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 Géopolitique Mondiale

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MessageSujet: Géopolitique Mondiale   Géopolitique Mondiale - Page 8 Icon_minitimeSam 9 Mai 2015 - 9:54

Rappel du premier message :

Dans ce nouveau sujet je vous propose une mise en perspective géopolitique des différentes crises politiques ouvertes à travers le monde, pour en comprendre les origines, les moments clés et les enjeux.

Dans un contexte mondial très tendu ou les alliances se font et se défont et ou les enjeux dépassent souvent les simples faits médiatisés, je vous invite à partager les essais et analyses de différentes personnalités diplomatiques, politiques ou doctorants voir journalistes spécialisés, ainsi que les dossiers traitant des conflits dans un contexte géopolitique global et qu'on ne peut pas poster ailleurs comme simples actualités.

Pour commencer :

Citation :

The Geopolitics of World War III





The real reason Russia and Syria are being targeted right now.

Contrary to popular belief, the conduct of nations on the international stage is almost never driven by moral considerations, but rather by a shadowy cocktail of money and geopolitics. As such, when you see the mouthpieces of the ruling class begin to demonize a foreign country, the first question in your mind should always be "what is actually at stake here?"

For some time now Russia, China, Iran, and Syria have been in the cross hairs. Once you understand why, the events unfolding in the world right now will make much more sense.

The U.S. dollar is a unique currency. In fact its current design and its relationship to geopolitics is unlike any other in history. Though it has been the world reserve currency since 1944, this is not what makes it unique. Many currencies have held the reserve status off and on over the centuries, but what makes the dollar unique is the fact that since the early 1970s it has been, with a few notable exceptions, the only currency used to buy and sell oil on the global market.

Prior to 1971 the U.S. dollar was bound to the gold standard, at least officially. According to the IMF, by 1966, foreign central banks held $14 billion U.S. dollars, however the United States had only $3.2 billion in gold allocated to cover foreign holdings.

Translation: the Federal Reserve was printing more money than it could actually back.

The result was rampant inflation and a general flight from the dollar.

In 1971 in what later came to be called the "Nixon Shock" President Nixon removed the dollar from the gold standard completely.

At this point the dollar became a pure debt based currency. With debt based currencies money is literally loaned into existence.

Approximately 70% of the money in circulation is created by ordinary banks which are allowed to loan out more than they actually have in their accounts.
The rest is created by the Federal Reserve which loans money that they don't have, mostly to government.

Kind of like writing hot checks, except it's legal, for banks. This practice which is referred to as fractional reserve banking is supposedly regulated by the Federal Reserve, an institution which just happens to be owned and controlled by a conglomerate of banks, and no agency or branch of government regulates the Federal Reserve.



Now to make things even more interesting these fractional reserve loans have interest attached, but the money to pay that interest doesn't exist in the system. As a result there is always more total debt than there is money in circulation, and in order to stay afloat the economy must grow perpetually.

This is obviously not sustainable.

Now you might be wondering how the dollar has maintained such a dominant position on the world stage for over forty years if it's really little more than an elaborate ponzi scheme.

Well this is where the dollar meets geopolitics.

In 1973 under the shadow of the artificial OPEC oil crisis, the Nixon administration began secret negotiations with the government of Saudi Arabia to establish what came to be referred to as the petrodollar recycling system. Under the arrangement the Saudis would only sell their oil in U.S. dollars, and would invest the majority of their excess oil profits into U.S. banks and Capital markets. The IMF would then use this money to facilitate loans to oil importers who were having difficulties covering the increase in oil prices. The payments and interest on these loans would of course be denominated in U.S. dollars.

This agreement was formalized in the "The U.S.-Saudi Arabian Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation" put together by Nixon's Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 1974.

Another document released by the Congressional Research Service reveals that these negotiations had an edge to them, as U.S. officials were openly discussing the feasibility of seizing oil fields in Saudi Arabia militarily.

In the United States, the oil shocks produced inflation, new concern about foreign investment from oil producing countries, and open speculation about the advisability and feasibility of militarily seizing oil fields in Saudi Arabia or other countries. In the wake of the embargo, both Saudi and U.S. officials worked to re-anchor the bilateral relationship on the basis of shared opposition to Communism, renewed military cooperation, and through economic initiatives that promoted the recycling of Saudi petrodollars to the United States via Saudi investment in infrastructure, industrial expansion, and U.S. securities.

The system was expanded to include the rest of OPEC by 1975.

Though presented as buffer to the recessionary effects of rising oil prices, this arrangement had a hidden side effect. It removed the traditional restraints on U.S. monetary policy.

The Federal Reserve was now free to increase the money supply at will. The ever increasing demand for oil would would prevent a flight from the dollar, while distributing the inflationary consequences across the entire planet.

The dollar went from being a gold back currency to a oil backed currency. It also became America's primary export.

Did you ever wonder how the U.S. economy has been able to stay afloat while running multibillion dollar trade deficits for decades?

Did you ever wonder how it is that the U.S. holds such a disproportionate amount of the worlds wealth when 70% of the U.S. economy is consumer based?

In the modern era, fossil fuels make the world go round. They have become integrated into every aspect of civilization: agriculture, transportation, plastics, heating, defense and medicine, and demand just keeps growing and growing.

As long as the world needs oil, and as long as oil is only sold in U.S. dollars, there will be a demand for dollars, and that demand is what gives the dollar its value.

For the United States this is a great deal. Dollars go out, either as paper or digits in a computer system, and real tangible products and services come in. However for the rest of the world, it's a very sneaky form of exploitation.

Having global trade predominately in dollars also provides the Washington with a powerful financial weapon through sanctions. This is due to the fact that most large scale dollar transactions are forced to pass through the U.S.

This petrodollar system stood unchallenged until September of 2000 when Saddam Hussein announced his decision to switch Iraq's oil sales off of the dollar to Euros. This was a direct attack on the dollar, and easily the most important geopolitical event of the year, but only one article in the western media even mentioned it.

In the same month that Saddam announced he was moving away from the dollar, an organization called the “The Project for a New American Century”, of which Dick Cheney just happened to be a member, released a document entitled “REBUILDING AMERICA’S DEFENSES Strategy, Forces and Resources For a New Century”. This document called for massive increases in U.S. military spending and a much more aggressive foreign policy in order to expand U.S. dominance world wide. However the document lamented that achieving these goals would take many years “absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor”.

Géopolitique Mondiale - Page 8 Rebuilding-americas-defenses-strategy-forces-and-resources-for-a-new-century-a-report-of-the-project-for-the-new-american-century-september-2000-1-728

One year later they got it.

Riding the emotional reaction to 9/11, the Bush administration was able to invade Afghanistan and Iraq and pass the patriot act all without any significant resistance.

There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and this wasn't a question of bad intelligence. This was a cold calculated lie, and the decision to invade was made in full knowledge of the disaster which would follow.



They knew exactly what was going to happen but in 2003, they did it anyway. Once Iraqi oil fields were under U.S. control, oil sales were immediately switched back to the dollar. Mission accomplished.

Soon after the invasion of Iraq the Bush administration attempted to extend these wars to Iran. Supposedly the Iranian government was working to build a nuclear weapon. After the Iraq fiasco Washington's credibility was severely damaged as a result they were unable to muster international or domestic support for an intervention. Their efforts were further sabotaged by elements within the CIA and Mossad who came forward to state that Iran had not even made the decision to develop nuclear weapons much less begin an attempt. However the demonization campaign against Iran continued even into the Obama administration.

Why?

Well, might it have something to do with the fact that since 2004 Iran has been in the process of organizing an independent oil bourse? They were building their own oil market, and it wasn't going to be tied to the dollar. The first shipments of oil were sold through this market in July of 2011.

Unable to get the war that they wanted, the U.S. used the U.N to impose sanctions against Iran. The goal of the sanctions was to topple the Iranian regime. While this did inflict damage on the Iranian economy, the measures failed to destabilize the country. This was due in large part to Russia's assistance in bypassing U.S. banking restrictions.

In February of 2009 Muammar Gaddafi, was named chairman of the African Union. He immediately proposed the formation of a unified state with a single currency. It was the nature of that proposed currency that got him killed.

In March of 2009 the African Union released a document entitled "Towards a Single African Currency". Pages 106 and 107 of that document specifically discuss the benefits and technicalities of running the African Central bank under a gold standard. On page 94 it explicitly states that the key to the success of the African Monetary Union would be the "eventual linking of a single African currency to the most monetary of all commodities - gold." (Note that the page number is different on other versions of the document that they released.)

In 2011 the CIA moved into Libya and began backing militant groups in their campaign to topple Gaddafi and the U.S. and NATO pushed through and stretched a U.N. nofly-zone resolution to tip the balance with airstrikes. The presence of Al-Qaeda extremists among these rebel fighters was swept under the rug.

Libya, like Iran and Iraq had committed the unforgivable crime of challenging the U.S. dollar.

The NATO intervention in Libya segued into a covert war on Syrian. The armories of the Libyan government were looted and the weapons were shipped via Turkey to Syrian rebels groups working to topple Assad. It was already clear at this point that many of these fighters had ties to terrorist organizations. However the U.S. national security apparatus viewed this as a necessary evil. In fact the Council on Foreign relations published an article in 2012 stating that "The influx of jihadis brings discipline, religious fervor, battle experience from Iraq, funding from Sunni sympathizers in the Gulf, and most importantly, deadly results. In short, the FSA needs al-Qaeda now."

(Hat tip to theantimedia.org for catching this.)

Let's be clear here, the U.S. put ISIS in power.



In 2013 these same Al-Qaeda linked Syrian rebels launched two sarin gas attacks. This was an attempt to frame Assad and muster international support for military intervention. Fortunately they were exposed by U.N. and Russian investigators and the push for airstrikes completely fell apart when Russia stepped in to broker a diplomatic solution.



The campaign for regime change in Syria, as in Libya has been presented in terms of human rights. Obviously this isn't the real motive.

In 2009, Qatar put forth a proposal to run a natural gas pipeline through Syria and Turkey to Europe. Assad however rejected this, and in 2011 he forged a pact with Iraq and Iran to run a pipeline eastward cutting Qatar and Saudi Arabia out of the loop completely. Not surprisingly Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have been the most aggressive regional players in the push to topple the Syrian government.

But why would this pipeline dispute put Syria in Washington's cross hairs? Three reasons:

1. This pipeline arrangement would significantly strengthen Iran's position, allowing them to export to European markets without having to pass through any of Washington's allies. This obviously reduces the U.S. government's leverage.
2. Syria is Iran's closest ally. It's collapse would inherently weaken Iran.
3. Syria and Iran have a mutual defense agreement, and a U.S. intervention in Syria could open the door to open conflict with Iran.

In February of 2014 this global chess game heated up in a new venue: Ukraine. The real target however was Russia.

You see Russia just happens to be the worlds second largest oil exporter, and not only have they been a thorn in Washington's side diplomatically, but they also opened an energy bourse in 2008, with sales denominated in Rubles and gold. This project had been in the works since 2006. They have also been working with China to pull off of the dollar in all of their bilateral trade.

Russia has also been in the process of organizing a Eurasian Economic Union which includes plans to adopt common currency unit, and which is slated to have its own independent energy market.

Leading up to the crisis in Ukraine had been presented with a choice: either join the E.U. under an association agreement or join the Eurasian Union. The E.U. insisted that this was an either or proposition. Ukraine couldn't join both. Russia on the other hand, asserted that joining both posed no issue. President Yanukovich decided to go with Russia.

In response the U.S. national security apparatus did what it does best: they toppled Yanukovich and installed a puppet government. To see the full evidence of Washington's involvement in the coup watch "The ukraine crisis what you're not being told"



This article from the Guardian is also worth reading.

Though this all seemed to be going well at first, the U.S. quickly lost control of the situation. Crimea held a referendum and the people voted overwhelmingly to secede from Ukraine and reunify with Russia. The transition was orderly and peaceful. No one was killed, yet the West immediately framed the entire event as an act of Russian aggression, and this became the go to mantra from that point on.

Crimea is important geostrategically because of its position in the Black Sea which allows for the projection of naval power into the Mediterranean. It has also been Russian territory for most of recent history.

The U.S. has been pushing for Ukraine's inclusion into NATO for years now. Such a move would place U.S. forces right on Russia's border and could have potentially resulted in Russia losing their naval base in Crimea. This is why Russia immediately accepted the results of the Crimean referendum and quickly consolidated the territory.

Meanwhile in Eastern Ukraine, two regions declared independence from Kiev and held referendums of their own. The results of which overwhelmingly favored self rule.

Kiev responded to this with what they referred to as anti-terrorist operations. In practice this was a massive and indiscriminate shelling campaign which killed thousands of civilians. Apparently killing civilians didn't qualify as aggression to the West. In fact the IMF explicitly warned the provisional government that their 17 billion dollar loan package could be in danger if they were not able to put down the uprising in eastern Ukraine.

While the war against eastern Ukraine was raging elections were held and Petro Poroshenko was elected president. It turns out that Poroshenko, was exposed by a leaked diplomatic cable released by wikileaks in 2008 as having worked as a mole for the U.S. State Department since 2006. They referred to him as "Our Ukraine insider" and much of the cable referred to information that he was providing. (A separate cable showed that the U.S. knew Poroshenko was corrupt even at that point.)

Having a puppet in place however hasn't turned out to be enough to give Washington the upper hand in this crisis. What does Washington do when they have no other leverage? They impose sanctions, they demonize and they saber rattle (or pull a false flag).

This isn't a very good strategy when dealing with Russia. In fact it has already backfired. The sanctions have merely pushed Russia and China into closer cooperation and accelerated Russia's de-dollarization agenda. And in spite of the rhetoric, this has not led to Russia being isolated. The U.S. and NATO have put a wedge between themselves and Russia, but not between Russia and the rest of the world (look up BRICS if you are unclear about this).

This new anti-dollar axis goes deeper than economics. These countries understand what's at stake here. This is why in the wake of the Ukrainian crisis China has proposed a new Eurasian security pact which would include Russia and Iran.

Consider the implications here as the Obama administration begins bombing in Syria which also has a mutual defense agreement with Iran.

This is not the cold war 2.0. This is World War 3.0. The masses may not have figured it out yet, but history will remember it that way.

Alliances are already solidifying and and a hot war is underway on multiple fronts. If the provocations and proxy wars continue, it's only a matter of time before the big players confront each other directly, and that is a recipe for disaster.

Does all of this sound insane to you? Well you're right. The people running the world right now are insane, and the public is sleep walking into a tragedy. If you want to alter the course that we are on, there's only one way to do it. We have to wake up that public. Even the most powerful weapons of war are neutralized if you reach the mind of the man behind the trigger.

How do we wake the masses you ask? Don't wait for someone else to answer that for you. Get creative. Act like you children's and grandchildren's futures depend on it, because they do.




http://scgnews.com/the-geopolitics-of-world-war-iii
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MessageSujet: Re: Géopolitique Mondiale   Géopolitique Mondiale - Page 8 Icon_minitimeJeu 19 Juil 2018 - 7:12

Геополитика.ru a écrit:

21ST-CENTURY GEOPOLITICS OF JAPAN



Japan, as the Asian geographic analogue of Great Britain, is a strategic outlier in the Eurasian supercontinent by virtue of its location, which has in turn greatly influenced its political decisions across the centuries and shaped it into an historically thalassocratic power. The Oriental state prudently chose to implement selective Westernization following the Meiji Restoration in 1868, which allowed it to grow by leaps and bounds ahead of its regional competitors and ultimately emerge as a Great Power in its own right. Japan’s grand strategy was to literally become the Great Britain of Asia, and to that end it sought to carve out its own empire in the Eastern Hemisphere through brutal conquest and a divide-and-rule strategy which would ultimately enable it to replace its European counterparts as the uncontested hegemon in this part of the world.

The World War II-era “Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere” was the high point of Japan’s “traditional” geostrategic ambitions, after which it was humiliatingly occupied by the US until the present day following the two devastating nuclear bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. From 1945 onwards, Tokyo has been Washington’s “Lead From Behind” partner in East and Southeast Asia, being encouraged by the US to take on a leading regional role in order to give America a “local face” behind which it could project its dominance. It’s for this reason why the US appointed Japan to become the main player in the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and actively supported its efforts to invest in the former territories that had briefly constituted its imperial realm during the Second World War.

The end of the Cold War and subsequent rise of China as a Global Power (inadvertently aided and abetted by US investments) saw Japan’s role progressively transform from a solely economic-institutional “Lead From Behind” capacity to a military one, with Tokyo only just recently “reinterpreting” its post-war constitution in order to allow the deployment of military troops abroad and sale of military equipment to foreign partners. For all intents and purposes, the US is tacitly encouraging Japan to “more peacefully” follow in its pre-World War II-era footsteps in reasserting its traditional Rimland ambitions in East and Southeast Asia, though for as much as this might lead one to believe that Tokyo is still acting as a total puppet of Washington, its leadership has surprisingly begun a fast-moving rapprochement with Moscow.

This seemingly inexplicable turn of events is but one of the many paradigm shifts taking place all across the globe and in every single sphere as the Multipolar World Order gradually enters into being, and the consequences of this comprehensive change are expected to impact on the grand strategies of each Great Power, Japan included. It’s therefore of heightened relevancy to examine the 21st-century geopolitics of the country, though taking care to note that all future developments concerning this state are much more dependent on domestic trends than they are for most other players. That being the case, the analysis will begin by examining how Japan’s domestic situation influences its foreign policy, after which it will then elaborate more on the external manifestations of Tokyo’s grand strategy. The final part of the research will then summarize the prevailing trends that one can expect from Japan’s 21st-century geostrategy.

Demographic Die-Out

Japan’s population is dying out, and fast. The number of senior citizens is surging, while child births are way below replacement level. To make matters worse, Japanese young adults are eschewing sex for a variety of socio-cultural reasons, mostly thought to have something to do with the typically stressful life of urban workers and the convenience that the near-ubiquity of technology provides in “satisfying” carnal desires and creating the easily manageable illusion of a “relationship”. If the present trends continue, then Japan is expected to suffer one of the most profound population losses ever for a peacetime population in the coming decades, which has led to many observers becoming extraordinarily concerned about the country’s overall future. Considering Japan’s global importance as the world’s third-largest economy, this could be expected to have major implications for all of its partners, both fellow Great Powers and developing states alike.

Robotic Replacements

There is, however, a chance that no dire scenarios will unfold so long as Japan is successful in replacing its shrinking population with robots. It may sound futuristic but it’s already happening, at least when it comes to the economy. “This Company’s Robots Are Making Everything—and Reshaping the World”, a very insightful article published by Bloomberg in mid-October 2017, provides an eye-opening look at just how important the Japanese robotics company Fanuc has been in making this happen. It’s by and far the world leader in this field, having already captured a quarter of the global market. In addition, nearly one-third of all the world’s industrial robotics orders last year were Fanuc sales to China, which interestingly tightens the complex economic interdependency between these two rivals and shows just how important of a driver this company is for the global economy at large. Accordingly, it’s only natural then that Fanuc takes the lead in replacing Japan’s dwindling human workforce with robots in the future, since it’s already replacing the labor force of other countries as it is.

So long as there’s a stable and inversely proportional relationship between the decrease in Japan’s population and the rise of its industrial robotic sector, then theoretically speaking, there isn’t much for Tokyo to worry about on the structural level. Instead of fretting about what to do with its newfound unemployed masses like the rest of the world is doing, Japan could just work on retraining its citizens to fill the crucial non-robotic niches that are still left in its economy. It remains likely that the world will nevertheless eventually employ some combination of “universal basic income” (UBI) and virtual reality (VR) to placate the population along the lines of the long-term scenario forecast in the author’s work about “The Geopolitics Of The Techno-Civilizational World Order”, but Japan will probably have the least difficulty in doing this because of the “natural” rate at which the country is transitioning to it anyhow.

Without any undemocratic subversive behavior on the part of the Japanese elites, their country is already moving towards the dystopian outcomes associated with “Agenda 21”, but with the key difference being that Japan will experience minimal social disruption so long as its food and energy needs continue to remain provided for. The first of course deals with feeding the remaining human population, which shouldn’t be too troublesome if their numbers continue to diminish and technological advances in industrial-scale urban agriculture continue. As for the latter, no robotic-driven civilization-society can function without reliable energy supplies, and it’s here where many believe that Japan will forever remain dependent on geopolitical processes beyond its control in the Mideast, though the reality of the matter is that Tokyo has sought to preemptively avoid this crippling vulnerability through alternative energy advancements and a game-changing rapprochement with Moscow.

The Russian Rapprochement

The geopolitical dimension of Japan’s energy policy has seen it rapidly improve relations with Russia, which were stagnant for decades because of the US-manufactured issue that Tokyo refers to as the “Kuril Islands Dispute”. The contours of this conundrum are outside the scope of this analysis, but it’s relevant to say that it took Japan’s flexibility on the issue to rejuvenate ties with Russia, which are currently on the rise and better than at any time in the post-war period. Russia is receptive to Japan’s outreaches because it needs investment in its resource-rich but underpopulated Far East, and likewise, Japan needs reliable access to these said resources, be they agricultural, mineral, or especially energy. Altogether, the dynamics of the Russian-Japanese partnership represent a dual balancing act for both parties that was described at length in the author’s 2016 work about how “Russia’s Diplomatic Balancing Act In Asia Is To The Benefit Of Its Chinese Ally”, with the obvious caveat being that Tokyo isn’t doing this to aid Beijing even if that’s indeed the inadvertent outcome of what’s happening.

Carrying on, Russia is seen as a reserve of immense energy wealth which could easily power Japan’s future robotic society for decades to come, and without any of the attendant geostrategic risks that come from importing resources from the conflict-prone Mideast across the bottlenecked Strait of Malacca and then through the contentious waters of the South China Sea. Russia is therefore conceptualized as Japan’s neighboring “battery”, though one which will only share its power provided that Tokyo concedes to accept Moscow’s sovereignty over the Kuril Islands, albeit possibly through the unique NISEC sub-state socio-economic sharing arrangement that the author suggested last year. On a larger level, the Japanese-Russian rapprochement is geostrategically advantageous for Tokyo because it gives the island nation a bit more maneuverability for negotiating with the US, and it also sends a signal to China that Japan is interested in an apolitical non-hostile presence along its northeastern continental borderland. This plays into the prestige that Japan is trying to cultivate as it reestablishes itself as a Great Power and attempts to lessen the complete strategic dependence that it’s historically had on the US since the post-war military occupation.

The Race For Resources

Russia can be very useful for powering Japan’s energy-intensive robotic society in the future, but these automated replacement workers won’t do anything for the country’s economy unless they have raw materials to work with in producing items for export. The Russian Far East can only provide some of what’s needed, and definitely not on the scale that the Japanese economy requires, which is why Tokyo has had to scour the world for the necessary resources. This has seen the country establish a post-war economic presence in Southeast Asia with the encouragement of the US, as well as engaging in sizeable investments all across Africa after the end of the Cold War. The parallel rise of China during this latter period meant that the world’s most populous country was now competing for the same number of finite physical resources, therefore turning this relaxed search mission into a pressing race against Japan’s historic rival.

Trade Route And Transit State Tango

Prospecting resources and developing new marketplaces is one thing, but accessing them is another, and that’s why the world is presently in the midst of an intense period of competitive connectivity. China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity is slated to transform the declining unipolar global system into an emerging Multipolar World Order, and Tokyo is simply unable to compete with Beijing because of the disparity in scale between their two economies. It’s for this reason why Japan decided to partner with India in pioneering the so-called “Asia-Africa Growth Corridor”, also known as the “Freedom Corridor”, in order to collectively pool their existing resources and economic complementarities in carving out a niche for themselves in the Greater Indian Ocean Region. The specific geopolitics of the wider Chinese-Indian New Cold War that this is a part of were examined in detail in the author’s book-length article series on the topic for the Islamabad-based political consultancy firm CommandEleven, but it’s enough for the casual reader to understand that there’s a complex tango going on between Japan and China for access to trade routes and transit states.

The partnership with India obviously allows Japan to strengthen its presence in the Indian Ocean, while the one with Russia interestingly provides Tokyo with the chance to become the East Asian “gatekeeper” along the Northern Sea Route to Europe. Altogether, Japan’s strategic cooperation with these two Great Powers is predicated on the self-interested idea of securing its access to crucial trade routes and transit states, though this also in and of itself gives Tokyo influence over regions that are strategically important for Beijing as well. The ideal outcome would be that these two East Asian powerhouses join forces in strengthening Silk Road Globalization through a combination of active cooperation and friendly competition with one another institutionalized through Japan’s prospective membership in the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the possible establishment of the megaregional Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) economic deals. Heavy US influence on Japan will probably preempt this from happening, however, and therefore lead to Tokyo continuing to function as one of the key pillars in the “China Containment Coalition” that’s being built all across the Indo-Pacific.

The antagonistic scenario that the US is pushing Japan towards with China is the same as what it’s doing vis-à-vis the EU and Russia, though in a different manner accommodating for the changed situational relations between them. Instead of deceptively emphasizing a “zero-sum” outcome when it comes to competitive connectivity projects and the race for resources, the US is promoting a “zero-sum” mentality in relation to “values”, having spared no expense or effort to convince the EU elites that Russian “values” are purportedly incomparable with Western ones and therefore constitute a “threat”. The whole point of this massive disinformation operation on both ends of Eurasia is to prevent the ultimate Great Power convergence between the EU and Russia on the Western half and China and Japan on the Eastern one, which would collectively result in most of the supercontinent being liberated of unipolar influence when accounting for the multipolar impact of Russia’s “Ummah Pivot” in the “Greater Mideast” and China’s Silk Road success in ASEAN. India is of course the geostrategic exception in this model, but it would likely be forced to fall into line with the Multipolar World Order in this scenario or otherwise risk hemispheric isolation as the US’ last main outpost.

The Intricacies Of The Japanese-Chinese Competition

Accepting that the current trends indicate that the US-provoked Japanese-Chinese competition will probably extend into the indefinite future, the most responsible thing that can be done is to examine the intricacies of this New Cold War rivalry from a thought-provoking perspective uncommon to most analyses on this topic. Instead of focusing on the advantages that China has in this rivalry like a lot of analysts have already done, it’s worthwhile exploring the topic from the reserve angle in looking at it from Japan’s perspective in order to identify what possible advantages Tokyo might have as well. For instance, the Japanese “Maritime Self-Defense Force” already functions as a blue-water navy even if it does so unofficially, and there’s a chance that it could give China a serious run for its money in any potential clash between the two. Added to that is Japan’s robotic prowess, which could lead to pivotal military advances in the future that might decisively shift the balance of power between the two.

That said, the above factors are only applicable when it comes to military affairs, but the likelihood of a hot conflict between the two isn’t too probable for a variety of reasons, partly having to do with the complex economic interdependence between them but also the US’ mutual defense obligations to Japan. Both parties are vulnerable to Hybrid War disruptions in the shared transit states constituting their respective competitive connectivity projects in mainland ASEAN (the “Greater Mekong Subregion”), the Mideast and Central Asia, and East Africa, but China will always be more at risk than Japan because of how much it depends on these routes in order to secure its own domestic stability. The inverse proportional relationship between Japan’s declining population and rising robotic replacements means that Tokyo could theoretically weather any transit state disruptions much better than China, which has staked its entire 21st-century future on the New Silk Roads in order to sustain domestic growth and prevent the socio-political unrest that would inevitably accompany any Hybrid War-inflicted economic downturn.

Veiled Vulnerabilities

Despite its salient strategic advantage in being comparatively (key word) less dependent on transit state volatility than China, Japan isn’t exactly in a position to directly press its advantage against its rival if times got tough for Beijing. Neither side can afford a trade war against the other, which in any case would be more devastating for Japan than for China because of the monopoly that the People’s Republic enjoys on rare earth mineral production. Japan needs these resources in order to sustain its technological-robotic future, so it’s not in a position to tempt China to cut off its exports like it temporarily did in 2010 in connection with a flare-up of the East China Sea dispute. Nor, for that matter, could Japan afford for Chinese cobalt and coltan companies in the Congo to decline selling this necessary component for electric vehicle batteries, cruise missiles, and almost every ubiquitous modern-day technological gadget such as smartphones. After all, China controls roughly 60% of the global cobalt market, the demand of which is expected to spike by two-thirds in the next decade, and securing reliable access to this indispensable resource is a pressing priority for Japan.

Another veiled vulnerability affecting Japan’s 21st-century geostrategy is closer to home in the form of the Ryukyu Islands, of which anti-American Okinawa is a part. This island chain only became part of Japan relatively recently in the late 19th century, and the population of its most militarily important island resents the American bases there which are responsible for insufferable noise and a spree of high-profile crimes include rapes and murders. The locals don’t want the US to remain in their homeland, but are powerless to evict them due to the overriding influence that Washington has over Tokyo and the near-impossibility of this ever happening. Nevertheless, an asymmetrical measure that China could in theory employ (key conditional, as there isn’t any existing proof of this) would be to encourage the anti-American protest movement and help it develop to the level of an autonomous, “federalist”, or even separatist one despite the improbable odds of it actually succeeding. The point, though, would just be to cause maximum disruption at one of Japan’s most sensitive military locations in the hopes of provoking an escalating spiral of violence that could partially distract Tokyo from whatever hostile proxy action it would be engaged in against China at the time (e.g. trade war).

Prevailing Trends

All told, there are several prevailing trends that are forecast to guide Japan’s 21st-century geostrategy. In the order that they were introduced in this analysis, these are:

* Japan’s demographic die-out and replacement with robotic workers;

* The Russian-Japanese rapprochement to secure reliable energy supplies for Tokyo’s continued technological-robotic rise;

* The race for finite manufacturing resources in the “Global South” regions of mainland ASEAN (the “Greater Mekong Region”), South Asia, and East Africa, as well as the need to develop Japanese-friendly markets in this part of the world and the Mideast-Central Asia;

* The resultant competition with China for the aforesaid, and the disruptive role of American influence in turning Tokyo into Beijing’s chief Asian rival instead of its natural strategic partner in jointly advancing Silk Road Globalization in the Multipolar World Order;

* Japan’s advantageous geostrategic position in being comparatively less affected by future American-managed Hybrid Wars in the Greater Indian Ocean Region;

* and Tokyo’s veiled vulnerabilities in being dependent on China’s export of rare earth minerals to power its technological-robotic industries and the risk that Beijing could clandestinely destabilize the Ryukyu Islands through various degrees of pro-autonomy movements all the way up to separatism.

Concluding Thoughts

The simplified points mentioned above demonstrate the phased logic that goes into Japan’s grand strategy and explain some of its more recent moves, whether the surprising decision to enter into a rapprochement with Russia or the somewhat overdue one to partner up with India in the Greater Indian Ocean Region. Everything ultimately comes down to Japan’s seemingly inevitable transition into becoming the world’s first large-scale techno-robotic civilization, however, as it’s from this core trend that all the others are derived to some degree or another. Altogether, the bigger picture behind Japan’s 21st-century geostrategy should allow one to get an idea about the structural limitations inherent to its “China Containment Coalition” actions, as there’s only so much that Tokyo can do and so far that it can go against Beijing before it begins to feel the consequences from the People’s Republic discretely suspending the sale of rare earth minerals to the island nation and/or supporting a destabilizing Ryukyu autonomy campaign.  

The already existing and multidimensional system of complex economic interdependency, coupled with both sides’ near-equal naval capabilities, acts as a form of checks and balances between the two Asian Great Powers and could ideally be reframed in such a way as to convince Japan’s decision makers and strategists of the mutually disadvantageous nature of the Chinese-Japanese rivalry that their American military occupier encouraged them to aggravate over the past couple of years. A reconceptualization of the relationship between these two related civilization-states could inject fresh thinking into this dynamic and demonstrate how beneficial the win-win possibilities of bilateral Silk Road cooperation are in comparison to the lose-lose “zero-sum” game that the US is provoking between them. The US wants to continue using Japan as its “unsinkable aircraft carrier” in perpetuity so that it can “contain China”, but reversely, the failure of this policy would “unchain China” by accelerating the global trend towards a Multipolar World Order.          

As it stands, there aren’t any indications that Japan desires to redirect its grand strategy away from “zero-sum” unipolarity and towards win-win multipolarity, however it nonetheless can’t be ignored that Tokyo is indeed behaving in a relatively independent fashion by continuing to restore its relations with Moscow. Washington obviously isn’t too happy about this, though at the same time, the pragmatic strategists in the US’ permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”) understand the necessity of this move and appreciate how its optics could be manipulated by savvy propagandists in an attempt to instigate suspicion between Moscow and Beijing, capitalizing on the fact that Russia hasn’t publicly explained its grand strategic balancing act. Looking forward, it’s expected that the Chinese-Japanese competition will continue all along the Greater Indian Ocean Region, merging with the Chinese-Indian one of which it’s now inextricably a part, in order to add critical mass to the Asian component of the New Cold War.

#Source

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OrientalReview a écrit:

America’s About To Unleash Its NOPEC Superweapon Against The Russians & Saudis


The US Congress has revived the so-called “NOPEC” bill for countering OPEC and OPEC+.

Officially called the “No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act”, NOPEC is the definition of so-called “lawfare” because it enables the US to extraterritorially impose its domestic legislation on others by giving the government the right to sue OPEC and OPEC+ countries like Russia because of their coordinated efforts to control oil prices. Lawsuits, however, are unenforceable, which is why the targeted states’ refusal to abide by the US courts’ likely predetermined judgement against them will probably be used to trigger sanctions under the worst-case scenario, with this chain of events being catalyzed in order to achieve several strategic objectives.

The first is that the US wants to break up the Russian-Saudi axis that forms the core of OPEC+, which leads to the second goal of then unravelling the entire OPEC structure and heralding in the free market liberalization of the global energy industry. This is decisively to the US’ advantage as it seeks to become an energy-exporting superpower, but it must neutralize its competition as much as possible before this happens, ergo the declaration of economic-hybrid war through NOPEC. How it would work in practice is that the US could threaten primary sanctions against the state companies involved in implementing OPEC and OPEC+ agreements, after which these could then be selectively expanded to secondary sanctions against other parties who continue to do business with them.

The purpose behind this approach is to intimidate the US’ European vassals into complying with its demands so as to make as much of the continent as possible a captive market of America’s energy exporters, which explains why Trump also wants to scrap LNG export licenses to the EU. If successful, this could further erode Europe’s shrinking strategic independence and also inflict long-term economic damage on the US’ energy rivals that could then be exploited for political purposes. At the same time, America’s recently unveiled “Power Africa” initiative to invest $175 billion in gas projects there could eventually see US companies in the emerging energy frontiers of Tanzania, Mozambique, and elsewhere become important suppliers to their country’s Chinese rival, which could make Beijing’s access to energy even more dependent on American goodwill than ever before.

If looked at as the opening salvo of a global energy war being waged in parallel with the trade one as opposed to being dismissed as the populist piece of legislation that it’s being portrayed as by the media, NOPEC can be seen as the strategic superweapon that it actually is, with its ultimate effectiveness being dependent of course on whether it’s properly wielded by American decision makers. It’s too earlier to call it a game-changer because it hasn’t even been promulgated yet, but in the event that it ever is, then it might go down in history as the most impactful energy-related development since OPEC, LNG, and fracking. #Source

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ALASTAIR CROOKE - Strategic Culture Foundation a écrit:

The ‘Pivots’ to the Coming Era Can Already Be Discerned


In his autobiography, Carl Jung tells of “a moment of unusual clarity”, during which he had a strange dialogue with something inside him: In what myth does man live nowadays, his inner-self enquired? “In the Christian myth: Do you live in it?” (Jung asked of himself. And to be honest with himself, the answer that he gave was ‘no’): “For me, it is not what I live by.” Then do we no longer have any myth, asked his inner-self? “No”, Jung replied, “evidently not”. Then what is it, by which you live, his inner-self demanded? “At this point the dialogue with myself, became uncomfortable. I stopped thinking. I had reached a dead end”, Jung concluded.

Many today, feel similarly. They feel the void. The post-war era – perhaps it is the European Enlightenment phenomenon, itself – that has run its course, people believe. Some regret it; many more are disturbed by it – and wonder what is next.

We live in a moment of the waning of two major projects: the decline of revealed religion, and - simultaneously - of the discrediting of the experience of secular Utopia. We live in a world littered with the debris of utopian projects which - though they were framed in secular terms, that denied the truth of religion - were in fact, vehicles for religious myth.

The Jacobin revolutionaries launched the Terror as a violent retribution for élite repression -- inspired by Rousseau’s Enlightenment humanism; the Trotskyite Bolsheviks murdered millions in the name of reforming humanity through Scientific Empiricism; the Nazis did similar, in the name of pursuing ‘Scientific (Darwinian) Racism’.

The American millenarian ‘myth’, then and now, was (and is), rooted in the fervent belief in the Manifest Destiny of the United States, and is, in the last resort, nothing other than one particular example in a long line of attempts to force a shattering discontinuity in history (through which human society would then subsequently, be re-made).

In other words, all these utopian projects – all these successors to apocalyptic Judaic and Christian myth - saw a collective humankind pursuing its itinerary to a point of convergence, and to some sort of End Time (or End to History).

Well … we do not live these myths now: Even secular utopia will no longer ‘do’. It will not fill the void. The optimistic certitudes connected with the idea of linear ‘progress’ have become particularly discredited. So, by what will we live? This is no esoteric debate. These are questions of history, and destiny.

The élites decry anything ‘alt’ - as ‘populism’ or ‘illiberalism’. Yet they decline to see what is before them: Certain values are emerging. What are they? And from where do they come? And how might they change our World?

The most obvious ‘value’ is the emerging global desire to live in, and by, one’s own culture -- to live, as it were, in a differentiated cultural way. It is a notion of cultures, autonomous and sovereign, which seek to re-capture a particular culture – in its traditional setting of history, religiosity, and ties of blood, land and language. The immigration issue, which is rending Europe apart, is the obvious example of this.

What this ‘value’ is intimating however, is not simple tribalism, but also a different way of envisaging sovereignty. It encompasses within it the idea that sovereignty is acquired, through acting, and thinking sovereign. That sovereign power grows out from the confidence of a people having its own distinct and clear history, its intellectual legacy and its own spiritual storehouse on which to draw – by which to differentiate itself.

We are talking here, of a secure ‘alive’ culture being the root to both personal and communal sovereignty. It is a clear rejection of the idea that ‘melting pot’ cosmopolitanism, can procreate any true sovereignty.

It is, of course, the converse to the globalist notion of a ‘mankind’ converging on common values, converging on a single, neutral, apolitical ‘way of being’. ‘Man’ - in that way - in the old European tradition, simply did not exist. There were only men: Greeks, Romans, barbarians, Syrians, and so on. This notion stands in obvious opposition to universal, cosmopolitan ‘man’. The recovery of this type of thinking, for example, lies behind Russia and China’s Eurasian notion.

A second emerging value is derived from the global disenchantment with the western style of mechanical, single-track thinking that attenuates all things to an (supposedly empirically derived) singularity of meaning, which, when seated in the ego, lends an unshakeable sense of one’s own certainty and conviction (to the West European thinker, at least): ‘We’ speak ‘truth’, whereas others, babble and lie.

The obverse – the old European tradition – is conjunctive thinking. Do guilt, injustice, contradiction and suffering exist in this world? They do, proclaims Heraclitus, but only for the limited mind that sees things apart (disjunctively), and not connectedly, and notcon-tuitively linked: a term which implies not a ‘grasping’ for meaning but, rather, to be gently and powerfully ‘grasped’ by meaning.

What has this to do with today’s world? Well this is how the neo-Confucianist, Chinese leadership think today. The idea of Yin and Yang, and their latency for creating and being in harmony, still underlies Chinese notions of politics, and conflict resolution. Ditto for Shi’a philosophy and Russian Eurasianism. This used to be how Europeans thought, too: For Heraclitus, all polar opposites co-constitute each other, and run into harmony in ways that are invisible to the human eye.

This ‘other’ perspective precisely lies behind the multilateral Global Order value. The acceptance of a multi-aspectual quality to any person, or people, escapes the prevailing obsession to reduce every nation to a singularity in value, and to a singularity of ‘meaning’. The ground for collaboration and conversation thus widens beyond ‘the either-or’ - to the differing strata of complex identities (and interests). It is, in a word, tolerant.

Then there are other values: Pursuit of justice, truth (in a metaphysical sense), integrity, dignified, manly conduct and knowing and accepting who you are. These were all eternal values.

And here is the point: The disappearance in modernity of any external norm or ‘myth’, beyond civic conformity, which might guide the individual in his or her life and actions; and the enforced eviction of the individual from any form of structure (social classes, Church, family, society and gender) has made a ‘turning back’ to that which was always latent, if only half remembered, somehow inevitable.

The yearning for these ancient norms – even if only poorly understood, and articulated - represents a ‘reaching down’ into those ancient ‘storehouses’, still lingering at the deepest levels of the human being -- A ‘turning back’ to being ‘in, and of’ the world, again. This is happening in diverse modes, across the globe.

Of course, ‘the Ancient’ cannot be an ad integrum return. It cannot be the simple restoration of what once was. It has to be brought forward - as if ‘a youth’ who is coming ‘home’ again – the eternal return – out of our own decomposition; from amidst our ruins.

True, but nonetheless these new-old ideas will impinge, will challenge the existing liberal world. Our present economic framework largely was inherited from Adam Smith. And what was it if nothing other than a direct translation of the political philosophy of John Locke and John Hume (Smith’s close friend)? And what was Locke and Hume’s thinking, if not the narrative, in political and economic terms, of the Protestant victory over the Catholic idea of a religious community – in the wake of Westphalia?

Inevitably then, different values dictate different models: What sort of models do the emerging values then foreshadow? Firstly, we can see a shift in the non-West, away from ‘identity and gender’ blurring, and a return to a differentiated clarity in these aspects, to the centrality of family, and of the need to give esteem to all, whatever their place, in the hierarchy of life. In governance, as in economics, the guiding ‘value’ is a different understanding of power. The Latin Christian myth of love, turning the other cheek, humility, and retreat from worldly-power stands in contradistinction to the ancient notion of ‘manly’ conduct that preached something quite different: Resist injustice, and pursue your ‘truth’. It was therefore naturally political, and was possessed of an ethos in which power was a normal attribute.

This ancient expression of power has arisen today through the insight that a people which is mentally ‘active’ has activated its vitality and has cultural strength, may prevail against a hugely richer and better armed state – yet one, that has put its people into gentle sleep - and robbed it of vitality.

Thus, whether in governance or in economics, the structures are likely to reflect the principles of autonomy and the re-sovereigntisation of nation and people, and the notion that the organisation of society was always intended to be the natural field for the self-expansion of a man or a woman – a man capable of finding his own power, and finding himself – as his own project.

What is striking is that we see that these last twin principles (which may seem ostensibly in tension), precisely are instantiating themselves in current politics - albeit coming from totally different quarters: In Italy, the Five Star movement (seen as Leftish) is in government with the Lega (viewed as Rightish).

Of course many will say simply TINA (there is no alternative). But plainly there is – and that ‘train’ is already arriving at our station now.

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https://www.defenseone.com/politics/2018/12/small-wars-great-power-trumps-africa-reset-could-change-us-militarys-role/153485/?oref=DefenseOneTCO

Citation :

From Small Wars to Great Power, Trump’s Africa Reset Could Change US Military’s Role

By Katie Bo Williams


The U.S. is cutting 10 percent of its counterterrorism troops in Africa. Will China and Russia fill the gap?

The Trump administration has declared a new era of Great Power competition, shifting U.S. national security priorities from counterterrorism after almost two decades to long-term strategic threats from countries like Russia and China.

But in Africa — a contested battlefield where those adversaries are vying for strategic influence — policy experts warn that the U.S. hasn’t been playing the game. The Pentagon has escalated counterterrorism strikes and special operations missions across the continent in a quietly expanding mission. Some lawmakers and former officials for years have warned that the U.S. has relied too heavily on elite operators for short-term tactical missions that aren’t underpinned by an holistic strategy or complemented by non-military efforts and, in Africa, that dynamic is particularly stark.

Gen. Tony Thomas, the head of U.S. Special Operations Command, or SOCOM, told a conference audience in Austin earlier this month that “there has been a realization that [Africa] is a great power competition area.” China in particular is expanding its military footprint on the continent, partly by leveraging its expanding economic activities via a sweeping infrastructure program called the Belt and Road Initiative, and partly by building on decades of financial and political involvement in several countries. Russia also has sought to gain a foothold across the continent with military cooperation agreements and arms deals, and in September announced an agreement to build a logistics base in Eritrea, on the Red Sea.

“Basically we are missing the boat in Africa,” said Mary Beth Long, a CIA veteran and former assistant secretary of defense for International Security Affairs. “We’re not even clear from an intelligence standpoint on what the underpinnings of a strategy would attempt to address and in part that’s because we have inadequate resources dedicated to the African continent.”

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National Security Advisor John Bolton is scheduled to unveil the Trump administration’s new strategy for the continent in a speech to the conservative Heritage Foundation on Thursday. It is expected to focus on countering near-peer adversaries rather than counterterrorism. The White House is not expected to ask for more funding for diplomacy, intelligence gathering or foreign aid, according to NBC News.

The announcement comes just weeks after the Pentagon said it would be cutting 10 percent of its troop presence in Africa over the next several years, including half of the counterterrorism forces operating in West Africa. The Defense Department said in a statement that the goal was to “realign our counter-terrorism resources and forces operating in Africa over the next several years in order to maintain a competitive posture worldwide.”

The move raised some eyebrows in the policy community and on Capitol Hill. “A withdrawal by the United States is a win for China,” said Paul Nantulya, a research associate at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, a congressionally-funded Pentagon think tank.

“It’s a vitally important theater for [great power competition],” said Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, when asked about the troop cuts. “Alternatives should be looked at.”

But others say that the U.S. counterterrorism mission in Africa isn’t so directly linked to the broader strategy of competing against Russia and China. That bigger picture, they say, is more about sustained economic and policy engagement that is the purview of the State Department and USAID—agencies tasked with building sustained engagement with potential allies.

“What they’re attempting to do is rebalance their efforts on a worldwide basis and I don’t see it directly related to Chinese and Russian involvement, I see it related to terrorist involvement, trying to identify where they can be more effective,” said Sen. Jack Reed, R.I., the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, told Defense One this week.

For others, the drawdown is concerning from a counterterrorism perspective. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called the planned drawdown in Africa “an incredibly bad move,” arguing that as Islamist extremists are defeated in the Mideast, they will reemerge in unstable places in Africa.

“I think the war’s moving to Africa,” he said. But: “If you have to pick and choose [between countering nation-state threats and countering terrorist threats], you’re making a mistake…. If you start picking and choosing, taking soldiers from counterterrorism, counterinsurgency and move them over, you’re basically putting yourself at risk.”

In some parts of Africa, the counterterrorism mission remains untouched. In Somalia, U.S. military and intelligence forces are battling al-Shabaab fighters with airstrikes and ground operations alongside and in support of Somali commandos. This year, there have been 37 U.S. airstrikes in Somalia — more than in any previous year, according to data maintained by The Long War Journal. U.S Africa Command, or AFRICOM, has announced seven major strikes in the past four weeks, each alleging to have killed multiple al-Shabaab members.

The total U.S. force presence in Africa is about 7,500 troops, AFRICOM head Gen. Thomas Waldhauser told Congress earlier this year. (It was about 6,000 in 2017). Most operate from Camp Lemonnier, a permanent and growing U.S. base in Djibouti, which is used as a staging ground and command center for special operations missions across the continent, and across the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, in Yemen. Special Operations Command Africa has around 1,200 troops spread across about a dozen countries, advising local security forces combating extremist groups.

The death of four American soldiers in a deadly ambush in Niger last fall inflamed scrutiny on U.S. security operations in West Africa, where the presence of U.S. soldiers, though advertised on AFRICOM’s website, surprised many Americans.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been grappling broadly with the role of special forces under the new great power strategy. What is their job? Will they be diverted from or under-resourced for important counterterror missions? Lt. Gen. Rich Clarke, President Trump’s pick to succeed Thomas at SOCOM next year, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last week that SOCOM is positioned to be an important player under the new framework. By working with allies and partners that Russia and China do not have, he said, “we can counter some of their malign activities.” But he offered no specifics and the uncertainty continues to percolate.

“There’s this inherent tension in the [National Defense Strategy],” said Judd Devermont, who currently leads the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and who served as the national intelligence officer for Africa from 2015 to 2018. “The overall NDS talks about great power competition as a new focus, but if you look at the Africa elements on the NDS, combatting the malign influence — that’s the last piece of that entire paragraph. So I think AFRICOM is still making this transition, trying to adjust the way it thinks about the prioritization of terrorism versus great power competition.”

“I think it’s an open question. What does combating China and Russia mean in Africa?”

Trump’s new Africa strategy is a clear effort to address that tension. It is expected to call for strengthening ties with countries that are likely targets for U.S. competitors and adversaries, and countering the ability of those countries to gain footholds in unstable areas through economic investment. Although the strategy will call for continuing key counterterror partnerships, like with Somali forces, according to NBC News, the focus is shifting away from countering extremist groups to long-term, strategic nation-state threats. But it’s difficult to see what the U.S. might do differently, at least from a military perspective, without more resources, policy experts say. The Trump administration already is building partnerships with African governments and experts say trying to counter Russia and China’s individual engagements would create opportunities for host countries to play the powers off of one another.

“I don’t know what you would actually do to shift your focus in Africa beyond what we’re already doing,” Devermont said.

The impact of the planned 10-percent U.S. troop reduction in Africa is also difficult to assess. According to the Defense Department, the emphasis in West Africa would shift from “tactical assistance to advising, assisting, liaising and sharing intelligence.”

Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., the incoming chairman on the House Armed Services Committee, suggested that French troops in West Africa could mitigate the risk that a peer competitor could backfill U.S. troop withdrawals.

“In West Africa, the French have been helpful [and] we’re beginning to shore up some of the governments in that part of the world, [like] Mali and Niger,” Smith said, during a roundtable with defense reporters on Wednesday. “So if we’re reducing the number of troops in West Africa because we have partners that are able to meet our mission, that’s great.”

The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., argued that Africa’s sheer size makes small, individual deployments like the kinds that are being cut inefficient anyway. He is pushing for the permanent stationing of a Security Force Assistance Brigade, or SFAB, that he says would offer flexibility of mobility on a continent that is so geographically enormous and culturally and politically diverse.

“You don’t know if it’s going to be a Zimbabwe problem or an Ethiopia problem, but wherever it is, it’s going to be a long way from the last one, so if you have a dedicated troop ready to spring that could actually get people there better—if you can respond by quicker by using that method, it could be an improvement,” he said.

Broadly, some see a link between combating extremist groups and countering nation-state competitors.

“You have indigenous movements that are not threatening to the United States per se, but continue to destabilize a region that makes them susceptible to other large power plays,” said Long.

In the center of Africa, in nations that are struggling with indigenous conflict, “the Chinese are heavily engaged in influencing operations, but also locking in [natural] resources that we need and other developing nations need access to in order to continue to feed our technology development,” she said.

But, she said, if the de-emphasis on the counterterror mission is in exchange for more support to stabilization efforts like focused investment or boosted support for diplomatic initiatives, the drawdown might square with the overall strategy.

Chinese military, financial, and diplomatic engagement on the continent has been steadily rising for decades, experts say. The Belt and Road Initiative has “very clear security and military underpinnings that has lead to an expansion of China’s military footprint on the continent,” said Nantulya. In 2015, Beijing passed a law allowing for the foreign deployment of the Chinese Army and other security institutions outside of its national borders. In 2017, China opened a military base just miles from the U.S. base at Djibouti and is exploring others across the continent. China also has several commercial ports on the African coast that experts say could help Beijing towards its strategic goal of a blue water Navy. China also is increasing its support for the UN-approved African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia, providing communications, unmanned aerial vehicles and other technical support. Perhaps most interestly, Nantulya says, China is providing combat medicine personnel to countries like Ethiopia and Sudan—suggesting an increasing militarization of its role on the continent.

“The fact that they’re going into combat medicine, they’re sending medical orderlies into these different countries to conduct managing casualties—they’re doing much more than just evacuations [of Chinese nationals] and humanitarian assistance,” Nantulya said.

Russia’s investment in Africa is far less sustained. Devermont suggested that Moscow is “looking for opportunities where the U.S. is leaving or not there and selling themselves as a more reliable partner,” offering arms sales and military advisors. In the resource-rich but unstable Central African Republic, Russia is helping train local security forces. The paramilitary firm Wagner Group, believed to have ties to the Kremlin, operates in CAR and Sudan. Moscow’s bid for influence is of particular concern in war-torn Libya, Long said, where Moscow has forged close relations with warlord Khalifa Hifter and signed oil deals with the U.N.-backed government.

Experts are quick to caution that just like in the United States, Africa is not at the top of the priority list for China and Russia. But for Africans, Devermont noted, the return of great power competition isn’t a negative thing. Nor, he says, are Russia and China the only game in town. The UAE, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, and other nations are engaging in Africa.

“[Africans] don’t see this as zero-sum,” he said. “It provides new resources, gives them new leverage, lessens dependence. It’s very difficult for us to talk to the Africans about ‘you’re with us’ or ‘you’re with them’—that’s not the paradigm the Africans are going to subscribe to.

“We’re talking with one set of talking points and the Africans have very different ones.”
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MessageSujet: Re: Géopolitique Mondiale   Géopolitique Mondiale - Page 8 Icon_minitimeVen 28 Déc 2018 - 18:46

The RAND Corporation a écrit:

Is This the Beginning of a New Cold War?


It has become increasingly common for observers of world affairs to contend that the United States and China have either entered into or are poised to embark on a new Cold War, adducing trade frictions as the latest evidence that the two countries have intrinsically incompatible approaches to domestic governance and conceptions of world order. While the contours of a long-term contest between Washington and Beijing are undoubtedly forming, especially in the economic realm, the analogy is problematic.

The United States seriously weighed the possibility of a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union in which hundreds of millions might have perished. The core of U.S.–China competition, however, centers on the structure of the world economy and the mastery of frontier technologies. The Trump administration regards “Made in China 2025” as a challenge to U.S. national security; China regards that blueprint as the basis for its transition out of low-end manufacturing.

The Soviet Union had pretensions to a universal ideology and fomented revolution across the world. China, too, believes in its own exceptionalism, and is “exporting” some elements of the surveillance apparatus that it is developing to cement the Communist Party's grip on power—telecommunications company ZTE, for example, is helping Venezuela develop a system to monitor its citizens—but it has yet to manifest a missionary zeal.

The Soviet Union was firmly opposed to and largely excluded from the U.S.-led order. China, however, has been one of the principal beneficiaries of that system, and has thus far contested it selectively, not frontally.

The United States and the Soviet Union each presided over blocs of ideologically aligned satellites. Today, however, few countries are inclined to “choose” the United States or China, even those that are nervous about the latter's ambitions in the Asia-Pacific region; instead, as Japan and India demonstrate, many are strengthening their diplomatic and military ties with Washington while boosting their trade and investment ties with Beijing. It is unlikely that they would participate in an effort to contain China.

Finally, Washington and Moscow had little in the way of economic or cultural exchanges. Two-way trade between the United States and China, by contrast, totaled U.S.$635 billion last year and is on track to reach U.S.$650 billion this year. The two countries are also bound together by a dense network of global supply chains. In the 2017-2018 academic year, moreover, there were over 363,000 Chinese students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities, accounting for roughly a third of all international students studying in the United States.

The purpose of noting the Cold War analogy's limits is not to diminish the scope of the China challenge, but to suggest that the United States will need to manage it differently than it did the Soviet threat. Washington may have to reconcile the inevitability of intensifying competition with the imperative of sustained cooperation, without knowing what long-term equilibrium it seeks to achieve with Beijing—a long-term undertaking that could test its psychological resilience and strategic dexterity in equal measure.

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MessageSujet: Re: Géopolitique Mondiale   Géopolitique Mondiale - Page 8 Icon_minitimeSam 5 Jan 2019 - 21:42

Je vous conseille vivement cette émission de Arte "Le monde selon Xi Jingping",ou comment la Chine va être une grande puissance économique et militaire dans un futur proche.
Ça trace la vie de Xi Jingping, et les différentes stratégies de la Chine pour être la première puissance mondiale, notamment sur le plan militaire et spatial.



Le Maroc devrait faire sa place des maintenant avec ce pays, l'avenir est a l'Est les amis ! L'Europe est out en déliquescence, il faut se détacher de ce continent sans pour autant couper les ponts, et mettre les gaz vers la Chine, l'Inde, la Corée du Sud.
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The Hill a écrit:

Engagement vs. Competition: The China Policy Debate


The US can't 'out-China' China



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With trade talks between the United States and China slated for January, Washington's longstanding hope that Beijing's growing integration into the world economy would temper its illiberalism at home and produce a “responsible stakeholder” abroad has faltered.

While the two countries shared until recently an encouraging, if abstract, commitment to achieving a “new model of great-power relations,” they now make little effort to conceal their growing distrust of one another.

There is a growing consensus within the U.S. foreign policy establishment that the United States is engaged in a long-term, intensifying strategic competition with China.

Less clear, though, is what ultimate relationship the United States should seek and can plausibly achieve with its resurgent competitor. One reason for that uncertainty is the difficulty of determining where to place China along the ally-to-adversary continuum.

The two countries did $635 billion in trade last year and are additionally bound together by a complex network of global supply chains. China accounts for roughly a third of all international students who are enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities, and initiatives such as the Schwarzman Scholars program are allowing future U.S. leaders to study in China.

By contrast, there was little in the way of economic, cultural or people-to-people exchanges between Washington and Moscow during the Cold War.

An inability to classify China precisely limits, if not precludes, America's ability to formulate a coherent strategy because it leaves open potential end states ranging all the way from cooperative coevolution to armed conflict.

It is telling, observes the Atlantic Monthly's Uri Friedman, that ambiguity about the path forward extends even to perhaps the most prominent advocate of a more confrontational approach toward China, the president himself:

“Sometimes it seems as if he's hunkering down in the trenches for a prolonged economic cold war, other times as if he's prepared to call the whole thing off and resume being best friends with Xi if the two sides can strike a deal.”

One goal that President Trump has consistently articulated is righting the U.S. trade balance with China (Washington recorded its largest-ever deficit with Beijing this October, $43.1 billion).

Even if achieved, though, a reduction in that figure would do little to narrow the disparity between U.S. and Chinese growth rates or forestall the day when China matches or even surpasses the United States in most benchmarks of national power.

While it may be tempting to employ tariffs and other trade restrictions to hobble China, such measures will also cut the U.S. growth rate—no matter how China chooses to retaliate—not only because Washington and Beijing are highly economically interdependent, but also because the latter is the most important motor of global growth.

This type of beggar-thy-neighbor tack is, therefore, unsustainable. In any case, the most important gauge of U.S.-China competition is not the bilateral trade balance but comparative success in developing markets.

While the United States has taken some encouraging steps to strengthen its geoeconomic posture—most recently standing up an agency, the International Development Finance Corporation, that has twice the budget cap of its predecessor, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and is permitted to invest in debt as well as equity—it does not have a cohesive plan to compete in this domain.

The Trump administration's focus on securing bilateral trade deals and balancing trade flows one country at a time is unlikely to stem or even keep pace with the growth of Chinese influence. Nor will efforts to compel middle countries to “choose” Washington or Beijing.

Both supporters and critics of the administration's China policy agree that Washington will be unable to compete with Beijing over the long run or spur it to undertake market-oriented reforms unless it enlists a broad coalition of powerful economies in its efforts.

The United States could leverage multilateral arrangements to expand its access to third markets, strengthen international norms surrounding trade and investment and incentivize China to adhere to those norms by collaborating when it does and mobilizing concerted international pressure when it does not.

The United States also could renew its internal sources of competitiveness, especially the ecosystem of innovation that has long enabled it to be at the forefront of developing and harnessing frontier technologies.

U.S. observers increasingly depict engagement and competition as alternative policy approaches to China. Yet both remain essential instruments: the former, to continue building avenues of collaboration in sustaining an open system of trade, slowing the progression of climate change and addressing other pressing global challenges; the latter, to marshal collective action against unfair Chinese economic practices and assure America's partners and allies of its economic resilience and enduring strategic commitment to the Asia-Pacific region.

Ultimately, though, there is only so much that the United States can—or should attempt to—do to prevent China's emergence as a potential peer. It should aim not to “out-China” China but instead become a more dynamic version of its best self.

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Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik a écrit:

The End of the INF Treaty is Looming

A New Nuclear Arms Race Can Still Be Prevented


President Trump wants to terminate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty signed in 1987. Its aim was to end the nuclear deployment race between the US and the then Soviet Union in Europe. Trump justified his intention by accusing Russia of violating the Treaty. Moscow denies this and also accuses Washington of being in breach of the Treaty. Trump has argued that China’s INF potential is also jeopardising the US’s strategic position. However, this unilateral move by Washington contradicts NATO’s recent positions. If the US were to withdraw from the INF Treaty, another cornerstone of the European security order and the global nuclear order would col­lapse. Unpredictability and destabilisation would increase. Europe must resolutely oppose the threat of a new nuclear arms race. It should insist on verifying the accu­sations from both sides under transparent and cooperative conditions and, if neces­sary, agree on additional stabilisation measures in order to preserve the Treaty or limit the consequences of a US withdrawal.


The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty obliges the US and the former Soviet Union to destroy ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs) with a range of between 500 and 5,500 km, as well as their launchers and infrastructure. It prohibits their reintroduction, manufacture, flight-testing and depot storage.

The INF Treaty ended the “missile crisis” between Moscow and Washington that lasted from 1978 to 1985. Germany and other Western European countries had feared that the USSR might blackmail Europe with a massive deployment of SS-20 medium-range missiles because the nuclear balance discouraged the US from strategic escalation. As a result, in 1979, NATO de­cided by consensus to station 572 me­dium-range missiles in Western Europe and to seek dialogue with the USSR. This additional deployment led to mass protests, espe­cially in Germany.

The INF Treaty entered into force in 1988. By May 1991, 846 US and 1,846 Soviet INF systems had been completely destroyed. Since it eliminated a whole category of nuclear weapons, the Treaty is considered an important turning point on the path to ending the Cold War and a key element of European security architecture.

On 20 October 2018, President Trump announced during an election campaign appearance that the US would withdraw from the INF Treaty because Russia had been violating it for four years. Also China’s INF arsenal had contributed to the US’s strategic disadvantage, although it is not a contracting party. A future trilateral agree­ment should, therefore, also include China. As long as this is not achieved, the US would increase deployment to force a solution.

Trump put the decision in the context of a political power struggle between the US, Russia and China. He is of the view that Mos­cow wants to expand its global position at the expense of the US. However, he did not mention the strategic situation in Europe or a concrete threat to alliance part­ners.

Allegations of breaching the Treaty

Since 2014, the US has been publicly accus­ing Russia of having tested and deployed Iskander 9M729 (known as SSC-8 in NATO vernacular), ground launched cruise mis­siles (GLCMs) with a maximum range of 2,600 km. The SSC-8s are supposed to have been deployed on mobile launchers in two missile units, namely in Yekaterinburg (Sverdlovsk region), east of the Ural Moun­tains and at the Kapustin Jar test site near the Caspian Sea. The US accuses Russia of having developed these GLCMs since 2008.

After much hesitation, Moscow conceded the existence of the new system, but denies its alleged range and rejects the allegation it was in breach of the Treaty. The US has not submitted any evidence. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said that Russia complies with the INF Treaty. According to Ryabkov, the US wants to force Russia to make new concessions.

Moscow also accuses the US of violating the INF Treaty, suggesting the US had de­ployed medium-range ballistic missiles to test its missile defence system. Furthermore, the technical features of US long-range drones matched those of banned GLCMs.

In particular, the US had deployed Mk‑41 launchers on land in Deveselu, Romania (Aegis Ashore), which are also used on US ships for vertically launched cruise missiles (SLCM Tomahawk), and planned to deploy them in Poland. From there, the US would be able to launch GLCMs against targets in Russia. This option is also explicitly men­tioned in the US Nuclear Posture Review from February 2018.

Washington rejects Russia’s accusations, stating that a combat drone is not a cruise missile because it can return to its starting point. It also said that the missiles used for missile defence tests were not banned by the INF Treaty. Due to their modified soft­ware and cabling, the Aegis Ashore systems are only suitable for launching defence missiles. Furthermore, the bilateral deploy­ment agreement with Romania is a legally binding agreement that the systems should only be used for missile defence.

Verification gap

The accusations from both sides differ in the extent to which they can be reliably checked. The Russian allegations against the US concern questions of Treaty inter­pretation; the underlying facts as such are undisputed. In turn, the US accuses Russia of secretly breaching the Treaty. However, it is difficult to assess the factual basis of these allegations because the US only selec­tively communicates the sources of its findings. Nor do the allies’ expressions of solidarity suggest that they have any sig­nificant findings of their own.

If the allies had information they had acquired by technical means – such as sat­ellite imagery or communications sur­veil­lance – they could make a substantial con­tribution to clarifying the situation. There is no doubt that espionage findings from human sources should also be taken seri­ous­ly, but they do not provide definitive certainty. For example, former US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, justified the decision to launch the Iraq War in the United Nations Security Council in 2003 with false information attributed to an unreliable human source.

On the other hand, Russia has so far done little to dispel suspicion of them having breached the Treaty. The accusations could best be investigated by means of cooperative verification, which has proved effective in arms control for many years now.

The INF verification regime provides for mutual on-site inspections to verify that the ballistic missiles and cruise missiles listed in the Treaty, as well as their launchers and infrastructure, have been destroyed as agreed. Cameras on factory gates were used to monitor whether production had stopp­ed. Former launch facilities in Germany were also regularly checked. The regime ended in May 2001.

The Special Verification Commission (SVC) aims to clarify issues of Treaty implementation through dialogue. Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, members of the Con­sul­tation Forum have also included the post-Soviet states of Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

However, the INF Treaty does not contain any mechanisms to prove whether one par­ty is circumventing Treaty rules, such as in­spections of undeclared facilities an­nounc­ed at short notice. In order to enable this, the US and Russia would have to agree bilat­er­ally or at the SVC to modify and reintroduce the INF verification regime.

Verification options

First of all, data and facts would have to be exchanged at the SVC in order to substan­tiate the allegations and to clarify technical issues. In fact, the SVC met in 2017, but neither there nor in bilateral dialogue was it possible to reach agreement on the matter. The US complains that Russia has not demonstrated the transparency re­quired to constructively address the alle­gations.

A bilateral expert meeting, which had been arranged at the SVC in December 2017, does not appear to have taken place yet. At the meeting, experts would have discussed the allegations from both sides in detail. It would have been a chance to see how serious the Russian national security advisor, Nikolai Patrushev, was when he said Russia wanted to contribute transparently to clarifying the situation. He had expressed this sentiment in talks with US security advisor, John Bolton, in Moscow on 22 October 2018, who explained President Trump’s intention to withdraw from the Treaty.

The opportunities for a cooperative solution to the dispute are, therefore, by no means exhausted. A meeting of experts could be used to discuss whether differences in the interpretation of technical provisions could be eliminated with the help of clarifying protocols. An agreement on data exchange and mutual verification would be essential. It should include satel­lite and aerial observations as well as on-site inspections.

The introduction of a prohibited INF system into field formations would not only require blueprints, but also a larger number of missiles, carrier vehicles, launchers and associated infrastructure. This would in­clude accommodation, warehouses, park­ing, supply and repair facilities as well as training areas. The existence of such mili­tary equipment and infrastructure can be determined through national satellite re­connaissance and cooperative observation flights conducted under the Treaty on Open Skies (OS).

OS observation flights can take place multilaterally with the participation of other state parties. Such flights were regu­larly used to monitor nuclear weapons infra­structure. During the flights, photographs are taken by mutual agreement thus providing a solid factual basis for substantial dialogue. They can also be exchanged with third parties. Although it is not pos­sible to determine the precise ranges of GLCMs with aerial photographs, they can confirm the existence of new weapon sys­tems and provide data about their dimensions and associated infrastructure.

The operational ranges of ballistic missiles and cruise missiles depend on a num­ber of variables. The most important vari­ables are the masses of the casings, of the control devices and engines, of the amount of fuel and of the warhead, but also engine thrust and aerodynamic properties. As a result, the outer dimensions only allow approximations of the missiles’ probable ranges, if assumptions about the variables are correct. The INF Treaty therefore refers to the maximum distance the standard version of a missile can travel until the fuel has been fully consumed.

Clarity is best achieved by exchanging telemetric data, demonstrating systems on-site and observing flight tests. It would also have to be established whether the test is for systems which, although within the INF range, are not covered by the INF Treaty.

For example, the Treaty permits the test­ing of missiles or missile stages from fixed launch facilities over INF ranges, un­less they are used for ground-launched INF sys­tems. Accordingly, it would be perfectly in accordance with the Treaty to test sea-launched cruise missiles (SLCM) or missile stages for ICBMs using fixed launchers, such as those at the Kapustin Jar test site.

In return, the US, in coordination with Romania and in future with Poland, would have to allow Russian on-site inspections at Aegis-Ashore positions. This might convince Moscow that the Mk-41 launchers used there are technically only intended for the launch of defence missiles and that no SLCMs or GLCMs are available for them.

This configuration of the land-based Mk‑41 launch systems could then be recorded in a technical protocol. The fact that it is reversible would not be a fundamental obstacle. The New Start Treaty also includes technical measures that can be reversed but are monitored at regular on-site inspections.

In order for such inspections to be effec­tive in the long term, they would have to take place more frequently and at short notice. Inspections of non-listed facilities would have to be based on plausible justi­fi­cations and quota limits. This is to prevent the verification inspections being misused to view facilities and systems that are not subject to the INF Treaty.

Multilateral verification would make the fact-finding more transparent and prefer­ably involve former and potential countries where INF systems could be stationed. Sub­sequent political decisions could then be supported by a broad base of information. It might be possible to modify the INF veri­fication regime if both sides showed the political will to uphold the Treaty, to seek cooperative solutions and to refrain from taking irreversible steps.

Military strategic context

The US are attempting to substantiate their allegation against Moscow of breaching the INF Treaty by arguing that it can no longer be in Russia’s geostrategic interest. Coun­tries on its southern and eastern periph­eries have INF systems while Russia is banned from possessing them. On the other hand, it has made up for this disadvantage by equipping its flotilla in the Caspian Sea with sea-launched cruise missiles (SLCMs). When Russia intervened in the Syrian war in September 2015, it launched conventional SLCMs from the Caspian Sea at tar­gets 1,600 kilometres away. Its fleets in the Atlantic, Pacific and European marginal seas are also equipped with SLCMs. Russian bombers also have long-range, air-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs).

The US has employed conventionally equipped SLCMs widely across the Middle East, Afghanistan and North Africa since the late 1990s. In April 2017 and April 2018, US Aegis warships from the Mediterranean destroyed land targets in Syria. France and the UK have also demonstrated their SLCM/ALCM capabilities in Libya and Syria.

As the US, Russia and others are increasingly equipping their armed forces with more SLCMs and ALCMs, strategic calcu­lations have changed. They are subject neither to the limitations of the New Start Treaty nor to those of the INF Treaty, even though they have a range of well over 500 km. This has relativised the strategic value of the ban on ground-launched INF systems. SLCMs and ALCMs can reach Europe, the Middle East and much of Asia.

The military added value of a ground-launched INF variant would be difficult to justify. It is sometimes assumed that Rus­sian planners see it as an additional and cheaper option for reliably and quickly eliminating further US missile defence positions in Europe or Asia. But this is a speculative assumption which presupposes that new GLCMs are deployed in the most geographically favourable areas.

However, operationally effective Russian INF systems could not be deployed in secret. There are also no signs yet of US missile de­fence systems being more densely de­ployed in Europe. Russia may have developed proto­types to respond as and when they are needed.

Russian leaders fear that any expansion of US missile defence could undermine Russia’s nuclear second-strike capability in the long term and thus make it susceptible to intimidation. However, in February 2018, President Putin presented modern nuclear weapons supposedly able to penetrate or bypass any defensive belt and justified them with precisely this argument.

Given the various uses of conventional cruise missiles in military conflicts, arming SLCMs with nuclear capability has a nega­tive impact on crisis stability. It not only increases the arsenal of ‘sub-strategic’ nuclear deployment options, but also the grey area between nuclear and conventional deployment profiles. If a SLCM launch is mistakenly interpreted as a nuclear attack, it could have devastating consequences. This is because nuclear SLCMs can have a strategic effect as they can attack an enemy’s air or missile defence installations, command centres, infrastructure or nuclear weapons from positions in the European or Asian marginal seas.

Despite these concerns, the decision made by the Trump administration in Feb­ruary 2018 to rearm SLCMs with nuclear warheads will increase the US’s ‘sub-stra­tegic’ nuclear arsenal, which is not subject to any arms control treaties. In doing so, Trump has reversed former President Obama’s decision in 2010 to abandon nu­clear SLCMs designed to attack land targets (TLAM-N). Russia has also modernised its nuclear SLCMs, especially its Kalibr-type cruise missiles.

The US has justified giving its SLCMs nuclear capability with two lines of argu­mentation. Firstly, the ‘extended deterrence’ to protect allies in East Asia could occur from sea since stationing nuclear gravity bombs on land in Japan and South Korea would be controversial. So far, how­ever, the ‘extended deterrence’ has been based on the strategic nuclear potential of the US. Secondly, the Trump administration has linked it to Russia’s violation of the INF Treaty and insinuates, it could reconsider the SLCM option should Moscow return to compliance. However, completely abandoning nuclear SLCMs would be incompatible with the argument that they are needed as an ‘extended deterrence’ from the sea.

A trilateral INF Treaty with China?

Not to be dismissed is the geostrategic argument that from 1987 new nuclear powers with INF capabilities have emerged in South and East Asia and that the People’s Republic of China’s INF arsenal has grown. Of course, this arsenal is aimed at deterring not only Russia, but, above all, the US from a regional intervention.

President Trump has, therefore, indicated that China must be part of a future INF Treaty. It remains unclear whether and under what conditions this approach could be coordinated with Russia and whether China would be willing to negotiate. A joint Russian-US attempt to multilateralise the INF Treaty at the United Nations failed in 2007. Neither China, France nor the UK showed any interest in the proposal.

Whether there have since been consul­tations between Beijing and Washington on the INF dossier has not been made pub­lic, but it is unlikely. On the contrary, Hua Chunying, spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, has reacted indignantly to Trump’s public statement: It was “unjustifiable and unreasonable” to blame others for the US unilaterally withdrawing from the INF Treaty. She said that China would not be blackmailed. Ever since the 1990s, the People’s Republic has held the position that the major nuclear powers would have to scale down to the same levels as the smaller powers before they would consider participating in multilateral nuclear dis­armament treaties.

In fact, the US and Russia have more than 90 percent of all nuclear weapons worldwide. China has around 280 to 300 nuclear warheads, approximately 60 inter­continental, ground-launched ballistic mis­siles and around 1,600 ground-launch­ed, short-range and medium-range missiles and cruise missiles, most of which are deployed with conventional warheads. Approximately 90 percent of these are in the INF range.

If a trilateral treaty were to ban land-based INF systems, China would lose almost all its capacity for regional power projection with long-range stand-off weapons. Without it, China would not be able to maintain its regional strategy of sealing off the East and South China Seas from US intervention (anti-access/area denial strat­egy). The US, on the other hand, would not have to give up anything because they lack land-based INF carriers in the region and could continue to rely on their global mis­sile, air and sea superiority.

It is therefore unlikely that China would cut such a ‘deal’. The alternative, to strive for regional ‘INF equilibrium’, would also be unacceptable to China. That would mean setting upper limits and thus allow­ing the US to station its systems in Japan or South Korea. For Europe, this solution would be highly dangerous as it would allow INF deployment west of the Urals.

The Trump administration must have been aware that Beijing could do nothing but reject such a trilateral agreement. It therefore seems reasonable to assume that Trump’s vague references to China were merely intended to justify his intention to terminate the INF Treaty.

Deployment and alliance politics

A new INF arms race would threaten the security of Europe and Asia, but not that of the American continent. Should the US seek regional INF deployment, it would need the consent of any potential deployment country, with the exception of Guam.

However, it is hard to imagine Japan, South Korea, the Philippines or Australia agreeing to a deployment of land-based medium-range systems. Precisely the West­ern Pacific Allies’ traditional opposition to land-based nuclear weapons deployment was the reasoning used by the Trump ad­min­is­tration to justify arming its see-launch­ed cruise missiles (SLCMs) with nuclear capa­bility.

But even if any US GLCMs are (initially) only conventionally armed, it would not be in South Korea’s interest to destroy the recent rapprochement on the Korean pen­insula with a new armaments spiral. Nor is Japan likely to be interested in bringing about a new period of strained relations with China and risking further domestic conflicts over deployment issues. Australia and the Philippines would also not be keen to sour their relations with China.

As far as Europe is concerned, the US’s unilateral approach is at odds with recent alliance positions. On 7 November 2017, Secretary of Defense James Mattis briefed his NATO counterparts on the US assessment of the situation, saying that the US wanted Russia to return to treaty compli­ance. This was confirmed by the US State Department in April 2018. In response to Washington’s allegations against Moscow, the NATO Council issued a statement on 15 December 2017 expressing concern but maintaining its support for the INF Treaty and calling on Russia to transparently and comprehensively dispel any doubts in a technical dialogue.

As recently as July 2018, NATO states unanimously declared that the INF Treaty was fundamental to European security and must be preserved. At the beginning of Oc­tober 2018, Mattis presented new find­ings to NATO defence ministers. As a result, the ministers again called on Russia to comply with the Treaty and to clarify unresolved issues in a transparent manner.

President Trump’s subsequent announce­ment to withdraw from the INF Treaty came as a surprise. It appears the allies were only informed shortly before the announcement, but not consulted. Should the US intend to introduce new GLCMs in Europe, the allies would either have to opt for a deployment race with Russia or accept a split in the al­li­ance. A ‘coalition of the deployment will­ing’ cannot be ruled out.

Conclusions

The US withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and the Iran nuclear agreement (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, JCPOA) as well as the erosion of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty) have already impacted heavily on the international security archi­tecture. If the INF Treaty were to fall apart, another cornerstone of the European secu­rity order and the global nuclear order would be destroyed. There would then be no legal restrictions on a regional nuclear arms race in Europe and East Asia. This carries the risk of additional destabilisation amid a security crisis in which mutual trust has fallen to its lowest level since the 1960s.

The starting position for the soon to be required extension of the New Start Treaty would then be extremely unfavourable. Should it fail, from 2021, there would be no legal restrictions on US and Russian strategic nuclear weapons for the first time since 1972. The already weak credibility of the major powers in meeting disarmament obligations contained in the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) would be further undermined. This would also increase pres­sure on the NPT. Europe would be confront­ed with a new debate on closing a perceived gap in nuclear armaments that could lead to an increased nuclear threat to both sides from INF redeployment. None of these sce­narios is in the interests of Germany or Europe.

However, by no means have all the options for overcoming the INF crisis in a cooperative manner been exhausted. It has not yet been sufficiently clarified whether and to what extent the mutual allegations of breach of contract are misinterpretations of the source situation or different inter­pretations of Treaty provisions, which could be amicably resolved through additional technical protocols or joint declarations. Only an unequivocally proven intended threat to Europe, such as the operational deployment of ground-launched INF, could no longer be eliminated in a cooperative manner, unless this decision were politically revised.

Substantial joint steps would therefore first have to be agreed in order to preserve the Treaty and, if necessary, modify it. For example, the US and Russia could make a political statement on the fundamental value of the INF Treaty and express their willingness to comply with its provisions and to clarify unresolved issues in a co­operative manner.

It would then be useful to exchange, discuss and verify the relevant technical data through a combination of satellite monitoring, cooperative Open Skies obser­vation flights and on-site inspections. Allies should be included in multilateral verifi­cation measures in order to make follow-up policy decisions based on a comprehensive factual basis.

The Federal Government should campaign for this approach at NATO and form a broad coalition of like-minded states. They should agree on the aim of not giving European approval to new deployments of INF systems in Europe unless Russia threat­ens European allies by stationing such sys­tems.

Moscow is interested in Germany and France cooperating with Russia in the Nor­mandy format on conflict settlement in Ukraine, on the reconstruction of Syria, on energy transfer and in advocating the continuation of the NATO-Russia Founding Act. Russia should be made aware that this desired cooperation also depends on it trans­parently complying with its obligations under the INF Treaty and not threatening Europe with INF systems.

The crisis should also be used as an oppor­tunity to initiate a discussion in the Alliance on the role of nuclear weapons in its deterrence strategy. There must be no grey areas of nuclear ambiguity. These could, in fact, suggest nuclear warfare capa­bility with supposedly ‘tactical’ nuclear weapons and lead to fatal misjudgements in crises.

The number of employments of conventional cruise missiles is growing and if they were deployed in a nuclear role, this would have a destabilising effect. This concern could be the starting point for a modified INF Treaty or a multilateral follow-up treaty.

In addition, Germany should work to strengthen the Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCoC) by adding cruise missiles to it and improving its transparency rules. Germany should encourage a discussion at the UN Security Council on strengthening nuclear arms con­trols and disarmament in order to preserve strategic stability and the credibility of the non-proliferation regime.

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Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik - The Oxford University Politics Blog a écrit:

No New Cold War: Give Strategic Interdependence a Chance


With its concept of strategic autonomy, the EU risks triggering a new Cold War. In the context of globalisation and digitisation, it should focus on strategic interdependence instead.


Europe's foreign and security policy framework has changed fundamentally since Donald Trump took office. With the US’s unilateral withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, declaration that NATO was “obsolete”, unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and termination of the nuclear agreement with Iran, the political atmosphere in EU-US talks has noticeably cooled when it comes to upholding multilateral agreements. Meanwhile cooperation on a technical level in counter-terrorism and cybersecurity is still vital. Punitive US tariffs on European steel and aluminium products and the EU’s countermeasures have marked another low point in transatlantic relations. Relations with Russia are also strained. NATO has just carried out its largest military manoeuvre since the end of the East-West conflict. Added to this are the currently unpredictable consequences of Brexit for European foreign, security and defence policy.

Europe’s striving for strategic autonomy, as postulated in the EU Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy in 2016, is therefore an understandable aspiration, at least at first glance. It is Europe’s reaction to its dwindling confidence in the stability of the multilateral world order and the Western community of values, and marks a turn away from the idea of an unconditional partnership with the USA. As comprehensible as this aspiration may be, it is also illusory: the EU does not currently have the resources to act independently on the global stage, nor is it likely that member states will bring themselves to take the necessary steps in the medium term. A second round of 17 arms and defence policy projects of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) are far from constituting a European army. The EU’s member states do not have a common strategic vision vis-à-vis the USA, Russia or China, let alone a concerted idea of who might acquire nuclear weapons in the medium term or how these should be controlled, and within which European structures. It is therefore hardly surprising that the concept of strategic autonomy is just as controversial among the member states. It competes, especially in the eyes of Central and Eastern European states, with the close links between the European and North American pillars of Western security policy and, from several members’ point of view, threatens to cast doubt on NATO, which they regard as essential to their survival.

Strategic Autonomy Revives Old Patterns of Confrontation

The concept of strategic autonomy also threatens to initiate a normative weight shift: until now, the EU has primarily pursued its liberal aspiration to market integration and global economic integration and interdependence. This was based on the idea of a converging and interdependent world, in which conflicts are settled cooperatively or at least within the framework of international law. However, initial action plans and initiatives to shape the Global Strategy are at odds with this idea: they focus on isolation, security and territorial defence, thus giving foreign, security and defence policy priority over other policy areas. From this perspective, “interdependence is seen as a weapon” to protect oneself from. Juan Zarate, former advisor to George W. Bush and architect of the Iran sanctions, summed up this way of thinking: “Geopolitics is now a game best played with financial and commercial weapons”. If this “realist” tradition of thought gains traction in Europe, it is likely to revive old patterns of confrontation and, in the process, arms races as well.

In its efforts to become less vulnerable to external risks and threats, Europe should not make the mistake of promoting precisely what it intends to prevent. Not deterrence, but confidence- and security-building measures and understanding, must remain its means of choice. Against this backdrop, an appropriate strategic goal is not autonomy but strategic interdependence.

Strategic Integration Enables Cooperative Problem Management

What does this mean? Strategic interdependence recognises that, in the context of globalisation and digitisation, reality is complex. According to this perspective, security is not differentiation from the Other or part of the framework of classical friend/foe thinking in the sense of Carl Schmidt, but the result of a complex process of integration in trade, development, climate, digitisation or migration. In terms of a wider understanding of security, all the policy fields in which nation states on their own are no longer effective but reach their limits must be managed together. Cooperative problem management is the appropriate instrument for modern international politics. To contain conflicts institutionally and develop overarching problem solutions when needed independently of the USA, the existing transatlantic security architecture will need to be supplemented by multi-stakeholder networks with relevant regional organisations, such as the OSCE, the NATO-Russia Council, the Nordic and Eastern Partnerships, the African Union and the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership.

European integration is the best example of how dialogue, multi-perspectivity and transnational integration have brought peace and stability to Europe. It was not emphasising the nation state but surmounting it that made the longest period of peace in the history of Europe possible. There are good reasons to believe that this experience can also be applied to creating security in a global context. All the sceptics who think that in a world of carnivores there is room only for carnivores, as the former German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel once put it, should remember that the largest, strongest and most long-lived of all living creatures are still vegetarians.

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MARC LYNCH - Carnegie MEC a écrit:

Changing the Story


Why Arab satellite channels have not watched recent protests in the same way that they did in 2011.


Arabic broadcast and social media were key factors in transforming Tunisia’s and Egypt’s 2011 uprisings into broader Arab uprisings. Media allowed Arabs across the region to view events there as part of their own story. For the relatively small but influential portion of urban youth online, social media linked the protests through shared hashtags and by circulating powerful images, videos, and slogans. However, broadcast media, above all Qatar’s pan-Arab satellite television station Al-Jazeera, were critical for bringing this protest narrative to a mass audience.

Recently, mass protests have demanded the departure of long-ruling presidents in Algeria and Sudan. The decision on Monday of Algerian President Abdulaziz Bouteflika not to seek a fifth term appeared to reflect the success of Algerian demonstrators. In the past two years, major protests have also hit Tunisia, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, and Sudan. The conditions are there for the reemergence of an “Arab uprising” narrative. Many activists online have again attempted to craft one, built around solidarity among different Arab societies. But thus far, key pan-Arab satellite television stations have largely avoided doing the same. Why is that the case?

The major pan-Arab stations are not exactly ignoring Algeria and Sudan. News broadcasts and the occasional talk show are addressing the main developments. Some individual media personalities have been enthusiastic online. But these stations have, noticeably, not gone into full mobilization mode as they had in 2011, when they covered the protests as the single most important development in regional politics. Today, rather than linking the protests into a single Arab story, the coverage largely presents them as isolated national events. There has been a noticeable uptick in Arab Spring framing only during the past week, after Algeria’s protests forced Bouteflika to announce he would not run again.

The relatively weak pan-Arab media support for these uprisings has been noted by many activists and observers. To test that observation, I used a tool developed by my colleague Deen Freelon to grab the last 3,200 tweets on the main Twitter feed of the two leading satellite television stations, Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya. Those stations represent the two major dueling camps in Arab politics: Al-Jazeera has long been the standard bearer of Arab populism and is now more closely aligned with Qatari foreign policy than in the past; Al-Arabiya is the mouthpiece of the Saudi Arabia-United Arab Emirates (UAE) counterrevolutionary bloc. The tweets, which at least approximate each station’s broadcasting, dated back to January and ended just before this week’s dramatic events in Algeria.

Approximately 7 percent of Al-Jazeera’s tweets were about Algeria after the first protests took place on February 22; and 4 percent involved Sudan after the protests started there. Al-Arabiya has also tweeted about Algeria approximately 7 percent of the time since February 22, and Sudan about 3 percent. Even given the crowded news agenda, those percentages seem low relative to the significance and public interest in the protests.

I also looked at the retweets of Algeria- and Sudan-related topics as a measure of audience interest. For Al-Jazeera, Algeria retweets received just over half the overall average of retweets while Sudan received almost double the average. For Al-Arabiya, Algeria retweets on average received 15 percent of the overall average of retweets, while Sudan received 30 percent. In other words only Al-Jazeera’s retweets about Sudan were more popular than the average retweet.

Perhaps the relatively low interest was because of the tone of the coverage. Both stations for the most part covered these as local issues, not as part of a broader regional trend. Shared hashtags (where two or more countries are linked in a single tweet) were almost nonexistent. By far the most retweeted Al-Jazeera tweet on either country during this period, interestingly, was of a video that put Sudan and Algeria together to ask whether events there signaled a new Arab Spring.

Why aren’t Arab media embracing these uprisings as they did in 2011? There are media business explanations, of course. The news agenda in the Arab world is crowded. Sudan and Algeria are both distant from the priorities of most of the viewers of these stations. Still, the same could have been said for Tunisia in 2011, and protests typically make for excellent television.

The coverage is clearly shaped by politics. Leading pan-Arab stations cannot completely ignore consequential political developments such as the Sudanese and Algerian protests. But they have little incentive in these two cases to go into all out promotion mode. The regional order is deeply in the grip of a years-long autocratic backlash designed to prevent a new wave of public protest. That grip has tightened as protests have nonetheless broken out repeatedly. Almost every regime in the Arab world today is desperately worried about the eruption of another regional uprising. They remember all too well that the spark for the original uprising came from distant, marginal Tunisia. Even the slightest chance that the same could happen with Algeria or Sudan is worrisome to security-obsessed regimes. The success of Algeria’s protestors has thus been accompanied by warnings from leaders such as Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi against “riots.” Commentary in the Gulf has framed the protests as a problem of Arab republics, not monarchies.

While Arab powers may feel an incentive to encourage uprisings against hostile regimes, Sudan and Algeria are both swing states in today’s highly polarized regional arena. Algeria remained neutral in the conflict between Qatar and the Saudi-Emirati bloc. Neither Qatar nor the Saudi-UAE bloc saw an advantage in alienating the Algerian military, or in pushing Algiers toward the other side of the regional divide because of hostile coverage in their media outlets. Each will be careful to ensure that the likely leadership change in Algeria will not tip the country into the other’s camp.

Similarly, both Qatar and Saudi Arabia are invested in, if not enthusiastic about, the survival of Sudan’s President Omar Bashir. Sudan recently rebuilt relations with Saudi Arabia by distancing itself from Iran and volunteering troops for the Yemen war. In return, Saudi Arabia has pushed for Bashir’s rehabilitation despite his indictment by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. But Sudan has also maintained good relations with Qatar. Bashir visited Doha in January, receiving public support but no new economic aid. Qatar worries that any replacement for the Sudanese president could align his country with Egypt and the UAE, which would represent a strategic setback for Doha.

Ambivalent Qatari and Saudi relations with the Sudanese and Algerian regimes mean that while they may not completely silence coverage as they might over protests against close allies, they also have no incentive to encourage protests. That may change, however, now that the protests in Algeria have prevented Bouteflika from standing for a new term. When Arab leaders fall, the satellite television stations have a hard time avoiding the still potent “Arab Spring” framework for coverage. Moreover, their broadcasting diverges as they seek to shape the nature of successor regimes.

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a écrit:

China’s relationship with the UK and the EU: From Golden Era to Global Britain and Brexit



Written by Chris Rowley.

China’s relationship with the UK and the EU is vitally important for all sides. This is especially so in the context of several recent events, developments and trends. These include China’s flexing of its military muscle and South Seas tensions which challenge the Pax Americana, Trump’s tariffs, and a trade war which threatens globalisation and the open international economy. At the same time, China’s problems include slowing economic growth, a maturing manufacturing sector, and the need for skills upgrading along with the drying-up of sources of cheap rural labour mixed with its demographic ‘time bomb’ – creating a society that may ‘get old before it gets rich’.

Of course, this is also dependent on the relationship between the UK and the EU post-Brexit. Nevertheless, because of the UK’s important roles, experience and contribution for institutions such as the UN and NATO as well as in defence, security and anti-terrorism, the UK will remain an important player and international pivot.

The UK’s economy is also globally important, being the fifth or sixth largest in the world. The City of London is one of the world’s leading international financial centres. Nevertheless, there is a need for the UK to develop a more global outlook and revitalise its relationships – especially with dynamic and faster growing parts of the world such as Asia and particularly China.

This is especially the case as the EU is becoming economically less important for the UK, which already exports more to non-EU countries than into the EU. The EU’s share of UK exports generally declined from 55 per cent in 2006 to 44 per cent in 2017, while exports to other countries increased at a faster rate. Added to this, the EU’s overall share of the world economy is also in decline. The economic slowdown in the Euro-powerhouse of Germany, problems in Italy, and fears of the return of a Eurozone crisis only add to this need for the UK to have a more global outlook.

The UK-China relationship is therefore crucial. Previous initiatives, such as the UK-China Economic and Financial Dialogue (EFD), annual meetings designed to facilitate bilateral trade and investment ties and to intensify diplomatic relations, and the ‘Golden Era’ launched by the government of David Cameron can be reinvigorated and built on.

The Golden Era saw several high-profile trips to China by British delegations and in 2015 up to GBP 40 billion of deals were announced with grand ambitions to form a ‘global comprehensive strategic partnership’, with the UK representing China’s ‘best partner in the West’. Of course, others vie for this mantle too, including France, while Germany is the most important partner economically for China. However, the EU is increasingly wary of Chinese influence and investment. At the same time, the UK actually has a competitive advantage in certain key areas and offers a number of important specialisms to China such as in financial services, security and education, along with cooperation in those areas.

The area of education is indicative. Academic cooperation requires intellectual property rights and ownership concerns to be respected. In the sciences, cooperation may be easier and less problematic. This contrasts with the social sciences, where cooperation will be difficult, given its requisite primus inter pares need for freedom of thought and freedom of speech in order to make any worthwhile theoretical or empirical contribution.

There is also a point concerning China’s academic cooperation. The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2019 includes more than 1,250 universities and is the only global university performance table to judge research-intensive universities across all of their core missions – teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook – using 13 performance indicators to provide comprehensive and balanced comparisons. This continues to rank Oxford University as number one overall, while in the top 40 there are seven universities from the UK compared to just two from the EU – Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich at number 32 and Sweden’s Karolinska Institute at number 40. The highest ranked Chinese universities are Tsinghua at 22 and Peking at 31.

China’s relationship with Europe was also on display with recent visits by President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. This can be understood as part of a wider picture and strategy for both sides. On the one side, the EU has ended what President Macron of France described as its ‘naivety’. The EU increasingly regards China as a growing concern, identifying it as a ‘systemic rival promoting alternative models of governance’ and urging it to open up its protected home market and enable reciprocity in allowing investments in Chinese  businesses.

Other issues include the unfair and aggressive practices of China’s state-owned enterprises and investments which have possible implications and impacts for energy, technology and security. In addition, there are concerns about the rule of law and the rules-based international order and its relationship to China’s repressive and aggressive stance – both domestically (for example, as regards political pluralism, freedom of speech, the Uighurs and Marxist students) and internationally (such as its maritime policies in the South Seas).

On the other side, China is testing how to fracture and weaken the EU’s growing opposition to its activities through ‘divide and rule’. A vehicle for this is China’s new ‘Silk Road’ or ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI) for economic cooperation. This sprawling programme of investment and infrastructure development has raised concerns about China’s influence and control over crucial infrastructure such as ports and telecoms.

As well as this, lending programmes to developing countries mean that China can exert political influence through becoming a large creditor. Hence, President Xi’s recent EU trip included a visit to Italy, where his 500-strong entourage was received like royalty. In light of the above, this can be seen as an attempt to ‘peel off’ a country, since Italy became the first G7 nation to break ranks and endorse the BRI.

The timing was prescient, for two reasons. First, because Italy’s populist government had an ambiguous and antagonistic attitude towards the EU including disputes over spending. And second, because new funding sources are very appealing for a stagnant and floundering economy where infrastructure investment is still way below its pre-2008 crisis peak.

Some wonder whether the UK might be the next G7 country to join the BRI, especially in the post-Brexit era when it needs to develop strategic partnerships and the ‘Global Britain’ brand. Indeed, under the earlier ‘Golden Era’ the UK was the first major Western country to apply to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) (an important source of BRI funds), to sign the Guiding Principles on Financing the Development of the BRI, and to provide funding for the AIIB Project Preparation Special Fund.

However, the BRI is not limited just to establishing routes for the trading of goods and services, but also to strengthening cooperation in policy coordination, infrastructure construction, trade facilitation and financial integration. Also, the UK may not give its official backing to the BRI or need to join it formally, especially given the opposition of other countries. However, it can still support it behind the scenes. Among the more visible areas of cooperation one can look to the financial services sector, with the City connecting to China’s capital markets and UK banks interested in financing deals.

In conclusion, the relationship between China and the EU, and especially the UK, is increasingly important. It not only helps to provide China with export markets and investment opportunities, but it is also a source of skills, innovation and knowledge and provides a ‘window on the West’. For the EU, and especially the UK, China provides a vast trading partner and growing market for consumer and value-added goods and services and a further bridgehead into Asia.

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Shlomo Ben-Ami - Project Syndicate a écrit:

La Russie est-elle la nouvelle puissance hégémonique au Moyen-Orient ?



TEL AVIV – L’effondrement de l’URSS il y a trente ans a été synonyme d’écroulement d’une présence soviétique autrefois très importante au Moyen-Orient. Or, les États-Unis se retirant aujourd’hui de la région, la Russie se hâte d’y rétablir une influence comparable à celle de l’Union soviétique, à travers une démarche alliant force militaire, contrats d’armement, partenariats stratégiques, et déploiement d’une puissance douce. La réussite de la Russie sur cette voie est toutefois largement surestimée.

La percée opérée par la Russie sur le plan de la puissance douce est certes impressionnante. Dès 2012, le président Vladimir Poutine a souligné la nécessité d’étendre la « présence culturelle et universitaire de la Russie à travers le monde, en particulier dans les pays dont une part substantielle de la population parle ou comprend la langue russe ». Lors d’une récente conférence organisée à Moscou, Poutine a clairement fait savoir qu’Israël figurait notamment sur cette liste.

Dans le cadre de cet effort, la Russie a créé une agence fédérale de la diaspora, la Rossotrudnichestvo, qui a ouvert plusieurs centres scientifiques et culturels en Égypte, en Jordanie, au Liban, au Maroc, en Syrie et en Tunisie. Moscou a par ailleurs développé la division arabe de RT, chaine d’actualité télévisée internationale financée par l’État. Avec 6,3 millions de téléspectateurs dans six pays arabophones – Égypte, Irak, Jordanie, Maroc, Arabie saoudite et Émirats arabes unis – RT Arabic compte désormais parmi les plus grandes chaînes de télévision au Moyen-Orient.

Dans sa démarche de comblement du vide créé par le retrait des États-Unis hors de la région, la Russie cherche à se distinguer d’une puissance hégémonique américaine de longue date au Moyen-Orient, en se présentant non pas comme une puissance impérialiste, mais comme une puissance arbitre du progrès culturel. « L’exportation de l’éducation et de la culture contribuera à promouvoir les biens, les services et les idées de la Russie », a déclaré Poutine en 2012, ce que « les armes et l’imposition de régimes politiques ne permettront jamais ».

Ce message a eu un impact. L’an dernier, seuls 35 % des jeunes Arabes (18-24 ans) disaient considérer les États-Unis comme un allié, contre 63 % deux ans auparavant. Si la Russie n’a pas encore surpassé l’Amérique sur ce plan, 20 % des répondants ont qualifié le régime de Moscou comme leur « meilleur ami » en dehors du Moyen-Orient et de l’Afrique du Nord.

Il faut toutefois s’attendre à ce que la Russie déçoive ses sympathisants au Moyen-Orient, notamment dans son rôle de négociateur de paix dans la région. Après l’échec des négociations de paix menées par l’Amérique avec les talibans afghans – et près de 30 ans après la fin d’une occupation soviétique longue d’une décennie dans le pays – le Kremlin est entré en jeu pour arbitrer les discussions entre les talibans et les représentants d’autres groupes afghans.

Or, le Moyen-Orient – région aux multiples conflits liés à des facteurs religieux, ethniques, politiques, historiques et stratégiques – a pour ainsi dire épuisé les possibilités d’engagement de puissances étrangères. Il y a peu de raisons de croire que la Russie, qui n’a jamais été particulièrement connue pour sa propension à bâtir la paix sur le long terme, sera capable d’arbitrer, et encore moins d’adopter, des accords de paix durables.

Les faiblesses diplomatiques de la Russie se trouvent particulièrement illustrées en Syrie. Son recours à la force lui a permis de remporter la guerre civile au profit de la dictature du président Bachar el-Assad, démontrant combien le déploiement stratégique d’une puissance militaire sans bornes – songez à la destruction pure et simple d’Alep – peut véritablement changer la donne.

Depuis, la Russie s’enlise néanmoins dans les rivalités locales entre la Syrie et la Turquie, l’Arabie saoudite et l’Iran, les Turcs et les Kurdes, ainsi qu’entre Israël et l’Iran. Bien que sa politique de neutralité permette à la Russie de maintenir le dialogue avec les différents camps, elle ne permettra pas d’établir un nouvel ordre régional.

La Syrie est aujourd’hui le seul État client de la Russie au Moyen-Orient. Or, même en Syrie, Moscou échoue à capitaliser sur sa position, notamment en raison de sanctions occidentales persistantes. La Russie s’inscrit par ailleurs en désaccord avec l’Iran, son partenaire en Syrie, sur la question des objectifs stratégiques des deux camps dans le pays. Le régime de Moscou aspire à une Syrie stable au sein de laquelle il pourrait consolider sa présence, dans le cadre d’une plus large stratégie d’inversion de sa défaite pendant la guerre froide. Or, le fait que l’Iran utilise la Syrie comme l’arène de son conflit avec Israël vient contrarier cet objectif.

Pour le reste, la Russie trouve en face d’elle des États pour ainsi dire pivots, disposés à travailler avec la puissance qui leur proposera le meilleur accord. Prenons l’exemple de l’Égypte, qui est devenue un acheteur majeur d’armes russes ainsi qu’un allié stratégique en Lybie, où les deux pays soutiennent l’Armée nationale libyenne du général Khalifa Haftar, au mépris du gouvernement internationalement reconnu de Tripoli. Or, loin de considérer la Russie comme un allié majeur, le président égyptien Abdel Fattah Al-Sissi tire parti de cette relation pour renforcer sa position vis-à-vis de l’influence américaine.

L’Arabie saoudite doit pour sa part coordonner ses activités pétrolières avec la Russie, afin de faire face à l’augmentation de la production énergétique des États-Unis, et a sans doute été troublée par la trahison du président américain Donald Trump à l’endroit des Kurdes de Syrie qui, à l’instar des Saoudiens, avaient été de loyaux alliés de l’Amérique. L’idée selon laquelle l’Arabie saoudite pourrait tourner le dos aux États-Unis est pour autant excentrique. Illustrant la valeur que revêt le Royaume dans l’engagement américain au sein de la région, Washington a accepté de financer le déploiement d’un contingent américain après son retrait du nord de la Syrie, afin d’aider Riyad à maintenir l’Iran à distance.

De même, Israël n’a d’autre choix que de se coordonner avec la Russie en Syrie, où le régime israélien a frappé des installations militaires iraniennes. Israël n’a pour autant aucun intérêt à abandonner sa relation privilégiée avec les États-Unis, et n’est tout simplement pas en capacité de la faire.

Quant à la Turquie, son chef de l’industrie de la Défense, Ismail Demir, a récemment déclaré que le pays entretenait des « relations d’alliance » à la fois avec la Russie et les États-Unis. La vérité, c’est que le régime d’Ankara ne sacrifiera pas son appartenance à l’ONU, quel que soit le nombre de missiles S-400 qu’il achète à la Russie.

Si les États-Unis se retirent militairement du Moyen-Orient, ils n’entendent pas totalement quitter la région. L’Amérique maintient en effet une présence armée massive dans le Golfe, et sait pouvoir compter sur un long passé d’impérialisme culturel populaire, avec lequel l’offensive russe naissante version soft power ne peut tout simplement pas rivaliser.

La Russie sera peut-être en mesure d’exploiter pendant un certain temps son influence dans la région. Pour autant, avec une économie équivalente en taille à celle de la Corée du Sud, et des capacités militaires sans commune mesure avec celles de l’Amérique, le régime Moscou manque des outils nécessaires au statut de puissance hégémonique incontestée. Dès lors que les États-Unis décideront de reprendre le flambeau de la démocratie et de la paix, la Russie ne fera pas le poids.

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MessageSujet: Re: Géopolitique Mondiale   Géopolitique Mondiale - Page 8 Icon_minitimeSam 7 Déc 2019 - 0:02

Libye: pourquoi Ankara livre des armes à Tripoli
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Par RFI Publié le 03-07-2019 Modifié le 03-07-2019 à 15:10

L'autorité de l'Est libyen accuse Ankara d'ingérence en Libye et de violer l'embargo sur les armes imposé par l'ONU à ce pays depuis 2011. Si la Turquie n'est pas le seul pays ainsi impliqué en Libye, ses récentes livraisons d'armes et de drones armés à destination des milices de Tripoli leur ont permis de reprendre la ville stratégique de Gharyan des mains du général Khalifa Haftar.
Parmi tous les responsables étrangers impliqués dans le dossier libyen, Recep Tayyip Erdogan est le plus clair. Il a promis de faire tout son possible pour que les milices islamistes gagnent, en leur accordant des aides politiques, militaires, logistiques et en leur fournissant des renseignements.

Le président turc accepte de soutenir sans réserve les Libyens venus le voir au début de la guerre de Tripoli. À savoir, le ministre de l'Intérieur Fathi Bachagha et d'autres responsables des Frères musulmans.

Les raisons de l'implication turque en Libye
02-07-2019 - Par Houda Ibrahim


00:00 02:36
Ces derniers mois, la Turquie a fourni à Tripoli différentes sortes d'armes : des tanks et surtout des drones armés, sans doute opérés par des Turcs. Ces drones ont fait un fort effet. Depuis, quatre drones ont été abattus par l'Armée nationale libyenne.

Furieuses, les autorités de l'Est libyen dirigées par le général Khalifa Haftar voient dans cette intervention une déclaration de guerre et menacent les intérêts turcs dans le pays. Pour elles, Ankara empêche la sécurité et la stabilité en Libye en soutenant les Frères musulmans.

Alors que les autorités de l'Ouest défendent cette intervention, beaucoup à l'Est considèrent que le combat contre la Turquie en Libye est le combat de toute la région contre la confrérie panislamiste.


voila pourquoi






Accord turco-libyen: Athènes expulse l'ambassadeur libyen

Citation :


Publié il y a 10 heures, mis à jour il y a 3 heures
La Grèce a annoncé ce vendredi l'expulsion de l'ambassadeur libyen à Athènes, Tripoli n'ayant pas révélé comme le gouvernement grec l'exigeait le contenu d'un accord controversé avec la Turquie de délimitation maritime, signé la semaine dernière.

À lire aussi : Athènes veut enfermer les migrants dans des centres
«L'ambassadeur libyen a été convoqué au ministère ce matin et a été informé de son expulsion», a déclaré «avec regret» aux médias le ministre grec des Affaires étrangères Nikos Dendias. Un délai de 72 heures lui a été donné pour quitter la Grèce, a-t-il précisé, ajoutant que «son expulsion ne signifiait pas l'interruption des relations diplomatiques avec la Libye». «La décision de la Grèce d'expulser notre ambassadeur est inacceptable», a réagi le ministre des Affaires étrangères libyen, Mohamed Ali Siala interrogé par la chaîne de télévision Libya al-Ahrar. «La Grèce n'a pas de représentation diplomatique en Libye sinon nous aurions expulsé leur ambassadeur en application du principe de réciprocité», a-t-il ajouté.


L'accord à l'origine de cette expulsion a été signé le 27 novembre à Istanbul par le président turc, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, et Fayez al-Sarraj, chef du Gouvernement libyen d'union nationale (GNA), reconnu par l'ONU. Athènes «condamne vivement cet accord» qui «tente de délimiter des zones maritimes entre la Turquie et la Libye, ce qui constitue une violation du droit maritime international et des droits souverains de la Grèce et d'autres pays», a fustigé Nikos Dendias. «Il n'y a pas de frontières entre la Turquie et la Libye», a expliqué le porte-parole du ministère, Alexandros Gennimatas, soulignant qu'on ne pouvait fonder le droit «sur l'illégalité».

Cet accord «supprime de la carte certaines îles grecques»
A l'occasion d'un débat au Parlement, le premier ministre grec Kyriakos Mitsotakis a indiqué que cet accord «supprime de la carte certaines îles grecques» et «a déjà entraîné l'isolement diplomatique de la Turquie». L'accord a été «dénoncé par les Etats-Unis, l'Union européenne, l'Egypte et Israël», a-t-il ajouté soulignant que la question serait abordée lors du sommet européen la semaine prochaine à Bruxelles. De son côté, le ministre turc des Affaires étrangères, Mevlut Cavusoglu a déploré l'expulsion de l'ambassadeur libyen, la qualifiant «d'erreur». Cette expulsion «ne convient pas à la courtoisie diplomatique. Est-il juste de menacer un pays?», a-t-il déclaré depuis Rome à une télévision turque. Qualifié de memorandum par Tripoli, cet accord a suscité de vives réactions de pays riverains de la Méditerranée. Outre la Grèce, Chypre et l'Egypte avaient déploré sa signature.

La découverte de réserves de gaz et de pétrole au large de Chypre, dans le sud-est de la Méditerranée, a déclenché ces dernières années une dispute entre Nicosie, appuyée par la Grèce et l'Union européenne, et Ankara, qui occupe la partie nord de l'île. Selon la presse turque, une fois l'accord ratifié par le Parlement turc, Ankara communiquera aux Nations unies (ONU) les coordonnées de sa nouvelle «zone économique exclusive (ZEE)» en Méditerranée orientale. Mais le premier ministre grec a estimé qu'en raison de la situation compliquée en Libye, cet accord n'avait pas de valeur juridique car il ne pourrait pas être signé par l'actuel gouvernement à Tripoli. «Cet accord va s'effondrer dès sa naissance», a-t-il dit.

Mercredi prochain, Aguila Salah Issa, président contesté du parlement libyen qui s'est déclaré «contre cet accord», selon Athènes, effectuera une visite dans la capitale grecque.



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MessageSujet: Re: Géopolitique Mondiale   Géopolitique Mondiale - Page 8 Icon_minitimeMer 25 Déc 2019 - 9:51

Quelqu'un a-t-il remarqué qu'à chaque fois que la Turquie avance un pion, le sort des Ouighours vient sur le devant de la scène ?
Suite à l'accord avec la Libye, on entend plus parler que de la Chine qui martyrise les Ouighours


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Colonel Chris Mayer - International Policy Digest a écrit:

Looking Behind the Proxy Curtain


Géopolitique Mondiale - Page 8 39963010

It seems that no day or hour goes by without someone in the news cycle mentioning proxies, proxy action, or proxy warfare regarding one or more parties allegedly on the brink of war. Some note that the Cold War was typified by proxy warfare, which enabled great power competition while managing the risk of escalation to open warfare among those great powers and potential nuclear exchanges. During the Cold War, proxies were considered a buffer — a safeguard to nuclear confrontation — while in this century, proxies are described as a destabilizing factor that could lead to major regional conflict. Can both of these assertions be true – or are they both erroneous? What is a proxy? Why would governments promote the use of military force that they cannot directly control? What can be done to control those risks?

The Cambridge Dictionary defines a proxy as “authority given to someone to act for you.” Most people who have varying amounts of commercially traded stocks do not go to the shareholders’ meeting in person; instead, they sign a proxy authorization. That proxy is acting as the agent of the shareholder (the “Principal”).

Whether it is a shareholder’s vote or some other action, the Principal accepts responsibility for the authority given to the proxy. Proxy military forces are similar. The difference is that governments typically use proxies to avoid responsibility. For example, in conventional armed conflict, Country A (the Principal) supports armed action by Country B (its authorized proxy) against Country C. The various Arab-Israeli Wars are one example of this; Country A being the Soviet Union, Country B being Egypt and Syria and Country C as Israel. Israel itself was proxy for another Principal: the United States. In asymmetric operations, Country A might employ mercenaries or other non-state armed groups to disrupt Country C. Examples include the various activities of mercenary Bob Denard in French-speaking African countries, allegedly operating on behalf of the French government. Other examples of proxy war filled this time period. Even popular entertainment, such as the TV series Star Trek depicted proxy warfare used by the great interstellar rivals. Proxies were like actors on a stage directed by Principals, who called the cues from behind a curtain. This theater allowed the Principals to avoid direct superpower conflict.

In the 21st century, the use of proxies tends to reflect the asymmetric model. These proxies include mercenaries, other non-state armed groups such as warlords, local militias, “foreign fighters,” insurgents, and commercial entities – including Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs.) As with Denard’s Les Affreux mercenary bands in Africa, these proxies do not appear to be, and may not be, under the strict control of their Principals. Rather than puppets on strings, they are actors inclined to improvisation. These actors include Russian sponsored groups in Ukraine, such as Cossacks, the Night Wolves, and the Wagner Group — which is also active in a growing number of other countries. Iranian sponsored actors feature various contingents of Iran’s foreign legions in Syria, including the Afghan Fatemiyoun, Lebanese Hezbollah, and the Pakistani Zeinabiyoun Brigade.

Countries use proxies for several reasons, but primary among these is the perception of deniability. Proxies operate under a fiction of being independent of their Principal. The Principal can reap the benefits of success while denying responsibility for failures or atrocities. United Arab Emirates’ use of mercenaries in Yemen, Sudan’s use of Janjaweed in Darfur and Russian quasi-mercenary organizations in general follow this model. Aside from deniability, Russia uses proxies to compensate for dwindling manpower in Russia’s regular forces. Russia’s population is in decline and their ability to project military power is also declining. Their standing army is only a fraction of what it was during the Cold War. Even during the Soviet era, their army was needed to help with the fall harvest, which limited the ability to use soldiers in protracted foreign operations. When Soviet soldiers were used abroad, such as in Afghanistan, the Russian population became sensitive to casualties. All of this limits the current ability of Russia to use its regular forces to augment the combat capability of proxy states. Mercenary-like organizations allow Russia to use trained and experienced volunteers who are “off the books” of the standing army.

The United States also uses proxy forces, but in ways unlike Russia. Like Russia, the armed forces of the United States are significantly smaller than they were during the Cold War and American governments have been reluctant to approve military structures necessary to meet the force projection needs of 21st-century operations. Further complicating this is a decline in the number of military-age males who meet minimum standards for enlistment. The United States uses PMSCs as proxies to fill the gap between requirements and troops. Unlike Russia, the United States does not use PMSCs in direct combat operations. There is sometimes some fudging around the definition of combat operations, but Defense Department regulations and policy is clear about the prohibition. Additionally, the United States is unique in the breadth and depth of regulations overseeing the use of PMSCs and their accountability under the law. This includes accountability by court-martial, when other legal mechanisms, such as the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act may fall short.

Proxy forces used by other governments, and particularly Russia, do not have the same degree of oversight and accountability. Their permission to use deadly force is much less restricted and include active combat operations. This lack of control can lead to situations where independent actions by the proxy forces may cause embarrassment to the Principal. The attack by Wagner forces against the Conoco plant in Syria in the spring of 2018 is an example of this. Their defeat was a humiliation for Russia, despite its attempt to deny accountability. Independent action like this could draw the Principal into an escalation of force when ill-advised and failed combat operations by proxies threaten the larger interests of the one or more Principal state actors.

The most common problem is that a lack of accountability can lead to law of war or human rights violations. Bob Denard’s Les Affreux working as a proxy for the French government is only one example. These violations embarrassed the French government and contributed to French loss of influence in Africa. Despite regulation and accountability, the United States is not immune from such incidents. American foreign policy is still reeling from an incident in 2007 when armed security contractors working for the U.S. State Department opened fire on unarmed civilians in Nisour Square, Iraq. The personnel involved were brought to trial and convicted, but the very fact that this attack happened affected U.S. use of these kinds of proxies ever since. In other cases, such as Sudan’s use of its proxy, the Janjaweed, in Darfur, human rights violations were encouraged as a means of terror to keep subject populations under control.

For either reason, unwanted escalation or serious violations of humanitarian norms, the use of proxy forces is a serious destabilizing element of the 21st century. Regardless of these risks, proxy warfare is spreading. For a number of countries, whether from the Global East or West, North or South, the ability to use proxy military force to further strategic interests without attribution or accountability seems to outweigh the risks. The risk/benefit calculation is aided by international law that holds the individual mercenary, volunteer, or other non-state direct participants in hostilities as accountable rather than the state that authorized their proxy status.

This unaccountable non-attribution exists only because other states accept the fiction. They allow the Principal to hide behind the curtain of deniability while the proxy engages in actions that violate or undermine regional peace and stability. In most cases, other governments know who is behind the curtain but fear the consequences of holding the Principal accountable. In this way, while the availability of proxies adds to instability, the agreement not to hold Principals responsible for their proxies manages the risk of great power confrontation. It is a global stage where major powers engage in the willing suspension of disbelief. The perceived cost-benefit of proxies, however, is only positive as long as other states participate in the theater. This may be changing.

When Iranian proxies attacked the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad in December 2019 and U.S. and coalition intelligence indicated that more such attacks on other embassies and U.S. citizens were imminent, although perhaps not immediate, the U.S. government dropped the fiction of blaming the proxies. The United States attacked and killed Iranian General Soleimani, who was responsible for that attack and for previous events. Iran responded, launching missile attacks from Iran on U.S. installations in Iraq. The curtain of non-attribution fell away, and the United States made it clear that an attack on U.S. citizens by Iranian proxies would be answered by direct counter-strikes on Iran. The United States had not been so clear about piercing the proxy veil since the beginning of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In a different approach to lifting the curtain, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) passed a resolution in July 2019 calling for transparent reporting of all PMSCs by all member states. Although the resolution has no executive authority, a similar proposal is under review by the OSCE’s Forum for Security Cooperation in Vienna. This would include PMSCs in member state annual reports on their security forces. Although helpful, this still falls short of complete accountability for proxy forces, and particularly for Russian mercenary-like organizations since Moscow denies any official relationship with them. Despite that, it is a first step towards transparency and accountability. It is a first step that requires further steps before OSCE members can use it to tell the emperor that he is uncloaked.

Will the end of the proxy fiction game end the destabilizing effect of proxy forces? Will undeniable attribution reduce adventurism by their Principals? Or, will the removal of plausible deniability increase the risk that local struggles for peripheral interests might escalate to major regional conflicts – or more?

The curtain rises.

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James Traub- Foreign Policy a écrit:

After the Coronavirus, the Era of Small Government Will Be Over


The pandemic has put the state at the center of political life around the world. The aftermath will keep it there.



Will verything change? Will anything? In the wild heart of tumult, we overestimate how easily settled patterns of behavior can be overthrown. “We’ll never laugh again,” we glumly predicted after the 9/11 attacks. And then, of course, we did. And now, with global deaths from the coronavirus topping 121,000 and much of the world under lockdown? Perhaps, as the veteran diplomat Richard Haass suggests in an essay in Foreign Affairs, things that were already happening will simply happen sooner.


But what things? In what sphere? Those of us who think and write about foreign policy naturally ask how the pandemic will reshape relations among states. But perhaps that’s the wrong question. Crises are a blunt tool for change, but they do have a shape; and that shape determines the nature of the changes they force. Of the cataclysmic events of the last century, the two world wars radically changed the state system by replacing the European balance of power with an American-led world order based on institutions and law. The collapse of the Soviet Union ushered in a quarter-century of U.S. hegemony, now drawing to a close.

World orders, as former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger writes in his book of the same name, last until their foundations are shattered by events. The pandemic is not that kind of event. What we see, in fact, is the apex institutions of today’s global order—the U.N. Security Council, the G-20, the European Union—making hapless gestures as the virus races around the world. There is no reason to believe that their inability to mount an effective global response to what is plainly a global problem threatens their survival. The crisis is far more likely, as Haass predicts, to hasten the relative decline of the United States and the nationalist reaction against global cooperation. It may also further deepen the breach between the United States and China, each of which has blamed the other for the outbreak of the pandemic.

This crisis will affect, above all, our personal lives. The national lockdown is an intimate experience, and the experience is sure to change us at an intimate level. It’s as if the lights have been switched off and we have all had to learn to find our way in darkness. I don’t know whether it will make people kinder, more self-protective, or, as I suggested in an essay just before the pandemic struck, less individualistic. Already we have a kind of social pandemic of loneliness. How much deeper will it become if social distancing must remain in place until a vaccine has been developed, as increasingly seems to be the case?

The catastrophe to which the pandemic bears the closest comparison is the Great Depression, a worldwide event in which national economies collapsed with terrifying speed. That is, the change-forcing event will not be the scale of death but the economic and political consequences. Fifty million people died during the 1918 flu pandemic without redirecting the course of global politics. In any case, the projected death toll from the coronavirus has been diminishing in recent days as preventive measures have taken hold. The virus may also turn out to be somewhat less lethal than we feared.

But the economic suffering has been profound and threatens the legitimacy of national governments. It is in this sense that the pandemic resembles the Depression. As World War I made the 19th-century alliance system look like a suicide pact, so the Depression put an end to the giddy faith in an unregulated marketplace. The state stepped in where the market failed, and it never fully stepped out again. The Nordic model that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders so admires first took shape in 1938, when, after years of mass unemployment and labor strife, workers and employers groups came together to agree on a system of national-level negotiations.

The pandemic certainly will not threaten capitalism itself, both because the economic pain will not be so long-lasting and because states, no longer chained to a laissez-faire orthodoxy, have responded with massive spending. The Economist recently noted that overall state spending as a percentage of GDP in the world’s richest countries is likely to cross 40 percent this year, perhaps to the highest rate ever.


That very response has already gone a long way toward undermining the anti-statism that serves as the orienting ideology of the Republican Party in the United States. As happened during the Depression, measures justified as emergency responses quickly exit from the category of the unthinkable to join the policy toolkit. The Senate is unlikely to adopt the recent proposal by Republican Sen. Josh Hawley, an ardent supporter of President Donald Trump, to reimburse businesses for 80 percent of their payroll, a policy apparently lifted from the United Kingdom or Denmark. But the Hawley proposal has nevertheless removed the mark of the devil from the Nordic model. Nor is the effect limited to the United States. In the face of catastrophe, as the editorialist Alain Frachon recently wrote in Le Monde, “government is no longer ‘the problem,’ as one said in the Thatcher-Reagan era, but ‘the solution.’”

The solution will be seen to mean not only active government but good government. Those are scarcely the same things. Despite its comprehensive welfare and public health system, the U.K. has already suffered more than 13,000 deaths, and the outbreak there has not yet reached a peak—because Prime Minister Boris Johnson, like Trump, at first dismissed the virus as a kind of foreign fad. European countries with less captious leaders, like France, have still suffered very high death tolls because they did not react early enough. The countries that have fared best—South Korea, Germany, New Zealand, perhaps Sweden—have an effective and nonpartisan civil service and a culture of pragmatic governance.

In the United States, a litany of missed opportunities reflect a demonization of government, and a consequent enfeeblement of the state, that stretches back to the era of President Ronald Reagan. Four decades of Republican hostility to government culminated in Trump’s McCarthyite crusade against the so-called deep state; that dog may no longer hunt. Though major tech companies are bound to absorb traditional public functions, whether contract-tracing for epidemics or the execution of the census, the prospect of big tech as a kind of parallel and autonomous government seems like a dangerous fantasy.


The return of the state may be a disaster in some places. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has used the pandemic as a pretext to award himself the power to rule by decree for as long as he wishes. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought to bring India’s clangorous free press to heel. The coronavirus is spring time for populists. But the state’s resurgence will make for intriguing drama in the United States, where Trump, unable to run for reelection on the economy and deprived of the foil of a socialist Sanders, will have to extol the vast government forces he has deployed to overcome the health and economic threat of the coronavirus. Left to his own devices, Trump might have been the Herbert Hoover of the pandemic; instead, he has become an unwilling Franklin D. Roosevelt. On the Democratic side, the imperative of state intervention may well push the presumptive nominee Joe Biden closer to Sanders on issues like health care and Social Security.

If the return of the state includes the idea of heightened nationalism, as seems to be the case, then the implications of the pandemic for statecraft may be almost wholly negative. Nationalism has already hamstrung the efforts of the EU to coordinate regional responses to problems like refugees and immigration. The coronavirus similarly shows us that we need more global governance, not less—but it doesn’t shake the system violently enough to force change. The cataclysm that is likely to accomplish that goal is climate change. Let’s hope the realization dawns before it’s too late to do us much good.

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Eleonora Ardemagni - the Italian Institute for International Political Studies - the Catholic University of Milan - SADA a écrit:

The Re-shaping of Arab Civil-Military Relations



The shifting relationships between armies and civil society are revealing new balances within defense structures.



In the last decade, uprisings, civil wars, the emergence of defense networks, such as Shia militias, and transnational jihadi threats have transformed the relationship between the army and society in Arab states. Military actors—both armies and militias—have regained a decisive role in daily political life. A recent example of this includes state-led responses to the Coronavirus pandemic.  Armies have played an essential role in the implementation and enforcement of lockdowns, curfews, and in providing health and essential services in countries such as Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Jordan, and Oman. Also, in some cases, such as in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, these state-led responses coexist or coordinate with militias.

In light of fluctuating social and security needs in the region, new analytical lenses are required to frame the interaction between the military and society. These new balances between armies and societies shape different patterns of security governance, affecting state institutional architectures and fostering trajectories of either decentralization or centralization paths. In most of the Arab states, defense structures experienced a recent and noticeable reordering of power relations. This is largely driven by differences in how citizens engage and are mobilized in the military (as volunteers or conscripts) and the implications on evolving national identities.

THREE TYPOLOGIES OF ARMY-SOCIETY RELATIONS

The reordering of power relations in Arab defense structures forged three typologies of army-society relations. The first typology consists of armies that are complemented by, or coexist with, militias. The second is comprised of armies complemented by militarized police or elite units, and the third consists of armies operating as the primary defense-drivers.  Within fractured states undergoing deep societal divisions, armies either are complemented from below by state-sponsored or institutionalized militias (Syria, Libya, Yemen, Iraq, and Sudan), or they coexist with asymmetric military forces (Lebanon). Yemen provides an example of the first typology. In Yemen, the army battles alongside Southern Transitional Council (STC) loyalist militias against the Houthis, despite their rivalry in Aden and many southern regions. Thus, in this security hybridization pattern, armies and militias combine cooperation and competition depending on their tactical and strategical interests.

In resilient states that exhibit higher levels of institutional capacity and domestic support —such as Morocco, Jordan, and the Gulf monarchies—armies tend to be complemented by national guards or gendarmeries with military status: they fall under the second typology.  These armies may also be complemented by elite units, such as the special forces, that are provided with equipment, training, and higher budgets. There are subtle financial and social competitions between armies and these complementary units. For instance, although Morocco’s gendarmerie is attached to the royal army, it reportedly absorbs 22 percent of the military budget, while the army only receives 17 percent.  Also, in Jordan, a gendarmerie force was created in 2008 (darak) that was distinct from the army and allowed Jordanians of Palestinian origin to enlist. This provided further arguments to the protest of the retired officers.  Comparatively, in army-driven states such as Egypt and Algeria, armies remain the main pillar of the defense structure, representing the third typology. For instance, the bourgeoning gendarmerie of Algeria is integrated into the army. Moreover, the Algerian armed forces directly control the gendarmerie’s counterterrorism force and anti-rebellion units. In this case, the army is not in overt or subtle competition with the gendarmerie.

As theoretical categorizations, these typologies are not fixed boxes. Rather, they can present exceptions resulting from changing power balances within the defense structure. For example, in Tunisia the army has experienced budgetary increases and growing political influence since the ousting of the Zine El Abidine Ben ‘Ali’s police-state. This marks a paradigm shift since the internal security forces, which include the National Guard, have had the upper hand since the Bourguiba presidency. Moreover, Iraq is a case that falls under the first and second typology, as it actually has four armies. Iraq’s checkpoints are an example of the first typology, given that some checkpoints are jointly run by local police, soldiers, and members of the Hashd al Shaabi, who fought together against the “Islamic State.”  At the same time, the Iraqi army is complemented by an elite force (the Counterterrorism Service) and an institutionalized militia (the Hashd al Shaabi), both of which fall directly under the prime minister’s office.  The army coexists with the Peshmerga forces, who report to the Kurdistan Regional Government; the Iraqi constitution recognizes these forces as the guards of the Kurdish federal region.

VOLUNTEERS, CONSCRIPTS, AND NATIONAL IDENTITY

The way citizens engage with and mobilize within the military is distinct between these three typologies. In the first typology (armies complemented by militias or coexistent with them), volunteerism has become the predominant form of recruitment. Next, in the last few years countries presenting the second typology (armies complemented by militarized police or elite units) have adopted conscription and national military service. In some cases, this is the first time states have used these recruitment tools. Lastly, in the third typology (armies as central pillars of the defense structure), conscription has continued to be in place on a wide basis.

These different recruitment tools frame the army’s role in the evolution of national identities. In fractured states, social recruitment is a bottom-up process that relies mostly on volunteerism (first typology). Willing to fight for a mix of salary, local belonging, ideology, and personal status, militia’s volunteers shape segmented and competing military groups that are otherwise largely homogeneous in terms of geography, religion, and ethnicity. Meanwhile, the army is often comprised of uniform, not community-mixed, brigades. In this kind of army-society relationship, conscription has almost entirely lost its traditional role of national socialization, although conscription is still implemented in Sudan (in conjunction with voluntary military service) and has recently been reintroduced in Syria.  Consequently, these military structures lead to different conceptions of national identity vying for prominence within state boundaries. Moreover, sometimes militias, which represent imagined and rival national fragments, exploit nationalist sentiments to promote their strategic interests and ideology. This is evident in how the Hashd al Shaabi plays the role of national defender, and how the Houthis present themselves as protectors of the Yemeni nation against perceived Saudi aggression.  

In the case of resilient states, selective recruitment among citizens and the Gulf Monarchies’ use of foreign contract soldiers accompany new opportunities for civil-military relations (second typology). In Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Morocco, recruitment has been combined with the introduction of conscription for male citizens. In Jordan, recruitment operates in conjunction with national military service (including one month of military training with the Jordanian Armed Forces). In all of these countries, recruitment is also open to female, either as conscripts or volunteers. As such, the army plays a role in promoting a sense of nationhood and civic responsibility in times of social and economic transformations. Moreover, conscription and national military service are part of top-down national identity projects. Military-related values and symbols are vectors of national belonging, boosting discipline and community engagement among citizens.

Lastly, when the army is the central pillar of the defense structure (third typology), like in Egypt and Algeria, the recruitment process is monopolized from above. As such, conscription is implemented on a wide basis. In these army-driven states, the army overlaps with the core of the state and it embodies national identity values as a post-revolutionary force. This has minimized or impeded alternative narratives of nationhood in these countries so far.

SECURITY GOVERNANCE AND STATE TRAJECTORIES

The reshaping of civil-military relations deeply affects security governance. The three typologies described above entail different patterns of security making, enforcement, and provision: security governance ranges from “network” (involving multiple players) to “centralized” (with or without institutional fragmentation). But these patterns also underline different institutional trajectories: at a formal or informal level, state processes of decision-making and enforcement   vary from “decentralization” to “centralization.” In the first typology (fractured states with an army and state-sponsored or institutionalized militias), security governance is highly localized, or decentralized, as units or groups mostly operate in areas with the same or similar confessional or regional belonging. In Yemen, the Security Belt Forces, which mostly operates in Aden and its neighboring areas, provide an example of these dynamics. In this case, armies and militias enforcing anti-pandemic measures highlight the existing pattern of network governance. For instance, the Hashd al Shaabi is engaged in sanitization efforts and assists the army in imposing the curfew across Iraq. Similarly, Hezbollah organized and enforced its health emergency plan in the south of Lebanon, Bekaa Valley, and southern Beirut’s outskirts.

Within the second typology of army-society relations (resilient states with an army complemented by militarized police or elite units), security governance is centralized, although some caveats persist. In this case, centralization in security governance is pursued through institutional fragmentation. The defense structure supports state centralization largely due to well-designed forms of counterbalancing between overlapping defense forces. Such counterbalancing exists in Bahrain between the army and the separate branch of the National Guard. However, this security balance is not static. For instance, the planned integration path between the Saudi army and the National Guard—pursued through transformation teams, purges, appointments, and tighter spending control by Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman—reflects the variability in these dynamics. This could place the system of checks and balances, which underpins the top-down strategy of security fragmentation under pressure, and finally undermine the coup proofing function. Lastly, the third typology (army-driven states with armies as main defense pillars) promotes centralized security governance without institutional fragmentation.  In this case, the army already exercises significant political control over the whole military field, a product of the perpetuation of revolutionary legacies.

REASSEMBLING DEFENSE STRUCTURES

The reshaping of army-society relations sheds light on the growing fragmentation among Arab defense structures. Many military players interact within the defense field. These players negotiate power, the geographical radius of action and, in some cases, political representation. In this framework, defense structures in Arab states today are primarily heterogenous; at the same time, in states where the army is the main defense pillar (third typology), the defense structure is unified. In the first typology (armies complemented by or coexistent with militias), security hybridization formalizes a multiplicity of local defense actors in fractured states. This pattern of security governance is the effect of centrifugal claims. However, it also supports some form of ground federalism which coalesces around “militiadoms,” given the absence, or the limits, of federal processes managed by central authorities who  are widely considered illegitimate. The local enforcement and governance of anti-COVID-19 measures is likely to strengthen this trend. Some of these multiple defense structures, such as those in Lebanon and Iraq, have the potential to transform into dual systems, as a consequence of formal, or informal, political agreements.

In the second typology (armies complemented by militarized police and /or elite units), the defense structure is dual1 due to pervasive top-down choices aimed at ensuring regime stability in remaining resilient states.2 However, intermittent social protests requiring strengthened street control by gendarmerie-like bodies or centralizing leadership with nationalist messaging can alter this balance, as evidenced by Jordan or Morocco and Saudi Arabia, respectively. This may push duality towards gradual convergence under a unified defense structure, demonstrating the extent to which army-society relations reflect the harmony, or the clash, of players’ strategic interests within the political field.

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