8 May 2022

Despite Advances in Women’s Rights, Gender Equality Lags Around the World

Despite progress in codifying women’s rights into law, advances in gender equality around the world have been halting, at best. This, despite the additional attention that the #MeToo movement brought to incidents of sexual assault and harassment in parts of the Global North—and increasingly in the Global South.

In South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa made news in mid-2019 when he appointed a Cabinet that included as many women as men. Later the same year, the European Commission also achieved the European Union’s self-imposed goal of gender parity. The thinking behind gender parity in government is that with greater levels of representation, women policymakers and legislators will pay more attention to issues that are often ignored by men, like gender-based violence or inheritance laws that discriminate against women.

Dockworkers Worldwide Are Trying to Stop Russia’s War

Elisabeth Braw

While the chattering classes tweet and write in support of Ukraine, a less visible corps of helpers is taking action: dockworkers. At ports in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United States, and elsewhere, dockers have simply refused to handle cargo from Russian ships. And without dockworkers, the cargo is going nowhere.

It’s a reminder of how manual labor underpins just about everything we consume, even in supposedly sophisticated economies—and of how powerful some of that labor can be, in ways many people have forgotten. Today, virtually nobody in the West grows up being encouraged by parents, teachers, or society to become a dockworker, a train driver, or a utility repairman (or repairwoman).

Why Washington Should Take Russian Nuclear Threats Seriously

Stephen M. Walt

Back in February, I told Roger Cohen of the New York Times that “I find it difficult to believe that any world leader, including Mr. Putin, would seriously contemplate using nuclear weapons in any of the scenarios we have here, for the simple reason that they understand the consequences.” I still think the odds of a nuclear strike are low, but I’m finding it easier to imagine the possibility than I did a couple of months ago.

To its credit, the Biden administration has been somewhat mindful of the risk of escalation, which is one reason the president said early on that he would not send U.S. troops to fight in Ukraine. The assumption behind this policy is that escalatory dangers will be minimized so long as Americans aren’t pulling triggers and actively killing Russians. President Joe Biden & Co. clearly hope this is the case, and military experts such as Lawrence Freedman agree.

Big Tobacco Is Taking Advantage of Another War—As Usual

Benoît Gomis

A recent investigative report by Reuters detailed the close ties between Philip Morris International and Igor Kesaev, the founder and until recently board chairman of Russia’s largest cigarette distributor, TC Megapolis. Relationships between Big Tobacco companies and wholesale distributors tend to raise eyebrows in the industry-watching community, given their long history of involvement in smuggling. But what sparked Reuters’ interest in Kesaev is that he also happens to own a company that produces arms for the Russian military, for which he was sanctioned by the European Union on April 8 and the United Kingdom on April 13.

Bolsonaro Isn’t Letting Up in His War Against the Amazon

Matias Alejandro Franchini, Eduardo Viola

For everything else that makes Jair Bolsonaro unique as a Brazilian president, he is also the first in the country’s recent history to pursue an explicitly anti-environmental agenda. Since taking office in January 2019, he has promoted deforestation in the Amazon for the sake of economic development, criticized the Paris Agreement and used nationalist rhetoric to vehemently reject European criticism of his handling of the massive Amazon wildfires in 2019.

Russian Attitudes Toward Multinationals’ Departures

Sanctions pressure on the Russian economy has increased significantly since the start of the war in Ukraine. Fearing sanctions or a domestic backlash, many foreign companies have withdrawn from Russia, or suspended or reduced activities in the country. In Russia, this will significantly affect large retail chains and companies that depend on imports of components. The most vulnerable sector, though, is the automotive industry, which relies almost entirely on imported auto parts. Clothing, footwear, and telecommunications equipment are also heavily reliant on imports.

Yet Russian consumers are optimistic. Buyers are switching to homemade products or goods from Eurasian Economic Union countries, especially Belarus. Smaller firms, no longer facing competition from international giants, see the chance to expand. Over the medium term, import substitution could even benefit the Russian economy. At the same time, trade theory suggests the substitution process will be slow and costly. Replacements for some inputs won’t exist and will have to be made from scratch. Many substitutes, by definition, will be inferior to their Western counterparts. And substitution entails diverting scarce resources from other areas of the economy. Above all, Russian consumers will have to be patient.

China wary of Russia-type sanctions, but Beijing’s ‘financial nuclear bombs’ are a powerful deterrent

Ji Siqi

Punishing the world’s second-largest economy with destructive financial and economic sanctions – such as expelling China from the international Swift payment system and freezing foreign reserves – had never been publicly considered an option by Washington.

But that changed when they were levied against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

Now, the breadth of those sanctions, and the speed at which they were applied, have given Beijing a glimpse of what it could face if it offers support to Moscow or tries to forcefully reunify Taiwan with the Chinese mainland.

Xi Jinping Revives Pro-market Policies to Bolster Economy Ahead of 20th Party Congress

Willy Wo-Lap Lam

Are President Xi Jinping’s recent turn to liberalized measures on technology firms and his commitment to using infrastructure projects to boost the economy an indication that the supreme leader has adopted a relatively pro-market approach to policymaking? At a late April Politburo meeting, Xi, who is also General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), said that Beijing would promote the “healthy development” of the internet platform economy through “normalizing control over the tech sector,” and that specific measures would be taken to boost high technology industries, especially information technology (IT) conglomerates. Xi has also stopped mentioning the goal of “common prosperity,” which has been used as a pretext to squeeze tycoons running multi-billion-dollar technology giants (CCTV.com, May 2; SCMP, April 29). At the same time, Xi is pulling out all the stops to ensure that this year’s GDP growth target of 5.5 percent is reached. The “core of the CCP leadership” has emphasized that the Chinese economy must expand at a higher rate than that of the United States in order to demonstrate “the superiority of the Chinese system” (Deutsche Welle Chinese, April 27; Radio French International, April 27).

Can The Intelligence Community Tell What’s Brewing In Afghanistan?

Reuel Marc Gerecht

Although the age of mass-casualty Islamic terrorism may be ending, American intelligence ought to assume worst-case scenarios. Afghanistan and Pakistan remain the two most likely locales for Al-Qa’ida—still the only organization to have organized a mass-casualty attack from Western-based cells—to organize new assaults against the United States. Is the CIA capable of designing and running operations in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan that could detect and thwart new conspiracies?

From Russia to Indonesia: How Energy Crises Will Evolve

Justin Conrad & Chase Duncan

Russia's invasion of Ukraine quickly created chaos in global energy markets and resulted in increased consumer prices for oil and natural gas. But the shocks have not been limited to fossil fuels alone: nickel prices have been extremely volatile, at one point, almost doubling overnight. A critical component of many electric vehicles and utility-scale batteries, nickel was already surging in demand as the world moves away from high carbon energy sources. Some analysts have concluded that the recent volatility in the market could undermine the long-term plans of electric vehicle manufacturers. These trends have forced many to acknowledge an uncomfortable reality: even if the world weans itself from fossil fuels, energy choices will still impact global security.

Indonesia illustrates how "new" energy sources are converging with geopolitics and domestic conflict to pose an emerging threat to international security. The country is primed to dominate global nickel production over the next decade, thanks in large part to increasing Chinese investments. These investments, like China's dominance of the supply of rare earth metals, pose significant security challenges for the world. As a result, the United States and its allies need to move now to diversify their technology and resource bases as a hedge against the kind of resource monopoly developing in Indonesia.

No End in Sight: Jihadist and Baluch Ethno-Nationalist Suicide Terrorism in Pakistan Since the U.S. Withdrawal From Afghanistan

Abdul Basit

Pakistan is no stranger to suicide terrorism. However, suicide attacks witnessed in 2021 and the first quarter of 2022 point to its revival and expansion from jihadist to Baluch ethno-separatist militants. Alongside representing the resilience of Pakistan’s asymmetric conflicts, the re-emergence of suicide attacks also signals a new phase in terrorism in the country. The April 26 suicide attack by a female member of the Baluch Liberation Army (BLA)’s Majeed Brigade targeting a van carrying Chinese nationals in Karachi further adds a gendered dimension to the rebirth of suicide terrorism in Pakistan (Express Tribune, April 26).

Warship Moskva was Blind to Ukrainian Missile Attack, Analysis Shows

Sam LaGrone

The crew of RTS Moskva (121) was blind to and not ready for the Ukrainian missile attack that sank Russia’s Black Sea flagship, according to a new analysis of the April 13 strike reviewed by USNI News.

The review of images following the strike of the two Neptune anti-ship missiles from open-source naval analyst and retired Navy Capt. Chris Carlson told USNI News that the guided-missile cruiser did not have its fire control radars activated and could not see the threat from the two sea skimming weapons.

How the West should respond to China’s search for foreign outposts

The united states maintains hundreds of military bases in at least 45 countries. Britain runs plenty of outposts overseas. French forces are stationed from Ivory Coast to New Caledonia. Even tiny Singapore has training camps abroad. But five years after it opened—to the alarm of Western officials—China’s naval base in Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa, remains its only military bastion beyond its borders.

China wants to change that. Over the past two decades it has amassed more ships than America’s navy has in total. Lately it has increased efforts to find foreign berths for them. It is thought to have approached at least five potential host countries. A deal with the Solomon Islands, signed in April, has raised fears that China may establish a military foothold there. And it has deepened concerns that, one day, China will challenge American naval dominance in the Pacific.

Azerbaijan’s Delicate Balancing Act amid the Ukraine War

Wilder Alejandro Sanchez

Post-Soviet countries have come under scrutiny over their policies regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The three Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) and Moldova have taken clear anti-Moscow stances, with Chisinau even going as far as applying for European Union membership; on the other hand, Belarus has been very clear in its support of the invasion. As for the governments across the Caucasus and Central Asia, they have taken more cautious approaches. One good example situation is Azerbaijan, as Baku has generally maintained cordial and strong relations with Moscow, while at the same time taking subtle steps to assist Ukraine.

Recent developments

A summary of what the Azerbaijani government has done since the war started in February helps put the situation in the proper perspective. Humanitarian assistance has been a critical aspect of Baku’s recent activities. For example, on 20 April, the Moldovan Ministry of Defense explained that Moldovan troops will distribute to Ukrainian refugees medical supplies sent by Azerbaijan, among other donors. The aid was “transported with the help of technical units from the National Army to the San Farm Prim warehouse in Chisinau,” the Ministry explained. On 21 April, the news agency Azertac reported that Baku sent a total of 170 tons of medicines and supplies worth 3.37 million manats ($1.9 million USD), as well as food products worth 1 million manats ($588,000) to Ukraine, via Warsaw airport. As of late April, “the total amount of humanitarian aid provided by Azerbaijan due to the crisis in Ukraine is 27.6 million manats (about 15 million euros) and weighs 720 tons.”

Globalization Under Stress

Matthew Rooney

Globalization – as promoted by the United States over the past 70 years – has led to the greatest reduction in poverty and the biggest decline in interstate conflict in human history.

It has allowed freedom to grow and flourish: Markets for goods and services are less fettered by government interference, and more individuals can decide for themselves what to buy, where to travel, and where to live and work. But that hasn’t prevented many people around the world from arguing that globalization has harmed our security and prosperity.

Can the Intelligence Community Tell What’s Brewing in Afghanistan?


 Whenever the United States gets traumatized by the unexpected abroad, discussions inevitably start about the inadequacy of American intelligence collection and analysis. There is truth behind this reex response: US intelligence organizations, particularly the two largest and most consequential, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA), the latter of which is responsible for the bulk of America’s intercept of foreign communications and other digital treasure troves, often don’t perform as envisioned. Criticisms of the NSA usually revolve around timeliness—seeing and analyzing the intercepts soon enough—and the unavoidable mathematical problems that give encryption an advantage over decryption. And Langley has a way of condently repackaging establishment biases, in both analysis and operations, which makes it comfortable speaking “truth” to power except when conventional wisdom fails. Weapons of mass destruction—seeing them when they’re not there, not seeing them when they are—revolutionary movements, and religious terrorism have been challenging subjects for Langley to get ahead of. And the Directorate of Operations, the outt that makes the CIA special among America’s intelligence services, has long-standing problems with agent recruitment—a chronic inability to put the right operatives on difcult targets long enough to develop creative approaches and a promotions system that rewards case ofcers who recruit by volume not quality—that may well have given us, among other things, nearly useless agents against the Taliban and Al-Qa’ida


Turkey’s Lethal Weapon From Ukraine to Syria, Drones Are Reshaping Erdogan’s Foreign Policy

Soner Cagaptay and Rich Outzen

On April 14, Ukrainian forces stunned the world when they sank the Moskva, the heavily armed cruiser that was the flagship of Moscow’s Black Sea fleet. As widely noted in the international press, the Ukrainians succeeded in hitting the ship with their homegrown Neptune missiles, despite the ship’s significant defenses. What has been somewhat less noted, however, were the foreign-made drones that enabled this remarkable attack: according to Ukrainian officials, the strike was coordinated by a pair of Turkish Bayraktar TB2 unmanned drones, which were able to evade the ship’s radar and which provided precise targeting information for

Counting the Dead in Ukraine

Sanjana Varghese

In 2018, a small part of the Ukrainian military began gathering data about civilian harm in ongoing fighting in Donetsk and Luhansk, two Ukrainian regions in the Donbas, seized by Russian-backed groups four years earlier. It was a rare move, one of only a handful of militaries around the world to have established such detailed monitoring of the civilian consequences of war.

Then, in February, Russia invaded.

“From day one of the [invasion], on the 24th and 25th, we were on the phone with people working to support this unit and they were saying, ‘sorry, I have to hang up and go fight,’” said Beatrice Godefroy, Europe director at CIVIC, one of the NGOs that helped establish the Ukrainian military’s civilian casualty monitoring cell. Structures that had taken years to build up risked being overwhelmed by the scale of the crisis.

Why Russia Has Failed To Win The Battle For Donbas

Daniel Davis

Initial Results from the Battle of Donbas and What It Portends for the War’s Next Phase – When Russia redeployed tens of thousands of armored troops from the environs north of Kyiv and Sumy last month to the northern shoulder of the Donbas front, there was concern that the added manpower would produce an armored breakthrough of Ukraine’s lines. However, after almost three weeks of fighting, the Ukrainian troops have held the line.

Russia’s failure to affect a breakthrough represents a noteworthy accomplishment for the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF). Whether that initial success can carry Ukraine to an ultimate victory will depend on how several key factors play out in the coming weeks and months. The outcome of both the Battle of Donbas and the Russo-Ukrainian War are very much still up in the air.

The Ukraine War and U.S. National Strategy: The Need for a Credible Global Force Posture and Real Plans, Programs, and Budgets

Anthony H. Cordesman

It is one of the many ironies of the Ukraine War that it began at a time when the U.S. was on the edge of committing an act of bipartisan stupidity. If Russia had not invaded Ukraine, the Biden administration would have almost certainly issued a more detailed unclassified version of the Interim National Defense Strategy provided to Congress on March 28, 2022.i

One can only guess at the level of detail the Biden administration might have released regarding the nature and cost of the changes such a strategy would call for in reshaping the size, nature, and location of U.S. forces and the desired changes in strategic partnerships. It seems all too likely, however, that those changes would not have gone all that far beyond the vacuous generalities of the Interim National Security Strategic Guidance that the White House issued in March 2021.ii

Who's Leaving Whom in the Dust?

A recent opinion piece claimed that "when it comes to regulating the Internet, Europe is leaving the United States in the dust, and that's unlikely to change in the foreseeable future." Conversely, we can note that when it comes to using the internet for innovation and economic growth, the United States is leaving Europe in the dust, and that is also unlikely to change.

A few numbers highlight the problem. Company age is an indicator of economic dynamism—the ability to shift to new sources of income creation. The four largest European companies are more than a century old. The four largest American companies are less than 25 years old, and all are tech companies. Unicorns—startups valued at a billion dollars or more—are the engines of economic growth for the twenty-first century. The number of unicorns is a good predictor for national economic success. The United States has more than 400; the European Union has 132. Israel, with a population one-fiftieth the size of the European Union, has 94. The EU decision to regulate the tech industry in the 1990s cost it years of economic growth. Between 2008 and 2018, the United States’ real growth was 19 percent, Europe's somewhat more than 11 percent. This is trillions of dollars of lost income for Europe.

We’re Thinking About the Indian Ocean All Wrong


The Indian Ocean has been a critical trade route for centuries, enabling the global shipping of spices, foods, metals, and now energy resources that fuel major economies. Of the ten countries that supply three-fourths of China’s crude oil, nine rely on a safe, secure, and stable Indian Ocean to transport their goods. Japan, South Korea, Australia, and India also rely on Indian Ocean shipping lanes to receive critical energy resources, and other important commodities like coal and seafood are transported across the Indian Ocean region.

Despite the Indian Ocean’s importance, there is limited understanding of the geography of the region and its key players. This shortcoming hinders our ability to fully assess its importance to global competition.

White House Sounds Alarm on Threat from Quantum Computers


Hoping to move the world to better encryption before quantum-powered codebreaking tools arrive, the White House on Wednesday ordered federal agencies to ponder their security protocols and to jumpstart efforts to work with industry on new ones.

“Current research shows that at some point in the not-too-distant future, when quantum information science matures, quantum computers…will be capable of breaking much of the cryptography that currently secures our digital communication,” a senior White House official told reporters on Tuesday.

The EU Goes After Russian Oil Sales to Europe—With an Eye on a Larger Target


On Wednesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen proposed a complete import ban on all Russian oil as part of the EU’s latest sanctions package, declaring that Russian President Vladimir Putin “must pay a high price for his brutal aggression.” Though Russia’s oil sales to the EU are the immediate target of the sanctions, one key provision in the draft text could impair Russia’s ability to sell oil worldwide.

The motivation for the ban is to stop Europeans from paying high prices for Russian energy and to close off the Russian petrostate’s most important market for its most important export. The EU has spent more than $20 billion on Russian oil since the invasion of Ukraine, and those earnings are crucial for the Russian state, making up about 40 percent of its federal budget. Russia’s oil exports are typically worth more than twice as much as its gas exports, and the EU is the destination for nearly half of its oil exports.

East Asian Firms Are Critical to America’s Semiconductor Success

Kuancheng Huang, Chien-Huei Wu, and Nai-Yu Chen

Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the resulting global chip shortage, which hit automakers especially hard, shows no sign of easing despite manufacturers’ efforts to meet skyrocketing demand. Semiconductor technology has become an essential part of modern life with microchips, or ICs (integrated circuits), found in every electronic appliance, from basic household TV remotes to state-of-the-art missile defense military radars. As companies and governments around the world recognize the strategic importance of maintaining a resilient global supply chain and rally to secure supplies, many are coming to view the semiconductor shortage as a national security issue.

Voice of Khorasan Magazine and the Internationalization of Islamic State’s Anti-Taliban Propaganda

Lucas Webber

In late January 2022, the Afghanistan-based Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP) premiered its English-language magazine, “Voice of Khurasan (VoK)” (Militant Wire, February 8). The online print series is published through ISKP’s official al-Azaim Foundation for Media Production and covers a range of political and religious topics. VoK is intended to promote causes championed by ISKP and the broader Islamic State (IS) movement while also maligning their respective enemies. It, therefore, represents an attempt to build international appeal for ISKP as well as bolster recruitment and incite followers to carry out attacks.

The Trouble With “the Free World” Why It’s a Bad Idea to Revive a Cold War Concept

Peter Slezkine

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has revived the concept of “the free world.” On the day the attack began, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appealed to “free world leaders” for support. In his State of the Union address on March 1, U.S. President Joe Biden emphasized “the resolve of the free world.” “The free world is united in its resolve,” echoed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson three days later.

The return of the free world may have consequences that transcend the realm of rhetoric. From the late 1940s through the mid-1960s, the American commitment to free world leadership resulted in a series of unintended policymaking constraints. Before we once again become captives of the concept, it would be wise to consider how a free world foreign policy functioned the first time around.

US ramps up training of Ukrainian forces


The U.S. military is ramping up its weapons training for Ukrainian forces, with hundreds now being trained on artillery systems, drones and radars, defense officials said Wednesday.

The effort, which involves taking Ukrainians out of their country to train at multiple locations in Europe, has picked up significantly after the Pentagon in early April revealed it trained about a dozen such troops on how to use Switchblade drones.

Now, more than 220 Ukrainians have been trained on U.S. artillery, particularly the M777 Howitzer, a 10,000-pound system that can be towed by vehicles and hit targets up to 18 miles away with 155 mm rounds. Washington has promised 90 such systems to Kyiv.


Jeremy Kofsky

The paratroop commander could have been an American, British, or Polish officer over the Netherlands in 1944 or a Russian officer over Ukraine more recently. Being dropped behind enemy lines in pursuit of strategic and operational objectives, fighting outnumbered and surrounded by enemy forces, and trying to hold on until the ground forces arrive remain constants for an airborne force. The geographic similarities between mass parachute operations in the Netherlands during Operation Market Garden and the early morning airborne assault on Antonov Airport near Kyiv are striking. Both objectives were approximately sixty miles from the nearest friendly lines. Commanders sought to significantly shorten the war by seizing critical operational and strategic objectives. Commanders in both cases underestimated the enemy forces waiting below. By analyzing the airborne drops and subsequent ground combat in 1944 and 2022, through the prism of American airborne doctrine, the vertical envelopment practitioner and planner can learn valuable lessons paid for in the blood of these airborne soldiers.

Why Did Chinese Loans to Africa Fall So Much in 2020?

Etsehiwot Kebret and Yike Fu

According to a recent report published by Boston University`s Global Development Policy (GDP) Center, that’s the number of new loan commitments made from China to African countries in 2020. That’s a startlingly low figure, particularly in the context of the fact that, according to the same database, between 2000 and 2020, Chinese financiers made loan commitments worth $160 billion to African countries – that’s an average of $8 billion annually.

So why such a huge drop, and what does this mean for the future? Is this era of Chinese lending to Africa over?

Based on conversations with several Chinese and African stakeholders, there are two key reasons for the drop.

Retired US major general: What it will take for the Ukrainians to win

Peter Bergen

(CNN)The former commander of the US Special Operations Command in Europe, retired US Army Maj. Gen. Mike Repass, says the international community has to greatly increase its support for Ukraine if the embattled nation is ever going to be able to drive the Russians out.

Repass has advised the Ukrainian military for the past six years on a US government contract. Last month he visited Poland and western Ukraine to get a better feel for the trajectory of the war in Ukraine. I spoke to him Friday and Monday.

He says the Ukrainian supply chain for military equipment is inefficient and that additional military forces are required to drive the Russians out of Ukraine.