President Donald Trump’s public response to Iranian missile strikes on two US airbases in Iraq suggests that he and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have reached a mutual ‘no war’ agreement. Barring any miscalculation by either side that triggers military escalation, the confrontation will continue to be played out politically, with the US maintaining its ‘maximum pressure’ campaign that seeks to force regime change through severe economic sanctions. There will be a lot of bruising ahead for Iran, but Trump will not win politically.
Friends and foes alike no longer know where the United States stands. As Washington overpromises and underdelivers, regional powers are seeking solutions on their own – both through violence and diplomacy.
Beijing perceives the U.S. withdrawal from the INF and possible deployment of ground-based missiles to Asia as part of Washington’s broader campaign to contain China. Overall, China can be fairly confident regarding its chances in a potential missile race in Asia, thanks to several advantages.
In this new series, experts give their quick responses to five questions about the most important news of the day.
What should the United States be most concerned about regarding possible meddling by Russia in US elections?
Jesse Driscoll: I think three things are pretty concerning. First, it’s concerning that the kinds of interventions we have evidence of can easily be “up-scaled” without necessarily violating laws. Second, I find it concerning that the Russian government is so entrepreneurial about identifying polarizing issues that do not seemingly have anything to with US-Russia policy—suggesting they may be fine-tuning models of voter turnout suppression that could induce disgust and be micro-targeted. Third, and most importantly, I think it’s clear that Russia is just experimenting. It’s easy to imagine other countries doing more, with more resources, in the near future.
Hypersonic flight is not new. The V-2 rocket and the vast majority of the ballistic missiles that it inspired achieved hypersonic speeds (i.e., speeds faster than the speed of sound or Mach 5+) as they fell from the sky, as did crewed aircraft like the rocket-powered X-15. Rather than speed, today’s renewed attention to hypersonic weapons owes to developments that enable controlled flight. These new systems have two sub-varieties: hypersonic glide vehicles and hypersonic cruise missiles. Glide vehicles are the cousins of ballistic warheads: they are lofted on high velocity boosters, separate, then use momentum and control surfaces to skip and glide through the upper atmosphere before crashing onto their targets. The cruise missiles use an advanced propulsion system (a SCRAMJET) for powered flight. While the descriptions are straightforward, the engineering needed to accomplish the guidance and maneuvering (not to mention survivability) of these weapons is far from clear.