Fdd's overnight brief

May 23, 2024

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News

Israel

Israeli government staffers were preparing for a visit with a team from the International Criminal Court on Monday when they got a jolt: The court’s prosecutor was moving ahead to charge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant with war crimes. – Wall Street Journal 

More food had finally started to reach famine-racked northern Gaza earlier this month, pushing down prices in the Jabalya refugee camp, where doctors like Yehia Abed were trying to save a legion of malnourished patients. Then came “another attack,” he said. – Washington Post

The families of five female Israeli soldiers taken hostage by Hamas on Oct. 7 released video footage of their loved ones’ first minutes of captivity, surrounded by gunmen in military fatigues barking orders and threatening them before finally shoving them into the vehicles to take them off to imprisonment in Gaza. – Washington Post

Israel will not transfer much-needed funds to the Palestinian Authority in the wake of the decision by three European countries to recognize a Palestinian state, the country’s finance minister said on Wednesday, as its foreign minister denounced the European moves as giving “a gold medal to Hamas terrorists.” – New York Times

Israeli tanks advanced to the edge of a crowded district in the heart of Rafah on Wednesday during one of the most intense nights of bombardment of the southern Gaza city since Israel launched its offensive there this month. – Reuters

Israeli forces killed 35 Palestinians in aerial and ground bombardments across the Gaza Strip on Thursday and battled in close combat with Hamas-led militants in areas of the southern city of Rafah, health officials and Hamas media said. – Reuters

Ireland, Spain and Norway announced on Wednesday that they would recognise a Palestinian state on May 28, prompting an angry response from Israel which said this amounted to a “reward for terrorism” and recalled its ambassadors from the three capitals. – Reuters

Israel updated White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan on its refined plans to minimize civilian harm in Rafah when he visited the region last weekend, he said on Wednesday. – Reuters

The U.N. World Food Program said Wednesday that it has handed out in Gaza in recent days a “limited number” of high-energy biscuits that arrived from a U.S.-built pier, the first aid from the new humanitarian sea route to get into the hands of Palestinians in grave need. – Associated Press

By recognizing Palestinian statehood, Norway may have closed the door on its historic role as a mediator in the Middle East. The country’s emphasis on being able to speak to both sides in the long-running dispute is symbolized by the 1993 peace accords signed in Oslo. – Bloomberg

Israel said it would revive stalled cease-fire talks with Hamas after social media video showing female Israeli soldiers being abducted by the militants on Oct. 7 sparked a public outcry. – Bloomberg

Three Israeli soldiers were killed during fighting in northern Gaza on Wednesday, the military said, as Israeli tanks advanced to the edge of a district in the heart of Rafah in the Strip’s south following what residents said was one of the most intense nights of bombardment since Israel launched its offensive there earlier this month. – Times of Israel

Officials from the Catholic Church have expressed concern about the future of the Christian presence in Gaza, as since the start of the war, the number of Christians in Gaza has shrunk from 1,700 to 600. Most of the Christian community is concentrated in two compounds in Gaza City, while several dozen live in Khan Yunis. – Haaretz

Editorial: Certainly not the feeble Palestinian Authority, which wants a power-sharing deal with Hamas in Gaza because otherwise it knows it would be slaughtered. Though Israeli liberals won’t like to hear it, Israel probably will need to fill the vacuum in Gaza for a time. Though Israeli right-wingers won’t like to hear it, the purpose would be to make way for local governance. The politics, there and here, explain why it has been easier to pretend there’s no plan at all. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: It signals to terrorists that their actions can yield political rewards, thereby incentivizing further violence. The decisions by Ireland, Norway, and Spain to recognize Palestine as a state at this juncture are deeply misguided. They disregard the harsh realities of recent events and reward a strategy of terror. True peace can only be achieved through mutual recognition, security, and sincere negotiations – not through unilateral gestures that embolden extremists. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: Without Tehran’s funding, training, and permission, Hamas would never have attacked Israel on Oct. 7, 2023. Asked to assess Biden’s pier operation, former U.S. Agency for International Development official and current Refugees International president Jeremy Konyndyk called it “political theater.” We hope Biden will bring down the curtain before American soldiers get hurt. – Washington Examiner

Shady ElGhazaly Harb and Sharan Grewal write: These are difficult asks for all parties involved. But without compromise and trust, this plan cannot work. Israel, Hamas and Egypt could all play spoiler if they so choose. The scale of the potential devastation in Rafah if such a deal is not reached makes it all the more important to be flexible and creative in envisioning the day after. – Washington Post

Cookie Schwaeber-Issan writes: The ICC has clearly crossed a line of no return when as an official body, purporting its commitment to justice and truth in matters of war and peace, it is able to view demonic terrorists through the same lens as it views a prime minister and defense minister of a democratic and free nation that has sought to help its neighbors during times of tragedy and great hardship. While the stark differences should be evident and distinguishable, they are about as obscure as the truth – which is no longer of any importance to those committed to the evil which has replaced all other standards. – Jerusalem Post

Zvika Klein writes: Her dramatic and heart-wrenching words, “I have friends in Palestine,” should be a wake-up call: Hamas, as well as a majority of Palestinians, will never acknowledge Israel. They want to destroy us – but young Israeli women such as Naama Levy are the testament to the fact that we are strong, determined, and will never, ever, give up. – Jerusalem Post

Eli Lake writes: Troen said the group’s findings “raise significant questions about the failure of the international aid agencies to deliver the food and hold Hamas accountable for their disruption to distribution.”  Perhaps Khan would have benefited from the insights in the new working paper. One Israeli defense official told The Free Press that his government is prepared to share the paper with the court’s investigators. – The Free Press

Iran

EU countries have agreed to add 10 new individuals and entities to the Iran sanctions list, sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Wednesday on condition of anonymity. – Reuters

The deaths of Iran’s president and foreign minister in a helicopter crash have caused a pause in the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s talks with Tehran over improving cooperation with the agency, the watchdog’s chief Rafael Grossi told Reuters on Wednesday. – Reuters

A senior ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin attended commemorations in Tehran for the late President Ebrahim Raisi on Wednesday and passed on a message of support for the Iranian leadership from the Kremlin chief. – Reuters

Iran’s supreme leader and representatives of militia groups he backs in the Middle East prayed Wednesday over the coffins of the country’s late president, foreign minister and other officials killed in a helicopter crash earlier this week. Hundreds of thousands of people later followed a procession honoring the dead down Tehran’s main boulevard. – Associated Press

Before he managed to best a weak field in a heavily orchestrated 2021 election, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s primary claim to fame — or infamy, as the case may be — was his role in sending 5,000 political prisoners to their deaths. – Politico 

The list of foreign dignitaries who attended Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s funeral on Wednesday underscored how Tehran’s efforts to blunt US sanctions and mend ties with its neighbors have paid off. – Bloomberg

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the local representative of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei are pushing for the execution of Iranian Jew Arvin Nathaniel Ghahremani, the Kurdish Hengaw Organization for Human Rights reported on Wednesday. – Jerusalem Post

Rafael Castro writes: Nevertheless, based on past and present statements by Iranian ayatollahs and Revolutionary Guard commanders, their ideological convictions, and over four decades of consistent policy choices, Israeli leaders would do well to take Iranian threats as seriously as European Jews should have taken the threats of Nazi Germany on the eve of the Holocaust. – Jerusalem Post

Mordechai Kedar writes: Vardanyan was arrested in Azerbaijan for his financial support of terrorism and for crossing international borders illegally. He is suspected of being responsible for the combination of Armenian-Iranian action meant to harm both Israel and Ukraine, actively and regularly. – Jerusalem Post

Patrick Clawson writes: There, American voices can highlight for Iranians what their regime-controlled media at home will hide—namely, the contrast between past popular support for the Islamic Republic and today’s popular apathy, if not opposition. Low voter turnout is no threat to the regime’s iron grip on power, but it does refute any claim that Iran’s leaders enjoy the support of their people. Besides reinforcing U.S. democratic values, tweaking Tehran about whether it or Washington has more support from the Iranian people is a good way to gain some much-needed leverage, since the regime is hypersensitive to international perceptions. – Washington Institute 

Russia & Ukraine

The Ukrainian soldiers were hunkered down last month in a front-line dugout and under siege from Russian drones dropping grenades. They were relieved at first when bomblets landed that didn’t explode. Then a strong smell of chlorine filled the air: The grenades were seeping poisonous gas. – Wall Street Journal 

The U.S. government has assessed that Russia recently launched a “counterspace weapon” into orbit that could be used to attack satellites, U.S. officials said this week, adding to concerns about a new frontier for conflict between the nations. – Washington Post

Since the first American shipments of sophisticated weapons to Ukraine, President Biden has never wavered on one prohibition: President Volodymyr Zelensky had to agree to never fire them into Russian territory, insisting that would violate Mr. Biden’s mandate to “avoid World War III.” – New York Times

A Russian drone dropped explosives on a police car that was on its way to evacuate civilians in a border town in Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region, killing one officer, the interior minister said on Wednesday. – Reuters

British defence minister Grant Shapps accused China on Wednesday of providing or preparing to provide Russia with lethal aid for use by Moscow in its war against Ukraine. – Reuters

Russian drones struck energy sites in Ukraine early on Wednesday and knocked out power to over 500,000 consumers in the northern Sumy region, officials said. – Reuters

A Russian airstrike on Ukraine’s northeastern city of Kharkiv on Wednesday destroyed a cafe, damaged a nearby residential building and set a petrol station ablaze, and local officials said ten people were wounded, at least one severely. – Reuters

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy issued a fresh plea on Wednesday for upgraded defence systems to protect Ukraine’s cities against guided bombs, which he described as the “the main instrument” now used by Moscow in its attacks. – Reuters

Tom Rogan writes: This would significantly assist Ukraine’s war effort, especially around the defense of Kharkiv. At the same time, the U.S. could continue to prohibit the use of American weapons against Russian industry or fuel plants. Ukraine can conduct those attacks with its special forces and drones. Again, however, the basic point here is that Biden is currently running scared of Putin. That’s not good for Ukraine, for NATO’s eastern flank, for America’s deterrent credibility against China, or for Biden’s oft-made electoral claim that he knows far better how to deal with Putin than does Trump. – Washington Post 

Keith Johnson writes: House Speaker Mike Johnson  Other prominent figures, including Mike McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia, have publicly questioned the continued U.S. restrictions. Even a lawmaker who held up U.S. aid for Ukraine, House Speaker Mike Johnson, is questioning the Biden administration’s limits on Ukraine’s targeting. “The debate is live now, because of Kharkiv. Everybody can now see how absurd and damaging to Ukraine these caveats are,” said Christie, who was also formerly a NATO official. “We continue to be in a situation where Ukraine has to fight with one hand tied behind its back.” – Foreign Policy 

Lebanon

Lebanon’s economic reforms are insufficient to help lift the country out of its economic crisis, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Thursday. – Reuters

IDF soldiers identified Hezbollah terrorists entering a military structure in the village of Meiss Ej Jabal in southern Lebanon on Wednesday, where then fighter jets struck the structure, the military stated. – Jerusalem Post

The government on Wednesday evening postponed an expected vote to approve a rehabilitation plan for northern communities battered by Hezbollah rocket and drone attacks, amid ongoing disputes over the proposed program. – Times of Israel  

Egypt

Egypt threatened on Wednesday to withdraw as a mediator in Gaza ceasefire negotiations after CNN reported that Egyptian intelligence changed terms of recent truce proposal and scuttled a deal. – Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday urged Egypt to do everything it can to make sure humanitarian aid is flowing into Gaza as food and medicine bound for the strip piles up on the Egyptian side. – Reuters

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry headed on Wednesday to Tehran to participate in the funeral of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi who died in a helicopter crash on Sunday, the foreign ministry said in a statement. – Reuters

Yemen

A merchant ship off the coast of Yemen reported a missile hitting the water nearby, Britain’s sea trade monitoring agency reported on Thursday, adding that vessel and all crew are safe and are proceeding to the next port of call. – Reuters

The Houthi militants in Yemen have weapons that can reach as far as the Mediterranean Sea, according to a senior defense official, lending some credence to the group’s threats that it can expand its attacks on shipping beyond its immediate borders. – Bloomberg

Milton Elbogen writes: “We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future, and we see the danger here to all of us. I know that the American men and women in uniform are always prepared to sacrifice for freedom, democracy, and the American way of life.” That is the America of Thomas Jefferson – the “indispensable nation.” Civilization and civility are indispensable, however, they require aggressive defense before it is too late. – Jerusalem Post

Middle East & North Africa

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday said the United States and Saudi Arabia were very close to concluding a set of agreements on nuclear energy, security and defense cooperation, which are part of a wider normalisation deal with Riyadh and Israel. – Reuters

Ministers from Arab states will meet with European Union counterparts in Brussels on Monday to try to forge a common path on ending the war in Gaza and build lasting peace, a senior EU official said. – Reuters

Qatar’s emir and the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait travelled on Wednesday to Tehran to attend the funeral of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, under whose tenure a historic deal that thawed relations between Tehran and its Gulf neighbours was brokered. – Reuters

One Iraqi soldier was killed and two were wounded after an explosive device detonated on their vehicle in an area between the Diyala and Salahuddin governorates in eastern Iraq on Wednesday, two security sources said. – Reuters

Senior American and Arab officials are meeting this week in Riyadh to discuss security issues — the first such gathering since the war in Gaza began last year. – Defense News

Korean Peninsula

The leaders of South Korea, China and Japan will hold their first trilateral summit in more than four years in Seoul on May 26-27, Seoul’s presidential office said on Thursday. – Reuters

South Korea announced on Thursday a 26 trillion won ($19 billion) support package for the country’s vital semiconductor industry, the country’s presidential office said. – Reuters

North Korea test-fired a short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) with a new autonomous navigation system on Friday, reported state media on Saturday. The last weapons test North Korea conducted was on Apr. 22, when it fired SRBMs in a nuclear command-and-control test. – USNI News

China

China launched large-scale military drills surrounding Taiwan on Thursday, a warning shot that will test how the island’s newly inaugurated president responds to an intensifying pressure campaign from Beijing. – Wall Street Journal

Some of the steep U.S. tariff increases on an array of Chinese imports, including electric vehicles and their batteries, computer chips and medical products, will take effect on Aug. 1, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said on Wednesday. – Reuters

China is willing to work with the Vatican to improve ties, a Chinese foreign ministry official said on Wednesday following remarks from the Holy See’s top diplomat that it wanted to open an office in Beijing. – Reuters

Chinese military drills in the straits of Taiwan in 2023 practiced manoeuvres key to an invasion of the island, although an actual attack was not imminent or inevitable, a senior U.S. general in the region said on Thursday. – Reuters

At least eight government and military entities in the South China Sea have been compromised in recent years by a group allegedly aligned with Chinese interests, a new report has found. – The Record

Mike Waltz and Mark Kelly write: That will set a course for securing America’s edge at sea, recognizing the innovative and competitive spirit of the American people. China’s threat over the oceans and how we respond to it will shape our economic and national security for decades. As former service members, we know that the oceans ensure our path to prosperity and security, today no less than a century ago. – Wall Street Journal 

South Asia

Prime Minister Narendra Modi entered India’s general election projecting supreme confidence. “Ab ki baar, 400 paar” went his party’s slogan, meaning this time his side was gunning to surpass 400 seats in the lower house of Parliament, a staggering majority. – New York Times

The Czech Constitutional Court rejected on Wednesday a petition by an Indian man trying to avoid extradition to the United States, which suspects him of involvement in an unsuccessful plot to kill a Sikh separatist on American soil. – Reuters

India’s election panel on Wednesday ordered the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and opposition Congress to exercise restraint in their campaigns, after both had reported the other for making divisive speeches during India’s vote. – Reuters

The board of India’s central bank approved a record surplus transfer of 2.11 trillion rupees ($25.3 billion) to the government for the fiscal year that ended in March, sharply above analysts’ and government projections. – Reuters

Andy Mukherjee writes: As Tamil Nadu politician Palanivel Thiaga Rajan wrote recently, “We have not invested enough attention, importance, money, or time into the electoral process that forms the bedrock of a functional democracy.” The 2024 polls have laid bare the consequences of this willful neglect, which must be urgently addressed for a nearly 1 billion-strong electorate to continue to believe that it still has the power of vote over its rulers. – Bloomberg

Asia

A senior Chinese Communist Party official plans to visit Tokyo this month to meet with leaders from Japan’s ruling parties and discuss resuming regular talks between the parties for the first time since 2018, Japanese broadcaster NHK reported on Wednesday. – Reuters

Indonesia’s parliament is proposing changes to its broadcast law that would ban investigative journalism and LGBT content, sparking criticism from civil society groups and filmmakers over restrictions to press freedom and creative expression. – Reuters

Thailand’s Constitutional Court accepted a complaint on Thursday seeking to remove Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin over his cabinet appointment of a lawyer who served jail time, in a new legal setback for the government. – Reuters

A senior Philippine navy official on Wednesday accused the Chinese embassy in Manila of recording a phone call without his consent and denied forging a deal with Beijing to deescalate tensions in the South China Sea. – Reuters

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim defended his continued engagement with Hamas, saying his decades-long ties with the Palestinian Islamist group gave him an edge in attempts to broker for peace in the Middle East. – Bloomberg

Europe

French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to restore order in New Caledonia at the start of a hastily arranged trip to the French territory that has been engulfed by deadly riots for more than a week. – Wall Street Journal 

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called a surprise summer election for July 4, a gamble by the British leader to galvanize his restive Conservative Party as it trails the opposition Labour Party by double digits in the polls. – Wall Street Journal

The potential sale of an American ammunition maker to a Czech arms company is drawing scrutiny from some lawmakers, highlighting concern about foreign ownership in a key industry in the midst of global arms shortages sparked by the continuing wars in Ukraine and Gaza. – Wall Street Journal  

A Russian defence ministry proposal to revise Russia’s maritime border in the eastern Baltic Sea was deleted on Wednesday from an official portal after creating confusion and concern among NATO members such as Finland, Sweden, Lithuania and Estonia. – Reuters

Norway will further restrict access for Russian tourist travellers due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, blocking almost all entry, the Nordic country’s justice ministry said on Thursday. – Reuters

Poland signed an agreement with the United States for the delivery of a $960 million airspace reconnaissance system to monitor its north-eastern borders, defence minister Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Poland said on Wednesday that it backed a two-state solution to the Middle East crisis between Israel and the Palestinians, after Ireland, Spain and Norway announced that they would recognise a Palestinian state. – Reuters

France said on Wednesday conditions were not right to officially recognise a Palestinian state and that such a decision must be more than just symbolic or political posturing. – Reuters

Infighting among some of Europe’s largest far-right parties has thrown pre-election campaigning into turmoil, threatening to spoil a parliamentary vote that was supposed to see ultra-conservative groups win major gains. – Bloomberg

French police have tracked three suspects in last week’s defacement of the Paris Holocaust Memorial across the border into Belgium, prosecutors said Wednesday. – Agence France-Presse

Salem Alketbi writes: Hungary has become the top destination for Chinese trade investment in Central Europe, signing a Belt and Road Initiative cooperation agreement with China and receiving $7.6 billion from Beijing to finance the Budapest-Belgrade high-speed railway, the Belt and Road’s flagship project in Europe. A new project to build an oil pipeline between Hungary and Serbia was also announced as part of the initiative. Orban was the only EU member to attend the third Belt and Road Forum in Beijing last October. – Jerusalem Post

Matthew Brooker writes: Sunak was the tail-ender sent in to chase the score with his team far behind. He has batted well, put some runs on the board and, whatever happens, will remain a historic figure, being the first Briton of Indian heritage to become prime minister. But in the end, victory is likely to prove beyond him. – Bloomberg

Marie Hyland, Massimiliano Mascherini, and Michele Lamont write: Balanced development across regions can boost overall economic prosperity. Targeted labor market initiatives can help improve gender equality, offset the economic impact of aging populations, raise employment levels, and reduce labor shortages. Improving access to public services will not just help address the logistical needs of rural dwellers but also make them feel better recognized by the state and their fellow citizens who live in cities. Most important, bridging the rural-urban divide in a meaningful way will help lower the tensions now roiling many societies in the West. – Foreign Affairs

Africa

Once a week, Muhamed Jaber drives down a bumpy road to the Sudanese city of El Obeid, the back of his truck heaving with bags full of amber-colored chunks of gum arabic, a little-known ingredient in chocolate, soda, chewing gum and other consumer goods. – Wall Street Journal 

South Africa’s small Muslim political party Al Jama-ah is gaining support due to the conflict in Gaza and sees itself as a potential coalition partner for the African National Congress after next week’s vote, its leader said on Wednesday. – Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden said he plans to make an official visit to Africa in February after the U.S. presidential election, an announcement that presumed he will defeat Donald Trump. – Reuters

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s national assembly elected Vital Kamerhe, whose home was violently attacked on Sunday, as speaker in a delayed vote, a key step towards installing a government five months after a presidential election. – Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to designate Kenya as a major non-NATO ally during a three-day state visit by Kenyan President William Ruto this week, a source familiar with the plans said. – Reuters

Nii Simmonds writes: The time is ripe for a new, bolder partnership between the U.S. and Africa. Biden and Ruto are right to call for a transition away from a relationship built on aid to one that fosters sustainable economic growth and increased trade, seeding the grounds both for a booming manufacturing sector in Africa and a clean energy revolution in the U.S. However, achieving this goal will require a deliberate strategy to entice U.S. multinationals to invest more in the continent. – The Hill

The Americas

Winds from a fierce electrical storm battered a stage and caused it to collapse during a rally in northern Mexico featuring a presidential candidate on Wednesday night, sending a metal structure crashing to the ground as panicked attendees fled. – Washington Post

President Luis Abinader of the Dominican Republic won his re-election bid in a landslide, bolstered by sweeping restrictions on Haitian migrants and a strong economy. – New York Times

Ecuador’s attorney general’s office is investigating eight extrajudicial killings reported to have taken place during the country’s most recent state of emergency, after rights groups warned authorities were not taking steps to prevent abuses. – Reuters

Ecuadorean President Daniel Noboa on Wednesday declared a new state of emergency in seven of the country’s 24 provinces, as well as one area of a further province, citing a rise in the number of violent deaths and other crimes in those jurisdictions. – Reuters

Colombian President Gustavo Petro has ordered the opening of an embassy in the Palestinian city of Ramallah, Foreign Minister Luis Gilberto Murillo told journalists on Wednesday. – Reuters

United States

As President Biden’s support among Arab and Muslim Americans withers over his backing of Israel in the war in Gaza, former President Donald J. Trump is making a long-shot push to take advantage. – New York Times

The campus police chief for the University of California, Los Angeles, has been removed from his post in the aftermath of a violent, hourslong attack on a pro-Palestinian encampment at the school, during which security officers did not intervene. – New York Times

The Biden administration is willing to work with Congress to potentially impose sanctions against International Criminal Court officials over the prosecutor’s request for arrest warrants for Israeli leaders over the Gaza war, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday. – Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden believes a Palestinian state should be achieved through negotiations, not unilateral recognition, the White House said on Wednesday after Ireland, Spain and Norway said they would recognize a Palestinian state this month. – Reuters

Former US presidential candidate Nikki Haley is scheduled to arrive in Israel next week on a “solidarity visit,” The Jerusalem Post learned on Wednesday. – Jerusalem Post

Joseph S. Nye, Jr. writes: A Norwegian scholar once described the Cold War as dividing Europe into an American and a Soviet empire, but the big difference is that the American one was welcomed as “an empire by invitation.” If the U.S. pays attention to attracting other countries and maintaining its alliances, China will not surpass us in hard or soft power. But if we act in ways that turns our backs on others, all bets are off. – The Hill

David Wallace-Wells writes: After test-driving a dozen vehicles, Williams thought he had his answer: Chinese E.V.s were simply better and more compelling than their European and American counterparts, he said. “Now that I’ve seen a glimpse of what’s going on in China,” he wrote, “the Western manufacturers, particularly the American ones, don’t seem like they’re trying at all.” – New York Times

Cybersecurity

The chips made by Nvidia have powered the rise of artificial intelligence, which is threatening to disrupt virtually every major industry. Chief Executive Jensen Huang declared the beginning of a new industrial revolution where Nvidia was helping turn $1 trillion of data centers into “AI factories.” – Wall Street Journal

After years of Meta steadily walking away from news on its platforms, the company’s new AI tool is now using the work of those outlets for content. Meta’s new chatbot, Meta AI, is happy to scan news outlets and summarize their latest stories and headlines for anyone who asks. – Washington Post

Microsoft President Brad Smith said the tech company’s high profile deal with the United Arab Emirates-backed AI firm G42 could eventually involve the transfer of sophisticated chips and tools – a move that a senior Republican congressman warned could have national security implications. – Reuters

South Korea’s science and information technology minister said on Wednesday the world must cooperate to ensure the successful development of AI, as a global summit on the rapidly evolving technology hosted by his country wrapped up. – Reuters

When Ivanti devices got hacked earlier this year, the company’s participation in an industry-government collaboration gave the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency a “head start” toward confronting the vulnerability, the agency’s director said Wednesday. – Cyberscoop

National Cyber Director Harry Coker said in remarks on Wednesday that the growing threat posed by Chinese hacking groups is leading the Biden administration to step up its work to protect U.S. critical infrastructure from malicious hackers. – Cyberscoop

Successfully tracking Chinese-linked cyber espionage operations is becoming increasingly difficult as Beijing’s hackers shift toward networks of virtual private servers and compromised smart devices to conceal their campaigns, researchers with Google Cloud’s Mandiant said Wednesday. – Cyberscoop

Security agencies and governments across Europe are increasingly warning about the threat posed by Russia-directed saboteurs operating on their territories. – The Record

Molly Roberts writes: By so brazenly borrowing Samantha to build Sky, OpenAI proved not only that it can indeed replicate a celebrity’s distinct voice but that it will — with or without consent. Either OpenAI’s leaders lacked even the awareness of the reaction they’d elicit or they didn’t care. Altman was supposed to send the message that AI is for humans to harness, not to be harnessed. Instead, he sent the message that our nightmares are about to come true. – Washington Post

Defense

A new plan from House lawmakers would automatically register men for a potential military draft when they hit age 18, avoiding potential legal consequences connected to failing to file the paperwork at the proper time. – Defense News

 A U.S. Army Light Support Vessel can transport 24 Abrams tanks at once, even at sea for nearly a month without needing a port visit, and one recently deployed to Gaza to help build the floating pier designed to provide humanitarian aid to civilians in the war-torn region. – Defense News

Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro announced the names of two Flight III Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers in a speech at the U.S. Naval Academy Wednesday. – USNI News

Gen. Philip Breedlove writes: In the late 1930s, America saw the gathering storm and began to re-arm. In the early 1980s, America answered the growing threat of the Soviet Union and its satellites with a buildup that ultimately helped peacefully bring down the Warsaw Pact.Today, we face a global threat environment on par with those moments. That global threat environment demands we build as many F-35s as we can, as fast as we can. To do otherwise is to invite aggressors to take their best shot. That would, indeed, be history repeating itself. – Defense News