Israel Prepares Plans to Neutralize Syrian Chemical Weapons – SPIEGEL ONLINE

As the battle against Syrian rebels reaches a new stage, Israel is worried that President Assad might use his vast arsenal of chemical weapons against his own people or neighbors — or perhaps even give some to Hezbollah. Though many experts view this as unlikely, Israel is still weighing whether to strike.

Israel Prepares Plans to Neutralize Syrian Chemical Weapons – SPIEGEL ONLINE

China belittles Aquino’s Scarborough stand | ABS-CBN News

He said after garrison is established, China’s leadership must next set rules on which ships and aircraft from other countries will be allowed to pass through the region’s disputed waters and airspace without being attacked by Chinese military forces.

Luo, who is described by Western media as “hawkish” for his hardline views,  also wants the garrison to serve as the overall command of all Chinese goverment agencies and military task forces deployed in the West Philippine Sea. 

“In other words, the garrison command functions more like a tentacle for the front-line of national defense, performing such functions as the front-line command, a frontier position, and a front sentry post,” he said.

He said other countries should view the military garrison as a “deterrence” and not as a threat.

China belittles Aquino’s Scarborough stand | ABS-CBN News

China is planning to establish rules for ships and aircraft entering the South China Sea area. It’s obvious that China will restrict US intelligence military ships and aircraft. No matter what you think about China’s rise, the idea that China can restrict US intelligence vessels in the South China Sea puts China on a path to war with the US.

Russian Naval Base Tartus | Institute for the Study of War

The Syrian port of Tartus is the only naval base outside of the former Soviet Union still held by the Russian military, and the Russian government has asserted its strategic significance. The port of Tartus holds particular significance to Russia as a defensible position through which to accomplish a political goal.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has articulated this goal as a principled determination to prevent a Syrian civil war by upholding the country’s sovereignty. More directly, one may understand this position to support Russian interests to maintain a strategic partnership with a former Soviet client state in the Arab world. Russia’s ongoing use of the port of Tartus provides some insight into her real interests and capabilities to affect the current crisis.

This backgrounder will describe the technical capabilities of the Russian base at Tartus and its literal significance to the Russian Navy. It will also consider the political opportunities it affords to Russia in the context of the Syrian civil war.

Download the PDF

Russian Naval Base Tartus | Institute for the Study of War

Japan concerned by Chinese naval activity, lack of transparency in decision-making process – The Washington Post

As evidence of China’s naval aggressiveness in the western Pacific waters — particularly the East China Sea — the paper pointed to a “record number” of Chinese training exercises near Japanese islands, with at least one exercise involving an unmanned aerial vehicle. Japan also cited several instances when Chinese helicopters flew close to Japanese destroyers. China, the paper said, also has upped its surveillance in the contested waters in recent years, and its annual defense budget has more than doubled since 2007.

“China has been expanding and intensifying its activities in waters close to Japan,” a translated version of the paper said. …

Japan concerned by Chinese naval activity, lack of transparency in decision-making process – The Washington Post

The Trouble With Market-Less Bubbles: Robert Shiller | Economy Watch

Speculative bubbles, or market bubbles, have often been seen as the cause of financial crises. But, before we conclude that we should rein in the markets, we need to consider the alternative: that bubbles are actually social epidemics that could arise even in the absence of financial markets.

The Trouble With Market-Less Bubbles: Robert Shiller | Economy Watch

Another way to look at this is a build-up of bad ideas in one area until there is some kind of collapse. China’s one-child policy, excessive government corruption leading to a revolution, inadequate or inappropriate defense spending, bad military ideas, bad economic ideas and on and on represent examples of ideas that can lead to some kind of crash, revolution, defeat or negative event. Some ideas may take decades before the negative event hits.

11 Signs That Time Is Quickly Running Out For The Global Financial System

All over the world people are starting to write about the possibility of a major economic crisis starting this fall.

For example, a recent article in the International Business Times discussed how some economists around the globe are fearing the worst for the coming months….

The consensus? The world economy has entered a final countdown with three months left, and investors should pencil in a collapse in either August or September.

Citing a theory he has been espousing since 2010 that predicts “a future lack of policy flexibility from the monetary and fiscal side,” Jim Reid, a strategist at Deutsche Bank, wrote a note Tuesday that gloated “it feels like Europe has proved us right.”

“The U.S. has the ability to disprove the universal nature of our theory,” Reid wrote, but “if this U.S. cycle is of completely average length as seen using the last 158 years of history (33 cycles), then the next recession should start by the end of August.”

11 Signs That Time Is Quickly Running Out For The Global Financial System

Philippines to Offer Offshore Oil Blocks in China-Claimed Areas – Businessweek

The Philippines will accept bids from oil and gas companies today to explore offshore areas claimed by China, risking renewed clashes as nations spurn joint development of energy resources in disputed waters.

The Philippines, which along with Vietnam rejects China’s so-called nine-dash map of the South China Sea as a basis for joint development, insists that the three blocks on offer fall under its jurisdiction. About 40 companies are prequalified to bid, including units of Total SA (FP), Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) (XOM) and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, according to Energy Undersecretary Jose Layug.

Philippines to Offer Offshore Oil Blocks in China-Claimed Areas – Businessweek

China is doing the same thing to Vietnam. Notice how the trends are all moving toward more tension and conflict?

Japan flags Chinese army’s growing role as risk issue – chicagotribune.com

Japan on Tuesday flagged the Chinese army’s growing role in shaping the country’s foreign policy as a security risk, saying a sense of caution exists across East Asia about Beijing’s apparent military expansion in the region.

In its annual defense white paper, Tokyo said some believe that relations between the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Communist Party leadership were “getting complex” and said this was a matter of concern.

There is a possibility that the degree of military influence on foreign policy decisions has been changing, the paper said, without elaborating.

Japan flags Chinese army’s growing role as risk issue – chicagotribune.com

Euro zone crisis heads for September crunch | Reuters

Over the past couple of years, Europe has muddled through a long series of crunch moments in its debt crisis, but this September is shaping up as a “make-or-break” month as policymakers run desperately short of options to save the common currency.

Crisis or no crisis, many European policymakers will take their summer holidays in August. When they return, a number of crucial events, decisions and deadlines will be waiting.

“September will undoubtedly be the crunch time,” one senior euro zone policymaker said.

Euro zone crisis heads for September crunch | Reuters

Beijing Crosses a Line – WSJ.com

At another level, Beijing’s moves last week seem to confirm the fears of some who worried about how China would act once it became strong enough to challenge other states in Asia. Would economic growth, military strength and political influence lead to a China more confident in its standing and therefore more willing to submit itself to norms of international behavior, or would it simply allow Beijing to double down on its outsized territorial claims?

Yet if Beijing thought that its new garrison would lead other nations to roll over, it has miscalculated, at least for the moment. The Philippines has indicated no willingness to back down, and President Benigno Aquino said he will purchase new attack helicopters and surface ships in order to defend its claims. Vietnam has sought new partners, including the United States, with which it held its first naval exercises earlier this year. The danger of course is that such attempts to maintain a credible defensive posture will lead to a heightened risk of conflict, either accidental or deliberate.

Michael Auslin: Beijing Crosses a Line – WSJ.com