“If there is Putin, there is Russia; if there is no Putin, there is no Russia”, the current speaker of the State Duma, the aggressive loyalist Vyacheslav Volodin, pronounced, back in 2014. He was outlining an ideal autocracy, one in which the country would be equated with its ruler and vice versa. At the time Volodin spoke those words, the Kremlin was basking in an upsurge of national euphoria following the annexation of Crimea. With the so-called Putin majority ascendant, the government could hasten its shift toward such a regime with broad popular approval.
But Volodin was a bit ahead of his time.… Seguir leyendo »
Last month, the government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and the country’s largest opposition coalition resumed negotiations to address Venezuela’s decades-long crisis. Maduro, who succeeded Hugo Chávez as president in 2013, has rebuffed opposition attempts to remove him from office as Venezuela slid into economic and humanitarian catastrophe. In a first step toward a political solution, at an October 17 meeting in Barbados, the delegations signed a set of agreements establishing plans for a competitive presidential election in 2024. Although the United States is not formally a party to these negotiations, Washington has indicated that it would ease the economic sanctions it began imposing in 2017 if the Maduro administration made democratic concessions to the opposition.… Seguir leyendo »
The growing might of China’s military and its increasingly aggressive posture toward Taiwan have made deterrence in the Taiwan Strait a tougher challenge than ever before. It is incumbent on the United States to support Taiwan’s efforts to develop a defensive “porcupine strategy”. Washington can help Taiwan’s military stockpile and train with coastal defense and air defense weapons, field a robust civil defense force, and create strategic reserves of critical materials such as food and fuel to deter and, if necessary, defeat an invasion or blockade of the island. The U.S. military should also better prepare to cope with China’s expanding arsenal of missiles that pose a threat to U.S.… Seguir leyendo »
Almost from the moment Hamas broke through Israel’s security barrier with Gaza on October 7 and began its rampage, it felt like Israel would never be the same. Within hours, Israelis were forced to confront the reality that many of the assumptions that had long guided Israeli policy toward the Palestinians had crumbled. The state’s 16-year-old policy of blockading Gaza had failed to make them safe. The government’s calculation that it could lure Hamas into pragmatism—whether by allowing Qatari funding for Hamas or by giving work permits for Gaza laborers—had instead lured Israel into complacency. And the belief that most threats from Hamas could be neutralized by high-tech surveillance, deep underground barriers, and the Iron Dome missile defense system had proved dead wrong.… Seguir leyendo »
After decades of talking about climate change, governments and firms are finally taking action. As they gather in Dubai for the latest UN Climate Change Conference, many of the countries and organizations that pledged to cut emissions to “net zero” by 2050 at the conference in Glasgow in 2021 are now following through with policies and plans. Among them is the United States, which passed a trio of big new spending laws in 2022. The biggest, the Inflation Reduction Act, sets aside over $370 billion to cut emissions.
Turning the ambition to eliminate warming pollution into reality will require much larger capital investments.… Seguir leyendo »
On November 1, Ukraine’s top general, Valery Zaluzhny, changed the debate about his country’s war with Russia with a statement. “Just like in the first World War”, he said in an interview with The Economist, the Ukrainian and Russian militaries “have reached the level of technology that puts us into a stalemate”. Unless a massive leap in military technology gives one side a decisive advantage, “there will most likely be no deep and beautiful breakthrough”. These words prompted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to issue a rebuttal. The war “is not a stalemate, I emphasize this”, Zelensky argued. A deputy head of the office of the president noted that the comments stirred “panic” among Ukraine’s Western allies.… Seguir leyendo »
China’s brutal treatment of Uyghur Muslims in the western region of Xinjiang has won tremendous international attention in recent years, with human rights groups decrying the systematic detention in internment camps of a million people, as well as the Chinese state’s attempts to suppress Uyghur culture and the practice of Islam. But the plight of another oppressed ethnic group has flown largely under the radar. In Tibet, the Chinese state has also embarked on a campaign to quash the identity of a distinct people. Its chief weapon in Tibet is not dystopian camps but something seemingly more quotidian: residential schools.
Nearly a million Tibetan children live in state-run residential schools on the Tibetan plateau.… Seguir leyendo »
Recent days have seen the first good news out of Gaza in a long time. As part of a U.S.-brokered cease-fire that began last Friday and will expire tomorrow, Hamas has released dozens of the more than 200 people it took hostage during its October 7 attack on Israel; those released include many of the children whom the group took captive. For its part, Israel has released 150 Palestinian prisoners, paused its bombardment of Gaza, and allowed more humanitarian supplies into the territory, providing a brief respite to the millions of civilians there who have suffered immensely for weeks.
The agreement holds open the prospect that the parties could extend it, and U.S.… Seguir leyendo »
In September, I visited the command post of Ukraine’s Tsunami regiment: a volunteer unit of several thousand soldiers fighting in the east of the country. It was the first time I had been inside a post since serving in the United Kingdom’s armed forces during its campaign against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) in northern Iraq seven years earlier. From a cramped basement near the city of Kramatorsk, I watched on screens as Tsunami frontline teams crept between rubble-strewn houses, clearing a village of Russian soldiers. Lieutenant-Colonel Olexandr Gostyschev, the regiment’s commander, deliberated, via gaming software, with his frontline, mortar line, and drone line as his team prepared to strike the shell of a house hiding three Russian soldiers.… Seguir leyendo »
Israel responded to Hamas’s horrific attack on October 7 with overwhelming force. In the wake of the bloody terrorist raid, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant vowed to “wipe Hamas off the face of the earth”. The Israeli military called up over 350,000 reservists and launched attacks on the Gaza Strip with the aim of eliminating the political and military wings of Hamas. Since then, Israeli forces have killed thousands of Palestinians, many of them women and children, piling agony on top of agony.
That Israel met Hamas’s violence with violence is not remotely surprising, given the Israeli military’s incomparable conventional military superiority to Hamas.… Seguir leyendo »
Hamas’s October 7 attack shattered Israel’s sense of security and humiliated its intelligence and security apparatus. It also laid bare the infeasibility of the country’s dual approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had worked hard over the years to keep the Palestinian house divided by playing Hamas against the Palestinian Authority. He also convinced Arab regimes that it would be in their benefit to normalize relations with the Jewish state without the precondition of Israel’s first making peace with the Palestinians.
More than a month into their war, Israel and Hamas are both trying to break the stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and to do so definitively.… Seguir leyendo »
In a barbaric surprise attack launched by Hamas on October 7, more Jews were slaughtered than on any day since the Holocaust. Thousands of elite Hamas militants from the Gaza Strip infiltrated small communities and cities in southern Israel, where they proceeded to commit sadistic, repulsive crimes against humanity, filming their vile deeds and boasting about them to friends and family back home.
The assault was devastating for the Israeli people. Around 1,200 people were killed that day (the equivalent of around 42,500 Americans, adjusting for population) and some 240 were kidnapped—including young children and elderly people—and taken into Hamas’s vast tunnel network beneath Gaza.… Seguir leyendo »
As the world prepares for the 28th round of global climate negotiations, which will take place in Abu Dhabi in late November, the climate crisis is intensifying. Wildfires, droughts, and other extreme weather events are becoming increasingly common. But governments are not acting with the necessary speed, despite the fact that a UN report published last week found, yet again, that the world is far from meeting the 2015 Paris agreement’s goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Scientists fear that, if temperatures rise beyond that, the planet could reach irreversible tipping points.
Decarbonizing the economy at the speed that the climate crisis requires is an inordinately complex task.… Seguir leyendo »
Before October 7, 2023, it seemed as if the United States’ vision for the Middle East was finally coming to fruition. Washington had arrived at an implicit understanding with Tehran about its nuclear program, in which the Islamic Republic of Iran effectively paused further development in exchange for limited financial relief. The United States was working on a defense pact with Saudi Arabia, which would in turn lead the kingdom to normalize its relations with Israel. And Washington had announced plans for an ambitious trade corridor connecting India to Europe through the Middle East to offset China’s rising influence in the region.… Seguir leyendo »
Ukraine’s counteroffensive appears to have stalled, just as wet and cold weather brings to a close the second fighting season in Kyiv’s effort to reverse Russian aggression. At the same time, the political willingness to continue providing military and economic support to Ukraine has begun to erode in both the United States and Europe. These circumstances necessitate a comprehensive reappraisal of the current strategy that Ukraine and its partners are pursuing.
Such a reassessment reveals an uncomfortable truth: namely, that Ukraine and the West are on an unsustainable trajectory, one characterized by a glaring mismatch between ends and the available means.… Seguir leyendo »
With the war in Ukraine heading into what will seemingly be a bloody winter for both Russia and Ukraine, there is one person who does not appear to have suffered on the home front: Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose approval rating has remained at a steady high even as casualties from the conflict continue to mount. Putin’s political resilience may come as a surprise to many who assumed that Western sanctions, alongside the human toll of war, would kindle societal opposition to the war and fragment Russian elites, eventually opening the door to Putin’s ouster. But these accounts focus overwhelmingly on the socioeconomic factors underpinning Putin’s grip on power and overlook another key factor that helps explain the Russian leader’s survival: ideology.… Seguir leyendo »
After Hamas’s horrific terrorist attack on Israel on October 7, it seemed inevitable that Israel would retaliate in devastating fashion. The first, natural reaction to such an attack is revulsion, accompanied by a desire for revenge and exemplary punishment. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acted on that desire, vowing to “destroy” Hamas, bombarding the Gaza Strip, and launching a ground invasion of the territory—even though it remains unclear how, if at all, Israel can eliminate Hamas militarily or ideologically.
But choosing to meet violence with violence is a choice. In fact, not all victims of terrorism choose retaliation. On November 26, 2008, ten Pakistani terrorists stealthily landed by sea in Mumbai.… Seguir leyendo »
In November 2022, the Ethiopian government signed a cease-fire with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. The international community hailed the agreement as a possible turning point: the TPLF and Addis Ababa, along with smaller militias and Eritrean forces, had been fighting outright for two years; during this time, up to 600,000 people died—some directly from violence and others after losing access to clean water, food, and medical care. More than two million people were displaced from their homes, and every actor in the conflict was accused of war crimes, including mass killings, sexual violence, enforced starvation, and the destruction of educational and medical facilities.… Seguir leyendo »
People now call it Mukhayyam al-Shuhada: the Martyrs’ Camp. Set among picturesque hills and citrus orchards close to the Israeli border, the refugee settlement was home to an extensive social service, political, and militant recruitment apparatus set up by Palestinian organizations. So when the invasion started, the camp was high on Israel’s list. First, Israeli-backed paramilitaries surrounded the community, trapping civilians inside. Then, two dozen Israel Defense Forces tanks arrived. According to witnesses, the IDF tanks fired into buildings’ staircases—often a structure’s weakest point—to destroy escape routes and penetrate into underground shelters. This shelling was followed by intense aerial bombardment. One bomb hit a community center; of the 96 civilians sheltering there, only two lived.… Seguir leyendo »
Among the many issues surrounding China’s ongoing military modernization, perhaps none has been more dramatic than its nuclear weapons program. For decades, the Chinese government was content to maintain a comparatively small nuclear force. As recently as 2020, China’s arsenal was little changed from previous decades and amounted to some 220 weapons, around five to six percent of either the U.S. or Russian stockpiles of deployed and reserve warheads.
Since then, however, China has been rapidly expanding and modernizing its arsenal. In 2020, it began constructing three silo fields to house more than 300 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). A year later, it successfully tested a hypersonic glide vehicle that traveled 21,600 miles, a test that likely demonstrated China’s ability to field weapons that can orbit the earth before striking targets, known as a “fractional orbital bombardment system”.… Seguir leyendo »