Every year, hundreds of young English speakers drift into East Asia, looking to while away a couple of aimless years between college and the inevitable round of grad school applications that await them back home. Korea is an especially popular destination: The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education alone plans to hire 655 foreign teachers in 2014, a fraction of the 22,000 expat educators working in the country. But if you want to teach English in Korea, it’s a lot easier if you’re white.Sponsored Ads
For most would-be instructors, the racism begins before the even get through the door, thanks to the standard South Korean practice of requiring applicants to submit photos alongside their resumes. Some employers are more blunt: A recent Craigslist ad for English teachers from TalknLearn, a Seoul language academy, simply states, “Need: White” on its list of required qualifications. When black teachers do make it into the classroom, they’re often passed over in favor of their white counterparts.
“History is not rich in peaceful transitions of power from one hegemon to another.”
In the new edition of his classic “The Tragedy of Great Power Politics,” John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago makes a powerful case for the inevitability of war in Asia as China rises:
“My argument in a nutshell is that if China continues to grow economically, it will attempt to dominate Asia the way the United States dominates the Western Hemisphere. The United States, however, will go to enormous lengths to prevent China from achieving regional hegemony. Most of Beijing’s neighbors, including India, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Russia and Vietnam, will join with the United States to contain Chinese power. The result will be an intense security competition with considerable potential for war.”
This is the core strategic question of the 21st century. History is not rich in peaceful transitions of power from one hegemon to another. …
The real question is – do you think US nuclear forces are an effective deterrent against a nuclear attack from China and/or Russia? Given the cuts based on the New START treaty requirements, I think it is debatable whether an effective deterrence is still there. You should be worried.
After a successful conclusion to the Cold War, can the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) regroup to respond to the new threat from Moscow?
Vladimir Putin’s intentions were made clear in a telling comment by Andranik Migranyan, head of the Kremlin-controlled “Institute for Democracy and Cooperation” reported in the Fiscal Times in response to analogies between Russia’s actions in Ukraine, and Germany’s in the 1930’s:
“One must distinguish between Hitler before 1939 and Hitler after 1939…the thing is that Hitler collected [German] lands. If he had become famous only for uniting without a drop of blood Germany with Austria, Sudetenland and Memel, in fact completing what Bismarck failed to do, and if he had stopped there, then he would have remained a politician of the highest class.”
Moscow’s worrisome military moves are not restricted to former Soviet satellites. In December, the Kremlin confirmed that it had deployed ISKANDER tactical nuclear missiles on NATO’s border. The move was not in response to any western action.
There have also been a number of incidents in which Moscow’s nuclear-capable bombers and submarines have come threateningly close to the airspace and coasts of NATO nations both in Europe and the United States.
Richard Perle, former chair of the Defense Policy Board for President George W. Bush and current fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, recently stated in a Newsmax interview that Putin is attempting to “put Humpty Dumpty back together again and re-create something that looks like the old Soviet Empire.”
NATO’s forces have shrunk considerably since the end of the Cold War, symbolized by the diminishing military budgets of both European nations and the United States. The United States has also unilaterally withdrawn all of its most vital land weapons, tanks, from the European continent.
Russia’s annexation of Crimea in early 2014, which the United States and the European Union say violated international law, will likely poison relations with NATO for the foreseeable future. “We clearly face the gravest threat to European security since the end of the Cold War,” said Secretary-General Rasmussen of Russia’s intervention.
Weakened alliances was one of the criteria that led to World War I:
Geopolitics: The Three E’s of War | 1913 Intel
In “Sinking Globalization”, we learn that today is a lot like it was right before World War I in 1914. There are five key conditions that were present in 1914 that were necessary to start World War I: a weakened superpower, powerful opponents, unreliable alliances, rogue regimes and terrorist organizations. We see those same conditions are present today.
Conditions present in 1914 that are present today: America is a weakened superpower, Russia and China are powerful opponents, American alliances, such as NATO, are weak and unreliable, Iran and Syria are rogue regimes that support terrorist organizations, and terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda, Hezbollah and Hamas.
From the article we learn that two forces aligned against each other, today it’s Russia/China vs America, are not enough to start a major world war. We need rogue states (Iran, Syria and North Korea) and terrorist organizations (Hezbollah, Hamas and Al Qaeda) to provide the catalyst for war. Where do we see Iran, Syria, Al Qaeda, Hezoballah and Hamas today? Aren’t these groups surrounding Israel in one way or another?
The foundations of the US-sponsored global security system are crumbling. Prospective state and non-state challengers are steadily improving their ability to deny the United States, and its major allies, effective access to vital portions of the sea, air, space, and cyber domains. As their relative capability wanes and operational constraints accumulate, the deterrent value of forward-deployed combat forces is called into question. With its bedrock of military power exposed and subject to erosion, the future of the liberal security order is in the balance.
The durability of the US-centric system of global security provision is now a matter of growing concern for strategic planners around the world. At the source of their preoccupations are doubts regarding the ability of the system’s underwriters to sustain long-standing commitments in the face of increasing military and economic constraints. Chief among these are restrictions on the unmatched ability of the US armed forces – and, at a much lower level, those of first echelon allies like the United Kingdom and France – to position, sustain, and leverage superior combat power when and where it is needed. Some now fear that, as the global reach on which they ultimately depend is curtailed, established security arrangements will wither.
Several developments feed into this perception. As advanced military capabilities proliferate and emergent powers seek control over their environment, the United States’ military edge is blunted, as is also explored in the next chapter by Martin Zapfe. Simultaneously, shrinking defence budgets and contracting defenceindustrial bases accentuate the burdens associated with maintaining a meaningful level of qualitative superiority. Should regional actors succeed in carving out ‘contested zones’ that are beyond the effective reach of long-range power projection, the guardians of the geostrategic status quo will find it ever more difficult to shore up local allies and to counter revisionist initiatives.
The study concludes that in the decade ahead China will employ unconventional warfare techniques on issues ranging from the Senkaku Islands dispute in northeast Asia to the disputed Paracels in the South China Sea.
For the United States, the Three Warfares seek to curtail U.S. power projection in Asia that is needed to support allies, such as Japan and South Korea, and to assure freedom of navigation by attempting to set terms for allowing U.S. access to the region.
The use of psychological, media, and legal attacks by China is part of an effort to raise “doubts about the legitimacy of the U.S. presence.”
The use of the techniques threatens to limit U.S. power projection in the region through influence operations that “diminish or rupture U.S. ties with the South China Sea littoral states and deter governments from providing forward basing facilities or other support,” the report says.
‘The United States, the Russian president suggests, knows only “the rule of the gun.”’
For Putin, “Nationalists, neo-Nazis, Russophobes and anti-Semites” have seized power in Kiev. For Putin, “After the dissolution of bipolarity on the planet, we no longer have stability.” (Never mind that hundreds of millions of people gained their freedom.) The United States, the Russian president suggests, knows only “the rule of the gun.”
As during the Cold War, he will find his sympathizers and fellow travelers in the West with such paranoid gambits. Still, his words have to be taken seriously. They are those of a man trained in a totalitarian system and now proposing an alternative civilization of brutality, force, imperial expansion, systemic corruption, a cowed press, conspiracy theories and homophobia.
Tinatin Khidasheli, a member of the Georgian Parliament, told me: “After Georgia in 2008 I was asked what’s next and I said Ukraine and everyone laughed. …
Actually, it’s Putin who knows only “the rule of the gun.”
Special Eurasia Group Update – Ukraine
By Ian Bremmer, Eurasia Group
russia is conducting direct military intervention in ukraine, following condemnation and threats of sanction/serious consequence from the united states and europe. we’re witnessing the most seismic geopolitical events since 9/11.
a little background from the week. russian president vladimir putin provided safety to now ousted ukrainian president viktor yanukovych. the ukrainian government came together with broadly pro-european sentiment…and with few if any representatives of other viewpoints. the west welcomed the developments and prepared to send an imf mission, which would lift the immediate economic challenge. and then, predictably…the russians changed the conversation.
the west – the us and europe – supported the ukrainian opposition as soon as president yanukovych fled the country. that also effectively breached the accord that had been signed by the european foreign ministers, opposition and president yanukovych (a russian special envoy attended but did not add his name). the immediate american perspective was to take the changed developments on the ground as a win. but a “win” was never on offer in ukraine, where russian interests are dramatically, even exponentially, greater than those of the americans or europeans. for its part, the new ukrainian government lost no time in antagonizing the russians – dissolving the ukrainian special forces, declaring the former president a criminal, and removing russian as a second official language. the immediate russian response was military exercises and work to keep crimea. president vladimir putin kept mum on any details.
let’s focus on crimea for a moment. it’s majority ethnic russian, and ukrainians living there are overwhelmingly russian speaking (there’s a significant minority population of muslim crimean tatars, formerly forcibly resettled under stalin – relevant from a humanitarian perspective, but they’ll have no impact on the practical political outcome). crimea is a firmly russian oriented territory. crimea has a russian military base (with a long term lease agreement) and strong, well organized russian and cossack groups – which they’ve supplemented with significant numbers of additional troops, as well as military ships sent to the area. russia has said they will respect ukrainian territorial integrity…and i’m sure they’ll have an interpretation of their action which does precisely that. moscow will argue that the ouster of president yanukovych was illegal, that he’s calling for russian assistance, that the new government wasn’t legally formed, and that citizens of crimea – governed by an illegal government – are requesting russia’s help and protection. all of which is technically true. to be sure, there are plenty of things the russians have already done that involve a breach, including clear and surely provable, given sufficient investigation, direct russian involvement in taking over the parliament and two airports in crimea. but that’s not the issue. it’s just that if you want to argue over the finer points, the west doesn’t have much of a legal case here and couldn’t enforce one if it did.
and the finer points aren’t what we’re going to be arguing about for some time. president obama’s response was to strongly condemn reported russian moves, and to imply it was an invasion of sovereignty…promising unspecified consequences to russia should they breach ukrainian sovereignty. if that was meant to warn the russians, who have vastly greater stakes in ukraine (and particularly crimea) than the americans and the europeans, it was a serious miscalculation, as putin already controlled crimea, it was only a question of how quickly and clearly he wanted to formalize that fact. there’s literally zero chance of american military response, with the pentagon quickly clarifying that it had no contingencies for dealing with moscow on the issue – that’s surely not true, they have contingencies for everything. but secretary of defense chuck hagel just wanted to ensure nobody thought the president meant that all options were on the table. instead, we’re seeing discussions of president obama not attending the g8 summit in sochi and targeted sanctions against russia.
putin has since acted swiftly, requesting a vote from the russian upper house to approve military intervention in ukraine. it was approved, unanimously, within hours. it’s a near-certainty that the russians now persist in direct intervention. the remaining related question is whether russian intervention is limited to crimea – putin’s request included defense of russia’s military base in sevastopol (on the crimean peninsula) and to defend the rights of ethnic russians in ukraine…which extends far beyond crimea. putin’s words may have been intended to deter the west, or he may intend to go into eastern ukraine, at least securing military assets there. given that pro-russian demonstrations were hastily organized earlier in the day in three major southeast ukrainian cities, it seems possible the russians are intending a broader incursion. if that happens, we’re in an extremely escalatory environment. if it doesn’t, it’s still possible (though very difficult) that the west could come in financially and stabilize the kyiv government.
* * *
before we get into implications, it’s worth taking a step back, as we’ve seen this before. in 2008, turmoil developed in georgia under nationalist president mikheil saakashvili, a charismatic figure, fluent english speaker, and husband to a european (from the netherlands). he made it very clear he wanted to join nato and the european union (the latter being a pretty fantastic claim). the russian government was doing its best to make georgia’s president miserable – cutting off energy and economic ties and directly supporting restive russian-speaking republics within georgia. for his part, saakashvili delighted in directly antagonizing putin – showing up late for a kremlin meeting (while he was busy swimming), insulting him personally, etc.
saakashvili was a favorite of the west, the us congress particularly feted him. the messages from the united states were positive, making it sound like america had his back. internally, there was a strong debate – vice president dick cheney led the calls to free himself from russia’s grip as fast and as loudly as possible, secretary of state condoleezza rice thought saakashvili unpredictable and dangerous, and wanted to urge him to back off (as did former secretary colin powell, who lent his view to the white house as well). the cheney view prevailed, georgian president already had a habit of hearing what he wanted to out of mixed messages, and he proceeded. on 8 august, the russian tanks rolled into georgia and then the united states was left with a conundrum – what to do to defend america’s “ally” georgia.
as it turned out, nothing. national security advisor steve hadley chaired a private meeting with president bush and all relevant advisors, most of whom said the united states had to take action. bush was sympathetic. hadley stopped the meeting and asked if anyone was personally prepared to commit military forces to what would be direct confrontation with russia. he went around the room individually and asked if there was a commitment – which would be publicly required of the group afterwards (and uniformly) if they were to recommend that the president take action. there was not – not a single one. and then the meeting quickly moved to how to position diplomacy, since there wasn’t any action to take.
that’s precisely where we are on ukraine – but with much higher stakes (and with a united states in a generally weaker diplomatic position), since ukraine is more important economically and geopolitically (and to europe specifically on both).
* * *
the good news is that russia doesn’t matter as much as it used to on the global stage. indeed, a big part of the problem is that russia is a declining power, and the west’s response on ukraine was to make the west’s perception of that reality abundantly clear to putin. which, in putin’s mind, required a decisive response. but this has the potential to undermine american relationships more broadly. to say the us-russia relationship is broken presently is an understatement – the upper house also voted to recall the russian ambassador to washington (america’s ambassador to moscow had just this past week ended his term – the decision was unrelated to the crisis).
what will be much more interesting is 1) the significance of the west’s direct response; 2) whether the russians will cause trouble on a broader array of fronts for the west; and 3) whether a strongly-intentioned russia can shift the geopolitical balance against the united states.
taking each of these in order.
1) the west’s direct response. we won’t see much, although there will certainly be some very significant finger-pointing. president obama will cancel his trip to sochi for the upcoming g-8 summit and it’s possible that enough of the other leaders will join him that the meeting is cancelled. it’s conceivable the g7 nations would vote to remove russia from the club. the us would also suspend talks to improve commercial ties with the united states. it’s possible we see an emergency united nations security council session to denounce the intervention – which the russians veto (very interesting to see if the chinese join them, and who abstains…). hard to see significant european powers actually breaking relations with russia at this point, but an action-reaction cycle could spiral. also, nato will have to fashion some response, possibly by sending ships into the black sea. shots won’t be fired, but markets will get fired up.
2) international complications from russia. this will significantly complicate all areas of us-russian ties.
russia doesn’t want an iranian nuclear weapon, but they’ll be somewhat less cooperative with the americans and europeans around iranian negotiations…possibly making them more likely to offer a “third way” down the road that undermines the american deal. on syria, an intransigent russia will become very intransigent, making it more difficult to implement the chemical weapons agreement and providing greater direct financial and military support for bashar assad’s regime.
on energy issues, a russian invasion of eastern ukraine would put in play the integrity of major pipelines. moscow and kyiv would share strong incentives to keep gas and oil flowing, but in the worst case we could see disruptions. ukraine has gas reserves for a while, but then the situation could become dire. russia could divert some european-bound gas through the nord stream line, but volume to europe would drop. this is all in extremis, but out there.
3) geopolitical shift. russia will see its key opportunity as closing ranks more tightly with china. while we may see symbolic coordination from beijing, particularly if there’s a security council vote (where the chinese are reasonably likely to vote with the russians), the chinese are trying hard to maintain a balanced relationship with the united states…and accordingly won’t directly support russian actions that could undermine that relationship. leaving aside china, russia’s ability to get other third party states on board with their ukrainian engagement is largely limited to the “near abroad” – armenia, belarus, tajikistan – which is not a group the west is particularly concerned with.
but it is, more broadly, a significant hit to american foreign policy credibility. coming only days after secretary of state kerry took strong exception to “asinine”, “isolationist” views in congress that acted as if the united states was a “poor country,” a direct admonition by the united states and its key allies is willfully and immediately ignored by the russian president. that will send a message of weakness and bring concerns about american commitment to allies around the world. g-zero indeed.
* * *
we’ll be watching this very closely over coming days. i’m flying to seoul for a conference on monday, where i’m meeting up with president george w bush. should prove interesting on russia, no question. i’m back on wednesday, but will be available by phone/email throughout, so feel free to get in touch.
The invasion of Georgia in 2008 is now being followed up by an even bigger invasion of Ukraine. Where will this stop? Not confronting Putin forcefully means more bad behavior will be coming. However, we don’t want to confront him forcefully because that could very well mean nuclear war. It’s coming anyway because at some point Putin will go too far and the US will have to act. Don’t you think Putin has already thought about the possibility of a great-power nuclear war? Is that stopping him?
I’ve said the same thing about China. China and Japan are one wrong move away from war. When that happens the US will have to act. Don’t you think Xi Jinping understands that Chinese behavior could lead to nuclear war with the US? Is that stopping him?
Two tipping points with two other great-powers. How long can we go on like this before an actual great-power occurs? Let us look at history for a clue:
- US financial crisis in 1907, and World War I in 1914. That’s 7 years.
- US financial crisis in 1929, and World War II in 1939. That’s 10 years.
- US financial crisis in 2008, and World War III in 2015-2018?
Looking at where we are today suggests that time is not on our side. The direction of world events is moving toward more instability and danger. Both Russia and China are not immune internally:
Another revolution may soon come to Vladimir Putin’s Russia – UPI.com
Make no mistake: On the current trajectory, Russia won’t be immune to many of the forces that provoked the so-called colored revolutions in adjacent states and even the misnomered Arab Awakening. A third Russian revolution is unfolding. The only questions are when will that revolution reach a critical mass and, most importantly, will the forces of autocracy or pluralism carry the day?
Where will Xi Jinping’s risky reforms lead China? | The Japan Times
In short, China is on the brink of large, necessary, and dangerous transformations that promise to change the country for the better — or make everything, including regional stability, much worse. The entire world has a large stake in what happens next.
The Rossiya 1 television channel took an 85-minute break from its Olympic coverage Monday evening to show a film called “The Biochemistry of Treason,” featuring the United States in a co-starring role.
An attack on the “daily betrayals” that Russia suffers, the film argued that America has waged and still wages a cunning psychological war against this country, picking up where the Nazis left off in 1945. (This wouldn’t be Russia without a dark reference to World War II.) Americans want nothing less, it said, than the breakup of the Russian Federation.
John Mearsheimer recently argued that China is pursuing in Asia what the United States has in Latin America: regional hegemony. In pursuit of that goal, China keeps trying to take territory, bit by bit, in the East and South China Seas. And the United States doesn’t know what to do about it.
This practice, known as salami-slicing, involves the slow accumulation of small changes, none of which in isolation amounts to a casus belli, but which add up over time to a substantial change in the strategic picture. By using salami-slicing tactics in the East and South China Seas, China does not have to choose between trade with the rest of the world and the achievement of an expanded security perimeter in the Western Pacific at the expense of China’s neighbors. Given enough time, and continued confusion by the United States and its allies on how to respond, China is on course to eventually achieve both.
Maybe America doesn’t know what to do about it, but it looks like Japan is getting ready to do something about it. Can Japan tolerate China as a regional hegemon?
The United States has become the largest producer of oil and natural gas in the world, surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
You may have missed this important story. That’s because the media virtually ignored it.
How did the United States reach this goal? Two simple words, which were excluded from the Department of Energy press release and the single U.S. news report I found: hydraulic fracturing, better known as “fracking.”