Iran vs. Israel: Who’s Making the Threats?

Here are the contents of the two pages Mr. Pipes showed the camera:

1. Iran finances and provides arms to Hamas which periodically attacks Israel.

2. Iran finances and provides arms to Hezbollah which periodically attacks Israel.

3. Khomeini called for “wiping Israel out of existence” on coming to power in. (1979)

4. Mohammad Khatami, president of Iran: “If we abide by real legal laws, we should mobilize the whole Islamic world for a sharp confrontation with the Zionist regime … if we abide by the Koran, all of us should mobilize to kill.” (2000)

5. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: “It is the mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to erase Israel from the map of the region.” (2001)

6. Hassan Nasrallah, a leader of Hezbollah: “If they [Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.” (2002)

7. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran: he repeatedly called for Israel to be “wiped off the map.” (2005)

8. Nasrallah: “Israel is our enemy. This is an aggressive, illegal, and illegitimate entity, which has no future in our land. Its destiny is manifested in our motto: ‘Death to Israel.'” (2005)

9. Yahya Rahim Safavi, commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps: “With God’s help the time has come for the Zionist regime’s death sentence.” (2008)

10. Mohammad Hassan Rahimian, Khamenei’s representative to the Moustazafan Foundation: “We have manufactured missiles that allow us, when necessary to replace [sic] Israel in its entirety with a big holocaust.” (2010)

11. Mohammad Reza Naqdi, the commander of the Basij paramilitary force: “We recommend them [the Zionists] to pack their furniture and return to their countries. And if they insist on staying, they should know that a time while arrive when they will not even have time to pack their suitcases.” (2011)

12. Khamenei: “The Zionist regime is a cancerous tumor that will be removed.” (2012)

13. Ahmad Alamolhoda, a member of the Assembly of Experts: “The destruction of Israel is the idea of the Islamic Revolution in Iran and is one of the pillars of the Iranian Islamic regime. We cannot claim that we have no intention of going to war with Israel.” (2013)

14. Nasrallah: “The elimination of Israel is not only a Palestinian interest. It is the interest of the entire Muslim world and the entire Arab world.” (2013)

15. Hojateleslam Alireza Panahian, the advisor to Office of the Supreme Leader in Universities: “The day will come when the Islamic people in the region will destroy Israel and save the world from this Zionist base.” (2013)

16. Hojatoleslam Ali Shirazi, Khamenei’s representative in the Revolutionary Guard: “The Zionist regime will soon be destroyed, and this generation will be witness to its destruction.” (2013)

17. Khamenei: “This barbaric, wolflike & infanticidal regime of Israel which spares no crime has no cure but to be annihilated.” (2014)

18. Hossein Salami, the deputy head of the Revolutionary Guard: “We will chase you [Israelis] house to house and will take revenge for every drop of blood of our martyrs in Palestine, and this is the beginning point of Islamic nations awakening for your defeat.” (2014)

19. Salami: “Today we are aware of how the Zionist regime is slowly being erased from the world, and indeed, soon, there will be no such thing as the Zionist regime on Planet Earth.” (2014)

20. Hossein Sheikholeslam, the secretary-general of the Committee for Support for the Palestinian Intifada: “The issue of Israel’s destruction is important, no matter the method. We will obviously implement the strategy of the Imam Khomeini and the Leader on the issue of destroying the Zionists.” (2014)

21. Khamene’i called for Israel to be “annihilated.” (November 10, 2014)

22. Mohammad Ali Jafari, the commander-in-chief of the Revolutionary Guard: “The Revolutionary Guards will fight to the end of the Zionist regime … We will not rest easy until this epitome of vice is totally deleted from the region’s geopolitics.” (2015)

23. Mujtaba du Al-Nour, a senior figure in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards: Iran has rockets that can reach the heart of Tel-Aviv within six or seven minutes after being given the go ahead by the Supreme Guide, “even before the dust of rockets of the Zionists reach us”. (February 23, 2015)

24. General Mohammad Reza Naqdi, commander of Iran’s Basij militia in late March 2015: “Wiping Israel off the map is not up for negotiation.” (April 1, 2015)

25. Mojtaba Zolnour, a Khamenei representative in the IRGC: The “government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has divine permission to destroy Israel. … The Noble Koran permits the Islamic Republic of Iran to destroy Israel. … Even if Iran gives up its nuclear program, it will not weaken this country’s determination to destroy Israel.” (May 12, 2015)

Iran vs. Israel: Who’s Making the Threats?

America in 2015: An Aristocracy?

In the 2014 federal elections, a staggering 96% of all incumbents were reelected, despite the fact the body had a disapproval rating of 83% heading into the vote.  How can this be?  If the people are so dissatisfied with their representatives and the people have the power to vote them out of office, why would they choose to reelect virtually all of them?

In a word: Money.

With only rare exceptions, the only people who are able to compete to serve in our nation’s legislature are those who are independently wealthy or are able to make successful financial appeals to the “Political One Percent of the One Percent.”  Everyone else is excluded.  Dictionary.com defines aristocracy as “a government or state ruled by an…elite or privileged upper class.”  Given the set of facts that govern our political system today, by definition the United States is not a representative democracy.  As distasteful as it is for us to contemplate, we must admit “aristocracy” comes closer to the mark, as a small elite, privileged class does presently rule the U.S. electoral system.

America in 2015: Democracy, Republic or Aristocracy? | The National Interest Blog

Is American democracy headed to extinction? – The Washington Post

Behind dysfunctional government, is democracy itself in decay?

It took only 250 years for democracy to disintegrate in ancient Athens. A wholly new form of government was invented there in which the people ruled themselves. That constitution proved marvelously effective. Athens grew in wealth and capacity, fought off the Persian challenge, established itself as the leading power in the known world and produced treasures of architecture, philosophy and art that bedazzle to this day. But when privilege, corruption and mismanagement took hold, the lights went out.

In Athens, democracy disintegrated when the rich grew super-rich, refused to play by the rules and undermined the established system of government. That is the point that the United States and Britain have reached.

The lesson from Athens is that success breeds complacency. People, notably those in privilege, stopped caring, and democracy was neglected. Six years after the global economic crisis, the signs from the model democracies are that those in privilege are unable to care and that our systems are unable to learn. …

Is American democracy headed to extinction? – The Washington Post

The problem is not just money. The media is a big problem too.

Pat Caddell Says: Media Have Become an “Enemy of the American people”

“I think we are in our most dangerous time in political history in terms of the balance of power that the media plays in whether or not we will maintain a free democracy or not.”

Patrick Caddell is a Democratic pollster. He served as pollster for President Jimmy Carter, Gary Hart, Joe Biden and others.

China’s War against International Law in the South China Sea | The National Interest

In medieval times, alchemists sought to transmute base metals into gold. Today, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is engaged in the geopolitical equivalent of alchemy in the South China Sea, as it seeks to transform reefs into islands. The Pentagon’s annual report on Chinese military capabilities notes that, for the last year, China has been reclaiming land at five of the reefs under its control in the South China Sea. The PRC is already building major infrastructure on four of these artificial islands. At least two of them—Fiery Cross Reef and Subi Reef—are getting airstrips.

… In short, China is undertaking a basic challenge to the nature of the land features at sea and to freedom of navigation.

Nonetheless, Chinese leaders are unlikely to back down. This is in part due to the likely genuine belief that the South China Sea has long been Chinese territory. That belief does not justify China’s actions, but it explains how China can see itself as acting defensively, rather than in an aggrandizing fashion.

China’s War against International Law in the South China Sea | The National Interest

In my opinion the Chinese leadership cannot back down. This is due to internal instabilities. Backing down to the US could substantially undermine the credibility of the leadership. Also, the leadership cannot really stop the process of creating a sphere of influence. Again this is due to internal instabilities.

The way forward will almost certainly involve conflict with the US, which means the probability of war with the US is a lot higher than most people think.

A Net Assessment of the World | Stratfor

A pretentious title requires a modest beginning. The world has increasingly destabilized and it is necessary to try to state, as clearly as possible, what has happened and why. This is not because the world is uniquely disorderly; it is that disorder takes a different form each time, though it is always complex.

To put it simply, a vast swath of the Eurasian landmass (understood to be Europe and Asia together) is in political, military and economic disarray. Europe and China are struggling with the consequences of the 2008 crisis, which left not only economic but institutional challenges. Russia is undergoing a geopolitical crisis in Ukraine and an economic problem at home. The Arab world, from the Levant to Iran, from the Turkish border through the Arabian Peninsula, is embroiled in politically destabilizing warfare. The Western Hemisphere is relatively stable, as is the Asian Archipelago. But Eurasia is destabilizing in multiple dimensions.

We can do an infinite regression to try to understand the cause, but let’s begin with the last systemic shift the world experienced: the end of the Cold War.

The Repercussions of the Soviet Collapse

The Cold War was a frozen conflict in one sense: The Soviet Union was contained in a line running from the North Cape of Norway to Pakistan. There was some movement, but relatively little. When the Soviet Union fell, two important things happened. First, a massive devolution occurred, freeing some formally independent states from domination by the Soviets and creating independent states within the former Soviet Union. As a result, a potentially unstable belt emerged between the Baltic and Black seas.

Meanwhile, along the southwestern border of the former Soviet Union, the demarcation line of the Cold War that generally cut through the Islamic world disappeared. Countries that were locked into place by the Cold War suddenly were able to move, and internal forces were set into motion that would, in due course, challenge the nation-states created after World War I and the fall of the Ottoman Empire that had been frozen by the Cold War.

Two emblematic events immediately occurred. In 1990, even before the collapse of the Soviet Union was complete, Iraq invaded Kuwait and seemed to threaten Saudi Arabia. This followed an extended war with Iran from which Iraq emerged in a more favorable position than Tehran, and Baghdad seemed to be claiming Kuwait as its prize. The United States mobilized not only its Cold War coalition, but also states from the former Soviet bloc and the Arab world, to reverse this. The unintended consequence was to focus at least some Sunnis both on the possibilities created by the end of the Cold War and on the American role as regional hegemon, which in turn led to 9/11 and is still being played out now, both to the south and north of the old Cold War dividing line.

The second event was the breakup of Yugoslavia and the Serbian-Croatian-Bosnian war that left about 100,000 people dead. It was a war of old grudges and new fears. It seemed to represent a unique situation that was not applicable to the rest of the region, but it in fact defined the new world system in two ways. First, Yugoslavia was the southern extension of the borderland between the Soviet Union and Western Europe. What happened in Yugoslavia raised questions that most people ignored, about what the long-term reality in this borderland would be. Second, among other things, the war centered on an east-west schism between Christians and Muslims, and the worst of the bloodletting occurred in this context. The United States and NATO interceded in Kosovo against Serbia despite Russian protests, and Moscow was ultimately sidelined from the peacekeeping mission that defused the war. The explosion in the Balkans foreshadowed much of what was to come later.

While Russia weakened and declined, the two ends of Eurasia flourished. The decade following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany ushered in a period of significant prosperity that had two results. The European Union, created through the Maastricht Treaty the same year the Soviet Union disintegrated, expanded its influence eastward into the former Soviet sphere and southward, incorporating disparate states whose differences were hidden by the prosperous period. And China, after the end of the Japanese economic miracle, became the global low-wage, high-growth country, powered by the appetite for its exports in prosperous Europe and North America.

The forces at work in Eurasia were hidden. The fragility of peripheral nations in Europe relative to German economic power was not fully visible. The cyclical nature of China’s growth, similar in many ways to the dynamics of Japan in the previous generation, was also invisible. The consequences of the end of the Cold War Islamic world, the forces that were unleashed beneath the surface and the fragility of the states that were containing them were hidden beneath the illusion of American power after the victory in Kuwait. Only in Russia was weakness visible, and one of two erroneous conclusions was reached: Either Russia was permanently impotent, or its misery would cause it to evolve into a liberal democracy. All seemed right with Eurasia.

Signs of Destabilization

The first indication of trouble was, of course, 9/11. It was the American attack that was critical. Drawing on the recollection of Desert Storm, it was assumed that American power could reshape the Islamic world at will. All power has limits, but the limits of American power were not visible until later in the 2000s. At that point two other events intervened. The first was the re-emergence of Russia as at least a regional power when it invaded Georgia in 2008. The other was, of course, the financial crisis. Both combined to define the current situation.

The financial crisis transformed Chinese behavior. Although China was already reaching the end of its economic cycle, the decline in appetites for Chinese exports changed the dynamic of China’s economy. Not only did the decline suppress growth, but Beijing’s attempts to shift growth to domestic consumption created inflation that made its exports even less competitive. The result was a political crisis as the Chinese government became increasingly concerned about instability and therefore increasingly oppressive in an attempt to control the situation.

At the other end of Eurasia, the differences between the interests of Germany — Europe’s major exporter — and those of Southern Europe’s developing economies exposed the underlying contradiction in the European Union. Germany had to export. The weaker countries had to develop their economies. The two collided first in the sovereign debt crisis, and again in the austerity policies imposed on Southern Europe and the resulting economic crisis. As a result, Europe became increasingly fragmented.

In a reversal of roles, Russia took advantage of the fragmentation of Europe, using its status as a natural gas supplier to shape Europe’s policies toward Russia. Russia was no longer the cripple of Europe but a significant regional power, influencing events not only on the Continent but also in the Middle East.

It was at this point that Russia encountered the United States. The United States has an elective relationship with the rest of the world. Except when a regional hegemon is trying to dominate Europe, the United States limits its global exposure. It exports relatively little, and almost half of what it does export goes to Canada and Mexico. But as Russia became more assertive, and particularly as it tried to recoup its losses after the fall of the Ukrainian government and the ensuing installation of a pro-Western government, the United States began to increase its focus on Ukraine and the borderlands between Europe and Russia.

At the same time that Washington felt it had to respond to Russia, the United States sought to minimize its exposure in the Middle East. Recognizing the limits of its power, the United States came to see the four indigenous powers in the region — Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel — as bearing the primary responsibility for regional stability and as counterbalances to each other’s power.

The Current State of Play

This brings us to the contemporary world. There is general economic malaise around the globe. That malaise has forced China to control social forces by repression. It has created an existential crisis in Europe that goes far beyond Greece but is being acted out in a Greek-German relationship. The Russians have reached for regional power but have fallen short, for the moment. The nation-states of the Middle East are fraying, and the four major powers are maneuvering in various ways to contain the situation.

The United States remains the world’s leading power, but at the same time, the institutions that it used during the Cold War have become ineffective. Even though NATO is increasing deployments and training in Eastern Europe, it is a military alliance that lacks a substantial military. The International Monetary Fund has become, in many cases, the problem and not the solution to economic difficulties. The United States has avoided entanglement in the economic problems in Europe and China and has limited its exposure in the Middle East. Yet it is becoming more directly involved with Russia, with its primordial fear of a European hegemon aroused, however far-fetched the prospect.

After every systemic war, there is an illusion that the victorious coalition will continue to be cohesive and govern as effectively as it fought. After the Napoleonic Wars, the Congress of Vienna sought to meld the alliance against France into an entity that could manage the peace. After World War I, the Allies (absent the United States) created the League of Nations. After World War II, it was the United Nations. After the Cold War ended, it was assumed that the United Nations, NATO, IMF, World Bank and other multinational institutions could manage the global system. In each case, the victorious powers sought to use wartime alliance structures to manage the post-war world. In each case, they failed, because the thing that bound them together — the enemy — no longer existed. Therefore, the institutions became powerless and the illusion of unity dissolved.

This is what has happened here. The collapse of the Soviet Union put into motion processes that the Cold War institutions could not manage. The net assessment, therefore, is that the Cold War delayed the emergence of realities that were buried under its weight, and the prosperity of the 1990s hid the limits of Eurasia as a whole. What we are seeing now are fundamental re-emerging realities that were already there. Europe is a highly fragmented collection of nation-states. China contains its centrifugal forces through a powerful and repressive government in Beijing. Russia is neither an equal of the United States nor a helpless cripple to be ignored or tutored. And the map of the Middle East, created by the Ottomans and the Europeans, has hidden underlying forces that are rearing their heads.

The United States is, by far, the world’s most powerful nation. That does not mean that the United States can — or has an interest to — solve the problems of the world, contain the forces that are at work or stand in front of those forces and compel them to stop. Even the toughest guy in the bar can’t take on the entire bar and win.

A Net Assessment of the World is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

A Net Assessment of the World | Stratfor

Violent warfare is on the wane, right? — Bull Market — Medium

Many optimists think so. But a close look at the statistics suggests that the idea just doesn’t add up

A spate of recent and not so recent books have suggested that “everything is getting better,” that the world is getting more peaceful, more civilized, and less violent. Some of these claims stand up. In his book The Better Angels of Our Nature, psychologist Steven Pinker made the case that everything from slavery and torture to violent personal crime and cruelty to animals has decreased in modern times. He presented masses of evidence. Such trends, it would certainly seem, are highly unlikely to be reversed.

Pinker also suggested?—?as have others, including historian Niall Ferguson?—?that something big has changed about violent warfare since 1945 as well. Here too, the world seems to have become much more peaceful, as if war is becoming a thing of the past. As he wrote,

… wars between great powers and developed nations have fallen to historically unprecedented levels. This empirical fact has been repeatedly noted with astonishment by many military historians and international relations scholars…

Nassim Taleb criticized Pinker’s arguments a few years ago, arguing that Pinker didn’t take proper account of the statistical nature of war as a historical phenomenon, specifically as a time series of events characterized by fat tails. Such processes naturally have long periods of quiescence, which get ripped apart by tumultuous upheavals, and they lure the mind into mistaken interpretations. Pinker responded, clarifying his view, and the quotes above come from that response . Pinker acknowledged the logical possibility of Taleb’s view, but suggested that Taleb had “no evidence that is true, or even plausible.”

That has now changed. Just today, Taleb, writing with another mathematician, Pasquale Cirillo, has released a detailed analysis of the statistics of violent warfare going back some 2000 years, with an emphasis on the properties of the tails of the distribution?—?the likelihood of the most extreme events. …

Violent warfare is on the wane, right? — Bull Market — Medium

Wars follow a feedback-loop process. That means there will always be wars. The time between major wars is increased due to the presence of nuclear weapons. That’s bad news because when a major war happens it is going to be really bad.

A feedback-loop process is a lot like snow falling on a mountain. Eventually there will be an avalanche. And that avalanche is not optional. Also, more time equals more snow which equals bigger avalanches.

Is America About to Make a Fatal Mistake in the South China Sea? | The National Interest

An already tense and dangerous situation in the South China Sea threatens to become even worse.  The latest development focuses on reports that the United States is considering plans to initiate systematic military patrols with ships and planes in that volatile area. Without even waiting for confirmation that the reports are accurate, Beijing expressed its great displeasure regarding such a step.

If this actually comes to pass, Washington is about to deepen its involvement in a bitter, multi-sided territorial dispute.  The underlying issues are murky and complex.  Based on dubious interpretations of both history and international law, China claims an oceanic boundary that would convert some 80 percent of the South China Sea—and the small islands dotting itf—from international waters into Chinese territorial waters.  Beijing has begun to enforce its claims with air and naval patrols and major reclamation projects to build serviceable artificial islands (in one case, even including an runway) from nearly submerged reefs. Several neighboring countries, including Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia, not only challenge Beijing’s claim, they assert significant territorial ambitions of their own. Vietnam has even commenced a more limited artificial island construction of its own.

Is America About to Make a Fatal Mistake in the South China Sea? | The National Interest

Russia Threatens to Build More Nuclear Weapons | The National Interest Blog

Russia may increase the size of its nuclear arsenal, a senior Russian official revealed on Friday.

Speaking at the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty conference in New York, Mikhail Ulyanov, the Director of the Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control at the Russian Foreign Ministry, said that Russia may be forced to increase the size of its nuclear arsenal in response to provocative U.S. actions.

The official elaborated on the alleged U.S. provocations, which included: “U.S. missile defense program, the U.S. refusal to negotiate on the ban on weapons in outer space, the U.S. military’s Prompt Global Strike (PGS) system, Washington’s de facto refusal to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and the serious imbalance in conventional weapons in Europe.”

Russia Threatens to Build More Nuclear Weapons | The National Interest Blog

While Russia is threatening, China is doing something about its nuclear arsenal.

China’s New Intercontinental Missile is a big deal – Business Insider

From the Beacon:

It was the second DF-31A flight test since August and highlights China’s growing strategic nuclear buildup, a modernization program largely carried out in secret. The DF-31A test also took place on the last day of a rare U.S.-China military exercise in Chengdu that practiced joint disaster relief efforts.

China is known to use its missile tests to send political signals, as in 1996 when it bracketed Taiwan with missile flight tests that impacted north and south of the island prior to a presidential election. Analysts say the DF-31A test likely was intended to bolster the Chinese military’s hardline stance toward the United States and particularly the U.S. military, regarded by Beijing as its main adversary.

Richard Fisher, a China military affairs specialist, told the Beacon, the development “suggests that China may be building toward a ‘counterstrike’ strategy that would require the secret buildup of many more missiles and warheads than suggested by public ICBM number estimates made available by the U.S. Intelligence Community.”

China’s New Intercontinental Missile is a big deal – Business Insider

China Making Some Missiles More Powerful – NYTimes.com

After decades of maintaining a minimal nuclear force, China has re-engineered many of its long-range ballistic missiles to carry multiple warheads, a step that federal officials and policy analysts say appears designed to give pause to the United States as it prepares to deploy more robust missile defenses in the Pacific.

What makes China’s decision particularly notable is that the technology of miniaturizing warheads and putting three or more atop a single missile has been in Chinese hands for decades. But a succession of Chinese leaders deliberately let it sit unused; they were not interested in getting into the kind of arms race that characterized the Cold War nuclear competition between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Now, however, President Xi Jinping appears to have altered course, at the same moment that he is building military airfields on disputed islands in the South China Sea, declaring exclusive Chinese “air defense identification zones,” sending Chinese submarines through the Persian Gulf for the first time and creating a powerful new arsenal of cyberweapons.

China Making Some Missiles More Powerful – NYTimes.com

Could Vladimir Putin withstand a popular uprising in Russia?

The annexation of Crimea or the help for the separatists in the Donbas region have raised domestic support for Vladimir Putin’s presidency to record levels. Putin has banked on lingering frustration in Russian society that Moscow has been “cheated” by the West or that Russia should regain its great power status.

But under the surface, his position is actually rather precarious. Thanks to serious economic hardship and growing unease about Russia’s actions in Ukraine, Putin’s supposedly stratospheric popularity is less secure than ever – and it may prove to be very short-lived.

Trouble ahead?

Putin’s vulnerability to popular uprising would rather depend on the circumstances. A hypothetical Russian Maidan would be very different from the Ukrainian original; it would not be driven by aspirations for European integration, liberal democracy or reformation of the state, since proponents of these ideas are now only a small part of Russian society

Instead, any anti-Putin uprising would probably spring from a sudden collapse in popular confidence in his extremely ambitious aspirations. A popular stand against Putin’s regime would most likely be caused if Russia’s current approach in Ukraine and towards the West reaches a point of indisputable failure or defeat.

The Kremlin has raised the stakes very high indeed. Putin’s government has deliberately shifted the tone of Russian public debate towards militarism, identifying the West, “fascism”, and the “illegitimate” government in Kiev as outside forces that seek to destabilise Russia; Russian media and the internet are deluged with powerful images of war from eastern Ukraine together with numerous stories about Western support for the Kiev regime.

This propaganda push is meant to convince Russians that their country is cornered, and that military solutions (particularly in Ukraine) are justified. This enabled Putin to mobilise citizens and ask them to be resilient in the face of economic trauma and western sanctions.

Putin is now trapped by his own actions. Backing down in Ukraine would be a humiliating defeat, and would destroy the rationale for Putin’s militaristic belligerence. It would also signal that the Russian people’s resilience in the face of recent economic hardships has been pointless.

Recent reports have pointed out that Russia’s military engagement in Ukraine is simply not financially viable, and while Russians are in favour of helping the separatists, they do not support Russian direct military intervention in eastern Ukraine – as made clear by groups representing the mothers of Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine.

The Kremlin understands this very well, and has never acknowledged that Russia provides separatists anything else that humanitarian aid or advisers. But since the start of 2015, images of Russians soldiers killed or injured in Ukraine have flooded the internet. Then Boris Nemtsov’s report on Russian soldiers secretly fighting in Ukraine, which found that 220 Russian soldiers had been killed, was released by his allies on May 12. This will all certainly make ordinary Russians more conscious of Russia’s military engagement in Ukraine.

All in all, Putin’s foreign policy in Ukraine is starting to look like a failure. If it goes over the edge, and if Russia’s economy fails at the same time, his popular support could collapse. So what might he do in response?

Cracking down, opening up

Putin could try to reform his regime by identifying scapegoats in his own ranks. Major political figures around Putin such as a deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin, foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, or key generals in the army would be found responsible for Russia’s failure. As a concession to the Russian Maidan, these elites would be replaced. The regime would to continue its current policy in Ukraine and towards the West.

The West is not likely to be swayed by these slight transformations in the Putin regime. Moreover, the EU and US would use the opportunity to push for a more liberal agenda. This scenario is the most likely one, as several people around Putin have already been replaced and it is the less costly solution for the regime.

Alternatively, Putin could broaden his political coalition by seeking support from more liberally minded Russian elites. He could also adopt a more relaxed stance on human rights, particularly LGBT rights. In this scenario, Putin would attempt to show the West that he is open to dialogue by making small concessions to the liberal opposition, with the ultimate aim of convince the West to lift economic sanctions against Russia.

This scenario is extremely unlikely. Russia’s liberal opposition has been almost entirely silenced, and the few opposition elites who are still active share a deep sense of distrust in Putin. They would probably not be willing to collaborate with him ever again, especially if there is a chance of seeing him gone.

Big shoes to fill

On the other hand, if Putin’s leadership became untenable, his regime could simply seek to replace its leader. But it would be very hard to find a new central figure with comparable gravitas.

The most important member of the political elite whose career has developed independently from Putin is the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. He has emerged as a strong leader and a fervent supporter of Putin’s militarism – but it’s very unlikely that elites in Moscow would feel comfortable embracing him.

Indeed, there are signs he is keen to shore up his territory’s independence, giving orders to his security forces to fire on Russian troops operating there without his approval. If Chechnya really began going its own way against Putin’s wishes, that would encourage other regions to pursue independence or more autonomy from Moscow.

But even if an obvious successor were to emerge, Putin is so embedded in the current order that it might not survive without him. Many in the Moscow elite fear that Putin’s fall might spark widespread disorder, and even the dissolution of the Russian state.

To be sure, the chances of a Russian Maidan in the short term are very small, not least since both the West and the current regime around Putin have an interest in a stable Russia. The US and EU would surely go to great lengths to prevent the chaotic collapse of the Putin regime and the unravelling of the state, fearing (among other things) that Russia’s massive nuclear arsenal might fall into the hands of an even more unpredictable despot or criminal non-state actors.

But even if the deck is stacked against it for now, a popular uprising against Putin’s government is by no means unthinkable. And his chances of surviving it are less assured than ever.

Source: Could Vladimir Putin withstand a popular uprising in Russia?

China: Peaceful Rise to Great Power Status Won’t Be Easy! – The Globalist

Therefore, history presents a number of factors that give one pause:

1. The undoubted historical pattern of the correlation between rising great power status and warfare.

2. The understandable sense of bitter revenge many Chinese feel from the humiliations and atrocities perpetrated by some of the great powers in the past.

3. The inevitable rivalry between the established great power of the United States and the rising great power of China.

4. The geopolitical fault-lines, including numerous territorial disputes, in the Asia Pacific region and especially the East and South China Sea.

Can China’s rise to power avoid war?

Considering those factors, it would seem almost inevitable that China’s rise to great power status will, as in the case of the nine preceding rising great powers, involve war. After what happened in the 20th c

China: Peaceful Rise to Great Power Status Won’t Be Easy! – The Globalist

This Pentagon map shows what’s really driving China’s military and diplomatic strategy

China leaders believe their country is a rising superpower on track to have the world’s largest economy and Asia’s most formidable military.

There’s one huge problem: energy needs.

Hopes for energy independence have been dashed by China’s continuing population growth, along with increasing per capita consumption as the economy expands.

Continued economic growth is imperative for China’s leaders. The Communist Party’s legitimacy, and the social and political stability resulting from it, is largely dependent on rising prosperity. China’s oppressive political system is generally tolerated (although beloved) because of the growth its brought the country.

That implicit arrangement can’t last unless the Communist Party upholds its end of the deal and keeps growth going. But an industrialized and still developing economy like China’s can’t grow without plentiful oil and gas. 

In order to offset rising demand and ensure both economic growth and its own long-term survival, China’s Communist Party-led government has “constructed or invested in energy projects in more than 50 countries,” the Department of Defense’s 2015 report on the Chinese military notes. This has enabled China to import approximately 60 percent of its oil supply in 2014 as well as about 32% of its natural gas supply. 

This Pentagon map shows what’s really driving China’s military and diplomatic strategy

Monitoring emerging risks.