30 June 2024

We must hold a firm line with the Taliban

Jessica Ludwig

International consensus against recognizing the Taliban is fraying at a startling speed.

Resolve to stand up to the Taliban will again be put to the test at the United Nations’ third Doha Meeting on Afghanistan on June 30 – July 1. At the time of writing, the Taliban accepted an invitation to attend the meeting to discuss the country’s future. Afghan women’s advocates and civil society representatives will be noticeably excluded from the in-person sessions. With a meeting agenda narrowly tailored to the Taliban’s preferences and limited to private sector development and counternarcotics, how will they be held accountable for their actions? Ongoing security concerns, the Taliban’s handling of humanitarian crises, and gross human rights violations – especially the systematic persecution of women – reflect a high level of instability in Afghanistan under the Taliban that hardly justifies normalizing their capture of the country.

Against this backdrop, the United States and the international community must take a hard look at their roles in contributing to the Taliban’s pursuit of legitimacy.

This should start with rejecting some exemptions to the travel ban and asset freezes sanctioned Taliban leaders have submitted to the U.N. Security Council. The United States has voted to approve every single travel ban exemption request, Thomas West, the State Department’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan, testified at a January 2024 congressional hearing.

Instead of allowing Taliban members to travel, the United States and the international community should be ratcheting up pressure on the Taliban leadership by considering targeted sanctions, designations, and other measures to hold them responsible for human rights abuses, corruption, and ongoing links to terrorist groups.

Taliban acting Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani and three other sanctioned senior Taliban leaders were in Saudi Arabia this month for the Hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, thanks to travel ban exemptions granted by the Security Council. But this was no ordinary religious act for Haqqani and his colleagues. It was a propaganda coup with implications for Haqqani’s internal status within the Taliban and the Taliban’s standing within the world.

China ‘actively’ targeting US industrial base, warns CYBERCOM chief


TECHNET CYBER 2024 — US Cyber Command officials this week painted a grim picture of what Chinese cyber attacks could do to the US defense industrial base, including destroying critical infrastructure, intellectual property theft and supply chain disruption.

“The defense industrial base is being actively targeted by our adversaries and competitors, particularly by the People’s Republic of China. They are acting with increasing agility and sophistication, which we must continue to outpace,” Commander of CYBERCOM, Gen. Timothy Haugh said Tuesday during his keynote address at the TechNet Cyber conference in Baltimore.

“The People’s Republic of China’s efforts to steal intellectual property, gain critical infrastructure footholds and disrupt supply chains pose significant risk to DoD’s ability to defend the nation.”

Haugh, also the director of the NSA, said that the PRC is deploying extensive resources, both in the military and in the commercial sector, to target the DIB.

“They are using vulnerabilities for advantage, and they are weaponizing them in campaigns of espionage, sabotage, theft and disruption, targeting the DIB,” Haugh said.

To combat this threat, Haugh emphasized that the industry must stand guard and unite with the Department of Defense to fend off adversary attacks.

“We realize that cybersecurity is not the top priority for many of the companies within the defense industrial base. It’s just not their primary focus. These companies and entities focus on manufacturing, innovating and developing the tools that win this country’s wars,” he said. “This is where our partnership adds value. The DIB must enhance its cybersecurity, and the Cyber Command and NSA team are willing and eager partners to assist you.”

The New Productive Forces In China – Analysis

Zhao Zhijiang

The current focus, emphasis, and approaches of policies in China have shifted towards what is known as “new productive forces”. To avoid policy diffusion and loss of focus, it is crucial for the country to ensure that policies are implemented in sectors and manufacturing that are genuinely reliable.

Many so-called new products and technologies are often short-lived phenomena. Therefore, policy concentration will be a vital focal point. According to ANBOUND’s founder Mr. Kung Chan, China’s economic situation is currently trending towards a state of shrinkage, which should not be viewed solely from an economic cycle perspective, nor can simple additions to policies resolve the issues. He believes that since the matter revolves around economic growth, the key lies in production. The immediate task for the Chinese policymakers is to identify focal points and develop industries that qualify as “new productive forces”, or else China may face risks of spending resources on unnecessary sectors.

What exactly is “new productive forces”?

From a manufacturing perspective, it not only refers to technological innovation but also achieves product upgrades and sustainable technological advancements. Only industries that meet these criteria can be termed as “new productive forces”. The essence of it lies in whether the product and its associated industry can withstand the test of time, maintain its product positioning, possess continuous technological upgrading capabilities, constantly innovate, and control the market through product updates and replacements.

It is worth noting that there is currently a directional issue in China’s public opinion, where any technology product related to high technology and innovation tends to be labeled as a “new productive force”, leading to the concept being abused. The Economic Daily criticizes this phenomenon, stating that “developing new productive forces must guard against blindly following trends”. Ignoring the development laws of industries and blindly chasing the current popular trends will only cause issues such as new redundant construction and over-production, which will certainly have negative impacts on local economic and social development, including debt. In fact, industries like photovoltaics and batteries obviously have technological shortcomings and face geopolitical risks, making them difficult to sustain and assume the responsibility of developing new productive forces.

China Restricts Religious Debate Event For Tibetan Monks


Chinese government authorities in a Tibetan-populated county of Sichuan province have shortened the duration of a key weeklong debate on Buddhist philosophy and reduced the number of monks who could attend the event, Tibetans with knowledge of the situation said.

The annual Dhokham Jang Gunchoe, or Great Winter Debate Session, is a longstanding tradition of Tibet’s three monastic universities — Drepung, Gaden and Sera — and traditionally occurs in the eleventh month of the Tibetan calendar. It draws thousands of monks fromother Buddhist monasteries and colleges.

The event began on June 19 at Za Bhum Nyingma Monastery under tight restrictions in Sershul county in Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in the province’s northwest.

Authorities shortened the two-week event, which enjoys popularity across Tibetan-populated regions, to one week and cut the number of monastic attendees to 3,200 from about 7,000, said one Tibetan source, who like others in the report declined to be named.

The restrictions are yet another example of how China has sought to control and limit religious activities in Tibet because authorities see Tibetan Buddhism as a threat to the sovereignty of the Chinese political state.

They also have set up police stations in or near monasteries, subjected monks and nuns to “patriotic re-education,” and kicked Buddhist clergy members out of Buddhist institutes.

During the session, armed police were stationed at the Zabum Nyingma Monastery and patrolled the surrounding mountains, while lay people visiting the monastery were held up at checkpoints, said the sources from inside and outside Tibet.

Authorities also scrutinized monks and nuns attending the event to ensure they were free of political affiliations, they said.

Because local authorities suddenly halted arrangements for Dhokham Jang Gunchoe in 2023, the monastery and its supporters petitioned provincial authorities for permission to hold the session this year, said one of the sources.

They received permission, but authorities reduced the duration and the number of participants, citing security concerns, he said.

Have China’s Wolf Warriors Gone Extinct?

Tyler Jost

Five years ago, in 2019, China’s diplomats stopped being diplomatic. High-profile ambassadors and foreign ministry spokespeople began to make acerbic, sarcastic, and negative statements on Twitter (now X), in press conferences, and behind closed doors. The contrast to Chinese diplomats’ previously tactful and circumspect rhetorical style was so striking that observers at home and abroad conferred a colorful new moniker on China’s emissaries: “wolf warriors.”

The primary aim of wolf warrior diplomacy was to disarm foreign critics through public confrontations, often using emotionally evocative language. In July 2019, for example, one of China’s senior diplomats in Pakistan traded barbs.

Green Peace How the Fight Against Climate Change Can Overcome Geopolitical Discord

Meghan L. O’Sullivan and Jason Bordoff

The clean energy transition has reached adolescence. Its future direction is not yet set, and in the meantime, its internal paradoxes make for a volatile mix. Political leaders fret that ambitious steps to address climate change will aggravate geopolitical problems in a world already troubled by wars and humanitarian crises. Governments worried about energy security after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have advocated for strategies that embrace both fossil fuels and clean alternatives, lest dependence on imported oil give way to reliance on imported lithium. Rising inflation and economic slowdowns, too, are exacerbating concerns that the energy transition will lead to job losses and price hikes. The warnings are coming in quick succession. In March, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink championed “energy pragmatism” in his most recent annual letter, and a few weeks later, a JPMorgan Chase report called for a “reality check” about the transition away from fossil fuels. In April, Haitham al-Ghais, the secretary-general of OPEC, wrote that the energy transition would require “realistic policies” that acknowledge rising demand for oil and gas.

The challenges facing the clean energy transition are real, but the impulse to pull back is misguided. Now is the time for more ambition, not less. As carbon emissions continue to rise, mitigating the dire threat of climate change requires much faster decarbonization than is currently underway. But this is not the only reason to hasten the transition. Poorly implemented half measures are part of the problem; they are worsening the same geopolitical tensions and economic fragmentation that make political leaders wary of stronger climate action. Well-designed and far-reaching policies, however, could help overcome this hurdle. An accelerated transition to clean energy can reinvigorate economies, curb protectionist forces, and calm great-power tensions, ameliorating the very anxieties that today are driving calls to slow down.

Forward-thinking leaders should embrace the transition away from carbon-intensive energy as a means to resolve pressing global problems rather than as just an end in itself. Focusing only on the target of net-zero emissions by midcentury, as stipulated in the Paris Agreement of 2015, would be aiming too low. The energy system is deeply entwined with geopolitics, and the effort to overhaul it is a chance to address more than just climate change.

Xi Jinping’s Russian Lessons What the Chinese Leader’s Father Taught Him About Dealing With Moscow

Joseph Torigian

On February 4, 2022, just before invading Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to Beijing, where he and Chinese leader Xi Jinping signed a document that hailed a “no limits” partnership. In the two-plus years since, China has refused to condemn the invasion and helped Russia acquire materiel, from machine tools to engines to drones, crucial for the war effort. The flourishing partnership between Xi and Putin has raised serious questions in Western capitals. Is the alliance that linked Moscow and Beijing in the early Cold War back? The Russians and the Chinese have repeatedly dismissed such talk, but they have also asserted that their current partnership is more resilient than the days when they led the communist world together.

Xi would know. His father, Xi Zhongxun, was a high-level Chinese Communist Party (CCP) official whose own career was a microcosm of relations between Beijing and Moscow during the twentieth century, from the early days of the revolution in the 1920s and 1930s to the on-and-off help during the 1940s and the wholesale copying of the Soviet model in the 1950s, and from the open split of the 1960s and 1970s to the rapprochement in the late 1980s. The elder Xi’s dealings with Moscow showed the dangers of intimacy and enmity, how growing too close created unmanageable tensions that produced a costly feud. Understanding that history, the younger Xi by all appearances believes that the current relationship between Moscow and Beijing is indeed stronger than it was in the 1950s, and that he can avoid the strains that led to the earlier split.

During the Cold War, communist ideology ultimately pushed the two countries apart, while now they are united by a more general set of conservative, anti-Western, and statist attitudes. In the old days, poor relations between individual leaders damaged the relationship, while today, Xi and Putin have made their personal connection a feature of the strategic partnership. Then, the exigencies of the Cold War alliance, which required each side to sacrifice its own interests for the other’s, contained the seeds of its own demise, whereas the current axis of convenience allows more flexibility. China and Russia will never again march in lockstep as they did in the first years after the Chinese Revolution, but they won’t walk away from each other any time soon.

The Futility of a Lebanon War

Michael Young

Diwan, a blog from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Middle East Program and the Malcolm H. Kerr Carnegie Middle East Center, draws on Carnegie scholars to provide insight into and analysis of the region. LEARN MORE

As tensions have risen in the border area between Lebanon and Israel, many observers are predicting that Hezbollah and the Israeli military will soon be at war. On June 26, several governments began advising their citizens to leave Lebanon. Certainly, there is a high likelihood that some escalation will happen in the coming weeks, but for now we’re still not in the final stages of the build-up to a Lebanese-Israeli apocalypse.

Why have the pessimists been so affirmative? Because of ambiguous signaling from the Biden administration. During a recent trip to Washington an Israeli delegation heard from U.S. officials that in the event of a conflict with Hezbollah, the Americans would fully back Israel. This prompted one commentator to tell a Lebanese newspaper that the administration’s “red light against an Israeli offensive turned orange, and it may soon turn green.” Such arguments were further reinforced by U.S. warnings that Hezbollah was wrong to think that Washington could stop an Israeli invasion.

All this may be true, but it’s more probable the Biden administration’s statements are part of a concerted effort to raise the heat on Hezbollah to be more flexible toward a negotiated solution in the border area. The reason is that U.S. officials have repeated time and again, most recently during the visit to Washington of Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, that a new Lebanese war would be catastrophic for Lebanon and Israel. The United States fears it could spiral into a regional conflagration that draws in U.S. forces. That is why the U.S. defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, told Gallant that “principled diplomacy is the only way to prevent any further escalation of tensions in the region.”

Why Palestinians Are Not Welcomed by Their Neighbors

Tom Copeland

Hospitality has been a sacred duty in Arab culture for over a millennium. One must always welcome strangers into your home, providing them with food and protection.

Roughly 75% of the population of Gaza is now internally displaced by war. Why won’t their Arab neighbors show hospitality and take them in?

Immediately after the horrendous October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, Egypt’s President Al-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II insisted publicly that Palestinian refugees would not be allowed into their countries, ostensibly because they do not want to give in to ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Gaza. They are right to worry that the displacement of millions of Gazans across their borders would become permanent.

Massive out-migration also would reduce pressure on Israel for a two-state solution – a solution only pitched by the United States and Israeli doves.

If Israel was committing ethnic cleansing, they would forcibly be expelling Gazans across Israeli borders. Certainly, the Israelis do not want to allow Hamas terrorists to escape amidst a refugee flow. But if neighboring Arab countries were pressing the Israelis to allow Gazans to flee into their countries, it would be difficult for Israel to refuse.

Former US Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who spent four decades in the Middle East, says that other Arab states look on the Palestinians with “fear and loathing.” There are many reasons why these neighbors refuse to welcome Palestinian refugees.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II has little desire to accept refugees. There are already nearly 60 designated Palestinian refugee camps across the Middle East, including ten in Jordan with more than two million residents. Most of these camps were established in the 1950’s and 60’s and are now more like concrete slums than tent camps. Establishing massive new camps would be a financial and logistical nightmare.

Iran’s New Nuclear Threat How Tehran Has Weaponized Its Threshold Status

Eric Brewer

In April, the simmering war in the Middle East nearly took a nuclear turn when Tehran launched more than 300 missiles and suicide drones at Israel in retaliation for its strike on the Iranian consulate in Syria. This was Iran’s first direct attack on Israel, and international inspectors stayed away from Iran’s nuclear facilities for fear of a retaliatory response. As the world waited, the Iranian military commander in charge of defending the Islamic Republic’s nuclear sites publicly warned that if Israel attacked the sites, Tehran could revise its nuclear doctrine. This was a thinly veiled threat that

Microsoft informs customers that Russian hackers spied on emails

Zeba Siddiqui

June 27 (Reuters) - Russian hackers who broke into Microsoft's (MSFT.O), opens new tab systems and spied on staff inboxes earlier this year also stole emails from its customers, the tech giant said on Thursday, around six months after it first disclosed the intrusion.
The disclosure underscores the breadth of the breach as Microsoft faces increasing regulatory scrutiny over the security of its software and systems against foreign threats. An allegedly Chinese hacking group that separately breached Microsoft last year stole thousands of U.S. government emails.

The Russian government has never responded to the Microsoft hacking allegations, but Microsoft has said the hackers targeted cybersecurity researchers who had been investigating the Russian hacking group's actions.
"This week we are continuing notifications to customers who corresponded with Microsoft corporate email accounts that were exfiltrated by the Midnight Blizzard threat actor," a Microsoft spokesperson said in an emailed statement. Bloomberg first reported on the action earlier in the day.

Microsoft said it was also sharing the compromised emails with its customers, but did not say how many customers had been impacted, nor how many emails may have been stolen.
"This is increased detail for customers who have already been notified and also includes new notifications," the spokesperson said. "We’re committed to sharing information with our customers as our investigation continues."
Back in January, the world's largest software vendor had said that Midnight Blizzard had accessed "a very small percentage" of the company's corporate email accounts. Four months later it said those hackers were still trying to break in, alarming many of its security industry peers and customers who questioned why Microsoft's systems remained vulnerable.

Those intrusions, and the Chinese hack last year, prompted a Congressional hearing earlier this month where Microsoft President Brad Smith said the company was working on overhauling its security practices.

America’s Asian Partners Are Not Worried Enough About Trump

Victor Cha

One cannot have a political conversation in Asian capitals today without getting pulled into a discussion about Donald Trump’s potential return to the White House. The Japanese have even coined a phrase, moshi-tora (“if Trump”)—shorthand for “What happens if Trump wins the U.S. presidential election in November?” Speculation abounds about how a second Trump term might differ from Joe Biden’s first term, during which Washington focused on deepening alliance partnerships and building coalitions to compete with China economically and to bolster Taiwan’s deterrence.

Calls for Biden to Step Aside Are About to Get Deafening


This article is part of The D.C. Brief, TIME’s politics newsletter. Sign up here to get stories like this sent to your inbox.

For Democrats who tuned into Thursday night’s debate looking to calm their worries about President Joe Biden’s age and acuity, they came away with zero remedy. Within 10 minutes of the CNN-hosted event’s start, some of even Biden’s most loyal supporters found themselves asking if the nomination was, in fact, settled.

How bad was it? Vice President Kamala Harris rushed to join the clean-up, booking late-night cable appearances.

“Yes, there was a slow start but a strong finish,” said Harris, whose prospects for replacing her boss on the top of the ticket were getting hard scrutiny in real time as the debate unfolded. “Listen, people can debate on style points, but ultimately, this election and who is the President of the United States has to be about substance, and the contrast is clear,” she said on CNN in a show of unity with her boss.

A sad and sorry debate

Dr Leslie Vinjamuri

President Biden and former President Trump held their first debate in Atlanta on Thursday night with the election on a knife’s edge. Given Biden’s faltering performance, this may also turn out to be the only debate.

Recent polls have the candidates tied 50-50. But 20 per cent of voters were ‘undecided’ and 60 per cent of Americans had planned to watch the debates.

In Europe, where the UK and France hold their own significant elections in July, most slept through this debate. Yet no election matters more for Europe’s security and for international order than the US vote on 5 November.

Viewers were watching…to judge if the candidates have the temperament and stamina to provide effective leadership.

In this race, the overriding issues driving voters are inflation, abortion, and immigration. Each is significant and divisive. But viewers were also watching with another issue in mind: to judge if the candidates have the temperament and stamina to provide effective leadership.

On this dimension, the debate was very far from reassuring. President Biden’s performance has provoked demands that he cede his nomination to an alternative candidate. This is unfortunate. Many of Biden’s policies have been essential, from bringing NATO together to defend Ukraine, to spearheading America’s COVID-19 recovery.

A halting Biden tries to confront Trump at debate but sparks Democratic anxiety about his candidacy


ATLANTA (AP) — A raspy and sometimes halting President Joe Biden tried repeatedly to confront Donald Trump in their first debate ahead of the November election, as his Republican rival countered Biden’s criticism by leaning into falsehoods about the economy, illegal immigration and his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection.

Biden’s uneven performance, particularly early in the debate, crystallized the concerns of many Americans that, at 81, he is too old to serve as president. It sparked a fresh round of calls for the Democrat to consider stepping aside as the party’s nominee as members of his party fear a return of Trump to the White House.

Biden repeatedly tore into Trump in an apparent effort to provoke him, bringing up everything from the former president’s recent felony conviction to his alleged insult of World War I veterans to his weight. The 78-year-old Trump declined to clearly state he would accept the results of the November election, four years after he promoted conspiracy theories about his loss that culminated in the Jan. 6 insurrection, and repeatedly misstated the record from his time in office.

Europe’s coming paralysis

Mark Leonard 

Although the European Parliament election has had very little impact in Brussels, the outcome will soon turn Europe upside down. Yes, fears of a hard-right takeover proved overblown. The election resulted in more of a gentle nudge to the right than a seismic shift. While far-right parties finished first in five countries and second in four others, the implications for the top EU leadership positions are limited.

The centre-right European People’s Party remains the biggest parliamentary faction. With 189 seats, it comfortably outnumbers the far-right Identity and Democracy group and the European Conservatives and Reformists, which have a combined total of 141 seats. Moreover, the centre-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats lost fewer seats than many expected, owing to strong showings by French, Italian, and Spanish social democrats.

The upshot is a parliament that doesn’t look too different from its predecessor. The three pro-European mainstream groups still hold a comfortable majority. Anyone hoping for a major upset in the distribution of the bloc’s top jobs – or a repeat of 2019’s drama, when European leaders pulled Ursula von der Leyen’s name out of a hat to be European Commission president – will probably end up disappointed.

Barring any major surprises, von der Leyen will keep her job, and the mainstream parties will come together to fill the other posts. Former Portuguese prime minister Antonio Costa and Estonian prime minister Kaja Kallas look to be shoo-ins for the roles of European Council president and the European Union’s top diplomat, respectively.

Even if there is no real shake-up from the European Parliament election at the EU level, we have now gotten a glimpse of the political rot in some of the bloc’s most influential member states, most notably France and Germany.

How Russian Elites Made Peace With the War

Mikhail Zygar

When the war in Ukraine began, the Russian elite entered a state of shock. As the West imposed sanctions and travel bans, Russia’s rich and politically connected citizens became convinced that their previous lives were over. Battlefield losses quickly piled up, and many deemed the invasion a catastrophic mistake. “The Russia we deeply love has fallen into the hands of idiots,” Roman Trotsenko, the former head of the country’s largest shipbuilding company, told another businessperson during a phone conversation that was leaked in April 2023. “They adhere to bizarre, outdated nineteenth-century ideologies. This cannot end well. It will end in disaster.” In another leaked conversation, the famous music producer Iosif Prigozhin (not related to Yevgeny Prigozhin) called Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government “fucking criminals.” Some of the oligarchs who were abroad at the time of the invasion refused to return to Russia, including Mikhail Fridman, the owner of the country’s largest private bank.

But that was then. As 2023 wound on, elites started endorsing the war. More musicians began traveling to perform in the occupied territories. In October, Fridman returned to Moscow from London, having decided that life in the West under sanctions was unbearable and that the situation in Russia was comparatively comfortable. And there have been no new recordings of oligarchs grousing about the war. In fact, it is hard to imagine such conversations happening.

That is because Russian elites have learned to stop worrying about the conflict. They have concluded that the invasion, even if they do not support it outright, is a tolerable fact of life. As a result, the odds that they might challenge the Kremlin’s decisions—which were always slim—have gone away entirely. And instead of debating whether to support Putin, Russian elites are now discussing a different question: how the war might end.

They have different answers. Some believe that a big battlefield win would allow Putin to claim a partial victory and, therefore, pause the war. Others think that Putin will not stop until he has gone all the way to Kyiv. Some are convinced that what truly matters to Putin is confrontation with the West, not victory in Ukraine, and that he will thus attack another state in Europe irrespective of what happens with the current conflict. But a few pessimists maintain that the premise of the question itself is wrong. As they see it, the war suits Putin’s political interests, and so he will keep fighting for as long as he lives.

We Got Islamism Wrong

Robert Harward & Jacob Olidort

We Got Islamism Wrong; Israel Cannot Afford to For Its Sake, and for the West

Contrary to public commentary, Iran’s direct and proxy threats against America and Israel in the Middle East is neither new nor uniquely about October 7.

In fact, the threats from the Iranian regime as well as other Islamist actors has only escalated since its inception in 1979 predicated on counterproductive U.S. Foreign Policy in the region.

From a military planning standpoint, the campaign Iran drafted in 1979 appears to have been brilliantly executed over the last 44 years. Today the Revolutionary Regime virtually controls Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and Gaza, through its proxies. A reemergence of the Persian Empire.

All of this was aided by a U.S. policy of denial, if not accommodation, which has precipitated the success of political Islam, particularly of the Iranian form. Iran’s destructive agenda has emboldened and enabled other strains of Islamism to flourish. In 2024, the United States has not changed much—whether myopic calls for pivoting to the Indo-Pacific, non-enforcement of sanctions against the Iranian regime, or a refusal to enable Israel—the first in the fight, and always in the fight—to finish the job with Hamas. This, even as Hamas holds Americans hostage and Hezbollah synchronizing its efforts in the north.

Coupled with other current policy failures and gaps, the lights are once again blinking red. Indeed, it is no wonder that several ISIS-linked individuals were apprehended trying to enter the United States illegally through the southern border; the only surprise is why it took this long.

The threat that was born in 1979 has metastasized in complexity and scope. Today, Iran and other adversaries are aligning their efforts to realize the most of these opportunities—whether global jihadists cheering on the campus protests, Iran facilitating Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, or deepening economic ties by both with China.

NATO’s Fast Approaching ‘Moment Of Truth’ On Ukraine – Analysis

Sara Bjerg Moller

(FPRI) — In April, not long after NATO marked its 75th anniversary, during a little-noticed press conference at the Alliance’s Headquarters in Brussels, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg declared, “if Allies face a choice between meeting NATO capability targets and providing more aid to Ukraine, my message is clear: Send more to Ukraine.” Flanked by the prime ministers of Czechia, Denmark, and the Netherlands, the outgoing secretary general continued on this theme praising Denmark for its decision to donate all of its artillery systems to Ukraine.

In acknowledging the dilemma some Allies face between investing in their own security and providing assistance to Ukraine, the NATO leader has shattered the longstanding taboo in NATO against portraying military aid to Ukraine and the Alliance’s own security interests as a zero-sum game, where one party’s gain comes at the expense of another party’s loss.

The notion that there are tradeoffs between supporting Ukraine and NATO allies’ national readiness levels is an uncomfortable topic of conversation, to be sure. It’s certainly not a debate that Allied leaders wish to have, much less one they want to see play out publicly. But as the NATO Alliance inches ever closer to assuming a more direct role in the Ukraine War, it’s increasingly a conversation that needs to be held, however uncomfortable it may be to do so.

Fragging, Desertions, And Other Problems Mounting For Russian Invaders – Analysis

Paul Goble

According to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his entourage, the Russians fighting in Ukraine are an army of heroes who enjoy almost unanimous domestic support. Neither of those claims is true (see EDM, April 1). The Russian forces in Ukraine are now riddled with fragging, desertions, and corruption—all signs of the kind of degradation that threatens unit cohesion as well as command and control.

Russians at home, despite government polls claiming overwhelming popular support for the invasion forces, are in fact increasingly skeptical of the Kremlin’s compulsion to scrape the bottom of the barrel to fill the depleted army ranks and pay increasingly larger bonuses to convince Russian military-age men to sign up. (For background, see EDM, July 13, 2023.)

In another sign of trouble, the Putin regime has been forced to ask Russians to turn in their privately owned guns to help the invasion forces. Furthermore, and perhaps even more significant as far as the future is concerned, Russians are increasingly alarmed by serious crimes committed by veterans of the war against Ukraine, many of whom were recruited out of prison (see EDM, October 25, 2023, January 19). More Russians are demanding that the government take action against them despite Putin’s insistence that these veterans will form the future Russian elite (see EDM, March 13).

The most dramatic of these problems is the rise of “fragging” among the Russian occupation forces. The term, which refers to attacks on officers by soldiers under their command, became notorious first among US military units in Vietnam and then within Soviet forces in Afghanistan. Novaya Gazeta Europa, a Russian media outlet based in Latvia, has now collected data that indicates fragging is taking place in Russian military units in Ukraine (Novaya Gazeta Europa, June 14).

Our Nearly $1 Trillion Military Budget Won’t Make Us Safer – OpEd

Lindsay Koshgarian

If you looked at the U.S. military budget without knowing otherwise, you’d probably guess we were in World War III.

Our military spending is now the highest it’s been at any point since World War II — and Congress keeps adding more. The House of Representatives just passed legislation that will take military spending to $895 billion, while the Senate Armed Services Committee passed a bill that would total $923 billion.

Those totals don’t even include the military aid to Ukraine and Israel that was included in the $95 billion war package Congress passed this spring. We’re teetering closer and closer to a $1 trillion military budget.

Adjusting for inflation, the last time the national security budget topped $1 trillion was in 1945, the final year of World War II.

Unlike a world war, there’s nothing happening today that can justify this level of spending. Even the war in Ukraine and the decimation of Gaza (which is being carried out with U.S.-supplied weapons) account for just a small fraction of overall spending.

So what’s all this spending for?

It’s to keep the U.S. military machine running as it has since World War II, with the more or less explicit goal of global military domination. That goal is shared by many in Congress. But members of Congress also receive constant encouragement — and campaign funds — from for-profit, corporate military contractors who can expect to receive about half of the total military budget.

But it turns out that global military dominance is pretty expensive. And luckily, it’s not at all necessary to safeguard U.S. security.

America’s Asian Partners Are Not Worried Enough About Trump

Victor Cha

One cannot have a political conversation in Asian capitals today without getting pulled into a discussion about Donald Trump’s potential return to the White House. The Japanese have even coined a phrase, moshi-tora (“if Trump”)—shorthand for “What happens if Trump wins the U.S. presidential election in November?” Speculation abounds about how a second Trump term might differ from Joe Biden’s first term, during which Washington focused on deepening alliance partnerships and building coalitions to compete with China economically and to bolster Taiwan’s deterrence.

Apple stock is thriving thanks to AI. Will it last?

Laura Bratton

Apple has officially turned a corner. In early 2024, the tech giant struggled to make smartphone sales abroad, was slapped with a big antitrust lawsuit from the Department of Justice, and its stock market performance was lackluster. But since unveiling its AI strategy in early June. Apple’s stock price has been on the up-and-up. The question is: will its good fortunes continue?

Apple has fixed multiple security issues with its devices this year

The tech giant’s stock price is up nearly 13% from last month and about 24% from three months ago. Apple launched its AI project called Apple Intelligence at its Worldwide Developers Conference on June 10, and investors have been largely exuberant ever since (save for a brief dip the week of June 17). The company is also outperforming other tech stocks and the stock market overall. Apple bulls are also likely encouraged by its recovering iPhone sales in China.

The Promise And Perils Of AI In The Media

East-West Center

Data and deepfakes. Influencers and elections. Hopes and fears. Those were just a few of the topics explored during the East-West West Center’s biennial International Media Conference this week in Manila, Philippines.

The future of journalism hinges on how responsibly AI can be integrated in newsrooms, speakers told the more than 400 journalists and media professions from 30 countries who gathered at the Philippine International Convention Center to attend the conference focused on the theme “The Future of Facts.” While AI offers powerful tools, they said, it needs to be deployed carefully.

The Positives: Data Analysis and Research Efficiencies

News outlets are already finding advantages of using AI, whether it be for digital searches or dissecting data. The Associated Press’ AI-generated image search function, which can quickly sift through millions of images and video, is just one example. AI is also particularly useful with data analysis, according to experts like Jaemark Tordecilla, a 2024 Nieman Fellow for Journalism at Harvard University, and Don Kevin Hapal, who heads data and innovation at Rappler, an online newspaper based in Manila.

Hapal said Rappler leverages AI for “civic engagement wherever possible,” while making sure to disclose its AI-powered content to its readers. During the 2022 Philippine elections, for example, Rappler used ChatGPT to create profiles for 50,000 candidates running for public posts. It’s tasks like these that can be delegated to technology to free up reporters’ time to work on other important things, he said.

“We believe that human critical thinking and creativity is the supreme,” Hapal said. “Nothing comes out without being reviewed by humans.”

The cyber war against Israel has escalated: How much is it costing us?


Hundreds of senior Israeli industry executives, CEOs of companies and factories, and information security managers in companies participated in a conference to increase preparedness and cyber defense challenges, as part of Cyber Week in Industry led by the Israel Hi-Tech Association of the Manufacturers Association. As part of the conference, Gabi Portnoy, CEO of the National Cyber Defense Authority, referred in detail to the state of industry in Israel, the change in attitude since October 7 and demanded that the state intervene and create a "defensive cyber dome" in a conversation with Maariv.
What is the current state of the cyber field in Israel?

"The success rate of startups in Israel is 4%, that is, most of the companies that are established do not survive. So how do you get from a low success rate to an industry that sells in the amount of 13 billion dollars, which is ten percent of the world market? Because Israel is the size of a city in a major country in the world, and there is no choice but to export the technology."

"In the world there are about 500 unicorns from the cyber field, about 150 of which are Israeli companies. Israel is a significant player in the international arena, but we must not be silent about the yeast because this technology ran at the speed of light. Even for those who deal with it on a daily basis it is very difficult to keep up with the latest technology Portnoy noted.

"The war is changing its face in the face of the current reality. Hamas gathered cyber intelligence in a very intimate way, much of the intelligence came from our cameras in the houses, from the cameras of the municipalities, from the social networks of soldiers. The number of attacks since October 7 has tripled."
How are Iran's cyber capabilities manifested?

"Iran is another prominent front that we are dealing with. Until October 6, Iran did not attack hospitals at all. Since then we have seen many attacks, not necessarily sophisticated, but ones that do the job. Only if we are better prepared will we be able to prevent the Iranian attacks."