Archive for April, 2017

PENTAGON: NEW REVIEW OF US NUCLEAR POSTURE

April 27, 2017

Fox News on April 17, 2017, reported that the United States will begin a new review of its nuclear posture. Excerpts below:

Pentagon chief spokesperson Dana W. White said in a statement that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will ensure the U.S. military’s nuclear force is “safe, secure, effective, reliable and appropriately tailored to deter 21st-century threats and reassure our allies.”

The U.S. military has roughly 450 long-range nuclear missiles in underground silos at various bases in the Midwest. It also maintains a fleet of ballistic missile submarines as well as long range B-2 and B-52 bombers also capable of launching nuclear weapons. Smaller nuclear weapons can be carried by U.S. Air Force fighter jets.

According to the latest Pentagon statement, “Secretary Mattis directed the commencement of the review, which will be led by the deputy secretary of defense and the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and include interagency partners. The process will culminate in a final report to the president by the end of the year.”

[The statement comes after] the latest failed North Korean. On [April 17] he visited the Demilitarized Zone on the border between North and South and warned the rogue communist regime against conducting further tests.

“There was a period of strategic patience. But the era of strategic patience is over. President Trump has made it clear that the patience of the United States and our allies in this region has run out, and we want to see change,” Pence said.

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THE RISE OF GERMANY 1871 – 1914 – A VIEW FROM CHINA

April 18, 2017

Washington Times on April 9, 2017, published a review by Martin Rubin of a book by the deputy director of the Institute for Strategic Studies at Beijing’s National Defense University, Xu Qiyu on the rise of Germany from the uniting of the German states to the World War I (”Fragile Rise: Grand Strategy and the Fate of Imperial Germany, 1871 – 1914”, The MIT Press, 341 pages). At this point it is of interest that there is interest in Beijing in this fateful European development leading to world war. Excerpts below:

Inevitably, though, given the current geopolitical scene and the common feeling about the threat posed by China’s extraordinary rise to the future of the United States as the world’s dominant superpower, its discussion of Germany’s challenge to the Pax Britannica, which had held sway for a century, will be read as a kind of allegory of today’s situation.

Lest anyone miss this in Xu’s own text — and despite his suppleness as a writer few American readers will do so — the foreword by Graham Allison, a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School, makes it plain:

“Although Xu refrains from stating them explicitly, ‘Fragile Rise’ holds a number of important lessons for the rise of China in our own time. China’s rapidly growing economic and military power will inevitably create structural stress between China and the United States Whatever the intentions of leaders of both nations, they will have to recognize and manage the risks that inevitably accompany changes in the international balance of power.

‘Fragile Rise’ provides an important clue for Chinese leaders hoping to negotiate the structural stress created by their country’s ascendance.”

…the book’s translator, Joshua Hill, an assistant professor of history at Ohio University, lays it on…plainly:

“Make no mistake — ‘Fragile Rise’ is profoundly about contemporary. China As Xu Qiyu wrote on the original cover ‘When it is difficult to see clearly into the future, looking back to history, even the history of other peoples, might be the right choice.’

The reference to Bismarck is telling, for I think it is fair to say that if “Fragile Rise” has a hero it is Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, who created the German Empire and whose wise leadership and diplomatic skills took it from strength to strength under its first Emperor Wilhelm I for nearly two decades.

China with its rigid party structure shares the authoritarianism which may well have — and had — inherent seeds of catastrophic choices.

There are at least as many differences and similarities between the past and present challenges to the prevailing ones. As we see in the sad end of “Fragile Rise,” the complex intertwined familial connections between the rulers of the monarchies that went to war in 1914 counted for little when push came to strategic shove. Common adversaries and different sorts of links between the United States and China may well prove to be similarly irrelevant.

Martin Rubin is a writer and critic in Pasadena, California.

Comment: The U.S. relationship with China was during the Cold War influenced by geostrategic interests. President Ronald Reagan once stated that the Red Chinese were a bunch of murdering bums. But there was a big chess game going on.

Since the fall of the Soviet empire interests have almost become altogether commercial.

National security interests have not counted for much during Democratic administrations post-1991. There have been some efforts by America to focus more on the rise of China but greater efforts are needed. One can only hope that the present U.S. administration is learning from history. It is not only the experience of the past rise of Germany (once predicted by American geopolitician Homer Lea). The rise of Japan was to a great extent neglected by the United States. Homer Lea also brought up the Japanese threat. His book on the subject was ignored. The Pearl Harbor happened.

The blind financing of China in the hope that this communist regime will voluntarily give up power can one day come back to haunt the United States and the rest of the West.

EMPIRE FOR LIBERTY – PURCHASING ALASKA 150 YEARS AGO

April 2, 2017

”We should have such an Empire for Liberty as [the world] has never surveyed since the Creation…” wrote Thomas Jefferson to James Madison on April 27, 1809. After the defeat of Soviet communism in 1991 the United States has been an unchallenged hegemon in the world. Now it is challenged by three empires on the World Island: China, Russia and Iran/Persia. As America is promoting liberty it must not sacrifice the liberties it has at home. To continue to function as the strong defender of the West America must also heed the warnings of Jefferson. It must not be entangled in a profusion of treaties and institutions that will serve only to hinder it from defending its moral and national security interests. That is why the Iran deal of Obama was wrong and could only strengthen Iran to continue its attacks on the United States (and Israel).

The purchase of Alaska in 1867 (celebrated in 2017) marked the end of Russian efforts to increase its imperial and colonial expansion to the East. For America it was the beginning of its rise in the Asia-Pacific. In 1725 Peter I sent the Dane Vitus Bering to explore the area around the strait that would later be named the Bering Strait. America had expanded over the continent to the west during the first half of the 19th century. It then had to compete with Russian traders. Fortunately the Russian empire lacked the financial resources to establish a heavy military presence in what was called Russian America.

Russia therefore in 1859 wanted to sell Alaska to the United States in 1859 but the American Civil War delayed the sale. It was not until after the war that Secretary of State William Seward agreed on March 30, 1867, to purchase Alaska for $7.2 million. The Senate approved the treaty of purchase and President Andrew Johnson signed the treaty on May 28.

It was however not until October 18, 1867 that United States formally took posession of the new territory in a ceremony in Sitka, Alaska. In 1884 a civil government was constituted. It was not until 1896 that a major gold deposit was discovered in the Yukon and made Alaska into a gateway to the goldfields.

The strategic importance of Alaska was discovered during World War II and the Cold War. In 1959 the territory joined the United States as a state.

This contribution will be followed by a sketch of the influence of admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan and his classical geopolitical works on the policy of the United States after 1890 to secure the Empire For Liberty of Jefferson.