The Real South China Sea Crisis: An Environmental Time Bomb | The National Interest Blog

What China is doing in the South China Sea is nothing short of geo-engineering on steroids. It clearly presents both military and ecological threats to the region and beyond. In strategic terms, construction of advanced facilities allows China to establish military garrisons in the middle of the contested area, with Fiery Cross expected to serve as a command-and-control center for Beijing’s military and para-military activities across the South China Sea. Soon, China may be able to place advanced missile-defense systems, coordinate more sophisticated marine and air patrols in the area, and progressively prevent other neighboring countries from resupplying their personnel on features they already control.

The Real South China Sea Crisis: An Environmental Time Bomb | The National Interest Blog

China’s Nuclear Warning – WSJ

“Twenty years after an Iran-style deal, North Korea has 20 bombs.”

Even China is now raising flags about nuclear proliferation. Beijing helped Pakistan get the bomb in the 1980s and has been North Korea’s patron from one Dear Leader to the next. But in February Chinese officials warned a group of Americans that Pyongyang has many more nuclear warheads than previously believed: up to 20 already, perhaps 40 by next year.

The new Chinese assessment, reported Thursday by the Journal, is based on updated intelligence concerning North Korea’s ability to enrich uranium. The North Koreans had no such capability when they signed the 1994 Agreed Framework with the Clinton Administration, which required them to stop their nuclear-weapons efforts.

But Pyongyang cheated on that deal, not least by developing a uranium-enrichment program first acknowledged to the Bush Administration in 2002. The North Koreans tested their first bomb in 2006 and were later discovered to be building a secret nuclear facility in the Syrian desert, which was destroyed by Israeli warplanes in 2007. The Bush Administration rewarded this behavior with a new nuclear deal—which Pyongyang again violated by testing bombs in 2009 and 2013.

China’s Nuclear Warning – WSJ

It’s Time To Figure Out What Putin Wants – Defense One

Russian President Vladimir Putin is neither lunatic nor fanatic. He has become a more dangerous phenomenon: a believer in a cause.

What emerges is confirmation, if any were needed, that corruption is not simply a lamentable byproduct of the current authoritarian mode of rule, it is a central gear of the machine, a means of compromising and controlling yet also rewarding and socializing the elite.

But is this what Putin was after all the time? Did he have some plan to build this kind of state? This is Dawisha’s contention.

… Putin may be a smart tactician, maybe, but not a far-sighted strategist.

… Is kleptocracy really what it is all about? To Dawisha, it seems so: everything is interpreted in terms of making money or else acquiring and retaining power so as to make money. …

Yet there is something more visceral about Putin’s worldview. His advocacy of Russian “sovereignty”—something that for him also requires that Moscow have a Eurasian sphere of influence and is able to pick and choose the elements of the international legal order that suit it—and his outspoken defense of the distinctiveness of Russian culture are more than just gambits to play to Russian nationalist sentiment.

It’s Time To Figure Out What Putin Wants – Defense One

This whole “sphere of influence” thing keeps coming back again and again and again. While kleptocracy is a key mode of operation, there is more to it which brings us back to the sphere of influence. Putin wants the old Soviet Union back but in a different form. Putin seeks to have heavy influence over the nations that comprised the old Soviet Union. That’s the sphere of influence. The Russian threat to surrounding countries will remain.

Atomic Labs Across the U.S. Race to Stop Iran – NYTimes.com

When diplomats at the Iran talks in Switzerland pummeled Department of Energy scientists with difficult technical questions — like how to keep Iran’s nuclear plants open but ensure that the country was still a year away from building a bomb — the scientists at times turned to a secret replica of Iran’s nuclear facilities built deep in the forests of Tennessee.

There inside a gleaming plant at the Oak Ridge nuclear reservation were giant centrifuges — some surrendered more than a decade ago by Libya, others built since — that helped the scientists come up with what they told President Obama were the “best reasonable” estimates of Iran’s real-life ability to race for a weapon under different scenarios.

“We know a lot more about Iranian centrifuges than we would otherwise,” said a senior nuclear specialist familiar with the forested site and its covert operations.

The classified replica is but one part of an extensive crash program within the nation’s nine atomic laboratories — Oak Ridge, Los Alamos and Livermore among them — to block Iran’s nuclear progress. As the next round of talks begins on Wednesday in Vienna, the secretive effort remains a technological obsession for thousands of lab employees living the Manhattan Project in reverse. Instead of building a bomb, as their predecessors did in a race to end World War II, they are trying to stop one.

Atomic Labs Across the U.S. Race to Stop Iran – NYTimes.com

The Disintegration of the World – The Atlantic

‘Ian Bremmer described these times as “a period of geopolitical creative destruction—the glue that is holding the world together no longer sticks.” The postwar geopolitical system is breaking down, and we don’t yet know what will take its place. “The last time this happened was the end of World War II,” Bremmer said. “The level of geopolitical risk as a consequence of this transition—which is just starting—is absolutely going to be a big deal.”’

Leon Trotsky is not often invoked as a management guru, but a line frequently attributed to him would surely resonate with many business leaders today. “You may not be interested in war,” the Bolshevik revolutionary is said to have warned, “but war is interested in you.” War, or at least geopolitics, is figuring more and more prominently in the thinking and fortunes of large businesses.

Ian Bremmer, the founder of the Eurasia Group, which advises companies on geopolitical issues, told me that convincing companies of the value of his firm’s services was, until recently, a challenge. “There used to be a level of skepticism among top executives: ‘This is interesting, this is fun to talk about, but does it matter for my business?’?” But they don’t say that anymore. “We no longer have to make a business case as to why what we do is relevant.”

The headline reasons are obvious. Russia has annexed Crimea. A new, self-proclaimed state has arisen in the Middle East, and the region’s turmoil has deepened. China’s rhetoric has grown more martial. The eurozone experiment is foundering.

But the forces of globalization have created pressures at home that businesses can no longer safely ignore. One symptom of our era of change is an erosion of trust in major institutions, prominently including corporations: in 2015, the public-relations firm Edelman found that, for the first time since 2008, trust in business broadly declined, falling in 16 of the 27 countries included in the firm’s annual trust survey.

The Disintegration of the World – The Atlantic

The fact that we can’t seem to break lose from the 2008 financial crash is one clue that something is not right. We’re making progress but not great progress like we are stuck in mud.

When countries continually kick the can down the road by not addressing real problems then eventually you reach the end of the road. Two things lie at the end of the road: Mud and cliff. Countries get stuck in the mud as they can’t get things going, and then something comes along pushing them over a cliff.

Countdown to War: The Coming U.S.-Russia Conflict | The National Interest

“Putin and Obama think they’ve got this crisis contained. Two prominent experts say they may be wrong.”

The United States and Russia may be unwittingly stumbling down a path to deeper confrontation and even war, cautioned two prominent American national-security experts at a panel in Washington, D.C. Tuesday. Graham Allison, director of Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and Dimitri K. Simes, president of the Center for the National Interest and publisher of this magazine, suggested that while leaders in both countries may not intend to escalate their disagreements on matters like the Ukraine crisis, poorly structured decision processes, opposing goals and divergent narratives can still produce conflict. “Even as they state that they don’t want a confrontation—with full conviction,” said Simes, “they are seeking a victory without war…Both sides show little inclination to compromise on what they consider to be fundamental and what they believe they are entitled to.”

Worse, warned Allison, Russia may believe that the use of threats and military force will produce the best outcomes in a serious confrontation with the West. “Russia has escalation dominance,” said Allison, and “from a Russian point of view,” shaping the confrontation in such a way “sends a very powerful message, especially to the Europeans.” Allison and Simes suggested that a diplomatic resolution is still very possible—“we are not predicting World War Three,” in Simes’ words—but that “this is not [a] time in the U.S.-Russian relationship when you want to be too polite about stating what the danger is.”

… “President Obama and President Putin may genuinely believe that we are not on a dangerous track.” They may be wrong.

Countdown to War: The Coming U.S.-Russia Conflict | The National Interest

Documentary Warns of Radical Islam’s Impending Domination over Europe and US – Breitbart

Martin Mawyer, president of Christian Action Network and filmmaker, is releasing a new documentary Tuesday April 21st titled Europe’s Last Stand: America’s Final Warning.

The film documents Islamists’ plans for domination over first Western Europe and then America.

The idea for Mawyer’s documentary came from former FBI agents who caught his attention. Mawyer said they were discussing how they believe Western Europe could fall to radical Islam within the next 10 to 20 years.

“I got caught up listening to their conversation as they spoke about the mass flow of immigrant Muslims into Europe, the presence of Islamic ‘no-go zones,’ weak political leaders and the silencing of Islamic critics,” Mawyer explained.

He said that to believe Muslims could dominate Western Europe in just 10 to 20 years didn’t seem plausible.

Documentary Warns of Radical Islam’s Impending Domination over Europe and US – Breitbart

The estimate of Islam’s domination in Europe by 2025 to 2035 is correct by my own thinking. The bulls-eye is already on Rome. And if Iran is to create the chaos (millions of deaths) to hasten the arrival of the Mahdi, then those deaths are certainly going to be Christian.

MEMRI: Egyptian Cleric Salem Abu Al-Futouh: The Prophet Muhammad Foretold the Islamic Conquest of Rome

Europe’s Last Stand: America’s Final Warning (Trailer)

Russia’s Master Plan to Break the Trans-Atlantic Alliance – WSJ

Putin is using negotiations about the future of Ukraine to gain a voice in decision-making for all of Europe.

Nuclear deal-making with Iran has been dominating the headlines, but a deal already done over Ukraine now threatens to unravel the peace in Europe.

Yet the Kremlin’s real objectives lie beyond Ukraine. President Vladimir Putin is angling for European consent to establish a Russian sphere of influence directly opposite the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, as part of an overall effort to undo the status quo that has developed since the Cold War. Mr. Putin’s diplomacy seeks Russian participation, on what he has called “an equal basis” with other European powers, in decision-making about European security and economic affairs. This would enable Russia to subvert European policies from the inside—further intimidating an already demilitarizing Europe and splintering European societies—and, as Moscow hopes, to decouple Europe from the U.S.

Russia’s Master Plan to Break the Trans-Atlantic Alliance – WSJ

Enemy Cruise Missile, Meet the U.S. Rail Gun – WSJ

Within a few years, the Pentagon could field rail guns and powerful lasers to defend U.S. forces against aircraft, cruise missiles, guided rockets, artillery and mortar threats, alleviating some of the need for our current more expensive defense systems. Laser systems will be used to combat swarm attacks by weaponized small boats that act to overwhelm our sea defenses through sheer numbers of inexpensive, expendable and deadly platforms.

Instead of millions of dollars per shot, a rail gun projectile will cost around $35,000, or even less with further development. Conservatively, solid-state lasers and high-power microwave “shots” will cost less than $10 each, with some estimates lower than $1. Rail-gun projectiles are small, and laser and microwave shots are unlimited, freeing valuable storage space and greatly reducing the need to rearm while under way.

Enemy Cruise Missile, Meet the U.S. Rail Gun – WSJ

China and America: Sleepwalking to War? | The National Interest

“THE INTENSIFYING Sino-American rivalry looks an awful lot like the pre-1914 Anglo-German antagonism.”

“As with the Anglo-German antagonism, economic rivalry and ideological antipathy are causing the perception of the “China threat” to congeal within the U.S. foreign-policy elite.”

“AS WAS true for Britain and Germany before World War I, powerful forces are pushing the United States and China toward confrontation.”

History suggests that great-power transitions often lead to war.

Accordingly, much contemporary commentary points to direct parallels between today’s events in East Asia and those that led to the outbreak of World War I in Europe one hundred years ago. Just as the ascent of Wilhelmine Germany unsettled pre-1914 Europe, so, we are told, a rising China is roiling East Asia. The Economist thus noted “the parallel between China’s rise and that of imperial Germany over a century ago.” And “even if history never repeats itself,” it wrote on another occasion, “the past likes to have a try.”

If the past is “having a try” in East Asia, it is because there are several important—and unsettling—parallels between the Anglo-German relationship during the run-up to 1914 and the unfolding Sino-American relationship. First, both relationships involve power transitions, two aspects of which have not received the attention they deserve. Although Britain and Germany were competing for power and security, they were also—just as importantly—competing for status and prestige, which made the competition between them pretty much intractable. Germany’s rise also posed a challenge to the existing international order, the Pax Britannica. Second, in Britain, liberal ideology contributed to what might be called a “perception spiral,” which fostered in policy makers and citizens an image of Germany as an implacably hostile and dangerous rival. Viewed through the lens of the perception spiral, the potential threat posed by a rising Germany to the geopolitical position of a declining Britain was magnified and, possibly, distorted. Perception-spiral dynamics go a long way toward explaining why Britain was not able to accommodate a rising Germany before 1914—and why the United States is unlikely to accede to China’s claim to equal status.

China and America: Sleepwalking to War? | The National Interest

More and more we are seeing the foreign establishment recognize that war between China and America is a real possibility. So too with Russia. We appear to be nearing a point of collapse in the international order with war as the primary driver. In the next article I take a look at the cold hard probabilities of war, and they are not encouraging.

Probability of World War III: 75% or more | 1913 Intel

In history the probability of war is high when a powerful rival approaches or passes a hegemonic leader. Depending on how you count one gets the following probabilities: 10/13 (77%), 11/15 (73%) or 6/7 (86%). With China approaching the US today, the real probability of war is higher. That’s because historical results are heavily weighted by the US passing Britain without a war. Two democracies with similar cultures passing without a war. That doesn’t exactly describe the US-China situation. Also, one could argue that the rivalry between the US and Soviet Union (Russia) continues today. That means we don’t know the true outcome.

So adjusting the historical results gives us answers ranging from 73% to 100%.

Probability of World War III: 75% or more | 1913 Intel

Based on the historical data, the actual probability of war today appears to be a lot closer to 100% then 73%.

“AS WAS true for Britain and Germany before World War I, powerful forces are pushing the United States and China toward confrontation.”

Think of these powerful forces as tidal forces. It’s going to be very difficult to overcome the tide. It’s almost like you don’t sleepwalk into war, or stumble into war, but rather one falls into war.

 

Monitoring emerging risks.