Don’t Panic About Taiwan | Israeli Democracy Faces a Mortal Threat | A ‘New Cold War’ Looms in Africa, and more

The U.S. Has a Troublesome Asian Ally Against China  (Nick Aspinwall, Foreign Policy)
On Feb. 2, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin shook hands with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and announced a new deal allowing U.S. forces access to four additional military camps, strengthening a decades-old defense bond and significantly increasing the U.S. military’s presence on China’s doorstep. “It’s a really big deal,” Austin said at a press conference. “[This is] just part of our efforts to modernize our alliance.”
As Austin spoke in Manila, the Philippine capital, Windel Bolinget and six other activists sat in jail cells near Baguio, a city 250 kilometers north. The group was part of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance, an environmental group organizing Indigenous opposition to hydropower and dam projects on the nearby Chico, Apayao, and Saltan rivers.
They now face charges of insurrection and rebellion under a deeply controversial anti-terrorism law; they are accused by Philippine courts of being members of the New People’s Army (NPA), a communist rebel group waging an armed rebellion in the countryside in increasingly small numbers.

A ‘New Cold War’ Looms in Africa as U.S. Pushes Against Russian Gains (Declan Walsh, New York Times)
The U.S. is reprising its playbook in Ukraine, where it has used classified information to expose plans by Russia. Next target: Chad.

Don’t Panic About Taiwan  (Jessica Chen Weiss, Foreign Affairs)
In the West and parts of Asia, concern is mounting that China might invade Taiwan to distract from mounting domestic challenges or because Chinese leaders imagine that their window of opportunity to seize the island is closing. Facing an economic slowdown and rising unemployment, some analysts argue, Beijing might be tempted to launch a military offensive to rally popular support. In January 2023, for instance, Taiwan’s foreign minister, Joseph Wu, speculated that Chinese President Xi Jinping might create an external crisis “to divert domestic attention or to show to the Chinese that he has accomplished something.”

U.S. Trains West African Militaries as Jihadi Threat Spreads  (Sam Mednick, AP)
As extremist violence in West Africa’s Sahel region spreads south toward coastal states, the United States military has launched its annual military training exercise aimed at helping armies contain the jihadi threat. Soldiers from several African countries are being trained in counter-insurgency tactics as part of the annual U.S.-led exercise known as Flintlock, that began this week. Some 1,300 military personnel from 29 countries are training in Ghana and Ivory Coast, amid surging jihadi violence linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group that’s killed thousands, displaced millions and plunged countries into crises. While most of the extremist activity is concentrated in West Africa’s inland Sahel region in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, the violence is rapidly spreading to coastal states like Ghana, which is experiencing an upsurge in attacks by unidentified groups, which could have links to jihadis. Northern Ghana had just one violent incident connected to an unidentified armed group in 2021 but that figure rose dramatically to 19 in 2022, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.

If China Cracked U.S. Encryption, Why Would It Tell Us?  (Georgianna Shea and Annie Fixler, National Interest)
Assuming the math works (which it doesn’t), why would China sacrifice significant strategic advantage for academic bragging rights?