US Southeast Asia pose risks China clash

As the United States strengthens its military-to-military ties in Southeast Asia, the risk is rising that the “soft power” competitive dynamic for regional influence with China could soon return to the “hard power” confrontation of the Cold War.

Asia Times Online :: Southeast Asia news and business from Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam

The Brewing Crisis in Rare Earth Elements | Oil Price.com

As economists focus on the Sacred GDP number, which must remain positive to maintain the statistical recovery myth, there is another crisis brewing in the world of crucial resources. In yesterday’s post Energy Consumption And Progress, I alluded to the Age of Resource Competition. Today this competition is most evident in the production of rare earth elements—

There are 17 rare earth elements (REEs). They have names like lanthanum, europium and yttrium. And they’re critical to a variety of high-tech products and manufacturing processes, including catalytic converters, petroleum refining, color TV and flat panel displays, permanent magnets, batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles, medical devices, and various defense systems like missiles, jet engines, and satellite components.

The Brewing Crisis in Rare Earth Elements | Oil Price.com

Rethinking American Options on Iran | STRATFOR

One should dismiss talk of attacking Iran. The Americans won’t do it, and neither will Israel. It’s clearly psychological warfare aimed at stressing Iran. However, it’s not working.

My first instinct is to dismiss the war talk as simply another round of psychological warfare against Iran, this time originating with Israel. Most of the reports indicate that Israel is on the verge of attacking Iran. From a psychological-warfare standpoint, this sets up the good-cop/bad-cop routine. The Israelis play the mad dog barely restrained by the more sober Americans, who urge the Iranians through intermediaries to make concessions and head off a war. As I said, we have been here before several times, and this hasn’t worked.

Rethinking American Options on Iran | STRATFOR

China’s Secret Satellite Rendezvous ‘Suggestive of a Military Program’ | Danger Room | Wired.com

Earlier this month, two Chinese satellites met up in orbit. Depending on who you believe, it’s either a sign of China’s increasingly-sophisticated space program — or a sign of its increasingly-sophisticated space warfare program.

A well-regarded Russian space watcher was the first to note that the two satellites, newly-launched SJ-12 and two-year-old SJ-06F, had performed maneuvers indicating a cutting edge procedure called non-cooperative robotic rendezvous. A loose network of amateur space spectators and astronomers soon congregated online, and confirmed that the sats had, indeed, converged.

China’s Secret Satellite Rendezvous ‘Suggestive of a Military Program’ | Danger Room | Wired.com

Germany Is Becoming Islamophobic – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International

Thilo Sarrazin’s comments about Muslims have triggered outrage in Germany and abroad, but have met with willing listeners among the general public. His rhetoric is slowly bringing about change in Germany, transforming it from a tolerant society into one dominated by fear and Islamophobia.

The Sarrazin Debate: Germany Is Becoming Islamophobic – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International

Will we ever recover from the financial crisis?

Well, define recovery. If recovery is getting back to the low unemployment levels that preceded the crisis, then no, we might not ever recover. If recovery is just getting back to some more normal-looking growth and job numbers, it’s still going to take a very long time.

That, at least, is the conclusion of a new paper from Carmen and Vincent Reinhart assessing the aftermath of severe financial crises and shocks. The two scholars looked at “real GDP (levels and growth rates), unemployment, inflation, bank credit, and real estate prices in a twenty one-year window” surrounding “the 1929 stock market crash, the 1973 oil shock, the 2007 U.S. subprime collapse and fifteen severe post-World War II financial crises.” Their conclusion? Settle in. This may take a while.

Ezra Klein – Will we ever recover from the financial crisis?

Asia’s Water Crisis | The Diplomat

Wracked by droughts, floods and simmering tensions, Asia’s governments need a more co-ordinated approach to water crises.

As the contradictions of Asia’s water challenges have been laid bare this summer—with millions affected by flooding while others are hit by droughts—one thing has been made clearer: the coming water crisis could exacerbate already simmering domestic and regional tensions.

Asia’s Water Crisis | The Diplomat

Arms Race on the Caspian? | The Diplomat

Nations around the Caspian Sea are boosting their navies. With Russia and the West involved as well, it’s getting complicated.

The Caspian Sea, an oil-rich body of water on the border of Iran and the former Soviet Union, has seen an unprecedented amount of naval activity this year: Iran has launched its largest ship yet into the Caspian, Kazakhstan has declared plans to start construction of six new ships by the end of the year and Turkmenistan announced the creation of its first navy. This military build-up, though so far still modest in scope, has observers wondering if the stage is being set for an arms race on this heretofore quiet sea.

Arms Race on the Caspian? | The Diplomat

Coming Nuclear Flashpoint | The Diplomat

India’s role in Afghanistan is hailed as a triumph of soft power. In fact, it has just made conflict with Pakistan more likely.

If the West has had any success in Afghanistan, it has been in encouraging India to make a massive investment there of economic aid, infrastructure projects and national prestige. New Delhi is the largest regional investor in the country, and ranks second among all donors. With the West’s looming defeat in Afghanistan, however, India’s success will prove Pyrrhic, and may well set the stage for another, perhaps nuclear, confrontation between Pakistan and India.

Coming Nuclear Flashpoint | The Diplomat