Elisabeth Braw

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Aerial view showing the construction works in the area where the Chinese company Cosco Shipping is building a port in Chancay, some 80 km north of Lima, on August 22, 2023. Ernesto Benavides/AFP via Getty Images

Pity the Peruvian negotiators who, five years ago, signed an agreement with the Chinese giant Cosco Shipping Ports. The agreement was about the Port of Chancay, located near Lima, which was to become a megaport and “the gateway from South America to Asia”, as one Cosco manager told The Associated Press. But now, as the massive port nears completion, an “administrative error” by unnamed officials in Peru has given Cosco Shipping Ports exclusivity over operations at the Port of Chancay, the Peruvian port authority (APN) announced in March. Other infrastructure operators still hoping for large Chinese investments should pay heed.

That’s bad news, because the two-terminal construction is be completed later this year, and Peru has great expectations.…  Seguir leyendo »

A screen grab captured from a Houthi Media Center video shows the cargo ship Galaxy being hijacked by Iran-backed Houthis from Yemen in the Red Sea on Nov. 20, 2023. Houthis Media Center/Anadolu via Getty Images

So risky has the Red Sea become since Houthi militants started their attacks on shipping that, since late November, over 350 container ships—plus all manner of tankers, bulk carriers, car carriers, and other merchant vessels—have diverted to other routes. That means massive logistical challenges that involve not just new charts and more fuel but getting crews and cargo to alternative staging posts. Because shipping is extraordinarily efficient, most won’t notice a thing. But if the attacks on shipping continue, we’ll start paying for the service. And we would do well to anticipate Houthi-like campaigns in other waters.

Not a day passes without more turbulence in the Red Sea.…  Seguir leyendo »

A billboard promoting contract army service is seen in front of the Wagner Group center in St. Petersburg on Aug. 26. Olga Maltseva/AFP via Getty Images

Starting Sept. 4, when a new Russian law comes into effect, investors from so-called unfriendly states risk having their Russian assets seized and given to their Russian co-owners. The legislation is guaranteed to frighten Western companies active in Russia—but they were already frightened. Instead, the legislation is a signal to Western governments that the Kremlin can punish Western companies still in Russia and there’s nothing their governments can do about it—unless they bend the knee to Moscow.

On Aug. 4, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the new law, boringly titled “On the Specifics of Regulating Corporate Relations in Business Entities That Are Economically Significant Organizations”.…  Seguir leyendo »

Norwegian F-35 fighter jets fly during the Arctic Challenge Exercise, held with Finland and Sweden, near Orland Main Air Station, Norway, on June 1. Cornelius Poppe/NTB/AFP via Getty Images

The first-ever landing of a U.S. bomber on Swedish soil, participation in NATO’s largest-ever air deployment exercise, constant strategic communications from NATO affirming the alliance’s solidarity with Sweden—life on the doorstep of NATO accession has turned out to be surprisingly livable for Sweden. That matters because a new Quran burning (this time by an Iraqi refugee) now seems likely to further extend Sweden’s wait as Turkey throws another tantrum—and because it signals to prospective spoilsports that trying to thwart accession isn’t worth the effort.

NATO and its members are taking pains to celebrate Sweden while the country waits for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to change his mind regarding its membership.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Chinese dredger pumps sand to reclaim land just outside a port in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, on Sept. 6, 2017. Shara S. Kodikara/AFP via Getty Images

At the end of April, the Taiwan Coast Guard Administration received a new frigate, the Hsinchu. At 4,000 tons, it’s a massive beast and was immediately assigned for duty in Taiwan’s Northern Pacific Flotilla to protect one of Taiwan’s most precious maritime resources: sand. China is increasing its dredging of sand in the islands’ waters. It’s a devious activity that gets Beijing much-needed sand—and presents Taiwan with large expenses and maritime degradation.

“The Hsinchu is the second of four planned CGA [Coast Guard Administration] frigates and is equipped with three high-pressure water cannons that are able to shoot at targets up to 120 meters away”, Taiwan News reported when the new frigate was received.…  Seguir leyendo »

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos arrives for a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the U.K. diplomatic residence in New York City on Sept. 20, 2021. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Dear Jeff Bezos,

I know these are troubling times for you and the 2,667 other members of the world’s billionaire club. According to Forbes, there used to be 2,755 of you, but the world’s current turbulence has relegated 87 of you to the mere ranks of multimillionaires and shaved your collective worth by $400 billion, to $12.7 trillion. Then again, you and your fellow billionaires did spectacularly well during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. You and the other nine men who are the world’s richest people more than doubled your wealth, and the billionaire club gained another member every 26 hours.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ukrainian special operations forces at a consumer electronics exhibition in Kyiv, September 2019. Valentyn Ogirenko / Reuters

A somewhat conventional war is underway in Ukraine, featuring organized and professional soldiers, a chain of command, advanced weapons such as drones and tanks, and state-crafted tactics and strategy. But a parallel war is also taking place, mostly in cyberspace, fueled by foreign volunteers fighting for either Russia or Ukraine. These online volunteer forces are loosely organized and don’t have a chain of command. They have grown exponentially since the war began in February—Ukrainian authorities estimate that some 400,000 hackers from numerous countries have aided the country’s digital fight so far. Several high-profile figures have offered to join the cause: the entrepreneur Elon Musk, for instance, has challenged Russian President Vladimir Putin to a “single combat” duel to decide the fate of Ukraine.…  Seguir leyendo »

Members of the Ukrainian military arrive to reinforce a forward position on the eastern front line near Kalynivka village in Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 8. Christ McGrath/Getty Images

If you use Twitter, it’s likely you’ve recently made the acquaintance of a Ukrainian cat named Mikael, nicknamed the “Panther of Kharkiv”. A few days into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, social media users enthusiastically began sharing the news that Mikael, working with Ukrainian soldiers, had detected four Russian snipers in the city.

The Panther of Kharkiv is, of course, bogus. But in this war, global internet users eagerly share news of such uplifting tales. Many people hope the global public can will Ukraine to victory by sharing news of dramatic feats, however fantastical. But Ukraine’s road to victory will be bloody and painful.…  Seguir leyendo »

A military handout photo shows a Leopard 2a6 main battle tank firing during a joint German and Dutch exercise held in Latvia as part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence in Lithuania on Oct. 20, 2021. Andy Meier/NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence in Lithuania

French President Emmanuel Macron recently proposed a new European security pact, which joins his long-standing proposal for a European army. Other countries, trying to show European military muscle of a different kind, are sending weapons to Ukraine and troops to neighboring NATO countries.

But away from the spotlights, the Dutch and German armies are pulling off spectacular integration. In a first anywhere in Europe, a binational unit consisting of Dutch and German soldiers is about to complete a NATO deployment. Other countries should learn from the Dutch-German integration. They’ll discover that it works, but they’ll also learn that it involves painstaking efforts even when just two like-minded countries are involved.…  Seguir leyendo »