Category Archives: Fav-BigPic

The big picture.

Backing Into World War III | Foreign Policy

“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.

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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.

Backing Into World War III | Foreign Policy

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.

Donald Trump and China on dangerous collision course, say experts | US news | The Guardian

“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”.

Donald Trump and China on dangerous collision course, say experts | US news | The Guardian

Gen. McChrystal is right — in fact, Russian leaders think they already are at war | Foreign Policy

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.

Gen. McChrystal is right — in fact, Russian leaders think they already are at war | Foreign Policy

China ‘steps up preparedness for possible military conflict with US’ | South China Morning Post

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.

China ‘steps up preparedness for possible military conflict with US’ | South China Morning Post

War With China? Effects Of A U.S. Blockade In The South China Sea

Associating the Trump Team’s mooting of a blockade with war is therefore a self-defeating half-truth at best, and leaves China’s own culpability hidden. From a normative perspective, was it not an “act of war” when China constructed the islands in the Philippines’ EEZ in the first place? Was it not an “act of war” when China ignored the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague and refused to vacate its military from those islands that are within the Philippines’ EEZ? Is the conclusion of the quoted experts then that China’s acts of war should be answered with silence and continued back-sliding, including in the case of the U.S. defense treaty with the Philippines?

The Philippines has been thunderously silent on Tillerson’s comments, and Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay could even be read to support the idea of a blockade, but without putting the Philippines’ thin neck on the line. I don’t blame him.

War With China? Effects Of A U.S. Blockade In The South China Sea

China’s South China Sea grab was just asking for war from the beginning. There was always going to come a time when China would restrict movement in the South China Sea and lead us right back to where we are now. There is really no escaping the path to confrontation (and possibly war) with China. And forcing a confrontation sooner is always better than later when China has more nuclear weapons.

Is Trump ready for war in the South China Sea, or is his team just not being clear? – The Washington Post

“The U.S. is going to make sure that we protect our interests there,” Spicer said when asked if President Trump agreed with his nominee.

“It’s a question of if those islands are in fact in international waters and not part of China proper, then yeah, we’re going to make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country.”

Experts had initially thought Tillerson might have misspoken, but Spicer’s remarks appeared to raise the likelihood that the administration was indeed considering blocking China’s access to its new islands in the Spratlys.

Is Trump ready for war in the South China Sea, or is his team just not being clear? – The Washington Post

Trump White House warns against Beijing ‘takeover’ of South China Sea | World news | The Guardian

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.”

Trump White House warns against Beijing ‘takeover’ of South China Sea | World news | The Guardian

Under President Trump, we’ll enter an age of global confrontation | Timothy Garton Ash | Opinion | The Guardian

A narcissistic bully will face nationalist leaders just as dangerous. Prepare for a direct clash with China

No, I’m not predicting the third world war. But a 21st-century variant of the Cuban missile crisis? Entirely possible. So let’s have no illusions. Up on the magic mountain in Davos, Trump’s smooth-talking mouthpiece Anthony Scaramucci tries to persuade us that everything is going to be fine. He says “the path to globalism for the world is through the American worker” (unpick that if you can), and that Trump’s “disruptive change” is going to be “a positive thing in [our] lives”.

Don’t be fooled; don’t be Scaramuccied. We are in for a dangerous, rough ride over the next few years, and we’d better be ready for it.

Under President Trump, we’ll enter an age of global confrontation | Timothy Garton Ash | Opinion | The Guardian

Chinese Media Has Told Rex Tillerson to ‘Prepare for a Military Clash’ | TIME

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.”

Chinese Media Has Told Rex Tillerson to ‘Prepare for a Military Clash’ | TIME

The End of the Asian Century: War, Stagnation, and the Risks to the World’s Most Dynamic Region | The National Interest

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.

The End of the Asian Century: War, Stagnation, and the Risks to the World’s Most Dynamic Region | The National Interest