6 May 2024

Bangladesh: Safety Reforms In Garment Sector Risk ‘Losing Momentum’

Reyad Hossain

About one-fifth of Bangladesh’s ready-made garment factories do not meet fire, electrical and structural safety standards 11 years after the collapse of Rana Plaza that left more than 1,100 garment workers dead, according to an industry monitoring body.

The collapse of the factory complex was the deadliest disaster ever for Bangladesh’s garment sector, a tragedy that put the spotlight on poor conditions for workers churning out cheap clothing for Western brands and retailers.

More than a decade later, many factories are safer thanks to initiatives sponsored by international apparel labels and backed by the Bangladesh government. But the work is unfinished and in danger of stalling, according to labor unions, the government and safety experts.

Officials at the RMG Sustainability Council (RSC), which is responsible for safety monitoring in the sector, say remediation of safety problems has slowed and poses a risk to workers.

ASEAN Drives Cross-Strait Cooperation – Analysis

Patrick Kurniawan

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a key player in the Indo-Pacific region, has traditionally upheld the principles of non-interference and non-alignment. Despite all ASEAN member states adhering to the one-China policy, when the threat of invasion and military conflict looms in the Taiwan Strait, ASEAN consistently advocates for ‘maximum restraint’ and urges all parties to refrain from ‘provocative actions’.

Tensions between China and Taiwan have risen since the start of 2024. The Chinese Communist Party has adopted ‘firmer’ rhetoric on reunification, even dropping the mention of ‘peaceful reunification’. The Taiwan Ministry of National Defence has reported increased Chinese military activities in the months before and after the Taiwanese presidential elections.

This uptick in aggression can be attributed to two things. One factor is the victory of Lai Ching-te from the Democratic Progressive Party, whom Beijing despises, in the January 2023 election. Another important factor is the heightened activity and presence of the United Statesand Japanese military in islands near Taiwan. ASEAN fears being drawn into a military conflict and is concerned about the implications of such escalation for its member states.

The U.S.-Japan Allianc


Forged in the wake of World War II, the U.S.-Japan alliance is as important as ever to both countries’ interests in Asia. A more assertive China, a nuclear-armed North Korea, and a revisionist Russia that is waging a war on Ukraine have pushed the alliance to make historic adjustments, including crafting a larger role for Japan’s military. In 2022 Japan announced a new military and defense strategy, pledged to nearly double its military spending and acquire long-range counterstrike capabilities, and introduced major reforms to the Japan Self-Defense Forces, as its military is officially known. Meanwhile, some sticking points in the partnership remain, such as cost-sharing and U.S. military bases on Okinawa.

How did Japan and the United States become allies?

Signed in 1951 alongside the Treaty of San Francisco that formally ended World War II, the U.S.-Japan Mutual Security Treaty was a ten-year, renewable agreement that outlined how Japan, in light of its pacifist constitution, would allow U.S. forces to remain on its soil after Japan regained sovereignty. This early pact dovetailed with the Yoshida Doctrine—a postwar strategy crafted by Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida that saw Japan rely on the United States for its security needs so the country could focus on rebuilding its economy. Yoshida’s government created the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) in 1954, despite strong domestic objections based on Article Nine of the postwar constitution, which prohibits the maintenance of military forces or the use of those forces to settle international disputes.

How to Deter a War with China Over Taiwan

Doug Bandow

Europe is suffering its largest land conflict since the Second World War in Ukraine. This fight could turn out to be a mere overture if war breaks out in the Taiwan Strait. Tensions are high: Congress recently approved $8.1 billion for Taipei and elsewhere in the Pacific, while the president has repeatedly said that he would defend Taiwan. That would put the United States into a conflict potentially like no other, with nuclear weapons at 10 paces.

Yet those most determined to escalate America’s involvement in the Russo–Ukrainian war insist that there is nothing to worry about. If only the U.S. holds firm in Ukraine, the Chinese will run for cover over Taiwan. Yet the claim that Beijing would fear Washington when the latter refuses to intervene on Kiev’s behalf, allowing Moscow’s aggression to advance, seems illogical at best. Indeed, Johns Hopkins’s Hal Brands warned that this stance may “have convinced Beijing that the United States just won’t fight a conventional war against a nuclear-armed rival.” Hence China’s ongoing nuclear build-up.

Russia And China Could Be At War Before The 2020s End

Pravin Jethwa

The growing risk of war between Russia and China presents the most significant challenge to global stability in this decade. Indeed, by the time the 2020s are out, an armed clash between the two countries over China’s increasingly brazen territorial claims against Russia looks like a distinct possibility, with worldwide implications.

Ignore for now the “no limits” partnership between Moscow and Beijing and, in the wake of the Ukraine war, the burgeoning trade and military-security ties between them.

Leave aside also the longstanding personal friendship between Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping and their largely expedient ideological and geostrategic alignment against America’s continuing power and influence in world affairs.

Believing it is now China’s time to historically resume its hallowed place as the ‘Celestial Kingdom’, the suzerain of East Asia, pushing territorial aggrandizement against all its neighbors is now arguably the most predictable and unyielding element in contemporary Chinese foreign policy.

The PLA’s dangerously double-edged sword


On the eve of China’s President Xi Jinping’s visit to Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron sounded a loud alarm bell when he said “Europe faces imminent danger” and that “things can fall apart very quickly.”

He is concerned about the Russian war in Ukraine, now backed by China’s industrial power. Macron advocates an EU army and doesn’t rule out a possible European direct intervention in Ukraine against Russia.

Prudence would demand to take the message seriously. If he’s wrong, little harm is done, but if he’s right, Europe could avert a historical disaster. Similar voices are also sounding in America.

On May 1, former US deputy national security advisor Matthew Pottinger said in an article that China has already crossed the red line that the US drew regarding Beijing’s support for Russia’s war in Ukraine.

China’s space forces have US troops more vulnerable than ever

Joel Gehrke

China‘s military officials are deploying a vast network of satellites in orbit in an apparent preparation “to go to war and sustain a war,” according to a top U.S. Space Force intelligence officer.

“They’ve placed over 200 satellites in space [in each of the last two] years. Of that, over half of them are remote sensing satellites,” Space Force Maj. Gen. Gregory J. Gagnon, the deputy chief of space operations for intelligence, said Thursday. “An architecture that isn’t designed for efficiency and cost-effectiveness — an architecture that’s designed to go to war and sustain a war.”

China’s rapid expansion of space capabilities has become a cause of anxiety for U.S. officials across the policymaking landscape in recent years. In Gagnon’s telling, the surge in Chinese assets “on orbit” represents an epoch-making shift in the history of arms races.

Iran Changes Its Route, Not Its Destination – OpEd

Neville Teller

The massive armada of 350 drones, ballistic and cruise missiles, launched by Iran toward Israel in the early hours of April 14, marked a sea-change in the anti-Israel approach the Iranian regime has pursued since its foundation in 1979. Its anti-Israel policy was embedded in the broad strategy known originally as the Shia Crescent, and later – when Sunni Hamas was embraced as an effective ally – as the Axis of Resistance, and now dubbed the Ring of Fire. The objective has been to acquire as much power and influence as possible across the Middle East in pursuit of its aim to become dominant, both politically and spiritually, in the region.

Its purpose is not to achieve power for power’s sake. Its intention was expressed by the regime’s original Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. He affirmed repeatedly that the foundation stone of his philosophy, the very purpose of his revolution, was to destroy Western-style democracy and its way of life, and to impose Shia Islam on the whole world. He identified the United States and Israel as his prime targets, but included what was then the USSR.

Arab states know Iran not Israel is the bigger threat

Ralph Schoellhammer

If one views the Arab-Israeli conflict through the ongoing campus protests at US universities, one could easily get the impression that Israel might be winning militarily, but it is losing the battle for global public opinion. However, anyone who has the slightest understanding of the Middle East knows that the language spoken there is one of power, not popularity.

Contrary to popular belief, the fate of Palestine and its people is not the number one issue for most Arab States, and despite the rhetoric of their propaganda there is a growing willingness to find a lasting arrangement with the state of Israel.

This has been clear since the signing of the Abraham Accords in September 2020 normalizing relations between Israel on side and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain on the other. A few months later, Sudan and Morocco joined the accords, marking what has been a tectonic shift in the region – and if it would not have been for the deep-seated prejudice against Donald Trump in the media, should have secured the US President a Nobel Peace Prize.

Is ‘the Media’ Really Under Attack?

Jan-Werner Müller

As another World Press Freedom Day arrives, news media organizations will dutifully display lists of journalists imprisoned or killed around the world, from Belarus to Myanmar. It is important to acknowledge these victims. But it’s also time to recognize that analysts and policymakers need a new framework to understand how a new generation of authoritarian leaders disables critical coverage without putting journalists in jail or physically harming them.

A U.S.-Saudi Deal Without Israel Is an Illusion

Bilal Y. Saab

A major part of U.S. President Joe Biden’s transformational plan for the Middle East—more like a Hail Mary than a real plan—is to see Saudi Arabia and Israel normalize their relations. To make it happen, Washington would have to provide Riyadh, among other things, with a formal defense pact. Israel, per Saudi wishes, would have to take irrevocable steps to help create an independent Palestinian state.

US Navy "IKE" Aircraft Carrier Steams Into Eastern Mediterranean Near Israel


The Dwight D. Eisenhower, a prominent aircraft carrier, has recently transitioned from the Middle Eastern waters of the U.S. Central Command, where it has been stationed to the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

The Dwight D. Eisenhower, also known as the “Ike” aircraft carrier, has recently transitioned from the Middle Eastern waters of U.S. Central Command to the eastern Mediterranean Sea. This move came after the carrier and its strike group, including the F/A-18E Super Hornet, had operated in the Middle East since November.

The F/A-18E Super Hornet, attached to the Ike, is the U.S. Navy’s primary strike and air superiority aircraft with a 20 percent larger airframe, 7,000 lb heavier empty weight, and 15,000 lb heavier maximum weight than the original Hornet. The Super Hornet has recently been enhanced with a significant capability upgrade, making it the first carrier-based aircraft to deploy the SDB-II, also known as the StormBreaker.

Russia flaunts Western military hardware captured in war in Ukraine

Steve Rosenberg

I'm in Victory Park, Moscow's giant memorial complex dedicated to the Soviet Union's defeat of Nazi Germany. A new open-air exhibition has just opened.

But it has nothing to do with World War Two.

On display is Western military hardware captured by the Russian army in Ukraine.

They are war trophies and Russia has decided to flaunt them.

Among the armour here is a British Army Husky tactical support vehicle which had been donated to Ukraine. Its windscreen is covered in bullet-holes.

Opposite the Husky I can see Western tanks that had been transferred to the Ukrainian military. There's an American Abrams which had been damaged on the battlefield. A German Leopard tank, too.

Ukraine is running out of battlefield options


Earlier this month, Ukraine’s military intelligence chief Kyrilo Budanov warned that from mid-May onwards, the country will face a battlefield situation that is “difficult” but “not catastrophic”. As Russian troops exploit February’s costly victory in Avdiivka by pushing westwards with increasing speed and success, Ukraine’s best hope is that he is correct.

While the Russian push to take the strategically important and topographically useful town of Chasiv Yar, west of Avdiivka, is developing slowly, Vladimir Putin’s troops have made a rare breakthrough around the town of Ocheretyne, pushing through longstanding defensive lines and rolling up Ukrainian defences from the flanks. Beyond Chasiv Yar, the Russian goals for this operation are likely to be the towns of Kostyantynivka, a vital regional stronghold for Ukrainian forces since 2014, and the sizeable rear base and logistics hub of Pokrovsk.

Wars, Rumors, and Geopolitical Logic


The world faces the danger of a major war. To grasp the magnitude of that threat, it is necessary to go beyond the trajectory of news from Ukraine. It is also necessary on the one hand to seek a balanced appreciation of the variable factor of human will in the management of international crises, and the immutable factors of geographic reality on the other.

The decision in Washington to expand NATO and weaponize Ukraine against Russia was an act of human will; so was the decision in Moscow to respond to this challenge with military force. The permanence of Ukraine’s geographic position, on the other hand, makes this challenge an existential issue for Russia, no less than the control over the Jordan river valley and the Golan Heights is an existential issue for Israel, and the control over its coastal seas is an existential issue for China. A state striving for security can change segments of its space by building Great Walls and Maginot Lines, but it is inseparably bound to the physical framework of its existence: to the location of its land, its position, shape, and size, its resources, and its borders.

Typically, that General is Removed

Stuart Scheller

Do general officers have an obligation to publicly tell the truth?

I have an interesting perspective on this question.

Currently, the Marine Corps teaches my story at the E-8 seminar (senior enlisted school). If you remember, I was the Marine officer who, via video, made a plea for accountability from military leaders who purposely abandoned Bagram airbase, American citizens and American military sacrifices. Shortly thereafter, I was fired, placed in solitary confinement and kicked out of the military short of my retirement. My story is not used to discuss leadership failures and operational mistakes during the Afghan withdrawal, but as a case study on why not to publicly criticize leadership.

Military culture clearly signals: Making leadership look bad is far more dangerous than obediently failing. To date, not a single military leader assumes accountability for their failures at the end of Afghanistan.

IMEC’s Road Ahead

Kaush Arha & Carlos Roa

As the global economic and geopolitical landscape undergoes a significant transformation in the 2020s, the intricate interplay of commerce, politics, and strategic ambitions across India, the Middle East, and European economies is taking center stage. At the heart of this shift is the emergence of the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC)—a bold economic initiative that bridges the dynamic economy of India, the resource-abundant Middle East, and the technologically sophisticated countries of Europe. By establishing a lattice of trade pathways, infrastructure developments, and digital links in a free and open paradigm, IMEC is set to transform these regions and create new opportunities for collaboration and mutual prosperity.

Yet this broad, ongoing transformation is not without its flaws or disruptions. The October 7 terrorist attacks and the resulting Israel-Hamas conflict, for instance, have arrested the progress toward Israel and Saudi Arabia rapprochement, along with the former’s integration into IMEC. However, despite the Gaza situation, Israel-Iran hostilities, and other challenges, India and the Gulf nations remain bullish on the project as a means of advancing their own national interests. Prudence and pragmatism call for the United States and Europe to match this enthusiasm. The IMEC project is momentarily hindered but by no means derailed—its economic and political tailwinds are strong and will only grow stronger.

Israel Gives Hamas a Week to Strike a Deal or Rafah Offensive Will Begin

Omar Abdel-Baqui

Israel has given Hamas a week to agree to a cease-fire deal or it will go ahead with its military operation in Rafah, Egyptian officials briefed on the matter said Friday, as the militant group holds out for better terms that would ensure its survival.

Egypt worked with Israel on a revised cease-fire proposal that it presented to Hamas last weekend, according to Egyptian officials. Hamas’s political leadership was expected to consult with its military wing in Gaza and respond. But Yahya Sinwar, the group’s military leader in Gaza, who is believed to be hiding in tunnels in the enclave and makes the final decisions, hasn’t responded, the officials said.

Egyptian officials conveyed the message from Israel to Hamas on Thursday.

Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns arrived in Cairo on Friday for meetings with Egyptian officials about efforts to reach a deal. Hamas said that it would send a delegation to Cairo on Saturday to continue the negotiations.

What Does African Rejection Mean for the U.S.

Cameron Hudson
Source Link

The forced withdrawal, announced last month, of more than 1,000 U.S. Special Operations troops and drone operators in Niger and Chad should raise the alarm for Washington. In Africa, our policy of strengthening security partnerships rather than supporting democracy has not worked. The United States needs a new approach.

The troops had been dispatched there as a key part of America’s effort to confront terrorism, and the pullout follows the governments’ demands for new rules and regulations on U.S. military operations.

Russia, and increasingly Iran and other countries, are already stepping in to exploit a growing power vacuum in the region. That should be yet another reason for America to change course. Africa is less secure and less democratic today than when the United States sent those forces a decade ago. Given the rising influence of these other nations, that current is certain to speed up.

More US Troops Leaving African Bases – OpEd

Lisa Vives

Another group of American military personnel has been ordered to pack up and withdraw from an African base in the Central African nation of Chad, three senior U.S. officials said this week. It comes amid a broader, involuntary reconfiguration of Washington’s security policy in a volatile part of Africa.

The officials said the repositioning could be temporary as the U.S. intends to negotiate with Chad about their security relationship, – including potentially returning the troops who departed.

It is the second time in a week the Biden administration has acknowledged it will comply with a host nation directive to remove deployed forces from an African country deemed integral to U.S. counterterrorism operations in the region.

What Is Wagner Doing in Africa?

Joshua Hammer

The videos began appearing on Telegram in November. One showed a pair of white mercenaries raising a black flag emblazoned with a white skull over a mud-brick fort in the Malian-desert outpost of Kidal. In another, a bearded white soldier moved through the town on a motorcycle, weaving among locals who chanted, “Mali! Mali!”

The troops belonged to the Wagner Group, the Russian mercenary outfit founded by Yevgeny Prigozhin a decade ago and best known for its role in Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Now reportedly under the control of a Russian military-intelligence unit, Wagner troops are showing up in impoverished countries within and just south of the Sahel region of Central Africa.

Nobody Is Competing With the U.S. to Begin With

Anatol Lieven

U.S. security elites are obsessed with the threat posed by China and Russia to U.S. global primacy. This is a serious strategic miscalculation. The United States’ global network of powerful allies and bases (of which China and Russia have hardly any), unrivaled blue-water Navy, and possession of the only truly global currency mean that no other country can challenge Washington on the world stage as a whole.

Israel Builds 'Cyber Dome' to Counter Attacks from Iran and Proxies

Israel is building a "cyber dome" to counter online threats, in particular those originating from Iran and its proxies, an Israeli official told AFP on Thursday.

While Israel's Iron Dome defense system has been protecting it from incoming rocket attacks for years, it is now trying to beef up its cyber security by building a system to ward off increasing threats from hackers.

"It is a silent war, one which is not visible," Aviram Atzaba, the Israeli National Cyber Directorate's head of international cooperation told AFP.

Since Israel launched its war on Hamas in Gaza, following the militant group’s attack on October 7 last year, the country has experienced a notable surge in cyberattacks from Iran and its allies, Atzaba said.

Since the war began, around 800 major cyber-attacks have reportedly been foiled.

The Tech Hawks Took Down TikTok. Now What?

Rishi Iyengar

When a group of tech executives, venture capitalists, and lawmakers representing both chambers of Congress, both sides of the aisle, and both coasts of the United States met for an exclusive dinner in Washington last March, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew was about to testify in front of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce to defend the short-form video app and allay congressional concerns about its Chinese ownership. The objective of the dinner was to convince the lawmakers otherwise.

When AI Decides Who Lives and Dies

Simon Frankel Pratt

Investigative journalism published in April by Israeli media outlet Local Call (and its English version, +972 Magazine) shows that the Israeli military has established a mass assassination program of unprecedented size, blending algorithmic targeting with a high tolerance for bystander deaths and injuries.