Archive for February, 2017

RUDOLF KJELLÉN IN THE WORLD TODAY

February 15, 2017

Rudolf Kjellén (1864 – 1922), a Swedish geographer published his works in Swedish, which made him less accessible to those who were not familiar with the Swedish language. This denied large parts of academia the acquaintance with and examination of his work. Some of his books were translated into German, but there has so far been little interest in him in the Anglo-Saxon world.

One of his classical geopolitical works, The Great Powers (Stormakterna), appeared in a first edition 1905 in Sweden. It had over 20 editions in Germany.

Latin America

Today he is probably best known in South America, where classical geopolitics has remained strong (see Phillip Kelly, Checkerboards & Shatterbelts – The Geopolitics of South America, Austin: University of Texas Press 1997).

In 1902 Kjellén had been appointed professor of political science and statistics at the University of Gothenburg.

Japan

Kjellén was interested in Japan and its rise in the Far East. In his view Japan and China, once free of Western control, would be great powers of the future. Their rise would come as the European powers declined. He was also critical of colonialism and racism.

In 1909 he traveled to Japan and China, a journey that would have significant influence on his geopolitical research. On this trip around the world he travelled first by train through Siberia and arrived in Beijing in April 1909. After 12 days in the Chinese capital he concluded in his diary that the days of European power were coming to an end. The powers, in his view, acted with hubris and arrogance.

On steamer he continued to Japan and made his base in Yokohama. There he was invited to stay in the home of the Swedish diplomat Gustaf Oskar Wallenberg (1863 – 1937).

For more on Kjellén and Japan see Bert Edström’s “Rudolf Kjellén och Japan”, journal Orientaliska studier, No. 89, 1996, pp. 12 – 35 and Storsvensken i Yttersta Östern – G.O. Wallenberg som svenskt sändebud i Japan, 1906 – 1918, Working Paper 52, August 1999, Center for Pacific Asia Studies, University of Stockholm.

In June he sailed on the “Empress of India” across the Pacific Ocean to Vancouver. From there he crossed Canada on the Canadian Pacific Railway to board the Atlantic liner for Europe and Sweden. On July 13 he was back in Gothenburg after a four month tour.

In the autumn of 1916 Kjellén wrote the introduction to a work that would give him international fame, ”The State as a Life-Form”. The book was a bestseller in its Japanese edition.
Great Britain and Russia.

After the Great War he saw Great Britain and Russia grow into “planetarian” powers or superpowers in today’s terminology. The United States is today a hegemon far more powerful than the United Kingdom. Already in 1919, he predicted a development towards superpower influence in the world. These views were based on the future strength of geographically and demographically large countries. In fact his predictions were proven correct. During the Cold War, for instance, the United States and the Soviet Union were the geographically large and dominating superpowers. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 China and India, for example, have risen to become great powers, both having large populations.

Kjellen and the Genocidal Vladimir I Lenin

The Swedish geopolitician published a number of articles with sharp criticism of Lenin and communist ideology. The article on Lenin ended with the words: “Only history will in the future show if Vladimir I. Lenin was a scourge or God or the devil.”

On Marx he remarked that he was a curious bastard of Hegel (form) and Rousseau (content). Half a million Bolsheviks ruled the 100 million of Russia. This half million was controlled by a couple of hundred tyrants in the Kremlin. If one of the usual labels is to be attached to that kind of state, it would be that of aristocracy in the degenerate form known as oligarchy.

Finally Kjellén focused on the question of the “historical side” of a state and movements that can occur. The “historical side” of Russia has for instance been the movement from the Baltic Sea-the Barents Sea to the Black Sea-the Mediterranean and then (1878) to the Far East and after 1905 mainly southward. An important aspect of this is also the movement of capital cities: Moscow to St. Petersburg and back to Moscow and in Turkey from Istanbul to Ankara.
Geopolitics, both as Kjellén viewed it and in its main Western stream, (Mackinder, Mahan, Spykman et al) is a science between history, geography and political science but it can also be regarded as an aid to all three.

Kjellén correctly predicted the collapse of the Habsburg Empire, the gradual decline of France as a great power and the decay of the British Empire.

These predictions were based on the view that the European great powers were influenced by hubris of superiority, which would lead to resistance and liberation in the colonial world. The father of geopolitics also believed Islam would be a rising threat in global politics due to the weakening of European great powers.

He also correctly predicted the coming of World War I already in 1899. In that he was not of course alone. Kjellén based the forecast on the growing antagonism of on one side of Great Britain and France. On the other side was Germany and Austria.

Conclusion

It is possible that Kjellen would today have viewed Russia, China and Iran (Persia) as the foremost challengers to the United States, Great Britain and Japan. The Swedish geopolitician could in the 21st century be a valuable tool for grand strategists, geopoliticians and geostrategists. We live in dangerous times.

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IS NORTH KOREA PREPARING TO INVADE ROK THROUGH TUNNELS?

February 14, 2017

Recent reports from the Korean peninsula is indicating instability of the North Korean regime. Thus it might want to deflect interest from internal trouble by an invasion of ROK through the extensive tunnel system at the border between the communist Korean entity and ROK. Tunnel technique is also a method of Oriental regimes to undermine the West. See below:

Introduction

The discovery recently of tunnels between Egypt and Gaza for the purpose of smuggling weapons is revealing. One must keep in mind the Oriental technique of “tunnelling” the enemy’s both spatial, political and psychological terrain. This art originated with the Mongols, and was copied and perfected by the Ottomans. There is, however, also a physical aspect to tunnelling. This short paper will explore three cases of this use of psychologically oriented warfare of Oriental origin.

North Korean Tunneling

There is a long history of North Korea attempting to undermine Seoul and take over South Korea this way. There is an extensive literature both in the United States and South Korea on the attempts by the regime to tunnel under the border between South Korea and North Korea. Several Palestinian terrorist organizations in the 1960s established close ties with North Korea. Another example of North Korean contacts in the Middle East area in general was the Turkish People’s Liberation Army (TPLA). A historical link perhaps to the Ottoman past.

Ottoman Tunneling

The Ottomans in the 1450s used undermining technique during the last phase of the siege of Constantinople. This has been described by the Venetian ambassador Nicolo Barbaro in his diary. (W. Carew Hazlitt, The Venetian Republic, 2 volumes, London 1915). Neither bombardments or scaling the walls, nor pitched battles at sea were so disheartening as the daily discovery of new tunnels being under Constantinople. Indirectly it was an attack on the willpower and identity of the Byzantine empire.

The Ottomans learned the tactics of tunnelling from the Mongols. Psychological warfare was common not only in the pre-Islamic and Islamic times in Persia, the Ottoman empire and among the Arabs.

Viet Cong Tunneling

The infamous Viet Cong (VC) tunnel system was located 15 miles north of Saigon in the s.c. Iron Triangle. It comprised around 125 square miles of jungle and rice paddies. The United States forces in January 1967 in Operation Cedar Falls attempted to destroy the tunnel system. Residents were evacuated from the area and the system of tunnels was destroyed. The communists did return, however.

The United States had special soldiers who fought the VC and the North Vietnamese in the tunnels and the bunkers. Only the 1st and 25th Infantry Divisions had formal units of s.c.Tunnel Rats, but the units were small. The 1st Division had only two squads.

The basic equipment was a .38 caliber revolver, a flashlight, and a knife.

Standard procedure required three men in the tunnels at a time. The biggest success was in 1968 when 3 VC soldiers were killed and 153 forced backward out of a tunnel into captivity.

Outside these formal units mostly volunteers were employed.

One important complex of tunnels was some 25 miles north of Saigon. It was probably the prime VC lifeline to Cambodian supply areas. There was a headquarters complex at Cu Chi. This vast complex was discovered by United States forces already in 1966. The 25th Infantry Division later established its base camp in Cu Chi and assumed the task of clearing the system. Different approaches used were tear gas, acetylene gas, and explosives. The American “tunnel rats” were almost always small in stature and had minimum equipment.

Tunnel networks were later discovered in other parts of Vietnam. In 1967 the Cu Chi tunnels hade been cleared, an example of tactical ingenuity and tenacity facing the United States Army in Vietnam (Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War, St. Barbara 1998, 3 volumes).

Conclusion

As seen from the three examples above it is not hard to detect the background of Palestinian tunnelling to smuggle arms to Gaza. How large these systems are and where is not in the public domain. American experience has shown that tunnel complexes can be dealt with.

TEXT OF US ALABAMA GOVERNOR’S STATE OF THE STATE SPEECH 2017

February 8, 2017

Washington Times on February 7, 2017, published the text of Governor Robert Bentley’s State of the State adress. Remarks as prepared, Excerpts below:

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP)

Companies and industries have poured over 24-billion dollars of investment into Alabama, in our people and in the belief that their products will be made best when they are Made in Alabama.

Companies like Polaris, in Huntsville, are building and producing ATV’s and hiring 17-hundred Alabamians and creating hundreds of positions for technicians, programmers and welders. GE Aviation is investing more than $200 million to build two factories in Huntsville and is expected to employ up to 300 people. And it’s not just our larger cities with new well-paying jobs. With an intentional focus on bringing jobs to rural Alabama we bring industry to our smallest towns. Moller Tech is building a 46-million dollar flagship facility in Woodstock, in Bibb County, supplying Mercedes and hiring 220 Alabamians. Alabama’s auto industry hit another record high in 2016, as workers at Hyundai, Mercedes and Honda rolled out over a million Alabama-made vehicles. Montgomery’s new Hyundai Santa Fe, Lincoln’s new Honda Ridgeline and Tuscaloosa’s four Mercedes models are all taking center on the world stage. Besides receiving awards for some of the best vehicles on the market, they all have one important thing in common – their Home’s in Alabama. We opened Alabama’s newest Interstate – I -22, not just providing convenience and safer travel for our people, but paving the way for greater economic development in financially-strapped Northwest Alabama. There is simply no place like Alabama’s beautiful Gulf Coast, and the incredible Gulf State Park Project is well on its way to becoming an international benchmark of economic and environmental sustainability. On track to open next year, the Gulf State Park Project will be the pride of our state for outdoor recreation, education and hospitality. Economic opportunity grows and thrives in our state, especially for the men and women who have sacrificed so much for our state and our country, yet ask for so little. Alabama is the proud home of over 420-thousand Veterans, and through the Alabama Executive Veterans Network – or AlaVetNet, and the Alabama Small Business Commission we are making sure veteran owned businesses succeed and prosper. And today Alabama’s Unemployment Rate for Veterans stands at 4.1 percent – lower than the overall state and national rate.

Comment: States all over the United States are focusing on job creation. Alabama is a fine example of the upturn in US economy after January 2017. Especially important is investment in the Huntsville area.

SECURITY ADVISER FLYNN SAYS IRAN IS ON NOTICE

February 2, 2017

Fox News on Februari 1, 2017, reported that US National Security Adviser Mike Flynn said the Trump administration is putting Iran “on notice” after it tested a ballistic missile and Tehran-backed militants attacked a Saudi naval vessel. Excerpts below:

The implications of the warning are unclear, but Flynn pointedly criticized the Obama administration for failing “to respond adequately” to Iran’s provocative behavior.

“As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice,” Flynn said, speaking to reporters in the White House briefing and also issuing a written statement.

At a press briefing later on Februari 1 a senior administration official declined to elaborate on how Iran would be held accountable, saying, “there are a large range of options available to the administration, from financial and economic…to pursuing other options related to support for those that are challenging and opposing Iranian malign activity in the region.”

Asked if that would include a military option, the official replied, “we are considering a whole range of options. We’re in a deliberative process.”

Flynn blasted Iran’s “destabilizing behavior,” saying the recent missile launch defied a U.N. Security Council resolution.

“The Obama Administration failed to respond adequately to Tehran’s malign actions—including weapons transfers, support for terrorism, and other violations of international norms,” Flynn said. “The Trump Administration condemns such actions by Iran that undermine security, prosperity, and stability throughout and beyond the Middle East and … place American lives at risk.”

A defense official said this week that the missile test ended with a “failed” re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere.

The attack on a Saudi vessel, meanwhile, was carried out by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in the Red Sea.

Two Saudi sailors were killed and three were wounded. Fox News reported earlier this week that, according to two defense officials, the attack may have been meant for an American warship.

In audio heard on a video of the attack, a voice narrating the attack shouts in Arabic, “Allahu akbar [God is great], death to America, death to Israel, a curse on the Jews and victory for Islam.

Comment: US allies in the area have with growing concern noted the lack of American response to Iranian subversive activities. The reaction in Israel is naturally one of relief. The growing influence of Iran in the Middle East threatens not only the Jewish state.