfare against government, business, experts tell House oversight panel

Bill Gertz

China’s communist government is engaged in large-scale political warfare and influence efforts it calls united front operations that are seeking to subvert all sectors of the United States, according to an investigation by the House oversight committee.

“This is a huge problem,” said Rep. James Comer, chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, during a hearing Wednesday that was the first public phase of a major investigation by the panel into Chinese influence operations.

Mr. Comer, Kentucky Republican, said the U.S. government has no plan to combat extensive Chinese influence operations and doesn’t appear to recognize the national security threat China’s activities pose.

Three former military and intelligence officials testified that Chinese influence operations are broad in both scale and targets and threaten the democratic system in the United States and throughout the world.

Retired Marine Corps Col. Grant Newsham, a former intelligence officer and expert on China, told the committee that China is working to break the two-ocean geographic barrier that has protected the United States from its enemies.

“The Chinese Communist Party is determined to take away that advantage,” Col. Newsham said. “Through a range of political warfare methods, it is embedding behind our lines, attacking us from the inside.”

Those attacks include chemical warfare through fentanyl exports; biological attacks through dangerous research such as the suspected laboratory leaks that likely triggered the COVID-19 pandemic; and economic warfare that uses trade and commerce to try to destroy the U.S. manufacturing and commercial sectors, he said.

The War Games of Israel and Iran

David Remnick

Not long before Israel launched a decidedly limited attack on an Iranian airbase near the city of Isfahan on Friday morning, Nahum Barnea, a well-connected columnist for the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, called on a source who, he told me, “is way up in the government, one of the people who ordered the strike.” By way of explaining the strategic and tactical rationale of what was about to happen, the source resorted to a common frame of reference: the story of King Saul’s robe.

In the Book of Samuel, Chapter 24, Saul and his soldiers are hunting David, the man who will eventually replace him. Along the way, Saul pauses near a cave and goes in “to relieve himself.” David, who happens to be hiding in the very same cave, sneaks up on the urinating sovereign, takes out a knife and, rather than kill him, stealthily slices off a piece of Saul’s robe. Later, when they encounter each other openly, David bows to Saul and asks why the king is pursuing him. Saul sees the patch of his robe in David’s grip and realizes that, while David means him no immediate harm, he is vulnerable.

There is no way to know whether another volley will be coming in the short term, but what is clear is that the decades-long shadow war between Israel and the Islamic Republic of Iran is no longer confined to the shadows. A line was crossed when Israel carried out a lethal air strike on Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a leading commander in Iran’s Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and six of his associates, who were meeting in a consular building in Damascus. That strike, as precise as it was deadly, was followed by Iran’s massive launch of drones and ballistic missiles on Israeli territory—an attack that was thoroughly repelled by a coördinated effort involving Israel, the United States, Britain, Jordan, the U.A.E., and Saudi Arabia.

By deploying such a relatively mild response near Isfahan, the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, seemingly attempted to thread a kind of political needle, at once mollifying the Biden Administration and the Sunni Arab leaders to avoid a regional escalation and yet satisfying his domestic political allies who demanded that he “do something.” Indeed, the Iranian leadership decided to absorb the latest attack with theatrical cool. State television showed “life as usual” footage in the area and insisted that the regime’s nuclear and military sites in the region were undamaged.

The unspoken story of why Israel didn’t clobber Iran - Opinion

David Ignatius

One rule for containing a crisis is to keep your mouth shut, and the United States, Israel and Iran were all doing a pretty good job at that Friday after Israeli strikes near the Iranian city of Isfahan. Maybe the silence was the real message — a desire on all sides to prevent escalation by word or deed.

Over the past week, we’ve seen what looks to me like a considered decision by Israel to subtly reshape its strategy for deterring Iran and Iranian proxies Hamas and Hezbollah. Israeli deterrence is usually about massive use of offensive military force — a roundhouse punch that seeks to compel compliance through coercion.

But this time was different. When Iran launched a missile and drone barrage last weekend in retaliation for Israel’s April 1 strike on Iranian military leaders in Damascus, Syria, Israel used its Iron Dome defense system and help from allies to absorb the blow. The reported destruction of 99 percent of Iran’s incoming munitions was an astonishing display of missile defense. Some Israelis wanted to respond immediately with a big counter-barrage. But under pressure from President Biden, they waited.

When the Israeli response came early Friday, it was muted. Iranian and Israeli reports suggest that the Israeli air force attacked a site near some of Iran’s largest nuclear facilities. Those facilities weren’t damaged, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. But Israel sent the message that it can penetrate Iranian air defenses and hit strategic targets when it chooses.

Israel wanted the last word in this exchange, and it seems to have succeeded. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday, after talks with officials in Tehran, that “Iran does not want an escalation.” Iranian public statements scoffed at the limited action, but Israel showed it can strike when it wants — in this case a jab, but next time, maybe not. In this sense, Israel maintained what strategists call “escalation dominance.” It landed the first blow and the last one.

Biden’s ‘bear hug’ with Israel pays off with a minimal strike on Iran - Opinion

Max Boot

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has become notorious for ignoring President Biden’s advice on dealing with the Palestinians. Israel was so slow to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza, the United States felt compelled to deliver its own assistance by air and sea. And Netanyahu has made it clear that, despite White House importuning, he will not allow the Palestinian Authority to govern Gaza after Hamas is gone. As for the West Bank, Netanyahu’s government gave the Biden administration the back of its hand in March by announcing the largest annexation of Palestinian land in decades while Secretary of State Antony Blinken was visiting Israel.

This highhanded behavior has bewildered and enraged observers who wonder why Biden keeps providing arms and ammunition to Israel and vetoing anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations Security Council. Part of the explanation is that Biden is an emotionally committed Zionist who believes Israel has a right to defend itself, even if it abuses that privilege in Gaza. Another reason is that Biden is an experienced foreign policy hand who understands that U.S. aid to Israel gives him leverage to slow the rush to a regional war that would surely drag in the United States and damage its economy in an election year.

We saw the payoff from Biden’s “bear hug” of Israel when Israel launched a pinprick retaliation early Friday for Iran’s massive attack last Saturday night on Israel. The risk of a regional conflagration had risen dramatically when Iran, responding to an earlier Israeli attack that flattened the Iranian consulate in Damascus and killed three Iranian generals, launched more than 300 drones and missiles at Israel. This was the first time in the 45-year shadow war between the two countries that Iran had directly attacked Israel; it had always preferred to act through proxy groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis.

Iran’s Nuclear Calculus Has Now Become More Dangerou

Reuel Marc Gerecht and Ray Takeyh

The rising tensions between Iran and Israel have provoked understandable foreboding. On April 1, an Israeli airstrike killed a senior Iranian commander in Damascus. Last weekend, Iran responded by launching more than 300 drones and missiles at Israel, which in turn prompted Israel to strike targets in the Iranian city of Isfahan on Thursday night. As the two historic antagonists climb the tiger’s back, the Biden administration is hardly alone in fearing a regional conflagration.

The Islamic Republic seeks revenge for its dead, while Israel needs to restore deterrence, badly damaged by Hamas’s Oct. 7 assault. If Israel fails to reestablish sufficient deterrence, it must prepare for a future filled with air-raid warnings and Israelis continuously in bomb shelters.

Lurking behind these anxieties is the Islamic Republic’s nuclear calculations. When the mullahs launched their atomic-weapon and ballistic-missile programs four decades ago, they were primarily thinking about countering Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, secondarily about checking the U.S. In those early days, as far as we can gather from Iranian sources about the genesis of the theocracy’s nuclear ambitions, a hatred of Israel and the regime’s fierce antisemitism weren’t significant drivers. That has surely changed.

Iran’s theocratic regime has to stand as the most successful imperial power in the Middle East since the British Empire. The comparison would offend the mullahs, but both managed to patrol large swaths of territory by relying on proxies—imperialism on the cheap. Soon after coming to power in 1979, Iran began putting together its collection of terrorists and militants. In Lebanon, it created Hezbollah, established a tight relationship with the Palestine Liberation Organization (especially its lead military organization, Fatah) and later funded the more explicitly Islamic Palestinian rejectionist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The Iran-Israel Air Conflict, One Week In

Shaan Shaikh

On April 13, Iran launched a large salvo of missiles and drones at Israel. Designated “Operation True Promise,” the attack reportedly included around 170 drones, 120 surface-to-surface ballistic missiles, and 30 cruise missiles. It came in retaliation to an Israeli airstrike on April 1 against an Iranian diplomatic base in Damascus, Syria, which killed seven officers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), including the Quds Force’s General Mohammad Reza Zahedi. Iran’s attack marked the first time that Tehran has directly attacked Israel from Iranian territory.

On April 18, Israel responded in turn with airstrikes near Isfahan and Tabriz, Iran. Details on this attack are still coming in. Unconfirmed imagery suggests Israel struck at Iranian targets with some number of Sparrow air-launched ballistic missiles. Iranian leaders have claimed that their air defenses fended off the attack, which is unlikely but signals that they will not respond.

Q1: What missiles and drones did Iran use?

A1: Identifying missiles used in combat is hard. Identifying Iranian missiles, which come in a bewildering, visually similar number of derivatives and modifications, is even harder.

Iranian state-run media has claimed the use of the Emad and Kheibar Shekan-1 ballistic missiles, Paveh cruise missiles, and Shahed drones. Other reports mention possible use of the Ghadr ballistic missile. The drones employed are widely reported as Shahed-131 and -136 variants.

Brigadier General Hajizadeh, commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force, stated that Iran did not use its supposedly higher-end Khorramshahr, Sejjil, Kheibar Shekan-2, or Fatah ballistic missiles. The Washington Post has added that Iran did not appear to launch the Shahab-3.

Precision over power: How Iran’s ‘obsolete’ missiles penetrated Israel’s air defense

Iran’s 13 April retaliatory missile strike on Israel, dubbed Operation True Promise, managed to overcome the occupation state’s integrated air defense systems and external foreign support.

The strike, intended to deter future actions by Israel against Iranian personnel and facilities, was notably executed to avoid casualties and serious damage. The operation was especially bold as it targeted Israel, an undeclared nuclear power.

Open-source intelligence from videos and photographs identified multiple warheads striking Ramon airbase in the Negev, not Nevatim, as previously reported, although the occupation army confirmed strikes on Nevatim and released images showing minor damage. This suggests a systematic failure of Israel’s lauded air defenses against those five missiles that hit their target, one after the other.

A look at the missiles used

As Brigadier-General Ali Hajizadeh, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force’s commander, later stated:

So what missiles did Iran deploy from its significant domestically-produced arsenal, and why?

Ghadr: Despite being 20 years old, this missile proved effective by deploying decoy warheads to exhaust Israel’s Arrow-2 intercept capabilities. While traversing in space, the Ghadr releases about 10 decoy warheads to lure Arrow-2 to launch 10 interceptors each at all 10 Iranian decoys – draining the enemy’s munitions stock.

The images of Israeli interceptors responding to a range of “lights in the skies” were, in fact, often just firing at decoys. The actual Iranian warheads, if not differentiated by Arrow-2’s systems and destroyed by its interceptors, reached their targets.

Iran’s attack on Israel was not the failure many claim but it has ended Israel’s isolatio

Dr Sanam Vakil & Bilal Y. Saab

Iran’s direct drone and missile attack on Israel that lasted several hours on Saturday evening has changed the long-established terms of engagement between the two adversarial states. It has also taken the Middle East closer to a wider conflict that if uncontained will have serious and destabilizing ripple effects across the region.

Iranian-Israeli tensions have long simmered in the shadows of the broader Middle East. Iran has, since the 1979 revolution, taken an anti-Israeli posture and as part of its deterrence strategy has cultivated and financed support for the ‘axis of resistance’ network in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Palestine, surrounding Israel’s borders.

Today these groups, which include Bashar al Assad, Hezbollah, the Houthis and Iraqi political and militia groups, are no longer proxies but rather partners who have domestic autonomy and coordinate transnationally.

The 7 October attacks forced Israel to pursue a new approach against Iran and the broader axis because they exposed that Israel’s previous strategy had failed to ensure its security.

In addition to the war in Gaza, since 7 October Israel has been strategically targeting key coordinating figures of the axis of resistance as well as Iranian assets and individuals across its borders. In fact, over the past six months, over 18 IRGC Qods force members have been killed alongside the attack on Iran’s Damascus embassy compound.

Iran’s consistent message has been that it seeks to avoid a broader regional war and this may have factored into Israel’s calculations around its new approach.

Iran has long tried to shield its role in the axis under the aegis of plausible deniability. Moreover Tehran has not, until this past weekend, directly responded to Israeli provocations, choosing to outsource retaliation efforts to the axis or sidestep confrontation completely – leading to much internal and regional criticism that it has lost its deterrence capability.

Choreography (April 19, 2024)


Welcome to Home & Away. I can’t quite bring myself to write about juror selection at the first of what could be four criminal trials of Donald Trump. Nor is it a good use of my time or yours to focus on whether the Speaker of the House of Representatives will find a way to legislate aid for Ukraine as well as Israel and Taiwan, although there is at long last reason for optimism. I will even demonstrate rare discipline and not comment on Scottie Scheffler’s dominance at last week’s Masters. What I will do instead is devote this week’s newsletter to unfolding events in the Middle East.

Where are We and How Did We Get Here?

Full disclosure: I had already wrapped up this week’s newsletter when reports came in last night of Israel’s attack on Iran. The completed draft (much of which was drawn from a piece I wrote earlier this week for the Financial Times) was built around the questions of whether Israel would and should respond to Iran’s April 13 attack. As you will recall, Iran launched a barrage of more than three hundred drones, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles at Israel from sites in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen in retaliation for an Israeli attack that killed senior Quds Force officers at an Iranian diplomatic compound in Syria.

The draft newsletter concluded Israel would likely respond in a limited way given the political incentives, psychological pressures, and strategic grounds for acting. Turning the other cheek is an idea missing from the Old Testament. I thought we would see retaliatory strikes on sites associated with the capabilities involved in Iran’s attack.

In fact, the Israeli action appears to be even more limited than I was about to predict. Still, it sent a clear and necessary message: We can reach your military facilities and your nuclear program (some of which is located around Isfahan, the home of separate military bases that Israel hit) any time we want to. The goal was to restore deterrence and discourage any further Iranian attack on the Israeli homeland.

But the Israeli action was also calibrated to make it easy for Iran not to respond. Israel’s government is not trumpeting what took place.

Iran says it shot down drones as regional tensions flare. How did we get here?

Simone McCarthy

An unclaimed aerial attack in central Iran on Friday comes fresh on the heels of tit-for-tat Iranian and Israeli strikes earlier this month, marking a potentially dangerous escalation of the Middle East conflict.

Israel carried out the strike inside Iran Friday morning, a US official told CNN.

Iranian officials have so far sought to play down the incident, and Israel has not claimed responsibility for what appears to be the latest salvo fired as a decades-long shadow war between the two countries emerges into the open – ratcheting up fears of an escalation into a wider regional war.

Iranian air defenses intercepted three drones, a Tehran official said Friday, after reports of explosions near an army base in the central province of Isfahan. There were no reports of a missile attack, Iran’s National Cyberspace Center spokesperson Hossein Dalirian said on social platform X.

A loud blast near Isfahan city was caused by “air defense firing at a suspicious object,” a senior Iranian military commander said, adding there was no “damage or incident,” according to the state-aligned Tasnim news agency.

All facilities around Isfahan were secure, including significant nuclear sites, Iranian media reported. The United Nations nuclear watchdog confirmed no Iranian nuclear sites were damaged.

The attack on Iran follows an unprecedented Iranian assault on Israel last weekend that Tehran said was retaliation for a deadly suspected Israeli airstrike on Iran’s consulate in Syria on April 1. The reprisals marked the first time the Islamic Republic had launched a direct assault on Israel from its soil.

Iran Has Defined Its Red Line With Israel

Sina Toossi

On April 14, the international community was shaken by Iran’s bold and direct military attack on Israel. The attack, involving approximately 300 projectiles—including 170 drones, more than 30 cruise missiles, and more than 120 ballistic missiles—challenged one of the world’s most advanced missile defense systems. Although most were intercepted or failed to reach their targets, U.S. officials confirmed that at least nine missiles struck two Israeli air bases.

Have Israel and the United States Done Enough to Deter Iran?

Emma Ashford and Matthew Kroenig

Matt Kroenig: Hi, Emma! Greetings from Singapore. I am here for a conference on weapons of mass destruction in the Indo-Pacific, so it has been pretty dark—with China’s massive nuclear buildup, North Korea’s illegal programs, and many other scary scenarios. Perhaps you have some good news from other parts of the world to cheer me up?

Iran Shrugs off Israeli Strike, Allaying Escalation Fears—for Now

Amy Mackinnon and Christina Lu

The Israeli military struck inside Iran overnight, with explosions reported over the cities of Isfahan and Tabriz, in what appears to be a limited retaliation for Tehran’s attack on Israel last weekend.

Why Arab States Haven’t Broken With Israel

David E. Rosenberg

For many, the news that Jordanian fighter pilots came to the defense of Israel during Iran’s missile and drone attack last weekend must have come as a surprise. While Israel and Jordan have had diplomatic relations for 30 years, the peace between them has been cold even in the best of times and since the outbreak of the war in Gaza has gone into a deep freeze.

Iran’s Nuclear Crisis Has No Military Solution

Sina Azodi

Even before Israel bombed the Iranian consulate complex in Damascus, Syria, earlier this month, conversations in Iran around its ability to develop a nuclear weapon—and its perceived necessity—had surged to an unprecedented level. In January 2024 on live TV, Mohammad Eslami, the current head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), was asked whether it was time for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons “or at least conduct a nuclear test.” While Eslami argued against acquiring nuclear weapons, citing Iran’s defense doctrine, the very posing of the question on Iran’s state television signals the growing internal debate about the utility of nuclear weapons.

More ways Israel could strike Iran, from cyber attacks to assassinations

Ehsanullah Amiri

On Thursday night, long-distance aircraft fired missiles on an Iranian airforce base, breaking the lull in the Islamic Republic’s Isfahan city, Israeli media reported. Two Israeli officials reportedly confirmed the country’s involvement in the attack.

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said the U.S. told members of the G7 that it received “last minute” information from Israel about a drone strike in Iran, but added that the U.S. did not participate in the offensive.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken declined to comment on the assertion, but emphasized that the U.S. was not involved in any attack and was committed to working for a “de-escalation” in the region.

According to Iranian state-run media, three explosions were heard near Isfahan airport, but later on, they said Tehran’s air defence system intercepted three drones in the sky.

Iranian media downplayed the attack, broadcasting live footage from the enclave where the explosions were initially heard. Some analysts are hopeful that this response and the fact that there was no significant damage or casualties makes it likely that the hardliner Islamist officials in Tehran won’t retaliate against Israel, despite their threats last week.

Israel’s attack was in response to Tehran’s barrage of over 300 armed drones and ballistic missiles toward Israel last weekend that was intercepted in the sky by Israel’s modernized air-defence systems, but also thanks to the U.S., U.K. and the Jordanian Kingdom. Israel announced that 99 per cent of drones and missiles were intercepted and only around a dozen were injured.

It was the first attack on Israel from Iranian soil, after decades of shadow war between the two countries. The attack was widely condemned by world leaders who followed up with sanctions on Iran’s oil industry.

Rethinking the Role and Influence of U.S. Defense and Foreign Policy Think Tanks

Donald E. Abelson

For well over a century, public policy research institutes, or think tanks as they are more commonly known, have played an important role in informing and educating policymakers on Capitol Hill, in the White House, and throughout the intelligence community about how to protect and promote U.S. interests around the globe. Established under very different and often unusual circumstances, think tanks, particularly those with expertise in defense and foreign policy, have attracted the interest, attention, and at times, the suspicion of those trying to explain how organizations ostensibly operating on the periphery of government have managed over the past several decades to leave an indelible mark on several national security initiatives. Yet, despite being subjected to increased scrutiny, important questions remain regarding how, and under what conditions, think tanks can and do shape public opinion and public policy.

Understanding how and where in the policymaking process such prominent think tanks as the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Brookings Institution, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Center for National Security Studies, the Hudson Institute, and Rand, to name a few, try to make their presence felt is not difficult to ascertain. For some time, scholars familiar with the think tank world have identified several governmental and non-governmental channels upon which these institutions rely to convey their ideas to elected and appointed officials.

Testifying before legislative committees, organizing workshops, seminars, and conferences around key issues in defense and foreign policy where policy-makers, journalists, academics and others can exchange ideas, producing op-eds for various national and international newspapers, making themselves available to the media for interviews and commentaries, volunteering to work as advisers and/or speechwriters on congressional and presidential campaigns and policy task forces, and generating and disseminating publications designed for specific target audiences are just some of the ways think tanks can help shape the discourse around key policy issues. But there are even more obvious channels of access.

Tehran plays down reported Israeli attacks, signals no retaliation

Parisa Hafezi and James Mackenzie

Explosions echoed over an Iranian city on Friday in what sources said was an Israeli attack, but Tehran played down the incident and indicated it had no plans for retaliation - a response that appeared gauged towards averting region-wide war.

Iran's foreign minister said the drones, which the sources said Israel launched against the city of Isfahan, were "mini-drones" and that they had caused no damage or casualties.

The limited scale of the attack and Iran's muted response appeared to signal a successful effort by diplomats who have been working to avert all-out war since an Iranian drone and missile attack on Israel on Saturday.

Iranian media and officials described a small number of explosions, which they said resulted from air defences hitting three drones over Isfahan in central Iran. They referred to the incident as an attack by "infiltrators", rather than by Israel, obviating the need for retaliation.

A senior Iranian official told Reuters there were no plans to respond against Israel for the incident.

"The foreign source of the incident has not been confirmed. We have not received any external attack, and the discussion leans more towards infiltration than attack," the official said.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian was also cautious in comments to envoys of Muslim countries in New York.

"The Zionist regime's (Israel's) media supporters, in a desperate effort, tried to make victory out of their defeat, while the downed mini-drones have not caused any damage or casualties," Amirabdollahian was quoted as saying by Iranian media.

Israel said nothing about the incident and its ally Washington refused to be drawn.

Do Tanks Have a Place in 21st-Century Warfare?

Lara Jakes

The drone combat in Ukraine that is transforming modern warfare has begun taking a deadly toll on one of the most powerful symbols of American military might — the tank — and threatening to rewrite how it will be used in future conflicts.

Over the past two months, Russian forces have taken out five of the 31 American-made M1 Abrams tanks that the Pentagon sent to Ukraine last fall, a senior U.S. official said. At least another three have been moderately damaged since the tanks were sent to front lines early this year, said Col. Markus Reisner, an Austrian military trainer who closely follows how weapons are being used — and lost — in the war in Ukraine.

That is a sliver of the 796 of Ukraine’s main battle tanks that have been destroyed, captured or abandoned since the war began in February 2022, according to Oryx, a military analysis site that counts losses based on visual evidence. A vast majority of those are Soviet-era, Russian or Ukrainian-made tanks; only about 140 of those taken out in battle were given to Ukraine by NATO states. And Russia has so far lost more than 2,900 tanks, the Oryx data show, although Ukraine claims that the number exceeds 7,000.

German Leopard tanks have also been targeted in Ukraine, with at least 30 having been destroyed, Oryx says. But the Abrams is widely viewed as one of the world’s mightiest. That it is being more easily taken out by exploding drones than some officials and experts had initially assumed shows “yet another way the conflict in Ukraine is reshaping the very nature of modern warfare,” said Can Kasapoglu, a defense analyst at the Hudson Institute in Washington.

This weekend, the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on a $61 billion aid package for Ukraine that will include desperately needed defensive weapons. Here is a look at why it matters for tanks.

A team of bitter rivals is making Israel’s most crucial war decisions

Steve Hendrix

As Israel mulled a response to Iran’s massive drone and missile attack, the decision to hit back with a carefully calibrated strike early Friday was made by just five men.

They are the sole members of Israel’s fractious “war cabinet,” a pop-up body of rival politicians charged with steering the country through its worst security crisis in half a century.

The tiny group, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wields supreme authority over the most consequential war matters: military operations in Gaza, hostage talks with Hamas and whether to open a second front against Hezbollah in Lebanon.

In recent days, the quintet, which meets without cellphones in “the Pit,” an ultra-secure section of the military’s headquarters in Tel Aviv, also apparently decided that a limited response is the best next step in the conflict with Iran, a burgeoning nuclear power committed to Israel’s destruction. The two countries have fought a shadow war for years.

“The five people in that room were faced with a decision that could be one of the three or four most crucial decisions since Israel’s founding in 1948,” said Nadav Shtrauchler, an Israeli political analyst.

And they did it with no love lost for each other. It is, by all accounts, a group riven by political animosities, rancor that was beginning to fracture the body before Iran’s attack last weekend served to paper the divisions over, at least for now.

When the latest crisis eases, tensions are likely to flare again, numerous Israeli observers said.

“They all hate each other, that’s for sure,” said an Israeli official familiar with the cabinet’s internal dynamics.

Cybercom looking to speed up capability development for digital warriors


One of the biggest priorities for the new commander of U.S. Cyber Command is developing new capabilities faster.

“The area that we need to be able to accelerate is capability development and how we use our budget control and our authorities to generate an acquisition. We should be able to develop things faster than anybody else in the [Defense] Department,” Gen. Timothy Haugh told the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Cyber, Innovative Technologies, and Information Systems during a hearing on Wednesday.

Cybercom has finally received greater control over its budget and capabilities with the passage of the fiscal 2024 appropriations bill at the end of March. That enabled changes, years in the making, to advance the command’s acquisition authority, among others, and begin to provide the organization unique service-like authorities that had previously only been bestowed upon one other U.S. military combatant command — Special Operations Command.

So-called enhanced budget authority means Cybercom will be in direct control and management of planning, programming, budgeting and execution of the resources to maintain the cyber mission force.

Given Cybercom deals primarily in the software realm, it is trying push the boundaries of the traditional acquisition and fielding cycle that is very hardware- and platform-centric and often takes many years from inception to building and delivering.

“The only thing we’re developing is code. How do we do that faster? How do we get it in the hands of our cyber mission force faster?” Haugh told lawmakers.

To date, each of the military services are responsible for building major acquisition programs as executive agents on behalf of Cybercom. But as the organization has matured over time, that model might not be the most effective anymore.

AI-Controlled Fighter Jets Are Dogfighting With Human Pilots Now


Looking for love? Be careful what you wish for.

A loose-knit community of con artists known as Yahoo Boys has begun using real-time face-swap technology to woo victims with romance scams. Using a variety of tools and techniques, the scammers use AI-powered apps to make themselves look like entirely different people on video calls. Just remember: If someone you’ve never met IRL is asking you for money, just say no.

Elsewhere in the world of harmful deepfakes, two major websites used for creating fake nude images of people are now blocked in the United Kingdom. The censorship, which appears to be self-imposed, comes just days after the UK proposed legislation that would ban nonconsensual, sexualized AI-generated images.

A Russian cybercriminal gang called Cyber Army of Russia Reborn appears to have been created with the help of Sandworm, the notorious Russian military hacking unit that has carried out devastating cyberattacks against Ukraine for years. The difference? Cyber Army of Russia Reborn is even more brazen, taking credit for attacks against critical infrastructure in Europe and the United States.

Change Healthcare’s ransomware saga entered a new chapter this week. A cybercriminal group called RansomHub claims to be selling highly sensitive patient information stolen from the company. The sale follows RansomHub’s claims that it possesses terabytes of data stolen in a February attack by another ransomware gang known as AlphV or Black Cat, which received a $22 million payment in March. Change Healthcare says it has spent $872 million response to the ransomware attack as of March 31.


Nan Tian, Diego Lopes Da Silva, Xiao Liang and Lorenzo Scarazzato

World military expenditure increased for the ninth consecutive year in 2023, reaching a total of $2443 billion. The 6.8 per cent increase in 2023 was the steepest year-on-year rise since 2009 and pushed global spending to the highest level SIPRI has ever recorded (see figure 1). The world military burden—defined as military spending as a percentage of global gross domestic product (GDP)—increased to 2.3 per cent in 2023. Average military expenditure as a share of government expenditure rose by 0.4 percentage points to 6.9 per cent in 2023 and world military spending per person was the highest since 1990, at $306.

The rise in global military spending in 2023 can be attributed primarily to the ongoing war in Ukraine and escalating geopolitical tensions in Asia and Oceania and the Middle East. Military expenditure went up in all five geographical regions, with major spending increases recorded in Europe, Asia and Oceania and the Middle East.

and Oceania and the Middle East. This SIPRI Fact Sheet highlights trends in military expenditure for 2023 and over the decade 2014–23. The data, which replaces all military spending data previously published by SIPRI, comes from the updated SIPRI Military Expenditure Database.


World military expenditure is highly concentrated among a relatively small group of states (see table 1). The two largest spenders, the United States and China, accounted for around half of global military spending in 2023 (see figure 2). Together, the top 10 in 2023 accounted for almost three quarters (74 per cent) of the world total, or $1799 billion, which was $105 billion more than the previous year. In 2023 all countries in the top 10 increased their military spending. The biggest percentage increase among this group was in Ukraine. Its military spending went up by 51 per cent to $64.8 billion and it moved from 11th largest spender in 2022 to 8th largest in 2023.