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Bill Perry Is Terrified. Why Aren’t You?  January 7, 2017

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, philosophy & politics.
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When I was a child, I often had nightmares that ended in a blinding nuclear flash. I became an evangelist for building basement fallout shelters and actually convinced one neighbor to build and stock one.
We have been lulled back into a false-sense of security. Our aging minuteman missiles, which still run on floppy discs, are our biggest risk for an accidental annihilation of civilization, as we know it. The Russians have no early warning satellites left in orbit, so their paranoid that we could launch an ICBM leadership-decapitating sneak attack,has been to develop a six thousand-mile range remote-controlled thermonuclear torpedo, which could destroy a coastal city. Russia still openly discusses using tactical nuclear weapons in regional conflicts, without apparently appreciating the resulting inevitable escalation.

Hbomb-detonation-colorized

The mechanics of building a crude nuclear device are easily within the reach of well-educated and well-funded militants. The crate would arrive at Dulles International Airport, disguised as agricultural freight. The truck bomb that detonates on Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and Capitol instantly kills the president, vice president, House speaker, and 80,000 others.Where exactly is your office? Your house? And then, as Perry spins it forward, how credible would you find the warnings, soon delivered to news networks, that five more bombs are set to explode in unnamed U.S. cities, once a week for the next month, unless all U.S. military personnel overseas are withdrawn immediately?If this particular scenario does not resonate with you, Perry can easily rattle off a long roster of others—a regional war that escalates into a nuclear exchange, a miscalculation between Moscow and Washington, a computer glitch at the exact wrong moment. They are all ilks of the same theme—the dimly understood threat that the science of the 20th century is set to collide with the destructive passions of the 21st.“We’re going back to the kind of dangers we had during the Cold War,” Perry said. “I really thought in 1990, 1991, 1992, that we left those behind us. We’re starting to re-invent them. We and the Russians and others don’t understand that what we’re doing is re-creating those dangers—or maybe they don’t remember the dangers. For younger people, they didn’t live through those dangers. But when you live through a Cuban Missile Crisis up close and you live through a false alarm up close, you do understand how dangerous it is, and you believe you should do everything you could possibly do to [avoid] going back.”

Source: Bill Perry Is Terrified. Why Aren’t You? – POLITICO Magazine

If you want to read further on this risk http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/world-war-three-by-mistake

A Brave New World Order December 18, 2016

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, In The News, philosophy & politics.
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ChinaUSAPuzzleJapan had the first world leader to meet with President-elect Trump. For the first time in eleven years, Putin just visited Japan for two days of talks. Trump’s proposed Secretary of State was awarded a Friendship medal by Vladimir Putin. What if anything do these have in common? Maybe nothing, but I can’t help but consider the implications for a Grand Alliance  between Japan, Russia and the United States to contain China’s expansionist tendencies

Until recently, only Mao and Deng Xiaoping have achieved the title of “Core Leader”.  Deng wanted the Communist Party to become a consensus-based system with rotating leadership and he would be the last Core leader. Current Premier Xi has put the end to that with his recent appointment as Core leader. We will have to see if this turns out to be an over-reach or the start of Emperor Xi’s dynasty.

China has always been a difficult country to rule. There are five distinct regions and multiple languages. There have only been a few times where a dynasty has been able to rule them all. Revolutions start, not when things are at their worst, but when rising expectations are dashed. Xi can see the demographic wall they are about slam into, as a result of the one-child policy lasting too long. He also knows that there will be economic dislocations, as they try to change from an Export-driven to a Consumer Society.

His biggest threat internally may not come from the aging establishment’s backlash, but from a youthful burgeoning left-wing Maoist movement. That is why the charismatic populist Bo Xilai was the victim of one of the first Stalin-like Show Trails. Xilai’s popular message was that Mao’s revolution has been hijacked by the corrupt Princelings – a group that Xi was fortunate enough to be born into.

China doesn’t it view itself as a Rising Power, but a a Returning Power. After all, with just 250 years under their belt, these Americans are only upstarts.  While Kissinger was secretly meeting with Deng for Nixon’s Machiavellian opening to China, he asked Deng what he though about the French Revolution. After a pause, he said “We’ll have to see how it turns out”.  China takes the long view of history and their future.

Embattled leaders will often use external threats to distract a restless populace. Xi knows the end of China’s economic miracle will bring unrest. Xi’s expansionist foreign policy has unnerved its neighbors, the most powerful of which are Russia and Japan. They could be open to a Grand Alliance with the United States to counter China’s rise. After all the US joined with Stalin to defeat what we thought was the greater foe – Hitler.

There is no love lost between Russia and China. They fought a seven month undeclared border war in 1969.  China is financially taking over Mongolia and expects its other neighbors to eventually become vassal states also.

Russia had always been torn. It’s either a European or an Asian power. The construction of St. Petersburg was supposed to tilt Russia to the West. Putin rose to power from there. He has revived the Russian orthodox church. Putin’s Russia feels more comfortable with the West than the East. Russia is a declining power, who is afraid of the dragon’s growing power on it’s western borders. Japan is afraid too. Fear of a common enemy can make for strange bedfellows. Trump’s unconstrained collection of  no-nonsense generals and plutocratic deal makers could think far enough outside the box to try and pull off such a Grand Bargain.

The Developing World Thinks Hitler Is Underrated November 27, 2016

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http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/10/05/the-developing-world-thinks-hitler-is-underrated-duterte-world-war-ii-nazi-politics/

(COL) *20.04.1889-30.04.1945+ Politiker, NSDAP, D Lagebesprechung im Hauptquartier der Heeresgruppe S¸d in Saporoshje (Ukraine); Hitler mit der Generalit‰t am Kartentisch (v.l.): Generalfeldmarschall Erich von Manstein, Adolf Hitler, General Theodor Busse, Generalfeldmarschall Ewald von Kleist - 19.02.1943 Foto: Walter Frentz "english_caption" Hitler and the generals look at maps during a briefing at the headquarters of 'Heeresgruppe Sued' (Army Squad South) at Saporoshje (Ukraine). From left: General Field Marshal Erich von Manstein, Adolf Hitler, General Theodor Busse, General Field Marshal Ewald von Kleist - 02.19.1943 Picture: Walter Frentz "english_e


– 19.02.1943
Foto: Walter Frentz
“english_caption” Hitler and the generals look at maps during a briefing at the headquarters of ‘Heeresgruppe Sued’ (Army Squad South) at Saporoshje (Ukraine). From left: General Field Marshal Erich von Manstein, Adolf Hitler, General Theodor Busse, General Field Marshal Ewald von Kleist
– 02.19.1943
Picture: Walter Frentz “english_e

Yet in much of the developing world, where ignorance regarding the Holocaust and Hitler’s fantasies of world domination is rife, he is perceived less as a mass murderer and ideologue of global conquest than as a stern disciplinarian who addressed social ills in a briskly efficient manner. His is a legacy of “law and order,” not of horrific chaos and collapsed cities. Additionally, and crucially, in the non-Western world the name Hitler can connote “anti-imperialist rebel” due to the German leader’s nationalistic struggle against “Anglo-French-American-Zionist domination.”

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How a Solar Flare Almost Triggered a Nuclear War in 1967 August 11, 2016

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Hbomb-detonation-colorizedOn May 23, 1967, multiple radar installations in the Arctic suddenly and inexplicably went dark.The U.S. military believed the Soviets had managed to disable the Early Warning System. With war imminent, the Air Force began prepping aircraft equipped with nuclear weapons. However, those aircraft never launched, as commanders received crucial information at the last minute that may have averted full-scale nuclear war.

That information came from the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s (NORAD) newly established Solar Forecasting Center. A few days prior, it had detected a massive solar storm, one of the largest of the century. The storm produced solar flares and radio bursts that knocked out communications around the world, including the Air Force’s Early Warning System.

The Solar Forecasting Center issued a bulletin warning that severe solar flares were incoming, and that bulletin managed to reach a commanding officer in time to avert action against the Soviets. If that bulletin had been delayed a few minutes, those nuclear aircraft could have launched, and the solar flares would have made it impossible to communicate in the air. If those aircraft had launched, there would have been no way to call them back.

Source: How a Solar Flare Almost Triggered a Nuclear War in 1967

Why Trump and Sanders May 17, 2016

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What do Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have in common?  – an authoritarian agenda.

The rise of Donald Trump has been accompanied by predictable murmurs of “only in America”. But the Trump phenomenon is better understood as part of a global trend: the return of the “strongman” leader in international politics.

Rather than leading the way, America has arrived late at this dispiriting party. Historians might one day highlight the year 2012 as the turning point. In May of that year Vladimir Putin returned to the Kremlin as president of Russia. A few months later Xi Jinping was installed as general secretary of the Chinese Communist party.

 Democracies elected Hitler and Mussolini to get their dysfunctional democracies working again. Citizens were willing to give up certain rights for the security of knowing that Mussolini would ” get the trains to run on time”.

In fact, Mr Trump exhibits many of the characteristics of the current crop of strongman leaders, including Messrs Putin, Xi, Erdogan, Sisi, Modi, Orban and Duterte.

Bernie Sanders promises that the power of government would rectify disgruntled voters discontent with Income inequality and wage reversals. Donald Trump promised that his bullying would get things back to where they once were. Both are authoritarian attitudes, relecting the world-wide trend of the return of the strongmen.

Rise of the Strongman

Europe’s New Medieval Map – WSJ January 18, 2016

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As the EU continues to fracture, this power vacuum could create a 21st-century equivalent of the late Holy Roman Empire: a rambling, multiethnic configuration that was an empire in name but not in fact, until its final dissolution in 1806.

This means that there is still no alternative to American leadership in Europe. For the U.S., a Europe that continues to fracture internally and to dissolve externally into the fluid geography of Northern Africa and Eurasia would constitute the greatest foreign-policy disaster since World War II. The success of the EU over many decades was a product of American power, stemming from the victory over Nazi Germany. For all its imperfections, the EU, even more than NATO, has been the institutional embodiment of a postwar Europe that is free, united and prosperous.

Source: Europe’s New Medieval Map – WSJ

Happy New Year – From ISIS to Russia: How War Changed in 2015 – The Atlantic January 1, 2016

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One of the great fears in all this is that a gray-zone conflict—involving, say, U.S. and Chinese military vessels sparring in the South China Sea, or Russia threatening to deploy its nuclear arsenal—could tumble into an open one when some party miscalculates.

Hbomb-detonation-colorizedMore likely, however, is that the patterns on display in 2015 will become more pronounced in the coming year. According to Laura Jackson, China sees the sea, and the earth generally, as only the start of its Three Warfares campaign—a testing ground for ambitions to control portions of outer space, which Chinesemilitary and legal thinkers see, in the words of one Chinese official, “as a natural extension of other forms of territorial control.” Russian military theory envisionsthe wars of the future moving from “direct clash to contactless war,” from “direct annihilation of the opponent to its inner decay,” from “war in the physical environment to a war in the human consciousness and in cyberspace.” In June, aNew York Times investigation uncovered how a series of web campaigns tried to sow panic in the United States by spreading fake Twitter messages, Wikipedia pages, and online news reports about everything from an ISIS attack in Louisiana to Ebola outbreaks and police shootings in Atlanta. This was not the work of mere pranksters, but targeted disinformation operations launched from a Kremlin-backed “troll farm” in St Petersburg. They were perhaps some of the first skirmishes in what Russian military theorists believe to be the battleground of the future: the minds of men and women, where every business deal, retweet, and Instagram post becomes a way of influencing what these theorists call “the Psychosphere.”

It’s a brave new war without beginning or end, where the borders of peace and war, serviceman and civilian have become utterly blurred—and where you and I are both a target and a weapon.

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/12/war-2015-china-russia-isis/422085/

The Paris Terror Attacks Remind Us That ISIS Needs Our Help to Survive – Resilient Corporation December 20, 2015

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This dream of absolute disconnection from an “evil world” is what all fundamentalists (religious and secular) seek as their collective salvation. In the not too-distant past, such disconnects were far simpler to achieve: head to some desolate place beyond marked borders, plant your flag, and fight off anyone who dared to trespass. This is why religions – as a rule – have always burned hottest along frontiers.

But that’s the thing with globalization: it engulfs frontiers, reformatting local cultures at a disorienting speed. Alongside all those networks arrive unprecedented economic opportunities that have – over the past half century – shrunken the share of humanity suffering extreme poverty to an all-time low of 10 percent. But that global force of change creates enormous local frictions, unleashing all manner of social tensions, civil strife, political revolutions, and extremist movements – all of which put people on the move and further accelerate globalization’s blending dynamics. It’s one thing for your world to be transformed by my networks, but quite another if that process drives you to my doorstep in search of your better life.

Discarded refugee life vests

Discarded refugee life vests

But that’s exactly what continues to happen. Muslims fleeing the Middle East and North Africa for Europe and North America don’t seek to replicate in these new environments the harsh life they left behind. Yes, they want to retain their cultural and religious identities amidst this disorienting transition, but who wouldn’t? The key point is that they seek the combination of social peace, political freedom, and economic opportunity that only a pluralistic, diverse nation-state can provide. These people aren’t seeking refuge in authoritarian regimes; they’re seeking legitimate sanctuary in countries whose capacity for tolerance ensures it. So, again, when we unduly oppress Muslims within our ranks, we essentially endorse ISIS’ message of intolerance and apartheid. We feed their strength while dissipating our own.

In the end, it’s our diversity that renders our nations truly resilient. Indeed, that melting-pot mindset defines these United States – the world’s oldest and most successful multinational union. It’s what makes us resilient in the face of all the vulnerabilities that our open societies present to our enemies as logical targets. The West can – and should – never hope to harden itself sufficiently to withstand any attack without suffering internal perturbations. We cannot firewall ourselves off from this wonderful world of our creating and still thrive.

Instead, we must continue to grow our collective resilience from the bottom-up – family by family, neighborhood by neighborhood, and community by community. Resilience helps people where they live by fostering communal bonds built around the basic human instinct for empathy beyond kinship – that rarest of behaviors in nature. All who are willing must be invited to join in this effort, because, the bigger our “tent” is, the sooner we prevail in this struggle to define humanity’s future.

https://resilient.com/the-paris-terror-attacks-remind-us-that-isis-needs-our-help-to-survive/

Destined for War: Can China and the United States Escape Thucydides’s Trap? – The Atlantic September 30, 2015

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ChinaUSAPuzzleWar, however, is not inevitable. Four of the 16 cases in our review did not end in bloodshed. Those successes, as well as the failures, offer pertinent lessons for today’s world leaders. Escaping the Trap requires tremendous effort. As Xi Jinping himself said during a visit to Seattle on Tuesday, “There is no such thing as the so-called Thucydides Trap in the world. But should major countries time and again make the mistakes of strategic miscalculation, they might create such traps for themselves.”

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/09/united-states-china-war-thucydides-trap/406756/

New Anti-Censorship Tool Marionette Could Make it Easier to Slip Past China’s Great Firewall | MIT Technology Review September 18, 2015

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teh_great_firewall_by_nemu_asakuraGovernments can now block anticensorship tools such as the Tor anonymity network or encrypted VPN connections, for example. But a new censorship evasion tool called Marionette may help reverse that trend. Marionette helps Internet traffic that would normally be blocked masquerade as ordinary, permitted online behavior. It can be configured to make your activity emulate just about any type of “innocent” activity, such as online gaming or Skype, by analyzing samples of that kind of traffic. Marionette can even be programmed to respond in the right way to maintain its cover if actively probed by a censorship computer system, a tactic China sometimes uses to investigate suspicious connections before blocking them.

Coull hopes that Marionette will one day be integrated into the anonymity network Tor or the censorship evasion tool Lantern—two systems backed by the U.S. government and used by activists, government workers, and NGOs. He’s already talked with Tor developers about Marionette’s open-source code. The system was introduced in a paper at the USENIX Security conference in Washington, D.C., this month, and developed by Coull with Kevin Dyer andThomas Shrimpton of Portland State University

Source: New Anti-Censorship Tool Marionette Could Make it Easier to Slip Past China’s Great Firewall | MIT Technology Review

5 Reasons Why You Wont Get Rich In Cuba June 3, 2015

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2006_08_01t121905_450x332_us_cubaPresident Barack Obama’s historic normalization talks with Cuba have brought about a lot of excitement in business circles, and hardly a day goes by without new reports of U.S. investors, lawyers and entrepreneurs flocking to the island. But I’m afraid most of them will lose their shirts there.

In a recent interview, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker told me that even though Cuba is a small economy, the Cuban people are entrepreneurial , and have a great economic potential. “It’s a beginning, you have to start. And by starting, things will evolve,” she said.

My opinion: Maybe so. But for the time being, as Florida International University business professor Jerry Haar has rightly — and only half-jokingly — commented, the most profitable businesses dealing with Cuba will be those that put together conferences and seminars on doing business in Cuba.

Obama did the right thing in starting normalization talks with Cuba’s military dictatorship, although he should be much more forthright in demanding basic freedoms on the island. But the administration should tone down its claims that the U.S.-Cuba honeymoon will lead to political and economic changes on the island, and to great business opportunities for foreign companies. It won’t, at least in the near future.

via Andres Oppenheimer: Cuba: Very big fuss over very small economy | Miami Herald Miami Herald.

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The Appeal of Dictators June 2, 2015

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MaoCollection0242 Two-thirds of the world’s citizens live under a dictatorship, and two billion people suffer from an oppressive rule. Freedom House says 106 dictatorships or partial dictatorships persist today, accounting for 54% of the world’s nations.

Contrary to popular Western belief, however, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing for all places and people. Not all dictatorships end in misery, and not everyone wants to live in a democracy. “A bad democracy might be worse than a humane dictatorship,” Pinker points out.

There is no proof that the desire for freedom and democracy is an innate part of human nature, Ezrow says. As long as quality of life remains high and people are allowed to live their lives as they wish, citizens can be completely happy under a dictatorship.  “Some cultures may just prefer security and stability over freedom.”

via BBC – Future – Will dictators disappear?.

Red Bull Sales Exploding in North Korea May 15, 2015

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KoreanRedBull

Potential future North Korean canon fodder (Party Officials) are bused in to watch 4 of these guns firing 50 caliber-size bullets that pulverize the prisoner.

The ZPU-4 anti-aircraft gun allegedly used in North Korean executions. (US Army, via Human Rights in North Korea

The ZPU-4 anti-aircraft gun allegedly used in North Korean executions. (US Army, via Human Rights in North Korea

Marketing atrocity: Ancient Assyrians would have understood Islamic State’s methods March 10, 2015

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I also watched recent video of ISIS members in a museum smashing (alleged) archaeological relics from the very ancient Mesopotamian past. I felt a certain sense of historical irony while doing so. I wondered as I watched them use sledgehammers and power drills on a 3,000 year old Assyrian statue if they realized that they were following the ancient Assyrian playbook as they tried to erase the region’s past. The Assyrians of that era were masters at the art of atrocity marketing. The concept of publicizing horrific cruelty to cow and intimidate subjects or opponents has a long history, and only fell out of style relatively recently (and not everywhere). 

JoanArc17-eIt’s only in the last century or so that public executions, for example, have become rare. Having people view a burning, beheading or hanging (with or without a torture appetizer) was thought to be something that reinforced law and authority and demonstrated that justice was being carried out. Often it was thought an edifying thing to have children watch.

How would the German public living in the Third Reich have reacted to ISIS-like, slickly produced films showing the scenes inside a death camp gas chamber while people were dying? Even in a nation brainwashed by state-fostered anti-Semitism, it’s hard to imagine the reaction being anything the Nazi regime would have considered positive.

The fact that the Islamic State’s marketing gurus feel otherwise is interesting. Perhaps its more evidence bolstering the idea that ISIS seeks to return to the values of an earlier, much more harsh historical era. If so,we might be seeing a visual and visceral example of what our ancestors might have done with a good TV studio.

If online video existed in the Middle Ages, does the burning of Joan of Arc go viral? Would it go viral today?

via Marketing atrocity: Ancient Assyrians would have understood Islamic State’s methods.

Decade Forecast: 2015-2025 from Stratfor March 4, 2015

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The United States continues to make up more than 22 percent of the world’s economy. It continues to dominate the world’s oceans and has the only significant intercontinental military force. Since 1880, it has been on an uninterrupted expansion of economy and power. Even the Great Depression, in retrospect, is a minor blip. This expansion of power is at the center of the international system, and our forecast is that it will continue unabated.

The greatest advantage the United States has is its insularity. It exports only 9 percent of its GDP, and about 40 percent of that goes to Canada and Mexico. Only about 5 percent of its GDP is exposed to the vagaries of global consumption. Thus, as the uncertainties of Europe, Russia and China mount, even if the United States lost half its exports — an extraordinary amount — it would not be an unmanageable problem.

Featured imageThe United States is also insulated from import constraints. Unlike in 1973, when the Arab oil embargo massively disrupted the U.S. economy, the United States has emerged as a significant energy producer. Although it must import some minerals from outside NAFTA, and it prefers to import some industrial products, it can readily manage without these. This is particularly true as industrial production is increasing in the United States and in Mexico in response to the increasing costs in China and elsewhere.

The Americans also have benefited from global crises. The United States is a haven for global capital, and as capital flight has taken hold of China, Europe and Russia, that money has flowed into the United States, reducing interest rates and buoying equity markets. Therefore, though there is exposure to the banking crisis in Europe, it is nowhere near as substantial as it might have been a decade ago, and capital inflows counterbalance that exposure. As for the perennial fear that China will withdraw its money from American markets, that will happen slowly anyway as China’s growth slows and internal investment increases. But a sudden withdrawal is impossible. There is nowhere else to invest money. Certainly the next decade will see fluctuations in U.S. economic growth and markets, but the United Stares remains the stable heart of the international system. While I subscribe to Strafor’s Intelligence service, they have chosen to make this intriguing report, on possible future geopolitical trends, available to the public via the link below.

via Decade Forecast: 2015-2025 | Stratfor.

Great Power Conflict: Will It Return? February 25, 2015

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we are witnessing four changes in international affairs that will lead to renewed great power conflict.

The first change is the slow disengagement of the United States from the dominating role it has played after World War II, marked most notably by a lowering of its defense spending and commitments. America has retreated from its role of protector of the world order, but the current occupant of the White House clearly ranks foreign affairs as an annoyance compared to an ambitious domestic agenda and has telegraphed his desire for America to have either a light or non-existent footprint across much of the globe.

The slow American withdrawal coincides with the second change, in which four of the current great powers (Russia, China, India, and Japan) are revaluating, amplifying, or changing aspects of their grand strategy in a way that resembles a similar reshuffling that took place late in the nineteenth century.

Third, there are ominous parallels between the cauldron that created the conflict of the Great War and those simmering today. China, playing the role of nineteenth-century Germany, seems determined to upset the economic and military stability created by the United States and Japan, especially in the area of naval power and power projection. Japan is playing the role of the United Kingdom, an old power clinging to its power base by mobilizing nationalism and militarism. Russia, attempting to resurrect its glory by aggressive action, reminds us of a turn-of-the-century France. India, coming on the world stage for the first time, yet not quite ready for a big role, is reminiscent of the newly unified Italian peninsula of 1861.

via Great Power Conflict: Will It Return? | World Affairs Journal.

The Best Defense is a Good Offense February 20, 2015

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J0216075The US has made the strategic choice to put its resources into engineering better attack tools and an infrastructure to support them. In a way it’s a smart choice. It’s a truism that the cyber battlefield is asymmetric—a defender has to get it right every time, while an attacker only has to succeed once. If the US spends a billion dollars in cyber defense, it will still be vulnerable. But spend it on cyber attack, and you get the most advanced computer espionage and sabotage tools that history has ever seen.

 The tool hides itself encrypted in the Windows registry, so that anti-virus software can’t find it on the computer’s disk. It carves out its own virtual file system on your machine to store data for exfiltration.  It uses a well-engineered piece of software called a bootkit to control the operating system from the ground up. There are update mechanisms, dozens of plug-ins, a self-destruct function, massive code obfuscation, hundreds of fake websites to serve as command-and-control. One of the NSA’s malware plug-ins can even reprogram your hard drive’s firmware, allowing the implant to survive a complete disk wipe.

via Surprise! America Already Has a Manhattan Project for Developing Cyber Attacks | WIRED.

Does Globalization Cause War?  January 29, 2015

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The argument that globalization does not necessarily lead to peace is a pretty easy one to make, the usual example being that German-British trade was going brilliantly right up to World War I. Arguing that globalization leads to war is an altogether different enterprise. In his new book, When Globalization Fails: The End of Pax Americana, James Macdonald comes daringly close to showing that globalization, as a system of interdependence among major states, is an inherently unstable system that breeds insecurity among great powers. The interdependence feeds the insecurity.

Asian Currency WarIf our multipolar world is going the way of Macdonald’s analysis, we would expect to see greater regionalization under the direction of one or another regional hegemon — and that does appear to be the case, despite important countervailing trends such as improving U.S.-India relations, which have rescued the World Trade Organization. In Central Asia, Russia’s Eurasian Economic Union and China’s New Silk Road confront each other as opposing regional power plays. Asia’s export-led economies are also becoming more regional: Asian exports are increasingly purchased within Asia itself as demand from advanced economies remains weak. And regardless of the degree to which “re-shoring” exists, the desirability of siting production in closer physical proximity has captured Western political imaginations. Meanwhile all the major powers are focused on strengthening regional security arrangements, and all the major emerging powers are building their defenses, including the blue-water navies, whose major “defensive” purpose is to defend raw-material supply routes.

There are huge differences between today and earlier eras when the dynamics of globalization led to large-scale conflict. Nuclear weaponry is one; the lack of demographic-growth pressures in advanced economies is another. But we are nonetheless entering dangerous times.

via Does Globalization Cause War? | Scott Malcomson.

Why porn is exploding in the Middle East January 16, 2015

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bikini_burkha According to data released by Google, six of the top eight porn-searching countries are Muslim states. Pakistan tops the list at number one, followed by Egypt at number two. Iran, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Turkey come in at numbers four, five, seven and eight, respectively. Pakistan leads the way in porn searches for animals like pigs, donkeys, dogs, cats and snakes.

via Why porn is exploding in the Middle East – Salon.com.

Ian Bremmer’s Geopolitical Predictions January 2, 2015

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ChinaUSAPuzzleOne of the more astute analysts that will make you think.

Q: Why doesn’t China want Russia to fight with the West?

A: I think you have to understand that China is patient. China is growing. China has 1.3 billion people. The world will come to China. If China waits, China will have more power, more influence and be able to determine outcomes to their favor, without war, without conflict. They can just use their influence.

The Russians, of course, are declining and so Russian power is greater today than it will be in five or 10 years’ time. If you’re China, you really don’t want the Russians to “rock the boat” too much in the near term. Causing problems for the U.S. is fine, but you don’t want them to become a pariah state for everyone else.

Q: Is there a possibility of a Cold War between the U.S. and China?

A: Longer term, that is a bigger concern. It’s not a concern today. But if you asked me in five or 10 years’ time, one of the potential scenarios of post-G-Zero is that the United States and China fundamentally move into different blocks. It’s possible.

Q: Will China become a big power, as big as the U.S?

A: No. The future is a long time, but if you ask me in 10 years’ time, China will probably be the largest economy, but their military will be a tiny fraction of that of the United States. Their technological capacity will be a tiny fraction of the U.S. Their energy production capacity will be a tiny fraction of the United States. Their diplomatic capabilities will be a tiny fraction of the United States. Their soft power will be a tiny fraction of the United States. Their cultural power will be a tiny fraction of the United States. Their universities will be so much worse. They will be a superpower, looking purely in terms of their economic might and they will not be a superpower in any other way.

via The world post-G-Zero: US, China Cold War possible, says Ian Bremmer- Nikkei Asian Review.

Some Christmas Cheer for all you Preppers December 7, 2014

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, Geopolitics, Life.
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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/environment/11276913/So-this-is-how-the-world-ends…-isnt-it.html
Aside from the rise of the machines, many potential threats have been identified to our species, our civilisation or even our planet itself. To keep you awake at night, here are seven of the most plausible.

The Rhyme of History: Lessons of the Great War September 15, 2014

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, philosophy & politics.
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The U.S. has so far been prepared to act as the guarantor of international stability, but may not be willing—or able—to do so indefinitely.

Though the era just before World War I, with its gas lighting and its horse-drawn carriages, seems very far off and quaint, it is similar in many ways—often unsettlingly so—to ours, as a look below the surface reveals. The decades leading up to 1914 were, like our own time, a period of dramatic shifts and upheavals, which those who experienced them thought of as unprecedented in speed and scale. The use of electricity to light streets and homes had become widespread; Einstein was developing his general theory of relativity; radical new ideas like psychoanalysis were finding a following; and the roots of the predatory ideologies of fascism and Soviet communism were taking hold.

Hbomb-detonation-colorizedGlobalization—which we tend to think of as a modern phenomenon, created by the spread of international businesses and investment, the growth of the Internet, and the widespread migration of peoples—was also characteristic of that era. Globalization can also have the paradoxical effect of fostering intense localism and nativism, frightening people into taking refuge in the comfort of small, like-minded groups. One of the unexpected results of the Internet, for example, is how it can narrow horizons so that users seek out only those whose views echo their own and avoid websites that might challenge their assumptions.

While history does not repeat itself precisely, the Middle East today bears a worrying resemblance to the Balkans then.
It is tempting—and sobering—to compare today’s relationship between China and the U.S. with that between Germany and England a century ago. Now, as then, the march of globalization has lulled us into a false sense of safety.
Like the world of 1914, we are living through changes in the nature of war whose significance we are only starting to grasp.

Read on at http://www.brookings.edu/research/essays/2013/rhyme-of-history

The Expanded Scope of Conflict Today August 31, 2014

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Enviroment, Geopolitics.
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Wars are traditionally fought over territory. But the definition of territory has evolved to incorporate five domains: land, air, sea, space, and, most recently, cyberspace. These dimensions of “CLASS war” define the threats facing the world today. The specific triggers, objectives, and battle lines of such conflicts are likely to be determined, to varying degrees, by five factors: creed, clan, culture, climate, and currency. Indeed, these factors are already fueling conflicts around the world.

via Andrew Sheng argues that cyberspace, land, air, sea, and space now define the basis of global conflict. – Project Syndicate.

See Crowd-Sourced Map of Global Conflict July 24, 2014

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, In The News, News and politics.
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Click on the map and you are seeing an overview of major global activity each day, as captured by the world’s news media and monitored by the GDELT Project. All protest and conflict events are grouped together by city/location. For the animated map layer, if a location has both protest and conflict events, it is colored by whichever there are more of. All dots on the animated map are the same size, regardless of the number of events at that location, due to current limitations of the animation system. For the daily map layers, dots are displayed separately at each location for protests and conflict and are sized based on the total volume of coverage devoted to that type of event at that location. Thus, locations with more “important” events will be displayed using a larger dot to indicate major evolving situations. Since some events may not have recognizable geographic markers or may occur at the country level, such events are displayed at the centroid of the country, except for the United States, where only events recorded at the state or finer resolution are shown. When your pointer turns into a hand, click and you’ll see the news sources harvested by web bots of the US Institute for Peace.

via Mapping A World in Motion: A Daily Dashboard of Global Conflict | GDELT Official Blog.

A Simple Explanation For The Mess We Are In July 13, 2014

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics.
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So, today, you have three basic systems: order provided by democratic, inclusive governments; order imposed by autocratic exclusivist governments; and ungoverned, or chaotically governed, spaces, where rickety failed states, militias, tribes, pirates and gangs contest one another for control, but there is no single power center to answer the phone — or, if they do, it falls off the wall.

Why is this happening now? Well, just as I’ve argued that “average is over” for workers, now “average is over for states,” too. Without the Cold War system to prop them up, it is not so easy anymore for weak states to provide the minimums of security, jobs, health and welfare. And thanks to rapid advances in the market (globalization), Mother Nature (climate change plus ecological destruction) and Moore’s Law (computing power), some states are just blowing up under the pressure.

via The World According to Maxwell Smart, Part 1 – NYTimes.com.

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