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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.

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

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, In The News.
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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/

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

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, News and politics, philosophy & politics.
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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.

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.

The Clash of Systems April 27, 2014

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, philosophy & politics.
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Writing recently on the independent Russian website Grani.ru, dissident writer and left-wing activist Alexander Skobov noted that today’s conflict between Russia and the West was not so much a clash of civilizations as a “clash of systems”: “The essential difference between them lies in who has ‘primacy’: the individual or the state, society or the ‘elite’? The conflict over this issue is not between civilizations but within each of them. Every state seeks to dominate the individual; every elite seeks to dominate society. But some countries have succeeded at developing a set of institutions that limit the power of the state and the elite over the individual and society, while others have not.”

Obviously, these institutions don’t always work. Yet, while the United States and the other capitalist liberal democracies may be very far from either the libertarian ideal of freedom or the progressive ideal of social justice, the unvarnished truth is that it’s only within this loosely knit global community — the “global liberal hegemony” deplored by far-left and far-right radicals — that these ideals have any chance to survive and develop. A world in which these values are on the ascendancy rather than in retreat is very much a part of our national interest.

via The Problem With the New Isolationism | TIME.com.

Russia’s Bridge to Nowhere September 8, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in In The News, Politics, Science & Technology.
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Alaska doesn’t have the biggest boondoggle bridge project.  Putin just wasted over a billion dollars on a bridge to show off at this week’s 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference.  The bridge to the Russky island, the world’s largest cable-stayed bridge, dead-ends just beyond the bridge, meaning that the 5,000 local residents, who live on the other side of the island and have no access to telephones, public lighting or running water, still have to use a ferry to reach the mainland.

via Bridge to Russky Island – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The Secret Life of Russian Prison Tattoos May 8, 2011

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The Mark of Cain documents the fading art form and language of Russian criminal tattoos, formerly a forbidden topic in Russia. The now vanishing practice is seen as reflecting the transition of the broader Russian society. Filmed in some of Russia;s most notorious prisons, including the fabled White Swan, the interviews with prisoners, guards, and criminologists reveal the secret language of The Zone and The Code of Thieve.

The prisoners of the Stalinist Gulag, or “Zone,” as it is called, developed a complex social structure (documented as early as the 1920s) that incorporated highly symbolic tattooing as a mark of rank. The existence of these inmates at prisons and forced labor camps was treated by the state as a deeply-kept secret. In the 1990s, Russia’s prison population exploded, with overcrowding among the worst in the world. Some estimates suggest that in the last generation over thirty million of Russia’s inmates have had tattoos even though the process is illegal inside Russian prisons.

What The Russian Fires Reveal August 11, 2010

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The disastrous Russian heat wave has exposed a key failing of Russian society: The flow of information has stopped.

A New York journalist friend often drills me on the state of Russia. As I find myself saying, “I don’t know” more frequently, I think he has begun to suspect me of being evasive. The truth is, no one, inside or outside the country, knows what is going on in Russia—unless something catches fire or blows up. Until then, we are in a haze, in silence.

There is not a single newspaper that even strives to be national in its coverage. The television is not only controlled by the Kremlin; it is made by the Kremlin for the Kremlin, and it is entirely unsuited to gathering or conveying actual information. Even the Russian blogosphere is bizarrely fragmented: Researchers who “mapped” it discovered that, unlike any other blogosphere in the world, it consists of many non-overlapping circles. People in different walks of life, different professions, and different parts of the country simply do not talk to one another. The same is true of political institutions: Since the Russian government effectively abolished representative democracy, canceling direct elections, there is no reason—and no real mechanism—for Moscow politicians to know what is going on in the vast country. Nor do governors need concern themselves with the lives and the disasters in their regions—they, too, are no longer elected but are appointed by the Kremlin.

As a result, no one knows where the fires are burning—unless they are burning right next to you. The government, too, lacks the information that would be required to evacuate vulnerable towns and villages, to mobilize the resources necessary to fight the fires, or even to know exactly where they are burning.

via The deadly fires have exposed a key problem in today’s Russia: No one knows what’s going on. – By Masha Gessen – Slate Magazine.

Russian Homemade Snowmobiles May 18, 2010

Posted by tkcollier in Cool photos, Humor, Sports, Technology.
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It would take Gear Head Carlton Palmer to find the link to some Russian ingenuity. Click on it to see more.

English Russia » Russian homemade snowmobiles.

Can Russia Modernize? January 15, 2010

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Putin is the tsar. He has both money — the government’s budget and the oligarchs’ fortunes — and the coercive power of the state firmly in his hand. He is the arbiter at the top and the trouble-shooter in social conflicts below. His most precious resource is his personal popularity, which adds a flavor of consent to his authoritarian regime.

But none of that is good enough. The 75 percent of Russians who make up the Putin majority are essentially passive and seek only the preservation of a paternalistic state. Putin can sit comfortably on their support, but he cannot ride forward with it. The best and brightest are not there.

Enter Medvedev. His Internet-surfing, compassionate and generally liberal image helps recruit a key constituency — those beyond the reach of Putin himself — to Putin’s plan. They include the country’s most apolitical citizens and its brainy, techy youth. Whether the plan succeeds is another matter.

via The Kremlin Two-Step | Opinion | The Moscow Times.

Russia Could Benefit From Global Warming May 10, 2009

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I suspect it will be epic fail all around – especially after 2025. This is because by then much more powerful trends in resource depletion, climate change and technological growth will be coming into play. The end of cheap hydrocarbon based energy threatens an end to global economic growth and collapse into the Olduvai Gorge. Numerous positive feedback mechanisms such as methane clathrate releases and saturation of traditional carbon sinks will intensify global warming. We will be reaching limits to growth on multiple fronts and industrial civilization will be in peril. As one of the few countries to benefit from global warming, Russia may become host to hundreds of millions of climate refugees.

via Russia Blog: Rite of Spring: Russia’s Fertility Trends. (more…)

Who Started The Russia/Georgia War? – New Evidence November 10, 2008

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TBILISI, Georgia — Newly available accounts by independent military observers of the beginning of the war between Georgia and Russia this summer call into question the longstanding Georgian assertion that it was acting defensively against separatist and Russian aggression.

via Georgia Claims on Russia War Called Into Question – NYTimes.com

The New World Disorder September 13, 2008

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The world’s bullies are throwing their weight around. But history isn’t on their side.

Our world is both safer and more dangerous. It is safer because the self-interest of the great powers is very much tied to the overall prosperity of the global economy, limiting their desire to rock the boat. But it is more dangerous because capitalist autocrats can grow much richer and therefore more powerful than their communist counterparts. And if economic rationality does not trump political passion (as has often been the case in the past), the whole system’s interdependence means that everyone will suffer.

We should also not let the speculations about an authoritarian resurgence distract us from a critical issue that will truly shape the next era in world politics: whether gains in economic productivity will keep up with global demand for such basic commodities as oil, food and water. If they do not, we will enter a much more zero-sum, Malthusian world in which one country’s gain will be another country’s loss. A peaceful, democratic global order will be much more difficult to achieve under these circumstances: Growth will depend more on raw power and accidents of geography than on good institutions. And rising global inflation suggests that we have already moved a good way toward such a world. They Can Only Go So Far – washingtonpost.com

Hit The Kremlin In The Wallet August 28, 2008

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David B. Rivkin Jr. and Carlos Ramos-Mrosovsky – Target the Kremlin Pocketbooks – washingtonpost.com
Moscow is dominated by a network of ex-KGB siloviks and wealthy Kremlin-friendly tycoons. Despite their gangsteresque behavior — including assassinations of business and political rivals — Russia is a member, albeit a thuggish one, of the global economic system. Bereft of any significant civilian manufacturing, Russia’s economy depends on natural resources exports. As a result, Russia, though grotesquely corrupt, is tightly plugged into global financial and commercial networks.

The shady cadre running modern Russia has embraced globalization. These “Chekist oligarchs” — to distinguish them from the Western-oriented robber barons who rose in the 1990s, only to be purged by Putin — increasingly dominate lists of the world’s richest individuals.

Clearly, something far more dangerous than mere authoritarianism has arisen in Putin’s Russia. A peculiar blend of political autocracy and corruption, seamlessly fusing political, economic and military power, threatens world peace. Challenging this state of affairs is a strategic necessity.

Let’s Not Rush into Cold War II August 28, 2008

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Pajamas Media » Let’s Not Rush into Cold War II
From administration to administration, we zigzag with the needs of the moment in our dealings with Russia without a clear vision of what America’s vital interests in the former Soviet states actually are.

Georgia is a textbook case. While America has a legitimate concern in encouraging former Soviet states to develop into market democracies, there is no intrinsic economic or strategic American vital interest in Georgia per se and even less in South Ossetia. Georgia is our ally for only two reasons: Tblisi was enthusiastic to send troops to help in Iraq in return for military aid and it occupies a strategic location for oil and gas pipelines that will meet future European energy needs. In other words, Georgia’s role is of a primary strategic interest to the EU, not the United States. Which is why European and British companies have such a large shareholder stake in the BTC pipeline and why European FDI in Georgia exceeds ours. Yet it will be American troops in Georgia handing out bottled water and MREs, not the Bundeswehr or the French Foreign Legion. Something does not compute here.

Georgia started this fight — Russia finished it August 18, 2008

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Blowback From Bear-Baiting – HUMAN EVENTS

American charges of Russian aggression ring hollow. Georgia started this fight — Russia finished it. People who start wars don’t get to decide how and when they end.

Russia’s response was “disproportionate” and “brutal,” wailed Bush.

True. But did we not authorize Israel to bomb Lebanon for 35 days in response to a border skirmish where several Israel soldiers were killed and two captured? Was that not many times more “disproportionate”?

Russia has invaded a sovereign country, railed Bush. But did not the United States bomb Serbia for 78 days and invade to force it to surrender a province, Kosovo, to which Serbia had a far greater historic claim than Georgia had to Abkhazia or South Ossetia, both of which prefer Moscow to Tbilisi?

Is not Western hypocrisy astonishing? Americans have many fine qualities. A capacity to see ourselves as others see us is not high among them. -Patrick Buchanan

(more…)

3 SuperRegions – The GeoPoltical Future? March 5, 2008

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Russia a key component of China – India Development | 2point6billion.com
Russia is now showing off its Asian face rather than it’s European one, for the first time in 150 years, with the strategic development of Asia now residing partially within the Kremlin as Moscow looks East to it’s long term allies, with the riches of energy yet without the burden of massive populations to carry, and ready made markets in China and India. The era of Superpowers is over. The era of “Superregions” has just begun, and Russia, China and India just booked the last place at a table with dining partners the U.S. and the EU.

The average growth rate of trade between the three nations has increased at a consistent level of 35% each year over the past five years; and all concerned view this as ‘just the start.’

How Putin’s Crackdown Holds Russia Back February 13, 2008

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Foreign Affairs – The Myth of the Authoritarian Model – Michael McFaul and Kathryn Stoner-Weiss

The Kremlin talks about creating the next China, but Russia’s path is more likely to be something like that of Angola — an oil-dependent state that is growing now because of high oil prices but has floundered in the past when oil prices were low and whose leaders seem more intent on maintaining themselves in office to control oil revenues and other rents than on providing public goods and services to a beleaguered population. Unfortunately, as Angola’s president, José Eduardo dos Santos, has demonstrated by his three decades in power, even poorly performing autocracies can last a long, long time.

Identifying China as a model — instead of the United States, Germany, or even Portugal — already sets the development bar much lower than it was just a decade ago. China remains an agrarian-based economy with per capita GDP below $2,000 (about a third of Russia’s and a 15th of Germany’s). But the China analogy is also problematic because sustained high growth under autocracy is the exception, not the rule, around the world. For every China, there is an autocratic developmental disaster such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo; for every authoritarian success such as Singapore, there is a resounding failure such as Myanmar; for every South Korea, a North Korea. In the economic-growth race in the developing world, autocracies are both the hares and the snails, whereas democracies are the tortoises — slower but steadier. On average, autocracies and democracies in the developing world have grown at the same rate for the last several decades.

World-View- From Singapore February 10, 2008

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International Security – Emerging Threats – Analysis – UPI.com
Singapore is the model emulated by much of the developing world. People chose Prosperity and Security over Freedom and Rights. Read this insight, from the man, who was the brains behind their remarkable Economic rise. In an exclusive interview with United Press International, Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew, long known as the Kissinger of the orient, took the Europeans to task for balking at casualties in Afghanistan. He blamed “short memories” that have forgotten that “America came to rescue them in two world wars,” which has rekindled the “appeasement” of the 1930s.

Now known as the “minister mentor” of Singapore, who turned a malarial island into a city of skyscrapers that thinks like a great power and is more important to the global economy than most big countries, Lee fears failure in Afghanistan will alter the world balance of power in favor of China and Russia. These two powers “would be faced with a much weakened West in the ongoing global contest.” (more…)

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