Pressure to escalate is only going to get worse.
When Secretary of State Rex Tillerson travels to Moscow this week, topic No. 1 will be Syria — and the stakes could not be higher. If the Trump administration and the Kremlin are not able to come to a meeting of the minds on Syria, it could set the two nuclear powers on a dangerous collision course.
But therein lies a major dilemma for Trump moving forward. Successful deterrence requires a credible threat to hit Assad’s forces again if the regime continues to use chemical weapons or commits other transgressions. Yet Trump, having already rejected a larger military response out of apparent recognition of the dangers, may find it difficult to credibly signal he is willing to deploy this option in response to further actions by Assad down the line.Sponsored Ads
In this context, the danger of miscalculation is real. The Syrian dictator (perhaps prodded by Russia or Iran) may attempt to test Trump again, hoping to prove the president is a “paper tiger.” And Trump, having invested his personal credibility in standing firm, may find himself psychologically or politically compelled to respond, despite the very real risks that it could result in a direct military clash with Russia.
“If these four worries weren’t bad enough, they pale in comparison with the most profound obstacle to Asia’s continued rise: the risk of war.”
Riddled with economic, political and security woes, today’s Asia is more likely to produce instability and conflict than the freedom and prosperity many once hoped for
But this impressive ascent [of China] has not reconfigured world affairs, and it is unlikely to. The more important Asia has become on the global stage, the more glaring have its flaws become. The region is deeply fractured, threatened by economic stagnation, political upheaval and flashpoints that could trigger new wars. And in our more integrated global society, its troubles could quickly become everyone else’s. Much of the world’s attention in the coming decades will be devoted not just to accommodating Asia’s growing power but to managing and mitigating its many serious problems.
If these four worries weren’t bad enough, they pale in comparison with the most profound obstacle to Asia’s continued rise: the risk of war. Increasingly, the region is regressing to a 19th-century brand of power politics in which might makes right. Such realpolitik is hardly reassuring in a neighborhood that includes five nuclear-armed powers: China, India, North Korea, Pakistan and Russia.
“Accepting spheres of influence is a recipe for disaster.”
Americans tend to take the fundamental stability of the international order for granted, even while complaining about the burden the United States carries in preserving that stability. History shows that world orders do collapse, however, and when they do it is often unexpected, rapid, and violent. The late 18th century was the high point of the Enlightenment in Europe, before the continent fell suddenly into the abyss of the Napoleonic Wars. In the first decade of the 20th century, the world’s smartest minds predicted an end to great-power conflict as revolutions in communication and transportation knit economies and people closer together. The most devastating war in history came four years later. The apparent calm of the postwar 1920s became the crisis-ridden 1930s and then another world war. Where exactly we are in this classic scenario today, how close the trend lines are to that intersection point is, as always, impossible to know. Are we three years away from a global crisis, or 15? That we are somewhere on that path, however, is unmistakable.
The Dark Ages 2.0
… Now, the question is whether the United States is willing to continue upholding the order that it created and which depends entirely on American power or whether Americans are prepared to take the risk — if they even understand the risk — of letting the order collapse into chaos and conflict.
I’ve been following this problem since 2003. From what I can see a global crisis is a lot closer to three years than 15. And it might even be less than three years.
“Report says ties between the two nuclear-armed countries could deteriorate into an economic or military confrontation”
The group’s report, which was handed to the White House on Sunday and will be published in Washington DC on Tuesday, says ties between the two nuclear-armed countries could rapidly deteriorate into an economic or even military confrontation if compromise on issues including trade, Taiwan and the South China Sea cannot be found.
It says China’s increasingly assertive actions in the region – which include placing sophisticated weapons systems on artificial islands – coupled with growing domestic nationalism risks setting the US and China on “a dangerous collision course”.
General Stanley McChrystal perhaps shocked many when he spoke out on the chance of a war in Europe — aside from the continuing conflict in Ukraine. He stated that “A European war is not unthinkable. People who want to believe a war in Europe is not possible might be in for a surprise.” He is absolutely correct, and it is with Russia.
The common idea on how this will happen is that increased activity can lead to incidents and unintentional escalation. That is, however, only focusing on the direct issues. The underlying issue is that Russia believes itself to be in a war with the West, albeit, for now, a non-military one (coincidentally the topic of my PhD).
The economic sanctions imposed on Russia following the invasion of Ukraine are not perceived as a moderate response from the West to a breach of international law. Rather, as the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov stated, they are seen as an attempt to provoke regime change in Russia. Moreover, this perception has a longer story than economic sanctions.
China is stepping up preparedness for a possible military conflict with the US as the Donald Trump presidency has increased the risk of hostilities breaking out, state media and military observers said.
Beijing is bracing itself for a possible deterioration in Sino-US ties, with a particular emphasis on maritime security.
The People’s Liberation Army said in a commentary on its official website last Friday, the day of Trump’s inauguration, that the chances of war have become “more real” amid a more complex security situation in Asia Pacific.
The United States will take steps to foil Chinese efforts to “take over” the South China Sea, the White House has indicated, amid growing hints that Donald Trump’s administration intends to challenge Beijing over the strategic waterway.
Chinese media responded by warning that any attempt to prevent China accessing its interests in the region risked sparking a “large-scale war”.
At his first question and answer session with the press on Monday Spicer again hinted Trump’s administration would take a harder line on the South China Sea.
“I think the most dangerous scenario was the one we were heading towards: a lot of tough talk on the South China Sea, but China continuing to encroach and the United States not really putting a lot of muscle behind the statements it was making.”
The U.S. Secretary of State nominee has provoked fury with his hawkish remarks on the South China Sea
China’s state media has responded forcefully to suggestions by U.S. Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson that China should be barred from the artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea, warning that any such attempt would force a “devastating confrontation” and both sides should “prepare for a military clash.”
To put it starkly, what we are seeing today may be the beginning of the end of the “Asian Century.” For decades, prominent and knowledgeable observers, from bankers and industrialists to scholars and politicians, have predicted the rise of the Asia-Paci?c and an era of unparalleled Asian power, prosperity, and peace. At the same time, many writers assure us that the East is replacing the West, in a great shift of global power that will permanently reshape our world. All those predictions now are themselves at risk.
Such a view remains controversial. Only in recent months have the popular press and casual observers begun to worry about growing risk, from China’s stock market collapse to the danger of armed con?ict in the South China Sea. But in a world where headlines continue to focus on the bloody spread of the Islamic State or on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and intervention in the Syrian civil war, only cursory attention is being paid to Asia’s dangers.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has recently made it very clear that Russia possesses a nuclear weapons capability. “Don’t forget that Russia is a nuclear power,” he has been frequently quoted as saying.
Russia has been rattling the nuclear saber constantly in recent weeks. Wednesday the Kremlin launched three intercontinental ballistic missiles to prove a point. All of the missiles worked and hit their targets. Russian nuclear capable bombers have skirted the coast of the United Kingdom, down to the Spanish main, and back again. The new version of the Satan missile will soon be operational, containing enough destructive capability to obliterate a country the size of France, with one shot, along with decoys to defeat an anti-missile capability.
Reports from Moscow are that the Russian public is being whipped into an aggressive frenzy by Russian state media in a bid to cast America as the real terrorist nation, supporting the Islamic State and threatening the national security of the Russian Federation. The “accidental” bombing of a Syrian army post by U.S. Air Force aircraft a few weeks prior didn’t help reduce tensions in Syria and played into the Kremlin’s hand.
The West subsequently accused Russia of war crimes in its bombing of hospitals and relief convoys in Aleppo. The Kremlin reacted furiously and demanded all employees of the Russian government that have children studying abroad should bring them home immediately.
 Look back at Weimar – and start to worry about Russia – https://goo.gl/ycjQto
 The Case for Nuclear War – https://goo.gl/F7nmPY
 Entering the Age of Great Upheaval – https://goo.gl/qvxYh