7 July 2024

North-East India: Paradise Lost To Narcotic Tsunami? – Analysis

Girish Linganna

In May 2023, violent ethnic clashes broke out in Manipur, the northeastern state bordering Myanmar. The conflict was sparked by one group’s push to be officially recognized as a Scheduled Tribe under the Indian Constitution. The violence quickly spread across large parts of the state and, within nearly a year after the initial clashes, around 220 people had lost their lives. Over 1,100 people were injured and approximately 60,000 were forced to leave their homes.

Journalists have often reported on the cultivation of poppy and drug trafficking from Myanmar to India, a trend the home ministry reports have confirmed periodically, as well. The government admits that drug use in North-East India is a “serious problem”. However, new issues, such as drug syndicates and smugglers working with Nigerian cartels, have made the situation even more complex and difficult to control, according to The Diplomat.

Advanced Monitoring Systems

India’s northeastern states, often called the ‘Seven Sisters’, have long been connected to cross-border drug trafficking. This trade is part of the ‘Golden Triangle’, with Myanmar, where Myanmar is a key player in the global drug market. Because of this, the Indian police have been given the authority to use government rules and laws to crack down on drug trafficking in the region.

Regular ‘vulnerability mapping’ is done along the 1,642-kilometre border with Myanmar to improve surveillance using electronic equipment. In some northeastern states, long-range reconnaissance, observation tools and battlefield surveillance radars have also been set up.

Air Force Will Swap in F-15EX and F-35 Fighters on Japan

Greg Hadley
Source Link

The U.S. Air Force will shift and upgrade its fighter presence in Japan, placing F-15EXs at Kadena Air Base and F-35s at Misawa Air Base, the Pentagon announced July 3.

The announcement comes more than a year and a half after the Air Force announced it would start bringing home the 48 F-15C/D Eagles at Kadena Air Base, without naming a permanent replacement.

The F-15EX, a much upgraded version of the F-15, was long seen as the likely replacement at Kadena but had not been confirmed to this point.

Misawa, which currently hosts F-16s, is the first announced foreign air base in the Indo-Pacific to host USAF F-35 fighters, and just the second overall, after RAF Lakenheath in the United Kingdom.

The number of fighter aircraft at each base will shift. Kadena will go from 48 to 36, while Misawa will go from 36 to 48.

A Department of Defense release did not specify a timeline for either base’s transition. The Air Force has already announced several planned locations for the F-15EX and F-35, and it is unclear if the Japanese bases will jump them in line to get new aircraft.

A Hacker Stole OpenAI Secrets, Raising Fears That China Could, Too

Cade Metz

Early last year, a hacker gained access to the internal messaging systems of OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT, and stole details about the design of the company’s A.I. technologies.

The hacker lifted details from discussions in an online forum where employees talked about OpenAI’s latest technologies, according to two people familiar with the incident, but did not get into the systems where the company houses and builds its artificial intelligence.

OpenAI executives revealed the incident to employees during an all-hands meeting at the company’s San Francisco offices in April 2023 and informed its board of directors, according to the two people, who discussed sensitive information about the company on the condition of anonymity.

But the executives decided not to share the news publicly because no information about customers or partners had been stolen, the two people said. The executives did not consider the incident a threat to national security because they believed the hacker was a private individual with no known ties to a foreign government. The company did not inform the F.B.I. or anyone else in law enforcement.

Cost Factor Dictates Small-Scale AI Models Are More Suited For Chinese Enterprises – Analysis

Chen Li

ANBOUND advocates that China should not develop large AI systems, touted as “big AI”, but instead focus on smaller ones. When discussing the rationale behind such analysis and proposition, the cost factor is one crucial point.

At the end of 2022, ChatGPT emerged and signaled the age of the rapid development of AI globally. From the United States to China, large language models similar to ChatGPT have mushroomed, becoming a valuable resource for various technology companies to showcase their strengths and attract capital. Public information shows that by the end of March 2024, nearly 120 large models have been registered and launched in mainland China. The large models that have completed filing for generative AI services include Baidu’s Ernie Bot, Alibaba’s Tongyi Qianwen, Huawei’s Cloud Pangu, Tencent’s Hunyuan, OPPO’s AndesGPT, Vivio’s BlueLM and others. If including large models that have not been registered, the total number of AI large models in China reached 238 in 2023.

From the perspective of speed and quantity of research and development, China does not seem to lag far behind the world’s leading level in terms of AI large models. At many large model launch events in the countries, major tech companies emphasize the superiority of their large model performance, often claiming to be “comparable to” or even “ahead of” ChatGPT. For example, at the upgrade release conference of the StarFire Cognitive Large Model V1.5 held by iFlytek in June last year, there were several mentions of “StarFire is just a step away from ChatGPT” and “will surpass ChatGPT before October this year”.

Answering Authoritarian State Asymmetric Challenges: Tools for Deterring Hybrid Threats and Non-Military Coercion from China and Russia

Dr. Scott Fisher; Dr. Graig Klein; Dr. Juste Codjo; and Dr. Juris Pupcenoks

Deterring an adversary requires, at the most fundamental level, understanding the adversary. Threatening to isolate an adversary that craves isolation, for example, is unlikely to produce benefits for US policy makers, as borne out by decades of failure to achieve US policy aims in North Korea.

The United States faces similarly counterproductive risks when attempting to deter asymmetric challenges from China and Russia. A common view, supported by both precedent and scholarship, is that military capabilities are effective at deterrence. Our research supports these earlier findings—US and allies’ military capabilities clearly produce negative reactions in Moscow and Beijing. Unfortunately, the scope of these earlier findings is too narrow; they fail to provide the insight required to understand and then effectively deter challenges beyond the military tools of statecraft.

Instead, Washington requires a broader understanding of which instruments of national power can deter a broad spectrum of economic, diplomatic, and political challenges from adversary states. Using a unique new methodology and an approach that examines all instruments of national power, we develop several key findings that will assist US senior leaders and policy makers attempting to deter authoritarian states:
  • military instruments, especially exercises near adversary borders, can harm US deterrence goals by inadvertently supporting the leadership in Beijing and Moscow;
  • economic instruments, chiefly sanctions, produce little reaction—the international relations equivalent of a yawn—while possibly also supporting the leadership in the targeted regimes;
  • information instruments, sometimes in conjunction with diplomatic instruments, can produce the most negative reactions by the targeted states and appear to be an underutilized tool for asymmetric deterrence of authoritarian states, specifically China and Russia.[1]

Why the South China Sea Matters

Wilson Beaver & Maria Victoria Almeida Vazquez

Clashes between the China Coast Guard and the Philippine Navy escalated in June. Philippine officials announced late last month that Chinese personnel attacked dinghies attempting to provision Philippine troops at the disputed Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea.

If China succeeded in dominating the South China Sea, the consequences would be immense: Beijing could potentially choke off trade and shipments to Japan, control access to technologies crucial to U.S. economic activities (especially microchips), and project power deep into the Pacific.

The economic significance of the South China Sea cannot be overstated. As one of the busiest maritime routes in the world, it serves as a vital artery for international trade, facilitating the flow of 64 percent of total goods discharged worldwide in 2022. Any disruption to the free passage of ships through these waters would have far-reaching consequences for the global economy, affecting not only the countries directly involved in the dispute but also the broader international community.

Any attempt by China to restrict access or assert control over the South China Sea would directly impact U.S. economic interests, potentially leading to higher shipping costs, supply chain disruptions, and increased market volatility. South China Sea trade accounts for 5.72 percent of all trade in goods for the United States. Safeguarding freedom of navigation in the South China Sea is essential to protecting American prosperity and maintaining its leadership role in the global economy.

China has the power to end the Ukraine war


Western leaders are becoming increasingly frustrated by China’s role in enabling the war in Ukraine. Some have even openly threatened to sanction the country if it continues to provide Russia with the materials it needs to build more weapons.

And they are right to focus on China’s position of power. Russia is now so dependent on the only major economy still taking the risk to support its regime, that China could effectively force Vladimir Putin to end the conflict.

The extent of Russia’s economic dependence became apparent fairly quickly after its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Just a few months later, things were not going to plan.

In the hope of putting pressure on European countries supporting Ukraine, Russia decided to cut almost all of its exports of gas to the West. Before the war, Russia had provided about 40% of Europe’s gas.

While at first that decision provoked an energy crisis and a surge in bills across the continent, Europe eventually managed to wean itself from Russia’s supply. They did this in part by replacing gas with other sources of energy but also by substituting Russian imports with gas from other countries, including the US.

Iran seeks to deter Israel from Lebanon operation


Iran’s acting Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani said on Wednesday that any Israeli action that leads to “all-out war” in Lebanon would become an “eternal hell” for Israel, Iran’s latest attempt to protect Hezbollah, its most well funded and well equipped proxy.

For Iran, preserving Hezbollah is a key priority, which is why it is ramping up its rhetoric. Israeli officials have been saying for months that the Hezbollah attacks on northern Israel, now more than 5,500 since they began in October, must stop. However, Israeli officials have discussed a diplomatic solution and only if that fails, proffered a military solution.

It is now June and the North is as hot as ever. On Thursday morning, Hezbollah continued to launch numerous drone attacks on Israel a day after the IDF killed a senior Hezbollah commander in Tyre.

Iran is watching closely.

On Wednesday, Bagheri Kani warned of a war in Lebanon. IRNA state media in Iran reported that “Iran’s interim foreign minister has warned that an all-out war on Lebanon will definitely turn into an eternal hell for the Zionist regime.”

IS: A persistent danger, 10 years since its peak

Frank Gardner

It is exactly 10 years since the self-styled Islamic State (IS) group proclaimed its caliphate, announced to the world days later by its founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi from the Nuri Mosque in Mosul.

Also known as Isis or Daesh in Arabic, the group took over huge swathes of Syria and Iraq, imposing its severe version of Shariah (Islamic law), meting out cruel punishments and murders, then posting the videos online.

For the next five years, IS was able to attract thousands of would-be jihadists from all over the world to what it promised was a utopian Islamic caliphate. The reality was a life dominated by extreme violence: severed heads stuck on town square railings, constant harassment by patrolling "morality police" and frequent bombing raids by a US-led Coalition.

Stuck Onshore: Why the United States Failed to Retrench from Europe during the Early Cold War

Joshua Byun

Can the United States check the expansion of powerful adversaries in distant regions while shedding the military and political costs of doing so? An influential group of intellectuals argues that the answer is a resounding “yes.” Although the United States holds a vital interest in thwarting the rise of a peer competitor in Europe or Asia, their argument runs, it could achieve this aim on the cheap by devolving the task to regional allies and withdrawing its military commitments. As Christopher Layne argues, when U.S. allies are no longer able to “free ride on the back of U.S. security guarantees,” they will surely “step up to the plate and balance against a powerful, expansionist state in their own neighborhood.” This is eminently feasible, the analysis continues, since allies such as Germany, France, Japan, and South Korea are among the richest and most technologically advanced countries in the world and could surely acquire the military wherewithal to check aspiring hegemons if they chose to do so.1 Some of the most prominent international relations scholars in American academia have long voiced support for adopting this grand strategy of retrenchment in key regions.2 They have been joined by a chorus of sympathetic policymakers and think tanks in recent years, representing an “alliance of domestic libertarians, balance-of-power realists and the anti-imperialist liberal left” disillusioned with the excesses of U.S. foreign policy in the post–Cold War era. As Daniel Deudney and G. John Ikenberry observe, the “restraint-realists” have thereby secured “the resources to weigh in assertively and authoritatively on American foreign-policy choices” over the coming decades.3

Rumor of North Korea Troops in Ukraine Shows Threat to the Westv

Hal Brands

There are lies, damn lies and rumors about North Korea. So treat recent reports that Pyongyang will send troops to aid Russia’s assault on Ukraine with more than a grain of salt.

Yet the summit that spurred those rumors, and the North Korea-Russia military alliance it produced, are part of something very real and very worrying — the tightening of ties between America’s adversaries.

Those relationships are racing ahead in ways virtually no one would have predicted a few years ago. The US needs to get ready for a world in which they keep advancing, in surprising and disturbing ways.

The rumors about a potential North Korean deployment to Ukraine were the echo of a remarkable meeting in Pyongyang. Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pledged to continue building a relationship that has given Russia shells, missiles and bullets for use in Ukraine, in exchange for Russian help with North Korea’s weapons programs and diplomatic support in its confrontation with the international community.

Goodbye to Tory Britain

Helen Lewis

The last time Britain traded a Conservative government for a Labour one, back in 1997, the mood was so buoyant that the new prime minister, Tony Blair, declared: “A new dawn has broken, has it not?” His successor Keir Starmer is far less of a showman, and even many of his supporters feel pessimistic about Britain’s future prospects. Yet the scale of Starmer’s victory today appears comparable to Blair’s landslide. Since Brexit, politics in Britain has been a clown show, and today, its voters decided it was time for the circus to move on.

The exit poll, a generally reliable guide to British elections that is conducted on polling day itself, predicts that Labour will win an overwhelming 410 out of 650 seats. The Conservatives are reduced to an estimated 131, avoiding the oblivion that some predicted but still deeply humbled. The immediate consequences are obvious: a Labour government with a commanding majority but a demoralizing inbox, and an opposition that will spend the next few days asking what the hell went wrong, the next few months wondering what to do next, and the next few decades arguing over who was to blame. The only consolation for the Conservatives will be to conclude that this was not a defeat for their ideology so much as a punishment for their incompetence.

From the start, this was a disastrous campaign for the Conservatives, who have ruled Britain since 2010. The departing prime minister, Rishi Sunak, chose to call the election early—he could have waited until the winter—and did so standing in the rain outside Downing Street, his words drowned out by a protester’s loudspeaker. The resulting front pages were brutal. Sunak’s early policy blitz, including compulsory national service for young people and guaranteed increases to state pensions, failed to budge the polls and revealed the narrowness of the base to which he was appealing. The party of business had become the party of retirees.

Will Macron be the undoing of European centrist politics?

Jörn Fleck

Whatever French President Emmanuel Macron’s strategy was that led him to go all-in with calling snap elections, it looks like he lost. His high-risk gamble to contain and beat back the political extremes in France has backfired. It is not without irony that Macron, who entered the national and European stage as the prodigy of centrist politics, may be its undoing, as the person who paved the way to power for Marine Le Pen’s right-wing extremist National Rally. Macron’s underestimation of voter discontent, of the dynamism of the National Rally, of the likelihood of a united left, and of the willingness of the center-right Republicans to ally with Le Pen underlines how big the president’s miscalculations and isolation from the political realities really were.

Given the two-round run-off electoral system, much will depend on whether Macron and his challengers outside of Le Pen’s party can mobilize the traditional “republican front” and agree to tactical withdrawals of third-place candidates to boost the chances of non-National Rally candidates. The initial signs from Macron, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, and the political left give some hope. As Raphaël Glucksmann, a left-wing member of the European Parliament, put it in calling for a united front: “We have seven days for France to avoid a catastrophe.” But the center-right Republicans seem less willing to stand down. An absolute majority for the National Rally is within reach but still looks unlikely.

For France and Europe, the two most likely outcomes are both a fundamental challenge. At best, Paris could be mired in political chaos, gridlock, and uncertainty if no clear majority—relative or absolute—emerges after the second round. That would also mean a paralyzed, absent France at the European level where—think what you like of his vision statements—Macron was one of the few leaders who sparked major European debates and challenged the European Union (EU) to act, even if his framing, wording, and timing often left much to be desired. Whatever the precise impact of a hung parliament might be, Macron’s freedom of action and his legitimacy in the eyes of other EU leaders will be seriously curtailed.

U.S. and Israel Voice New Optimism About Cease-Fire as Gaza Talks Resume

Aaron Boxerman, Michael D. Shear and Thomas Fuller

American and Israeli officials on Thursday expressed renewed optimism over a cease-fire deal in the Gaza Strip, after Hamas revised its position and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel then told President Biden that he was sending a new delegation of negotiators to the stalled talks.

White House officials said they believed new progress in the talks amounted to what one repeatedly called “a breakthrough” in the monthslong negotiations, though they said that it would take some time to work out the many steps involved in implementing the truce. Israeli and other officials involved in the talks agreed that there had been progress but described it in more cautious terms.

The discussions are based on a three-stage framework deal publicized by President Biden in late May and endorsed by the United Nations. If carried out, the agreement would ultimately stipulate an end to the war, a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, and for Hamas and its allies to release the remaining 120 living and dead hostages in Gaza for Palestinians held in Israeli jails.

Don’t cut corners on US nuclear deterrence

Matthew Kroenig and Mark J. Massa

The nuclear threats to the United States and its allies are growing. To deter these threats, the bipartisan Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States (a commission on which one of the authors, Matthew Kroenig, served) recently recommended that the United States plan for its first strategic forces buildup since the end of the Cold War.

In contrast to this bipartisan consensus, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) argued in Newsweek in May for adjustments and cuts to the US intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) force. Smith’s argument that the United States should consider mobile basing for a portion of its ICBM force has merit, but his other arguments do not stand up to scrutiny. Rather, bipartisan support for modernizing and expanding the US nuclear arsenal will be essential for ensuring that the United States and its allies have the strategic forces they need to deter aggression in the face of hostile, nuclear-armed, autocratic rivals.

There are several problems with Smith’s arguments. First, he questions whether land-based nuclear forces are needed at all. Yet, every presidential administration since the 1950s has considered this question and concluded that ICBMs are necessary. Indeed, as we have argued at length elsewhere (see here and here), ICBMs contribute to the major goals of US nuclear strategy—they deter adversaries from launching a strategic attack, assure allies, and give the United States the ability to respond if deterrence fails.

Experts react: Labour is back. Here’s what to expect from the new UK government.

Expect continuity on major foreign and defense policies

After fourteen years of Conservative government, Labour’s one-word campaign slogan said it all: “Change.” But when it comes to the major foreign and defense policy issues of the day, “continuity” might be more appropriate.

The United Kingdom has been one of the strongest supporters of Ukraine since Russia’s illegal full-scale invasion in 2022 and spends more on defense than any other European NATO member. These are consensus issues in mainstream British politics. If anything, on the campaign trail, Labour and the Conservatives sought to outdo each other in the resoluteness of their support for Ukraine and the urgency of their plans to increase defense spending to 2.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

This is central to Starmer’s political project. When he became Labour Party leader in 2020, Starmer took over a party that had just suffered its worst electoral defeat since 1935 under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, a figure from the party’s pre-Tony Blair left. Restoring Labour’s credibility on national security and defense was an early priority for Starmer. He firmly declared Labour’s support for NATO—pointing out that Labour Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin was one of the Alliance’s founding fathers in 1949—and re-committed to the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrence (known as “trident”).

This worldview permeates the party’s election manifesto, which describes its commitment to trident as “absolute” and promises to apply a “NATO test to major defense programmes” to meet obligations. The new government will conduct a Strategic Defence Review in its first year, setting out the path to spending 2.5 percent of GDP on defense and the ways in which a proposed UK-EU security pact could strengthen NATO. On Ukraine, the incoming government has pledged “steadfast” support. It has backed calls to repurpose frozen Russian assets in support of Ukraine, and it intends to play a “leading role in providing Ukraine with a clear path to NATO membership.”

Israel Poised For Hezbollah War: 'The Situation Here Must Change'

Ellie Cook

Stretching several miles from the Lebanon border into northern Israel is what local officials refer to as a "dead zone." Tens of thousands of residents have fled further south. The area's agriculture industry has evaporated, and its tourism is non-existent.

Civil authorities and military units in northern Israel are now steeling themselves for a full-scale war with Lebanese-based militant group, Hezbollah, as military preparations on the border reflect increasingly outspoken comments from current and former Israeli officials.

"The situation here must change," Lieutenant Colonel (res.) Oren, an Israeli officer stationed in northern Israel, told journalists gathered in the settlement of Mitzpe Hila, around five miles from Israel's border with Lebanon. "We have clear plans."

Shortly after Palestinian militant group Hamas carried out its unprecedented attack on southern Israel from Gaza on October 7, Iran-backed Hezbollah quickly began targeting northern Israel from southern Lebanon with drones, rockets and missiles in what it has described as solidarity with Hamas. Israel sent reinforcements to the northern border at the time.

Israel's Iron Beam Defense Can't be Rushed Despite 'Obliterating' War Fears

Ellie Cook

Israel will not have its pioneering Iron Beam high-energy laser weapon system up and running ahead of schedule, despite the looming possibility of full-scale war breaking out across its northern border with Lebanon-based Hezbollah.

Israel's Defense Ministry and industries are doing all they can to speed up the deployment of the Iron Beam, but the tail end of 2025 is still the earliest the first-of-its-kind air defense system will be fielded, Newsweek understands. This timeline has long been in place.

Gideon Weiss, the head of international marketing and business development for Israel's state-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, said there had been no changes to the timeline since October, with the Iron Beam still expected to be operational from the end of next year.

Israel, now nearly nine months into all-out war in Gaza following Palestinian militant group Hamas' unprecedented attacks on Israel on October 7, is also contending with Hezbollah pressing from southern Lebanon into Israel's northern towns and villages. The Tehran-backed group has said it is firing drones, rockets and missiles into northern Israel in solidarity with Hamas after Israel vowed to eradicate the group from the Gaza Strip.

Iran's mission to the United Nations has promised an "obliterating war," should any Israeli operation into Lebanon get underway.

Biden Campaign Posts New Job to Help Kamala Harris

Anna Skinner

Vice President Kamala Harris is seeking a new employee to strategize her social media platforms, according to a recent job posting on Daybook by the Biden-Harris campaign.

The job, which is based in Wilmington, Delaware, involves helping to "further develop and expand" the vice president's campaign voice online. The Tuesday posting comes less than a week after President Joe Biden gave a shaky debate performance against Donald Trump during the first presidential debate of the race. Although posted to Daybook on July 2, the position had been posted on LinkedIn two months ago, well before the debate.

Biden's performance, which has raised concerns about the president's mental acuity and fitness for another term, has led some Democrats to ask whether he should be replaced on the ballot before November. The Biden-Harris campaign has repeatedly said the president is not dropping out.

Despite these assurances, some have suggested that Harris, who is again slated to be Biden's running mate, could join other top Democrats as a candidate to replace Biden as the Democratic nominee. Other names that have been floated are California Governor Gavin Newsom, former first lady Michelle Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Biden Raises Kamala Harris' Hand in Show of Unity as Donors, Voters Revolt

Gabe Whisnant

President Joe Biden raised Vice President Kamala Harris' hand on the Truman Balcony of the White House in a show of unity during Thursday night's Independence Day fireworks display.

The Fourth of July event occurred as donors and voters continue to revolt from the campaign of Biden, 81, following the president's poor debate performance against former President Donald Trump last week.

Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, has established a sizable lead over the Democratic incumbent Biden in the White House race since the two candidates tangled on the CNN debate stage in Atlanta on June 27.

In both nationwide polls, respondents noted that Biden's age weighed on his appeal. Some 80 percent of respondents in the Journal poll, which surveyed 1,500 registered voters from June 29 through July 2, said Biden was too old to seek a second term.

Pictures Show US's NATO Ally Shadowing Russian Attack Submarine

Ryan Chan

APortuguese "submarine-hunting" plane detected a Russian submarine transiting northern European waters last week, NATO said, as the alliance continued to monitor its neighbor's powerful navy amid Moscow's prolonged invasion of Ukraine.

NATO's Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM), the central command of all maritime forces in the alliance, published images on Wednesday showing the Russian boat traveling on the surface of the Baltic Sea, where it was spotted by a P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft of the Portuguese armed forces.

The Baltic Sea is enclosed by longtime NATO members to the south and southeast, and by new allies Finland and Sweden to the north. It is the only gateway to the North Sea and wider North Atlantic Ocean for the Russian navy's Baltic Fleet headquartered in Kaliningrad, an exclave between EU and NATO members Poland, to the south, and Lithuania, to the north and east.

President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine more than two years ago helped NATO expand its security umbrella on Russia's western flank. The accession of Finland and Sweden gave the Baltic Sea a new nickname: "NATO Lake."

America’s shrinking military is a cultural crisis


Last Thursday’s presidential debate covered a range of issues, but the future of the American military wasn’t one of them.

This might come as a surprise, given certain controversial proposals in the 2025 National Defense Authorization Act. If it becomes law, the document would require women to enroll in selective service and thus become eligible for a military draft. The Pentagon’s recruitment deficits, coupled with escalating tensions around the world, have breathed life into such legislation.

Although the White House is reluctant to embrace the Cold War label, that hasn’t stopped the highest-ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), from calling for a generational investment in defense. Despite the typical election year polarization, there is a consensus in Washington that America is in an exceptionally dangerous moment. There is less harmony, however, regarding what the nation should do about it.

Beyond coming to terms with our defense industrial challenges, the most fashionable idea is to throw more money at researching and developing the latest defense technologies or unmanned systems. These investments could offset the widening gap between America’s global security obligations and the number of humans willing and able to support them.

Israel Kills a Top Commander of Hezbollah, Which Replies With a Rocket Barrage

Euan Ward and Thomas Fuller

Israeli forces killed a senior Hezbollah commander on Wednesday in a drone strike in southern Lebanon, prompting the Lebanese militia to retaliate with a heavy rocket barrage across the border.

The flare-up came as Western diplomats worked to avoid a full-scale war between Israel and Hezbollah, a danger that appears to have grown in recent weeks. Cross-border exchanges of fire have intensified, and Israeli officials have publicly spoken of shifting their military focus from Hamas in the Gaza Strip to Hezbollah, a far more advanced and potent threat.

Amos Hochstein, a senior White House adviser who has become the de facto U.S. envoy in tamping down the Israel-Hezbollah conflict, conferred on Wednesday with French officials in Paris to discuss how to defuse the rising tensions. Jean-Yves Le Drian, President Emmanuel Macron’s special envoy to Lebanon, was among the people with whom he met, according to a person close to the talks, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomacy.

Countering Russia's Glide Bomb Threat: The Case for MQ-9 Reaper Deployment to Ukraine

Daniel Rice

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has witnessed a significant shift in Russian tactics, with fighter-bombers now deploying over 100 large "glide bombs" daily against both military and civilian targets. These precision-guided munitions, some weighing up to 3,000 pounds, are causing devastating damage and need to be countered effectively. The immediate provision of MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to Ukraine could be a strategic response to this evolving threat.

Russian fighter-bombers are launching air-to-ground glide bombs from behind their own lines, allowing the munitions to travel up to 60 kilometers (38 miles) beyond the Forward Edge of the Battle Area. These weapons are cost-effective modifications of conventional "dumb bombs," similar in concept to the U.S. Joint Direct Attack Munition system. The standoff capability of these weapons poses a significant challenge to Ukrainian air defenses and ground forces.

While Ukraine is set to receive F-16 fighter jets, which will bolster its air defense capabilities, the limited number of these aircraft will not be sufficient to provide comprehensive coverage against the widespread glide bomb threat. A more scalable and persistent solution is required to effectively counter this evolving Russian tactic.

Google’s greenhouse gas emissions are soaring thanks to AI

Clare Duffy

As Google has rushed to incorporate artificial intelligence into its core products — with sometimes less-than-stellar results — a problem has been brewing behind the scenes: the systems needed to power its AI tools have vastly increased the company’s greenhouse gas emissions.

AI systems need lots of computers to make them work. The data centers needed to run them, essentially warehouses full of powerful computing equipment, suck up tons of energy to process data and manage the heat all of those computers produce.

The end result has been that Google’s greenhouse gas emissions have soared 48% since 2019, according to the tech giant’s annual environment report. The tech giant blamed that growth mainly on “increased data center energy consumption and supply chain emissions.”

Now, Google is calling its goal to reach net-zero emissions by 2030 “extremely ambitious,” and said the pledge is likely to be affected by “the uncertainty around the future environmental impact of AI, which is complex and difficult to predict.” In other words: a sustainability push by the company — which once included the slogan “don’t be evil” in its code of conduct — has gotten more complicated thanks to AI.

Advancing AI safety requires international collaboration. Here’s what should happen next.

Courtney Lang

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is advancing. So, too, is international collaboration to ensure that advances are made in a safe and responsible way. In May, ten countries and the European Union (EU) met in South Korea and signed the “Seoul Statement of Intent toward International Cooperation on AI Safety Science,” which establishes an international network of AI safety institutes. This agreement builds on measures that several of its signatories have taken on AI safety since the Bletchley Park summit in November 2023. Since November, for example, the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, and Singapore have established AI safety institutes, and the EU has set up an AI office with a unit dedicated to safety.

The Statement of Intent also builds on existing bilateral agreements. At the EU-US Trade and Technology Council meeting held in April 2024, the EU and the United States announced that the AI Office and the US AI Safety Institute would work together to develop the tools needed to evaluate AI models. Additionally, ahead of the Seoul Summit, the US AI Safety Institute signed a memorandum of understanding with the United Kingdom’s AI Institute, also aimed at building out a shared approach to AI safety, with an emphasis on developing testing and evaluation metrics.

The Statement of Intent signed at the Seoul Summit represents an important step forward in the AI safety conversation. It demonstrates both increasing international interest in and commitment to advancing the science needed to promote AI safety. To be successful in its implementation, however, the signatory countries will need to prioritize the most pressing areas of need for scientific practices, deepen their engagement with international standards-setting bodies, and collaborate with stakeholders across the AI ecosystem.