Calibrating Proportionality and Self-Defense in Gaza | Sweden’s Failed Liberal Project | ISIS Propaganda Seducing New Generation of Teenagers, and more

But what sets Sweden apart from comparable countries is the fact that immigration has reached such a high level in so short a period of time. In 1970, 16 per cent of children born in Sweden had at least one parent born abroad. In 2018, the figure was 38 per cent.
At the same time, the composition of immigration has changed dramatically. In 1970, labor immigration dominated, particularly from neighboring Finland. But in recent decades, refugee immigration from the Middle East and Africa has accounted for roughly half of new arrivals. In 1960, there were only a few thousand people in Sweden born in Africa, Latin America or Asia. Today, there are more than a million. Syria, in fact, has overtaken Finland as the most common country of origin for Swedes of foreign origin.
The social consequences of this demographic shift are considerable. Not only has inequality increased demonstrably, but Sweden is experiencing an explosion in crime from gang war and organised crime in which immigrants are overwhelmingly involved. The country now has the highest rate of gun violence in Europe. Tensions are also reflected in the appearance of segregated areas where the children of immigrants who have been born in Sweden consider themselves second-class citizens and too often develop a “counter-identity”.
In a broader sense, one important lesson Sweden’s transformation teaches us is that progressive ideas do not necessarily counteract neoliberal reforms. On the contrary, they can pave the way for them and, working together, can cause irreparable damage.
Although Sweden is in many respects a successful country, the last 20 years have shown the limits of its ambition to organize society according to cold principles of rationality and detachment from citizens’ actual lives. In the eyes of the world, and indeed a large part of its own population, Sweden has lost the model status that it acquired and preserved over decades.

Former Mideast Commander Calls on Biden to Respond to Houthi Attacks  (Lara Seligman, Politico)
Retired Gen. Frank McKenzie, who commanded all U.S. forces in the Middle East for three years during the Trump and Biden presidencies, believes the current team should respond more forcefully to attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea — even as top administration officials remain wary of provoking Iran.
The former head of U.S. Central Command said Iran has taken the lack of a strong U.S. military response to the recent spike in Tehran-backed Houthi attacks on civilian vessels, which pose a threat to U.S. warships, as an invitation to continue its aggressive behavior.
“Sometimes you’ve got to throw a pitch,” McKenzie said in an interview. “You can’t catch eternally, because eventually the law of averages is going to turn against you, and you’re going to take a significant escalatory event on a ship, and then you’re going to be forced into an even more significant level of response.”

Henry Kissinger Supported Wars and Coups. He Also Played a Little-Known Role in Eliminating Bioweapons  (Matt Field, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists)
Alongside Kissinger’s willingness to use US military power to achieve policy goals, he also worked toward ends that might soften his image, even if slightly, among his many critics.  Echoing his earlier work pushing détente with US adversaries during the Cold War—efforts that would contribute to nuclear arms control—Kissinger became an advocate for nuclear disarmament in his later years. In a 2007 editorial in The Wall Street Journal, he and other prominent former US officials called for realizing the promise of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which requires that nuclear-armed countries eliminate their arsenals over time.
Decades before, when he was one of President Richard Nixon’s closest advisors, Kissinger also played a central if little publicized role in biological disarmament.
By the late 1960s, incidents with chemical weapons—including an accident with VX nerve agent in Utah that killed some 6,000 sheep—had focused Congress’s attention on the US chemical and biological warfare operation. Internationally, there were efforts to begin arms control negotiations around these weapons of mass destruction. And Kissinger led internal government deliberations over what to do with the US program. At one point, Kissinger, unhappy with a policy paper that contained both arguments in favor and against retaining biological weapons, produced his own paper that cut the points in favor of the offensive program. He included his personal recommendation to restrict the US program to biological defense, which involves the development of countermeasures such as vaccines.
Nixon ended up choosing to completely shutter the US offensive program. “Mankind,” he said at a press conference in November 1969, “already carries in its own hands too many of the seeds of its own destruction. By the example we set today, we hope to contribute to an atmosphere of peace and understanding between nations and among men.”

ISIS Propaganda Seducing ‘New Generation of Teenagers,’ French Domestic Intel  (Pierre Emmanuel Ngendakumana, Politico)
A new generation of French teenagers is being wooed by the Islamic State terrorist group — infamous for its on-camera immolations of captives in Iraq — and seems ominously susceptible to the group’s propaganda, according to the head of France’s DGSI internal security directorate, Nicolas Lerner. France — home to Europe’s largest Jewish and Muslim populations — has suffered multiple terrorist attacks in the past few months, most recently last weekend near the Eiffel Tower in Paris when a German man was killed and two others were injured. A French prosecutor said the perpetrator had pledged allegiance to Islamic State. “The three attack plots foiled by the DGSI in 2023 involved individuals who were all under the age of 20,” Lerner said in a Thursday interview with Le Monde, in which he claimed they were members of this group. Lerner used the terms Islamic State and ISIS interchangeably. “The youngest was 13 years old. Two others were 14 years old. In several of these cases … these young people did not go to mosques or places of socialization: They structured themselves online, on social networks, through a very worrying ideological and digital confinement.” Lerner said the current conflict between Israel and Hamas has had “undeniably” direct consequences for France.

U.S. Restricts Visas for Israeli Settlers Linked to Extremist Violence  (Niha Masih and Bryan Pietsch, Washington Post)
The United States will impose visa restrictions on people believed to have engaged in violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Tuesday, following repeated calls for Israel to do more to prevent extremist attacks by Jewish settlers on Palestinians. The move comes amid a surge of attacks in the West Bank, where rights groups say settler violence against Palestinians has reached record levels since the Oct. 7 assault on Israel by Hamas. In a statement, Blinken said the policy was designed to target “individuals believed to have been involved in undermining peace, security, or stability in the West Bank, including through committing acts of violence or taking other actions that unduly restrict civilians’ access to essential services and basic necessities.” Immediate family members of such individuals may also be subject to the restrictions, the statement said. Washington continues to seek accountability for all acts of violence against civilians in the West Bank, Blinken added, and has also told the Palestinian Authority that it “must do more to curb Palestinian attacks against Israelis. The visa restrictions starting Tuesday will affect dozens of people, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a briefing. Israeli citizens designated under the policy with valid U.S. visas will be notified that their visas have been revoked, and the applications of those applying for new visas will be rejected, he added. However, the restrictions will not affect Israeli settlers who are U.S. citizens.

Israel Plans to Kill Hamas Leaders Around the World After War  (Dion Nissenbaum, Wall Street Journal)
Israel’s intelligence services are preparing to kill Hamas leaders around the world when the nation’s war in the Gaza Strip winds down, setting the stage for a yearslong campaign to hunt down militants responsible for the Oct. 7 massacres, Israeli officials said. With orders from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s top spy agencies are working on plans to hunt down Hamas leaders living in Lebanon, Turkey and Qatar, the small Gulf nation that has allowed the group to run a political office in Doha for a decade, the officials said. The assassination campaign would be an extension of Israel’s decadeslong clandestine operations that have become the subject of both Hollywood legend and worldwide condemnation. Israeli assassins have hunted Palestinian militants in Beirut while dressed as women, and killed a Hamas leader in Dubai while disguised as tourists. Israel has used a car bomb to assassinate a Hezbollah leader in Syria and a remote-controlled rifle to kill a nuclear scientist in Iran, according to former Israeli officials.

Commerce Needs Cash to Curb China’s Chips  (Robbie Gramer and Rishi Iyengar, Foreign Policy)
The most important U.S. government agency in the brewing cold war with China may not be the State Department or the Pentagon, but rather the Commerce Department, an agency little more than a century old, with funding and resources almost that far behind.
Commerce has been tasked with overseeing everything from massive new supply chain security and export control initiatives to crafting U.S. policies on artificial intelligence with an eye toward outcompeting Beijing. Since this new fight is all about technology, commerce, and economic competition, Commerce has to play a bigger national security role than it has ever played before.
And yet, Commerce’s boss is warning that she doesn’t have enough resources to carry out the fight.

AI’s ‘Fog of War’  (Damon Beres, The Atlantic)
Earlier this year, The Atlantic published a story by Gary Marcus, a well-known AI expert who has agitated for the technology to be regulated, both in his Substack newsletter and before the Senate. (Marcus, a cognitive scientist and an entrepreneur, has founded AI companies himself and has explored launching another.) Marcus argued that “this is a moment of immense peril,” and that we are teetering toward an “information-sphere disaster, in which bad actors weaponize large language models, distributing their ill-gotten gains through armies of ever more sophisticated bots.”
I was interested in following up with Marcus given recent events. In the past six weeks, we’ve seen an executive order from the Biden administration focused on AI oversight; chaos at the influential company OpenAI; and this Wednesday, the release of Gemini, a GPT competitor from Google. What we have not seen, yet, is total catastrophe of the sort Marcus and others have warned about. Perhaps it looms on the horizon—some experts have fretted over the destructive role AI might play in the 2024 election, while others believe we are close to developing advanced AI models that could acquire “unexpected and dangerous capabilities,” as my colleague Karen Hao has described. But perhaps fears of existential risk have become their own kind of AI hype, understandable yet unlikely to materialize. My own opinions seem to shift by the day.
Marcus and I talked earlier this week about all of the above.