What Israel Can Learn from the War in Ukraine

During the past year of fighting, both Moscow and Kyiv have made extensive use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), often deploying them in new ways that amount to significant changes in the nature of warfare. Russia has recently begun importing Iranian drones—including loitering munitions or “suicide drones”—which the Islamic Republic also supplies to its proxy armies around the Middle East. Liran Antebi and Amikam Norkin explain the implications for the IDF:

For Israel, this is a unique opportunity: with Iran considered its greatest threat, Tehran’s involvement in a conflict in Europe allows an in-depth examination of one aspect of Iranian capabilities and weaknesses. [The suicide drones] are relatively primitive, . . . low cost, and simple to operate; some were even downgraded [in order] to allow their export from Iran disassembled, with assembly on the ground. Despite the low level of accuracy of these UAVs in comparison to their Western counterparts, for the Russians they are an adequate solution to their need to erode Ukraine’s resilience by damaging electrical and water infrastructure, as well as inflicting intentional injury and death on civilians.

From Israel’s perspective, Ukraine offers a demonstration of the limited technological capabilities of exported Iranian weapons on the one hand, and implications for the battlefield on the other, including the ability to damage civilian infrastructure, military forces, and civilians.

The fighting in Ukraine also shows how non-Western powers tend to use unmanned weapons—in a total inversion of how Western democracies use similar technologies, largely with the intention of minimizing damage and harm to civilians by means of improving the accuracy of their systems. The way that Russia uses these technologies does not respect international law in particular or human life in general, as proven by the deadly and indiscriminate attacks on the Ukrainian home front. While the weapons have not scored strategic gains, the future of hundreds of such UAVs in combination with heavy barrages of rockets in the early days of fighting are liable to pose difficult problems for the Israeli defense systems.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: IDF, Iran, War in Ukraine

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy