Backing Russia Is Costing China In Europe
May 30, 2023 • Foreign Policy
Last month, China's special representative for Eurasian affairs, Li Hui, visited Kyiv, Warsaw, Berlin, Paris, and Brussels with "a clear message": European governments should view Beijing as an alternative to Washington, and recognize Ukrainian territories seized by Moscow as belonging to Russia in order to quickly end the war. These overtures fit a larger pattern; for some time now, in its dealings with Europe, China has promoted the concept of "strategic autonomy" from the United States, arguing that the continent should go its own way in international affairs. For Beijing, dividing the United States and Europe makes good strategic sense, since it would weaken the Western bloc and enhance China's influence on the world stage. The concept of strategic autonomy also appeals to like-minded political elements in Europe who have long sought, albeit for very different reasons, to pull Brussels and Washington apart. Some European leaders are on board. Following his recent trip to China, French President Emmanuel Macron argued that Europe faces a "great risk" of getting "caught up in crises that are not ours, which prevents it from building its strategic autonomy." Those sentiments were, of course, promptly trumpeted by China's state media. But Macron's once mainstream views are now out of touch. Today, Europe is more united than at any time in recent memory—mostly as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Much to Beijing's chagrin, Moscow's campaign of aggression against its western neighbor has breathed new life into the NATO alliance and forged a durable consensus on the continent about the need to roll back Russia's advances and thwart its persistent imperialist impulses.
Russia's Military Is Less Than Meets The Eye
May 24, 2023 • The Hill
For many years now, officials in Moscow have extolled the virtues of Russia's "wonder weapons," military breakthroughs and technological advances (such as fifth generation fighter jets, autonomous battle tanks, and mechanized combat walkers) that they maintained were nothing short of game-changers in modern warfare. For most of that time, officials in Washington and European capitals believed them, and tempered a great many of their policies so as not to antagonize the Kremlin. But the war in Ukraine has changed all that. Nearly a year-and-a-half into Russia's "special military operation" against its western neighbor, its next-generation arms have failed to materialize in any meaningful way. While the offensive has seen Moscow field a broad range of conventional weaponry, those next-generation technologies haven't yet made a meaningful appearance. To the contrary, as the conflict has dragged on, Russia has been forced to rely more and more on foreign military supplies and old Soviet-era hardware to shore up its badly depleted forces.
New Rules In Israel's North
May 16, 2023 • Newsweek
Between mid-March and mid-April, Israel's northern frontier experienced its worst spasm of instability in over a decade-and-a-half. On March 13, an armed extremist connected to Hezbollah infiltrated the country and blew up a car at the Megiddo junction, some 50 miles south of the Israeli-Lebanese border. Three weeks later, over the Passover holiday, the Hamas terrorist group launched a salvo of 36 rockets from Lebanese territory against towns and civilian populations in the western Galilee, wounding several and damaging local infrastructure. Two days after that, rockets were launched at Israel from Syria as well. Those incidents, experts told me during a recent fact-finding trip there, are emblematic of broader strategic shifts that are now underway along Israel's northern border—changes that suggest the old "rules of the game" between Israel and Syria, as well as Israel and Lebanon, are increasingly being revised.
Making Sense Of Israel's Judicial Reform Crisis
May 10, 2023 • AFPC Insights
For months now, Israel's politics have been roiled by an acrimonious internal debate over a series of judicial reforms proposed by its new government. At its core, the dispute hinges on an effort by religious elements within the Israeli ruling coalition to "rebalance" the composition and authorities of Israel's supreme court to bring it more in line with, and make it more subservient to, the country's Executive Branch. Such a step is vehemently opposed in many quarters of Israeli society, albeit for a variety of different reasons. The resulting political crisis now engulfing the country is the most consequential in Israel's 75-year existence. The issue is both sudden and surprising. An overhaul of the judiciary did not rank as a significant priority for the current government when it took office late last year. Moreover, virtually all Israelis agree on the notion that Israel's supreme court should be reformed in some fashion. However, a distinct trust deficit between the country's political Left and Right, together with a strong undercurrent of opposition to long-serving Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu, have made the question of how, precisely, the Israeli supreme court should be adapted into a political lightning rod that has brought hundreds of thousands of Israelis into the streets on a weekly basis since the reforms were first floated in January 2023.
Israel's Deepening Iran Dilemma
May 8, 2023 • The Washington Times
The Islamic Republic of Iran has long represented the most significant strategic challenge facing Israel. Today, despite years of persistent focus, as well as a range of covert initiatives to erode Iranian military and technological capabilities, that threat has grown significantly more acute. As a result, the Jewish state is fast approaching a critical juncture in its Iran policy. As I heard on a recent fact-finding trip to the country, two things are drawing this fateful moment closer.
Books by Ilan Berman
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