Category Archives: Favorites

Vladimir Putin wants to destroy Nato, says US commander in Europe Ben Hodges – Telegraph

He accused Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, of seeking to destroy Nato, and warned that Russia could seek to use the sort of “hybrid warfare” seen in eastern Ukraine against a Nato member to test the alliance.

“I am sure Putin wants to destroy our alliance, not by attacking it but by splintering it,” he said in a speech to military and political leaders in Berlin.

He warned that Mr Putin could try to destabilise a Nato member by using a rebel militia as in eastern Ukraine, or other forms of “ambiguous” warfare.

In the absence of an overt Russian attack, some Nato members could be reluctant to invoke Article 5 of the Washington treaty, under which an attack on one member is an attack on all.

“Once Article 5 is gone, our alliance is over,” Gen Hodges said.

Vladimir Putin wants to destroy Nato, says US commander in Europe Ben Hodges – Telegraph

China Debates: Is War with U.S. Inevitable? | The National Interest

It has become quite common to use historical analogies to describe the complex Sino-American relationship. At the centenary of the First World War, the comparison between China’s rise and that of Wilhelmine Germany has been widely made. However, a path-breaking 2012 opinion piece by Harvard University’s Graham Allison reached back to Ancient Greece to describe the strategic dilemmas facing the most important bilateral relationship in the 21st century.

Pointing to what is perhaps the most important sentence in the entire Western cannon on international relations, Allison invited strategists and analysts on both sides of the Pacific to recall that “it was the rise of Athens and the fear that this inspired in Sparta that made war inevitable.” Moreover, Allison supplied disturbing evidence of the frequency of war between a rising and established power, as observed by Thucydides in the History of the Peloponnesian War. According to Allison, “in 11 of 15 cases since 1500 where a rising power emerged to challenge a ruling power, war occurred.”

China Debates: Is War with U.S. Inevitable? | The National Interest

Doomsday: Preparing for China’s Collapse | The National Interest

“China could be on the brink of collapse. Here’s how Washington can leverage that to its advantage.”

A couple of weeks ago, AEI scholar Michael Auslin published a column for the Wall Street Journal about a quiet dinner in Washington where a senior China scholar declared the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had reached the final stage before collapse. The political collapse of the world’s second-largest economy and a nuclear power is no small thing. What should Washington do? Go outside the Fourth Ring Road (a Chinese reference akin to saying go outside the Beltway), forge links to marginalized Chinese and speak out about Chinese human rights to show the Chinese people that the United States has “a moral stake in China’s development.” Even if the CCP’s collapse does not occur for years, these measures will help U.S. policy makers be “on the right side of history.”

Such measures appear trivial in the face of a problem the size of China’s potential political instability and the collapse of its governing structure. By Auslin’s telling, this anonymous China scholar and those nodding in approval think that these first steps constitute a genuine signal to the Chinese people that Washington stands and will stand by them. Rhetorical support, however, will not grace the United States in the eyes of the Chinese people if their discontent demolishes the CCP. Actions, rather than words, in the heat of another crisis at least on the scale of nationwide protests in 1989 will be the measure of Washington’s moral interest in China’s future.

Doomsday: Preparing for China’s Collapse | The National Interest

The Twilight of China’s Communist Party | WSJ

“I can’t give you a date when it will fall, but China’s Communist Party has entered its endgame.” So says one of America’s most experienced China watchers to a small table of foreign diplomats at a private dinner in Washington, D.C. The pessimism from someone with deep connections to the Chinese government is notable. Washington should start paying attention if it wishes to avoid being surprised by political earthquakes in the world’s second-largest economy.

The China scholar at my table is no conservative. Nor are the handful of other experts. Each has decades of experience, extensive ties to Chinese officials and is a regular visitor to the mainland. No one contradicts the scholar’s statement. Instead there is general agreement.

“I’ve never seen Chinese so fearful, at least not since Tiananmen,” another expert adds, referring to the 1989 massacre of pro-democracy student demonstrators in the heart of Beijing. When prodded for specifics, he mentions increased surveillance, the fear of being investigated and increased arrests.

Just as there is no dissent from these views, there is unanimity on the cause of the new atmosphere of fear: President Xi Jinping.

Michael Auslin: The Twilight of China’s Communist Party – WSJ

There is this problem with 70 years and one-party regimes. It takes approximately 70 years for problems to build up leading to a revolution.

Chinese Communism and the 70-Year Itch – The Atlantic

There is an interesting parallel in politics; specifically, the life span of one-party regimes, though in this case we might call it the “70-year itch.” The U.S.S.R. is a prime example. By the time Mikhail Gorbachev took command of the Soviet Union in 1985, the rot in the Soviet system, and the corresponding decline of its legitimacy, were well advanced. “Interest in the marriage” had long since begun to wane.  Gorbachev’s efforts to revive it with political opening and economic reform (glasnost and perestroika) only enabled the marriage to break up peacefully. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the Communist Party had been in power for a little more than 70 years. Similarly, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) ruled in Mexico from its founding in 1929 until its defeat in the 2000 elections—71 years.

Several of today’s remaining one-party authoritarian regimes have been in power 50 to 65 years, and there is good reason to think that they, too, are now facing the “70 year itch.” Part of the problem is that revolutionary one-party regimes like those in China, Vietnam, and Cuba cannot survive forever on the personal charisma of their founding leaders. Mao and Ho Chi Minh are long since gone, along with all the other leaders of the revolutionary founding generation, and in Cuba the Castro brothers are in their final years.

Chinese Communism and the 70-Year Itch – The Atlantic

Ex-MI6 Boss: The conflict in Ukraine is much more than just Ukraine – “much bigger and more dangerous”

The conflict in Ukraine is now part of a much bigger crisis between Russia and the West, MI6’s former head has said.

Sir John Sawers warned the crisis was no longer about just Ukraine, saying it was “much bigger and more dangerous”.

Any attempt by Western countries to arm Ukraine could lead to an escalation on the ground and even cyber attacks by Russia against the West, he warned.

Fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebels has continued, more than a day after a ceasefire was due.

Sanctions have already been imposed on Russia, and EU leaders have threatened Moscow with further measures if the planned ceasefire is not respected.

US President Barack Obama has said the US is studying the option of supplying lethal defensive arms to Ukraine – if diplomacy fails to end the crisis in the east of the country.

[Published on Feb. 16, 2015]

BBC News – Ukraine now a ‘crisis for Russia and West’, says ex-MI6 boss

I have talked about this kind of problem in the past. When something small can cause something big then you have reached a tipping point. Now we are hearing warnings about escalation and getting out of control. Clearly, we have reached a tipping point.

Recently my son (6-yrs) asked why the bad guys in the movies seem to often tell the good guys about their evil plans. Well, that’s to help out the audience (us), I said. But it often works out the same way in real life. The bad guys just plain tell us about their plans but of course we won’t listen.

Russia challenges west with nuclear overhaul | World news | The Guardian [Published Sept., 2008]

“This is very significant. Right now the present Russian leadership believes that a war with Nato is very much possible,” Pavel Felgenhauer, a Moscow-based defence analyst, told the Guardian. “This is the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union that the Russian military is actually preparing for an all-out nuclear war with America.”

He added: “I believe we [the Russians] are sending the west a serious message. The message is treat us with respect, and if you don’t go into our backyard we won’t go into yours. Russia wants to divide the world into spheres of influence. If not, we will prepare for nuclear war.”

Felgenhauer said Russia’s military was old but still effective. “Our military is backward in its development. But we still have a sizeable nuclear potential. It can kill a hell of a lot of people,” he said.

Russia challenges west with nuclear overhaul | World news | The Guardian

For some unexplained reason, the Russians are doing what they told us they were going to do. And it is an utter shock to the West. You mean you weren’t kidding, the West seems to be thinking. Well no, the Russians weren’t kidding.

What does this all mean? Let’s go back to the model(s).

The Model

There are three models that we can look to: Sandpiles, snow packed mountains or forests. All three of these models collapse like societies. A key point in all of these models is that the process never stops: Sand keeps falling, snow keeps falling and the forest never stops growing. That means once you have reached a tipping point after a long period of time then it is already too late. Since the process never stops, the future lands on an unstable past. Therefore, time makes things worse. That doesn’t mean a massive collapse will happen tomorrow but it could. It’s a little like a forest that is ready for a massive fire. Just because it is ready doesn’t mean there is going to be massive fire. It may takes several years before something actually happens. The most important point is to know that it is ready for something big.

If not enough time has passed since the last big crash (1945), then it is possible to suppress collapses. And we’ve seen that a lot in the economy. However, eventually you reach the end of the road where suppressing collapses doesn’t seem to work right (Japan). For the US, the historical time to crisis or collapse is 80 to 100 years since the beginning of the last crash period – 1925 to 1945. The new one runs from 2005 to 2025. Other indicators that we have reached the end of the road are 9/11 and the 2008 financial crash. When enough time has passed then big problems will start showing up. A big problem in one place means many more are present but just hidden from view.

The problem is not confined to Russia:

The problem is also not confined to conflict or war:

Roubini and Bremmer on Charlie Rose: Unveiling New Abnormal

“Our point is that this situation is one that is not a stable equilibrium, is not even a stable disequilibrium. It’s an unstable disequilibrium. Take for example the eurozone. You cannot have just a monetary union without banking, political, economic, fiscal union. Either you move towards more integration or you’re going to have more fragmentation and disintegration. So the situation we face right now in the global economy, same in the eurozone, is of a unstable disequilibrium, therefore a new abnormal, that cannot be sustained.”

EconoMonitor : Nouriel Roubini’s Global EconoMonitor » Roubini and Bremmer on Charlie Rose: Unveiling New Abnormal

So economically the world has reached an unstable disequilibrium. And what is that exactly? It is a place where something small can cause something big – a tipping point.

And how is that war on terror working out?

Lots of problems are present in the world today. Big changes are ready to take place. Those changes will probably not go smoothly. War and economic collapse are a real possibility within a few years.

Radio Station Ekho Moskvy Speaks About Nuclear War “… as if They were Discussing Increases in Parking Fines”

“Nuclear war is the ultimate, unthinkable catastrophe. But in some sections of the Russian media it is being viewed as a realistic possibility and even something to be embraced.”

Surprise! It turns out that nuclear war is no big deal. Well, at least to some in the Russian media.

You just knew that nuclear war was impossible because the Russians would be just as horrified as you. Apparently, that is a wrong assumption.

In fact, as liberal journalist Yuriy Saprykin recently noted, it has almost become “commonplace”.

Saprykin was struck by how presenters and listeners on independent radio station Ekho Moskvy now speak about nuclear war “more or less in the same way as if they were discussing increases in parking fines”.

On other radio stations, the tone of the nuclear debate can be much more alarming.

“Why are you all so afraid of nuclear war? Why are you afraid of nuclear war?” presenter Aleksey Gudoshnikov asked listeners to the pro-Kremlin station Govorit Moskva last month.

He went on to say that people had survived the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, and that these were actually not as destructive as the bombing of Dresden some six months earlier.

“This fear of nuclear war is exaggerated, in my view,” the 26-year-old Gudoshnikov concluded.

BBC News – Russian media learn to love the bomb

Russian tensions could escalate into all-out war, says Nato general – Telegraph

Tensions with Russia could blow up into all-out conflict, posing “an existential threat to our whole being”, Britain’s top general in Nato has warned.

Gen Sir Adrian Bradshaw, deputy commander of Nato forces in Europe, said there was a danger Vladimir Putin could try to use his armies to invade and seize Nato territory, after calculating the alliance would be too afraid of escalating violence to respond.

His comments follow a clash between London and Moscow after the Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, said there was a “real and present danger” Mr Putin could try to destabilise the Baltic states with a campaign of subversion and irregular warfare.

The Kremlin called those comments “absolutely unacceptable”.

Russian tensions could escalate into all-out war, says Nato general – Telegraph

Now people are finally starting to notice that nuclear war is a real possibility. The possibility of nuclear war is much higher than people think. That’s because the alternative for the Russian leadership just might be even worse – revolution and certain death. Russia is due to run out of money by the end of 2016. Things could potentially get ugly inside Russia after that. It’s just not clear if Putin will survive long after 2016. Maybe he will, but even he must be a little nervous. Therefore, this opens up all kinds of possibilities, including the possibility of nuclear war.

5 Ways the U.S. and China Could Stumble Into War | The National Interest

World War III may not be as unlikely as you think.

Over the last few years, I have undertaken what most would consider a depressing assignment: debating and thinking through the possibility of a great-power war in today’s chaotic international environment. And for good reason. As Washington attempts to transition away from counterinsurgency operations and the nightmare that has become the Middle East, new challenges—many from revisionist great powers—seem to be popping up around the globe. The crisis in Ukraine—with many now openly calling the state of U.S.-Russian relations “Cold War 2.0”—serves as perhaps the best example of such a chilling possibility.

Yet, despite whatever the crisis of the day is, when it comes to challenges Washington must face in the years to come, none is as important as the challenge presented by the People’s Republic of China. Beijing—now empowered by an economy and military that is only second to America—seems bent on remaking the international order in the Asia-Pacific and possibly the wider Indo-Pacific at least partly in its own image. From the East China Sea to the wide expanses of the Indian Ocean, China has clearly made its intentions known that the current international order is open to at least some revision on its terms. Over the last several years, various clashes over the very meaning of the maritime commons, natural resources below the sea bed, air-defense identification zones and various near collisions in the near seas and in the sky have set off alarm bells in capitals around Asia. While Washington has declared its own “pivot” or “rebalance” towards Asia, destabilizing and what some have called “coercive actions” by China have continued unabated.

So where does all of this end up? Is open war in Asia a possibility? Would the United States be sucked in?

5 Ways the U.S. and China Could Stumble Into War | The National Interest

Related Articles:

Navy Intel Officer Warns of Future China Conflict | Washington Free Beacon | 1913 Intel [Feb. 3, 2015]
China and the United States are preparing for war | China Daily Mail [Jan. 5, 2015]

What Russia wants: From cold war to hot war | The Economist

Russia’s aggression in Ukraine is part of a broader, and more dangerous, confrontation with the West

Nearly a quarter-century after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the West faces a greater threat from the East than at any point during the cold war. Even during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, Soviet leaders were constrained by the Politburo and memories of the second world war. Now, according to Russia’s chief propagandist, Dmitry Kiselev, even a decision about the use of nuclear arms “will be taken personally by Mr Putin, who has the undoubted support of the Russian people”. Bluff or not, this reflects the Russian elite’s perception of the West as a threat to the very existence of the Russian state.

… But Mr Putin is fond of saying that nobody should try to shove Russia around when it has one of the world’s biggest nuclear arsenals. Mr Kiselev puts it even more bluntly: “During the years of romanticism [ie, detente], the Soviet Union undertook not to use nuclear weapons first. Modern Russian doctrine does not. The illusions are gone.”

… What troubles Mr Stoltenberg greatly about Mr Putin’s new, angry Russia is that it is harder to deal with than the old Soviet Union. As a Norwegian, used to sharing an Arctic border with Russia, he says that “even during the coldest period of the cold war we were able to have a pragmatic conversation with them on many security issues”. Russia had “an interest in stability” then, “but not now”.

What Russia wants: From cold war to hot war | The Economist

Is This the End of NATO? | The XX Committee

But the moral collapse of Europe is even worse than the military collapse. All the armaments in the world do no good when the will to use them is absent. Since the Cold War’s end, Western Europeans have convinced themselves of many things that simply are not true. Their optimistic worldview, which really is the highest form of the WEIRD Weltanschauung, abandoned any notion that monsters might still exist, and many Europeans, including most of their leaders, seem unable to accept the new reality that Vladimir Putin has forced upon them. Yet denying that Russia aims to change the European order, and will use force to do so, will not stop Kremlin misdeeds, actually it will only encourage more Russian aggression.

To be blunt, I see little evidence to date that major European leaders are willing to wake up to this new reality. In the event of Russian provocation against NATO, which is highly likely soon, it’s very possible that the Atlantic Alliance will unravel completely. Putin may achieve his strategic victory with hardly a shot fired. In such an event, I have no idea how Obama, or any American president, could send U.S. troops to die to defend a Europe that is so flagrantly unwilling to defend itself.

Is This the End of NATO? | The XX Committee

Ex-NATO chief Fogh Rasmussen says Russia likely to act in Baltics: Reports – Economic Times

Russia is highly likely to intervene in the Baltic states to test NATO’s collective defence commitment, the former head of the Atlantic alliance was quoted as saying by Britain’s Daily Telegraph on Friday.

“This is not about Ukraine. Putin wants to restore Russia to its former position as a great power,” Anders Fogh Rasmussen told the daily.

“There is a high probability that he will intervene in the Baltics to test NATO’s Article 5,” he said, referring to the clause that commits NATO to respond collectively if a member is attacked.

“Russian President Vladimir Putin knows that if he crosses the red line and attacks a NATO ally, he will be defeated. Let us be quite clear about that. But he is a specialist in hybrid warfare,” he said.

Ex-NATO chief Fogh Rasmussen says Russia likely to act in Baltics: Reports – Economic Times

Anne Applebaum: The long view with Russia – The Washington Post

“We don’t want a new Cold War — but even that would be preferable to a new World War. And if we don’t come up with a serious strategy to prevent one, that’s what we’ll get. ”

For what is the alternative? Ukraine collapses, and Putin is emboldened, as he was after his invasion of Georgia in 2008. He begins planning the next “frozen conflict.” If he does so in a NATO state, perhaps Lithuania or Estonia, a much wider and even more damaging European conflict would follow. We don’t want a new Cold War — but even that would be preferable to a new World War. And if we don’t come up with a serious strategy to prevent one, that’s what we’ll get.

Anne Applebaum: The long view with Russia – The Washington Post