Category Archives: Favorites

Analysis: Is the next ‘Arab Spring’ implosion around the corner?

‘To further stress the dangers ahead, The Economist wrote on Tuesday: “Arabs make up just 5% of the world’s population, but they account for about half the world’s terrorism and refugees.”’

The alarm bells sounding the impending youth revolt is perhaps the central takeaway from the UN’s report released Tuesday on the herculean challenges facing Arab states across the Middle East.

The report’s findings on the increasing restlessness of Arabs aged 15-29 will surely be on the Israel security establishment’s radar screen.

“Current estimates indicate that the number of inhabitants living in countries vulnerable to conflict in the Arab region is expected to rise from around 250 million in 2010 to over 350 million in 2020. That number is expected to double by 2050,” write the authors of the 2016 Arab Human Development Report. “The number of Arab countries affected by conflict increased from five in 2002 to 11 in 2016.”

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Analysis: Is the next ‘Arab Spring’ implosion around the corner? – Jerusalem Post

Another Arab awakening is looming, warns a UN report

The UN’s latest Arab Development Report, published on November 29th, shows that few lessons have been learnt. Five years on from the revolts that toppled four Arab leaders, regimes are ruthlessly tough on dissent, but much less attentive to its causes.

As states fail, youth identify more with their religion, sect or tribe than their country. In 2002, five Arab states were mired in conflict. Today 11 are. By 2020, predicts the report, almost three out of four Arabs could be “living in countries vulnerable to conflict”.

Another Arab awakening is looming, warns a UN report | The Economist

China’s Great Leap Backward

“The country has become repressive in a way that it has not been since the Cultural Revolution. What does its darkening political climate—and growing belligerence—mean for the United States?”

What if china is going bad? Since early last year I have been asking people inside and outside China versions of this question. By “bad” I don’t mean morally. Moral and ethical factors obviously matter in foreign policy, but I’m talking about something different.

Instead the question is whether something basic has changed in the direction of China’s evolution, and whether the United States needs to reconsider its China policy. For the more than 40 years since the historic Nixon-Mao meetings of the early 1970s, that policy has been surprisingly stable. From one administration to the next, it has been built on these same elements: ever greater engagement with China; steady encouragement of its modernization and growth; forthright disagreement where the two countries’ economic interests or political values clash; and a calculation that Cold War–style hostility would be far more damaging than the difficult, imperfect partnership the two countries have maintained.

China’s Great Leap Backward – The Atlantic

Winter is Coming: Sociology and the Next Great War – Modern War Institute

Cohen scrapped his original speech owing to the election result (he was strongly against Mr. Trump as a presidential candidate), and time and again he veered into sociological assessment of national and international moods. Cohen said that while the election was surprising, there is “deeper stuff going on,” a “deeper political disruption” that is “breaking down” domestic political traditions as well as strategic stability around the world. This falling apart is a “crisis of the liberal democratic order” that emerged after 1945, at least in part because generations have passed and “World War II is not fresh in anybody’s mind.” Cohen’s assessment ended on a bleak note: “don’t expect too much from deterrence” in this climate, he cautioned. “We’re going to be back in the war business” in the not too distant future. He punctuated these remarks with a same-day quote to the New York Times that we’re on the “verge of a crisis.” To Cohen, we’re in a sociologically dangerous moment—bone-dry kindling fused to a powerful powder keg.

Winter is Coming: Sociology and the Next Great War – Modern War Institute

Russia’s Ramping Up for War Where Nobody’s Looking | World | US News

The Nordic countries of Norway, Sweden and Finland fear greater likelihood of conflict with Putin.

Russia is quietly testing the defenses of its Nordic neighbors with subtle provocations, alarming Western powers concerned about Moscow’s intentions in a vital but largely overlooked part of the world.

“A major war can no longer be ruled out,” Robert Dalsjo, DRA’s expert on the Baltics, said of Russia. “What’s at stake is U.S. credibility for its own guarantees. … Their goal is to show that Article 5 is a joke.”

Russia’s Ramping Up for War Where Nobody’s Looking | World | US News

Will Russia Start World War III? Syria Conflict Could Start Global Warfare, Nearly Half Of Russians Worry, Poll Finds

Nearly half of Russians who took part in a recent opinion poll fear that escalating tensions between Russia and the West over the ongoing crisis in Syria could become a global military conflict. Moscow’s intervention in the Syrian conflict has been criticized by the West, which believes Russian strikes are aimed at supporting its ally President Bashar Assad rather than targeting terrorist groups in the region.

According to the poll, conducted by independent Russian pollster Levada Center, 48 percent of Russians said they were concerned “heightened tensions in relations between Russia and the West could grow into World War III,” while 42 percent said they were not concerned about the prospect. The remaining 10 percent declined to answer the question. A total of 1,600 people from across Russia were interviewed for the poll last week.

Will Russia Start World War III? Syria Conflict Could Start Global Warfare, Nearly Half Of Russians Worry, Poll Finds

Russia Thinks The Cold War Is Back; Americans Aren’t Paying Attention

Imagine Russian school children practicing putting on gas masks and transporting dummies onto stretchers. TV stations show Russian emergency workers in hazmat suits working on bomb shelters. Huge numbers of the population rehearse what to do in case of a nuclear attack. It sounds like a scene from “The Americans” or a video from Soviet-era Russia. But it’s not. This is what’s been going on in Russia in the past few weeks.

Russia is engaged in mass-scale nuclear attack preparations. Moscow is upgrading its civil defense plans, including making an inventory of all underground spaces to ensure it could shelter 100 percent of the population if a nuclear bomb hit. Current bomb shelters are being rehabbed and ventilation systems checked. Forty million Russians were involved in a drill simulating what to do in the event of a chemical or nuclear weapons strike.

Russia Thinks The Cold War Is Back; Americans Aren’t Paying Attention

‘A Dangerous Situation’ As U.S.-Russia Tensions Spill Over To Nuclear Pacts : Parallels : NPR

“I would have to say that, without question, this is the low point in U.S.-Russian relations since the end of the Cold War,” says Steven Pifer, an arms control expert at the Brookings Institution.

According to Pifer, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, things began going downhill after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine two years ago. They slid further last year with Moscow’s intervention in Syria, and this year, got worse with Russian warplanes buzzing U.S. ships and planes in the Baltic — and Washington accusing Moscow of meddling in the presidential election.

‘A Dangerous Situation’ As U.S.-Russia Tensions Spill Over To Nuclear Pacts : Parallels : NPR

The rapid slide downhill started with with invasion of Crimea by the little green men.

Since the Euromaidan uprising in February 2014, Crimea has played an important role in the standoff between Moscow and the West over Ukraine. The peninsula, populated largely by ethnic Russians and long home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, was the site of the initial Russian reaction to the events in Kiev. Shortly after the ouster of then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, unmarked Russian soldiers known as “little green men” took over key air and road facilities in Crimea. Crimean officials expressed a desire to join Russia, and a referendum on the question was organized the next month. After a vote of more than 95 percent in favor (a result disputed by Western observers), Russia formally annexed Crimea on March 18, 2014.

Crimea: Russia’s Little Pawn | Stratfor

So in a couple of short years things have deteriorated to the point where now we have a “dangerous situation.” Another way to say this is that the tipping point has really been pushed to the very edge. If a big crisis was easy before, now it is a lot easier. It is likely that within a year or two Russia and the US will find themselves in pretty serious trouble. This is where we count down the days to war.

New Cold War Chills Annual Kremlin Gathering of Foreign Experts – Bloomberg

“The current situation is just like that in the 1960s, when the world was on the brink of war,’’ said Sergei Karaganov, the hawkish doyen of Russia’s foreign-policy community. “The possibility of war is definitely there, which could be triggered by minor mistakes.’’’

The risk that the world’s two nuclear superpowers might “sleepwalk” into a hot conflict is causing a rare degree of alarm among the specialists from across the U.S., Europe and Asia brought in for the Valdai Club’s week of discussions with Russian analysts and senior officials.

One senior official told of a Cabinet meeting where President Vladimir Putin reported on a “high risk’’ incident in which his military jets buzzed the U.S. Navy in the Black Sea. When some at the table cheered with phrases like, “they deserve it,’’ Putin shut them down, saying, “are you crazy?’’ according to the official, who spoke on Valdai’s traditional condition of anonymity.

New Cold War Chills Annual Kremlin Gathering of Foreign Experts – Bloomberg

Now we have finally reached a point where even some experts recognize what is going on. That’s pretty scary. It also must mean we are pretty darn close to a full blown nuclear war.

St. Petersburg Not Preparing Wartime Bread Rations, Officals Say

Officials in St. Petersburg have reassured panicked citizens after reports that the city was preparing wartime bread rations.

The stories surfaced after St. Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko signed a decree to stockpile flour at the St. Petersburg Food Storage Facility.

According to the document, the city’s supplies must guarantee its 5.2 million citizens at least 300 grams of bread for 20 days, the Fontanka news outlet reported Monday.

St. Petersburg Not Preparing Wartime Bread Rations, Officals Say

Yes, we believe the Russian officials. That’s not war rations.

“The possibility of war is definitely there, which could be triggered by minor mistakes.’’

As I have said in the past, when something small can trigger something big then you are at a tipping point. But what kind of a tipping point? Is this just a replay of the 60s as Sergei Karaganov says? No, it is not. It is not because of the amount of time lapsed since the last big crisis ended in 1945: 15 years vs. 71 years. The time difference means the populations are different, and the current populations have not experienced a major war. For sure the West doesn’t fear a nuclear war now because everybody thinks it’s impossible. That wasn’t true in the 60s. Internally the Russian government is at risk of losing support very fast due to a falling economy. The risk of revolution is definitely there.Therefore, the risk of nuclear war is much higher now.

The Putin administration has to continue on its current aggressive track in order to maintain support of the people. So it is likely that at some point the West will be unable to back down to Russia. Then a nuclear war becomes possible. Also, if the war in Syria comes to Israel then all options are on the table.

 

Playing With Fear: Russia’s War Card – The New York Times

Clearly, the Kremlin is deliberately creating a sense of impending war by having its own media insist that NATO has put Russia under threat — from the military alliance itself and its democratic ethos. Ominously, Mr. Putin loses no opportunity to extol the Russian people’s wartime virtues of heroism and martyrdom.

But a nuclear-armed world is no sandbox, and budding war hysteria in a huge country afflicted with imperial nostalgia, one-man rule, a looming demographic crisis, ethnic tensions and a declining oil-dependent economy cannot be dismissed lightly. While Moscow’s saber rattling has clearly failed to intimidate the West, Russia’s military and its nuclear arsenal remain the only aces in Mr. Putin’s hand. So the Kremlin can be expected to continue escalating its disinformation and propaganda.

Playing With Fear: Russia’s War Card – The New York Times

Russia is preparing for nuclear war – Business Insider

Across Russia, forty million civilians and military personnel just finished up emergency drills aimed at preparing the general population for nuclear or chemical weapons attacks, the Wall Street Journal’s Thomas Grove reports.

Video shows Russian civilians practicing along with officials and workers in Hazmat suits.

But as troubling as the largest civil defense drills since the height of the Cold War have been, the steps Russia has taken to improve its offensive nuclear capabilities likely overshadow them.

Since the breakdown of US-Russian talks on the fate of Syria, Russia has pulled out of a nuclear non-proliferation agreement with the US citing “unfriendly acts” by the US, it has moved nuclear-capable missiles to its European enclave of Kaliningrad, and it has threatened “asymmetrical” and “painful” actions against the US should it decide to impose sanctions on Russia over Syria.

Russia is preparing for nuclear war – Business Insider

Russia has probably been preparing for the general idea of a confrontation with the US since the revolution in 1991. Now we are finally at the point where people are actually noticing. That of course suggests we are getting close to an actual nuclear war.