Archive for the ‘GEOPOLITICS’ Category

THE COMING INVASION OF TAIWAN

October 22, 2017

A new important book ”The Chinese Invasion Threat, Taiwan’s Defense and America’s Strategy in Asia” by Ian Easton”, (Project 2049, US dollar 20.00, 389 pages) warns that China will be much more aggressive in the coming decades.On October 10, 2017, the book was reviewed in Washington Times by Richard D. Fisher Jr., a senior fellow with the International Assessment and Strategy Center. Excerpts below:

For the first time since the early 1950s China is close to being able to attempt its never-abandoned goal of conquering Taiwan.

[It is] the CCP’s fear of Taiwan’s strengthening democratic culture and identity [that it will make] peaceful “unification” unlikely while increasingly undermining the legitimacy of the CCP’s dictatorship. But politics may also be pressing current CCP and People’s Liberation Army (PLA) leader Xi Jinping; starting the “historic mission” of unification near the end of his second term in 2022 may help justify an unprecedented third term as leader.

Using PLA-related publications with restricted access in China Mr. Easton provides new insights into the details, deliberations, planning and even some doubts of PLA invasion planners. He details an expansive PLA order of battle, modernized with advanced intelligence, information capabilities, and fourth-generation weapon systems, which soon will be more fully prepared for rapid offensive operations.

He notes the PLA is prepared to mobilize large numbers of civilian cargo ships and aircraft to supplement formal PLA invasion transport. His review of PLA sources shows they are well aware of the challenges, such as the need for surprise and favorable weather in the tricky Taiwan Strait. The PLA knows it must capture vital ports and airfields quickly to surge follow-on forces. Some of these PLA source estimate 1 million troops may be needed, especially to fight grueling urban campaigns against Taiwan’s defenders, who they do not expect to surrender.

Mr. Easton points out that CCP control of Taiwan will pose an immediate threat to Japan — PLA planners note that from occupied Taiwan they could quickly reduce Japan’s foreign trade by 30 percent.

After seizing Taiwan, could China come to lead an anti-democratic coalition with America as its main target.

[The author] details how Taiwan has used recent decades to build a fortress that could hold out for a considerable period. But what vexes both PLA and Taiwanese planners is the potential reaction of the United States to a PLA invasion campaign. For Taipei, will the U.S. arrive soon enough, and for the PLA, can they both politically and militarily delay the U.S. rescue mission, perhaps by distracting and debilitating attacks of a cyber or kinetic nature?

There is still time to deter a Chinese attack. Washington may have less than 10 years, but much can be done to change the CCP-PLA’s deadly calculus. Mr. Easton recommends integrating Taiwan into U.S. security policy in Asia with the eventual goal of restoring full diplomatic relations.

Washington can also offer decisive arms sales, such as the fifth-generation F-35 fighter, and technology enabling Taiwan to build thousands of cheap cruise missiles, better to deter China’s invasion fleets.

Comment: There is growing unease concerning China. The American administration is conducting a review of China policy led by the National Security Council and the National Economic Council. Everything seems to be on the table but the focus is on economy more than security. The threat of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan should also be included.

China has during the past decade been waging an economic war against the United States. The Chinese state is subsidizing own companies and stealing American inventions on a grand scale. The forcing of technology transfers is creating a threat to the whole world trading system. America is not the only target. All foreign competitors are threatened.

There are now similarities between China and the Soviet Union in the 1980s. It is necessary for groups outside the US administration to wake up the West and help change thinking in the United States and Europe about China. Foreign policy is seldom of importance in the West during elections. This need to be changed in the coming 2018 and 2020 American elections. The present thinking about China as a friend or partner is wrong. The West must consider if the Chinese Communist Party is an economic enemy.

Geopolitically China may be considering forming an Eurasian coalition against the United States. So far experts in the field of geopolitics have concentrated on the influence of Alfred Thayer Mahan on Peking geostrategy. Most likely both Sir Halford Mackinder and Nicholas Spykman are classical geopolitical theorists China will be looking at.

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THE UNITED STATES STANDS AGAINST IRANIAN THREAT TO THE WEST

October 14, 2017

Fox News on October 13, 2017, reported on President Trumps announcement that he will decertify the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Excerpts below:

…he believes the “radical regime” has committed multiple violations of the agreement as he kicked a decision over whether to restore sanctions back to Congress.

“I am announcing today that we cannot and will not make this certification,” Trump said during a speech at the White House. “We will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror, and the very real threat of Iran’s nuclear breakthrough.”

…the president threatened that he could still ultimately pull out of the deal.

“In the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, the agreement will be terminated,” he said. “It is under continuous review and our participation can be canceled by me as president at any time.”

In making his decision, Trump said, “Iran is not living up to the spirit of the deal.” Among other alleged violations, Trump said Iran failed to meet expectations in its operation of advanced centrifuges and intimidated international inspectors into not using their full authority.

The president also slammed sunset provisions in the deal itself, complaining that the U.S. got a “weak inspection” in exchange for a “short-term” delay in Iran’s nuclear progress.

Trump, meanwhile, announced plans to take action against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, authorizing the Treasury Department to impose targeted sanctions against “its officials, agents, and affiliates.”

In his broadside against the Iranian regime, the president said it “remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism,” accusing it of providing assistance to Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Hezbollah and other terrorist networks.

The president accused Iran of developing missiles that threaten American troops and allies and imprisoning Americans “on false charges.”

“Given the regime’s murderous past and present, we should not take lightly its sinister vision for the future,” Trump said. “The regimes two favorite chants are ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel.’”

The National Resistance Council of Iran, an offshoot organization of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK), praised Trump’s move in support of the de-certification.

Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), welcomed the new U.S. policy to “condemn the IRGC’s gross violations of human rights” in Iran.

“The IRGC is a prime means of suppression, execution, and torture in Iran, spreading terrorism throughout the world, war mongering and massacre in the region, the drive for acquiring nuclear weapons, and the increase in the proliferation of ballistic missiles,” she said. “If the IRGC had been recognized as a terrorist entity earlier and dealt with accordingly, the current situation in the region in general, and Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and Afghanistan in particular, would have been totally different.”

Republicans are calling for new legislation that addresses the “flaws” of the agreement.

“Lawmakers need to do now what we couldn’t do two years ago: unite around an Iran strategy that truly stops Iran’s nuclear weapons program and empowers the United States and our allies to combat the full spectrum of Iran’s imperial aggression,” Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said in a statement.

Former Republican House Speaker and historian Newt Gingrich on Fox News on October 13, 2017, said that President Donald Trump decided to “decertify” the Iran nuclear deal because the administration understands that Iran has long been the United States’ “mortal enemy.”

He said that Trump and his national security team methodically thought this through, and they arrived at the correct decision.

He said he expects Trump to adopt a more aggressive strategy toward Iran, including targeting the Revolutionary Guard, the nation’s most powerful security institution.

“And that is going to enrage the Iranians,” Gingrich said. “They’ve bluffed Westerners over and over again, starting with Jimmy Carter in 1979. And now – just like the North Koreans – they’re running into somebody who’s not bluffable.”

In a speech on October 12, 2017, CIA Director Mike Pompeo at the University of Texas castigated Iran calling it a ”thuggish police state” and comparing it to the Islamic State as reported by the Washington Free Beacon”. Excerpts below:

“Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are the cudgels of a despotic theocracy, with the IRGC accountable only to a Supreme Leader,” Pompeo said. “They’re the vanguard of a pernicious empire that is expanding its power and influence across the Middle East.”

He also suggested that the IRGC is becoming bolder in its operations.

“In recent years, the IRGC has become more reckless and provocative, seeking to exploit the vacuum left by instability in the Middle East to aggressively expand its influence,” he added. “It openly vows to annihilate Israel. And when you look at the death and destruction inflicted in Syria, Yemen, and Iraq by Tehran and its proxies, the threat is clear: Iran is mounting a ruthless drive to be the hegemonic power in the region.”

“…unlike ISIS and its mirage of a caliphate, Iran is a powerful nation-state that remains the world’s largest state-sponsor of terrorism. The Islamic Republic is Iran’s version of what the caliphate ought to look like under the control of an Ayatollah and his praetorian guard, the IRGC,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo also argued the IRGC had previously attempted to orchestrate a terrorist attack in Washington, D.C. and suggested a U.S. serviceman was killed by an IED linked to Iran.

As for Iran’s complicity in attacks using IEDs, or improvised explosive devices, Pompeo mentioned the possibility that a Tyler, Texas, soldier had been killed this month by Iranian weapon, noting he had been killed “in an area controlled by a Shia militia aligned with Iran.”

The Washington Free Beacon on October 13, 2017, reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saluted President Donald Trump’s “courageous decision” to decertify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal…, saying that if the agreement was unchanged Iran would wind up with an “arsenal” of nuclear weapons. Excerpts below:

“President Trump has just created an opportunity to fix this bad deal, to roll back Iran’s aggression, and to confront its criminal support of terrorism. That’s why Israel embraces this opportunity, and that’s why every responsible government and any person concerned with the peace and security of the world should do so as well.”

RULE BY SOCIAL DEMOCRACY IN THE WEST MEANS CONTINUED DECLINE

October 9, 2017

The Guardian (UK) on September 29, 2017, published an article, (”The right is rising and social democracy is dying across Europe – but why”) by Josef Joffe, a German editor of the journal Die Zeit and American academic (Hoover Institution, Stanford University). A similar article by Joffe but on the global implications of this trend can be found on-line at the journal American Conservative (”The Relentless Decline of the Social Democracy in the West”) in October 2017.

It is an important subject. For excerpts from the Guardian article see below:

To put it brutally, the reformist left is losing its customer base

The common denominator is resentment and protest.

…these sentiments highlight a…bigger picture: the precipitous decline of those large centre-left parties…that have governed…Europe since the second world war.

The[German Social Democratic Party] SPD is battling long-term decay. Here, too, Germany is not alone; the signs of decline for social democracy stretch across Europe.

In Italy, the once mighty Italian Socialist party (PSI) is no more. The Socialist party in France used to be strong…In this year’s presidential race, they captured only 6.4% in the first round. In Scandinavia, the moderate left has taken a beating.

The Dutch Labour party (PvdA) has plunged from 19% to less than 6% in five years. A similar fate has befallen Greece’s Pasok. To take in the whole panorama, imagine a map of Europe. Twenty years ago, the map was mainly covered in red, the traditional colour of social democracy. Today, only five countries are inked in red. (Comment: one of these five countries is the small island of Malta in the Mediterranean).

Then look farther afield. At first sight, Britain sticks out as the great exception because Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour almost edged out the Tories in the June election. Arguably, the verdict was more anti-May than pro-Labour.

In the US, the Democrats seem to fare much better, given their majority of the popular vote in 2016. Now look again, at middle America. Since Barack Obama’s first victory, the Republicans have gained 1,000 additional seats in the state legislatures, and 34 out of 50 governors are Republicans.

What happened?

Historically, social democrats rose to power in tandem with a rising working class. Now, this once mighty force is shrinking along with manufacturing as a share of GDP. In the past 50 years, that portion has roughly dropped from 35% to 15% throughout the West. To put it brutally, the reformist left is losing its customer base, and it shows in all recent elections.

It is also losing its unique selling point, which is redistribution and the all-providing state. Take Martin Schulz, the SPD’s hapless candidate for chancellor. His message was “social justice” – taking from the rich to help the poor through taxes and benefits. But today’s German workers are middle class, and the highest tax bracket bites at €50,000 – the salary of an upper-level teacher or skilled worker.

These folks do not look forward to more taxation – not in a country where the government takes in almost half of GDP…So the SPD must find another selling point. Yet the SPD is trapped by its traditions.

Comment: It is important to consider the Scandinavian countries. These were once the core of European social democracy. Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden were for decades ruled by social democratic parties sometimes with the support in parliament by communist parties. In 2017 the scene is different. The center right is ruling in Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Finland. Sweden is the only exception. The reason for social democratic rule in Sweden is not that voters like overwhelming state influence in most sectors. In the 2014 elections the voters had lost confidence in the center right alternative. In 2017 the center right parties have not regained the confidence they had from 2006 to 2014. They may still have chance in the 2018 elections but must shape up. The Swedish Social Democratic Party (SAP) is in the fall of 2017 supported by around 30 percent of the electorate. The party should be down at around 20 percent like the German SPD.

In general terms the way forward in the West is not a moderate reformist brand of socialism. What saved Sweden between 2006 and 2014 was a center right government that lowered taxes and introduced pro-enterprise reforms. Like Germany Sweden is an exporting country and SAP has been able to remain in power thanks to the reforms of non-socialist parties and a fairly strong economy in Europe. The relentless decline of social democracy will most likely continue in the West. Rule by social democratic parties in America and Europe can only mean continued decline of the West. One can only wish that the present trend of social democratic parties on both sides of the Atlantic will continue.

OPENING OF ARCTIC SHIPPING ROUTES IS CONTINUING

August 28, 2017

Fox News on August 23, 2017, published an article on how the warming Arctic spurs hunt for riches. The opening of new shipping routes is important. Excerpts below:

From a distance, the northern shores of Baffin Island in the Arctic appear barren — a craggy world of snow-capped peaks and glaciers surrounded by a sea of floating ice even in the midst of summer.

Yet beneath the forbidding surface of the world’s fifth largest island lies a vast treasure in the shape of an exceptionally pure strain of iron ore. The Baffinland mine, part-owned by a local company and ArcelorMittal, one of the world’s biggest steel producers, is believed to hold enough ore to feed smelters for decades.

As climate change pushes the cold and ice a little farther north each year, it is spurring talk of a gold rush for the Arctic’s abundant natural resources, prized shipping routes and business opportunities in tourism and fishing. In April, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order to reverse Obama-era restrictions on oil drilling.

The U.S. Geological Survey has estimated that up to 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered gas and 13 percent of oil waiting to be found are inside the Arctic Circle.

Coal, diamonds, uranium, phosphate, nickel, platinum and other precious minerals also slumber beneath the icy surface of the Arctic, according to Morten Smelror, director of the Geological Survey of Norway.

“The Arctic is certainly among the last frontiers with respect to undiscovered mineral resources, along with the deep oceans,” said Smelror.

Apart from natural resources, the geography of the Arctic also opens up new opportunities. Sailing through the Northwest Passage could potentially cut the distance from East Asia to Western Europe by more than 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles), compared with the traditional route through the Panama Canal, offering huge fuel savings for shipping companies.

In general, the United States is taking a back seat for now. Washington has yet to ratify the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea that would regulate territorial disputes, due to concerns among some senators that submitting to international treaties would impinge on U.S. sovereignty.

Despite competing claims and tough talk to home audiences, Arctic nations are cooperating well with each other, said Rachael Lorna Johnstone, a professor of law at the University of Akureyri in Iceland.

“Everyone is following the rulebook,” she said.

Some smaller firms are pressing ahead with business in the Arctic. The Alaska-based company Quintillion is laying a fiber optic cable through the Northwest Passage to provide high-speed Internet traffic to local communities. It would also establish an additional link between London and Tokyo — where two of the world’s main stock markets are located.

The growth in adventure tourism and the lengthening summer season have produced a surge of traffic over the past decade. Last year, the cruise ship Crystal Serenity with 500 crew and 1,100 passengers paying at least $22,000 each for a four-week journey sailed through the passage.

Climate change is even opening new avenues in agriculture. Mette Bendixen, a climate researcher at the University of Copenhagen, projects that global warming will continue into the 21st century, extending the growing season by two months.

“Not many people know that potatoes, strawberries are grown in southern Greenland,” he said.

Despite its promise, there are several challenges holding back the development of parts of the Arctic and the use of its resources.

While Russia and Norway are pressing ahead with new oil and gas projects along their coastlines, the seas off Alaska and northern Canada are much less accessible and any major spill would be difficult and costly to contain.

Shell relinquished most of its federal offshore leases in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea last year, after pouring billions of dollars into exploration efforts over the past decade. Former Shell leases in the neighboring Beaufort Sea have been taken over by an Alaska Native-owned company.

The rugged nature of the Arctic also slows development. Only 10 percent of the Northwest Passage is surveyed to the highest modern standards, meaning uncharted shallows could pose a serious risk to shipping.

Cargo hauls to the Baffinland iron ore mine are already restricted to August to mid-October, so as not to disrupt the Inuit’s ability to cross the ice to hunt, fish or trade. Such rules recognize the growing assertiveness of the region’s original inhabitants for a share of its riches, including the protection of local hunting grounds for seals and walruses.

Daria Gritsenko, a public policy researcher traveling on board the icebreaker Nordica, cautioned that any economic excitement about global warming opening up the Arctic needs to be tempered by an understanding of the risks.

BBC on August 24, 2017, reported that the first tanker had passed through the Northeast passage without aid of an icebreaker. Excerpts below:

The specially-built ship completed the crossing in just six-and-a-half days setting a new record, according to the tanker’s Russian owners.

The 300-metre-long Sovcomflot ship, the Christophe de Margerie, was carrying gas from Norway to South Korea.

Rising Arctic temperatures are boosting commercial shipping across this route.

The Christophe de Margerie is the world’s first and, at present, only ice-breaking LNG carrier.

The ship, which features a lightweight steel reinforced hull, is the largest commercial ship to receive Arc7 certification, which means it is capable of travelling through ice up to 2.1m thick.

On this trip it was able to keep up an average speed of 14 knots despite sailing through ice that was over one metre thick in places.

In 2016, the northern sea route saw 19 full transits from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

High insurance and large fees for Russian ice-breakers are still discouraging some ship owners from the riskier northern route. But the economic benefits are attractive – the Christophe de Margerie took just 19 days for the entire voyage, around 30% faster than going by Suez.

There has been an overall decline in Arctic sea ice over the past 30 years, linked by scientists to rising global temperatures. This year, according to the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC), the annual maximum extent of Arctic sea ice hit a record low for the third year in a row.

U.S REACTING TO CHINA ECONOMIC WARFARE

August 26, 2017

On August 24, 2017 The Diplomat published an article on the US Section 301 investigation into China’s intellectual properaty (IP). Excerpts below:

The typology of U.S. trade concerns regarding Chinese appropriation includes:

China encourages/requires joint ventures between U.S. and Chinese firms that include technology transfer, in order to give U.S. firms access to the Chinese market, and the Chinese workforce.

China’s new cybersecurity procedures force U.S. tech companies to turn over proprietary data and code to the Chinese government in order to operate within China.

China’s failure to enforce extant IP law enables theft of trade secrets.

Chinese investment in technology firms around the world gives it access to cutting edge technology.

Action against China is broadly popular in the United States [but]Washington has thus far hesitated out of a hope of gaining Beijing’s cooperation on North Korea…

There are however more concerns in the West than China stealing trade secrets as described above by The Diplomat. The regime in Beijing is actively seeking to dominate manufacturing and processing industries. In Canada and Africa there is concern over attempts of growing Chinese influence operations that sometimes look more like colonization efforts. Finally China is already dominationg global pricing in lithium, rare earths, copper, steel, nickel and iron.

In Waskington Free Beacon Bill Gertz commented on China’s theft of intellectual property on August 15, 2017. Excerpts below:

“We’re going to be fulfilling another campaign promise by taking firm steps to ensure that we protect the intellectual property of American companies and, very importantly, of American workers,” Trump said in signing a memorandum for U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer.

The directive will set the stage for an investigation into trade practices that require U.S. companies operating in China to provide intellectual property to the Chinese government.

If a formal investigation is launched, it could take several years and potentially result in the imposition of economic sanctions on China.

The president’s action on predatory Chinese trade practices follows the failure by Beijing to rein in its communist ally North Korea.

In July, Trump tweeted, “I am very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk.”

The memorandum calls on the USTR office to probe China’s policies, practices, and action regarding forced transfers of American technology and the theft of American intellectual property.

The inquiry could result in a formal 301 investigation, so called after Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act.

The law gives the president broad power, including retaliation, to punish foreign governments that violate international trade agreements or used unreasonable and discriminatory practices that restrict U.S. commerce.

Trump said Lighthizer was empowered to consider all available options in dealing with the problem.

“We will safeguard the copyrights, patents, trademarks, trade secrets, and other intellectual property that is so vital to our security and to our prosperity,” the president said.

Trump then added: “And this is just the beginning. I want to tell you that. This is just the beginning.”

American firms in China have long complained that China requires all U.S. companies operating in the country to provide valuable information that is often then provided to Chinese competitors.

According to business people working in China, many of the Chinese regulations are selectively enforced and used to coerce companies into cooperating with Chinese firms.

Chinese intelligence services also employ hackers who have exploited the Chinese telecommunications system to steal technology in cyber attacks.

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a science and technology think tank, praised the president’s action.

Robert D. Atkinson, the foundation’s president, said Chinese trade practices subvert global trade rules and harm the U.S. economy.

“Simply put, China is an innovation mercantilist,” he said. “It tries to gain advantage in strategically important industries by using dubious policies and practices such as coercing competitors into handing over proprietary technologies and intellectual property.”

Atkinson criticized the U.S. government for not doing more to help American businesses in China. “The U.S. response has been to engage in a seemingly endless cycle of ministerial dialogues that mostly have succeeded in eliciting empty promises that China will change its behavior,” he said.

American Enterprise Institute expert Derek Scissors said a 301 investigation would be an important first step in countering predatory Chinese economic policies.

“The coercive transfer and theft of intellectual property may be the single biggest economic harm China inflicts on the U.S.,” Scissors said. “Beijing’s policy has been clear and sustained: acquire others’ innovation by all means available.”

China conducts intellectual property theft through a combination of legal purchase, coerced transfer of intellectual property, and outright theft, he added.

Former National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander noted that five years ago he declared that the theft of American intellectual property was the greatest transfer of wealth in history.

“I believe that statement is even more true today,” Alexander said. “Protecting American innovators is essential to the United States’ economic and national security. This presidential action is an important step towards stopping the theft and forced transfers of American intellectual property, and I support the president in his actions today.”

Michael Pillsbury, director of the Center on Chinese Strategy at The Hudson Institute, also supported the action.

“China’s attack on U.S. intellectual property is a national security challenge of the first order, as well as a persistent check on our economic growth,” Pillsbury said.

THE WEST NEEDS STRONGER ANTI-MISSILE DEFENSE

August 24, 2017

The ongoing threats of North Korea against the West makes it clear how the US Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) has been neglected since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

In his book ”We Must Defend America – A New Strategy for National Survival” (1983) Lt. General Daniel O. Graham wanted a spaceborne defense for the United States called for the development of a range of weapons. At the center of these proposals was the Global Ballistic Missile Defense I (GBMD I) with 200 – 300 satellites. Each satellite needed a frame, a computer, a sensor, a communications package, a rocket motor and 40-50 small rockets to intercept enemy missiles. The satellites could detect missiles about 1,000 miles ahead.

A GBMD II would be capable of destroying missiles from the first seven minutes of the launch.

Today, almost 30 years later, all thay exists to defend against North Korean and other long range missiles of other challengers to the West is 4 interceptors in California and 32 in Alaska. More of these GMD interceptors are needed as a first step.

A more effective defense than GMD would be a system to shoot down missiles in the initial ”boost” phase, when they move more slowly.

There are today more dangerous challengers to the West than North Korea namely Russia, China and Iran. The need for interceptors in Europe is greater than ever before. From Estonia at the Baltic Sea to Bulgaria at the Black Sea a line of defense against missiles and later more advanced systems should be created. This could be within the framework of NATO.

For European NATO countries the defense line must consist of systems capable of shooting down shorter-range missiles. Also the sea-based Aegis system is of interest .

In the case of China its maritime interests have in the latest decades been i nlocal waters. Now China is expanding into the Pacific Ocean. China’s ally has recently started to threaten Guam, one of the most important American bases in the Pacific.

Varldsinbordeskriget has earlier focused on the strategic importance of American bases in the Pacific. American policy in the Pacific must continue to be based on Alfred Thayer Mahan’s precepts: forward operation bases, positioning assets around choke- points and main sealanes, deploying a navy presence on all seas, and maintaining the capability to intervene at key geostrategic points.

American strategic thinking is further influenced by geopolitician Homer Lea. In his books The Valor of Ignorance and The Day of the Saxon, Lea regarded frontiers as mobile lines. Among these lines would be:

• Japan-Guam-Philippines-Australia.

• Alaska/Aleutian Islands-Hawaii-Samoa.

Lea insisted on the need to rely on forward operation bases in the form of a triangle. “Strategic geometry” was the key principle on which much of his work was based, a strategy that translates quite well into what is currently taking place in the Asia-Pacific region. His argument is that there is a need to take into account:

• The number of triangles the bases will form.

• The frequency with which the main base is at the intersection of these triangles.

• The presence or not of enemy bases inside this network.

• The increase of maritime power leading to an increase in the number of bases.

By forming numerous triangles with Guam as the potential center or node, the United States has actually executing the argument presented by Lea.

Guam as perhaps the most important staging post, allowing rapid access to potential flashpoints in the Koreas and in the Taiwan Strait.

Andersen Air Force Base on Guam was used by B-52 bombers during the Vietnam War in the early 1970s. Nuclear attack submarines are based on the island.

The historic background is that Guam was ceded to the US in 1898 after the Spanish-American War.

The North Korean threat to Guam in 2017 show that the dictators in Beijing and Pyongyang are probing ways of expansion into the Pacific.

TIME FOR EUROPE TO ALIGN ITSELF WITH THE US

June 19, 2017

Fox News on June 18, 2017, published a commentary by former Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi on the need for the West to unite to stop Iranian missile tests. Excerpts below:

Since the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany concluded their nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic of Iran, several Iranian ballistic missile tests have been carried out.

Even though such tests are plain violations of a UN Security Council resolution that accompanied implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the global media and the nations of Europe have given unfortunately little attention to the issue. Under the previous administration, the White House downplayed such activities, which are obvious violations of the spirit of the closely-guarded JCPOA.

President Donald Trump is, rightly, developing an assertive policy toward the Islamic Republic…the White House has moved to new sanctions on the ballistic missile program. The U.S. Senate voted almost unanimously [on June 16] to impose new sanctions on Iran (and Russia) for its missile program among other activities.

…The European governments must quickly follow suit. The EU and the global media have been slow to adapt to the new geopolitical reality, and Tehran remains barely deterred from its brazenness.

…Iran’s illicit tests demonstrate the capability of hitting Israel and Western assets throughout the Arab world. It is little wonder, then, that Israel, Saudi Arabia and others expressed mutual anxiety about the growth of Iranian power and influence on the occasion of President Trump’s recent visit to the region.

The EU has remained reluctant and hesitant about standing up to Iran’s destabilizing behavior and disregard for international rules. This has much to do with a false narrative and the political environment encouraged by the JCPOA.

The multiple functions of the IRGC also call attention to the fact that Iranian missile development does not exist in isolation. It has an impact on the types of capabilities that Iran is able to share with other entities which pose significant threats on their own. It is thanks to Iranian missiles that the Houthi rebels in Yemen have been able to penetrate deep into Saudi Arabian territory and target Western vessels around the Arabian Peninsula. The Islamic Republic also has a record of arming Lebanese Hezbollah, their proxies in Iraq and Syria, and Palestinian terrorist organizations like Hamas and Islamic Jihad which Tehran directly controls.

The White House is engaging in a more assertive policy vis-a-vis Iran. European policymakers and public opinion must do their part. They should exert pressure on the EU and its national governments before their laxity leads to Iran taking a central role in a much larger crisis.

This message will be emphasized on July 1 when the National Council of Resistance of Iran holds its Iran Freedom rally [in Europe]…As on previous occasions – and even more now in an increasingly unstable Iranian environment – millions of Iranians will follow the event via satellite, taking personal risks, as a clear indication that the Iranian people support the NCRI and the measures the Council suggests.

“The Iranian regime’s longest-suffering victims are its own people,” President Trump said during his May visit to Saudi Arabia. “Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism.” But terrorism is not the only issue. The regime’s weapons development must be severely constrained. And European nations need to get on board.

Giulio Terzi, former Foreign Minister of Italy, is a member of United Against Nuclear Iran’s Advisory board.

Comment: Mr. Terzi believes in the importance of placing radicalization and violent extremism at the center of the political debate in the West. It should create a shared political framework for the military engagement against ISIS and effective programs to counter radicalization in Muslim communities inside Europe and the U.S.

He has furthermore compared the current situation to the “war of moral and ideals” that the West faced before the fall of the Berlin Wall.

In speeches Terzi has emphasized the magnitude of the threat that Iran and its militias represent to the West. ISIS is distracting the West from the robust and extensive network that Iran has developed to promote extremism and anti-Western sentiment. A number, he said, of Muslim institutions in Europe are associated with Iran and promote anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli sentiments. Terzio has also warned against doing business with Tehran as the regime is funding terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and others.

UNDERSTANDING CLASSICAL GEOPOLITICS: GEOGRAPHY; HISTORY AND STRATEGY

June 11, 2017

Professor Geoffrey Sloan of the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Reading, UK, is a leading British geopolitical theorist. In 1988 he published one of the best books available on United States strategic policy: “Geopolitics in United States Strategic Policy 1890-1987”.

Using the theories of Alfred Thayer Mahan and the less known American General Homer Lea Sloan in this path-breaking book offered important insights into US strategic policy since 1890. Mahan had examined the relation between the action of a navy concerning political control of the sea and the effect a powerful navy had on foreign policy. From this he predicted the role that a powerful navy could have on the foreign policy of the United States. Homer Lea formulated laws from which political aims and objectives to a certain degree could be deduced.

In the first law Lea maintained that the security of an insular power was not measured in number of warships. Instead it was the ability to control the coasts around which it is situated. Preventing the superiority of any state on the external shores of the sea in which it is located was an important part of the second law. That a continental state with access to the sea would eventually become a more powerful maritime power than the insular sea-power was the third law. Importantly Lea drew attention to the problems American policymakers would face if attempting political expansion in the Pacific Ocean.

30 years later Professor Sloan is now back with an excellent new book which will likely remain central to all future analysis of classical geopolitics, “Geopolitics, Geography and Strategic History” (Routledge, 2017). It is published in the Geopolitical Theory Series which revisits the classical geopolitical theories of the twentieth century. In the most important section of the book the author presents a Trinitarian perspective on geopolitics. It is a science that draws from three different academic disciplines: geography, strategic studies and history.

Most important of these, as seen by this reviewer, is geography. Other modern geopolitical theorists have claimed that geography has shaped the world of today. It will in the future continue to shape the world in the midst of enormous changes. To illustrate the importance of geography and maps Sloan quotes John Hillen, former US assistant Secretary of State (2005-2007), who offers a corrective to the existing cacophony of sentiments, assumptions and utopian fixes of all worldviews in present strategic commentary:

“The answer should be the map – literally, the physical map, and more broadly, geopolitics classically defined, which of course has political geography at its root…Of course, the map doesn’t spit out easy answers…but geopolitical realities – can point one in a very sound direction.”

Sloan describes strategic studies as an examination of interaction between or among adversaries, engaging in conflict, potential or realized. It very often is focusing on stratagems for attaining victory. Sun Tzu’s book “The Art of War” (around 400 BC) is mentioned and it is noted that surprise, deception and propaganda are most essential processes.

On history Sloan is less clear when it comes to the relation to geopolitics. He believes history could be a guide enabling an observer to describe and analyse conflicts in the past or break out in the present. It could also possibly predict future conflicts and how to find resolutions to end them. Unfortunately he is not delving in detail on the use of history in geopolitics. It had been interesting to learn more about his views on macro-history and its leading scholars such as Arnold Toynbee and Oswald Spengler.

Robert D. Kaplan in one of his latest books on geopolitics claims that he is on “dangerous ground in raising geography on a pedestal”. He quotes Isaiah Berlin’s admonition in “Historical Inevitability” (1953) who condemned it as “immoral and cowardly” to claim that vast impersonal forces like geography determined the direction of world politics. Kaplan, however, goes on to present Herodotus as a geopolitician before classical geopolitics of the twentieth century.

Sloan’s new book continues with an excellent presentation of the classical geopolitical theories of Halford Mackinder and Nicholas Spykman and concludes that their message is vital to strategic policy. Political predominance is not only about having power in a material sense but also how the geographical structure is exercised within that power.

Adding to the weight of the book are five highly interesting case studies in geopolitics of which four are historical and one contemporary. Rightly Sloan in his review of geopolitics in the United States during the Second World War points to the fact that geopolitics, geography and geostrategy permeated wartime United States in a remarkable way. Contributing to this was the republication of Mackinder’s book “Democratic Ideals and Reality” in 1942. In 1944 Penguin books published a paperback edition of the same book. Mackinder now also published a new book, “The Round World and the Winning of the Peace”. Here the British geopolitical theorist concluded that the Soviet Union was emerging from the Second World War to become a conqueror of Germany. As a result she would have to be ranked as the greatest land power on the globe. The Heartland is the greatest natural fortress on earth, so Mackinder. For the first time in history it is manned by a garrison sufficient both in number and quality. In this way Mackinder imagined the geopolitical structure of NATO.

Just three weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor Spykman at a joint session of the Association of American geographers and the American Political Science Association called for a complete change of policy. After the end of the war the rimland powers of Germany and Japan would have to become allies of the United States to counter Russian expansionism. Spykman’s wartime contribution was the book “America’s Strategy in World Politics”. In this work he drew attention to the impact of the Eurasian power balance on American security.

In the American military it was deemed necessary to educate soldiers in geography, geopolitics, world trade and the enemy’s social and political philosophy. General Ben Lear commanding the US 2nd Army was in the forefront organizing lectures and courses. There was a similar upsurge at American universities. In 1942 around 1,500 courses were given at the academic level. The concentration of geographers in Washington DC during the Second World War was unprecedented especially in the Office of Strategic Services, the War Department, the Foreign Economic Administration and the Department of State to mention a few.

Sloan’s case study of the geopolitics of China at the end of this new book is of great value. Too little has been written about China changing the geopolitical reality. Sloan mentions Andrew Small’s “The China-Pakistan Axis: Asia’s New Geopolitics” of 2015 and Robert Kaplan’s “Monsoon” of 2010 as exceptions.

The Asian superpower has been busy settling border disputes with northern neighbours signing agreements with Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. It can now concentrate on the south and the east.

China is presently according to Sloan presenting a new geopolitical reality of the Eurasian continent as it is in the process of becoming “a continental oceanic country” It is in Mackinder’s words fusing “oceanic frontage to the resources of the great continent”. He also argued that China could build a new civilization that would be neither Eastern nor Western.

China is in the process of making the twenty-first century very different from the previous one. This view of China is of great geopolitical significance but there are other possible scenarios concerning this superpower. Internal pressures and inequalities can cause it to fragment and the central government losing much power. A process of fragmentation may cause the central government to choose an aggressive policy of expansion. A result of fragmentation could also be that China splits into regional states thereby losing geopolitical influence.

Sloan’s book is a major contribution to geopolitical literature in this century and should be in all major academic and public libraries.

DEFENDING THE WEST: SOFT POWER IS NOT ENOUGH

June 9, 2017

Washington Times on June 6, 2017, published a review of an important new book by Professor Eliot A. Cohen on the necessity of military force in strategic policy. ”The Big Stick: The Limits of Soft Power and the Necessity of Military Force” (Basic Books, 2017) should be required reading for policy makers. Excerpts from Dan Negrea’s review below:

Professor Eliot A. Cohen, a Johns Hopkins University historian who served as an adviser in both the Defense and State Departments,…argues forcefully that strong American leadership is indispensable for peace and prosperity in the world, and relying on soft power alone to provide it is unrealistic.

Facts are stubborn, the reality of world conflicts is not pretty, and…leaders better be prepared to deal competently and unsentimentally with the tough decisions they must make.

The author’s overview of America’s adversaries starts with increasingly aggressive China, whose rapid economic and military rise he views as the most important international phenomenon of the 21st century. Still, China has many obstacles on the road to becoming a superpower and a weak strategic position because of its border disputes with every single one of its neighbors.

As for confronting al Qaeda, ISIL and other terrorist organizations, Mr. Cohen asks for clarity of purpose: We need to state plainly that their ideology is rooted in Islam and that we are engaged in a generational war to eradicate them. But he also believes that their barbarism limits their appeal and will eventually halt their momentum.

A chapter titled “Dangerous States” Cohen treats…adversaries [like Russia] and Iran They are…authoritarian, willing to use force, and economically fragile. And their nuclear weapons or nuclear aspirations are central to their national defense…[They] have a “paranoid style” in politics, with their media filled with presumed plots by enemies both foreign and domestic.

…America’s military spending dwarfs that of its opponents. Since it represents today just 3 percent of our GDP (compared to 8 percent in the Reagan years), America’s strategic solvency is high. Its many alliances are a critical asset that give it “an extraordinary global logistical infrastructure.” And considering its powerful economy, positive demographics and robust political system, the odds are that America will prevail: “No other country, or collection of countries, has a better hand to play in international politics.”

…this is a book about difficult decisions imposed by unforgiving facts. Diplomacy has an important place in the tool kit of statecraft, even when it requires political compromises with “odious regimes.” So does soft power, which, Mr. Cohen argues, is not always gentle: Sanctions, for example, can deprive a country’s poor of food and medicine.

But when all else fails, our leaders must make politically difficult decisions involving hard power. Like increasing military spending to at least 4 percent. Or like stationing troops for many years in areas of potential conflict, which worked well in the past: Leaving American troops for decades in Germany and South Korea helped those two war-torn nations find their way to democracy and prosperity. In the interest of global stability, today’s American politicians must find the courage to station American troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Poland and the Baltic states.

The ultimate hard power decisions, though, deal with going to war and even doing so preemptively. The most sobering passages of the book regard pre-emptive strikes, especially necessary if weapons of mass destruction fall into “utterly irresponsible hands.”

This is a lucid book about war by a man who loves peace…But he also knows that appeasing evil is not an option. Tragically, the world continues to add to what Churchill called the “dark and lamentable catalog of human crime.”

“The Big Stick” is a valuable resource for those trying to keep America’s flame of liberty burning bright in this stormy world.

Dan Negrea is a New York private equity investor.

KEEPING AMERICA SAFE AND STRONG

June 2, 2017

Washington Times on June 1, 2017 published a commentary by Wesley Pruden on President Trump’s abandoning of the Paris climate agreement. Excerpts below:

“As of today,” he said, “the United States will cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country. We’re getting out but we’ll start to negotiate and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair. And if we can, that’s great. And if we can’t, that’s fine.”

This was exactly what the 196 signers needed to hear, and the president told them without heat, bombast or blather.

The president thus makes good on one of his most important campaign promises, mocking the holy writ of global warming, or “climate change” as it’s called now because the globe refuses to warm as promised and all the dead polar bears are still not dead and the ocean that was supposed to have inundated the financial district of lower Manhattan by now, [is still above water].

The president sounds like the reasonable one now. “In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris accord for an entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States.” He identified several sectors of the American economy that would lose jobs and paychecks if the United States stays in the accord — 2.7 million jobs by 2025.

This puts a large dent in Barack Obama’s legacy, about which he can’t stop talking.

“The nations that remain in the Paris Agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created,” he said, trying to remember how to affect a presidential tone. “I believe the United States of America should be at the front of the pack. But even in the absence of American leadership, even as this administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future, I’m confident that our states, cities and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got.” This was a stunning exercise in disrespect for the one president we currently have, and for the office as well. Pittsburgh and Peoria with a foreign policy.

Mr. Trump’s critics are eager now to play holier than thou — even the pope, who had said earlier that if Mr. Trump withdrew from Paris the Vatican would take it as “a slap in the face.” Leonardo DiCaprio was disappointed, too, because he had earlier urged Mr. Trump to “make the moral position.” Moral tutelage from the Vatican and Hollywood on the very same day. Religiosity reigns, if only for the day.

But back where it counts, the president’s decision won praise from Republicans in Congress. “I applaud President Trump and his administration for dealing with yet another blow to the Obama administration’s assault on domestic energy production and jobs.” Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, chairman of the Senate Committee on the Environment, observed that “the Paris climate agreement set unworkable targets that put America at a competitive disadvantage.”

Whatever new agreement President Trump can make will be a treaty, and must, as the Constitution makes clear, be ratified by the Senate. Barack Obama, the famous professor of constitutional law, wouldn’t do that because he knew that the Paris agreement would never have made it through the Senate..

Wesley Pruden is editor in chief emeritus of The Times.

Comment:  The Paris climate agreement is an unequal treaty forcing the United States and other Western nations to pay for China’s heavy use of fossil fuels.  Conservatives in the United States have praised the president for his move.

Mike Needham, CEO of Heritage Action for America: [Trump is “not succumbing to pressure from special interests and cosmopolitan elites.”

“Withdrawal from the agreement marks a critical step in unraveling former President Obama’s destructive legacy,” President Trump’s decision is a win for both his administration and the American people.”

 

The Club for Growth:  [Trump’s decision put] “American taxpayers and businesses back in the driver’s seat.”

“For far too long the Obama Administration allowed foreign governments and alarmist environmentalists to dictate, not only climate change policy, but worse our nation’s economic policy,” President Trump’s decision sends a strong message to the environmentalist movement: no longer will the United States be strongarmed by their scare tactics intended to harm our economy and inhibit economic growth.”

 

Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute: [Trump is] “leading the world toward a brighter future.”

“The Paris Climate Agreement promises no measurable climate benefits at an incredible economic and political cost to Americans,” By getting out of the agreement, President Trump is leading the world toward a brighter future as low energy prices over the long-term will benefit consumers and energy-intensive industries.”