Russia is the last Colonial Empire; having conquered, at one time or another, most of her neighbors, many of whom are still subjects. China is the latest wanna be colonial power with their floundering Belt and Road initiative. This article points out a fatal flaw in their plans for world domination that has reoccurred throughout history.
A Brave New World Order
Japan 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.
Happy New Year – From ISIS to Russia: How War Changed in 2015 – The Atlantic
From China in Asia to Russia in Europe and the Middle East, and ISIS just about everywhere, 2015 has seen the flourishing of conflicts that exist in a gray zone, one which is not quite open war but more than regular competition, which is attuned to globalization, which liberal democracies are ill-equipped to deal with, and which may well be the way power is exercised and conflict conducted in the foreseeable future.
China’s doctrine of the Three Warfares pushes these non-physical aspects even further, using “legal,” “psychological,” and “media” warfare to, in the words of the analyst Laura Jackson, who directed a Cambridge University and U.S. Defense Department research project on the subject, “undermine international institutions, change borders, and subvert global media, all without firing a shot. The Western, and especially American, concept of war emphasises the kinetic and the tangible—infrastructure, arms, and personnel—whereas China is asking fundamental questions: ‘What is war?’ And, in today’s world: ‘Is winning without fighting possible?’”
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.
More 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.
Destined for War: Can China and the United States Escape Thucydides’s Trap? – The Atlantic
War, 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.”
New Anti-Censorship Tool Marionette Could Make it Easier to Slip Past China’s Great Firewall | MIT Technology Review
Governments 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
Great Power Conflict: Will It Return?
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.
Ian Bremmer’s Geopolitical Predictions
One 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.
The Rhyme of History: Lessons of the Great War
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.
Globalization—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
Globalization’s Geopolical Future
Essay by a prescient Geo-strategist, whose work I follow.
Today’s globalization is suffering a populist blowback on a nearly global scale. Indeed, the only places not suffering such blowback are Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia, frontiers where globalization’s widespread wealth creation is still resulting in very positive outcomes. Just about everywhere else, whether in the old West, the rising East or the Arab world, we’re seeing a build-up of social anger at globalization’s inequities and excesses that is stunning in its scope and persistence. In short, the world seems destined to either re-balkanize itself over these tensions or enter into a lengthy progressive era that corrects these imbalances and cleans up these corrupting trends.
Here’s where the value of the trans-Atlantic bond comes back in. For, remember, the old West has already processed the very same sort of mega-cycle back at the turn of the 20th century, when the world’s first version of a middle class initially came into its own as a potent political force. In that scary millenarian maelstrom, as today, terrorists, revolutionaries and radical fundamentalists abounded. In the end, both extremes of the ideological spectrum reached their catastrophically evil expression in the form of Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany.
But not everybody in that old West got it wrong. Indeed, America and, to a lesser extent, Britain got it spectacularly right. Their shared Progressive Era was a classic example of co-evolution, in that both sides of “the pond” fed off each other’s experiments and successes — the women’s suffrage movement, social welfare, modern police departments, sanitation, mass transit, labor reforms, food and drug safety — while learning from their mistakes. But through it all, an economic landscape was substantially re-graded, leveled out, as it were, in a “fair deal” to the workingman that tamed all that raging populist anger. The leadership that was seen during the Progressive Era, embodied by the career of Theodore Roosevelt, is the same sort of leadership that America, and the world, needs today.Getting back to my “C-I-A” world of tomorrow, these three superpowers — two in the making, one actual — are currently in a race to see which can process its own domestic populist rage faster and more effectively.
via WPR Article | Trans-Atlantic Ties Still Key to Renewing U.S. Global Leadership.
Predicting 2013 – Opportunities and Threats
This report is the synthesis of a 48-hour crowdsourced brainstorming exercise, where over 60 Wikistrat analysts from around the world collaboratively explored the issues that will dominate the foreign policy agenda in 2013..
The year 2012 helped bring answers to a few of the questions that loomed large for foreign observers when the year began. We now know who will lead the United States for the next four years. We have confirmation that the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliated branches across the Arab Middle East remain the dominant, if often struggling, political force in the countries where revolutions have toppled dictators. And we have learned, to little surprise, that the much-touted efforts by Washington to pivot towards Asia will remain constrained by the pullback from continuing crises in the Middle East, where major long-standing unresolved conflicts—notably the stand-off with Iran over its nuclear program and Israeli-Palestinian tensions—still occupy the front burner.
The distinction between threats and opportunities was not always clear, particularly because a well-managed threat can turn into an opportunity, just as the reverse is true. As expected, the ongoing developments in the turbulent Middle East occupied much of the analysts’ thoughts, suggesting numerous possible outcomes. But other areas of the world and other supranational trends also made the cut.
Here are some of the top negative & positive scenarios from Wikistrat’s simulation.