Max Boot

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This image released by Apple TV Plus shows Joaquin Phoenix in a scene from "Napoleon." (Apple TV Plus via AP)

Napoleon Bonaparte’s career as a conqueror lasted a mere 22 years. It began in 1793, when, as a junior artillery officer, he masterminded the successful French attack on the British garrison holding the port of Toulon. After this initial victory, he was promoted, at age 24, to brigadier general. Only six years later, he became, as first consul, ruler of France — and soon of much of Europe. His career ended in 1815 when he met, well, his Waterloo and went into exile on the remote island of St. Helena before dying in 1821, still only 51 years old. But the debate over his legacy has now lasted more than 200 years and shows no sign of abating.…  Seguir leyendo »

Journalists report from a vantage point overlooking northern Gaza in Sderot, Israel, on Nov. 13. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

It has been more than six weeks since the barbaric Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7 — Israel’s 9/11 — and more than three weeks since the Israel Defense Forces began ground operations in the Gaza Strip. How is this war going? From my vantage point, it can be summed up as follows: Israel is winning the ground war while losing the battle for international public opinion — and failing to formulate a plan for what comes after the guns fall silent.

The IDF has encircled the northern Gaza Strip and is now conducting operations in the heart of “Hamastan” — including seizing al-Shifa Hospital, which Israel claims is a base of Hamas operations.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Ukrainian soldier attends a drone flight training program in the Dnipropetrovsk region, Ukraine, on May 15, 2023. (Sofiia Gatilova/Reuters)

In warfare, attacking has always been harder than defending. The war in Ukraine demonstrates that it has become harder still in the digital age. The prevalence of drones makes it almost impossible to advance undetected, and the pervasiveness of precision-guided munitions — including attack drones — makes it easy to hit troops and tanks on the move.

The Russians discovered for themselves the difficulty of offensive warfare during their initial invasion of Ukraine — and again during more recent offensives in Bakhmut and now Avdiivka. Russian troops have been mauled in “meat grinder” attacks while barely advancing.

The Ukrainians had more success with counteroffensives last year: They managed to retake about half of the territory that Russia had initially seized in 2022, with especially impressive gains around Kherson in the south and Kharkiv in the west before the Russians could fortify their positions.…  Seguir leyendo »

A march in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza by supporters of Hezbollah and allied Palestinian factions in Sidon, Lebanon, on Saturday. (Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP/Getty Images)

Ever since the horrific Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7, there has been a Jesuitical — or is it Talmudic? — debate over Iran’s degree of responsibility. U.S. and Israeli officials have said they have no evidence that Iran planned or authorized the attack, but there is no doubt that Iran was, at the very least, morally culpable for the massacre of 1,400 Israeli civilians — which Iranian leaders praised.

According to the State Department, Iran provides $100 million a year in funding for Palestinian terrorist groups, along with training in military tactics. Many are now calling for Iran to be held to account for its support of terrorism.…  Seguir leyendo »

A general view of buildings that were destroyed during Israeli air raids on Monday in Khan Yunis, Gaza Strip. (Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images)

With Israel relentlessly bombing the Gaza Strip and preparing for a ground offensive, a lot of well-meaning people in the West are calling for a cease-fire or suggesting that Israel should limit its response to precision airstrikes and commando raids to take out high-level Hamas operatives and to free hostages. That advice is well-intended — it is designed to limit civilian loss of life in Gaza — but ultimately misguided and futile. At this point, an Israeli ground offensive appears inevitable. The question is: Will Israel be smart enough to mount a peace offensive, too?

If Israel were to declare a cease-fire now, that would be tantamount to rewarding aggression and inviting more of it in the future.…  Seguir leyendo »

A satellite picture taken on Oct. 18 shows the aftermath of a strike on al-Ahli hospital and the surrounding area in Gaza City, on Oct. 17. (Maxar Technologies/AFP)

In their compelling new book, “Conflict: The Evolution of Warfare From 1945 to Ukraine”, retired Gen. David Petraeus and historian Andrew Roberts write: “There are currently five widely recognized dominions of warfare — land, sea, air, cyber and space — but it appears that a sixth should be added, namely information, which is more important now than ever before”. Indeed it is, and nothing better illustrates their point than the current Israel-Hamas war — and in particular, the controversy over the explosion at a hospital in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday.

There have been many stories in recent days on the difficulties that the Israel Defense Forces will encounter in mounting a ground assault into the dense urban terrain of the Gaza Strip — and those difficulties are considerable, given that Hamas is holding at least 199 hostages and has built an extensive network of tunnels where its fighters can hide.…  Seguir leyendo »

A mother cries over her son's body covered with the Israeli flag at Pardes Haim cemetery near Tel Aviv on Oct. 15. (Francisco Seco/AP)

The horrific attack carried out by Hamas on Oct. 7 (“Black Sabbath”, Israelis are calling it) resulted in 1,400 dead Israelis, 3,900 wounded and 199 taken hostage. Such mass-casualty attacks were once rare in the history of terrorism. Since Sept. 11, 2001, however, they have become disturbingly commonplace.

There were, to be sure, horrific terrorist attacks even before 2001 — for example, the 1983 bombings of the U.S. Marine and French army barracks in Beirut (299 dead); the 1985 bombing of Air India Flight 182 over Canada (329 dead); the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland (270 dead); and the 1995 bombing of an Oklahoma City federal building (168 dead).…  Seguir leyendo »

Israeli soldiers great one another as they arrive for reserve duty at the Julia military base near Ashkelon in southern Israel on Wednesday. (Baz Ratner/for The Washington Post)

Tyrants and terrorists often underestimate the fighting capacity of liberal democracies, mistaking the pursuit of commerce for a lack of martial virtues and political divisions for lack of unity. Napoleon derided England as a “nation of shopkeepers” before losing to the Duke of Wellington at Waterloo. Hitler thought the United States was “a decayed country”, “half Judaized and half Negrified”, before U.S. bombers reduced his cities to rubble and U.S. armies defeated his legions on D-Day and at the Battle of the Bulge. Osama bin Laden thought America was a “weak horse” before SEAL Team Six finished him off. So, too, Hamas has now made a grave miscalculation with its horrific and barbaric assault on Israel, which resulted in the worst one-day loss of life for the Jewish people since the Holocaust.…  Seguir leyendo »

Victor Stelmakh, head of a Ukrainian attack drone unit, in the Luhansk region on Sept. 1. (Heidi Levine for The Washington Post)

The war in Ukraine — Europe’s biggest conflict since 1945 — features a bewildering combination of old and new technologies and tactics. The artillery duels, minefields and trench warfare are straight out of World War I, and yet much of the Ukrainian artillery fire is now being spotted by drones and adjusted on tablet computers linked via satellite to the internet. It sometimes feels like a mash-up of “All Quiet on the Western Front” and “Blade Runner”.

Militaries around the world are closely following the fighting to gain insights into 21st-century warfare, knowing that they are watching a trial run of technologies that will become more ubiquitous and important in future conflicts.…  Seguir leyendo »

Members of Ukraine's 108th Separate Brigade fire small rockets toward Russian troops on Aug. 19. (Viacheslav Ratynskyi/Reuters)

Some U.S. military officials appear astonished that the Ukrainian counteroffensive has not made a rapid breakthrough — and, through anonymous quotes to the news media, they are laying the blame on the Ukrainian military. Retired U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mark Arnold, by contrast, isn’t the least bit surprised at the slow pace of the advance — and he’s blaming the Americans, not the Ukrainians.

Arnold, a cheerful former Special Forces officer with three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, has spent extensive time near the front lines advising the Ukrainian military (at his own expense). He has come away impressed by the professionalism and élan of the Ukrainian army — while also cognizant of the limitations of the training and equipment they have been provided by the West.…  Seguir leyendo »

Yevgeniy Prigozhin in Moscow on July 4, 2017. (Sergei Ilnitsky/AP)

The most fitting epitaph for Wagner Group founder Yevgeniy Prigozhin was delivered by the shotgun-wielding hit man Omar Little on “The Wire”: “You come at the king, you best not miss”. There’s still much we don’t know for certain (and might never know), but that pearl of wisdom was confirmed by Prigozhin’s apparent death Wednesday after a private plane he was on reportedly crashed north of Moscow.

Prigozhin came for “the king” in the Kremlin — Vladimir Putin — exactly two months before his death. In late June, Prigozhin claimed his mercenaries were only marching on Moscow to oust Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Gen.…  Seguir leyendo »

People walk near the Central Business District during evening rush hour in Beijing on Aug. 14. (Andy Wong/AP)

The latest news from China is ominous. A range of indicators suggests that Beijing is facing economic headwinds. Growth has failed to meet expectations. Foreign investment is sagging. The ever-crucial housing market is soft. Companies and government institutions are struggling under mounds of debt. On Thursday, the giant property developer China Evergrande filed for bankruptcy. On top of all this comes news that the economy has entered deflation — raising fears of a downward spiral of the type that crippled mighty Japan in the 1990s.

What does it all mean? We asked our columnists to weigh in.

Sebastian Mallaby: Demographics are destiny

The deep cause of China’s economic slowdown — and the strongest reason to believe it will be lasting — is its demographic collapse.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israeli police use a water cannon to disperse demonstrators in Jerusalem on Monday. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)

It’s never been harder to be a supporter of Israel. I should know; I’ve been one as long as I can remember. In fact, I almost became an Israeli myself. When I left the Soviet Union with my mother and grandmother in 1976, we made lengthy stopovers in Vienna and Rome, where Israeli representatives tried to convince us to move to the Jewish state. It was a tempting offer, but since my mother spoke English, not Hebrew, we went to the United States. Yet while growing up as a Jewish kid in the Los Angeles suburbs, I still formed a fast attachment to Israel.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mounted police disperse Israelis protesting plans by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government to overhaul the judicial system from the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv on Thursday. (Ariel Schalit/AP Photo)

Even before Donald Trump was elected president, I wrote that he was America’s No. 1 security threat. Today, I am convinced that Israel’s No. 1 security threat comes from its Trump-like prime minister: Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Bibi”, as he is universally known, doesn’t seem to care that his policies are undermining Israeli democracy, risking Israel’s close relationship with the United States, and might even be sparking another violent uprising — a third intifada — among West Bank Palestinians. Like Trump, he seems to care about nothing but holding onto power, and his radical policies are the price of keeping together a coalition of far-right extremist parties.…  Seguir leyendo »

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on April 2. (Alina Yarysh/Reuters)

The NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Tuesday and Wednesday will focus on the difficult question of whether Ukraine should be given an invitation to join the transatlantic alliance. My heart says yes, but my head says no.

There is undoubtedly a powerful case for admitting Ukraine capably laid out in a recent op-ed in the Hill by my friends Randy Scheunemann, who was John McCain’s chief foreign policy adviser, and Evelyn Farkas, who is executive director of the McCain Institute. There is little doubt that Ukraine has earned the moral right to be part of the Western alliance. Its heavy sacrifices, after all, are indirectly protecting NATO members from being menaced in the future by the Russian war machine.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Ukrainian serviceman is seen in a T-72 tank in the Donetsk region of Ukraine on June 25. (Genya Savilov/AFP/Getty Images)

The whole world was riveted by the Wagner Group’s mutiny against the Putin regime. But the infighting in Russia did not last long enough to produce a significant shift on the battlefield in Ukraine. The Ukrainian counteroffensive is less than a month old and already the murmurs of defeatism are starting, with unnamed “Western officials” telling CNN that it is “not meeting expectations on any front”. Even Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky concedes that the counteroffensive is going “slower than desired”.

In truth, the plodding pace of the advance should not be a surprise or a cause for serious concern, yet.

Very few offensives advance as swiftly as Operation Desert Storm — and that was only possible because of the massive technological advantage that the United States and its allies enjoyed over Iraq.…  Seguir leyendo »

A member of the Wagner mercenary group patrols a street in downtown Rostov-on-Don, Russia, on Saturday. (Stringer/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Russian President Vladimir Putin is learning what so many tyrants have learned before him: When you unleash the dogs of war, they can come back to bite you. When the Russian strongman sent his troops marching to take Kyiv, he never imagined that 16 months later, mutinous Wagner mercenary group troops would march on Moscow.

But then Napoleon never imagined that invading Russia would lead to his exile and the restoration of monarchy in France. Hitler never imagined that invading Poland would lead to his suicide and the partition of Germany. Saddam Hussein never imagined that invading Kuwait would lead, eventually, to the overthrow of his regime and his death.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ukrainian soldiers fire a cannon near Bakhmut, an eastern city where fierce battles against Russian forces have been taking place, in the Donetsk region of Ukraine on May 15. (Libkos/AP)

David Petraeus has had his share of setbacks as well as successes, but he remains one of the most respected generals of modern times. He is also no Pollyanna. Even while the 101st Airborne Division was rapidly advancing on Baghdad under his command in 2003, he wondered: “Tell me how this ends”.

He does not predict a rapid end to the war in Ukraine, either. Even so, the retired general returned from a visit last week to Kyiv, where he met with Ukrainian military and civilian leaders, with a positive assessment of the prospects for the Ukrainian counteroffensive that is now beginning.…  Seguir leyendo »

An explosion of a missile is seen in the sky over Kyiv, Ukraine, during a Russian missile strike, on Thursday. (Reuters)

From afar, the war in Ukraine can look like a bloody stalemate with no winners and no choice but a negotiated solution. The Ukrainians’ confidence that they can expel the Russian invaders from all of their soil, even Crimea (occupied by the Russians since 2014), can seem delusional. The same Washington eminences who expected last year that Kyiv would fall within 72 hours now warn that Ukrainians might have to settle for a “frozen” conflict that will leave Moscow’s war criminals in control of one-fifth of their land.

But after spending last week in Kyiv with a delegation from the Renew Democracy Initiative (a pro-democracy group founded by former chess champion Garry Kasparov), I concluded that the Ukrainians’ determination to prevail against heavy odds was not only laudable but also eminently sensible.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, left, is shown with his Saudi counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud, right, and Chinese counterpart, Qin Gang, in Beijing on April 6. (Ding Lin/AP)

In 2020, President Donald Trump hailed the Abraham Accords normalizing relations between Israel and two Arab states (the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain) as the “dawn of a new Middle East”. He was right, but not in the way he meant. Future historians are likely to see the accords as one of the first signs of an emerging post-American order in the Middle East.

While Washington played a key role in brokering the Abraham Accords, part of the impetus for signing them was the growing Arab realization that U.S. power was waning and that Arab states would have to make their own accommodations with the region’s most powerful states.…  Seguir leyendo »