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Think the World Resembles 1938? It Might Actually Look More Like 1618. | The National Interest Blog

“Practitioners in the field of international relations focus on 1618 because it marks the start of the Thirty Years’ War …”

“But yesterday’s vote [on Brexit] was in many ways a clear, even visceral, statement that the international system is failing.”

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An alternative analogy to what we are seeing in the current international security environment may be 1618 and not 1938, particularly but not exclusively with respect to the situation on the European continent. Practitioners in the field of international relations focus on 1618 because it marks the start of the Thirty Years’ War which ended in the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, that led in turn to the modern state system and rules of international relations. Many conditions that prevailed then were not only proximate causes for the Thirty Years’ War,but helped fuel the intensity of a conflict that by some estimates reduced the population of Germany by a full third. Then, as now, the rules, customs and conventions that governed the international system no longer sufficed to prevent chaos and interminable warfare. Nations and non-state actors alike competed for economic and political power, sought to satisfy old territorial ambitions, assaulted one another based on religious, ethnic and political differences and formed temporary alliances of convenience and coalitions of the willing.

Think the World Resembles 1938? It Might Actually Look More Like 1618. | The National Interest Blog

We may not have been looking, but the world’s become even more dangerous

While Britain took its ill-tempered holiday from the world to indulge in the hallowed tradition of banging on about Europe, our planet became a still-more dangerous place. In East Asia, powerful navies are watching one another across a bitterly disputed ocean like circling scorpions; in Europe, the confrontation with Russia is still escalating; in the Middle East, conflict has taken hold in a way that has not been endured since the fall of the Ottomans.

We may not have been looking, but the world’s become even more dangerous

Russia Is About To Put Nukes Right On NATO’s Border | The Daily Caller

Sources close to the Russian military say the Kremlin will likely deploy nuclear-capable missiles directly on a NATO border, as well as to its newly annexed territory in Crimea.

The missile of concern is the SS-26 Stone, or “Iskander,” named after Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great. The short-range ballistic missile is custom-built to defeat air defense systems, such as the one NATO is currently implementing across its member states. Experts close to the Russian Defense Ministry say the weapons will likely be deployed in Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave region located between Poland and Lithuania, by 2019, with deployments to Crimea possible later.

Russia Is About To Put Nukes Right On NATO’s Border | The Daily Caller

A Dangerous Superpower Showdown is Brewing: China vs. America in Asia | The National Interest Blog

This creates a very dangerous situation. Of course, neither side wants confrontation, let alone war. But each side expects to be able to achieve its aims without confrontation because it assumes the other will back down. And we should be under no illusion about the weight of the stakes for both countries. The maritime issues in dispute are not the cause of US–China rivalry any more than the status of Serbs in the Austro–Hungarian Empire was the cause of the First World War.

Their contest is driven by mutually incompatible visions of the future Asian order and their roles in it. For both of them, this goes to central questions of national identity and destiny. These are just the kinds of issues that great powers do go to war over, and the mutual underestimation of each other’s resolve is how such wars start when neither wants nor expects them to.

A Dangerous Superpower Showdown is Brewing: China vs. America in Asia | The National Interest Blog

A Stark Nuclear Warning by Jerry Brown | The New York Review of Books

I know of no person who understands the science and politics of modern weaponry better than William J. Perry, the US Secretary of Defense from 1994 to 1997. When a man of such unquestioned experience and intelligence issues the stark nuclear warning that is central to his recent memoir, we should take heed. Perry is forthright when he says: “Today, the danger of some sort of a nuclear catastrophe is greater than it was during the Cold War and most people are blissfully unaware of this danger.”1 He also tells us that the nuclear danger is “growing greater every year” and that even a single nuclear detonation “could destroy our way of life.”

While many complain of the obvious dysfunction in Washington, few see the incomparably greater danger of “nuclear doom” because it is hidden and out of public consciousness. Despite an election year filled with commentary and debate, no one is discussing the major issues that trouble Perry. It is another example of the rigid conformity that often dominates public discourse. Long ago, I saw this in the Vietnam War and later in the invasion of Iraq: intelligent people were doing mindless—and catastrophic—things. “Sleepwalking” is the term historians now use for the stupidities that got European leaders into World War I and for the mess they unleashed at Versailles. And sleepwalking still continues as NATO and Russia trade epithets and build their armies and Moscow and Washington modernize their nuclear overkill. A new cold war.

A Stark Nuclear Warning by Jerry Brown | The New York Review of Books

The ‘Inevitable War’ Between the U.S. and China | Newsweek

Though little talked about in the West, many Chinese officials have long felt that war between Washington and Beijing is inevitable. A rising power, the thinking goes, will always challenge a dominant one. Of course, some analysts dismiss this idea; the costs of such a conflict would be too high, and the U.S., which is far stronger militarily, would almost certainly win. Yet history is riddled with wars that appeared to make no sense.

… And at a time when China’s economy is slowing, Xi is under increased pressure at home to find other ways to demonstrate China’s advances under his leadership. A clear reassertion of Beijing’s control over the South China Sea after more than a century of foreign domination would do just that. Failure to do so, however, analysts say, could threaten Xi’s grip on power.

The ‘Inevitable War’ Between the U.S. and China

A “Readiness Crisis”: Would America Lose a War to Russia or China? [Yes] | The National Interest Blog

“We lack the capacity and capability that we need to effectively deter on the high-end [Russia and China].”

We’re in a dramatic crisis now. There is no question that we’re capable against the threats on the counter-terrorism side, but we’ve reached a point where we’re in fact—not heading towards—but we’re already hollow against a high-end threat,” said House Armed Services Committee majority staff director Bob Simmons speaking before an audience at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) on June 21. “We lack the capacity and capability that we need to effectively deter on the high-end.”

Ultimately, the Congress has to act—the nation simply does not have a choice given the gravity of the situation. “It is truly a crisis. The Department of Defense—on the civilian leadership side—says there is no readiness problem, but there is no getting around the data,” Simmons said. “The data is unmistakable, you can’t debate it, those are the facts, and the facts are pesky things.”

A “Readiness Crisis”: Would America Lose a War to Russia or China? | The National Interest Blog

How and Why Russia Is Moving to a War Footing | Newsweek

These additional moves by the Russian leadership are the tip of a much larger iceberg, and are not so much responses to what NATO is currently doing but rather reflections of what would have taken place anyway. Indeed, the Russian leadership is in the middle of a major transition period during which it is implementing emergency measures to move Russia onto a war footing—in effect, state mobilization.

To understand the scale of this transformation, the reasons behind it and the trajectory it is likely to take, it is necessary to step back to see the bigger strategic picture. What we are seeing today are the results of a series of policies and reforms that were instigated initially in the wake of the Russo-Georgia war in 2008 and subsequently accelerated in the wake of the so-called Arab Spring.

How and Why Russia Is Moving to a War Footing

Europe Under Threat of a Possible Nuclear Attack, Says Experts – Australia Network News

According to the International Luxembourg Forum, Europe is at an increased risk of a nuclear attack since World War II with the ISIS trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction.

“ISIS has already carried out numerous chemical weapons attacks in Syria; we know it wants to go further by carrying out a nuclear attack in the heart of Europe. This, combined with poor levels of security at a host of nuclear research centres in the former Soviet Union, mean the threat of a possible ‘dirty-bomb’ attack on a Western capital is high,” the Independent quoted Moshe Kantor, the president of the organization, as saying.

The warning came at a time when there are deep concerns regarding the possibility of a terrorist attack during the upcoming Euro 2016 football championship to be held in France. The forum consisting of former ministers and senior officials from the West and Russia said that the ISIS cell that carried out the Brussels attacks are currently monitoring the security arrangements and the workers at a Belgian nuclear facility.

Europe Under Threat of a Possible Nuclear Attack, Says Experts – Australia Network News

GEORGE FRIEDMAN: A crisis is brewing that will tear the global system apart – Business Insider

The crisis that unfolding is a crisis of exporters. Oil exporters (Russia, Venezuela and others) are in trouble. China is in trouble. Germany is headed for trouble. Their economic model based heavily on exports is breaking as demand is dropping off a cliff and won’t be coming back for a long time.

The global system has reached a breaking point. All the pressures that have built up over the months and years have finally begun to tear it apart.

There is much to tell, but for today, I will mention only three countries: China, Saudi Arabia, and Germany.

From 1991 to 2008, the consensus was that more exports make an economy stronger. This was true until 2008. However, the exporter is only as strong as his customer’s appetite and ability to buy what he sells. When demand falls, what was once a strength becomes a weakness.

The financial crisis of 2008, followed by the recessions in Europe and the United States, was the first step in this shift.

GEORGE FRIEDMAN: A crisis is brewing that will tear the global system apart – Business Insider

Neil Howe: It’s going to get worse; more financial crises coming

Israel Warns: Another Gaza War Is Coming – The Daily Beast

Israel ended its last military operation in Gaza almost two years ago. But among some Israeli military officials, national security experts, and activists here, there is a palpable sense that another war is imminent, and that soon Hamas rockets will again be raining down on Israeli cities, prompting a crushing military response on the beleaguered, 25-mile long strip.

The signs, to hear these people tell it, are plain to see: Despite Israeli efforts to increase the flow of goods in and out of Gaza, its economic health remains desperate. Hamas militants also may be under pressure to move now to strike Israeli neighborhoods along the Gaza border before a network of tunnels that gave them free entry into Israel is sealed up. Recent Israeli intelligence suggests that Hamas fighters have closely studied Israeli tactics from the last war, possibly in preparation for another conflict. And Israel’s new defense minister, sworn in this week, has threatened to assassinate the leader of Hamas, in turn prompting him to dare Israel to enter Gaza again. 

Israel Warns: Another Gaza War Is Coming – The Daily Beast