2 June 2024

Does NATO Have a Role in Asia?

David Sacks

China used to be largely absent from NATO’s list of major geopolitical concerns, but in recent years the alliance has signaled its growing worry with China’s strategic direction and assertiveness. In 2019, NATO mentioned China in an official statement for the first time, noting in its London Declaration that “China’s growing influence and international policies present both opportunities and challenges” for the alliance. References to China have since become sharper, with the 2021 Brussels Summit Communiqué stating that China’s “ambitions and assertive behavior present systemic challenges to the rules-based international order and to areas relevant to Alliance security.”

China’s support for Russia following its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 further increased concerns within NATO. At the Madrid Summit later that year, NATO adopted a new Strategic Concept [PDF], its first in over a decade, which said that China’s “ambitions and coercive policies challenge our interests, security and values,” and called out the “deepening strategic partnership” between China and Russia and their collective attempts to “undercut the rules-based international order.” In addition, NATO invited leaders from Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea (informally known as the Asia-Pacific Four, or AP4) to join the summit, marking the first time all four leaders did so.

The Vilnius Summit Communiqué of 2023 further detailed the alliance’s major concerns with China, including its cyber and disinformation operations, attempts to control important industrial sectors and supply chains, and its growing alignment with Russia. Again, AP4 leaders attended the summit. NATO also announced a new partnership program with Japan.

Rare Earth Mining Taking Heavy Toll in Myanmar’s Kachin, Groups Say

Hein Htoo Zan

Kachin-based environmentalists are sounding the alarm over the rapid growth of rare earth mining in conflict-affected Kachin State, fueled by high global demand for the elements, with a UK-based campaign group amplifying their concerns in a new report.

In its report released on Thursday, Global Witness revealed an alarming expansion of heavy rare earth mining in Myanmar. It said the world’s dependence on heavy rare earths from Kachin has rapidly increased and is having devastating impacts on communities and the environment.

The UK-based campaign group said Myanmar is now the single largest source of heavy rare earth elements globally. Currently in demand as part of the global energy transition, heavy rare earths are vital ingredients for permanent magnets that are used in electric vehicles and wind turbines.

In Myanmar, most rare earth mining operations are located in Kachin State and the Wa Self-Administrative Region in Shan State.

In Kachin State, the operations are centered on Myanmar military-controlled Chipwi Township in a remote northeastern corner of the state, and in Mai Ja Yang town controlled by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Momauk Township in the state’s southeast.

In Kachin State’s Special Region 1, controlled by militias aligned with the junta’s military, the number of mining sites increased by more than 40 percent between 2021 and 2023, according to Global Witness’s report.

The North Korean and Chinese Threats Are Growing. But so Is the Trilateral Response

Sue Mi Terry

I recently spent a few weeks traveling between Seoul and Tokyo, participating in several conferences, including the Chosun Ilbo’s Asian Leadership Conference and the Nikkei Forum Future of Asia. My contributions in both Seoul and Tokyo focused on two key issues: the persistent negative news about North Korea and the increasingly positive developments in the United States-South Korea-Japan trilateral alliance. I address both issues in my recent Foreign Affairs article, “The Coming North Korean Crisis And How Washington Can Prevent It,” and in my new Washington Post article, “This nascent trilateral relationship is the best possible answer to China,” co-written with Max Boot.

On North Korea, much of the discussion at these forums revolved around the possibility of an October surprise by Kim Jong Un before the U.S. presidential election, North Korea's game plan, and Washington’s potential North Korea policy under a Trump administration (with most experts agreeing that a Biden second term would likely maintain the status quo). There were many questions about how our allies should respond.

Experts generally agree on North Korea’s strategy: perfecting its WMD capability with little intention of returning to denuclearization talks. Kim Jong Un has no incentive to negotiate with the United States, especially with his current level of support from China and Russia, allowing him to act with impunity. Even if Kim were inclined to make a deal under a Trump presidency, advancing North Korea’s nuclear program would be a logical step to increase his bargaining leverage, particularly after the humiliation at the Hanoi summit.

A new breakthrough could deepen US troops' dependence on Chinese batteries


Many of the lithium-ion batteries that power much U.S. military gear are made in whole or in part in China. Now a Chinese lab is reporting a breakthrough that could increase Beijing’s control of the global market.

That’s a problem. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, for example, U.S. access to batteries for radios, night-vision goggles, small drones, and far more nearly faltered due to off-shoring and loss of U.S. production, according to a 2018 DOD assessment. The Pentagon’s need for batteries will only continue to grow; notably, the department plans to phase in vast numbers of electric vehicles over the next decade.

In March, the Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Bioprocess Technology, a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, announced a new manufacturing technique that enables a battery to charge more quickly and age more slowly, retaining its ability to hold a charge far longer. If China can further refine this technique and integrate it into standard lithium-ion battery manufacturing, this may improve the country’s substantial position in the critical field of advanced batteries, the global market for which is predicted to reach nearly a trillion dollars by 2028.

The Institute’s breakthrough was enabled by the PRC’s industrial and research policies, including funding directed to the battery project by the 14th Five-Year Plan’s National Key Research and Development Program (NKRDP) and the National Natural Science Foundation. The foundation, established in 1986, spends about $5 billion annually on scientific projects, including research into advanced battery performance.

Washington needs to tell China — attacking Taiwan means war with the US


In 2024, as with all Taiwan’s elections for president since 1996, the Chinese Communist Party repeatedly warned the people of Taiwan not to elect a candidate unwilling to accept China’s goal of eventual political, economic and military control over Taiwan.

In six of the eight elections, including the last three, the people of Taiwan defied Beijing’s instructions, this time giving the ruling Democratic People’s Party an unprecedented third consecutive term.

To make matters worse, from Beijing’s expansionist perspective, Taiwan’s new president, Lai Ching-te, has described himself as a “pragmatic worker for Taiwan independence,” an outcome that China has declared a red line that would trigger war across the Taiwan Strait.

Xi Jinping’s regime has labeled Lai a “troublemaker” and a “separatist.” His election may have been the last straw for Xi, who took power in 2012 declaring “the Taiwan question cannot be passed from one generation to another,” echoing Henry Kissinger’s 2007 warning to Taiwan that “China will not wait forever.” But, once again, the people of Taiwan had the temerity to ignore the Chinese Communists’ instructions.

Beijing’s initial peeved reaction to this impudence was to object in diplomatic channels to those countries that congratulated Taiwan on another successful demonstration of its democratic vitality. It has been stewing since January over an appropriately strong measure of “punishment” to impose upon the Taiwanese themselves and to warn the new Lai administration that it is on a dangerous path.


Leo Blanken, Jason Lepore and Christopher Boss 

Should we confine ourselves to the zero-sum context, where the answers are comparatively easy, evading the more interesting contexts where the answers may be harder?

Consider gangs coexisting within a prison. These rival organizations will fight over some issues but are driven to collaborate on others. Peace is maintained and mutually beneficial business (drug dealing, for example) is conducted—both inside and outside the prison—within a delicately balanced equilibrium. One side eradicating the other is highly improbable and unnecessary violence to that end serves to only degrade outcomes for both sides. Instead, threats, violence, alliances, deconfliction, and even cooperation are all used deftly for the purpose of maintaining balance and accruing gains to each side. At the end of the day, these gangs are stuck with each other and need to learn how to coexist.

Though some may balk at the analogy, strategic competition between the United States and China shares many attributes with these prison gangs. And given the substantial intellectual shift required in the US national security enterprise to best manage the dynamics—and risks—of that competition, the jarring tone of this comparison may, in fact, be useful here.

The United States is still struggling cognitively to come to terms with the rise of China. More specifically, the US national security community is not well prepared to contend with a peer rival who seeks to contest American hegemony, but with whom our economy is critically interdependent. What is required, therefore, is significant cognitive reorientation for competition: from our foundational models of how we understand the functioning of the international system, to policy analysis, to the formation of strategy, to that strategy’s execution. In other words, there must be a shift in mindset—the structure of shared assumptions, causal reasoning, language, and framing that allows a group of actors to fruitfully proceed with collective problem-solving, planning, and execution. The rise of China is creating an implicit zero-sum mindset among planners and practitioners; we see this as ill-fitting and, frankly, dangerous. We offer an alternative—a mixed-motives mindset—that would serve as an appropriate framing for strategic competition with China.

Bahrain Opens to Iran: Last Stage of Shifting Gulf Dynamic

Silvia Boltuc

On May 25th, 2024, the King expressed Bahrain’s willingness to normalise diplomatic ties with Iran, marking a significant shift after a period of heightened tensions. This development follows the recent rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, suggesting a broader trend of regional reconciliation.

King Hamad’s statement could be seen as a positive step towards improved relations between Bahrain and Iran, potentially aligning with the goals of Iranian President Raisi’s administration.
Iran-Bahrain: From Historical Claims to Pathways of Normalisation

During King Hamad’s discussion with President Putin, the Bahraini head of state announced that Manama had previously experienced issues with Tehran, but these problems have now been resolved. The King asserted that there is no reason for delaying the normalisation of relations. Emphasising the principle of good neighbourliness, he stated Bahrain is committed to establishing normal diplomatic, trade, and cultural relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Over the years, Iranian media have frequently revived an old territorial claim, asserting that Bahrain is Iran’s 14th province, known as Mishmahig.

In the 1800s, Sheikh Abdul Al Khalifeh repeatedly declared Bahrain’s dependence on the Iranian government or sought Iran’s protection, first from the Egyptian Mohammad Pasha and later from the British. However, the Government of British India ultimately overpowered Bahrain in 1861.

In 1927, Reza Shah demanded Bahrain’s return in a letter to the Allied Nations Community.

Middle East CrisisIsrael’s Claim of Control Over Border Zone Risks Raising Tensions With Egypt

Earlier this year, the Egyptian government warned that if Israeli forces occupied a roughly eight-mile-long border strip between Egypt and Gaza — known in Israel as the Philadelphi Corridor — it would pose a “serious threat” to ties between the two countries. Yet so far there has been little Egyptian response to Israel’s announcement on Wednesday that it had taken “tactical control” of the zone.

Israel and Egypt — former enemies that fought at least three major wars — have clashed diplomatically over the Israeli military campaign in Gaza, and particularly over Israel’s ground offensive in Rafah. The Egyptian government faced public pressure to take a tougher stance against Israel after Israeli troops entered Rafah, which borders Egypt and is packed with Gazans fleeing the fighting elsewhere.

But the Egyptian and Israeli authorities have long coordinated closely on security matters, with military officials regularly meeting in Cairo and Tel Aviv, and both sides view that close-knit relationship as a cornerstone of their national security policies, former Israeli and Egyptian officials say.

Opinion: After the war in Gaza, America’s relationship with Israel has to change. Here’s how

Steven A. Cook

In recent months, many of the U.S. headlines about the Middle East have come not from the Gaza Strip, southern Lebanon or the Red Sea but from American university campuses. The pro-Palestinian protests that rocked UCLA, USC and Columbia (among others) have generated reams of commentary about free speech, antisemitism, violence and higher education. The focus on these issues, important as they are, has obscured a deeper and possibly more significant development: The relationship between the United States and Israel is changing.

Joe Biden is hardly the first president to describe America’s relationship with Israel as “special”; such phrasing has been a tradition since John F. Kennedy’s presidency. For many years, this language was uncontroversial because Israel was popular among Americans. That popularity translated into, among other things, decades of bipartisan congressional votes for generous U.S. military and economic assistance (the latter of which ended in 2007), as well as diplomatic support for Israel at the United Nations and beyond.

The U.S. consensus on Israel began to break down in the 2010s, however. Between 2008 and 2014, Israel and Hamas fought three wars, during which about 2,500 Palestinian civilians were killed and parts of Gaza’s infrastructure were destroyed — primarily with U.S.-supplied weaponry. During this period, Israel continued to construct settlements in the West Bank — apart from a brief pause after President Obama took office in 2009 — as well as infrastructure to support them. This de facto annexation seemed intended to preclude the establishment of a Palestinian state, which became an official goal of U.S. policy in 2002.

Middle East CrisisBiden Endorses Israeli Proposal for a Cease-Fire in Gaza

President Biden at the White House on Friday outlining a new three-phase proposal from the Israeli government that ideally would lead to a permanent cease-fire in Gaza.

Israel has offered a comprehensive new proposal. It’s a road map to an enduring cease-fire and the release of all hostages. This proposal has been transmitted by Qatar to Hamas. This is truly a decisive moment. Israel has made their proposal. Hamas says it wants a cease-fire. This deal is an opportunity to prove whether they really mean it. Hamas needs to take the deal. For months, people all over the world have called for cease-fire. Now it’s time to raise your voices and demand that Hamas come to the table, agrees to this deal and ends this war that they began. At this point, Hamas no longer is capable of carrying out another Oct. 7. And the Palestinian people have endured sheer hell in this war. Too many innocent people have been killed, including thousands of children. It’s time to begin this new stage. The hostages come home, for Israel to be secure, for the suffering to stop. It’s time for this war to end, and for the day after to begin. Thank you very much.

Declaring Hamas no longer capable of carrying out a major terrorist attack on Israel, President Biden said on Friday that it was time for a permanent cease-fire in Gaza and endorsed a new plan he said Israel had offered to win the release of hostages and end the fighting.

“It’s time for this war to end, for the day after to begin,” Mr. Biden said, speaking from the State Dining Room at the White House. He also gave a stark description of Hamas’s diminished capabilities after more than seven months of Israeli attacks, saying that “at this point, Hamas is no longer capable of carrying out another Oct. 7.”

An “America First” World What Trump’s Return Might Mean for Global Order

Hal Brands

What would become of the world if the United States became a normal great power? This isn’t to ask what would happen if the United States retreated into outright isolationism. It’s simply to ask what would happen if the country behaved in the same narrowly self-interested, frequently exploitive way as many great powers throughout history—if it rejected the idea that it has a special responsibility to shape a liberal order that benefits the wider world. That would be an epic departure from 80 years of American strategy. But it’s not an outlandish prospect anymore.

The Shallow Roots of Iran’s War With Israel

Ali M. Ansari

In early April, the cold war between Iran and Israel suddenly turned hot. A dramatic Israeli air attack in Damascus that killed seven senior commanders in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps put Iranian leaders in a bind. If they launched a commensurate military response, they risked an escalation that could destabilize the very foundations of their regime. If they did not, they faced a credibility crisis among their own hard-liners and allies in Iran’s axis of resistance, a network that includes Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, and various Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria, several of which were already chafing at Iran’s restraint in responding to the war in Gaza.

In the end, through a mixture of telegraphing and technical incompetence, Iran’s leaders managed to produce a Goldilocks outcome. On April 13, they launched a massive aerial assault on Israel with more than 300 missiles and drones. But sound Western intelligence and the advanced warning technology and air defenses deployed by Israel and its allies ensured that there was little damage. Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, proclaimed that it was the attack itself and not the “hitting of the target” that mattered. Israel was encouraged to “take the win” and, after a restrained retaliation of its own, the status quo between the two sworn enemies was restored with surprising alacrity.

Chief Economists Outlook: May 2024

The May 2024 Chief Economists Outlook explores key trends in the global economy, including the latest outlook for growth, inflation, monetary and fiscal policy, and the implications of recent geopolitical and domestic political developments. This series of reports draws on the individual and collective perspectives of a group of leading chief economists through consultations with the World Economic Forum’s Chief Economists Community and a regular Chief Economists Survey.

The May 2024 Chief Economists Outlook explores key trends in the global economy, including the latest outlook for growth, inflation, monetary and fiscal policy, and the implications of recent geopolitical and domestic political developments. This series of reports draws on the individual and collective perspectives of a group of leading chief economists through consultations with the World Economic Forum’s Chief Economists Community and a regular Chief Economists Survey.

This latest edition of the Chief Economists Outlook launches amid a mood of cautious optimism about the global economy. This optimism is tempered by the uncertainty about geopolitical and domestic political developments, which are seen as sources of volatility this year. Despite some brightening of the near-term growth outlook, the latest results point to growing challenges for businesses and policy-makers. However, the views on the long-term prospects for the global economy are encouraging, with many policy opportunities to boost growth across high- and low-income economies.

Abrams Tanks Face ‘Heavy Criticism’ From Ukrainian Military; Crew Says US MBTs Are No.1 Targets In Warzone

Ashish Dangwal

The reputation of the US-supplied Abrams tanks — once hailed as a game-changer for Ukraine’s military — is increasingly under scrutiny as Ukrainian soldiers now reveal weaknesses and flaws in the American vehicles.

The deployment of these Abrams tanks, specifically the M1A1 models, was intended to bolster Kyiv’s resistance against Russian forces, but battlefield experiences have raised doubts about their effectiveness.

In January 2023, after a persistent campaign by Ukrainian officials highlighting the critical need for advanced tanks, the US agreed to send 31 Abrams to Ukraine.

The tanks, each costing approximately $10 million, were essential to breach Russian defensive lines. By October 2023, all 31 tanks had arrived in Ukraine, fueling hopes for a strategic advantage on the ever-changing frontlines.

However, these tanks encountered substantial challenges on the battlefield, particularly from Russian drones. At least five of the Abrams tanks have already been lost to Russian attacks, undermining their anticipated impact.

During the latest interview with CNN, Ukrainian tank crews who trained in Germany shared their concerns about the Abrams tanks’ performance. They said that the tanks’ armor was not strong enough for modern weapons.

“The tank’s armor is not sufficient for this moment,” said one crew member, known by the callsign Joker. “It doesn’t protect the crew. For real, today, this is the war of drones. So now, when the tank rolls out, they always try to hit them.”

Why NATO matters

Richard D. Hooker, Jr.

The 2024 US presidential election will be, among other things, a referendum on the United States’ continued role in NATO. With a combined population of more than nine hundred million people and $1.3 trillion dollars in defense spending, NATO is by far the largest, oldest, and most capable defensive alliance in the world. Increasingly, however, some argue that years of “underinvestment” in defense by NATO allies justify US disengagement or even withdrawal from the Alliance. Others see China as the “pacing” threat and argue that a wealthy and populous Europe should be left to provide for its own security. In this context, why does NATO still matter?

NATO matters to the United States because Europe does. Today, the European Union (EU) is the world’s largest trading bloc and largest trader of manufactured goods and services, ranking first in both inbound and outbound international investments. The European Union (EU) is the top trading partner for eighty countries, a statistic greatly magnified with the addition of the United Kingdom, Turkey, Norway, Switzerland, and other partners who are not EU members. (By comparison, the United States is the top trading partner for around twenty countries.) Except for energy, Europe imports more from developing countries than the United States, Canada, Japan, and China combined. Trade does not thrive amid war and instability, and NATO has been an indispensable component of international peace and the backbone of US national security since 1949. The Alliance is second only to nuclear deterrence as a guarantor of peace in Europe and a major force for global stability. Looking forward, however, NATO cannot stand on its past record. For the United States to continue as its leader and most important ally, the Alliance must be seen to serve US national interests in a direct and consequential way.

America’s Military Is Not Prepared for War — or Peace

Roger Wicker

“To be prepared for war,” George Washington said, “is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.” President Ronald Reagan agreed with his forebear’s words, and peace through strength became a theme of his administration. In the past four decades, the American arsenal helped secure that peace, but political neglect has led to its atrophy as other nations’ war machines have kicked into high gear. Most Americans do not realize the specter of great power conflict has risen again.

It is far past time to rebuild America’s military. We can avoid war by preparing for it.

When America’s senior military leaders testify before my colleagues and me on the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee behind closed doors, they have said that we face some of the most dangerous global threat environments since World War II. Then, they darken that already unsettling picture by explaining that our armed forces are at risk of being underequipped and outgunned. We struggle to build and maintain ships, our fighter jet fleet is dangerously small, and our military infrastructure is outdated. Meanwhile, America’s adversaries are growing their militaries and getting more aggressive.

In China, the country’s leader, Xi Jinping, has orchestrated a historic military modernization intended to exploit the U.S. military’s weaknesses. He has overtaken the U.S. Navy in fleet size, built one of the world’s largest missile stockpiles and made big advances in space. President Vladimir Putin of Russia has thrown Europe into war and mobilized his society for long-term conflict. Iran and its proxy groups have escalated their shadow war against Israel and increased attacks on U.S. ships and soldiers. And North Korea has disregarded efforts toward arms control negotiations and moved toward wartime readiness.

How Ukraine Can Do More With Less A Military Strategy to Outlast Russia

Keith L. Carter, Jennifer Spindel, and Matthew McClary

As the war in Ukraine enters its third spring, leaders from Brazil, China, the Vatican, and elsewhere have urged Ukraine to negotiate with Russia. Ukrainian forces are unlikely to break through fortified Russian lines, the argument goes, and Kyiv should recognize the reality of Russia’s territorial annexation. Ukraine has successfully used drones to both surveil and attack Russian targets, but drones alone cannot win the war. And so, hampered by weapon and personnel shortages, Ukraine will not be able to reclaim territory. Russia has successfully turned this fight into an attritional struggle in which Moscow holds several advantages: a larger population, greater defense industrial capacity, and well-prepared defenses in the Donbas, Kherson, and especially Crimea. Given the fatigue among its Western supporters and the inconsistency of their material support, this is a type of war Ukraine simply cannot win.

It is true that going toe-to-toe, shell-for-shell with Russia is no longer a viable strategy for Ukraine. But Kyiv does not need to give up; instead, it needs a new approach. A better strategy would economize on the use of Ukrainian forces and conserve the limited material they receive from the United States and European partners. Ukraine must adjust the way it organizes, equips, and thinks about the war, switching out head-on confrontation with Russian forces for an asymmetric, guerrilla-style approach. Doing so will no doubt prolong the fighting, but a pivot to unconventional warfare offers the best chance for Ukraine to chip away at Russian resolve, both on the frontlines and at home.

U.S. concerned about Ukraine strikes on Russian nuclear radar stations

Ellen Nakashima and Isabelle Khurshudyan

“The United States is concerned about Ukraine’s recent strikes against Russian ballistic missile early-warning sites,” said a U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity.

Washington has conveyed its concerns to Kyiv about two attempted attacks over the last week against radar stations that provide conventional air defense as well as warning of nuclear launches by the West. At least one strike in Armavir, in Russia’s southeastern Krasnodar region, appeared to have caused some damage.

“These sites have not been involved in supporting Russia’s war against Ukraine,” the U.S. official said. “But they are sensitive locations because Russia could perceive that its strategic deterrent capabilities are being targeted, which could undermine Russia’s ability to maintain nuclear deterrence against the United States.”

A Ukrainian official familiar with the matter, however, said that Russia has used the radar sites to monitor the Ukrainian military’s activities, particularly Kyiv’s use of aerial weaponry, such as drones and missiles. The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive security matter, confirmed that Ukraine’s Military Intelligence Directorate, known by its initials as GUR, was responsible for the strikes.

Ukraine is facing a continuing threat to its existence from a Russian enemy force — which boasts the world’s largest nuclear arsenal — that has gained ground of late, in part due to its sophisticated radar and weapons-jamming technology, which has rendered virtually useless some U.S.-provided guided missiles and artillery shells. This capability has also enhanced Moscow’s ability to track British and U.S.-provided longer-range weaponry and drones, which have caused serious damage to Russia’s Black Sea fleet and military installations in Crimea, the southern peninsula illegally seized from Ukraine in 2014.

Israel, Hamas and the Law of War

David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey

As it defends itself against Hamas in Gaza, Israel has come under sustained political, media and legal attack for supposedly violating international law—and not only from hostile countries and bodies like the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice. On May 10 the U.S. State Department sent a report to Congress that concluded U.S.-provided arms have been used by Israel “in instances inconsistent with its IHL”—international humanitarian law—“obligations or with established best practices for mitigating civilian harm.”

These criticisms are based on a distorted view of the law of war and its crucial legal principles—distinction, proportionality, and the obligations owed to enemy civilians. They threaten Israel’s strategic interests and the ability of all law-abiding nations to defend themselves.

The law of armed conflict is a practical set of rules directed at ameliorating the harms of war—originally with respect to those engaged in combat, and over the years expanding to noncombatants associated with the military and ultimately to civilians. Protecting civilians and civilian property is an important goal of the laws of war, but not their paramount goal.

Other equally important goals are regulating the means and methods of warfare, ensuring appropriate treatment for wounded combatants and prisoners of war, and ensuring that the war aims of belligerents—generally understood as “military necessity”—can be pursued within these rules and requirements. But the law of war is in no way intended to level the playing field in favor of the weaker party.

Hamas is preparing long-term insurgency in Gaza

Seth J. Frantzman

Hamas has been communicating its tactics in Gaza via statements put out in pro-Iranian media for a while now, many by Al-Mayadeen media. They also reflect Hamas’s strategy for Gaza’s future.

For example, Hamas frequently references how it works with other terror groups in Gaza to target IDF forces in various areas of Gaza; one of the attacks’ main focus is Israeli troops in the Netzarim corridor, which increasingly indicates that Hamas is preparing for a long-term insurgency.

The shift in tactics represents the way that Hamas is adapting to the long war. Israel has hinted that the fighting could go on for many months; Hamas knows this, as it has been fighting Israel for decades, often changing its tactics. Hamas seeks to learn from Israel’s actions, and its announcements reflect this learning curve.

While Israeli officials referred to Hamas “battalions” in the early months of the war, Hamas now primarily focuses on small unit attacks. There were 24 Hamas battalions in Gaza in October.

Over time, Israeli officials assessed that the IDF dismantled 12 in northern Gaza and eventually defeated up to 19. This may include up to 14,000 terrorists killed in Gaza. In addition, Hamas suffered numerous casualties, possibly 10,000 wounded, which would seem to indicate it has only a few thousand fighters left. However, it is recruiting.

Another point to note is that estimates of the number of “terrorists” killed do not differentiate between Hamas and other groups, such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Anduril Is Building Out the Pentagon’s Dream of Deadly Drone Swarms

When Palmer Luckey cofounded the defense startup Anduril in 2017, three years after selling his virtual reality startup Oculus to Facebook, the idea of a twentysomething from the tech industry challenging the giant contractors that build fighter jets, tanks, and warships for the US military seemed somewhat far-fetched. Seven years on, Luckey is showing that Anduril can not only compete with those contractors—it can win.

Last month, Anduril was one of two companies, along with the established defense contractor General Atomics, chosen to prototype a new kind of autonomous fighter jet called the Collaborative Combat Aircraft, or CCA, for the US Air Force and Navy. Anduril was chosen ahead of a pack of what Beltway lingo dubs “defense primes”—Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman.

“Anduril is proving that with the right team and business model, a seven-year-old company can go toe-to-toe with players that have been around for 70+,” Luckey wrote on social media platform X shortly after the contract was announced. The company declined to make anyone available for this article.

That business model has seen Anduril focus on showing that it can rapidly deliver drones, submarines, and other hardware infused with advanced software at relatively low cost. It also reflects a shift in America’s war-fighting outlook toward quicker development of less expensive systems that feature more software and autonomy.

The Operational Level Of War Does Not Exist

During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, I served on what was then the Marine Corps Combat Development Command’s Combat Assessment Team. There was a sense of urgency in gathering campaign lessons learned and the team members of the team were imbedded in staffs across the MEF. We contributed as part of the staff during the day and captured observations at night. When Baghdad fell and I MEF was re-deployed home, we spent a couple of months synthesizing what we had learned into something that would hopefully be helpful for future fights.

Our observations were focused on tactical lessons learned. The Marine Corps, after all, fights at the tactical level. Although I spent a lot of time studying and thinking about the operational level of war, my perspective has shifted, and I now argue the operational level of war does not exist. It is a construct (and not a useful one) for warfighting, justifying, in the wake of Goldwater-Nichols, general officer positions and massive supporting staff. Every staff, from combatant commanders through joint task forces, and functional component commanders, to the MEF claims to fight at the operational level of war.

These “operational-level staffs” create a massive demand for tactical information from those doing the actual fighting while diffusing authority, responsibility, and accountability. Accountability and responsibility are vital in war, and it is critical to know who is empowered to make decisions. He who makes decisions in war is responsible for strategy, and I am not certain our current organizational constructs make it clear who is in charge.

As a related aside, it should be troubling to recognize the United States won World War II with fewer than a dozen four-star admirals and generals leading sixteen million men and women in uniform. The nature of war has not changed even though its character has evolved with technology. We are creatures of our technology, however, and one could argue war’s complexity has not necessarily become more difficult to manage. Today, we have forty-three four-star admirals and generals, and our win-loss record is not great. I thought the Information Age was supposed to flatten organizations.

The Great AI Challenge: We Test Five Top Bots on Useful, Everyday Skills

Dalvin Brown, Kara Dapena and Joanna Stern

Would you trust an AI chatbot with family planning? Investing $1 million? How about writing your wedding vows?

Human-sounding bots barely existed two years ago. Now they’re everywhere. There’s ChatGPT, which kicked off the whole generative-AI craze, and big swings from Google and Microsoft, plus countless other smaller players, all with their own smooth-talking helpers.

We put five of the leading bots through a series of blind tests to determine their usefulness. While we hoped to find the Caitlin Clark of chatbots, that wasn’t exactly what happened. They excel in some areas and fail in others. Plus, they’re all evolving rapidly. During our testing, OpenAI released an upgrade to ChatGPT that improved its speed and current-events knowledge.

We wanted to see the range of responses we’d get asking real-life questions and ordering up everyday tasks—not a scientific assessment, but one that reflects how we’ll all use these tools. Consider it the chatbot Olympics.

Do We Still Understand How Wars are Won?

I condemn the recent strike on Rafah because the civilian-to-militant death ratio was disproportional.

Just to make one point about international law - that isn't exactly the "proportion" that it addresses (well, obliquely it does). The proportionality analysis is that any anticipated harm to civilians must be proportional to the anticipated military advantage. While, clearly, a higher ratio of civilian casualties to military casualties may indicate that the proportion of harm to civilians against military advantage is higher, that isn't necessarily the case - military advantage is not merely calculated based on number of soldiers killed (and, for that matter, civilian harm is not merely calculated based on civilians killed).

Furthermore, the relevant question is the anticipated harm and anticipated advantage - if the side making the attack reasonably anticipates less harm, it isn't necessarily a war crime even if the actual result is disproportionate. And in the case of the Rafah strike, Israel at least claims that it did not anticipate the fire which caused many of the civilian casualties. As I've said before, we aren't in the Israeli targeting room, and this war is complex, so we should wait to rush to judgment about war crimes - we don't know what Israel anticipated, or whether that anticipation was reasonable (for instance, if the targeter had intel that munitions were being stored nearby, was it a reasonable assumption that using the weapon at issue would cause secondary explosions, and should that have been considered in the strike decision?) We simply do not know.

Across the Army, units lean into drone experimentation


In speech after speech, Army leaders have made it clear that they want more drones in more units.

“We're going to see robotics inside the formation, on the ground and in the air,” Army Chief of Staff Randy George told Defense One in March.

Now a growing number of Army units, and particularly their junior officers and enlisted soldiers, are engaged in wide-ranging experiments to answer George’s call—and learn to train for, field, and operate their new systems.

“No longer is a drone just a safety net” for soldiers on patrol, said Capt. Adam Johnson, commander of Gainey Company, an experimental unit that serves as a hub for trying new technologies and tactics in the 82nd Airborne. “They have a purpose.”

Gainey’s Robotics and Autonomous Systems platoon is tasked with evaluating the technical aspects of commercially available small drones. Johnson said first-person-view, or FPV, drones have proven particularly useful, in part because their low cost means they’re easier to experiment with. The unit builds its own FPVs from scratch by assembling components from approved suppliers.

By contrast, experimenting with the costly commercially available drones from the military’s pre-approved Blue List can create “heartache” for soldiers, said the RAS platoon sergeant, who requested anonymity for personal security reasons. Blue UAS drones cost three to five times as much as equivalent Chinese drones, pushing their costs into the tens of thousands of dollars.

In addition to technical experimentation—with everything from drones to ground robots—the unit has grappled with the training and organization of drone operators.