Egypt’s counterrevolution and Syria’s civil war could herald the arrival of a new superpower coalition, an unlikely alliance between Israel and Saudi Arabia, one with great political clout and the other with vast financial wealth, together flexing their muscles across the Middle East, writes Robert Parry.
Both see Iran, with its Shiite rulers, as their principal regional rival. Both are leery of the populist Islamic movements unleashed by the Arab Spring. Both sided with the Egyptian military in its coup against the elected Muslim Brotherhood government, and both are pleased to see Syrian President Bashar al-Assad facing a possible military assault from the United States.
The idea of China’s “peaceful rise” has always represented the triumph of imagination over reality. But over the last several months, Beijing has done enough to shatter every hope of peace in Asia. It began with an unprecedented attempt by Beijing in March this year to block a $2.9bn Asian Development Bank loan to India on the grounds that some of the cash was intended for use in the eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, a region China claims as its own. This was followed by a gratuitous broadside against India in the People’s Daily, the Communist party’s mouthpiece.
Military incursions into India by Chinese forces were backed up by Beijing’s diplomatic assault on India’s territorial integrity and pluralistic nationalism: the Chinese embassy in New Delhi began issuing irregular visas to Kashmiri Indians in an effort to legitimise separatism. And last week, Beijing officially condemned prime minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh.
The Egyptian army has only one card left to play. Western journalists and other true believers in the promise of the Arab Spring may be shocked by the suggestion that Egypt may be headed to war with Israel in the not-too-distant future. But as the country implodes, war has become the easy way out. It doesn’t matter that the Egyptian army doesn’t want another catastrophic contest with Israel—neither did Anwar Sadat 40 years ago when he saved Egypt by going to war with Israel, which in turn helped him acquire the superpower patronage of the United States.
So, what’s left? A short war today—precipitated by a border incident in Sinai, or a missile gone awry in the Gaza Strip, and concluded before the military runs out of the ammunition that Washington will surely not resupply—will reunify the country and earn Egypt money from an international community eager to broker peace. Taking up arms against Israel will also return Egypt to its former place of prominence in an Arab world that is adrift in a sea of blood. But even more important is the fact that there is no other plausible way out: Sacrificing thousands of her sons on the altar of war is the only way to save Mother Egypt from herself.
China has always played a weak hand brilliantly. When Mao Zedong and Zhou met with Nixon and Henry Kissinger, China was in the midst of economic, political and cultural chaos. Its per capita gross domestic product had fallen below that of Uganda and Sierra Leone. Yet Beijing negotiated as if from commanding heights. Today, it has tremendous assets — but it is not the world’s other superpower, and we should not treat it as such.
Someone steals your most sensitive secrets. Then, planning a face-to-face meeting, he says he wants to develop “a new type” of relationship with you. At what point, exactly, would you start thinking he was planning to drink your milkshake?
Ahead of the first summit meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping of China on June 7, the two nations are on the brink of geopolitical conflict. As its officials acknowledge, China is a classic rising power, poised to challenge U.S. dominance. In historical terms, the sole global superpower never gives up without a fight.
But the message should nevertheless be communicated clearly: The U.S. won’t tolerate being subject to cyber-attacks designed to change the military-strategic balance. A country that steals your trade secrets can become your economic enemy; one that steals your national-security secrets is signaling that it may become an actual security enemy.
The first and overriding point of view was that the era when the United States has been the ultimate superpower in the world was coming to an end. They all believed that a multipower world, with large roles for the U.S., Russia, China and India, was what would arise as the 21st century neared its midpoint. And that development did not seem to be a major concern to any of them.
In terms of America’s relations with the other three countries, the students believed that the most difficult country for the United States is China. China, they noted, has become increasingly more aggressive in the South China Sea, continues to pursue natural resources such as oil and natural gas to sustain its economic growth, and has developed a major presence all over the world.
China’s President Xi Jinping and France’s President Francois Hollande pledged to push for a world free of domination by any superpower Thursday as the French leader visited the Chinese capital in hopes of boosting trade amid his country’s worsening economic woes.
Both leaders stressed their desire for a “multipolar” world that would dilute Washington’s influence — though they did not mention the U.S. in their comments.
The problem with a multipolar world is that historically it has led to wars.
The World Is Marching Toward Anarchy – Robert Kaplan
The fact is that domination of one sort or another, tyrannical or not, has a better chance of preventing the outbreak of war than a system in which no one is really in charge; where no one is the top dog, so to speak. That is why Columbia University’s Kenneth Waltz, arguably America’s pre-eminent realist, says that the opposite of “anarchy” is not stability, but “hierarchy.”
Putin is certain that he is holding the winning hand in this very high stakes poker game. An offshore naval task force, the presence of Russian air defense forces, an electronic intelligence center in latakia, and the port facilities at Tardus will guarantee the independence of the enclave. As the supplier of sixty percent of Turkey’s natural gas, Moscow does have leverage that Ankara will not be able to ignore; and Ankara well knows that gas is one of Putin’s diplomatic weapons.
When the Turks and U.S see that there is little chance of removing Al-Assad, they will have no option other than to negotiate a settlement with him; and that would involve Russia as the protector and the mediator. That would establish Russia’s revived standing as a Mediterranean power; and Putin could declare confidently that “Russia is back.” After that, the Russians will be free to focus upon their real interests in the region.
And what is Russia’s real interest? Of course, it is oil and gas and the power that control of them can bring.
Ironically, the high-profile dig made headlines just as France’s president, François Hollande, was winning praise for launching gutsy military campaigns in Somalia and Mali this winter. A recent Newsweek piece even hailed Hollande for putting France back on the map as a “manly superpower.” But back at home, it’s increasingly clear that stifling union rules, high unemployment (and higher taxes), and a baffling lack of entrepreneurial spirit signal a country in crisis. And the deepening sense of dread can be traced directly to the educational system.
“It’s a culture of nul,” says Peter Gumbel, whose bestseller On Achève Bien les Écoliers (They Shoot School Kids, Don’t They?) criticized the French school system for creating a generation of bureaucrats who refuse to think out of the box. Nul, or “worthless,” is a familiar word to the French—it’s often tossed at schoolchildren who do not get their lessons right.
However, policy specific to China is not mentioned in the text of the strategy.
“This strategy is not focused on any one country nor is it focused on cybersecurity exclusively, though cyber does play an important role in the strategy,” said a White House official.
U.S. officials said the strategy deliberately played down the major role played by China in order to avoid upsetting relations with Beijing.
John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, criticized the report for lacking substance.
“Repeating its strategic mistake of treating international terrorism as primarily a matter of law-enforcement, the Obama administration sees cyberspace the same way conceptually,” Bolton told the Free Beacon.
Why don’t US officials want to upset Beijing? Notice that Beijing isn’t worried about upsetting the US. Why not?
Here we have the US terrified of upsetting Beijing. Beijing acts with impunity. Who is the superpower here? Has the student become the master? I think the US is in big trouble.