Category Archives: Asia Pivot

Why the White House Is Reading Greek History

Michael Crowley reports for Politico:

Image result for ThucydidesThe Trump White House isn’t known as a hot spot for Ivy League intellectuals. But last month, a Harvard academic slipped into the White House complex for an unusual meeting. Graham Allison, an avuncular foreign policy thinker who served under Reagan and Clinton, was paying a visit to the National Security Council, where he briefed a group of staffers on one of history’s most studied conflicts—a brutal war waged nearly 2,500 years ago, one whose lessons still resonate, even in the administration of a president who doesn’t like to read.

The subject was America’s rivalry with China, cast through the lens of ancient Greece. The 77-year-old Allison is the author of a recent book based on the writings of Thucydides, the ancient historian famous for his epic chronicle of the Peloponnesian War between the Greek states of Athens and Sparta. Allison cites the Greek scholar’s summation of why the two powers fought: “What made war inevitable was the growth of Athenian power and the fear which this caused in Sparta.” He warns that the same dynamic could drive this century’s rising empire, China, and the United States into a war neither wants. Allison calls this the “Thucydides Trap,” and it’s a question haunting some very important people in the Trump administration, particularly as Chinese officials arrive Wednesday for “diplomatic and security dialogue” talks between Washington and Beijing designed, in large part, to avoid conflict between the world’s two strongest nations.

It might seem curious that an ancient Greek would cast a shadow over a meeting between a group of diplomats and generals from America and Asia. Most Americans probably don’t know Thucydides from Mephistopheles. But the Greek writer is a kind of demigod to international relations theorists and military historians, revered for his elegant chronicle of one of history’s most consequential wars, and his timeless insights into the nature of politics and warfare. The Yale University historian Donald Kagan calls Thucydides’ account “a source of wisdom about the behavior of human beings under the enormous pressures imposed by war, plague, and civil strife.”

Thucydides is especially beloved by the two most influential figures on Trump’s foreign policy team. National security adviser H.R. McMaster has called Thucydides’ work an “essential” military text, taught it to students and quoted from it in speeches and op-eds. Defense Secretary James Mattis is also fluent in Thucydides’ work: “If you say to him, ‘OK, how about the Melian Dialogue?’ he could tell you exactly what it is,” Allison says—referring to one particularly famous passage. When former Defense Secretary William Cohen introduced him at his confirmation hearing, Cohen said Mattis was likely the only person present “who can hear the words ‘Thucydides Trap’ and not have to go to Wikipedia to find out what it means.”

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China Ready To Assume ‘World Leadership’, Slams Western Democracy As ‘Flawed’

Tyler Durden reports for Zero Hedge:

Image result for China Ready To Assume 'World Leadership', Slams Western Democracy Is 'Flawed'Over the weekend China used the Trump inauguration to warn about the perils of democracy, touting the relative stability of the Communist system as President Xi Jinping heads toward a twice-a-decade reshuffle of senior leadership posts.

Without directly referencing the new president, China wrote that democracy has reached its limits, and deterioration is the inevitable future of capitalism, according to the People’s Daily, the flagship paper of China’s Communist Party. It devoted an entire page on Sunday to critiquing Western democracies, quoting former Chairman Mao Zedong’s 1949 poem asking people to “range far your eyes over long vistas” and saying the ultimate defeat of capitalism would enable Communism to emerge victorious.

“The emergence of capitalism’s social crisis is the most updated evidence to show the superiority of socialism and Marxism,” said one of the People’s Daily articles.

“Western style democracy used to be a recognized power in history to drive social development. But now it has reached its limits,” said another article on the same page. “Democracy is already kidnapped by the capitals and has become the weapon for capitalists to chase profits.”

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Trump Withdraws From Trans-Pacific Partnership Amid Flurry of Orders

David Smith reports for The Guardian:

Image result for trump tppDonald Trump has begun his effort to dismantle Barack Obama’s legacy, formally scrapping a flagship trade deal with 11 countries in the Pacific rim.

The new president also signed executive orders to ban funding for international groups that provide abortions, and placing a hiring freeze on non-military federal workers.

Trump’s decision not to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) came as little surprise. During his election campaign he railed against international trade deals, blaming them for job losses and focusing anger in the industrial heartland. Obama had argued that this deal would provide an effective counterweight to China in the region.

“Everyone knows what that means, right?” Trump said at Monday’s signing ceremony in the White House. “We’ve been talking about this for a long time. It’s a great thing for the American worker.”

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The Long and Painful Journey to World Disorder

Martin Wolf, influential journalist and regular attendee at Bilderberg and Davos, writes for The Financial Times:

It is not true that humanity cannot learn from history. It can and, in the case of the lessons of the dark period between 1914 and 1945, the west did. But it seems to have forgotten those lessons. We are living, once again, in an era of strident nationalism and xenophobia. The hopes of a brave new world of progress, harmony and democracy, raised by the market opening of the 1980s and the collapse of Soviet communism between 1989 and 1991, have turned into ashes.

What lies ahead for the US, creator and guarantor of the postwar liberal order, soon to be governed by a president who repudiates permanent alliances, embraces protectionism and admires despots? What lies ahead for a battered EU, contemplating the rise of “illiberal democracy” in the east, Brexit and the possibility of Marine Le Pen’s election to the French presidency?

What lies ahead now that Vladimir Putin’s irredentist Russia exerts increasing influence on the world and China has announced that Xi Jinping is not first among equals but a “core leader”?

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China Says US ‘Hyping Up’ Underwater Drone, It Will Be Returned

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

Following up on Friday’s Pentagon report China “stole” an underwater surveillance drone in the South China Sea, the Chinese government today accused the US of “hyping up” what was actually a fairly minor matter, saying that the drone would be returned.

The drone, estimated to cost about $150,000 and be made of purely civilian components, was carrying out military surveying of the South China Sea. The exact location was not clear, but Pentagon indications may put it near the China-controlled Spratly Islands.

Two drones were in the water, about 500 meters from a US Navy ship, and one was scooped out of the water by China, while the other returned to its ship. Chinese officials claimed the boat crew didn’t know what the drone was, and scooped it out to ensure it wouldn’t pose a danger to passing ships in the region.

Pentagon officials confirmed that China has agreed to return the drone, but continued to rail on about China’s “unlawful seizure” of the device. Chinese officials have asked the US to stop carrying out military surveying in the presence of Chinese ships in the future to avoid such incidents.

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The Coming War on China: Interview with John Pilger

Thom Hartmann speaks to veteran journalist and filmmaker John Pilger about his latest documentary The Coming War on China. (The Big Picture)

Cops of the Pacific? The US Military’s Role in Asia in the Age of Trump

Tim Shorrock writes for TomDispatch:

US Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships sail in formation during a joint/bilateral field training exercise on November 12, 2014. […] In the last few years, the Obama administration and the Pentagon have used China’s expanding military might and the never-ending standoff with nuclearizing North Korea to incorporate Japan and South Korea ever more fully into a vision of an American-dominated Pacific. One stumbling block has been the deep animosity between the two countries, given that Japan colonized Korea from 1910 to 1945; later, during the Korean War, which devastated the peninsula, Japan profited handsomely by supplying US forces with vehicles and other military supplies. In addition, Korean anger over Japan’s refusal to apologize for its use of Korean sexual slaves (“comfort women”) during World War II remains a powerful force to overcome.

Until recently, the US has had the help of a compliant leader, President Park Guen-Hye who, just as the Trumpian moment begins, finds herself scrambling for her political life as the first Korean president to be legally toppled since 1960. (An interim president, Park’s conservative Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, will run the government until the Constitutional Court reviews the legality of her impeachment, a process that could take up to six months.) Despite all these problems, and while never quite publicly stating the obvious, American officials have been focused on putting in place a triangular alliance that would transform the Japanese and South Korean militaries into proxy forces capable of helping extend US power and influence ever further into Asia (and also, potentially, elsewhere in the world).

On the eve of Donald Trump‘s election, such arrangements were quickly reaching fruition. As 2016 draws to an end, the Pentagon appears to be rushing to make Obama’s Asian pivot and the militarization of the region that goes with it permanent before Trump can act or, for that matter, the United States can lose its Korean political allies (which could happen if Park’s conservative ruling party is replaced in next year’s elections).

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The Coming War on China: John Pilger on His Newest Film

Afshin Rattansi speaks to award winning journalist and filmmaker John Pilger about his newest film, ‘The Coming War on China’. (Going Underground)

The Coming War on China

John Pilger writes for the New Internationalist:

Charles Gatward: The Coming War on China, Darmouth Films When I first went to Hiroshima in 1967, the shadow on the steps was still there. It was an almost perfect impression of a human being at ease: legs splayed, back bent, one hand by her side as she sat waiting for a bank to open. At a quarter past eight on the morning of 6 August, 1945, she and her silhouette were burned into the granite. I stared at the shadow for an hour or more, unforgettably. When I returned many years later, it was gone: taken away, ‘disappeared’, a political embarrassment.

I have spent two years making a documentary film, The Coming War on China, in which the evidence and witnesses warn that nuclear war is no longer a shadow, but a contingency. The greatest build-up of American-led military forces since the Second World War is well under way. They are on the western borders of Russia, and in Asia and the Pacific, confronting China.

The great danger this beckons is not news, or it is news buried and distorted: a drumbeat of propaganda that echoes the psychopathic campaign embedded in public consciousness during much of the 20th century.

Like the renewal of post-Soviet Russia, the rise of China as an economic power is declared an ‘existential threat’ to the divine right of the United States to rule and dominate human affairs.

To counter this, in 2011 President Obama announced a ‘pivot to Asia’, which meant that almost two-thirds of US naval forces would be transferred to Asia and the Pacific by 2020.

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How World War III Could Start

Jonathan Marshall writes for The National Interest:

If humanity ever suffers a Third World War, chances are good it will start in some locale distant from the United States like the Baltic or South China Seas, the Persian Gulf, or Syria, where Washington and its rivals play daily games of “chicken” with lethal air and naval forces.

Far from enhancing U.S. security, the aggressive deployment of our armed forces in these and other hot spots around the world may be putting our very survival at risk by continuously testing and prodding other military powers. What our military gains from forward deployment, training exercises, and better intelligence may be more than offset by the unnecessary provocation of hostile responses that could escalate into uncontrollable conflicts.

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Whether Clinton or Trump, Tensions Will Escalate with China and Russia: Interview with John Pilger

Paul Jay speaks to veteran journalist John Pilger about the prospect of war with China and Russia under a President Clinton or Trump. His new documentary A Coming War With China will be released in December. (The Real News)

Philippines’ Duterte Says He Didn’t Really Mean ‘Separation’ From U.S.

Neil Jerome Morales reports for Reuters:

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday he was not severing ties with his country’s long-time ally the United States, but merely pursuing a more independent foreign policy by strengthening relations with China.

A day after he provoked fresh diplomatic alarm by announcing his “separation” from Washington, Duterte struck a more conciliatory tone as he arrived back in the Philippines after a four-day visit to Beijing.

“It is not severance of ties. When you say severance of ties, you cut diplomatic relations. I cannot do that,” the Philippine leader told reporters at a midnight news conference in his southern home city of Davao.

“It’s in the best interest of my countrymen to maintain that relationship.”

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Avoiding Groupthink on China

Greg Austin writes for The Diplomat:

Avoiding Groupthink on ChinaThe U.S. intelligence community and American scholars of international affairs have a remarkable and impressive record. Though scholars in countries that follow the “English School” of international relations (such as the UK, Canada, Australia) can be every bit as impressive, the best Americans stand out as world leaders and have inspired many around the world.

Long exposure to the analysts and product of the CIA, both its intelligence achievements and failures, teaches the astute student three analytical principles: empathy, curiosity and humility. These lessons have been reinforced over many decades by leading American scholars, like Raymond Garthoff, Doak Barnett, Jack Snyder, Barry Posen, John Steinbrunner, Jonathan Pollack, Michael Swaine, Richard Solomon, David Lampton, Ezra Vogel, Sam Huntington and Richard Betts, to name a few, regardless of their seemingly disparate political dispositions.

These qualities seem all too absent among the raucous commentariat that has come to dominate public discourse on China in the United States, including in some parts of the U.S. government, armed forces, the Congress and many non-specialist writings on China. Donald Trump’s charge from 2012 that climate change is a conspiracy dreamt up by China to bring down the United States is symptomatic of the gulf between some new political movements in the United States and the much wiser, better informed intelligence officials and scholars. It is also symptomatic of the lack of self-awareness of the loudest promoters of unscientific and highly propagandistic international relations analysis of China. Many less critical analysts have found undeserved prominence because of new opportunities created by the information age.

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Hillary Clinton Warned U.S. Would ‘Ring China With Missile Defense’

David Brunnstrom reports for Reuters:

U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally at the Colorado State Fair Grounds in Pueblo, Colorado, U.S. October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy NicholsonU.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said in a private speech to bankers three years ago that the United States had warned Beijing it would “ring China with missile defense” unless it did more to rein in North Korea’s missile program, according to hacked emails.

According to a purported Clinton campaign document attached to an email published by Wikileaks, Clinton said in a speech to Goldman Sachs on June 4, 2013, that the message to China had been, “You either control them, or we’re going to have to defend against them.”

It was not possible to confirm the authenticity of the leaked email. The Clinton campaign has neither confirmed nor denied the authenticity of hacked emails.

The State Department on Friday declined to comment on “alleged leaked documents.” When asked whether such a message had been delivered to China, an official said it was not department policy to comment publicly on diplomatic discussions.

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U.S. Will ‘Sharpen Military Edge’ In Asia Pacific, Says Pentagon Chief

The Associated Press reports:

The US has promised to “sharpen its military edge” in Asia Pacific in order to remain the dominant power in a region feeling the effects of China’s rising military might, defense secretary Ash Carter said.

Carter made the pledge on Thursday in a speech aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in San Diego.

The Pentagon chief described what he called the next phase of a US pivot to Asia — a rebalancing of American security commitments after years of heavy focus on the Middle East.

His speech, aimed at reassuring allies unsettled by China’s behavior in the South China Sea, came three days after he made remarks at a nuclear missile base in North Dakota about rebuilding the nuclear force. Those comments prompted a strong reaction from the Russian foreign ministry, which issued a statement saying it had interpreted Carter’s statement as a declared intention to lower the threshold for using nuclear weapons.

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To Understand Chinese Expansionism, Look to the Opium Wars

Sebastien Roblin writes for War Is Boring:

[…] It’s hard to over-emphasize the impact of the Opium Wars on modern China. Domestically, it’s led to the ultimate collapse of the centuries-old Qing Dynasty, and with it more than two millennia of dynastic rule. It convinced China that it had to modernize and industrialize.

Today, the First Opium War is taught in Chinese schools as being the beginning of the “Century of Humiliation” — the end of that “century” coming in 1949 with the reunification of China under Mao. While Americans are routinely assured they are exceptional and the greatest country on Earth by their politicians, Chinese schools teach students that their country was humiliated by greedy and technologically superior Western imperialists.

The Opium Wars made it clear China had fallen gravely behind the West — not just militarily, but economically and politically. Every Chinese government since — even the ill-fated Qing Dynasty, which began the “Self-Strengthening Movement” after the Second Opium War — has made modernization an explicit goal, citing the need to catch up with the West.

The Japanese, observing events in China, instituted the same discourse and modernized more rapidly than China did during the Meiji Restoration.

Mainland Chinese citizens still frequently measure China in comparison to Western countries. Economic and quality of life issues are by far their main concern. But state media also holds military parity as a goal.

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Buoyed by U.S. Firms, Vietnam Emerges as an Asian Manufacturing Powerhouse

David Nakamura reports for The Washington Post:

In a campaign season that has renewed public anxiety about U.S. job losses to China, one Michigan shoe company stands as a stark example of how the economic dynamics are changing quickly in Asia.

Wolverine Worldwide exemplifies a sharp shift among American footwear and garment producers away from China toward an emerging manufacturing hot spot: Vietnam.

Over the past three years, the Rockford, Mich.-based maker of brands such as Keds, Hush Puppies and Saucony has more than doubled its production in the Southeast Asian nation, taking advantage of the lower labor costs there. Vietnam now constitutes nearly 30 percent of Wolverine’s output, while China’s share has fallen from 90 percent to 50 percent, company officials said.

Many other U.S. firms have made a similar move, brightening the economic fortunes of Vietnam, where President Obama will arrive Monday for a two-day visit to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. If Obama has his way, the communist country will become even more appealing to U.S. capitalists through the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an expansive 12-nation trade deal that would phase out steep import tariffs on Vietnamese-made goods.

Obama has touted the pact as a vehicle to help embed the United States in fast-emerging markets in Southeast Asia and exploit global economic trends to America’s benefit. China, attempting its own economic transformation toward the service sector, is pursuing a separate trade pact that includes Vietnam and other Southeast Asian nations.

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Arriving in Vietnam, Obama Aims to Lure It Away From China

Gardiner Harris reports for The New York Times:

[…] Mr. Obama will meet with the country’s newly installed prime minister and president on Monday, then get together with the country’s real power — Nguyen Phu Trong, the general secretary of the Communist Party.

Mr. Obama’s visit is an important step in a complex dance that Vietnam has carried on with China for centuries. Most of Vietnam’s illustrious historical figures made their reputations by battling Chinese invaders. The population here is deeply nationalistic and anti-Chinese sentiment is visceral. The American War, as it is known here, is mostly forgotten, particularly since half of the population is under 30.

Vietnam relies on China for trade, investment and even the water that feeds the vast Mekong Delta, so the leadership knows it can poke the dragon only so much.

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Obama, Muted On Human Rights, Lifts Arms Embargo On Vietnam

Edward-Isaac Dovere reports for Politico:

With the embalmed body of Communist national forefather Ho Chi Minh lying under lights just a block away in his gray mausoleum, President Barack Obama on Monday signed the dissolution of the nearly 50-year embargo on selling arms to Vietnam, ending one of the last vestiges of the Vietnam War.

But what Obama had to say and do about open democracy here was as sparse as the turnout in polling places here just hours before Air Force One landed — despite, of course, government numbers putting nationwide turnout for the National Assembly elections at 98.77 percent.

Suspicious election results don’t usually come together with presidential visits, especially within hours, and especially when the president is arriving with a huge and much desired gift in the form of opening up arms trade.

Hanoi had been pushing Washington for years, as both a point of pride and out of desire for American weapons. The change is potentially huge for American interests, empowering pro-Western forces internally and sending a very charged signal to China, long Vietnam’s regional adversary.

But neither the Americans or the Vietnamese spent any time pretending the change had anything to do with actual democratic reform. Obama didn’t make a show of calling for it. President Tran Dai Quang didn’t make a show of pretending he was for it. They both knew it would have been a joke.

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Obama: TPP Would Let America, Not China, Lead the Way on Global Trade

Barack Obama writes for The Washington Post:

Over the past six years, America’s businesses have created more than 14 million new jobs. To keep this progress going, we need to pursue every avenue of economic growth. Today, some of our greatest economic opportunities abroad are in the Asia-Pacific region, which is on its way to becoming the most populous and lucrative market on the planet. Increasing trade in this area of the world would be a boon to American businesses and American workers, and it would give us a leg up on our economic competitors, including one we hear a lot about on the campaign trail these days: China.

Of course, China’s greatest economic opportunities also lie in its own neighborhood, which is why China is not wasting any time. As we speak, China is negotiating a trade deal that would carve up some of the fastest-growing markets in the world at our expense, putting American jobs, businesses and goods at risk.

This past week, China and 15 other nations met in Australia with a goal of getting their deal, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, done before the end of this year. That trade deal won’t prevent unfair competition among government-subsidized, state-owned enterprises. It won’t protect a free and open Internet. Nor will it respect intellectual property rights in a way that ensures America’s creators, artists, filmmakers and entrepreneurs get their due. And it certainly won’t enforce high standards for our workers and our environment.

Fortunately, America has a plan of our own that meets each of these goals. As a Pacific power, the United States has pushed to develop a high-standard Trans- Pacific Partnership, a trade deal that puts American workers first and makes sure we write the rules of the road for trade in the 21st century.

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The War Against the World: Washington Finds Enemies Everywhere

Philip Giraldi writes for Unz:

Defense Secretary Ash Carter testifies on the Defense Department's proposed fiscal year 2017 budget during a posture hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, D.C., March 17, 2016. DoD photo by Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Adrian CadizSecretary of War Ash Carter is concerned about America’s posture. No, it’s not about sitting with your back straight up and your knees placed primly together. It all has to do with how many enemies there are out there threatening the United States and what we have to do, globally speaking, to make them cry uncle. Ash outlined his views at a “posture hearing” before the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 17th, part of a process intended to give still more money to the Pentagon, $582.7 billion to be exact for fiscal year 2017.

I respect Ash at least a bit because he once studied Medieval History at Yale, though he apparently has forgotten about the Hundred Years War and the War of the Roses. Both devastated winners and losers alike, a salutary lesson for those who are concerned about what the United States has been up to for the past fifteen years. Yet Ash, who is characteristically no veteran and for whom war is an abstraction that must be supported by counting and piling up sufficient beans, thinks that more is always better when it comes to having fancy new toys to play with. Since his proposed budget will be giving the Navy a few tens of billions worth of Ohio class subs the Air Force will have to get its own strategic bombers so no one will feel cheated. Just wait until the bill from the Army comes in.

Ash justified all the needless spending by telling the Senators that there are five “security challenges” confronting the United States – terrorism, North Korea, China, Russia and Iran – before lapsing into Pentagon-speak about why more money is always better than less money. He attacked any attempt at sequestration, which would require budget cuts across the board, because it risks the “funding of critical investments.”

If you thought that investments were something financial services guys do you would be wrong. The War Department also knows all about it and also can generate “new posture in some regions” with all that extra cash. Why? To “protect the homeland,” of course, and to “have the ability to ensure that anyone who starts a conflict with us will regret doing so.”

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There’s a Bipartisan Refusal to Accept Obama’s Push for TPP: Interview with Curtis Ellis and Congressman Alan Grayson

Thom Hartmann talks to two guests about Obama’s final State of the Union address and his push for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). From the right there’s Curtis Ellis of obamatrade.com, and from the left there’s Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL). (The Big Picture)

The Deeper, Uglier Side of TPP: Interview with Melinda St. Louis

In his final State of the Union address, President Obama said the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was about staying on top as a global economic power, but a close look at the text shows how that only applies to multinational corporations. Melinda St. Louis of Public Citizen breaks this down. (The Real News)

China Dismisses US Criticism, Blames Them for North Korea Troubles

Jason Ditz reports for Anitwar:

This week’s atomic weapons test by North Korea fueled a round of condemnation by the US against them, and also against China, with Secretary of State John Kerry declaring that China’s policies toward the north had failed and it was time for new strategy.

Chinese officials today dismissed that, saying that the US-led efforts to isolate North Korea have only made matters worse, and that China shouldn’t be expected to solve the entire problemby themselves.

China was an historical ally of North Korea, but tends to see the nation as more of a headache these days, trying to keep them from starting any big wars or collapsing outright, and leading to a massive influx of refugees into China.

North Korea, for its part, is said to be courting more help from China after today’s test, saying they need to come up with a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War, and warning they will continue their nuclear tests until a peace deal happens. US officials have repeatedly ruled out a peace deal with North Korea.

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North Korea Bomb Test Challenges U.S. Policy in Asia

Carol E. Lee reports for The Wall Street Journal:

North Korea’s fourth nuclear weapons test spread alarm through the U.S. and allied countries, reigniting concerns about Pyongyang’s advancements and thrusting the country back into the diplomatic spotlight.

The Obama administration on Wednesday disputed North Korea’s declaration that it had detonated a hydrogen bomb, a thermonuclear device with far greater destructive power than a conventional atomic bomb. But even if the device is proven smaller than that claimed by North Korea, the test indicates Pyongyang has continued to advance its nuclear program.

President Barack Obama, despite a diplomatic pivot aimed at increasing U.S. clout in Asia, has seen North Korea perform three of its four nuclear tests during his time in office. The isolated communist country has long been resistant to diplomatic pressure, despite international sanctions that exacerbate the grinding poverty there.

The blast underscores both the strategic significance and the complications of the U.S. relationship with China. Despite Washington’s recent efforts to counter Beijing’s influence in the region, it is precisely China’s influence that the U.S. most needs to address North Korea’s continuing nuclear bomb work.

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Defense Industry Revenue Forecast Gushes Over Global Turmoil

Lee Fang reports for The Intercept:

The global aerospace and defense industry is out of its doldrums. According to a new report by the accounting firm Deloitte, “the resurgence of global security threats” promises a lucrative “rebound” in defense spending.

The report alerts investors that “revenue growth” is “expected to take a positive turn” due to the terrorism and war in the Middle East and the tensions in Eastern Europe and the South China Sea.

Many analysts predicted declining revenue for the weapons industry as the U.S. scaled down military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. After all, as this chart from the Deloitte report shows, no other country even comes close to spending as much as the U.S. does.

But now governments around the world have moved swiftly to hike defense budgets to “combat terrorism and address sovereign security matters.”

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To End North Korea’s Nuclear Program, End the Korean War

Christine Ahn writes for The Nation:

South KoreaNorth Korea announced recently that it had successfully detonated its first hydrogen bomb. “This test is a measure for self-defense,” state media announced, “to firmly protect the sovereignty of the country and the vital right of the nation from the ever-growing nuclear threat and blackmail by the US-led hostile forces.”

South Korea, Japan, and China were swift to respond with condemnation, as was the UN Security Council, which issued a statement that North Korea’s test was a “clear violation of Security Council resolutions” and resolved to take “further significant measures.”

Many observers, however, including nuclear-weapons experts and government officials, doubt whether North Korea really did test a hydrogen bomb.

“I don’t think this was a hydrogen bomb,” said Bill Richardson, a former diplomat who’s traveled to North Korea. “It was apparently six kilotons. A hydrogen bomb is 20.” The White House also issued a statement saying that data collected by US intelligence was “not consistent” with a hydrogen-bomb test.

While an independent verification may take days, and the world may never fully know the true extent of North Korea’s nuclear capacity, what we do know is that this would be Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear-weapons test since 2006—and the third under President Obama’s watch.

If anything, this proves the utter failure of the Obama administration’s policy of “strategic patience” when it comes to achieving North Korean de-nuclearization.

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The author of the above piece was recently interviewed on Democracy Now!:

U.S. Foreign Arms Deals Increased Nearly $10 Billion in 2014

Nicholas Fandos reports for The New York Times:

Foreign arms sales by the United States jumped by almost $10 billion in 2014, about 35 percent, even as the global weapons market remained flat and competition among suppliers increased, a new congressional study has found.

American weapons receipts rose to $36.2 billion in 2014 from $26.7 billion the year before, bolstered by multibillion-dollar agreements with Qatar, Saudi Arabia and South Korea. Those deals and others ensured that the United States remained the single largest provider of arms around the world last year, controlling just over 50 percent of the market.

Russia followed the United States as the top weapons supplier, completing $10.2 billion in sales, compared with $10.3 billion in 2013. Sweden was third, with roughly $5.5 billion in sales, followed by France with $4.4 billion and China with $2.2 billion.

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Quietly, Guam is slated to become massive new U.S. military base

Adam Ashton reports for McClatchy:

Thousands of Marines will land on this island sometime in the next few years, and their first steps will fall on a sturdy-as-granite pier in a sheltered Pacific harbor newly rebuilt to carry wave after wave of tank-driving troops.

“We’re ready for them,” said Cmdr. David Ellis, the executive officer at a Navy base that’s been swelling with military construction projects to prepare for the new troops.

What’s less certain is what the Marines will do when they get here.

This U.S. territory in the Western Pacific, long a way station for passing jets and submarines, is about to become a hub for a force of 4,800 Marines who’ll be charged with readying for war and disasters in East Asia.

The trouble is the Pentagon has not yet persuaded two nearby islands to accept a proposal that would give the Marines a space to train during their Pacific patrols. And some are suggesting, subtly, that it may be difficult to station so many military service members on Guam if they cannot train nearby.

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The TPP risks making US-China relations worse

Steven Zhou writes for Al Jazeera:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), finalized  last month by 12 Pacific Rim nations, including the United States, will be the largest trade pact in modern history. It will rewrite the rules that affect how about 40 percent of the global economy does business, with the intent of increasing trade and investment. The White House released the agreement’s text to the public yesterday.

Much discussion regarding the TPP has focused on the absence from the pact of China, the largest economy in the Asia-Pacific region. President Barack Obama has portrayed the exclusion as an attempt by the U.S. and its allies to “write the rules” in the region before China does. But this kind of antagonism does nothing to push U.S.-China relations — perhaps the most important bilateral relationship in the world — toward anything productive. The increasing anti-China rhetoric that has accompanied the Obama administration’s Asian pivot will result in fewer opportunities to partner on major global initiatives and hurt both nations economically.

While the U.S. and China have cooperated on a number of important issues, including a notable recent agreement on climate change, geopolitical tensions persist. President Xi Jinping, who has led China since 2012, has pushed for a new brand of nationalism that emphasizes the projection of Chinese power in Asia. This has gotten China into territorial disputes with its neighbors, which in turn have looked to the U.S. for help. China’s periodic alignment with Syria, Iran and Russia has set it at odds with the Obama administration’s strategy in the Middle East. Finally, Washington has serious concerns about Chinese cyberattacks on U.S. businesses.

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