Category Archives: Fav-BigPic

The big picture.

1914 Redux? Growing Asia-Pacific Tensions Demand New US Strategy « Breaking Defense

In this timely op-ed, Maj. Paul Smith, who works in the J-9 of U.S. Pacific Command but is, of course, writing in a personal capacity, compares today’s international security situation to that preceding World War I and sees worrying parallels. He calls for a reassessment of our strategy toward China. Read on. The Editor.

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The global environment today eerily resembles that of Europe in the early twentieth century, when a rising tide of nationalism swept through the continent. That nationalism led to increased trade competition, networks of intertwined and complicated alliances and social and political ferment that sparked a war that eventually spread to engulf much of the world in the flames of World War I.

Are we headed towards another global conflict? If so, then where? Most importantly, can this crisis be averted?

1914 Redux? Growing Asia-Pacific Tensions Demand New US Strategy « Breaking Defense

Asia’s Promise Gives Way to Its Growing List of Troubles – WSJ

“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.

 

Asia’s Promise Gives Way to Its Growing List of Troubles – WSJ

The Autumn of Western Civilization

Dangerously jaded and cynical, the West is rudderless and adrift in existential crisis.

The West seems only able to masochistically focus on its past sins and imperfections?—?“We’re so guilty and morally compromised. Just look at all the bad we’ve done: slavery, Hiroshima, Iraq, Vietnam and beyond . . . We don’t deserve to lead the world.” Meanwhile, over the weekend, Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister, called for a “post-West world order” in a speech. The only atmosphere in which he could express such a sentiment is one in which the West utterly lacks the will to defend itself and its values on the world stage. The fact that Lavrov was bold enough to express such a goal is a dire warning sign to the decadent West: our world order is crumbling.

The Autumn of Western Civilization

Ex-NATO commander says Russia, China will surpass U.S. military – NY Daily News

A prominent retired general said Sunday that the U.S. military was in decline and indicated that not even President Trump’s proposed $54 billion increase in defense spending was likely to prevent it from soon being surpassed by those of Russia and China.

Former NATO Commander Gen. Wesley Clark, a Democratic presidential candidate in 2004, told John Catsimatidis on the “Cats Roundtable” radio program on AM 970 in New York that, “if you look at what’s happened over 25 years, the United States has mostly put its military modernization on warm idle.”

Ex-NATO commander says Russia, China will surpass U.S. military – NY Daily News

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.

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