Putin’s Russia Won’t Achieve Super Power Status – World Report (usnews.com)

Putin ambitions to mark a return of Russia to its former “Great Power” glory requires an external export market to sell its energy and earn revenue, requires an external threat to rally its people, and requires the price of oil to be well over $100 a barrel. The later issue is the most tell-tale sign of Russia’s demise as a superpower because much like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Iran) and Hugo Chavez (Venezuela), Putin’s aggressiveness in foreign policy depends on the how high oil prices go. If the West isolates an increasingly iron-fisted Putin, he will assuredly turn to China for “secondhand technology” as he needs to modernize. While the Russian military-industrial complex needs a serious makeover, make no mistake it is still intact and can be rebuilt because there are no supply-side constraints—but this can only be done at a severe cost on the living conditions of the Russian people. Putin will not survive a deterioration of Russian income per capita wealth and freedom at the same time. Thus, in the end, nothing will really change much. Russia will continue to be influential but not a superpower: Russia will stay Russia.

Putin’s Russia Won’t Achieve Super Power Status – World Report (usnews.com)

Israel Says Iran Has Postponed Nuclear Ambitions – NYTimes.com

Israel’s defense minister said Tuesday that the country had interpreted Iran’s conversion of some enriched uranium to fuel rods for civilian use as evidence that Iran had delayed ambitions to build a nuclear weapon.

The assertion, by Defense Minister Ehud Barak in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, a British newspaper, amounted to the first explanation from him as to why he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu softened their position in September over the possibility of a military strike to thwart what they called Iran’s drive toward imminent nuclear weapons capability.

Israel Says Iran Has Postponed Nuclear Ambitions – NYTimes.com

In China, A Ceaseless Quest To Silence Dissent | NPR

In China, government critics call it “the era of stability maintenance.” It’s their label for the government’s policy over the past decade of prizing internal stability above all else, no matter the cost.

Beijing this year is spending $111 billion on its domestic security budget, which covers the police, state security, militia, courts and jails. This is now higher than its publicly disclosed military expenditure.

Three scenes illustrate how the state security apparatus targets individuals, as well as groups of people, and how the system feeds off itself.

SCENE ONE: Retired film professor Cui Weiping is a small, tidy woman in her 50s with a radiant smile and an easy laugh. It’s difficult to imagine anyone who looks less threatening.

But for the past nine years, state security has monitored her movements, ever since she co-wrote a letter expressing her support for a group of mothers whose children were killed on June 4, 1989, the day the government cracked down on protesters in and around Tiananmen Square.

NPR.org » In China, A Ceaseless Quest To Silence Dissent

This heavy focus on stability sounds like China is in trouble. How long can it maintain this balancing act before something happens?

China raises stakes over disputed islands – FT.com

China has started making concerted efforts to chase Japanese ships out of waters surrounding the disputed Senkaku islands in the East China Sea, ratcheting up tensions between Asia’s two largest economies.

The Chinese State Oceanic Administration – which enforces the nation’s maritime interests – said four of its ships on Tuesday tried to expel Japanese vessels out of waters where they were operating “illegally”.

China raises stakes over disputed islands – FT.com

Japan v. China: Small islands create big worry, confrontation unlikely

The threat of military confrontation between China and Japan continues to fester, as both sides flex during naval drills.

A more accurate reading of China’s commitment to the Senkakus, though, was the involvement this month of 11 naval and civilian vessels, eight aircraft and more than 1,000 sailors in maneuvers simulating the thwarting of an “illegal entry” into Chinese waters.

Chinese media reports made no mention of the Senkakus, but there wasn’t much ambiguity about the drill’s target: Japan. The exercise, the Xinhua news agency reported, “was aimed at improving coordination between the navy and administrative patrol vessels, as well as sharpening their response to emergencies in order to safeguard China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime interests.”

Small islands create big worry, confrontation unlikely

Chinese Lieutenant General Ren Haiquan: Open War is Possible Over Territorial Disputes

A CHINESE general has used a high-level Australian military conference to deliver a pointed warning over the US pivot towards Asia, saying that “interference” is complicating progress to a new security order in the region.

Lieutenant General Ren Haiquan also took a swipe at a key US and Australian ally Japan when he questioned the current actions of a one-time “fascist” nation that once bombed Darwin. He suggested territorial disputes could lead to open war.

[Requires subscription to read more.]

Chinese top brass bags US influence in region | The Australian

Chinese general warns on US influence in Asia | News | Business Spectator

Chinese Lieutenant General Ren Haiquan has issued a stark warning over the increasing presence of the United States in the Asian region, The Australian reports.

According to the newspaper, Lieutenant General Ren said US “interference” is complicating the region’s progress in establishing a new security order, while also taking a swipe at Japan by calling it a one-time ‘fascist’ nation.

Chinese general warns on US influence in Asia | News | Business Spectator

China expels Japan ships from waters near disputed islands

Chinese patrol boats expelled several Japanese ships from waters near an uninhabited chain of islands in the East China Sea that is claimed by both countries, the official Xinhua news agency said.

The Japanese ships, whose number was not specified, were intercepted by four vessels from China Marine Surveillance, Xinhua said, without commenting on what was done to make them leave the archipelago.

China expels Japan ships from waters near disputed islands | Fox News Latino

Japanese vessels expelled from Diaoyu Islands waters – Xinhua | English.news.cn

China’s marine surveillance fleet has expelled a number of Japanese vessels illegally sailing in waters around the Diaoyu Islands on Tuesday morning, according to a statement issued by the State Oceanic Administration.

The administration said that a fleet comprising four China Marine Surveillance ships encountered the Japanese vessels at around 10 a.m. while on a routine patrol. They conducted surveillance over the Japanese vessels and took photos as evidence.

Japanese vessels expelled from Diaoyu Islands waters – Xinhua | English.news.cn

Message to the US: A friend who acts like an enemy is an enemy

Here’s the issue: A number of supposed allies of the United States don’t act as friends. In fact, they are major headaches, often subverting US goals and interests. But to avoid conflict and, for Obama, to look successful to the domestic audience, Washington pretends that everything is fine.

Consider, for example, Pakistan.

The scope of this problem becomes clear if you add to this list such places as Egypt, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian Authority, Turkey, Venezuela, Bolivia and several other countries in a similar situation.

The Region: A friend who acts lik… JPost – Opinion – Columnists

Former Chinese Diplomat Says U.S. Is Using Japan to Make Gains in Asia – NYTimes.com

But the thrust of his speech was more hard-hitting, particularly regarding the United States. Some in China and Japan see the issue of the islands “as a time bomb planted by the U.S. between China and Japan,” he said. “That time bomb is now exploding or about to explode.”Mr. Chen accused the United States of encouraging the right wing in Japan, and fanning a rise of militarism.

“The U.S. is urging Japan to play a greater role in the region in security terms, not just in economic terms,” he said during his speech at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong. That “suits the purpose of the right wing in Japan more than perfectly — their long-held dream is now possible to be realized.”

Former Chinese Diplomat Says U.S. Is Using Japan to Make Gains in Asia – NYTimes.com