With Japan against China

 

TOKYO/BRUSSELS/BERLIN(Own report) – With the conclusion of their free trade agreement, the EU and Japan are about to establish the world’s largest free trade zone. As was reported, the agreement between the two highly export oriented economic blocks, generating nearly 30 percent of the global economic output, could already take effect in early 2019. According to the EU Commission and German economic institutes the Japan-EU Free Trade Agreement (JEFTA) could lead to significant economic growth and the creation of hundreds of thousands of new jobs. On the one hand, the agreement is aimed at making up for eventual slumps on the US market and, on the other, is part of the containment strategy against China, the emerging powerhouse. Despite their differences, Berlin and Washington continue to cooperate in their opposition to Beijing. Parallel to the JEFTA agreement, the EU, Japan and the USA have declared that they will jointly take on China more aggressively over trade issues.

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EU set to trigger Article 7, suspend Poland’s voting rights

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Do as we say or be punished. Democracy, EU style.

The EU is set to suspend Poland’s voting rights because the Eastern European country refuses to give up its legal sovereignty to Brussels. Classic EU ‘democracy’. Continue reading

Trump’s national strategy speech puts China, Russia on the defensive

U.S. President Donald Trump labeled China and Russia ‘rival powers’ to the United States in a Dec. 18 speech. / AP

 

U.S. major media gave secondary play to President Donald Trump’s national security strategy address Monday, but certain world leaders were all ears.

Russia said the U.S. strategic plan has an “imperial character,” while China decried what it called a “Cold War mentality.”

Trump’s strategy, which he unveiled in a Dec. 18 speech, says that China and Russia “challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity.” Continue reading

“What The Hell Is It?” – 74 Cryptocurrency Questions Answered

A great article for those who are still in the dark about cryptocurrencies.

 

The price of bitcoin has rocketed more than 1,700% year-to-date.

 

With the price of the cryptocurrency soaring – and mainstream interest surging – Yahoo Finance recently invited readers to send us their top questions regarding bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. We condensed questions from nearly 3,500 respondents into the list below, and enlisted a team of Yahoo Finance reporters to answer them, including Daniel Roberts, who’s been covering bitcoin since 2012, and Jared Blikre, our authority on trading. Ethan Wolff-Mann and Julia LaRoche contributed as well. Here’s everything you want to know about bitcoin:

1. What the hell is it? In the most general sense, bitcoin is software that forms a decentralized, peer-to-peer payment system with no central authority like the Federal Reserve or U.S. Treasury. It’s fair to call it a digital currency or cryptocurrency, but at the moment, most investors aren’t really using it as currency to pay for things. Instead, they’re using it as a speculative investment to buy in the hope of turning a profit. Maybe a big profit. (And maybe a big loss). Continue reading

PLA’s new Strategic Support Force remains an enigma

A visitor watches a video of President Xi Jinping talking at an exhibition in Beijing about China’s military achievements, on October 10, 2017. Photo: Reuters / Jason Lee

 

Two years after the People’s Liberation Army created a new Strategic Support Force, a combined cyber and space warfare and military spy service, details about the force’s structure and mission remain wrapped in mystery.

As with most of China’s advanced arms programs and warfighting capabilities, the Strategic Support Force (SSF) remains a closely guarded secret. But the fact that China’s leaders have combined four or five military departments into a service on a par with its army, air force and navy in terms of stature highlights the importance the Chinese have placed on non-kinetic forms of warfare. Continue reading

NATO Crisis: Germany’s Entire Submarine Fleet Is Paralyzed

 

Throughout 2017, America’s control of NATO policymaking has become more evident than ever, with the sole objective of war-making against Russia. NATO and Russia continue to build up arms, equipment, and troops along the eastern region of Europe, but there is a new development that has NATO worried.

Germany’s operational readiness of its entire submarine fleet is dead in the water. Continue reading

Far right enters government in Austria

The last time the far right got into power in Austria, EU and Israel froze relations (Photo: oevp.at)

 

Austria’s new government has pledged support for the EU, but aims to give a hard time to refugees and to be friendlier to Russia.

The policy lines emerged on Sunday (17 December) in a coalition deal between the centre-right Austrian People’s Party (OVP) and the far-right Freedom Party (FPO).

The pact is to see the OVP’s 31-year old Sebastian Kurz become Austria’s youngest-ever leader, with the FPO’s Heinz-Christian Strache as deputy. Continue reading

A major showdown awaits Palestinian leader in Riyadh

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is on his way Tuesday to Riyadh where he faces a stern demand to break away from the Turkish-Qatari-Jordanian line-up fighting US political steps in the region. DEBKAfile reports that Saudi Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman will not give way on this demand and, if Abbas holds out, the showdown could end in the Saudis cutting off assistance to the Palestinian Authority. Continue reading

Trump Unveils New National Security Strategy

President Donald Trump unveiled Monday his new National Security Strategy document, which outlines his priorities for defense and homeland security.

 

President Trump released his federally mandated National Security Strategy on Monday afternoon in what the White House said is an effort to “renew confidence in America both at home and abroad.” In announcing the NSS, the president said:

“Our government’s first duty is to its people, to our citizens—to serve their needs, to ensure their safety, to preserve their rights, and to defend their values.” Continue reading

While world watches North Korea, China builds in the South China Sea

Airstrips and military facilities on China’s Subi Reef as seen from a Philippine military transport plane on April 21, 2017. China has renewed its militarization efforts in the South China Sea while attention has been focused on North Korea. (Bullit Marquez/AP/File)

 

While the world has turned its focus to North Korea, satellite images show new Chinese high-frequency radar facilities on its controversial man-made outposts in the Spratly and Parcel Islands. China has been pressured to halt its militarization of the contested land.

While attention in Asia has been distracted by the North Korean nuclear crisis in the past year, China has continued to install high-frequency radar and other facilities that can be used for military purposes on its man-made islands in the South China Sea, a US think-tank said on Thursday. Continue reading

Area 45: China’s Maritime Silk Road And American Naval Readiness, Featuring Admiral Gary Roughead

 

As the US Navy carries out high-profile missions in the Persian Gulf and off the Korean coast, China’s navy quietly continues its expansion: a maritime silk road stretching across the Indian Ocean to the Gulf of Aden. Admiral Gary Roughead, former US Navy chief of naval operations and Hoover’s Robert and Marion Oster Distinguished Military Fellow, discusses the stakes in the Middle East and Indo-Pacific theatres and assesses the US Navy’s current operational, maintenance, and shipbuilding needs.  Continue reading

How Iran, the Mideast’s new superpower, is expanding its footprint across the region – and what it means

raqi Shiites of the Mahdi Army militia vow to fight ISIS in a show of strength in a 2014 military parade in Baghdad. (Scott Peterson/Getty Images/The Christian Science Monitor)

 

Iran has achieved milestones of leverage and influence that rival any regional power in the past half-century. While there are limits to how far it can extend its authority, Tehran’s rapid rise poses new challenges to the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia as it undermines their previous dominance. How far can Tehran extend its reach?

With opulent furnishings and the finest cut-crystal water glasses in Baghdad, the new offices of the Iranian-backed Shiite militia exude money and power – exactly as they are meant to. At one end of the meeting room is a set built for TV interviews, with gilded chairs and an official-looking backdrop of Iraqi and militia flags, lit by an ornate glass chandelier. Continue reading

Macron and Merkel take tough line on Poland

‘If the commission considers it is forced to resort to sanctions, we would also support the commission,’ Macron and Merkel said. (Photo: Consilium)

 

France and Germany have pledged to back the European Commission if it sanctioned Poland next week.

“If the commission thinks it has to trigger the [sanctions] procedure, we have a very clear and consistent position – we’ll support the commission,” French president Emmanuel Macron said in Brussels on Friday (15 December).

German chancellor Angela Merkel said: “If the commission considers it is forced to resort [to sanctions], we would also support the commission”.

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The secret backstory of how Obama let Hezbollah off the hook

It’s quite possibly the longest article posted since Global Geopolitics has started, but is quite worth the read.

 

https://www.politico.com/interactives/2017/obama-hezbollah-drug-trafficking-investigation/images/_benin-lots-Artboard_1.jpg

Hezbollah’s used-car money-laundering operation in West Africa Satellite images show the growth of used cars in lots close to Port of Cotonou in Benin.

 

Part I

A global threat emerges

How Hezbollah turned to trafficking cocaine and laundering money through used cars to finance its expansion.

In its determination to secure a nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration derailed an ambitious law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, even as it was funneling cocaine into the United States, according to a POLITICO investigation.

The campaign, dubbed Project Cassandra, was launched in 2008 after the Drug Enforcement Administration amassed evidence that Hezbollah had transformed itself from a Middle East-focused military and political organization into an international crime syndicate that some investigators believed was collecting $1 billion a year from drug and weapons trafficking, money laundering and other criminal activities.

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U.S. military could lose next war, report says

A study from the Rand Corp. warns that the U.S. military forces are poorly structured and argues that the military must reform its structure and strategies to better deal with challenges. (Associated Press) Photo by: Andreea Alexandru

 

A new study by the Rand Corp. is warning that U.S. military forces are poorly structured to meet the threats posed by China, Russia and other states, as well as the continuing war against Islamic terrorism.

The study, “U.S. Military Capabilities and Forces for a Dangerous World,” presents the stark conclusion that the American military needs to reform its structure and war fighting plans to better deal with military challenges.

Put more starkly, assessments in this report will show that U.S. forces could, under plausible assumptions, lose the next war they are called upon to fight, despite the United States outspending China on military forces by a ratio of 2.7 to 1 and Russia by 6 to 1,” the report said. “The nation needs to do better than this.” Continue reading