Terrorism in Latin America | Making European Strategic Autonomy Work | The West’s False Choice in Ukraine, and more

HRW: Rocket Misfire Likely Caused Deadly Gaza Hospital Blast  (Reuters / VOA News)
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Sunday that evidence suggested a misfired rocket was the likely cause of an explosion that resulted in heavy casualties at a hospital in Gaza on Oct. 17.
The explosion at the Al-Ahli hospital triggered outrage across the Arab world. Palestinians blamed an Israeli airstrike, while Israel said it was caused by a misfiring Palestinian rocket launch.
The health ministry in Gaza said 471 people were killed. Israel disputes this figure. An unclassified U.S. intelligence report estimated the death toll “at the low end of the 100 to 300 spectrum.”
“The explosion that killed and injured many civilians at Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza on October 17, 2023, resulted from an apparent rocket-propelled munition, such as those commonly used by Palestinian armed groups,” HRW said.
It said the findings of its investigation into the explosion were based on a review of photos and videos, satellite imagery and interviews with witnesses and experts.

Making European Strategic Autonomy Work  (Charles Powell, Nathalie Tocci, and Guntram Wolff, The Strategist / Project Syndicate)
The basic idea is that Europeans must be able to live by their own laws and defend their interests without foreign interference (or assistance). Yet given the EU’s cooperative nature, consensus-based decision-making and deep economic ties to the rest of the world, external action must strike a delicate balance. It must be multilateral when possible, but unilateral when necessary.

The False Choice Between Palestinian and Jewish Liberation (Shlomo Ben-Ami, Project Syndicate)
The prevailing narrative that frames Israel as a colonial power suppressing Palestinians’ struggle for statehood grossly oversimplifies a complicated conflict and inadvertently vindicates the region’s most oppressive regimes. Achieving a durable, lasting peace requires moving beyond such facile analogies.

The Biden-Xi Meeting: Did the White House Get More Than It Gave?  (Ravi Agrawal, Foreign Policy)
Chinese President Xi Jinping made his first visit to the United States in six years this week, striking agreements with U.S. President Joe Biden that include resuming military communications and stopping the flow of chemicals that go into manufacturing fentanyl, a synthetic opioid drug. While the White House seemed to gain important concessions from the Chinese delegation, the moves also helped stabilize the U.S.-China relationship—for now—giving Xi room to focus on improving his country’s economy.

The West’s False Choice in Ukraine  (Nona Mikhelidze and Nathalie Tocci, Foreign Policy)
Western reluctance to promptly furnish Ukraine with the required military equipment in sufficient numbers—exacerbated by ongoing shortages in artillery ammunition—inadvertently afforded Russia the time to strengthen its frontline through extensive construction of fortifications, trenches, and mine fields. Notably, the United States held back on the delivery of Advanced Tactical Missile Systems until very recently, while German reluctance to provide Ukraine with Taurus missiles added another layer of hesitation. The results are evident on the ground: Whereas we cannot know whether greater and faster delivery of weapons would have led to a Ukrainian military breakthrough, we do know that, without it, the result of Ukraine’s counteroffensive in the land war has been marginal at best. In the Black Sea, on the other hand, Kyiv has achieved significant recent success.
Doubling down on the narrative that it has thwarted Ukraine’s counteroffensive, Russia has launched attacks in several sectors of the front, including near the city of Avdiivka and town of Vuhledar. While they are exacting a significant toll on Russian lives and military resources—October was the bloodiest month for Russia since February 2022—Russian advances are paying off. The strategic value of Russia’s small territorial wins is questionable, but the benefits in the informational realm are clear: They give many observers the impression that the military initiative is back in Moscow’s hands. Alongside the lackluster Ukrainian counteroffensive, the fear that the tables are turning in Russia’s favor is adding to the war fatigue among Western nations and eliciting calls for negotiations.
The West has indeed reached the limits of its current strategy. In practice, if not in words, this strategy has centered on ensuring Ukraine’s survival without enabling it to achieve a decisive victory. Ukraine’s Western supporters are now at a crossroads.