Author Topic: US Foreign Policy & Geopolitics  (Read 295150 times)

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 52370
    • View Profile
George Friedman: Methodology and Empathetic Analysis
« Reply #1000 on: January 25, 2020, 08:56:19 AM »
   
    Methodology and Empathetic Analysis
By: George Friedman

I have spent a great deal of time trying to lay the groundwork for an approach to understanding the relations between nations. I was not searching so much for a methodology as for a sensibility for considering and understanding these relations. A methodology is a highly disciplined system of extracting essential variables and creating a predictive model. The subject of international relations does not lend itself to a simplistic methodology (a term I do not intend as dismissive but simply descriptive). Rather it requires a sensibility. The causes of conflict, for example, are rarely rooted in a neat model. They may emerge but out of a sense of complexity and disorder that permits us to grasp the whole, rather than out of a model that simply extracts the causes. The key word here is “simply.” Causation is so intricate that a general model is impossible. I will argue that a system based on sensibility must be created.

Let’s begin with a smaller and therefore more manageable unit, the nuclear family, using my own family as an example. It’s what I know best, and it highlights the layers that have to be understood and respected when dealing with human beings. Most important, the truth can be hidden even from the speaker.

My father’s family came from the western foothills of the Carpathian Mountains and moved west into Hungary late in the 18th century. My father and his half-brother, born before World War I, became enemies in the 1930s. My father was a social democrat and his brother was a communist. Others have told me that after this time they never spoke directly to each other again. Both were forced into Hungarian labor battalions attacking the Soviet Union. My uncle was captured by the Soviets, taken to Moscow for training as a Soviet apparatchik, and returned to Hungary as a minor Communist official after World War II. My father refused to surrender to the Soviets and returned to Hungary after a terrible journey walking back from the Russian front to Budapest in the middle of winter. The silence endured. Yet when the Communists came to power and my father was to be arrested, my uncle got word to him to flee. We ended up in the United States. When the 1956 revolution came, my father hired smugglers to go into Hungary and rescue his half-brother from the wrath of the momentarily triumphant revolutionaries. As my father had been saved by his brother, he tried in turn to save him. But his brother refused to leave Hungary.

The point is that the silence was far more complex than the words they spoke about each other. There was a depth that had to be understood.

The two boys had the same mother but different fathers. My father was younger so for a while his father likely favored him over his half-brother who was not of his blood. My grandfather fought in World War I and died of complications after the war, and so my grandmother was widowed for a second time. The brothers grew into adolescence with their mother, but the years in which my uncle lived under the rule of his step-father had to be painful. The love of a father for his own blood is real and frequently unrestrained. We do not know whether the step-father influenced his wife to put distance between her love for her first and second sons, but my father belonged to both of them and it is likely he was favored. Many families have such dark episodes, their memory hidden even from themselves. Often the memory is so painful that the animosity can’t be hidden, but must be given a more sophisticated and less honest explanation for its origin.

The formal family explanation for the hatred between the two half-brothers has to do with political ideology. A methodology that argues that different views alienate people is both true and utterly insufficient in this case. After everything that each of them went through, with so many in the family dead, could ideology really cause this abyss? Methodology is too antiseptic to grasp the real origins of human malice. It wants a clear, replicable process, but human existence does not yield to that. Its truth is in the dark corners that we can grasp only through empathy, and not by method.

Empathetic analysis is not sympathetic analysis. It is simply the process of imagining yourself in someone else’s position and the pressures that have come to bear in shaping them. Imagine two boys living in the poverty of the Carpathian foothills who both lose their fathers. That must have plunged them deeper into hunger and despair. After the first husband’s death, the mother remarries. Women were in high demand in those days, given the rate of death during childbirth. Men married later to earn enough money to support a family.

When my grandfather, older than my grandmother, married her, he saved her and my uncle from poverty. But her new husband naturally wanted his own family, and my grandmother gave birth to my father, two girls and another boy. My grandfather was poor by most standards, and he probably favored my father (his first son) over the older step-son, both materially and emotionally.

I take this analysis not from anything I was told but from the simple facts. A half-brother is likely to get the short end of the stick, and his mother must protect her vulnerable newborn and allow her older child to make his own way.

The anger was expressed ideologically, but it was not about ideology. The anger was the force driving a division between a mother, her second husband and their children on one side, and her son from her first marriage on the other. My uncle’s sense of having been hurled into the ranks of the inessential and my father’s commitment to protecting his sisters from his brother (and that is what he said he had to do) provides a more empathetic analysis of the situation.

Is the analysis correct? The explanation that the split was due to ideology is after all these years hard to believe. And there are some key questions that could lead one to a different explanation: Were the half-brothers still bound by a degree of love? My uncle saved my father’s life, and my father tried to save his, both at great risk to themselves. What could it have felt like to have your father die when you’re so young? How did it feel to have him replaced by a stranger who wants his own family? What does it feel like to see your mother having his children and loving them? How do two boys, surviving the hardship of the Carpathians, as tough and unforgiving as the countryside, deal with each other when there are no family therapists to tell them that hunger doesn’t matter?

The family is the foundation of the nation. It is also the laboratory within which human behavior can be modeled. But it is not modeled as you would model the economy or build a war game. Human beings cannot be blended together as a mathematical abstraction; they must be analyzed empathetically, by telling their story and understanding how little choice they had. By grasping the imperative and constraints that controlled their lives, and observing empirically what they did to each other, it is possible to take the ideological explanations both used and understand that the real limits and constraints rest in a different place. But to do this work you must be naive, you must see the obvious, believe what you see and refuse to be diverted by inconsequential sophistication. And above all, you must tell the story.

Now, explaining Iranian foreign policy is enormously more difficult than this, but it begins with some of the same core principles. We are all caught in a web of needs and relationships that force us in certain directions. We can choose to go where we want, when we are rich and safe. Otherwise you have fewer choices and a much higher penalty if you ignore the dangers. And the more power you have accumulated, the less room for maneuver you have, as power slips away with each misstep.

Therefore, the key to geopolitical analysis is understanding the constraints and imperatives, and being a good story teller. In “Speaker for the Dead” by science fiction writer Orson Scott Card, Ender Wiggin takes it on himself to explain with empathy, but without saccharine sympathy, the lives men have lived. I try to do that with nations. We both believe that we have choices, but they are few, and because they are few, our lives, families and nations are in some sense simpler and less mysterious than they appear.

There is a conventional methodology built around constraints (being born in the Carpathian foothills, being poor, having a father die), and then there is a sensibility that serves as a different methodology, called empathetic analysis, built around imperatives (eating, being safe, being loved). For that you must see the story, accept the story’s uniqueness and understand how it compels action. And then you can tell how people live and behave. It requires that you see clearly what has happened and neither condemn nor excuse.

A couple makes a family, a family builds a business, the business creates an industry, and all constitute a nation. One cannot be understood without the others, and no one truly understands or tells the truth as to why he did what he did. When looking at the United States and Iran, diplomacy hides the truth on both sides. Only empathy can reveal it, and empathy is the foundation of geopolitical analysis. We are humans whether peasants or kings, and neither fully understand why they do what they do. But they must be spoken for. Methodology reduces reality to the manageable. Empathy welcomes its complexity.   




Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 52370
    • View Profile
George Friedman: Returning to the Beginning
« Reply #1001 on: January 25, 2020, 09:07:17 AM »
second post

   
    Returning to the Beginning
By: George Friedman

In recent weeks, I have been writing on the very ordinary but precious moments of my life. I wrote about the complexity of my family’s holidays and of a vacation, with what I hope came across as humor. All this is in preparation for my return to my original project: to place geopolitics in the philosophical tradition. There may seem to be no connection between the ordinary moments of life and something as exalted as philosophy, but they are intimately connected.

Ordinary life is extraordinary. The task of philosophy and geopolitics is to find the sacred in everyday life, and to do so with deep irony, which requires being able to laugh heartily. For who are we humans to speak of our lives and the sacred? Anyone who tries must do so with a deep sense of its pretentiousness. In elevating a rum punch during a beach vacation to a subject worthy of deep thought, we do three things: We elevate the ordinary, force ourselves to realize that there is little that is ordinary there, and face the chasm separating our attempt to understand the world and the absurdity of the attempt. But in that rum punch, in the game it plays with your mind, there is a freedom to both elevate yourself and mock yourself.

The problem of philosophy is that it tends to be boring. It is boring because it is complex and because it is abstracted from the lives that people live. The great philosophers give you a window through which to see yourself. That window is irony or, for those of us less elevated, humor. The entire idea of philosophy is humorous. Here we are, human beings who know many things, being told that we do not know the most important things. But humans know well the most important things: doing one’s duty, nurturing children, battling nature and society to provide for them, being just without being a martyr, being kind and being forgiving, even to those who won’t forgive.

This is a random list, and many things can be refined and added, but if philosophy is the study of the true and beautiful, then it at best makes elegant the things we already know. Philosophy holds no surprises, except for one profoundly important one: that human beings, in the course of their lives, should contemplate such matters without holding an advanced degree. And with that, philosophy contributes its most important gifts: irony and caution.

Irony is telling a truth in such a way that we can see it through the veil of laughter. As Plato infers, who are we mere humans to dare to think such exalted thoughts? I think of my father, who survived the Mauthausen concentration camp and a Soviet occupation, whom life had crushed too many times, who still had the ability to hope for something better and laughed at me, saying I was such a scrawny child to place his hopes in. He had faced Hitler’s and Stalin’s ideas directly and survived them, yet could still know that all homes, especially the most urgent, must be clothed in laughter.

Philosophy must also cloak the best and worst from the world. A philosopher is not someone with an advanced degree. It is someone who has confronted the best and worst of the world, and discovered that it takes courage to face both. I have an advanced degree and wrote books and articles that were designed not to enlighten but to demonstrate my brilliance through their obscurity. Later, doing other work, I discovered that philosophy does not live in the academy where justice is discussed but in the world, where justice must be lived.

Geopolitics is not recognized as a field, so I made it a business. But geopolitics is at the heart of philosophy. If we agree that all the examples I cited can be summed up by the question “who is man?” then the first answer is that humanity is divided into two parts: man and woman, and all that follows from this. The first discussion of duty must somehow revolve around this.

Geopolitics is a field that tries to define, explain and forecast the relationship among communities. The story it tells is a story of greatness and horror, but it begins in the simplest things that make us human. The first question I have raised in other places is, what creates a community or nation? The answer is the love of one’s own, the love of the things you were born to, and being brought up to know that their loves are yours and their hates are yours as well. But where does the love of one’s own come from? The irreducible truth is that the love of one’s own must be preceded if not with love then at least with lust. To have a child you must have sperm and an ovum. However we reengineer the human being and reproduction, and whatever journey in life the child undertakes, it begins with the sperm and ovum, and most usually the man and woman, retelling the oldest story there is.

Philosophy ought not to be about pontificating, and certainly not advocacy of policies, although listening to a professor discussing the just war is a hoot. But it is a hoot meant not to reveal hidden things but to set rules unrelated to reality. He is saved by the grace of indifference.

This may strike you as pointless or obvious. But that is the purpose of philosophy, to hold up to the light things that you are intimately familiar with and suddenly see something you never imagined you would see there. And those things are easiest to see when you see how preposterous it is for you to be seeing them. Next week, I will try to start climbing the mountain.   




Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 52370
    • View Profile
Stratfor Decade Forecast
« Reply #1002 on: February 12, 2020, 07:52:04 PM »


Decade Forecast: 2020-2030
19 MINS READ
Feb 12, 2020 | 02:59 GMT

(Shutterstock)

Table of Contents
OVERVIEW
An Overview of the 2020s
Factors Shaping the 2020s
View As Multi Page

Overview

Over the next 10 years, the world will revert to a multipolar power structure that will encourage constantly shifting alliances and create a more contentious global system. In the midst of this dynamic change, pockets of economic opportunity will emerge. ...

SECTION
An Overview of the 2020s
7 MINS READ
Jan 29, 2020 | 15:48 GMT

Over the next 10 years, the world will revert to a multipolar power structure that will encourage constantly shifting alliances and create a more contentious global system. In the midst of this dynamic change, pockets of economic opportunity will emerge. ...

Toward a Multipolar World   

As the decade dawns, the world system is moving toward a more "normal" state of affairs, a return neither to the bipolar blocs of the Cold War nor to the brief hegemonic interlude that followed. Rather, we see a return to a world with several competing poles of power, both large and small, with less defined and more fluid alliances and partnerships. Over the decade, the United States and China — buoyed by their economic, political, military and social power — will be the most significant poles, with Russia and Europe each playing important, albeit less powerful, roles. Numerous smaller alliances and alignments will emerge, regionally or topically focused, seeking to use their shared interests and pooled resources to better maneuver among the larger powers.

The United States will remain the single largest power in holistic terms through the decade, but its comparative share of power is waning. China will continue to expand its global role, but domestic issues will limit its overall attention and power. Russia faces increasingly severe demographic and economic challenges, and by the end of the decade, the Russian-Chinese relationship will likely undergo significant strain as the power balance tips in Beijing's favor. Europe, meanwhile, will struggle to forge a new identity as it grows more apparent that the dream of a pan-national Europe does not match the reality of the differing social, economic and political models spread across the Continent.

The travails of the European Union, in plain view since the global financial crisis, are a precursor of the future across much of the world. The challenges posed by the spread of technologies, the revival of economic nationalism and stresses over economic expectations will likely lead to an increase in localized and regional conflict. With neither a global hegemon nor a bipolar system to try to force stability, the globe's shifting allegiances and alliances, changing trade arrangements and flows, and increasing social and political instability will produce a more fluid and contentious world over this decade.

Amid that volatility, pockets of economic opportunity and growth will emerge. Southeast Asia, East Africa and South America are but some the areas where expanding populations, rising urbanization, infrastructure development and growing social expectations will provide those opportunities. If they are able to capitalize on technology trends, and not be bypassed, these areas are poised to be engines of global growth. They stand in contrast to the global north, where populations are graying and stagnating, or even declining, slowing the rate of consumption and available capital. The demographic dichotomy will invigorate nationalist sentiments, even as migration may be the very thing needed to ease the social burdens in both the north and the south.

It is a decade where resistance to the ideals of extreme globalization will be even more manifest and where the assertion of national and local self-interest will clash with trends of regionalism and globalism. Amid demographic and economic challenges, the tendency will be to think local and act local, despite the identification of global problems.

Political Framework: The Limits of Alliances   

Without a singular global hegemon, or clearly defined competing blocs, nations will be freer to pursue relationships of benefit to their unique interests, leading to looser alignments, rather than comprehensive alliances. Nations will resist singular political, economic, security and social partnerships, preferring flexibility. It will be more common to have economic ties with one partner and security ties with another, straddling competitors among the larger powers. Despite calls for regional and global solutions, the nation and even subnationalism will be the dominant expression during the decade.


The United States and Europe will continue to diverge as the latter struggles with its own internal cohesion and the former moves to a less interventionist pattern. This will play out not merely in the realm of NATO and military activity, but in trade and taxation models, global climate initiatives, cyberspace policies and other aspects of global governance.

Meanwhile, during the first half of the decade, Russian-Chinese cooperation will continue to expand in the military, economic and technological realms. But China and Russia remain wary of one another's strength and motives. Russia will begin to resist China's initiatives by the latter half of the decade as Moscow prepares for a significant demographic crunch in the 2030s and sees Chinese infrastructure and connectivity stretching through the old Soviet Central Asia and Eastern Europe, through the Indian Ocean Basin and north across the Arctic as a threefold envelopment of its former sphere of influence.

Economic Framework: The Limits of Globalization   

Demographic, economic and technological developments are creating the pressures and the space for reshaping the global trade patterns that have been the norm since the late 1980s. While globalization will not go away, and complex supply chains will remain, there will be moves back toward more regional and local supply chains, and tighter intraregional trade. Comprehensive multilateral trade agreements have reached their limits due to their complexity and inflexibility, and they will be replaced with bilateral and minilateral trade arrangements. Coupled with surges in economic nationalism, this will prove a more complex environment for large multinational corporations, forcing the navigation of multiple systems or a choice to operate only in one.

We see a slower overall economic growth over the next decade, as the structures of trade and demographic dynamics evolve, though there will be localized pockets of high growth in less developed areas. The broader economic stagnation will have social implications as expectations of a continual rise in prosperity remain unfulfillable and youths find employment and upward mobility elusive, whether due to population bulges in the south or greying populations in the north not making way for new workers. The U.S. dollar is unlikely to lose its primacy in the international system during the next decade, though its centrality will continue to erode. China is simply not prepared to take on the cost and risk of promoting the yuan as the global reserve currency, and intra-European challenges will continue to weigh down the euro. Where China and Russia may make progress will be in exchange mechanisms, as they build redundancies and bypasses to blunt U.S. sanctions power.

Security Framework: The Limits of U.S. Power   

Attempts by the United States to shift from counterterrorism to a focus on peer and near-peer competition will be only partially successful over the next decade, as terrorism, whether inspired by global ideals or local issues (or more often than not a combination of the two), will not fade away. But even the United States has finite resources, and prioritization will have to be made. We expect the United States, actively or by default, to encourage local and regional actors to take up security responsibilities, with Washington intervening only occasionally where deemed strategically important. Europe will see a continued evolution of its security role beyond the confines of NATO. A shift in U.S. posture on the Middle East and South Asia, and the ripple implications into Central Asia, will ultimately pull Russia and China to take a more active approach, compelling Beijing to finally break from its reticence to use its military forces abroad.

Technological advances will distribute capabilities, reducing the military dominance of the "big powers." Automated systems, information operations, cyber actions with kinetic consequences and advances in communications will facilitate actions by even smaller states and nonstate actors. First- and second-tier powers will accelerate competition for space dominance, and long-anticipated advanced systems, including hypersonic and energy weapons, will reach operational stages. Following North Korea's example, we also see a further erosion of nuclear containment this decade.

SECTION

Factors Shaping the 2020s

12 MINS READ
Jan 29, 2020 | 15:51 GMT

Over the next 10 years, the world will revert to a multipolar power structure that will encourage constantly shifting alliances and create a more contentious global system. In the midst of this dynamic change, pockets of economic opportunity will emerge. ...

Reshaping Global Norms   

The existing international system is built on the back of a North Atlantic consensus — effectively among the United States, Canada and Western Europe. The basic economic, political and security architecture was put in place when this represented the bulk of global trade and economic activity and military and political power. But the world has changed substantially since the end of World War II, and particularly in the post-Cold War era. The rest of the world is now staking its claim to shape global norms, regulations and standards, and their champion is China. This trend will only accelerate over the decade.

Competition over global governance isn't just about the relation between nations, it is about trade and technology. China has expanded its position in global regulatory and standards-setting bodies and will continue to take a more active role. Coupled with China's sheer size and market, this can have lasting impact on the development and deployment of new technologies, from electric vehicles to artificial intelligence, telecommunications infrastructure and the internet of things.
 


The spectrum of differences is seen particularly in areas where social, economic and national security considerations overlap (telecommunications), but also in places as varied as agriculture policy and phytosanitary standards, and conflicting desires for global standards and national independence. In this, we see continued divergence not only between the United States and China, but also between each of them and Europe. While there are many areas of cooperation between or among these three, the decade will see a further fracturing of global consensus, and the emergence of competing but not completely divergent standards and regulations.

One large question for the decade is the role of the United Nations, and more specifically that of the Security Council. The council's five permanent members are no longer representative of the distribution of global power and influence, and as competition for global norms and standards heats up, reform of the Security Council is likely to be a contentious issue in the decade. Similar questions of relevance will dog the World Trade Organization, driven by the continuing shift away from multilateral trade arrangements.

Shifting Trade Patterns   

Containerization revolutionized the shipping industry, driving major new investments in ports and ship design and even requiring alterations in physical geography, including the expansion of the Panama Canal. But the growth of global containerized shipping may be nearing its limits, and while it will not necessarily decline, even a slowdown to that growth could create economic difficulties for the numerous new or expanded port facilities built over the past few decades.
 


Rising labor costs will reduce China's role as the center of global manufacturing. Few other locations can singly fill the huge space it currently occupies. Instead, the sector will become more distributed, much of it to nearby Southeast Asia. But if overall trade patterns begin to contract, the space for these countries to take advantage of their growing labor pools to move up the value chain will shrink.

A combination of shifts in technology, purchasing and labor patterns, climate awareness, and rising economic nationalism will contribute to a further reformation of global trade patterns, with growing levels of regional trade versus continued expansion of long supply chains. Further disruptions will stem from shifts in energy and commodity trade patterns, the expansion of new sea and land routes (driven by China's Belt and Road Initiative), and economic nationalism. Breakthroughs in additive or advanced manufacturing could compound the contraction of complex global supply chains.

Cyber Fragmentation   

We expect a further fragmenting of global communications and information infrastructure over the next decade. These systems sit at the intersection of matters of national security, information sovereignty, business continuity and personal freedom. Europe, the United States and China represent differing approaches to creating a balance among these interests, and as each creates differing regulatory environments, it will prove more difficult for companies to operate freely across all three, leading to reshaped technology supply chains. Over the decade, these trends can compound to create differing spheres of technology infrastructure.

Economic competition, differing regulations and national security concerns will also affect research and development initiatives, making it more difficult for ideas to freely flow between the private and state sectors and across geographies. Developments in artificial intelligence and other big data projects will diverge based on regulations over the collection and storage of data. Fragmentation will increase the pace and scope of cyberespionage in the private and state sectors.


Despite fragmenting systems, the low bar for entry will leave the cyberdomain vulnerable to state and nonstate actors conducting theft, espionage, disruption and information operations. States will struggle with managing information technologies that facilitate organization and mass movements within and across borders. The expansion of applications for the internet of things increases the likelihood that cyber actions will more frequently have kinetic implications. Should a major disruption to power, communications or financial systems occur, government responses will lead to further tightening of cybersovereignty.

Technology Impacts   

Technology is a massive bucket, but for this forecast, we will focus on three key areas: information systems, power generation and manufacturing.

The expansion of information systems can create educational opportunities, allowing distributed instruction and adaptable training and reducing the overconcentration of educational opportunities in key cities. In effect, this growth can redistribute opportunity, potentially slowing the pace at which developed economies are hollowed out and increasing access in developing nations. But the pace of technological change also requires rapid adaptability, and some areas will struggle to keep pace, particularly in the global south, where rising populations and limited government resources may leave them playing catch-up in training and adoption.


Advances in alternative energy production, large-scale energy storage and smart grid technology may do for energy production and distribution what cellular services did for telecommunications. These technological developments will allow the construction of smaller scale localized transmission grids that could, by the end of the decade, facilitate a rapid expansion of rural electrification, bringing new educational, health and employment opportunities to more places. This will have significant effects on social and political patterns, bringing disruption along with opportunity to areas of India, Central Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America where such connectivity had previously not been viable.

Advanced manufacturing techniques will facilitate the further near- or onshoring of manufacturing after decades of labor arbitrage. Advanced and additive manufacturing can reduce material and storage costs, facilitate just-in-time on-demand manufacturing, and allow smaller scale distributed facilities. While we do not expect a wholesale shift in manufacturing patterns over the decade, we do see experimentation that blends techniques such as 3D printing with on-demand purchasing and delivery services such as those offered by Amazon.com — an expansion of existing on-demand book printing to other simple tangibles. If such production were to grow faster than expected buoyed by advances in materials science and the expiration of key patents, it could undermine the opportunity for developing nations to move up the value chain as centers of manufacturing for global consumption.

A final feature of the decade will be the acceleration of the space race, with states, private industry and hybrids of the two competing over launch technologies, telecommunications systems and experimental space-based manufacturing. Since satellite systems fill critical roles in communications and information infrastructure and national security, as the space race heats up, so will the militarization of space.

Climate Issues   

Over the next decade, the most significant physical impacts of climate change will be an increasing volatility of extreme weather events, along with more acute water stress, shifts in maritime foodstuff resources and evolving accessibility to the Arctic. But the most immediate impacts will be felt at the political and social levels. Shifting energy production and transportation priorities will drive changes in the energy, automotive and infrastructure sectors. Europe will be the test bed of the economic effects of taking more aggressive measures to change the energy and transportation mix, but this may also exacerbate national and regional differences.

Increasing weather volatility, including shifting monsoon patterns, and expanding urbanization, with its attendant increase in animal protein consumption and concentrated water usage, can be expected to create several spreading agricultural challenges, punctuated by acute short-term crises. The developing world remains far behind the developed world in per capita meat consumption, but reduced poverty is driving rising rates, compounding water and land demand for food production. Water stresses can limit urbanization initiatives and strain hydropower production. In places like India and Central Asia, we expect water stress to have significant social and political ramifications over the decade.


Changing ocean temperature patterns are already affecting the location and robustness of stocks of fish and other marine foods. These resources are particularly significant both to the Asia-Pacific as a key source of animal protein and among localized areas elsewhere. As marine resource concentrations migrate, they cross artificial borders and contribute to clashes over territorial seas and maritime resources. We expect greater competition over maritime resources to strain relations not only along the Asia-Pacific rim but also along the Arctic and Antarctic frontiers.

Climate shifts have created the most profound and immediate changes in the Arctic, with sea ice patterns now effectively altering geography as much as human-made canals did in the past. With growing technological capabilities, competition over future resources and strategic concerns, the Arctic will be a focal point for great power competition, for challenges to global governance and norms, and for testing the limits of cooperation over climate mitigation with competition over resources and strategic advantage.

Beyond Hydrocarbons   

As climate change and economic and technological advances drive shifts in energy production and storage, hydrocarbon-based power will wane in overall significance — but it is unlikely to be surpassed by other methods over the decade. Neither will demand for oil peak before 2030. The continued expansion of liquefied natural gas infrastructure will shift global energy trade flows, as it offers new ways of being both green and diversifying suppliers for energy security.
 


Competition over strategic minerals for new energy applications will open investment opportunities and geopolitical competition in South America, Africa and along the Arctic fringe. Frontier locations, such as seabed mineral extraction, will draw continued interest but are unlikely to reach significant economic viability during the decade. However, they will reopen debates over global governance in the Arctic and Antarctic, with implications toward future developments in space exploration.

Shifting technology priorities risk driving boom-or-bust cycles in key new resource commodities, and rising economic security concerns will lead to increased political competition over key producer regions. The exploitation of new energy resources is unlikely to lead to development patterns driven by a concentration of easy access to a commodity in high demand akin to those experienced in the Middle East. But opportunities will emerge for nations able to exploit and retain control over in-demand mineral resources.

Demographics   

Much of the developed north is already facing graying populations and stagnating or declining natural population growth. The impacts of this trend will be felt keenly over the next decade. The financial burden will begin to strain social safety nets, and underfunded pension systems will force governments to further increase retirement ages, reducing space for entry to younger workers and making it harder for those wishing to exit the labor pool to afford retirement. As retirees move from storing up savings to spending on basic needs, the amount of available capital in the banking and finance system will begin to shrink. These challenges will be most pronounced in Europe, Japan and South Korea, though the United States will not remain unscathed.

In the global south, aside from China and soon India, populations are still growing, creating pools of available labor and, when paired with urbanization, rising consumption rates. These growing populations, with rising expectations, may prove a mixed blessing. If countries can harness the available labor, they can become pockets of economic growth and consumption. But if they are unable to meet expectations, they are vulnerable to social disruption and political turmoil. The contrast of demographic trends between the "north" and "south" is already playing into political and economic nationalism in Europe and the United States, often characterized as anti-immigrant. But by the end of the decade, this may shift to competition for select immigrants to counter demographic declines.


Technological advances have the potential to exacerbate or ameliorate these challenges. If advanced manufacturing techniques, lower energy costs and shorter transportation routes (or politically motivated economic policies) lead to more near- or onshoring, many of the countries poised to step into the low- and mid-end manufacturing and arbitrage their large labor pools may find themselves bypassed. But advances in telecommunications connectivity that provide significant decreases in lag time could begin to open a new space for outsourcing control of physical manufacturing without needing to move factories. In either case, the challenge of technological change against the current demographic backdrop will be one of reskilling — and the countries most adept at this will have the advantage.

Poverty and Health   

In part, health care advances, the increasing percentage of women in the workforce, smaller families and poverty alleviation efforts over the past half-century will drive the demographic shifts in the coming decade. Populations are skewing older because people are living longer. Birth rates have dropped in part because there is less expectation of high child mortality rates.

With less poverty and longer lifespans, the demand for resources will increase, including energy, agriculture, available land and clean water. Within countries, this can strain government resources and, if poorly managed, increase social instability. Among countries, the competition for resources or global attempts to shape conservation and climate mitigation initiatives can stir contention and accusations of imperial unfairness.
 


Reduced poverty, improved nutrition and preventative health care have also contributed to a global increase in societal expectations, whether for access to jobs, housing and education, or government social services. Rising expectations can drive economic intervention or nationalism, as governments seek to provide more and better quality domestic jobs. It also creates challenges for governments as the rising middle class becomes more politically active. This is even more pronounced as communication technologies allow rapid coordination of like interests, and greater access to alternative ideas, information and expectations. As more challenges are made to the political order, the likelihood that efforts toward building greater national digital sovereignty and security to reduce information flow will increase.

DougMacG

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 13177
    • View Profile
Re: Stratfor Decade Forecast
« Reply #1003 on: February 13, 2020, 05:51:23 AM »
We should all do our 10 year forecast.
---------------------------------------
6 Reasons for Optimism in 2020
https://fee.org/articles/how-the-prague-spring-led-to-the-fall-of-communism/
https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-2010s-have-been-amazing-11576540377
1. Extreme Poverty Is Plummeting
2. More Than Half the World Is Middle Class
3. Global Life Expectancy Is Rising
4. Climate-Related Deaths Are Falling
5. Life Is Getting Better in the World’s Poorest Countries
6. The Cost of Starting a Business Has Plummeted in Developing Economies
(much more at link)
« Last Edit: February 13, 2020, 07:15:48 AM by DougMacG »

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 52370
    • View Profile
GPF: Turkey and Ukraine (and Russia) Serious Read
« Reply #1004 on: February 14, 2020, 01:39:14 PM »


Some really important maps in the original, too bad they do not print here!


Ukraine and Turkey: The Foundations of a Strategic Partnership
By: Ridvan Bari Urcosta

Last week, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky met with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Kyiv. During the visit, Erdogan promised to strengthen military and economic cooperation with Ukraine and emphasized his support for the Crimean Tatars. After all, Crimea has long been central to Turkey’s relationship with Ukraine.

Another key factor in this relationship is a common adversary: Russia. Ankara has sought to use Ukraine and its long-standing connections there to its advantage as it engages with Moscow. Erdogan’s trip to Kyiv happened to coincide with a recent shift in Turkey-Russia relations, particularly in Syria, where the two countries appear to be getting closer to a potential confrontation in Idlib, and in Libya, where they support opposing sides in the civil war. Erdogan knows that Ukraine is an especially sensitive issue for the Kremlin, which sees a partnership between its critical buffer to the west and its historical rival to the south as a threat to its strategic interests in the Black Sea. By building closer ties to Kyiv, Ankara sees an opportunity to block Russian expansion in a strategic region historically known as the Pontic Steppe.
 
(click to enlarge)

Turkey’s Interests in the Pontic Steppe

At its peak, the Ottoman Empire stretched from the Atlas Mountains in the west to the Zagros Mountains and the Persian Gulf in the east, and to the Balkans and the Caucasus in the north. Former Ottoman territories still play a large role in contemporary Turkish foreign policy, particularly in Erdogan’s ambitious agenda to re-establish Turkish influence in the Persian Gulf, Levant, Black Sea, Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa. As GPF forecast, Turkey has already begun to expand its presence in some of these areas, but while its involvement in places like Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean has garnered much attention of late, its relationship with Ukraine seems to have been mostly overlooked.
 
 
(click to enlarge)

Crimea is at the heart of Turkey’s engagement with Ukraine. Beginning in 1475, the Crimean Peninsula came under Ottoman rule, though it still had some autonomy. The Crimean Khanate was useful to the Ottomans as a bulwark against the Russians in the Black Sea for three centuries. With the Ottomans’ help, the khanate controlled strategically important chokepoints in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. These chokepoints are still an integral part of modern-day Turkey’s geopolitical strategy and are crucial in understanding Turkey’s quest to expand its influence north. The Ottomans also controlled three regions north of Crimea that now belong to Ukraine: Odessa, Nikolayev and Kherson. When the Ottoman Empire lost the Crimean Khanate in 1783, it was forced to retreat from many other theaters, particularly the Caucasus and the Pontic Steppe. The Russian Empire then took over these areas that had been occupied by the Turkic people for centuries.

Following the Russo-Crimean Wars in the 16th century, competition between the Ottomans and Russia in Crimea expanded. After the Russo-Turkish War of 1768-1774, Crimea was officially handed over to the Russians with the signing of the 1774 Treaty of Kucuk Kaynarca, regarded as a watershed moment marking the beginning of the Ottoman Empire’s protracted decline. After years of revolt against Russian rule, the Russian Empire annexed Crimea in 1783 and began to Slavicize Crimea and the surrounding areas. (Interestingly, Russia’s revival of the Novorossiya, or New Russia, concept in 2014 included claims to the Pontic Steppe. Russia used this concept to justify its incursion into Donbass in eastern Ukraine, though Novorossiya extends beyond Donbass to include Kharkov to the north and Odessa to the west.)

Russia had realized that without destroying the Crimean Khanate, it would have been nearly impossible to carry out military operations deep into the Balkans because the Turks and Crimean Tatars would have been able to sever Russian communications and lines of supply in central Ukraine. With Crimea under Russian control, Russian expansionism was formidable and could be stopped only with the emergence of the Russian Revolution in 1917. The Russian Empire thus expanded in two directions: into the Caucasus and into the Balkans.

For Turkey, the loss of Crimea once again reinforced the geostrategic importance of the Pontic Steppe (present-day Ukraine). Though Russia has failed to regain control of much of this area, it has managed to bring Crimea under its jurisdiction, which Turkey will inevitably see as a threat to its security. Turkey’s strategy in Ukraine, therefore, has been to support not just the Crimean Tatar nation but also Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity. So long as the Tatars – who, for the most part, opposed Russian annexation and pledged their support to Kyiv – remain a factor in Crimea, Ankara will have some degree of influence on the peninsula.

Turkey-Ukraine Relations After 2014

Russian President Vladimir Putin once called the Soviet Union’s collapse “a major geopolitical disaster.” And it’s not hard to see why. Russia had lost access to Crimea’s strategic ports, controlled just a small portion of the Black Sea coast and required access to the Turkish-controlled Bosporus just to be able to conduct maritime trade beyond the Black Sea. Turkey, on the other hand, had superior naval forces, control over strategic waterways (namely, the Turkish Straits), and more sovereignty over a larger portion of the Black Sea coast than any other country in the region. Suffice it to say, Turkey was satisfied with this state of affairs.
 
(click to enlarge)

That is, until 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea. Since then, Moscow’s position in the Black Sea has strengthened, and the possibility of confrontation between Turkey and Russia in the Black Sea has intensified. Indeed, without control of Crimea, Russia likely would not have been able to conduct military and naval operations in its Syrian campaign through the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkey was alarmed over the rapid geopolitical developments in the region and expressed its support for Ukrainian territorial integrity from the very beginning of the Ukraine crisis, even sending then-Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to Kyiv for talks in early 2014. To this day, it has not recognized Crimea as part of Russia and maintains close relations with the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, a body that represents Crimean Tatars and was banned by Russia in 2016. Turkey and Ukraine have also expanded military cooperation; they held joint naval exercises in the Black Sea in March 2016, just a few months after Turkey’s downing of a Russian military jet near the Syrian border. For Ankara, showing that it has a presence in Russia’s critical buffer is a way of increasing pressure on Moscow.

However, military cooperation between the two countries goes back further than 2014. In fact, Turkey has some of the closest ties to Ukraine’s defense industry of any NATO member. Ukraine’s state-owned defense firm Ukroboronprom has collaborated with Turkish companies Hevelsan, ASELSAN and Roketsan, among others. Last year, the two countries set up a joint venture focused on precision weapons and aerospace technologies. They also participated in joint projects to create An-188 and An-178 military transport aircraft, active defense systems for armored vehicles and radar systems. In 2019, Ukraine acquired Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drones, armed with high-precision MAM-L bombs purchased from Roketsan. Ukrainian experts are expected to help Turkey develop a new, indigenously built battle tank. They even discussed collaborating on corvettes and surface-to-air missiles. One could argue that Turkey is using Ukraine to sidestep collaborating with Russian defense companies and also to bolster its own defense industry to reduce its dependence on NATO. In the process, the Ukrainian defense sector, which was hurt by the complete disengagement with the Russians, is also benefiting from collaborating with a NATO member, bringing its industry into line with NATO standards.

Economic cooperation has also been growing. During last week’s meeting, Erdogan and Zelensky agreed to complete talks on a free trade agreement, negotiations for which began under former President Petro Poroshenko. Zelensky appears ready to sign a trade deal, even though the benefits to Ukraine, as the weaker of the two economies, are still uncertain. With a deal in place, the two countries hope to bring trade turnover to $10 billion. Turkey also promised to give Ukraine $36 million in military support. Zelensky, in return, promised to help Erdogan on security issues, instructing Ukraine’s Security Service to look into Ukrainian educational centers linked to Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Erdogan has accused of orchestrating a coup attempt against him.

In an effort to attract more foreign capital, Zelensky has said he wants to lift a moratorium on farmland sales, raising the issue last year during a speech in Istanbul. (The Ukrainian parliament has since passed a bill that would allow the sale of land to foreigners, except Russian citizens and corporations, beginning in 2024.) Ukraine has also welcomed the Trans-Anatolian pipeline project, which could bring natural gas from Azerbaijan via Turkey to Ukraine, as well as other parts of Europe. Alternative sources of energy are becoming increasingly important as Russia becomes more reluctant to deliver energy to Turkey and Europe via pipelines that pass through Ukraine, such as the Trans-Balkan pipeline.

In addition, Crimea has continued to play a key role in Ukraine-Turkey relations. As part of Turkey’s quest to promote the concept of Neo-Ottomanism, Turkish officials have emphasized the historical and ancestral links between Turkey and the Crimean Tatars. Former Foreign Minister Davutoglu even regularly met with leaders from the Crimean Tatar community. Before 2014, this may have irritated Kyiv, but since the Russian annexation, Crimean Tatar representatives have been included in delegations on official visits. As Davutoglu once put it, Crimea is now considered “a bridge of friendship” between the two countries.

Turkey is also the top trade partner for the three regions of Ukraine north of Crimea: Odessa, Nikolayev and Kherson (all part of the Pontic Steppe). And Turkish ally Qatar recently won a bid to develop Olvia port in Nikolayev region, which will be the biggest foreign investment in a Ukrainian port in history.

Immediately after Crimea’s annexation, Turkey and the Crimean Tatars asked Kyiv for permission to build ethnic settlements in Kherson (once part of the Crimean Khanate) for Tatars who had fled Crimea. Poroshenko avoided making a decision on the issue, but Zelensky has pledged his support. Russia will likely stir up anti-Tatar sentiments among locals there to try to convince them to oppose it.

There are between 1 million and 3 million Crimean Tatars in Turkey, most of whom tend to be pro-Ukraine. Erdogan, therefore, has a political incentive to woo the region. In 2017, he spoke with Putin on behalf of two Crimean Tatar leaders who were jailed for opposing the annexation. And recently, Zelensky asked Erdogan to intervene in a case over Crimean Tatars convicted on extremism charges after Russian authorities accused them of being followers of Hizb ut-Tahrir, a group that has been banned in Russia.

In addition to political, economic and military links, the two countries have religious connections. In 2019, the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople approved the official decree splitting the Orthodox Church of Ukraine from Russia. Erdogan has declined to comment on religious issues in Ukraine but has met with Bartholomew I of Constantinople, who signed the decree.

It’s worth noting, however, that within the Ukrainian political elite, there is some concern over Turkey’s true intentions and loyalties, especially considering that Ankara has not joined the West in applying sanctions against Russia over Crimea. Ukraine has viewed with suspicion the budding relationship between Putin and Erdogan, which continues despite their countries' disagreements. When Ukraine hoped to import liquefied natural gas through the Black Sea to reduce its reliance on Russian energy, Turkey refused passage of LNG tankers through the Turkish Straits. Turkey has meanwhile kept the straits open to Russian warships that could be used to threaten Ukraine. However, Kyiv hopes the proposed new Istanbul Canal may be blocked for Russian naval ships since, according to Ukraine, it won’t be governed by the Montreux Convention, which regulates transit through the Turkish Straits.

Both countries have benefited from military cooperation and continue to pursue economic ties, including the proposed free trade deal. Turkey sees Ukraine as a key part of its goal to restore its once overwhelmingly dominant position in the Black Sea, and Ukraine sees Turkey as a counterbalance to Russian influence and leverage in the Black Sea. Their relationship is driven by their own strategic interests. So long as they need allies in the Black Sea, they will look to each other as strategic partners.   


Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 52370
    • View Profile
George Friedman: New US strategy and tech
« Reply #1005 on: February 18, 2020, 01:37:42 PM »
February 18, 2020   View On Website
Open as PDF



    New US Strategy and Technology
By: George Friedman
The world is facing a fundamental strategic and technical shift in both the geopolitics of war and its dynamic. The shift is being driven by the United States’ decision to change its global strategic posture and the maturation of new classes of weaponry that change how wars will be fought.

U.S. Posture

The U.S. has publicly announced a change in American strategy consisting of two parts. The first is abandoning the focus on jihadists that began with al-Qaida’s attack on the U.S. in 2001. The second is reshaping and redefining forces to confront China and Russia. For a while, it had been assumed that there would no longer be peer-to-peer conflicts but rather extended combat against light infantry and covert forces such as was taking place in Afghanistan. After every international confrontation, including the Cold War, the absence of immediate peer threats leads strategists to assume that none will emerge, and that the future engagements will involve managing instability rather than defeating peers. This illusion is the reward of comfort to the victorious powers. Immediately after the fall of the Soviet Union, the belief was that the only issue facing the world was economic, and that military strategy was archaic. The events of 9/11 changed that, but the idea of national conflicts was still seen as farfetched.

The United States is now shifting its strategy to focus on peer-to-peer conflict. Peer-to-peer conflict is not about two equal powers fighting; it’s about two powers that field similar forces. So the war in Afghanistan was between a combined arms force and a totally different, light infantry force. As we saw in Vietnam, the latter can defeat a far more advanced force by understanding the political dimension more clearly than its opponent. Peer-to-peer conflict involves two forces conceiving of war in the same way. Germany invaded Poland and was by far the more powerful force, but Poland conceived of war the same way the Germans did. In this sense, they were peers.

The United States is a global power. Russia cannot wage war in the Atlantic or Pacific. China cannot project decisive power into Europe. The United States can do both. It is not nearly as geographically limited in its warfighting as the other two are. But were the United States to confront them within the areas where they can operate, the question then is the quality of forces, in terms of command and technology.

China’s national interest pivots on its ability to use sea lanes to sustain international trade. Its ability to project land power is limited by terrain; to its south are hills, jungles and the Himalayas, and to its north is Siberia. It could attack westward through Kazakhstan, but the logistical challenges are enormous and the benefits dubious. For China, then, the fundamental problem is naval, deriving from the threat that the U.S. could use its forces to blockade and cripple China.

Russia’s strategic interest rests in regaining the buffer zone from Latvia to Romania. The loss of these states in 1991 eroded the main defense line of an attack from the west. Russia’s primary goal, therefore, is to recover these buffers. Of secondary but still significant importance is holding the North Caucasus south of the Russian agricultural heartland. The threat to this region is insurgency in areas like Chechnya and Dagestan, or an American move from the South Caucasus.

Neither a U.S. naval blockade of China nor an attack on Russia proper from the west are likely scenarios. But national strategy must take into account implausible but catastrophic scenarios, because common sense can evaporate rapidly. Thus the Russians must maintain sustained pressure primarily to the west but also to the south. China must press eastward, in the South and East China seas, to demonstrate the costs a blockade would impose.

The focus for each is not necessarily action but creating the possibility of action and thereby shaping the political relationship. The danger is that the gesture will trigger what had been seen as an unreasonable response. The problem for the United States is that it cannot be sure of Russia’s or China’s reading of American intentions, and therefore, it must be prepared to counter both. War is rarely about hunger for conquest; it is about the fear of being conquered. For Russia, it is fear that the U.S. will try to achieve what Napoleon and Hitler failed to achieve, given the loss of its buffers. For China, it is a fear of strangulation by American naval forces. For the United States, it is fear that Russia will return with force to Central Europe, or that China will surge into the Western Pacific. All such fears are preposterous until they mount to such a point that doing nothing appears imprudent.

A New Class of Weapons

World War II was first waged between German armor and Soviet infantry, and then it became a war of armor against armor. In the Pacific, the decisive war was not of battleships against battleships, but of aircraft against naval vessels and, toward the end, airpower. Much of the battles on islands like Saipan and Guadalcanal were intended by both sides to secure them for air bases. The Cold War, had it turned hot, was conceived of as an upgraded World War II, of armor and air power against armor and air power.

From World War II until the end of the Cold War, peer-to-peer conflict focused on three classes of weapons: armored vehicles, aircraft carriers and manned bombers. After 1967 and the introduction of precision-guided weapons, the survivability of these weapons declined, and massive resources had to be allocated to allow them to survive. Armor had to be constantly upgraded to defeat far cheaper projectiles that were unlikely to miss. Aircraft carriers had to be surrounded by carrier battle groups consisting of anti-air cruisers, anti-submarine destroyers and attack submarines, all integrated into complex computer systems that could counter attacks by precision-guided weapons. Manned bombers flying into enemy airspace could be confronted by sophisticated surface-to-air missiles. The solution was to try to build bombers invisible to enemy radar. The cost of defending these systems that emerged in World War II surged as the cost of destroying them began to decline.

Counters to precision-guided weapons inevitably emerged, and we have reached the threshold of a new class of weapons: hypersonic missiles. These munitions, which can travel at five to 10 times the speed of sound, maneuver in flight and carry sufficient explosives, including sub munitions (smaller projectiles designed to hit multiple targets), make the survival of tanks, surface vessels and manned bombers increasingly problematic. Their speed, maneuverability and defenses against detection decrease the probability that all incoming hypersonic missiles can be destroyed, while they retain the precision of previous generations of weapons.
 
(click to enlarge)

Russia, China and the U.S. are all working on these weapons. Sometimes they exaggerate their limited capabilities; sometimes they minimize their substantial capabilities. But all have them and are developing better ones if they can. And this changes war from the way it was conceived in World War II and the Cold War. A new system of weapons is beginning to emerge.

The key to the development of hypersonics is range. The shorter their range, the closer the attacker must come. The longer the range, the more uncertainty there is over its location and the more likely it is to survive and be fired, maneuvering in excess of the ability of defending system. So in the South China Sea, it will not be carriers facing carriers. They will be neutralized by hypersonic missiles. Nor will it be armored brigades engaging. The tanks will be neutralized long before they engage. The goal will be to locate and destroy an enemy’s missiles before they are launched and before they can approach their target.

The key will be the ability to locate and track hypersonic missiles and then destroy them. The solution to this is systems in space. The Chinese will not engage the U.S. Navy with its carriers. It will try to destroy them with well camouflaged missiles from land bases. To do this, they must locate the target, which is mobile. Its own platforms being vulnerable, they will rely on space-based reconnaissance. The United States’ primary mission therefore will be to destroy Chinese satellites, find the location of Chinese launchers and launch saturated attacks on them, likely from space.

Modern war, like all war, depends on intelligence and targeting information. Precision-guided munitions move older platforms toward obsolescence, and hypersonics closes the door. The battle must be at a longer range than most missiles have now, and will be dependent on a space-based system for targeting. This means that victory in war will depend on command of space.
Note that the U.S. has now established the U.S. Space Force, which integrated the space fighting capabilities of other services into one. This represents the realization that dealing with peer powers now depends on the command of space. Therefore, the United States’ strategic turn away from jihadists toward Russia and China also constitutes a shift away from the primacy of older platforms. A new strategy and the recognition of the importance of space mean that the decisive battle will not be fought on Earth’s surface.   




Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 52370
    • View Profile
Walter Russell MeadL Euros try to have it both ways
« Reply #1006 on: February 18, 2020, 02:51:06 PM »
Europeans Try to Have It Both Ways
They expect American protection but aren’t prepared to defend their own countries.

By Walter Russell Mead
Feb. 17, 2020 4:20 pm ET

How solid is the West? At last weekend’s Munich Security Conference, the world’s largest gathering of security policy makers and officials, the theme was “Westlessness,” referring to the sense of disorientation that many Europeans feel in this age of America First.

Since the 1940s, U.S. leadership in the service of a united and secure Europe has been the one unchanging feature in the Continental landscape. For generations, the U.S. committed to protect Europe from Russia, maintain bases in Germany to prevent it from threatening its neighbors, and promote European integration. Now Europeans don’t know where they stand, and a mixture of bafflement, anger, disappointment and fear fills the atmosphere at conferences like the one in Munich.

There’s little doubt that Trump administration policies, ranging from trade wars to toughness on Iran, have tested trans-Atlantic relations to the breaking point. But to understand the growing weakness of the Western alliance, Europeans need to spend less time deploring Donald Trump and more time looking in the mirror. A good place to begin is with a Pew poll released earlier this month on the state of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Superficially, the poll looks like good news. In 14 European countries plus Canada and the U.S., a median 53% of respondents said they had a favorable view of NATO, while only 27% saw the alliance unfavorably. Despite double-digit declines in NATO’s favorability among the French and the Germans, these numbers aren’t bad. Mr. Trump, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel are all less popular in their home countries than NATO is.

So far, so good—but that support is thin. When asked if their country should go to war with Russia if it attacked a NATO ally, 50% of respondents said no, and only 38% supported honoring their commitment to NATO allies.

Let those numbers sink in. Only 34% of Germans, 25% of Greeks and Italians, 36% of Czechs, 33% of Hungarians and 41% of the French believe their country should fulfill its treaty obligation if another European country is attacked. Only the U.S., Canada, the U.K., the Netherlands and Lithuania had a majority in favor of honoring the NATO commitment to mutual defense.

Europeans often contrast the “nationalism” of backward political cultures like Russia, China and the U.S. with their own supposedly enlightened attitude of cosmopolitan solidarity. Yet if these numbers are accurate, Europeans haven’t replaced nationalism with European solidarity. They have replaced nationalism with fantasy: the belief that one can have security and prosperity without a strong defense.

That vision leaves Europe vulnerable, and it is threatening to let the West unravel. European leaders believe they are trading parochial loyalties for higher and broader commitments, when in truth their countries lack the solidarity that makes international order possible. Those who dream that they can have security without the willingness to fight for it are slowly turning NATO into the paper tiger that its enemies hope it will become.

Meanwhile, Europeans still, mostly, trust America. Seventy-five percent of Italians believe the U.S. would rally to NATO’s defense if Russia attacks, as do 63% of Germans and 57% of French. Despite European ambivalence about fulfilling NATO obligations, the alliance is held together by their confidence that America—Mr. Trump’s America—will fulfill its obligations.

Europe’s problem isn’t Mr. Trump. It isn’t nationalism. It isn’t that others aren’t wise or enlightened enough to share Europe’s ideals. It is that too few Europeans stand ready to defend the ideals they claim to embrace. That young Germans no longer dream of fighting and dying to conquer Poland is an excellent thing, but it is a bad and even a dangerous thing that so few young Germans think Europe is important enough to defend and, if necessary, to risk their lives for.

This problem won’t be easy to solve. For many Europeans, the essential purpose of European integration was to end war. For centuries, the restless nationalisms of European peoples plunged the Continent into one wretched war after another. The European Union was meant to bury those national antagonisms and end the cycle of war. To love Europe was to enter a posthistorical age of perpetual peace. For voters who grew up in the European cocoon, the military defense of European ideas sounds like a contradiction in terms. How can you build peace by making war?

In contrast, Americans continue to believe that Europe is worth defending. We must hope that over the next few years more Europeans will come around to that position; otherwise, the prospects for “Westlessness” will only grow.


Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 52370
    • View Profile

DougMacG

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 13177
    • View Profile


Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 52370
    • View Profile
GPF: George Friedman: Back to the Future, China and the US
« Reply #1011 on: May 18, 2020, 11:05:06 AM »
May 18, 2020
Back to the Future: China and the US
By: George Friedman

The COVID-19 disease, which seems likely to be with us for a long time, has done its part to define history. But it has not suspended history. Though there is much we still don’t know about the disease, we do know that all nations have been affected by it. The death toll is significant but does not threaten to annihilate populations as other diseases have. It has, however, inflicted damage on economies that will take years to repair. Either science will defeat it or the world will adjust to living with it.

But that branch in the logic will not come for a while.

Since nations continue to exist, the distrust between them remains – in many cases, it has intensified. As things evolve, the relationships between nations will return to their traditional role. As there is little more to be said for now about the virus that has not been said already, we need to return to the consideration of geopolitics, which like diseases can cause massive casualties. Were this the bubonic plague, we would be returning to the relationship between Rome and Florence. Today we will return to the relationship between the U.S. and China.

When we last visited these two nations, the United States had placed tariffs on some Chinese exports to the U.S., hurting and angering China and leaving it no effective counter. The Chinese built their economy the same way the United States had between 1890 and 1929: by exporting cheap manufactured goods and agricultural products. The international system needs cheap products, and the exporter must export to increase domestic prosperity and create a self-sustaining society. The advantage of an exporter is it makes money. The disadvantage is it depends on the willingness and ability of its customers to buy. So when, for example, the post-World War I depressions took hold of Europe, Europe’s ability to buy U.S. products became a major cause of the Great Depression.

China suffered a blow in 2008, when the global recession following the subprime loan crisis cut into China’s exports dramatically. More recently, tariffs imposed by the U.S. threatened to create a massive imbalance in the Chinese economy.

Chinese industry vastly outgrew domestic Chinese demand, producing more than Chinese consumers could buy. The U.S. move was designed to destabilize China, which had been emerging as a major power suffering a major vulnerability. The U.S. took advantage of it.

At roughly the same time, it was revealed that the Chinese were operating concentration camps of sorts for Uighurs, Turkic Muslim minority populations in far western Xinjiang province, as demonstrations and riots broke out in Hong Kong. Try as it might, China’s excellent propaganda had a harder time convincing the world that it was passing the U.S. as a great power. China’s gross domestic product was about $14 trillion and the United States' was just under $22 trillion, and China has many more people. The U.S. military is able to operate globally. The Chinese are trying to find a lever in the South China Sea.

Propaganda aside, China was to the U.S. what the U.S. was to Britain in 1900. Looked at from that point of view, the U.S. could be ambitious but had to be cautious. Britain could be contemptuous at its own risk.

China is not in any way the equal of the U.S., either economically or militarily. Propaganda is not trivial but it can not be decisive. Or more precisely, it could not be decisive yet. Britain in 1900 was celebrating its very real glory. By the 1920s, it was defaulting on its vast debt to the United States, in the midst of economic agony, struggling to hold its position in Europe, fearing reasonably that its empire was in danger.

There are of course many differences between the three countries, but the core dynamic had similarities. One of these similarities is that British investment in the United States was a centerpiece of both nations’ economic strategies. British capital was critical to U.S. industrialization and to ranches in the West. Similarly, U.S. investment in China was critical to China’s industrial development, as was the import of Chinese goods. The United States and China were linked economically as were the U.S. and Britain. And we should remember that when Britain fought in World War II to save its empire, it was the United States that compelled the British to follow a military strategy that made its loss of empire inevitable. Winston Churchill accused Franklin Roosevelt of trying to destroy the British Empire. Roosevelt was shocked and offended by the charge.

China remains inferior to the U.S. in all measures, but it has risen to the point where the U.S. can no longer accept China’s military ambitions nor finance the Chinese economy. China wants badly to resume the economic relationship it had with the United States, while having the U.S. accept its need to dominate first the South and East China seas and then the Pacific, while also projecting economic power and later military power globally. The United States is dominant in North America. It fought for control of the Pacific and the Atlantic in World War II. From China’s point of view, the geography of the Western Pacific and the ability of the U.S. to blockade China is an existential threat.

China has little appetite for risk. Starting a war carries with it the chance of losing. Nor can China trust the U.S. So it is laying the groundwork for an opportunity or an aggressive decision by the United States. Facing historically hostile enemies like Japan and South Korea and, more recently, Taiwan and Indonesia, the Chinese lack a meaningful alliance structure. North Korea is a useful but dangerous tool with which to goad the United States. Other than that, it has a strategy of making random investments around the world to demonstrate its growing power. As propaganda, it works. The use of investments in, say, Serbia is less clear strategically.

China therefore has three core strategic problems. Challenging the U.S. for command of the sea is a dangerous game. While countries such as Russia might fear the U.S. as much as China does, geography prevents cooperation, so China lacks a meaningful alliance structure. Finally, China’s main adversary, the U.S., is also indispensable for the Chinese economy.

China’s solution to this dilemma, bravado aside, is twofold. The first is to hope that the U.S. gets involved in a war like World War I, as Britain did. The other is to confront the U.S. in another domain: space. Success in the latter might create an opportunity for the former. Thus for China, space and missiles provide a military option but don’t solve the economic problem.
The U.S. is obviously aware of the military challenge. It has announced a massive withdrawal of forces from the Middle East to devote more time and attention to Russia and China. Patriot missiles have been removed from Saudi Arabia and bases in Iraq have closed. At the same time, the U.S. has withdrawn B-52s from Guam, indicating it is focusing on a space-based missile option against China. But in the end, both nations are in deterrence mode. Neither can afford losing a war against the other.
The major U.S. weapon against China is economic. Here the virus opens opportunities. The U.S. is dependent on China for vast amounts of products, a supply chain that gave the U.S. the benefit of low-cost manufacturing, and the Chinese an industrial base. The Chinese move is to expel and block the U.S. supply chain, but Beijing can’t do it while also maintaining social stability. And the U.S. has options to replace the Chinese supply chain.

The solution on both sides is to hurl insults. The Americans hint that the Chinese are responsible for the coronavirus. The Chinese have a global effort to show that the virus has crippled the United States permanently and that China is now the leading power. Propaganda wars may be fun to watch, and hurling insults should perhaps be an Olympic sport, but power is not a matter of perception, at least not when bombs start landing and bankruptcies mount. The U.S. will continue to hurl insults while undermining the Chinese by shifting the supply chain. China will continue seeking a military advantage.

China and the U.S. have been hammered by the virus. The hopes, imperatives and constraints of both countries relative to each other have been bent but not broken by the epidemic. As it was before so it will be in the future.   




Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 52370
    • View Profile
The Role of Attrition in War
« Reply #1012 on: May 26, 2020, 10:10:35 AM »
Wars Are Not Won by Military Genius or Decisive Battles
We place the battle on a high pedestal, but attrition has a far greater impact on the war.
AeonCathal J Nolan



War is the most complex, physically and morally demanding enterprise we undertake. No great art or music, no cathedral or temple or mosque, no intercontinental transport net or particle collider or space programme, no research for a cure for a mass-killing disease receives a fraction of the resources and effort we devote to making war. Or to recovery from war and preparations for future wars invested over years, even decades, of tentative peace. War is thus far more than a strung-together tale of key battles. Yet, traditional military history presented battles as fulcrum moments where empires rose or fell in a day, and most people still think that wars are won that way, in an hour or an afternoon of blood and bone. Or perhaps two or three. We must understand the deeper game, not look only to the scoring. That is hard to do because battles are so seductive.

War evokes our fascination with spectacle, and there is no greater stage or more dramatic players than on a battlefield. We are drawn to battles by a lust of the eye, thrilled by a blast from a brass horn as Roman legionaries advance in glinting armour or when a king’s wave releases mounted knights in a heavy cavalry charge. Grand battles are open theatre with a cast of many tens of thousands: samurai under signal kites, mahouts mounted on elephants, a Zulu impi rushing over lush grass toward a redcoat firing line. Battles open with armies dressed in red, blue or white, flags fluttering, fife and drums beating the advance. Or with the billowing canvas of a line of fighting sail, white pufferies erupting in broadside volleys. Or a wedge of tanks hard-charging over the Russian steppe. What comes next is harder to comprehend.

The idea of the ‘decisive battle’ as the hinge of war, and wars as the gates of history, speaks to our naive desire to view modern war in heroic terms. Popular histories are written still in a drums-and-trumpets style, with vivid depictions of combat divorced from harder logistics, daily suffering, and a critical look at the societies and cultures that produced mass armies and sent them off to fight in faraway fields for causes about which the average soldier knew nothing.

Visual media especially play on what the public wants to see: raw courage and red days, the thrill of vicarious violence and spectacle. This is the world of war as callow entertainment, of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds (2009) or Brad Pitt in Fury (2014). It’s not the world of real Nazis or real war.

Battles also entice generals and statesmen with the idea that a hard red day can be decisive, and allow us to avoid attrition, which we all despise as morally vulgar and without redemptive heroism. We fear to find only indecision and tragedy without uplift or morality in trench mud, or roll calls of dead accumulating over years of effort and endurance. Instead, we raise battles to summits of heroism and generals to levels of genius that history cannot support. Though some historians might try, celebrating even failed campaigns as glorious. Prussia is wrecked, yet Frederick is the greatest of Germans. France is beaten and an age is named for Louis XIV, another for Napoleon. Europe lies in ruin, but German generals displayed genius with Panzers.

Whether or not we agree that some wars were necessary and just, we should look straight at the grim reality that victory was most often achieved in the biggest and most important wars by attrition and mass slaughter – not by soldierly heroics or the genius of command. Winning at war is harder than that. Cannae, Tours, Leuthen, Austerlitz, Tannenberg, Kharkov – all recall sharp images in a word. Yet winning such lopsided battles did not ensure victory in war. Hannibal won at Cannae, Napoleon at Austerlitz, Hitler at Sedan and Kiev. All lost in the end, catastrophically.

There is heroism in battle but there are no geniuses in war. War is too complex for genius to control. To say otherwise is no more than armchair idolatry, divorced from real explanation of victory and defeat, both of which come from long-term preparation for war and waging war with deep national resources, bureaucracy and endurance. Only then can courage and sound generalship meet with chance in battle and prevail, joining weight of materiel to strength of will to endure terrible losses yet win long wars. Claims to genius distance our understanding from war’s immense complexity and contingency, which are its greater truths.

Modern wars are won by grinding, not by genius. Strategic depth and resolve is always more important than any commander. We saw such depth and resilience in Tsarist Russia in 1812, in France and Britain in the First World War, in the Soviet Union and the United States during the Second World War, but not in Carthage or overstretched Nazi Germany or overreaching Imperial Japan. The ability to absorb initial defeats and fight on surpassed any decision made or battle fought by Hannibal or Scipio, Lee or Grant, Manstein or Montgomery. Yes, even Napoleon was elevated as the model of battle genius by Clausewitz and in military theory ever since, despite his losing by attrition in Spain, and in the calamity of the Grand Armée’s 1812 campaign in Russia. Waterloo was not the moment of his decisive defeat, which came a year earlier. It was his anticlimax.

Losers of most major wars in modern history lost because they overestimated operational dexterity and failed to overcome the enemy’s strategic depth and capacity for endurance. Winners absorbed defeat after defeat yet kept fighting, overcoming initial surprise, terrible setbacks and the dash and daring of command ‘genius’. Celebration of genius generals encourages the delusion that modern wars will be short and won quickly, when they are most often long wars of attrition. Most people believe attrition is immoral. Yet it’s how most major wars are won, aggressors defeated, the world remade time and again. We might better accept attrition at the start, explain that to those we send to fight, and only choose to fight the wars worth that awful price. Instead, we grow restless with attrition and complain that it’s tragic and wasteful, even though it was how the Union Army defeated slavery in America, and Allied and Soviet armies defeated Nazism.

With humility and full moral awareness of its terrible costs, if we decide that a war is worth fighting, we should praise attrition more and battle less. There is as much room for courage and character in a war of attrition as in a battle. There was character aplenty and courage on all sides at Verdun and Iwo Jima, in the Hürtgen Forest, in Korea. Character counts in combat. Sacrifice by soldiers at Shiloh or the Marne or Kharkov or Juno Beach or the Ia Drang or Korengal Valley were not mean, small or morally useless acts. Victory or defeat by attrition, by high explosive and machine gun over time, does not annihilate all moral and human meaning.

Cathal J Nolan teaches military history at Boston University. He is the author of The Allure of Battle: A History of How Wars Have Been Won and Lost (2017).


Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 52370
    • View Profile
GPF: George Friedman: Why there won't be a war with China
« Reply #1013 on: May 29, 2020, 10:03:48 PM »
   
    Friedman’s Thoughts In and Around Geopolitics: Why There Won’t Be a War With China
By: George Friedman

Jacek Bartosiak, a close friend and collaborator, wrote a piece earlier in the week that concluded with a discussion of U.S.-China relations. He and I don’t so much disagree on this as arrive from different perspectives, one Polish and the other American. In that sense, I’m not responding to him; I’m creating a parallel universe.

At the end of the article, Jacek calls for American collaboration with China. It reminds me of calls for detente with the Soviet Union. The argument for detente was reasonable, had the foundation for it not been so tenuous. It treated the Soviet Union as a peer power. It also assumed that there was a danger of war. In retrospect, neither claim was true.

The United States feared a Soviet invasion of Europe. Washington counted the number of divisions Moscow could field, the number of tanks it had and the technology it proudly left available for viewing. All of these were real. It presented a glamorous force. But the Soviets’ weakness was in far less glamorous form. Their ability to supply advancing forces with needed petroleum was severely limited. The command structure, particularly at the company level and lower, was chaotic. They lacked a noncommissioned officer cadre that all modern armies have as the backbone of their force. There were officers and draftees cycling through the system. A lack of sergeants or the ability to fuel tanks during an attack excited intelligence officers far less than the appearance of a new armored personnel carrier. But the men in the APC needed noncoms to lead them and fuel flowing as they attacked.

The United States overestimated the Soviets for a number of reasons. First, a key principle of war is to never underestimate the enemy. It is a principle that should be used prudently. Second, the Americans underestimated their own capabilities. They saw their weakness without understanding that war is a confrontation less of strength and more of comparative weakness. They were blind to the Soviet weakness and were frightened by their own.

But the Americans had another problem: Pearl Harbor. It was not the attack itself but the fact that the United States had vastly underestimated the Japanese. The generation that emerged from World War II was raised in the doctrine of “never again.” The U.S. would never again underestimate an enemy. The U.S. was afraid of a nuclear confrontation with the Soviets during the Cuban missile crisis. Yet, the Soviets had no strategic air force, even as the U.S. had the B-52 fleet. The United States had surrounded the Soviet Union with bases housing shorter-range missiles. The Soviet intermediate missiles could not reach the U.S. from Russia, and besides there were no nearby bases to launch them from. The Soviets tried to build nuclear bases in Cuba so they could hit the U.S. while their intercontinental ballistic missiles were deployed. The world was on the verge of nuclear war, but only if the U.S. decided to start one.

The U.S. took away the wrong lesson from Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor was not a Japanese victory but a catastrophic defeat. The political purpose of the attack was to destroy the American fleet at Pearl Harbor and force the United States into a truce that allowed Japan to hold the Western Pacific. The attack succeeded but the political goal was lost. Pearl Harbor led to the devastation and occupation of Japan. This was inevitable. Japan was not an American peer in an economic sense. It could not possibly produce the weapons that were needed to engage the U.S. The Japanese failed to learn the first rule of war: You can lose.

It was because of this that the Soviets never attacked Europe or the United States, and that the United States never attacked the Soviet Union. In the end, the Soviet Union collapsed because of its own inadequacies. The Soviets spent a fortune on weapons they could not afford or use.

This comports with the Russian operating principle of Maskirovka – the masquerade that makes small men look large and weak countries look strong. It worked so well that the U.S. spent the 1980s creating weapons it could afford and for which it had troops who could operate them. It’s the competition that broke the Russians.

And now we come to China. China has always been there, even if some couldn’t see it. It is a vast universe unto itself. To the west are endless grasslands that no mechanized army can cross. In the southwest are the Himalayas, and to the south are hills and jungles, both of which are barriers to war. To the north is Siberia, to the east the sea. China is isolated by geography. It may on occasion move a bit south or north, but it has not since the 15th century moved into the sea. Its last naval engagement was fought in 1895, and its fleet was destroyed by the Japanese. Since then, no Chinese admiral has had to refuel his ships a thousand miles from home, while under fire.

I am making two points. The first is that, as with the Russians, the core of a military force is not the technology but the soldiers who man the guns and the command structure that manages them. Great militaries come from a great tradition. Even as technologies evolve, the principles of leadership and of war-making are central. The British have a long tradition, as do the Americans. It is a tradition of war handed down to generations who have not yet fought one. The Chinese memory of war is of their civil war. The American is of glorious victories and losses as well. Historically, China’s great battles have been waged in China against the Chinese (or the Mongols). This was dictated by geography. Power projection has always been too difficult and risky.

China is an isolated nation, most of whose citizens live in enormous poverty west of the strip along the ocean. Mao called on these peasants to rise and fight Chiang Kai Shek. They died by the millions but won against their countrymen. It is a noble tradition of war, but not one that suits a nation whose only potential battlefield is the sea, or command of the sea from air and space. That culture of war is lacking.

It must also be remembered that before the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. gross domestic product was $22 trillion. China’s was $14 trillion, its GDP being reported always two weeks after the new year. China has 1.5 billion people enjoying the wealth, and the U.S. only 330 million. The point is that the economy, however honest or inflated the numbers are, is a fraction of that of the United States.

China is a country where there is great poverty, and to bring it back to Jacek’s point, pioneering a space force is a staggering effort even for an economy twice China’s size. Recall, too, that China can build its wealth only by exporting goods. The United States is its largest customer, while the U.S. exports little to China. Even now the U.S. is looking for other suppliers. Such a shift would be a catastrophe to China. There is a rule in business: Never create a conflict with your best customer when he can take his business elsewhere. China must export to sustain itself. The Chinese have a merchant tradition that does not align with a war with the United States.

I agree that the next war will be in space, but no one wants to undertake another Pearl Harbor. Everyone knows how Pearl Harbor ended. Assuming that a brilliant strike would blind the U.S., the Chinese can look at American history to know that that would not be the end of the war. The attack at Pearl Harbor was followed by a relentless and brutal crushing of Japan. War has many dimensions, and a skilled and motivated enemy can overcome defeats that would crush others.

Never wound your enemy. Kill him or leave him alone. Assuming that China is capable of denying outer space to the U.S., which I strongly doubt, the Chinese are too smart to believe that would be the end of the game. We Americans oddly believe we cannot fight a long and muddy war. The Chinese saw the U.S. crush Japan, saw it absorb over a million casualties against a relentless American enemy, and saw the U.S. fight for seven years in Vietnam and for 18 years in the Middle East. Win or lose, wise or not, the United States embraces war as it did in the Revolutionary or Civil wars. Americans see themselves as a pacific people. History tells a somewhat different tale. The Chinese have seen America at war and the price its foes have paid.

Think of the Chinese space capability as we failed to think of the Soviets’ military. China is a master of deception. It does everything it can to make itself appear an equal of the United States. But in fact, there will be no war between the two. The United States has no interest in controlling China, and China cannot take the Japanese risk and lose. It knows that the biggest risk in war is losing, and it knows that no matter how well played the first inning is, the risk of the outcome is too great.

For any country dealing with America, the ultimate risk is a successful Pearl Harbor. For China, it’s having your best customer do his shopping elsewhere. The danger to China is that the U.S. will take being blinded as a preface to a nuclear attack, and will therefore preempt it. A massive nuclear exchange would certainly be a problem for both. But under any circumstance, even the hint of a conflict would be a massive economic blow to China.   




Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 52370
    • View Profile
Re: US Foreign Policy & Geopolitics
« Reply #1014 on: June 03, 2020, 08:43:05 AM »
   
    Mother Nature as a Geopolitical Force
By: Alex Berezow

History is biased, and not just because the victors tend to write it. The study of history is largely the study of humankind – specifically, the geopolitical events that have shaped human actions (and vice versa) over millennia. It’s true that to learn from the past, we must study ourselves. But what if we’re missing a large part of the story? What if Mother Nature plays just as large a role in shaping the course of human events as mankind? After all, any force that compels specific actions by nation-states is necessarily geopolitical.

It has long been understood that geography imposes substantial imperatives and constraints on nations. Russia, for example, will always be obsessed with securing warm water ports and access to the Mediterranean via the Black Sea because accidents of geography placed the country adjacent to potential adversaries on one side and the Arctic Ocean on another, making it essentially landlocked.

But geography is just one piece of the puzzle, one that fails to account for the vagaries of natural disaster. To understand just how potent a force Mother Nature can be in geopolitics, we must expand our understanding beyond basic geography to include transitory disasters. But this raises questions that are difficult to answer. How can a geopolitical model such as ours, designed to forecast the predictable behavior of nation-states, incorporate unpredictable forces? Is there some threshold that a natural event must cross in order to be considered geopolitically relevant? Is there a way to determine if a natural event plays a determinative role in shaping events or simply accelerates a preexisting trend? Are certain nation-states, cities or societies particularly vulnerable to natural disaster?

Throughout history, Mother Nature has radically altered the course of events, far beyond simply causing structural and economic damage and personal hardship. Indeed, natural forces have helped topple governments and destroy empires. For example, in 1755, Lisbon was slammed by an enormous earthquake and tsunami and then engulfed in an ensuing fire.

According to science writer Robin Andrews, the country immediately lost roughly one-third to one-half of its gross domestic product, and the European balance of power shifted decisively away from Portugal to Britain and France. But was this event truly determinative? Perhaps not. Britain and France were already powerful, and Portugal’s empire was sunsetting.

Adding a layer of complexity, Mother Nature doesn’t always have to act locally to change geopolitics. Rather, its impact can have effects on locations far from the natural event’s origin. In 1815, Mount Tambora in Indonesia erupted, spewing so much ash into the atmosphere that it has been blamed for the bizarre climate of 1816, which became known as “the year without a summer.” Crops failed all across the Northern Hemisphere, and famine and disease were rampant. It is widely believed that the unusually gloomy year helped inspire, at least in part, the invention of the bicycle and Mary Shelley’s novel “Frankenstein,” the former being a new form of transportation and the latter leaving a lasting imprint on our culture. Once again, Mother Nature’s impact is evident but not fully clear. Surely, somebody somewhere would have invented a bicycle at some point. And “Frankenstein” was a story about the immoral and irresponsible use of technology, a story that could just as easily be written today.

Fast forward nearly 200 years, and another cataclysmic event in the Asian Pacific served as a catalyst for major geopolitical events. In 2011, an underwater earthquake triggered a massive tsunami, inundating Japan and causing a meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility. On the other side of the planet, Germany responded by phasing out its nuclear power plants, which in turn increased that nation’s reliance on Russian natural gas. About 22 percent of Germany’s energy needs are met by natural gas, and about 50 to 75 percent of it comes from Russia. This, in turn, has deepened divisions within the European Union, particularly angering some members of the Central and Eastern bloc that believe reliance on Russian natural gas poses a national security threat. But to what extent can we really blame Mother Nature for the EU’s problems? Europeans are quite capable of creating controversy all by themselves.

Geological catastrophes aren’t the only trick Mother Nature can use to influence geopolitics. Biology provides fertile ground for meddling in international affairs. In his book “Twelve Diseases That Changed Our World,” professor Irwin Sherman explains how genetic and infectious diseases radically altered the course of history. Consider Queen Victoria, a carrier of hemophilia, a disease that causes uncontrollable bleeding due to inadequate clotting. The disease can be so severe that a tiny cut or bruise becomes a life-threatening wound. While she did not suffer from the disease herself, she passed on a bad gene to her children and grandchildren. Victoria’s granddaughter, Alexandra, married into the Romanovs, becoming the wife of Czar Nicholas II and the empress of Russia. Her son, Alexis, suffered from hemophilia. Sherman argues that, after Nicholas II was forced to abdicate, Alexis’ illness prevented him from becoming a constitutional monarch. The resulting chaos opened the door to the Bolshevik Revolution. Obviously, Queen Victoria’s genetics didn’t cause Bolshevism, but perhaps they provided the opportunity for the Bolsheviks to seize power.

The diseases that have had the greatest impact on history, of course, were infectious rather than genetic. Sherman goes on to describe how potato blight, cholera, smallpox and myriad other diseases triggered chains of events whose consequences are still apparent today. For example, the fungal pathogen that destroyed potatoes and caused starvation in Ireland drove a massive immigration of Irishmen to America, forever changing its political landscape. The devastation of Native Americans by smallpox and other diseases facilitated the exploits of the Spanish conquistadors and aided colonization by the British. Some infectious diseases came with a silver lining. Though it is responsible for the deaths of untold millions of people, the death wrought by cholera helped inspire the establishment of global public health institutions, which have played a leading role in preventing or even eradicating infectious disease. Here, Mother Nature arguably has played a much larger determinative role.

What can we learn by applying this new way of thinking to the current coronavirus pandemic? Like a lightning bolt, Mother Nature is powerful and unpredictable. Yes, we know lightning occurs during storms, but we can’t predict when and where it will strike. Likewise, microbiologists and epidemiologists have long worried about an infectious disease pandemic, but few if any thought it would be a coronavirus in the year 2020. A report from the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy makes that clear:

“When severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) – the virus that causes COVID-19 – first emerged in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, even the most experienced international public health experts did not anticipate that it would rapidly spread to create the worst global public health crisis in over 100 years. By January 2020, a few public health officials began sounding the alarm, but it wasn’t until March 11, 2020, that the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic.”

By then, we now know, it was too late. The virus was everywhere. In the flash of an eye, Mother Nature commandeered the global agenda, ruthlessly and inconsiderately upsetting the lives of billions, indiscriminately wrecking democracies and dictatorships alike. She reminded us that she is still active and even mercurial in geopolitics. Our airplanes have conquered the skies, but Iceland’s volcanoes can keep them on the ground. Our doctors can save lives, but a new virus can end them. In retrospect, it is often clear to discern a chain of causal events linking nature to major geopolitical events – such as an undersea earthquake leading to friction in the EU. But such revelations only occur in hindsight. That’s why forecasting Mother Nature has been left to soothsayers and the local weathermen. Perhaps it’s time for geopolitical analysts to give it a try.   




Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 52370
    • View Profile

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 52370
    • View Profile
NS Advisor Robert O'Brien: Why the US is moving troops out of Germany
« Reply #1016 on: June 22, 2020, 09:10:48 AM »
Why the U.S. Is Moving Troops Out of Germany
Forces are needed in the Indo-Pacific. And Berlin should contribute more to European security.
By Robert C. O’Brien
June 21, 2020 12:39 pm ET

To counter China and Russia, two great-power competitors, U.S. forces must be deployed abroad in a more forward and expeditionary manner than they have been in recent years. This is the main reason the U.S. will reduce its permanently stationed force in Germany from 34,500 troops to 25,000.

President Trump confirmed the plans on June 15, but details remain under development and no formal public announcement has been made. The secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are working diligently to provide the president with options to carry out this plan.


The Cold War practice of garrisoning large numbers of troops with their families on massive bases in places like Germany is now, in part, obsolete. Modern warfare is increasingly expeditionary and requires platforms with extended range, flexibility and endurance. While air bases and logistics hubs remain important, the Cold War-style garrisoning of troops makes less military and fiscal sense than it did in the 1970s.

Several thousand troops currently assigned to Germany may be reassigned to other countries in Europe. Thousands may expect to redeploy to the Indo-Pacific, where the U.S. maintains a military presence in Guam, Hawaii, Alaska and Japan, as well as deployments in locations like Australia. In that theater, Americans and allies face the most significant geopolitical challenge since the end of the Cold War. And the remainder will return to bases in the U.S.

After these redeployments, America will still maintain 25,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in Germany. The U.S. relationship with Germany will remain strong, as will American commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It is time, however, for all European nations to contribute their fair share in defending their homelands. Germany has the world’s fourth-largest economy yet spends only 1.4% of gross domestic product on its own defense—despite NATO member countries’ longstanding commitment to a 2% target. American taxpayers contribute 3.4% of GDP toward defense.

Since Mr. Trump took office, NATO allies have increased defense spending substantially, by $130 billion through 2020. Burden-sharing has reinvigorated the NATO alliance, bolstering its mission of defending Europe and North America from external threats while also playing a constructive role in hot spots such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

Berlin still has time to step up and show leadership. The Russian-German Nord Stream 2 pipeline isn’t complete; a German decision to stop the project would strengthen Europe’s energy security. Berlin hasn’t yet selected its 5G telecommunications provider. A trusted European company, such as Nokia or Ericsson, would be safer for this role than China’s Huawei. And Germany can accelerate its plan to harden its defenses, which would more than offset U.S. troop redeployment.

Under Mr. Trump’s leadership, America continues to lead the free world. The U.S. military’s global posture demonstrates this commitment and provides the maximum security for the American people.

Mr. O’Brien is White House national security adviser.

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 52370
    • View Profile

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 52370
    • View Profile

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 52370
    • View Profile

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 52370
    • View Profile
GPF: George Friedman: Britain's aircraft carriers
« Reply #1020 on: July 22, 2020, 05:04:41 AM »
July 22, 2020   View On Website
Open as PDF



    The Queen Elizabeth and the Prince of Wales
By: George Friedman

The British recently finished building two new aircraft carriers, the Queen Elizabeth and the Prince of Wales. Last week, Britain announced that one of the carriers would be based in the Pacific. Obviously, the timing of the announcement had to do with the Chinese actions in Hong Kong. Hong Kong had been a British possession, which under a treaty with China would eventually revert to full Chinese control. China’s repression of Hong Kong is seen as violating guarantees China made concerning the preservation of rights in Hong Kong during the transition, and therefore Britain views that repression as a violation of China’s commitments to Britain. Thus, the decision to base a carrier in the Pacific.

The carriers are nearing the end of their testing, but as the Chinese know as well, building a vessel is a far cry from having an operational aircraft carrier. The carrier must be supplied with aircraft and the crews trained in operations. Supplying a carrier is enormously difficult, as it consumes vast amounts of material during operations. A logistic vessel, carrying huge amounts of everything from fuel to ammunition, must accompany it, and crews must be trained in the fine art of resupply at sea, and potentially while in combat. The new carriers are supposed to be equipped with F-35s, and that means training on that aircraft. Carriers do not sail alone. They are accompanied by vessels equipped with air defense capabilities and with ships to protect against submarines. Operational doctrine must be developed, and staff trained. Having built an aircraft carrier is very different from having an operational carrier battle group, and perhaps the most important part is not the hardware, but a trained captain and crew. China has also built two carriers, and the ships can sail. How close they are to having a combat-capable carrier battle group is as questionable as how close the British are.

The deployment of an aircraft carrier is occasionally a political and not a military matter. The British understanding of the future of Hong Kong has been shredded by China. Britain has both an interest in Hong Kong and an interest in being regarded as a force to be reckoned with. As has been the case for centuries, the act of deploying a warship during a significant dispute is meant to be a signal to the other side that, while no military action is intended, the intention can shift depending on circumstances. More important, it is a signal that disregarding Britain carries with it risks.

In Britain’s case, the decision to build carriers and to base one in the Pacific involves more than Hong Kong or China. The British have, through Brexit, reverted to their historical norm of being part of Europe but distinct from the nations of the European Peninsula. The English Channel, culture and interests divide them.

Ending the relationship with the European Union returns Britain to its prior state, and it was the Royal Navy that guaranteed that prior state and defended British sovereignty against the dangers always incubating on the Continent. Britain is seeking to regain its identity as something other than simply European, and naval force symbolizes that Britain is returning to its foundations. Building aircraft carriers, although discussed for years before Brexit, turned into an adjunct of it. Britain has not only left Europe but returned to itself, a nation with a Royal Navy.

Britain in 2020 is not likely to stand alone against its enemies. It has always sought to meld its naval power with alliances of convenience, and the current circumstances make that essential. It can symbolically threaten China for its actions, but in truth it cannot wage war, nor does it want to. Brexit was part of a process of Britain redefining itself as both a significant power and a dangerous one. The latter is more difficult than the former, and Britain cannot in this sense stand alone. The decision to send a carrier into the Pacific is certainly about Hong Kong, but it is also, as Winston Churchill had to do, drawing Britain closer to the United States.

The United States is in an adversarial position with China. There can be long discussions of relative power, but such discussions ultimately are concluded after the war is fought. Until then all matter of claims on the nature of power can be made. As Colin Powell put it, no war was ever lost because too much force had been deployed on the battlefield. The U.S. has a vast navy and, far more important, a long institutional memory of naval warfare, a memory China lacks. The U.S. also has a strategic advantage. China’s interest is in establishing control over its littoral waters. The U.S. interest is in not controlling the waters but merely denying control by China. The Chinese task is far more ambitious than mere sea lane denial. This is one of the reasons the adversarial relations have not become hostile. The U.S. merely wants to impose risk on China’s use of its waters. China wants to expel the U.S. from the region. The latter is a vastly more ambitious and risky undertaking.
 
(click to enlarge)

The U.S. operates through alliance systems. NATO has atrophied because the threat to Europe has abated. Another, informal alliance system has emerged. Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines (this one is uncertain at times), Indonesia, Australia, Singapore and increasingly India are either formally or informally aligned with the United States, and most have been aligned for decades. China, on the other hand, has no formal allies, and at most has significant cooperation with Cambodia. In other words, where the U.S. force in the Western Pacific ranges from the Aleutians to the Strait of Malacca, the Chinese stand alone, isolated by geography and politics. Although it is strange to speak of a billion and a half people standing alone, that is the practical reality and it weighs on China.
 
(click to enlarge)
For Britain, making itself part of this coalition does more than simply signal its anger about Hong Kong. It also allows it to pursue its historical goal of a global navy and global allies. At this historical moment, the British can not be first among equals in this alliance, but membership in the alliance will demonstrate that the Royal Navy is global. It shows Britain to be a significant power, if not a superpower, which in turn makes its significance to Europe somewhat greater, even as it leaves the EU.

But there is another critical consideration: Britain’s relation to the United States. British military relations with the U.S. range from close to intimate. Since World War II it has become lopsided. Britain cannot correct the imbalance of power, but it can demonstrate that it is prepared to increase that force, build the most valuable of ships, and send one to join the anti-China coalition in the Pacific. Britain cannot return to its old role of full self-sufficiency, but it can have a close relationship with the alternative to a Brussels-led Europe: the United States. This is of course obvious, but the British also know that coming to the table as a mendicant does not generate American generosity. Bringing carriers to the table and deploying them in a region the U.S. is most concerned with now is significant, no matter how unprepared the carriers are for battle. It increases China’s sense of isolation, and also forces it to consider how far it will go. The British will be able to sit at the American table and expect consideration, and they will get it.

The carriers are not the issue. The issue is what Britain will be now that it has returned to its historical role, and how it will deal with the global interests it still has, including China. And it helps define its relations with the United States, which is next on its menu of things to do, after U.S. politics settle down. The risk is low, but the price is high. Carrier battle groups do not come cheap, nor does the ability to be a global power.   




Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 52370
    • View Profile
The Russian-Chinese alliance
« Reply #1021 on: July 28, 2020, 11:16:39 AM »


Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 52370
    • View Profile
or maybe not , , ,
« Reply #1023 on: September 01, 2020, 08:11:43 AM »

GPF

No Pacific NATO. On Monday, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun called for a more formalized alliance structure akin to NATO with fellow members of the so-called Quad – India, Japan and Australia. Biegun noted that the Indo-Pacific region lacks strong multilateral structures – which is true – but that a Pacific NATO would only ever work if other countries were “as committed as the United States” – which is unlikely.

The U.S. developed a “hub and spoke” alliance structure in the Indo-Pacific in lieu of a NATO-like comprehensive alliance for reasons that haven’t really gone away. And both India and Australia are reluctant to enter into any sort of rigid partnership that accelerates the slide toward conflict with China and limits their ability to hedge their bets. Other countries Biegun suggested should be included, particularly South Korea, would be even more hesitant to follow the U.S. lead at a time when their strategic interests are diverging.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for stronger partnerships on narrower issues. On Tuesday, for example, Japan, Australia and India held talks on launching a supply chain resilience initiative later this year.

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 52370
    • View Profile
GPF: China's Amphibian Dilemma
« Reply #1024 on: September 08, 2020, 11:09:18 AM »
China’s Amphibian Dilemma: Straddling Land and Sea Ambitions
Rodger Baker
Rodger Baker
Senior VP of Strategic Analysis, Stratfor
12 MINS READ
Sep 7, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Cadets from China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy march in formation before a ceremony at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Sept. 30, 2019.
Cadets from China's navy march in formation before a ceremony at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Sept. 30, 2019.

(Mark Schiefelbein - Pool/Getty Images)

HIGHLIGHTS

China borders the largest number of countries by land, and its navy now boasts the largest number of battle force ships by sea. With the pressures and opportunities of both a continental and maritime power, China faces an amphibian’s dilemma, as the characteristics best suited for life at sea and life at land may not always prove complementary. Traditional continental powers are more prone to autocratic leadership to manage their challenges, while traditional maritime powers lean toward democratic systems and more open markets. China’s attempt to straddle both can intensify sectionalism and exacerbate differences between the interior core that remains continental in outlook, and the coastal areas that become more maritime in outlook.  This challenge is also highlighted in China’s attempts to reshape global norms and standards, which themselves largely represent the maritime world order. The apparent global political and economic dissonance is not merely caused by China seeking change, but...

"Land-based northerners have dominated Chinese culture throughout most of her history and whenever they have been in political control… China has been oriented primarily inwardly…. On the other hand, when control was exercised by South China groups… a strong maritime outlook was emphasized. … In the former instances, China functioned as a continental rimland state, in the latter as a maritime rimland state."

Donald W. Meinig, Heartland and Rimland in Eurasian History (1956)

China borders the largest number of countries by land, and its navy now boasts the largest number of battle force ships by sea. With the pressures and opportunities of both a continental and maritime power, China faces an amphibian’s dilemma, as the characteristics best suited for life at sea and life at land may not always prove complementary. Traditional continental powers are more prone to autocratic leadership to manage their challenges, while traditional maritime powers lean toward democratic systems and more open markets. China’s attempt to straddle both can intensify sectionalism and exacerbate differences between the interior core that remains continental in outlook, and the coastal areas that become more maritime in outlook.

This challenge is also highlighted in China’s attempts to reshape global norms and standards, which themselves largely represent the maritime world order. The apparent global political and economic dissonance is not merely caused by China seeking change, but by the very continental nature of China’s history. China is bringing a continental mindset to a maritime system. And though it is able to rally sympathy with others with a more continental history, China may find it difficult to bridge the continental/maritime divide.

China as a Continental Power

For most of its history, China has been a classic continental power. Initially a sedentary agricultural society on the northern plain along the Yellow River, China faced threats from both nomadic tribes to the north and west, as well as seafaring raiders along the east and southern coasts. Successive Chinese dynasties fought externally to secure buffer states and protect against outside powers, as well as internally to consolidate the fractious ethnic Han core, which stretched south to the Yangtze River and the rich rice land’s beyond.

Chinese empires followed a general pattern of dynastic rise and collapse:

Consolidation of the Han core under a strong central leadership.
Pressing outward along the periphery to counter external threats or capture new opportunities.
Expanding the bureaucracy to manage the sprawling empire.
Internal and external economic, political and military pressures weaken the center of power.
Some shock that finally breaks the back of a waning empire, starting over the cycle.

China’s reconsolidation came under external northern powers twice: the Yuan dynasty of the Mongols (1279-1368) and the Qing dynasty of the Manchu (1644-1912). During the Tang dynasty (618-906), China took its position as the “Middle Kingdom,” establishing suzerainty relationships with numerous nations around its expanding periphery, and engaging in international trade and diplomatic delegations across the Asian continent. But while trade and international connections expanded, China remained heavily focused on the continent, not at sea. Managing the myriad differing population and linguistic groups inside China and pressure from external threats shaped priorities, and trade outside of the expanded empire and bordering states was largely unnecessary.

China has flirted with a maritime focus in the past, often when power was centered in the south. The Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279) had a large navy for coastal defense and riverine operations. And when the Mongols conquered Korea and Southern Song, they turned that maritime power briefly against Japan, with two ultimately unsuccessful invasions. During the early Ming dynasty (1368-1644), where the capital was initially in southern China at Nanjing, Zheng He embarked on several voyages around Asia and Africa in his famed treasure fleets. While these marked a notable expansion of Chinese maritime activity, they were largely focused on asserting Chinese power and centrality through diplomatic and tribute collection delegations, rather than building trade routes or a long-term naval presence. And with the capital shifted back north to Beijing and internal troubles once again arising, China disposed of the fleet and turned continental once again.

Modern China has largely retained that continental focus. Like earlier peasant rebellions, the Chinese Communist revolution took root in the interior in the 1930s and 40s, despite the nationalist government having a maritime outlook from its southern base in Nanjing. And while Taiwan has always been a focus of the Communist Party’s unification of China, early consolidation focused on western regions, securing Xinjiang in 1950 and Tibet in 1951. Mao Zedong (1949-1976) focused heavily on China’s interior, at times with disastrous results, as in the Great Leap Forward. Even as Mao’s successor, Deng Xiaoping (1978-1989) moved to shift China’s economic policies and open the country to more trade, the Chinese government prioritized managing internal ethnic and social issues, as well as China’s numerous disputes along its land borders. During this time, China’s national security was focused on maintaining a large, land-based People’s Liberation Army (PLA), with infrequent attention to naval power.


China today is still largely a continental land power. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, China found itself with 14 contiguous neighbors, many ambivalent toward the People’s Republic. Domestically, around two-thirds of the Chinese population live in the interior, though much of the nation’s economic activity occurs along the coast. This dichotomy has the potential to stir traditional instability, and Chinese leaders spend a lot of their time and effort emphasizing the importance of the interior. The response to the global financial crisis was to rapidly increase infrastructure spending in the interior, and enhance rail connectivity toward western China. The Belt and Road initiative (BRI) continued that continentalist strategy by seeking to redirect attention from domestic socio-economic gaps to economic opportunities across the borders to the west and south.

China as a Maritime Power

China’s rapid economic rise from the mid-1990s created a new pressure point on the Chinese system. For much of China’s history, the country was largely self-sufficient, so long as it didn’t mismanage its resources. But economic growth increasingly linked China into extended supply chains, for raw materials and for overseas markets. With most outward-focused economic activity taking place along the coast or along rivers connected to the coast, China’s international trade was largely by sea, and vulnerable to the key maritime chokepoint of the Strait of Malacca. Rising competition with the United States reinforced China’s trade risk, with U.S. allies or partners forming a crescent surrounding the Chinese coast, from South Korea and Japan through the Philippines and down through Southeast Asia and Australia.

For China, there were three options: 1) Accept U.S. control of the seas, as most other nations did; 2) Find alternative routes to reduce its vulnerability to the chokepoints along its maritime frontier, or 3) Build a naval capability that could secure its supply chains throughout the region and beyond. China chose the latter two, one through the BRI and the other via the rapid expansion of the PLA navy, coupled with air and sea defense missiles and territorial assertions in the South China Sea. By the late 1990s, China was building bases and airstrips on contested reefs and rocks in the South China Sea. And in early 2001, tensions rose amid the Hainan Island Incident. While China backed off at the time, due both to its own recognized weaknesses and the U.S. shift in attention to the war against terrorism, Beijing redoubled its shipbuilding efforts.

China’s navy now outmatches the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and has more battle force ships than the United States (though in tonnage, the U.S. Navy’s vessels still far outweigh those of the PLA Navy). Combined, these developments have reshaped the balance of naval power in the Western Pacific. In addition, China has significantly expanded its coast guard and other coastal defense forces, revived and expanded several airfields and small bases on artificial islands built on disputed reefs in the South China Sea, and has fielded two aircraft carriers, with another under construction and several more planned.


While China’s naval buildup focused initially on quantity, it has shifted in recent years to quality, testing numerous versions of ships before choosing preferred platforms, and coming close to its peer competitors in several areas of key naval technologies. China has tested its ability to operate for extended periods of time far from home, taking advantage of anti-piracy operations off the coast of Africa to provide real-world training for its crews and establishing a base in Djibouti. The PLA navy does remain behind in some aspects, including anti-submarine warfare and multi-domain naval operations. It also has no culture of carrier battle group operations, and has not been tested in real combat experience since the 1970s. But Beijing has gone a long way to build a modern and professional navy that by many accounts can now outcompete the U.S. Navy in the enclosed waters of the South China Sea.

China continues to seek to shape the maritime environment within the so-called first island chain, and has regularly pushed beyond into the Indian Ocean, the South Pacific and more recently into the Arctic, though the latter still primarily with its civilian fleet. China’s future shipbuilding capacity appears robust, while that of Japan and the United States is curtailed by budgetary concerns and shifting priorities. 

China as an Amphibian Power

China’s naval build-up has been rapid, facilitated by the centralized nature of the government and economy. And this maritime focus has paralleled China’s landward infrastructure and trade push along its periphery, reflecting both China’s overall economic strength and its stated intent to take its place among the chief powers of the world system. But as with past rising powers and empires, China faces challenges both from the status quo power, the United States, and from its many neighbors. China’s proclaimed pursuit of “win-win” solutions as it expands its economic, political and military influence will only serve it for so long before the attendant imbalances in power lead to resistance — and in many places, that is already happening.

China’s dual challenges with managing its continental interests and its newer maritime priorities have historical precedence in other rising powers. In his 1890 book, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, American naval scholar and strategist Alfred Thayer Mahan discusses how France consistently struggled with the economic and security costs of seeking to dominate the European continent and maintain a robust navy to counter British maritime power.

At the time, Mahan sought to stir the United States to a global maritime role, expounding on the way British sea power shaped national strength. Germany, in both World Wars, also found itself torn between its continental and maritime priorities. Both were important to secure German power, but each also required a unique strategy with very different resources and key geographies. During the Cold War, the United States used the geographically constrained Soviet sea access to hem in the country, while also exploiting its long land borders in the strategy of containment.

With the pressures and opportunities of both a continental and maritime power, China faces an amphibian’s dilemma, as the characteristics best suited for life at sea and life at land may not always prove complementary.

Similarly, for China, neighboring countries represent both an opportunity for economic and strategic gain, and a vulnerability to China’s national security. Beijing must ensure that its borders remain secure, that regional problems in places like Afghanistan do not interfere with Chinese supply lines through Central and South Asia or spill over into western China, and find ways to reduce the options for the United States to solidify allies and partners around the Chinese periphery. China must also do this at sea to secure its dominant position in the enclosed seas of Asia, as well as regional territorial competitions and undermine U.S. maritime coalitions, while also building out a network of port and resupply agreements along the length of its supply lines.

The U.S. emergence as a global naval power in the 20th Century occurred only after the United States had largely secured its continental position, and was left with only two land neighbors. China’s maritime emergence is happening while it is still seeking to secure its continental position through infrastructure and trade, but this is still a work in progress. Yet if it could, through a combination of economic, political and security arrangements, China would represent the new heartland power envisioned by British geographer Sir Halford J. Mackinder. As early as his 1904 paper defining the Heartland, Mackinder noted that China could at some future point fill this role as a nation capable of uniting the resource base and manpower of Europe, Asia and Africa and then turning its focus to the seas, where it would overwhelm the international maritime order. In his 1944 book titled The Geography of the Peace, American strategist Nicholas Spykman also noted that the “dominant power in the Far East will undoubtedly be China, providing she achieves real unification and provided that Japan’s military power is completely destroyed.”

Making the Leap

Continental powers must deal with managing governance over large territories, balance the differing interests of numerous
neighbors, ensure unity among a diversity of domestic ethnic regions, and shoulder the higher cost of less efficient transport across land. Maritime powers are driven by commerce and the need to both ensure the continuity of long supply lines far from the core national support base, as well as engage in international intercourse that highlights differing social and economic norms from a continental power. But an amphibious nation must manage both the complexities of a continental empire and the challenges of a maritime power.

A key question, then, for understanding the geography of the 21st century is whether China will be able to overcome the amphibian’s dilemma, and emerge as equally formidable both on land and at sea.

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 52370
    • View Profile

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 52370
    • View Profile

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 52370
    • View Profile
Stratfor: The US's Eurasia Obsession Part One: Setting the State
« Reply #1027 on: October 05, 2020, 05:07:06 PM »
The U.S.'s Eurasia Obsession, Part 1: Setting the Stage
Rodger Baker
Rodger Baker
Senior VP of Strategic Analysis, Stratfor
8 MINS READ
Aug 31, 2020 | 10:00 GMT

"Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor or caprice?"
U.S. President George Washington, Farewell Address (1796)

Since its founding, the United States has feared European involvement in North America and the Western Hemisphere. And from this fear arose a continentalist strategic view and an idea of a fortress America secure behind its oceanic moats, loathe to get dragged into internecine European conflicts. Over time, as the United States consolidated its position across North America, a competing concern also arose — one that began to see Eurasia at the heart of a strategic challenge to U.S. security, and promoted a more internationalist and interventionist policy abroad. These two strands continue to shape U.S. strategic assessments today amid the emerging geography of the 21st century.

The Continentalist Compulsion

The United States first emerged as a loose federation of colonies sitting at the edge of North America, a less important frontier in the sprawling global British Empire. The establishment of the republic did not remove the British from North America, nor did it free the new nation from European rivalries, which continued to play out across North America and the Caribbean. The United States focused its attention on strengthening the union following the Revolutionary War, and protecting the nascent nation from falling prey to European powers.

It was in this context that President George Washington delivered his 1796 farewell address, advising against European entanglements. "Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course," Washington noted, highlighting the perceived protection of distance. With so much work to do on North America, from ensuring already notable sectionalism didn't tear apart the new nation to protecting the territory from rival European empires, there was little value and much risk in growing too close to any single European power, or getting drawn into European competition. Then, as is still the case today, any U.S. military action in Eurasia would see the United States vastly outnumbered, at the far ends of vulnerable supply lines, and drawing massively on the nation's economic and human resources. Entanglement and intervention simply made no sense, even if there were ideological sympathies to French philosophy and British commerce.

Throughout the 19th century, the United States maintained a largely continentalist focus, spreading its boundaries westward through settlement and colonization on land that was either bought, annexed or seized by force. This included the Louisiana and Florida purchases before 1820, followed by Alaska in 1867; the annexation of Texas in 1845 to secure the southwest border, followed by Hawaii in 1898 to secure the Pacific approaches; and the Indian Wars, the War of 1812 (which resulted in a status quo on the northern border) and the Mexican-American War (which culminated in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo).

Each of these historical moments was about pushing the frontiers of the United States, countering or ousting European powers (Britain, France, Spain and Russia) or the native American nations, and securing a strong and protected homeland. Sectionalism and the Civil War nearly ended the American experiment, but reinforced the core of the nation's jealous regard for territorial integrity.


The boldest expression of continentalism came in 1823. Europe was once again embroiled in internal warfare, Russia was moving down the west coast of North America, and France and Spain appeared ready to reassert their empires in the Caribbean. In his December address to Congress, President James Monroe reiterated America's non-interference in Europe and existing European colonies, but also declared that "we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety." This sentiment, later deemed the Monroe Doctrine, was not mere hubris. The Gulf of Mexico was critical for U.S. commerce traveling down the Mississippi, and the Florida Strait granted access to the Atlantic. A reassertion of European power in the Caribbean islands was a direct threat to American trade. While clearly a reflection of aspiration more than capability, the Monroe Doctrine asserted a fundamental U.S interest not only in keeping Europeans out of any future expansion in North America, but out of the hemisphere as a whole.

Continentalism never meant isolationism, and the 1800s saw the groundwork for a future internationalist United States. While avoiding involvement in European conflict, the United States tested its naval capacity in the Barbary Wars in North Africa early in the Century, signed a Treaty of Friendship with Hawaii in 1849 warning against any European annexation of the islands, sent Commodore Matthew Perry to Japan in the 1850s to open the country to trade, and briefly invaded Korea in 1871. The Civil War and reconstruction, however, kept the United States focused inward for much of the latter half of the century, aside from its distant engagements in Asia.

The Internationalist Imperative

The radical break from continentalism came with the Spanish-American War in 1898, during which the United States annexed Hawaii. At the conclusion of the conflict, the United States also gained possession of Puerto Rico, as well as distant Guam and the Philippines. In 1890, less than a decade before the war, U.S. historian and naval officer Alfred Thayer Mahan published his book, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, in which he laments the deteriorating state of the U.S. Navy and merchant marine after the Civil War, highlighting the connection between naval strength and economic strength seen in the history of the United Kingdom. Mahan's ideas shifted the concepts of national defense from coastal to oceanic, and the need for the United States to project power to secure its own interests, not merely play a defensive game at home.

Between Mahan's strategic geopolitics and the suddenly expanded territory, the United States embarked on a brief but notable moment of internationalism — sending the Great White Fleet of U.S. Navy battleships on a 14-month circumnavigation of the globe, backing Panamanian secession from Colombia and signing rights to the canal zone, and challenging European imperial trading and economic dominance by asserting its Open Door policy in Asia. This internationalist surge was followed by another turn inward, and as war broke out in Europe, the United States sought to maintain a neutral role and avoid entanglement.

But the Atlantic proved little protection for the United States, and its shipping fell prey to Germany's unrestricted submarine warfare. This, coupled with the publication of the Zimmermann Telegram, which appeared to threaten to bring war directly to North America, prompted the United States to declare war on Germany and send troops to Europe, marking a clear break from Washington's admonition more than a century earlier. Despite President Woodrow Wilson's involvement in the formation of the League of Nations following World War I, the United States resumed its continentalist focus. And one could even argue that U.S. intervention in the war was driven more by a desire to re-secure the Atlantic moat and reassert the Monroe Doctrine, rather than a desire to shape the balance of power in Europe.

The contrast between continentalism and internationalism remains a deep-seated aspect of American strategic thought, reflecting the dual continental and maritime nature of the United States.

It was following World War I that the framework for true U.S. internationalism was laid. In 1919, British Geographer Sir Halford J. Mackinder published his book, Democratic Ideals and Reality, laying out his “Heartland” thesis. In what could be read as a counterpoint to Mahan's maritime focus, Mackinder warned that given the pace of modern transportation and warfighting technology, if a single power like Germany (and later Russia) could dominate the Eurasian heartland, it would have the full resources and human capital of Europe, Asia and Africa at its disposal. Its core would be protected from global maritime power, and its industrial capacity would allow it to ultimately build a fleet capable of dominating the global oceans. The key to preventing an authoritarian power from overwhelming the wartime trading democracies, Mackinder argued, was ensuring no great power could emerge in the European heartland.

Mackinder's book did not initially elicit strong attention, but by the dawning of World War II, it was enjoying a resurgence of recognition in the United States. U.S. attempts to remain out of the war in Europe and remain neutral in fortress America were once again proving less than ideal. And Mackinder offered a way to see the bigger strategic picture, to use geography, history, and a study of societies to explain why the United States could not sit on the sidelines and hope for the best.

Mackinder expounded on his ideas in a 1943 article in Foreign Affairs, and cautioned that Germany was not the only heartland power that could challenge global democracies:

"All things considered, the conclusion is unavoidable that if the Soviet Union emerges from this war as conqueror of Germany, she must rank as the greatest land Power on the globe. Moreover, she will be the Power in the strategically strongest defensive position. The Heartland is the greatest natural fortress on earth. For the first time in history it is manned by a garrison sufficient both in number and quality."

Mackinder's concepts clearly influenced American policy in the post-World War II period. And the contrast between continentalism and internationalism remains a deep-seated aspect of American strategic thought, reflecting the dual continental and maritime nature of the United States. Finding the right balance within this dichotomy will be the strategic challenge of the decade, as the U.S. government grapples with the emergence of China as a new Eurasian strategic power.

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 52370
    • View Profile
America's Eurasia Obsession Part Two
« Reply #1028 on: October 05, 2020, 05:09:28 PM »
The U.S.'s Eurasia Obsession, Part 2: The China Challenge
Rodger Baker
Rodger Baker
Senior VP of Strategic Analysis, Stratfor
6 MINS READ
Sep 2, 2020 | 10:00 GMT

"The threat of an encirclement of the United States by a European-Asiatic combination, which first emerged at the time of President Monroe, reappeared at the time of the First World War, and lay dormant in the British-Japanese Alliance, has again appeared, but on a scale undreamt of in former times."

Nicholas J. Spykman, America's Strategy in World Politics  (1942)

The United States is in the midst of a strategic refocus from counterterrorism and rogue nation control, to so-called great power competition. While Russia, the Cold War counterpart, remains a concern, China has emerged as the primary near-peer threat. This is reawakening a key element that has long shaped U.S. foreign policy and strategic assessment — the major power of the Eurasian continent. But U.S. culture is split over the best way to deal with a Eurasian competitor, and domestic political and economic divisions will make it difficult for the United States to maintain a consistent strategy.

The New Eurasia Challenge

In his 1942 book, America's Strategy in World Politics: The United States and the Balance of Power, the U.S. social scientist Nicholas J. Spykmam made a very clear case of why an isolationist continentalist United States was not secure in the modern world. Spykman also identified a rimland, stretching around the periphery of Eurasia, where land meets sea, and where the maritime powers contend with the great continental power. It was Spykman's elucidation that helped shape the strategic thinking behind the later U.S. Cold War policy of containment, and the need for U.S. intervention around the Eurasian periphery. The Korean and Vietnam wars were both fought in the rimland, as were the U.S. relationships with Pakistan, Persia and Europe. Current U.S. overseas basing, and a very activist U.S. military, are all legacies of the internationalist concepts laid down by the likes of Spykman.

The United States now faces a new type of Eurasian competitor in China, one that is both continental and maritime. China's Belt and Road Initiative seeks to link the resources, markets and productive capacity of Mackinder's World Island (Asia, Europe and Africa), with Beijing at the center. China is also reaching out beyond Eurasia, across the Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic, to tap into the Americas. Should China prove successful, it would represent Spykman's encircling power, one that could exert influence and force across the Atlantic and Pacific frontiers, and perhaps even along the opening Arctic front.

The question facing the U.S. government over the next decade or more is not just what to do about China, but how to do it.

Though China is not poised to take over Eurasia and strangle U.S. trade along each coast any time soon, if at all, strategic thought looks to future potential capabilities, not current capacity or intent. And that raises again the core strategic dichotomy between continentalism and internationalism. While there is general agreement across the political aisle that China is a strategic competitor, if not the chief near-peer power challenger to the United States, there is little consensus on the strategy to deal with that challenge.

Even inside the current administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, there are contradictory strategic policies. There is a drive to reduce the U.S. military footprint abroad, to withdraw troops, shrink overseas basing and, in some ways, try to pull back into fortress America. And at the same time, there is a drive to declare an ideological battle with China, to enhance U.S. forces abroad, particularly in the rimland around China, to keep the confrontation with China on and around the Eurasian landmass, and to disrupt China's economic and political expansion.

The Struggle for Balance

Such a dichotomy is not unique to the Trump administration — U.S. policy is often pulled by the competing forces of continentalism and internationalism, and similar swings were seen during the Cold War. Nor is it merely the cognitive dissonance of the foreign policy elite in Washington. There is widespread general public support for withdrawing U.S. forces after nearly two decades of overseas conflict, as well as rising U.S. recognition of China as an opposing power to U.S. interests abroad. Partisan politics can play into this seemingly contradictory viewpoint, but it isn't the root cause. America's general prosperity and isolation strengthens the sense of continentalism, particularly when it faces economic hardship. But the undercurrent of American exceptionalism, whether couched in terms of democracy, morality or modern individual rights, reinforces the internationalist bent.

The question facing the United States over the next decade or more is not just what to do about China, but how to do it. The United States remains a potent military and economic power, but it is also facing significant social and economic challenges that will reinforce the need to strengthen the homeland before seeking change abroad. The COVID-19 crisis, strong social divisions and extreme partisanship will compel the U.S. government to look inward, as well as U.S. citizens to urge more spending at home rather than on foreign military action.

At the same time, despite recent calls for reshaping supply chains and "decoupling" with China, the United States cannot simply withdraw into a shell and hope that things in the Eastern Hemisphere have no impact at home. Even in its most continentalist moments in the past, the United States has not been truly isolationist, nor has it been able to tease itself away from global commerce, both to absorb U.S. surplus (today in services more than manufactures), or to bring in critical raw materials. Even if the United States decides to take a more limited role abroad, it will not be immune to shifting geopolitical patterns that would impact resources and market access. As Mackinder noted and Spykman reiterated, the world is a closed system, and events in one place now ripple around the globe, whether we want them to or not.

The world is a closed system, and events in one place now ripple around the globe, whether we want them to or not.

Both internationalism and continentalism have their costs and rewards, but it is hard to effectively straddle the line. An internationalist strategy requires active combined political, economic and military influence around the Eurasian periphery, ideally in close cooperation with partners and allies. Attempting to be only partially internationalist quickly sees the strategy lose focus, sees allies lose trust, and paves the way for the Eurasian competitor to exploit the attendant fractures. A purely continentalist strategy that seeks to strengthen the homeland and maintain trade through professed neutrality, but does little to intervene to shape developments in Eurasia, can last only a brief amount of time before the shifting global power balance begins to impinge on America's sense of security, triggering a return to an internationalist course.

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 52370
    • View Profile
GPF: conflict in the Caucasus and the new American strategy
« Reply #1029 on: October 06, 2020, 06:50:06 AM »
October 6, 2020   Open as PDF



    Conflict in the Caucasus and the New American Strategy
By: George Friedman

During the Cold War, the United States opposed the Soviet Union wherever the Soviet Union sought to make inroads. Some interventions were necessary and therefore took place in obvious locales: in Germany to shield Europe, in Turkey to limit Soviet naval movement into the Mediterranean, and in Japan to block the Soviet port of Vladivostok and the Pacific. Others such as Angola and Afghanistan were less so.

The United States was in a global competition with the Soviets, and they both used the tools they had available to counter each other. Washington’s primary tool was its military, particularly its massive navy. Moscow’s was what were called “wars of national liberation.” They involved covert support to insurgents in countries throughout the world, most notably in former colonies of European imperialists. The United States usually had little interest in the battleground country. It had an overriding interest in blocking Soviet success in these countries, since success might create the perception of greater Soviet power. The U.S. tended to use covert forces to wage a covert war against Soviet proxies, though some such as Vietnam are notable exceptions.
 
(click to enlarge)

During the Cold War, everything mattered to the United States, because the Soviets could and would exploit any opening. The Soviet Union was a global power, with a military second only to the United States' and a covert capability that frequently put Washington in difficult situations.

But there is no threat from the Soviet Union today. Only some things now matter to Washington. This is a shock to a world that expects the U.S. to take a leadership role, indifferent to the price the U.S. paid in the Cold War for taking the reins. Engaging globally carries with it a high price that can be paid when necessary but should be avoided when possible.

Between then and now, in late 2008, Russia went to war in Georgia. The United States was deeply enmeshed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it made clear it had no intention of intervening. Limited by its commitment elsewhere, it was not in a position to rush troops there, though it did bring other forces such as sanctions to bear. After the war, the United States sent troops to Georgia, primarily to train the Georgian army, and its presence and commitment have lasted to this day.

It was a far slower response than it would have been during the Cold War, but it was no less significant. The question of why Russia's actions should cause the U.S. to take risks and spend resources was still not challenged. A Russian threat to Georgia triggered a visceral reaction: Russian expansion must be blocked wherever it emerges, especially when the victim is America’s ally. The question of whether this even interests the United States was overridden by the assumption from the Cold War: The U.S. has a responsibility to stabilize the world.

The current dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory that like Georgia is located in the Caucasus, represents a fundamental shift in U.S. policy. Azerbaijan lost the territory to Armenia in the early 1990s. Since then, its recovery was a fundamental wish of Azerbaijan, but other internal issues preoccupied its time. But last week, the Azerbaijani military began an artillery attack that lasted for days. Armenia has refused to cede the territory. Turkey has sided with Azerbaijan, both because of historical affinity for Azerbaijan and because of long-standing hostility to Armenia. The Russians are allied with Armenia but also had close relations with Azerbaijan. The Iranians gave lukewarm support to Azerbaijan but overall made it clear that they wished to remain out of the conflict.
 
(click to enlarge)

If there was an automatic assumption that the U.S. had to “manage” a crisis such as this in 2008, in 2020 it is apparent that the crisis is unmanageable. For one thing, who owns Nagorno-Karabakh is not a matter that concerns the U.S. For another, the outcome of a war – if it comes to that – would have minimal effect on the U.S. Last, U.S. relations with Turkey and Russia are already frayed, and the risks of navigating a war in the Caucasus would outweigh the benefits. Hence why Washington has offered only expected platitudes since last week.

The shift of U.S. strategy was inevitable and predictable. During the Cold War, it took the (not unreasonable) view that the world was of a single fabric such that it couldn’t stand by if it was being tugged far afield. In time, the Cold War ended but the strategy did not, as evidenced by bombing campaigns in Serbia and Libya. During this transitional period, it became much more difficult to define U.S. goals, and more difficult still to explain how military action would achieve the goal. The U.S. had spent half a century built around the principle of constant and urgent global involvement. Strategic principles die hard.

The United States is still singularly powerful, but the experience of war and hostile diplomacy can be painful even for the strong. There was a connection between U.S. power and risk in the Cold War. There is precious little connection between this and the future of Azerbaijani-Armenian relations. It’s the recognition that there is no global war underway, and that some things simply mean more to the U.S. than others. In a tiny place that few outside the region have heard of, the new necessity and logic of U.S. foreign policy are being carried out. In a way, that makes the U.S. more like other powers, accumulating political capital and spending it after calculating the risks of and rewards for acting.   




DougMacG

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 13177
    • View Profile
Re: US Foreign Policy & Geopolitics, Armenia Azerbaijan war
« Reply #1030 on: October 07, 2020, 01:56:46 PM »
Walter Mead on the war in the Southern Caucasus: “Prospects for a cease-fire are poor. While Armenian diplomats frantically work the phones to gin up international support, Azerbaijan and Turkey demand an Armenian withdrawal and an apology as the price of peace. For Mr. Erdogan, a victory in the Caucasus would be a personal triumph. Siding with the predominantly Shiite but ethnically Turkic Azeris against Christian Armenia is wildly popular with both religious and nationalist Turks. Victory would force Russia to take Ankara more seriously as a force in the region. It would increase Mr. Erdogan’s independence from the U.S. and enhance his credentials as the man who can revive the lost glories of the Ottoman caliphate. Mr. Erdogan’s downside risks are also large, especially if Russia decides to settle with Turkey once and for all. But in an increasingly disorderly world, middle powers like Turkey must take their opportunities where they find them. The coming winter will likely be a bitter one for the civilians and conscripts caught up in a war that an enfeebled international system seems unwilling or unable to forestall.
  WRM, WSJ