It would not survive on today’s battlefield. According to Defense News, the US Army has cancelled its planned upgrade of the Abrams Tank and is considering a different approach for the tank’s future. The Army is basically saying the tank is too heavy and too vulnerable to enemy weapons, confirms Stephen Bryen, a former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense and is a leading expert in security strategy and technology.
Heavy European tanks and armored vehicles have faced operational problems in Ukraine, often getting stuck in the mud or running out of fuel. In addition, European tanks have proven vulnerable to enemy fire. Many of the Leopard tanks – a tank that was considered superior to the Abrams – has not performed well. The Russians have already destroyed around 15 Leopards, using a variety of weapons ranging from artillery, to rockets launched by helicopters, to drones such as the Lancet. Billed as the next great thing to help Ukraine win the war, Leopard has proven a failure.
Unfortunately what happened to Leopard could happen to Abrams tanks when they arrive in Ukraine.
Neither the Abrams nor the Leopards have active protection systems or reactive armor. In the case of those Leopards delivered to Ukraine, the Ukrainian army hastily plastered on reactive armor taken off of damaged Russian tanks.
Leopard was not supposed to need reactive armor because its composite armor is supposed to deflect anti-tank weapons including penetrator canon rounds fired by opposing tanks or tandem warhead weapons. But even with first generation reactive armor that the Ukrainians added to Leopard, the Russians destroyed them fairly easily.
One of the reasons the US is supplying depleted uranium (DU) shells to Ukraine for the soon-to-arrive Abrams tanks is that DU shells are supposed to be able to penetrate any Russian tank. At least so far Russian tactics are such that its tanks are rarely exposed to counter-tank fire, at least in the current Russian active defense approach against the Ukrainian counter-offensive. However, if Russia goes on the offensive, the situation may change and Russian tanks could be exposed to fire from Abrams tanks.
Whether the DU and Abram’s combination turns out to be effective. US tanks, like their Leopard counterpart, still lack active defenses.
The war in Ukraine has opened eyes about modern tank warfare and tank survivability. Whether the Army’s decision to look for a different set of solutions will be successful, no one can say. But the fact that the US Army now recognizes that it needs to change direction is a sensible reaction to what has been revealed on the Ukraine battlefield.
Geopolitics came to ASEAN countries
Gender gap persists on road to the SDGs
The Korean war continues with Biden’s renewal of travel ban to North Korea
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Russia on the Way to BRICS Chairmanship
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Joining BRICS is no rejection of the West
On August 22, the U.S. State Department renewed its ban on the use of U.S. passports for travel to North Korea. This travel ban prohibits as many as 100,000 Korean Americans living in the United States from visiting their relatives in North Korea. The ban was first set in place by the Trump administration in 2017, and — in spite of Korean American activists’ repeated calls to lift the draconian ban — has been renewed annually since, ‘Asia Times’ writes.
During his presidential campaign in 2020, Joe Biden had promised to “reunite Korean Americans separated from loved ones in North Korea for decades,” but has extended the travel ban each year he has been in office. This current ban will remain in place until August 31, 2024, at which point it will either be lifted or extended again.
Kate Youngjoo Shim, an activist with the women’s peace organization ‘Korea Peace Now!’, is one of the many Korean Americans the travel ban impacts. Born in Korea, Shim moved to the U.S. at the age of 15. Both sides of her family are originally from North Korea, and the ban now prevents her from visiting cousins and other close relatives there.
Shim pointed out the hypocrisy of the U.S. government lecturing North Korea on human rights while keeping so many Korean family members separated.
“The biggest human rights violation to me is not letting people see their family,” said Shim. “The U.S. government is always trying to say things about [North Korea’s] human rights conditions, but if you’re not letting people meet their mothers, their children, their immediate families… there’s no excuse.”
And it’s not only Korean Americans barred from visiting family members in North Korea — the travel ban prohibits any U.S. passport holder from traveling there, effectively prohibiting any kind of cultural exchange between American citizens and Koreans in the North. These exchanges are essential to challenging the U.S. propaganda campaign that dehumanizes North Koreans in order to justify sanctions.
Gloria La Riva, an organizer with the ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition, called her travels to the North in 1989 and 2015 “life-changing experiences.”
“I saw people and a country that is the opposite of the hysterical, demonizing images we see in the West,” La Riva recalled. “I met people who were thoughtful and kind to visitors. That is what struck me most of all. When we boarded a full train, people immediately offered us their seats, smiling — the best language of all.”
…It was the U.S. that divided Korea along the 38th parallel in 1945 and separated millions of families, occupied the South, and dropped more than 600,000 tons of bombs over the peninsula during the Korean War. So extensive was the bombing campaign that U.S. pilots even ran out of targets and would drop bombs into the sea to safely land. Over the course of the war, the U.S. military leveled “nearly 90 percent of major cities and villages in North Korea,” killing a staggering 20 percent of its population.
On top of the murderous carpet bombing campaign, the entire Korean War itself was punctuated by U.S.-backed atrocities: the murder of more than 100,000 people during the Bodo League massacre in 1950, which was committed by the government forces of U.S.-installed President of South Korea Syngman Rhee; the Sinchon massacre in which the U.S. military and South Korean anti-communist forces killed more than 30,000 civilians; the No Gun Ri massacre where U.S. military forces opened fire on civilian refugees, killing around 300 people. Taken altogether, U.S. involvement in the Korean War was nothing short of genocidal.
While the signing of the 1953 Armistice Agreement brought an end to the fighting, it did not bring an end to the conflict. The U.S. refuses to sign a peace treaty, and it, along with the South, remains suspended in an official state of war with the North. And even after the signing of the armistice, the U.S. government maintains a heavy military presence in Korea and continues to ratchet up tensions between the North and the South. South Korea remains under occupation: it’s home to the largest U.S. overseas base, and a total of 28,500 U.S. military personnel are stationed in the country. South Korea also hosts the annual Ulchi Freedom Shield joint military exercises with the U.S.
In 2006, the U.S. government, along with the United Nations Security Council, have relied on a brutal sanctions regime to punish North Korea for defying U.S. imperialism. These sanctions have caused food insecurity, malnutrition, and medical supply shortages in the country, leading to enormous suffering and thousands of preventable deaths.
The travel ban for the U.S., then, is another weapon of war, part of its broader strategy to further isolate North Korea and inflame tensions between both halves of the peninsula. And with Washington forging stronger military ties with Australia, the Philippines, and other countries in the “Indo-Pacific,” as well as increasing its militarization of the South China Sea, the Pentagon’s ultimate goal is to secure South Korea as an ally in its road toward major power conflict in Asia.
This path that Washington is leading North and South Korea down will only lead to more war and devastation for the Korean people. The U.S. government has never been interested in peace for the Korean peninsula. For more than 70 years, it’s done everything in its power to divide North and South, obstruct any and every path to lasting peace, and turn Koreans against each other, stresses Asia Times.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s daylong visit to Jakarta for the ASEAN-India Summit despite the countdown having begun for the G20 summit he’s hosting in New Delhi, stands out as a sign of Indian diplomacy responding to a transformative geopolitical environment in Asia, writes M.K. Bhadrakumar, Indian Ambassador and prominent international observer.
Modi stated at the ASEAN Summit that India regards the group as a central pillar of its Act East policy. In his words, “India supports ASEAN’s outlook on Indo-Pacific. While our partnership enters fourth decade, ASEAN occupies prominent place in India’s Indo-Pacific initiative.” He lavishly praised ASEAN as the epicentre of growth, playing a crucial role in global development.
The full import of Modi’s remarks can be understood only if they are read in the immediate context of the opening remarks earlier by Indonesian President Joko Widodo, calling on the ASEAN to devise “a long-term tactical strategy that is relevant and meets people’s expectations”.
Jakowi, as this charismatic statesman is fondly called, warned against ASEAN getting dragged into big-power rivalry, saying “ASEAN has agreed not to be a proxy to any powers. Don’t turn our ship into an arena for rivalry that is destructive.”
Jakowi’s exhortation has a complex backdrop. For a start, it comes in the downstream of an impassioned plea by China’s top diplomat Wang Yi addressed to an audience in Jakarta last Saturday that southeast Asian countries must avoid following in the footsteps of Ukraine and beware of being used as geopolitical pawns by foreign forces that are sowing discord in the region for their own gain.
The geopolitical pantomime is crucially about the mounting US pressure on Indonesia to get the latter to bandwagon with the Biden Administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy. Washington is anxious to “lock in” Indonesia, the biggest Muslim nation in the world and an Asian powerhouse, as part of a US-led bloc arrayed against China.
Indonesia felt compelled to pull back its BRICS membership application seeking more time to reflect. Jokowi was originally expected to participate in the BRICS Summit at Johannesburg on August 22-24.
President Joe Biden is skipping the ASEAN Summit in Jakarta and is heading from the G20 event in Delhi to Vietnam on September 10. In a nuanced commentary, Voice of America, the flag carrier of America’s public diplomacy, posed a tantalising riddle on Sunday titled Why Is Biden Going to Vietnam, Not Indonesia, differentiating between Vietnam and Indonesia through the prism of US interests: “Vietnam is a valuable partner for the United States as it develops ties in Southeast Asia… Vietnam is now ready to increase its relations with the US after 10 years of comprehensive partnership.”
When it comes to Indonesia, though, VOA quotes expert opinion to make the point that “among Southeast Asians, the United States was more popular than China and that popularity increased from the year before. However, Indonesians appeared to be outliers. The percentage of Indonesians choosing the US fell 18 percentage points from 2021 to 2023. Those choosing China rose by about the same number of percentage points during the same period… finding balance between the US and China is the “biggest homework” for Indonesia.
Poking reluctant or sceptical partners by simulating contrived attitudes is an old trick in the US diplomatic toolbox. Thus it happened that Washington took advantage as the host country to exploit the recent visit of the Indonesian Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto to stake outlandish claims in a fake joint press statement on the Pentagon website.
It claimed amongst other things that Prabowo and Secretary Austin “shared the view” regarding China’s “expansive maritime claims” in the South China Sea; “jointly condemned violations of national sovereignty” and “deplore in the strongest terms the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine and demands its complete and unconditional withdrawal from the territory of Ukraine.”
But Jakarta wasn’t amused. Defence Minister Prabowo publicly insisted later through the national news agency Antara that “there was no joint statement [with Austin], nor was there a press conference.” Prabowo was actually on a working visit to Washington!
The entire ASEAN alliance “agreed not to become a proxy for any power,” declared Jokowi. He asserted that ASEAN cooperates with any countries for peace and prosperity, but no one is allowed to make the alliance “an arena of destructive rivalry.” And Jakarta insists on its neutrality.
Suffice to say, Modi’s Jakarta visit can be seen as a geopolitical event. In all likelihood, it was an intentional move by Delhi.
Modi’s visit to Jakarta (as indeed the invitation to Bangladesh as special invitee to the G20 summit) testify to an independent foreign policy. The Act East policy is adjusting in tune with the Asian regional environment, M.K. Bhadrakumar stresses.
The world is falling worryingly short in terms of closing the gender gap as part of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) warned UN Women on Thursday.The new Gender Snapshot report from the UN’s gender equality agency at this midway point towards the SDGs warns that if current trends continue, over 340 million women and girls will be living in poverty by 2030.
That represents eight per cent of the female population worldwide.
Close to one in four will experience moderate or severe food insecurity and at the current rate of progress, the next generation of women will still be spending 2.3 more hours per day on unpaid care and domestic work than men.
UN Women’s report also notes that the gender gap in power and leadership positions “remains entrenched”.
Sarah Hendriks, the agency’s acting Deputy Executive Director described it as “a resounding call to action.
“We must collectively and intentionally act now to course-correct for a world where every woman and girl has equal rights, opportunities, and representation. To achieve this, we need unwavering commitment, innovative solutions, and collaboration across all sectors and stakeholders.”
The report provides comprehensive analysis on gender factors across all 17 SDGs, in light of the ambitious goal of achieving true equality.
It includes sex-disaggregated data on the intersections of gender and climate change for the first time. It projects that by mid-century, under a worst-case climate scenario, climate change may push up to 158.3 million more women and girls into poverty.
That’s 16 million more than the figure for men and boys.
The report also finds that older women face higher rates of poverty and violence than older men.
In 28 of the 116 countries with data, fewer than half of older women have a pension.
Halfway to 2030, progress on SDG 5 – gender equality – is clearly way off track. The report shows that the world is simply failing women and girls with only two Goal 5 indicators “close to target” and no indicator at the “target met or almost met” level.
In money terms, it suggests that an extra $360 billion per year in needed to achieve equality and women’s empowerment across key goals.
“Gender equality is not just a goal within the 2030 Agenda,” said Maria-Francesca Spatolisano, who heads up Policy Coordination at the UN’s economic and social affairs department, DESA.
“It is the very foundation of a fair society, and a goal upon which all other goals must stand.
“By breaking down the barriers that have hindered the full participation of women and girls in every aspect of society, we unleash the untapped potential that can drive progress and prosperity for all.”
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