Recently, there have been significant developments in the conflict/rivalry between, on the one hand, Saudi Arabia and the Sunni axis that it established, and on the other hand Iran and the resistance axis. These developments concern not only the forces in the region but also the U.S. and Russia. Both these camps are vying for support from the U.S., which at this stage is striving for understandings and negotiations with Iran and, according to Iranian sources, is already conducting secret contacts with it; this is happening as the U.S. is, for now, coming to terms with Iran’s expansion in the region. These developments are impacting the reshaping of the Middle East as well as the power relations among the leading elements within it. The current Qatar crisis is a new manifestation of the generational geo-political Sunni-Shi’ite Saudi-Iranian struggle, and is the outcome of the policy of a U.S. administration in which two political camps are discernible. One is that of President Trump and his close advisors, who support Saudi Arabia and the Sunni axis, and the other is that of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who are showing sympathy for Qatar and acting to preserve the pro-Iran status quo of the Obama era. Continue reading
As noted in a previous article, China is ticking all the boxes on its path to war.
China has a new plan of attack in the South China Sea: espionage.
This morning, Beijing declared its new “invisible sub” primed and ready for its first official post-trial phase “research” mission. The sub is called the Jiaolong – named for a mythical sea creature – and its alleged purpose is to collect deep-sea samples of sediment, rock, and water for scientific research.
But the difficult-to-see, deep-water probe is now headed from the South China Sea to the East China Sea – a route that has raised some eyebrows among defense analysts and maritime law experts.
Here’s why they’re so skeptical about the Jiaolong’s deep-sea movements, with some even wondering if China’s true intent has less to do with scientific research and more to do with spying on its competition in nearby Pacific waters…
Geography is determinate in military plans, a fact that planners understand at all levels, from tactical to strategic. While tailored combat elements may traverse difficult environments on land and at sea, heavily laden logistics craft that follow and enable them can rarely do the same. This is what pushes armies and fleets toward certain immutable routes, resulting in battles occurring at the same locations, over and over, throughout recorded history. Much as the ridge at Megiddo, better known as “Armageddon,” played witness to strife no less than 13 times since the 15th century B.C. because it stood astride the route from Mesopotamia to Egypt, key maritime straits such as the waters of the South China Sea and the Sunda and Malaccan Straits will provide the backdrop for future naval battles. Geography and geopolitics are intermeshed and unavoidable. Unfortunately for China, they sit upon the wrong side of the former and are rather poor at the latter. Western advantages in both must not be squandered. Continue reading
On May 14-15, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) hosted the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. The Beijing meeting attracted 29 heads of state (including Russian President Vladimir Putin) and representatives of 130 other countries (including the U.S.), plus the leaders of 70 international organizations, including UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
Chinese President Xi Jinping gave the keynote address heralding the “One Belt, One Road” initiative (BRI) as a top priority. And well it should be, given that its goal is nothing less than to establish Chinese preeminence (even hegemony) over Eurasia and Africa. Continue reading
Just how the shape of the new global strategic architecture will settle out as the framework for the 21st Century is still open to challenge, but the key dynamic — the initial door to that new world — is now being opened by a deliberately-orchestrated U.S.-North Korea confrontation.
What is emerging beyond this door is an overarching strategic alternative to the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) démarche of “One Belt, One Road” dominance of the Eurasian and Indo-Pacific geopolitical space, and an alternative, or balance, to the PRC’s reach into Africa and the Americas.
The confrontation between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean (DPRK) leader Kim Jong-Un is very much just between those two leaders, with the People’s Republic of China somewhat marginalized. Beijing is now fighting to find a path into this equation. Continue reading
In a post-American trade war, this emerging bloc will wield devastating power.
Stories of international angst over United States President Donald Trump’s protectionist approach are becoming more commonplace. Mr. Trump’s “buy American, hire American” catchphrase sounds good for many at home, but abroad, it is prompting a weighty reorganization of international trade relationships. And long term, the result will be a trade war that will prove ruinous to the U.S.
World trade has changed a great deal over the last several decades. The international community at large no longer depends on America’s giant import expenditures and exports. Parag Khanna of Politico wrote:
As Americans, it’s easy to assume that global trade still depends on America as the consumer of last resort. But that’s no longer true. In fact, the majority of trade in emerging-market nations is with each other, not with the U.S. In 1990, emerging economies sent 65 percent of their exports to developed nations like the U.S. and Europe, and only 35 percent to other developing countries. Today, that figure is nearly reversed. Continue reading
One thing you can fault the article for is that it assumes Russia is going to let the United States, or any rival for that matter, into the area it now has on lockdown. The United States plays fair for the most part, Russia doesn’t. Playing by the rules puts you into the lesser of equals category. This is why Russia breaks treaties without conscience. This is strategy America has failed to understand in regards to its enemies such as Russia, China, Iran et al, over and over again.
If America were to start constructing new ice breakers to even reach the areas where Russia has, you’re looking at a five-to-ten year planning, not including deployment.
Having said this, one thing the article hit the nail on the head: Checkmate.
It’s too late for America. If it wants the Arctic bad enough, it now has to go to war.
The commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard issued a stark warning on Wednesday that Russia was leagues ahead of Washington in the Arctic. And while the warming Arctic opens up, the United States could be caught flat-footed while other geopolitical rivals swiftly step in.
Paul Zukunft, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, warned Russia was building up a huge military and industrial presence in the region while the United States dawdled. Russia is showing “I’m here first, and everyone else, you’re going to be playing catch-up for a generation to catch up to me first,” said Zukunft in remarks before the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “They’ve made a strategic statement,” he said. Continue reading
Yemen’s strategic Red Sea port, through which some 4 million barrels of oil flow daily to Middle Eastern markets, is becoming a focal point in the proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and China is the only power with the economic deal-making leverage to keep this from becoming much more than a proxy battle.
The Red Sea port, near the Bab al-Mandab strait, is currently controlled by Yemen’s Shi’ite Houthis, and whoever maintains control of it has a strategic advantage. This port is a pathway connection the Middle East (where the world’s largest proven oil reserves are) and Sub-Saharan Africa (a region expected to see a four-fold increase in energy demand by 2040), making it a coveted geopolitical prize for regional powers, but a livelihood-destroying burden for Yemen’s residents. Continue reading
Ahead of the upcoming meeting between Presidents Putin and Erdogan, which is set to start later on Friday in Moscow, political analysts from both countries have indicated certain hidden hazards which might hinder the negotiations.
Earlier on Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that President Putin, among others, plans to discuss the conflict settlement process in Syria and Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov’s assassination in talks with Erdogan. Continue reading
China is likely to change the rules of the game in the Asian-Pacific region: in the coming years Beijing may narrow the gap with the US in terms of strategic nuclear capabilities, Russian military expert Vasily Kashin told Sputnik, referring to Beijing’s flight test of advanced DF-5C intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
There appear to be more and more reasons to expect China to make a spectacular breakthrough in the field of nuclear weapons development, Russian military expert Vasily Kashin told Sputnik, adding that this could lead to radical changes in the ongoing geopolitical game over Asia-Pacific.
On January 31 Bill Gertz, a senior editor of the Washington Free Beacon, reported that Beijing had flight tested “a new variant of a long-range missile with 10 warheads,” dubbing it a “dramatic shift in Beijing’s strategic nuclear posture.” Continue reading
MURMANSK, Russia (Reuters) – The nuclear icebreaker Lenin, the pride and joy of the Soviet Union’s Arctic great game, lies at perpetual anchor in the frigid water here. A relic of the Cold War, it is now a museum.
But nearly three decades after the Lenin was taken out of service to be turned into a visitor attraction, Russia is again on the march in the Arctic and building new nuclear icebreakers.
It is part of a push to firm Moscow’s hand in the High North as it vies for dominance with traditional rivals Canada, the United States, and Norway as well as newcomer China. Continue reading
With a ‘Hard Brexit’ looking more likely and Trump’s inauguration this week, 2017 is well and truly under way.
What we expect the year to hold is probably not even half of what it really will. But from what we know, the upcoming French and German elections, referendums, geopolitical crises, steps towards reverse globalisation and a third of global government debt yielding negative interest rates, governments are already prompting central banks and investors to turn to the one asset that has survived millennia of financial and monetary crises.
One that is highly liquid and convertible into other currencies – gold. Continue reading
The re-miliarization of Japan has been on my radar and caused me much concern in recent years. I’ve covered the topic on several occasions, with the most recent example published over the summer in the post, Japanese Government Shifts Further Toward Authoritarianism and Militarism. Here are the first few paragraphs:
One of the most discomforting aspects of Neil Howe and William Strauss’ seminal work on generational cycles, The Fourth Turning (1997), is the fact that as far as American history is concerned, they all climax and end with massive wars. Continue reading
Russian President Vladimir Putin has every reason to be proud of himself. He is a master of high geopolitical games. Moscow’s influence is more widespread than ever, possibly even greater than at the height of the Cold War, when Moscow was the capital of the Soviet Empire and vying with Washington for global dominance.
In the American presidential campaign, for the first time ever, a candidate openly quoted Putin as a model to follow, while in past decades, Russia, in its Soviet incarnation, was just the great enemy against which the United States should prepare to fight. Continue reading