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Crafty_Dog

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Trump, Kissinger, and the search for a New World Order
« Reply #850 on: June 22, 2018, 09:07:31 AM »
Jun 22, 2018 | 07:00 GMT
8 mins read
Trump, Kissinger and the Search for a New World Order
By Reva Goujon
VP of Global Analysis, Stratfor
Reva Goujon
Reva Goujon
VP of Global Analysis, Stratfor
U.S. President Donald Trump (R) meets with former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the Oval Office in October 2017 in Washington.
(WIN McNAMEE/Getty Images)


    The United States' return to aloofness, China's rise, Europe's fragmentation and the growing strategic alignment between Moscow and Beijing are all destabilizing the international system.
    Basing the world order on Westphalian principles is necessary to reinject enough flexibility and pragmatism into the global system amid a new, competitive era of great power politics, according to veteran diplomat Henry Kissinger.
    The potential for a U.S.-China understanding on the fate of the Korean Peninsula will serve as a critical testing ground for this emerging world order.

Donald Trump is nothing if not unpredictable as president. But when it comes to foreign policy, that just might be his greatest foreign policy asset. After all, America's ability to swing between aloofness and overreaction are embedded in its DNA thanks to its inherently strong geopolitical foundation. A mercurial spirit in the White House might make some big waves, but can also — at least in some circumstances — be harnessed into an opportunity.

A grand strategist like Dr. Henry Kissinger, who has been known to advise Trump on occasion, likely detects such an opportunity in a Trump presidency. Kissinger, now 95 but lucid as ever, has made himself available to several presidents and candidates to help shape foreign policy and engage in quiet shuttle diplomacy. His guidance, delivered in long, gravelly monologues, centers on his quest to shape a new world order that has a chance at coping with centurial challenges. As the man who split the Sino-Soviet axis during the Cold War and gave rise to the phrase "Nixon Goes to China," Kissinger spends much of his time dwelling on the rise of China. Now, the veteran diplomat is trying to help craft a new order in a rapidly changing environment – starting with a solution to one of the United States' biggest headaches of the day, North Korea.

The Big Picture

An emerging great power competition among the United States, China and Russia will define the international system in the coming years. As that competition intensifies, the Korean Peninsula, wedged between empires, will inevitably come into play. While many countries find U.S. President Donald Trump's tactics deeply polarizing, his overtures to North Korea are based on a deeper strategy that could usher in a balance of power with China in northeast Asia.



In his most recent book, World Order (2014), the veteran diplomat questions history to explain when, and under what circumstances, previous attempts to foster world order succeeded and failed. In Kissinger's view, the foundational template for world order was the Westphalian balance of power that emerged at the end of the Thirty Years' War in 1648. It was under this model that a system of peer powers, none powerful enough to defeat the rest, embraced the notion of sovereignty and shared a sense of legitimacy to maintain a relative and flexible equilibrium on the continent. If any one power tried to achieve hegemony or a second-tier power tried to force its way into the ranks of major powers through destabilizing actions, the unspoken rules of the order would effectively induce pragmatic alliances to counter the emerging threat.

Kissinger acknowledges the powerful (and perhaps unavoidable) forces that ultimately caused the Westphalian order to fray in the 19th century, including the rise of nationalism, the unification of Germany, Britain's aloofness and Russia's probing on the Continent. At the same time, he deeply laments the 20th century carnage that resulted from a series of miscalculations by state leaders who failed to read their geopolitical surroundings accurately. As many of his writings and testimonies imply, Kissinger is not a man for retirement; the mission of this bold nonagenarian is the prevention of global tragedy through the construction of a new balance of power.

In surveying the world today, the stresses on the post-Cold War global order are easy to pinpoint. The United States remains inherently powerful but is no longer unrivaled. China is rapidly rising as a peer competitor to the United States while a weaker and wary Russia, enticed by the prospect of weakening the U.S.-led order, has strategically aligned itself (for now) with Beijing. Squeezed between these two poles, Europe finds itself too divided to play the role of an effective mediator, while regional giants like Japan, Turkey and India are still trying to find their footing in the fluid space among these great powers.

In other words, the world is in a growing state of disequilibrium. China and the United States, two countries on opposite ends of the earth, each with their own claim to historical exceptionalism, together form the center of gravity in the present international system. After being the center of its own world for centuries, China was thrust into a Western-led order even though it took no part in writing the rules of the system. In time, as Kissinger warns, China will expect to revise the rules of the contemporary order to better suit its needs. Regardless of whether Trump is in the White House or Xi Jinping remains president for life, China's global drive for economic security is on a collision course with an American imperative to maintain global dominance. And unless the United States can find a way to both coexist and balance against a rising China, this century could bear witness to a new — and perhaps much more intense — tragedy in great power politics.

Unless the United States can find a way to both coexist and balance against a rising China, this century could bear witness to a new tragedy in great power politics.

The North Korean Litmus Test

The fate of the Korean Peninsula is Exhibit A in this emerging world order. Wedged between empires, Korea is no stranger to falling prey to bigger powers. If Korea is to attain a semblance of balance among its more powerful neighbors, it must find a path to unification, even if such a path has been riddled with pitfalls for the better part of seven decades. The first attempt at reunification ended in a draw among the great powers when Kim Il Sung exploited the deep paranoia of the Soviets and their Chinese allies in 1950, obtaining their endorsement to invade the south. But in another demonstration of American unpredictability, the United States rapidly shifted from ambivalence to decisiveness in its Cold War calculations to push the North Koreans all the way to the Yalu River on the Chinese border, putting unification under American tutelage within Washington's grasp. But as Kissinger explains, the same necessity that drove the Chinese in 1593 to repel an invading force (then Japanese) from the Yalu border compelled Mao Zedong to respond to the U.S. incursion. Not wishing to get in over its head with China at a time when the Soviet Union was a priority, the United States exercised strategic restraint to scale back its forces on the peninsula and respect a buffer line on the 38th parallel.

Will China and the United States once again succeed in reaching an understanding on Korea to manage their great power competition? Both have an interest in neutralizing North Korea's nuclear arsenal. Both know from history why an American military intervention in Korea could easily draw China into a war that both would rather avoid. And both are well-positioned through security, economic and political means to influence a Korean path to reunification. While the Korean Peninsula will remain a theater of competition for the United States and China in the long run, it also has the potential to reflect an emerging balance of power between Washington and Beijing in northeast Asia.

Commentators who were up in arms over the utter lack of detail on denuclearization in the final statement from the Trump-Kim summit should bear in mind that the traditional, decades-old approach to containing a nuclear rogue like North Korea has failed spectacularly.

The president's unconventional outreach to North Korea fits neatly into this strategic paradigm. His seemingly brash move to call off the June 12 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un just days ahead of time seemingly forced Pyongyang to cede the unpredictability card to the U.S. president (at least for now, anyway). Commentators who were up in arms over the utter lack of detail on denuclearization, as well as the absence of any discussion on human rights in the final statement, should bear in mind that the traditional, decades-old approach to containing a nuclear rogue like North Korea has failed spectacularly. If Washington had commenced the top-level dialogue with denuclearization technicalities, much less human rights, the conversation would have immediately hit a wall. Instead, the Singapore summit demonstrated political will on both sides to break through their stalemate — not much more and not much less. And while the specter of collapse will naturally loom over future negotiations between two radical, short-tempered leaders on the prickly issue of denuclearization, the strategic foundation underlining their dialogue is undeniable. In fact, it's what gives these negotiations real legs.

Trump may be the most radical president in modern U.S. history. And radical tactics will, by design, make the traditionalists among us squirm. Agile alliance-making, after all, is a prerequisite to balance-of-power politics, and the president's hawkish economic agenda threatens to polarize many of the allies that it needs in this great power competition. But that does not mean that every move the president makes is entirely bereft of strategy. And with the aid of an old foreign policy hand like Kissinger, a Korean settlement could serve as one of many blueprints in the construction of a new world order.

Crafty_Dog

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Kissinger at the cusp of the Trump presidency
« Reply #851 on: June 24, 2018, 02:22:35 PM »
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/12/the-lessons-of-henry-kissinger/505868/

Long, but useful, read.  The interview up front is great, especially given when it happened.

Crafty_Dog

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Stratfor: The geopolitics of America Part 1
« Reply #853 on: July 04, 2018, 12:23:17 PM »


The Geopolitics of the United States, Part 1: The Inevitable Empire
With large oceans to the east and west, America's geography often allowed the United States to develop in isolation.
(ENOT POLOSKUN/Getty Images)
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Editor's Note

This installment on the United States, presented in two parts, is the 16th in a series of Stratfor monographs on the geopolitics of countries influential in world affairs. Click here for part two.

Like nearly all of the peoples of North and South America, most Americans are not originally from the territory that became the United States. They are a diverse collection of peoples primarily from a dozen different Western European states, mixed in with smaller groups from a hundred more. All of the New World entities struggled to carve a modern nation and state out of the American continents. Brazil is an excellent case of how that struggle can be a difficult one. The United States falls on the opposite end of the spectrum.

The American geography is an impressive one. The Greater Mississippi Basin together with the Intracoastal Waterway has more kilometers of navigable internal waterways than the rest of the world combined. The American Midwest is both overlaid by this waterway and is the world's largest contiguous piece of farmland. The U.S. Atlantic Coast possesses more major ports than the rest of the Western Hemisphere combined. Two vast oceans insulated the United States from Asian and European powers, deserts separate the United States from Mexico to the south, while lakes and forests separate the population centers in Canada from those in the United States. The United States has capital, food surpluses and physical insulation in excess of every other country in the world by an exceedingly large margin. So like the Turks, the Americans are not important because of who they are, but because of where they live.
The North American Core

North America is a triangle-shaped continent centered in the temperate portions of the Northern Hemisphere. It is of sufficient size that its northern reaches are fully Arctic and its southern reaches are fully tropical. Predominant wind currents carry moisture from west to east across the continent.

Climatically, the continent consists of a series of wide north-south precipitation bands largely shaped by the landmass' longitudinal topography. The Rocky Mountains dominate the Western third of the northern and central parts of North America, generating a rain-shadow effect just east of the mountain range — an area known colloquially as the Great Plains. Farther east of this semiarid region are the well-watered plains of the prairie provinces of Canada and the American Midwest. This zone comprises both the most productive and the largest contiguous acreage of arable land on the planet.

East of this premier arable zone lies a second mountain chain known as the Appalachians. While this chain is far lower and thinner than the Rockies, it still constitutes a notable barrier to movement and economic development. However, the lower elevation of the mountains combined with the wide coastal plain of the East Coast does not result in the rain-shadow effect of the Great Plains. Consequently, the coastal plain of the East Coast is well-watered throughout.

In the continent's northern and southern reaches this longitudinal pattern is not quite so clear-cut. North of the Great Lakes region lies the Canadian Shield, an area where repeated glaciation has scraped off most of the topsoil. That, combined with the area's colder climate, means that these lands are not nearly as productive as regions farther south or west and, as such, remain largely unpopulated to the modern day. In the south — Mexico — the North American landmass narrows drastically from more than 5,000 kilometers (about 3,100 miles) wide to, at most, 2,000 kilometers, and in most locations less than 1,000 kilometers. The Mexican extension also occurs in the Rocky Mountain/Great Plains longitudinal zone, generating a wide, dry, irregular uplift that lacks the agricultural promise of the Canadian prairie provinces or American Midwest.

The continent's final geographic piece is an isthmus of varying width, known as Central America, that is too wet and rugged to develop into anything more than a series of isolated city-states, much less a single country that would have an impact on continental affairs. Due to a series of swamps and mountains where the two American continents join, there still is no road network linking them, and the two Americas only indirectly affect each other's development.

The most distinctive and important feature of North America is the river network in the middle third of the continent. While its components are larger in both volume and length than most of the world's rivers, this is not what sets the network apart. Very few of its tributaries begin at high elevations, making vast tracts of these rivers easily navigable. In the case of the Mississippi, the head of navigation — just north of Minneapolis — is 3,000 kilometers inland.

The network consists of six distinct river systems: the Missouri, Arkansas, Red, Ohio, Tennessee and, of course, the Mississippi. The unified nature of this system greatly enhances the region's usefulness and potential economic and political power. First, shipping goods via water is an order of magnitude cheaper than shipping them via land. The specific ratio varies greatly based on technological era and local topography, but in the petroleum age in the United States, the cost of transport via water is roughly 10 to 30 times cheaper than overland. This simple fact makes countries with robust maritime transport options extremely capital-rich when compared to countries limited to land-only options. This factor is the primary reason why the major economic powers of the past half-millennia have been Japan, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Second, the watershed of the Greater Mississippi Basin largely overlays North America's arable lands. Normally, agricultural areas as large as the American Midwest are underutilized as the cost of shipping their output to more densely populated regions cuts deeply into the economics of agriculture. The Eurasian steppe is an excellent example. Even in modern times Russian and Kazakh crops occasionally rot before they can reach market. Massive artificial transport networks must be constructed and maintained in order for the land to reach its full potential. Not so in the case of the Greater Mississippi Basin. The vast bulk of the prime agricultural lands are within 200 kilometers of a stretch of navigable river. Road and rail are still used for collection, but nearly omnipresent river ports allow for the entirety of the basin's farmers to easily and cheaply ship their products to markets not just in North America but all over the world.

Third, the river network's unity greatly eases the issue of political integration. All of the peoples of the basin are part of the same economic system, ensuring constant contact and common interests. Regional proclivities obviously still arise, but this is not Northern Europe, where a variety of separate river systems have given rise to multiple national identities.

It is worth briefly explaining why Stratfor fixates on navigable rivers as opposed to coastlines. First, navigable rivers by definition service twice the land area of a coastline (rivers have two banks, coasts only one). Second, rivers are not subject to tidal forces, greatly easing the construction and maintenance of supporting infrastructure. Third, storm surges often accompany oceanic storms, which force the evacuation of oceanic ports. None of this eliminates the usefulness of coastal ports, but in terms of the capacity to generate capital, coastal regions are a poor second compared to lands with navigable rivers.
There are three other features — all maritime in nature — that further leverage the raw power that the Greater Mississippi Basin provides. First are the severe indentations of North America's coastline, granting the region a wealth of sheltered bays and natural, deep-water ports. The more obvious examples include the Gulf of St. Lawrence, San Francisco Bay, Chesapeake Bay, Galveston Bay and Long Island Sound/New York Bay.


Second, there are the Great Lakes. Unlike the Greater Mississippi Basin, the Great Lakes are not naturally navigable due to winter freezes and obstacles such as Niagara Falls. However, over the past 200 years extensive hydrological engineering has been completed — mostly by Canada — to allow for full navigation on the lakes. Since 1960, penetrating halfway through the continent, the Great Lakes have provided a secondary water transport system that has opened up even more lands for productive use and provided even greater capacity for North American capital generation. The benefits of this system are reaped mainly by the warmer lands of the United States rather than the colder lands of Canada, but since the Great Lakes constitute Canada's only maritime transport option for reaching the interior, most of the engineering was paid for by Canadians rather than Americans.
Third and most important are the lines of barrier islands that parallel the continent's East and Gulf coasts. These islands allow riverine Mississippi traffic to travel in a protected intracoastal waterway all the way south to the Rio Grande and all the way north to the Chesapeake Bay. In addition to serving as a sort of oceanic river, the island chain's proximity to the Mississippi delta creates an extension of sorts for all Mississippi shipping, in essence extending the political and economic unifying tendencies of the Mississippi Basin to the eastern coastal plain.


Thus, the Greater Mississippi Basin is the continent's core, and whoever controls that core not only is certain to dominate the East Coast and Great Lakes regions but will also have the agricultural, transport, trade and political unification capacity to be a world power — even without having to interact with the rest of the global system.

There is, of course, more to North America than simply this core region and its immediate satellites. There are many secondary stretches of agricultural land as well — those just north of the Greater Mississippi Basin in south-central Canada, the lands just north of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, the Atlantic coastal plain that wraps around the southern terminus of the Appalachians, California's Central Valley, the coastal plain of the Pacific Northwest, the highlands of central Mexico and the Veracruz region.

But all of these regions combined are considerably smaller than the American Midwest and are not ideal, agriculturally, as the Midwest is. Because the Great Lakes are not naturally navigable, costly canals must be constructed. The prairie provinces of south-central Canada lack a river transport system altogether. California's Central Valley requires irrigation. The Mexican highlands are semiarid and lack any navigable rivers.

The rivers of the American Atlantic coastal plain — flowing down the eastern side of the Appalachians — are neither particularly long nor interconnected. This makes them much more like the rivers of Northern Europe in that their separation localizes economic existence and fosters distinct political identities, dividing the region rather than uniting it. The formation of such local — as opposed to national — identities in many ways contributed to the American Civil War.

But the benefits of these secondary regions are not distributed evenly. What is now Mexico lacks even a single navigable river of any size. Its agricultural zones are disconnected and it boasts few good natural ports. Mexico's north is too dry while its south is too wet — and both are too mountainous — to support major population centers or robust agricultural activities. Additionally, the terrain is just rugged enough — making transport just expensive enough — to make it difficult for the central government to enforce its writ. The result is the near lawlessness of the cartel lands in the north and the irregular spasms of secessionist activity in the south.

Canada's maritime transport zones are far superior to those of Mexico but pale in comparison to those of the United States. Its first, the Great Lakes, not only requires engineering but is shared with the United States. The second, the St. Lawrence Seaway, is a solid option (again with sufficient engineering), but it services a region too cold to develop many dense population centers. None of Canada boasts naturally navigable rivers, often making it more attractive for Canada's provinces — in particular the prairie provinces and British Columbia — to integrate with the United States, where transport is cheaper, the climate supports a larger population and markets are more readily accessible. Additionally, the Canadian Shield greatly limits development opportunities. This vast region — which covers more than half of Canada's landmass and starkly separates Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto and the prairie provinces — consists of a rocky, broken landscape perfect for canoeing and backpacking but unsuitable for agriculture or habitation.

So long as the United States has uninterrupted control of the continental core — which itself enjoys independent and interconnected ocean access — the specific locations of the country's northern and southern boundaries are somewhat immaterial to continental politics. To the south, the Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts are a significant barrier in both directions, making the exceedingly shallow Rio Grande a logical — but hardly absolute — border line. The eastern end of the border could be anywhere within 300 kilometers north or south of its current location (at present the border region's southernmost ports — Brownsville and Corpus Christi — lie on the U.S. side of the border). As one moves westward to the barren lands of New Mexico, Arizona, Chihuahua and Sonora, the possible variance increases considerably. Even controlling the mouth of the Colorado River where it empties into the Gulf of California is not a critical issue, since hydroelectric development in the United States prevents the river from reaching the Gulf in most years, making it useless for transport.

In the north, the Great Lakes are obviously an ideal break point in the middle of the border region, but the specific location of the line along the rest of the border is largely irrelevant. East of the lakes, low mountains and thick forests dominate the landscape — not the sort of terrain to generate a power that could challenge the U.S. East Coast. The border here could theoretically lie anywhere between the St. Lawrence Seaway and Massachusetts without compromising the American population centers on the East Coast (although, of course, the farther north the line is the more secure the East Coast will be). West of the lakes is flat prairie that can be easily crossed, but the land is too cold and often too dry, and, like the east, it cannot support a large population. So long as the border lies north of the bulk of the Missouri River's expansive watershed, the border's specific location is somewhat academic, and it becomes even more so when one reaches the Rockies.

On the far western end of the U.S.-Canada border is the only location where there could be some border friction. The entrance to Puget Sound — one of the world's best natural harbors — is commanded by Vancouver Island. Most of the former is United States territory, but the latter is Canadian — in fact, the capital of British Columbia, Victoria, sits on the southern tip of that strategic island for precisely that reason. However, the fact that British Columbia is more than 3,000 kilometers from the Toronto region and that there is a 12:1 population imbalance between British Columbia and the American West Coast largely eliminates the possibility of Canadian territorial aggression.

It is common knowledge that the United States began as 13 rebellious colonies along the east coast of the center third of the North American continent. But the United States as an entity was not a sure thing in the beginning. France controlled the bulk of the useful territory that in time would enable the United States to rise to power, while the Spanish empire boasted a larger and more robust economy and population in the New World than the fledgling United States. Most of the original 13 colonies were lightly populated by European standards — only Philadelphia could be considered a true city in the European sense — and were linked by only the most basic of physical infrastructure. Additionally, rivers flowed west to east across the coastal plain, tending to sequester regional identities rather than unify them.

But the young United States held two advantages. First, without exception, all of the European empires saw their New World holdings as secondary concerns. For them, the real game — and always the real war — was on another continent in a different hemisphere. Europe's overseas colonies were either supplementary sources of income or chips to be traded away on the poker table of Europe. France did not even bother using its American territories to dispose of undesirable segments of its society, while Spain granted its viceroys wide latitude in how they governed imperial territories simply because it was not very important so long as the silver and gold shipments kept arriving. With European attentions diverted elsewhere, the young United States had an opportunity to carve out a future for itself relatively free of European entanglements.

Second, the early United States did not face any severe geographic challenges. The barrier island system and local rivers provided a number of options that allowed for rapid cultural and economic expansion up and down the East Coast. The coastal plain — particularly in what would become the American South — was sufficiently wide and well-watered to allow for the steady expansion of cities and farmland. Choices were limited, but so were challenges. This was not England, an island that forced the early state into the expense of a navy. This was not France, a country with three coasts and two land borders that forced Paris to constantly deal with threats from multiple directions. This was not Russia, a massive country suffering from short growing seasons that was forced to expend inordinate sums of capital on infrastructure simply to attempt to feed itself. Instead, the United States could exist in relative peace for its first few decades without needing to worry about any large-scale, omnipresent military or economic challenges, so it did not have to garrison a large military. Every scrap of energy the young country possessed could be spent on making itself more sustainable. When viewed together — the robust natural transport network overlaying vast tracts of excellent farmland, sharing a continent with two much smaller and weaker powers — it is inevitable that whoever controls the middle third of North America will be a great power.

With these basic inputs, the American polity was presented a set of imperatives it had to achieve in order to be a successful nation. They are only rarely declared elements of national policy, instead serving as a sort of subconscious set of guidelines established by geography that most governments — regardless of composition or ideology — find themselves following. The United States' strategic imperatives are presented here in five parts. Normally imperatives are pursued in order, but there is considerable time overlap between the first two and the second two.
1. Dominate the Greater Mississippi Basin

The early nation was particularly vulnerable to its former colonial master. The original 13 colonies were hardwired into the British Empire economically, and trading with other European powers (at the time there were no other independent states in the Western Hemisphere) required braving the seas that the British still ruled. Additionally, the colonies' almost exclusively coastal nature made them easy prey for that same navy should hostilities ever recommence, as was driven brutally home in the War of 1812 in which Washington was sacked.

There are only two ways to protect a coastal community from sea power. The first is to counter with another navy. But navies are very expensive, and it was all the United States could do in its first 50 years of existence to muster a merchant marine to assist with trade. France's navy stood in during the Revolutionary War in order to constrain British power, but once independence was secured, Paris had no further interest in projecting power to the eastern shore of North America (and, in fact, nearly fought a war with the new country in the 1790s).

The second method of protecting a coastal community is to develop territories that are not utterly dependent upon the sea. Here is where the United States laid the groundwork for becoming a major power, since the strategic depth offered in North America was the Greater Mississippi Basin.

Achieving such strategic depth was both an economic and a military imperative. With few exceptions, the American population was based along the coast, and even the exceptions — such as Philadelphia — were easily reached via rivers. The United States was entirely dependent upon the English imperial system not just for finished goods and markets but also for the bulk of its non-agricultural raw materials, in particular coal and iron ore. Expanding inland allowed the Americans to substitute additional supplies from mines in the Appalachian Mountains. But those same mountains also limited just how much depth the early Americans could achieve. The Appalachians may not be the Swiss Alps, but they were sufficiently rugged to put a check on any deep and rapid inland expansion. Even reaching the Ohio River Valley — all of which lay within the initial territories of the independent United States — was largely blocked by the Appalachians. The Ohio River faced the additional problem of draining into the Mississippi, the western shore of which was the French territory of Louisiana and all of which emptied through the fully French-held city of New Orleans.

The United States solved this problem in three phases. First, there was the direct purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803. (Technically, France's Louisiana Territory was Spanish-held at this point, its ownership having been swapped as a result of the Treaty of Paris in 1763 that ended the Seven Years' War. In October 1800, France and Spain agreed in secret to return the lands to French control, but news of the transfer was not made public until the sale of the lands in question to the United States in July 1803. Therefore, between 1762 and 1803 the territory was legally the territory of the Spanish crown but operationally was a mixed territory under a shifting patchwork of French, Spanish and American management.)

At the time, Napoleon was girding for a major series of wars that would bear his name. France not only needed cash but also to be relieved of the security burden of defending a large but lightly populated territory in a different hemisphere. The Louisiana Purchase not only doubled the size of the United States but also gave it direct ownership of almost all of the Mississippi and Missouri river basins. The inclusion of the city of New Orleans in the purchase granted the United States full control over the entire watershed. Once the territory was purchased, the challenge was to develop the lands. Some settlers migrated northward from New Orleans, but most came via a different route.

The second phase of the strategic-depth strategy was the construction of that different route: the National Road (aka the Cumberland Road). This project linked Baltimore first to Cumberland, Md. — the head of navigation of the Potomac — and then on to the Ohio River Valley at Wheeling, W. Va., by 1818. Later phases extended the road across Ohio (1828), Indiana (1832) and Illinois (1838) until it eventually reached Jefferson City, Mo., in the 1840s. This single road (known in modern times as U.S. Route 40 or Interstate 70 for most of its length) allowed American pioneers to directly settle Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri and granted them initial access to Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota. For the better part of a century, it was the most heavily trafficked route in the country, and it allowed Americans not only to settle the new Louisiana Territory but also to finally take advantage of the lands ceded by the British in 1787. With the road's completion, the original 13 colonies were finally lashed to the Greater Mississippi Basin via a route that could not be challenged by any outside power.

The third phase of the early American expansion strategy was in essence an extension of the National Road via a series of settlement trails, by far the most important and famous of which was the Oregon Trail. While less of a formal construction than the National Road, the Oregon Trail opened up far larger territories. The trail was directly responsible for the initial settling of Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho and Oregon. A wealth of secondary trails branched off from the main artery — the Mormon, Bozeman, California and Denver trails — and extended the settlement efforts to Montana, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and California. The trails were all active from the early 1840s until the completion of the country's first transcontinental railway in 1869. That project's completion reduced East Coast-West Coast travel time from six months to eight days and slashed the cost by 90 percent (to about $1,100 in 2011 dollars). The river of settlers overnight turned into a flood, finally cementing American hegemony over its vast territories.

Collectively, the Louisiana Purchase, the National Road and the Oregon Trail facilitated the largest and fastest cultural expansion in human history. From beginning to end, the entire process required less than 70 years. However, it should be noted that the last part of this process — the securing of the West Coast — was not essential to American security. The Columbia River Valley and California's Central Valley are not critical American territories. Any independent entities based in either could not possibly generate a force capable of threatening the Greater Mississippi Basin. This hardly means that these territories are unattractive or a net loss to the United States — among other things, they grant the United States full access to the Pacific trading basin — only that control of them is not imperative to American security.
2. Eliminate All Land-Based Threats to the Greater Mississippi Basin

The first land threat to the young United States was in essence the second phase of the Revolutionary War — a rematch between the British Empire and the young United States in the War of 1812. That the British navy could outmatch anything the Americans could float was obvious, and the naval blockade was crushing to an economy dependent upon coastal traffic. Geopolitically, the most critical part of the war was the participation of semi-independent British Canada. It wasn't so much Canadian participation in any specific battle of the war (although Canadian troops did play a leading role in the sacking of Washington in August 1814) as it was that Canadian forces, unlike the British, did not have a supply line that stretched across the Atlantic. They were already in North America and, as such, constituted a direct physical threat to the existence of the United States.

Canada lacked many of the United States' natural advantages even before the Americans were able to acquire the Louisiana Territory. First and most obvious, Canada is far enough north that its climate is far harsher than that of the United States, with all of the negative complications one would expect for population, agriculture and infrastructure. What few rivers Canada has neither interconnect nor remain usable year round. While the Great Lakes do not typically freeze, some of the river connections between them do. Most of these river connections also have rapids and falls, greatly limiting their utility as a transport network. Canada has made them more usable via grand canal projects, but the country's low population and difficult climate greatly constrain its ability to generate capital locally. Every infrastructure project comes at a great opportunity cost, such a high cost that the St. Lawrence Seaway — a series of locks that link the St. Lawrence River to the Great Lakes and allow full ocean access — was not completed until 1959.

Canada is also greatly challenged by geography. The maritime provinces — particularly Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island — are disconnected from the Canadian landmass and unable to capitalize on what geographic blessings the rest of the country enjoys. They lack even the option of integrating south with the Americans and so are perennially poor and lightly populated compared to the rest of the country. Even in the modern day, what population centers Canada does have are geographically sequestered from one another by the Canadian Shield and the Rocky Mountains.

As time advanced, none of Canada's geographic weaknesses worked themselves out. Even the western provinces — British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba — are linked to Canada's core by only a single transport corridor that snakes 1,500 kilometers through the emptiness of western and central Ontario north of Lake Superior. All four provinces have been forced by geography and necessity to be more economically integrated with their southern neighbors than with their fellow Canadian provinces.

Such challenges to unity and development went from being inconvenient and expensive to downright dangerous when the British ended their involvement in the War of 1812 in February 1815. The British were exhausted from the Napoleonic Wars in Europe and, with the French Empire having essentially imploded, were more interested in reshaping the European balance of power than re-engaging the Americans in distant North America. For their part, the Americans were mobilized, angry and — remembering vividly the Canadian/British sacking of Washington — mulling revenge. This left a geographically and culturally fractured Canada dreading a long-term, solitary confrontation with a hostile and strengthening local power. During the following decades, the Canadians had little choice but to downgrade their ties to the increasingly disinterested British Empire, adopt political neutrality vis-a-vis Washington, and begin formal economic integration with the United States. Any other choice would have put the Canadians on the path to another war with the Americans (this time likely without the British), and that war could have had only one outcome.

With its northern border secured, the Americans set about excising as much other extra-hemispheric influence from North America as possible. The Napoleonic Wars had not only absorbed British attention but had also shattered Spanish power (Napoleon actually succeeded in capturing the king of Spain early in the conflicts). Using a combination of illegal settlements, military pressure and diplomacy, the United States was able to gain control of east and west Florida from Madrid in 1819 in exchange for recognizing Spanish claims to what is now known as Texas (Tejas to the Spanish of the day).

This "recognition" was not even remotely serious. With Spain reeling from the Napoleonic Wars, Spanish control of its New World colonies was frayed at best. Most of Spain's holdings in the Western Hemisphere either had already established their independence when Florida was officially ceded, or — as in Mexico — were bitterly fighting for it. Mexico achieved its independence a mere two years after Spain ceded Florida, and the United States' efforts to secure its southwestern borders shifted to a blatant attempt to undermine and ultimately carve up the one remaining Western Hemispheric entity that could potentially challenge the United States: Mexico.

The Ohio and Upper Mississippi basins were hugely important assets, since they provided not only ample land for settlement but also sufficient grain production and easy transport. Since that transport allowed American merchants to easily access broader international markets, the United States quickly transformed itself from a poor coastal nation to a massively capital-rich commodities exporter. But these inner territories harbored a potentially fatal flaw: New Orleans. Should any nation but the United States control this single point, the entire maritime network that made North America such valuable territory would be held hostage to the whims of a foreign power. This is why the United States purchased New Orleans.

But even with the Louisiana Purchase, owning was not the same as securing, and all the gains of the Ohio and Louisiana settlement efforts required the permanent securing of New Orleans. Clearly, the biggest potential security threat to the United States was newly independent Mexico, the border with which was only 150 kilometers from New Orleans. In fact, New Orleans' security was even more precarious than such a small distance suggested.

Most of eastern Texas was forested plains and hills with ample water supplies — ideal territory for hosting and supporting a substantial military force. In contrast, southern Louisiana was swamp. Only the city of New Orleans itself could house forces, and they would need to be supplied from another location via ship. It did not require a particularly clever military strategy for one to envision a Mexican assault on the city.

The United States defused and removed this potential threat by encouraging the settlement of not just its own side of the border region but the other side as well, pushing until the legal border reflected the natural border — the barrens of the desert. Just as the American plan for dealing with Canada was shaped by Canada's geographic weakness, Washington's efforts to first shield against and ultimately take over parts of Mexico were shaped by Mexico's geographic shortcomings.

In the early 1800s Mexico, like the United States, was a very young country and much of its territory was similarly unsettled, but it simply could not expand as quickly as the United States for a variety of reasons. Obviously, the United States enjoyed a head start, having secured its independence in 1783 while Mexico became independent in 1821, but the deeper reasons are rooted in the geographic differences of the two states.

In the United States, the cheap transport system allowed early settlers to quickly obtain their own small tracts of land. It was an attractive option that helped fuel the early migration waves into the United States and then into the continent's interior. Growing ranks of landholders exported their agricultural output either back down the National Road to the East Coast or down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and on to Europe. Small towns formed as wealth collected in the new territories, and in time the wealth accumulated to the point that portions of the United States had the capital necessary to industrialize. The interconnected nature of the Midwest ensured sufficient economies of scale to reinforce this process, and connections between the Midwest and the East Coast were sufficient to allow advances in one region to play off of and strengthen the other.

Mexico, in contrast, suffered from a complete lack of navigable rivers and had only a single good port (Veracruz). Additionally, what pieces of arable land it possessed were neither collected into a singular mass like the American interior nor situated at low elevations. The Mexico City region is arable only because it sits at a high elevation — at least 2,200 meters above sea level — lifting it out of the subtropical climate zone that predominates at that latitude.

This presented Mexico with a multitude of problems. First and most obviously, the lack of navigable waterways and the non-abundance of ports drastically reduced Mexico's ability to move goods and thereby generate its own capital. Second, the disassociated nature of Mexico's agricultural regions forced the construction of separate, non-integrated infrastructures for each individual sub-region, drastically raising the costs of even basic development. There were few economies of scale to be had, and advances in one region could not bolster another. Third, the highland nature of the Mexico City core required an even more expensive infrastructure, since everything had to be transported up the mountains from Veracruz. The engineering challenges and costs were so extreme and Mexico's ability to finance them so strained that the 410-kilometer railway linking Mexico City and Veracruz was not completed until 1873. (By that point, the United States had two intercontinental lines and roughly 60,000 kilometers of railways.)

The higher cost of development in Mexico resulted in a very different economic and social structure compared to the United States. Instead of small landholdings, Mexican agriculture was dominated by a small number of rich Spaniards (or their descendants) who could afford the high capital costs of creating plantations. So whereas American settlers were traditionally yeoman farmers who owned their own land, Mexican settlers were largely indentured laborers or de facto serfs in the employ of local oligarchs. The Mexican landowners had, in essence, created their own company towns and saw little benefit in pooling their efforts to industrialize. Doing so would have undermined their control of their economic and political fiefdoms. This social structure has survived to the modern day, with the bulk of Mexican political and economic power held by the same 300 families that dominated Mexico's early years, each with its local geographic power center.

For the United States, the attraction of owning one's own destiny made it the destination of choice for most European migrants. At the time that Mexico achieved independence it had 6.2 million people versus the U.S. population of 9.6 million. In just two generations — by 1870 — the American population had ballooned to 38.6 million while Mexico's was only 8.8 million. This U.S. population boom, combined with the United States' ability to industrialize organically, not only allowed it to develop economically but also enabled it to provide the goods for its own development.

The American effort against Mexico took place in two theaters. The first was Texas, and the primary means was settlement as enabled by the Austin family. Most Texas scholars begin the story of Texas with Stephen F. Austin, considered to be the dominant personality in Texas' formation. Stratfor starts earlier with Stephen's father, Moses Austin. In December 1796, Moses relocated from Virginia to then-Spanish Missouri — a region that would, within a decade, become part of the Louisiana Purchase — and began investing in mining operations. He swore fealty to the Spanish crown but obtained permission to assist with settling the region — something he did with American, not Spanish, citizens. Once Missouri became American territory, Moses shifted his attention south to the new border and used his contacts in the Spanish government to replicate his Missouri activities in Spanish Tejas.

After Moses' death in 1821, his son took over the family business of establishing American demographic and economic interests on the Mexican side of the border. Whether the Austins were American agents or simply profiteers is irrelevant; the end result was an early skewing of Tejas in the direction of the United States. Stephen's efforts commenced the same year as his father's death, which was the same year that Mexico's long war of independence against Spain ended. At that time, Spanish/Mexican Tejas was nearly devoid of settlers — Anglo or Hispanic — so the original 300 families that Stephen F. Austin helped settle in Tejas immediately dominated the territory's demography and economy. And from that point on the United States not so quietly encouraged immigration into Mexican Tejas.

Once Tejas' population identified more with the United States than it did with Mexico proper, the hard work was already done. The remaining question was how to formalize American control, no small matter. When hostilities broke out between Mexico City and these so-called "Texians," U.S. financial interests — most notably the U.S. regional reserve banks — bankrolled the Texas Revolution of 1835-1836.

It was in this war that one of the most important battles of the modern age was fought. After capturing the Alamo, Mexican dictator Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna marched north and then east with the intention of smashing the Texian forces in a series of engagements. With the Texians outnumbered by a factor of more than five to one, there was every indication that the Mexican forces would prevail over the Texian rebels. But with no small amount of luck the Texians managed not only to defeat the Mexican forces at the Battle of San Jacinto but also capture Santa Anna himself and force a treaty of secession upon the Mexican government. An independent Texas was born and the Texians became Texans.

However, had the battle gone the other way the Texian forces would not have simply been routed but crushed. It was obvious to the Mexicans that the Texians had been fighting with weapons made in the United States, purchased from the United States with money lent by the United States. Since there would have been no military force between the Mexican army and New Orleans, it would not have required a particularly ingenious plan for Mexican forces to capture New Orleans. It could well have been Mexico — not the United States — that controlled access to the North American core.

But Mexican supremacy over North America was not to be, and the United States continued consolidating. The next order of business was ensuring that Texas neither fell back under Mexican control nor was able to persist as an independent entity.

Texas was practically a still-born republic. The western half of Texas suffers from rocky soil and aridity, and its rivers are for the most part unnavigable. Like Mexico, its successful development would require a massive application of capital, and it attained its independence only by accruing a great deal of debt. That debt was owed primarily to the United States, which chose not to write off any upon conclusion of the war. Add in that independent Texas had but 40,000 people (compared to the U.S. population at the time of 14.7 million) and the future of the new country was — at best — bleak.

Texas immediately applied for statehood, but domestic (both Texan and American) political squabbles and a refusal of Washington to accept Texas' debt as an American federal responsibility prevented immediate annexation. Within a few short years, Texas' deteriorating financial position combined with a revenge-minded Mexico hard by its still-disputed border forced Texas to accede to the United States on Washington's terms in 1845. From that point the United States poured sufficient resources into its newest territory (ultimately exchanging approximately one-third of Texas' territory for the entirety of the former country's debt burden in 1850, giving Texas its contemporary shape) and set about enforcing the new U.S.-Mexico border.

Which brings us to the second part of the American strategy against Mexico. While the United States was busy supporting Texian/Texan autonomy, it was also undermining Spanish/Mexican control of the lands of what would become the American Southwest farther to the west. The key pillar of this strategy was another of the famous American trails: the Santa Fe.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, the Santa Fe Trail was formed not only before the New Mexico Territory became American, or even before Texas became an U.S. state, but before the territory become formally Mexican — the United States founded the trail when Santa Fe was still held by Spanish authority. The trail's purpose was twofold: first, to fill the region on the other side of the border with a sufficient number of Americans so that the region would identify with the United States rather than with Spain or Mexico and, second, to establish an economic dependency between the northern Mexican territories and the United States.

The United States' more favorable transport options and labor demography granted it the capital and skills it needed to industrialize at a time when Mexico was still battling Spain for its independence. The Santa Fe Trail started filling the region not only with American settlers but also with American industrial goods that Mexicans could not get elsewhere in the hemisphere.

Even if the race to dominate the lands of New Mexico and Arizona had been a fair one, the barrens of the Chihuahuan, Sonoran and Mojave deserts greatly hindered Mexico's ability to settle the region with its own citizens. Mexico quickly fell behind economically and demographically in the contest for its own northern territories. (Incidentally, the United States attempted a similar settlement policy in western Canada, but it was halted by the War of 1812.)

The two efforts — carving out Texas and demographically and economically dominating the Southwest — came to a head in the 1846-1848 Mexican-American War. In that war the Americans launched a series of diversionary attacks across the border region, drawing the bulk of Mexican forces into long, arduous marches across the Mexican deserts. Once Mexican forces were fully engaged far to the north of Mexico's core territories — and on the wrong side of the deserts — American forces made an amphibious landing and quickly captured Mexico's only port at Veracruz before marching on and capturing Mexico City, the country's capital. In the postwar settlement, the United States gained control of all the lands of northern Mexico that could sustain sizable populations and set the border with Mexico through the Chihuahuan Desert, as good of an international border as one can find in North America. This firmly eliminated Mexico as a military threat.
3. Control the Ocean Approaches to North America

With the United States having not simply secured its land borders but having ensured that its North American neighbors were geographically unable to challenge it, Washington's attention shifted to curtailing the next potential threat: an attack from the sea. Having been settled by the British and being economically integrated into their empire for more than a century, the Americans understood very well that sea power could be used to reach them from Europe or elsewhere, outmaneuver their land forces and attack at the whim of whoever controlled the ships.

But the Americans also understood that useful sea power had requirements. The Atlantic crossing was a long one that exhausted its crews and passengers. Troops could not simply sail straight across and be dropped off ready to fight. They required recuperation on land before being committed to a war. Such ships and their crews also required local resupply. Loading up with everything needed for both the trip across the Atlantic and a military campaign would leave no room on the ships for troops. As naval technology advanced, the ships themselves also required coal, which necessitated a constellation of coaling stations near any theaters of operation. Hence, a naval assault required forward bases that would experience traffic just as heavy as the spear tip of any invasion effort.

Ultimately, it was a Russian decision that spurred the Americans to action. In 1821 the Russians formalized their claim to the northwest shore of North America, complete with a declaration barring any ship from approaching within 100 miles of their coastline. The Russian claim extended as far south as the 51st parallel (the northern extreme of Vancouver Island). A particularly bold Russian effort even saw the founding of Fort Ross, less than 160 kilometers north of San Francisco Bay, in order to secure a (relatively) local supply of foodstuffs for Russia's American colonial effort.

In response to both the broader geopolitical need as well as the specific Russian challenge, the United States issued the Monroe Doctrine in 1823. It asserted that European powers would not be allowed to form new colonies in the Western Hemisphere and that, should a European power lose its grip on an existing New World colony, American power would be used to prevent their re-entrance. It was a policy of bluff, but it did lay the groundwork in both American and European minds that the Western Hemisphere was not European territory. With every year that the Americans' bluff was not called, the United States' position gained a little more credibility.

All the while the United States used diplomacy and its growing economic heft to expand. In 1867 the United States purchased the Alaska Territory from Russia, removing Moscow's weak influence from the hemisphere and securing the United States from any northwestern coastal approach from Asia. In 1898, after a generation of political manipulations that included indirectly sponsoring a coup, Washington signed a treaty of annexation with the Kingdom of Hawaii. This secured not only the most important supply depot in the entire Pacific but also the last patch of land on any sea invasion route from Asia to the U.S. West Coast.

The Atlantic proved far more problematic. There are not many patches of land in the Pacific, and most of them are in the extreme western reaches of the ocean, so securing a buffer there was relatively easy. On the Atlantic side, many European empires were firmly entrenched very close to American shores. The British held bases in maritime Canada and the Bahamas. Several European powers held Caribbean colonies, all of which engaged in massive trade with the Confederacy during the U.S. Civil War. The Spanish, while completely ejected from the mainland by the end of the 1820s, still held Cuba, Puerto Rico and the eastern half of Hispaniola (the modern-day Dominican Republic).

All were problematic to the growing United States, but it was Cuba that was the most vexing issue. Just as the city of New Orleans is critical because it is the lynchpin of the entire Mississippi watershed, Cuba, too, is critical because it oversees New Orleans' access to the wider world from its perch on the Yucatan Channel and Florida Straits. No native Cuban power is strong enough to threaten the United States directly, but like Canada, Cuba could serve as a launching point for an extra-hemispheric power. At Spain's height of power in the New World it controlled Florida, the Yucatan and Cuba — precisely the pieces of territory necessary to neutralize New Orleans. By the end of the 19th century, those holdings had been whittled down to Cuba alone, and by that time the once-hegemonic Spain had been crushed in a series of European wars, reducing it to a second-rate regional power largely limited to southwestern Europe. It did not take long for Washington to address the Cuba question.

In 1898, the United States launched its first-ever overseas expeditionary war, complete with amphibious assaults, long supply lines and naval support for which American warfighting would in time become famous. In a war that was as globe-spanning as it was brief, the United States captured all of Spain's overseas island territories — including Cuba. Many European powers retained bases in the Western Hemisphere that could threaten the U.S. mainland, but with Cuba firmly in American hands, they could not easily assault New Orleans, the only spot that could truly threaten America's position. Cuba remained a de facto American territory until the Cuban Revolution of 1959. At that point, Cuba again became a launching point for an extra-hemispheric power, this time the Soviet Union. That the United States risked nuclear war over Cuba is a testament to how seriously Washington views Cuba. In the post-Cold War era Cuba lacks a powerful external sponsor and so, like Canada, is not viewed as a security risk.

After the Spanish-American war, the Americans opportunistically acquired territories when circumstances allowed. By far the most relevant of these annexations were the results of the Lend-Lease program in the lead-up to World War II. The United Kingdom and its empire had long been seen as the greatest threat to American security. In addition to two formal American-British wars, the United States had fought dozens of skirmishes with its former colonial master over the years. It was British sea power that had nearly destroyed the United States in its early years, and it remained British sea power that could both constrain American economic growth and ultimately challenge the U.S. position in North America.

The opening years of World War II ended this potential threat. Beset by a European continent fully under the control of Nazi Germany, London had been forced to concentrate all of its naval assets on maintaining a Continental blockade. German submarine warfare threatened both the strength of that blockade and the ability of London to maintain its own maritime supply lines. Simply put, the British needed more ships. The Americans were willing to provide them — 50 mothballed destroyers to be exact — for a price. That price was almost all British naval bases in the Western Hemisphere. The only possessions that boasted good natural ports that the British retained after the deal were in Nova Scotia and the Bahamas.

The remaining naval approaches in the aftermath of Lend-Lease were the Azores (a Portuguese possession) and Iceland. The first American operations upon entering World War II were the occupations of both territories. In the post-war settlement, not only was Iceland formally included in NATO but its defense responsibilities were entirely subordinated to the U.S. Defense Department.
4. Control the World's Oceans

The two world wars of the early 20th century constituted a watershed in human history for a number of reasons. For the United States the wars' effects can be summed up with this simple statement: They cleared away the competition.

Global history from 1500 to 1945 is a lengthy treatise of increasing contact and conflict among a series of great regional powers. Some of these powers achieved supra-regional empires, with the Spanish, French and English being the most obvious. Several regional powers — Austria, Germany, Ottoman Turkey and Japan — also succeeded in extending their writ over huge tracts of territory during parts of this period. And several secondary powers — the Netherlands, Poland, China and Portugal — had periods of relative strength. Yet the two world wars massively devastated all of these powers. No battles were fought in the mainland United States. Not a single American factory was ever bombed. Alone among the world's powers in 1945, the United States was not only functional but thriving.

The United States immediately set to work consolidating its newfound power, creating a global architecture to entrench its position. The first stage of this — naval domination — was achieved quickly and easily. The U.S. Navy at the beginning of World War II was already a respectable institution, but after three years fighting across two oceans it had achieved both global reach and massive competency. But that is only part of the story. Equally important was the fact that, as of August 1945, with the notable exception of the British Royal Navy, every other navy in the world had been destroyed. As impressive as the United States' absolute gains in naval power had been, its relative gains were grander still. There simply was no competition. Always a maritime merchant power, the United States could now marry its economic advantages to absolute dominance of the seas and all global trade routes. And it really didn't need to build a single additional ship to do so (although it did anyway).

Over the next few years the United States' undisputed naval supremacy allowed the Americans to impose a series of changes on the international system.

    The formation of NATO in 1949 placed all of the world's surviving naval assets under American strategic direction.
    The inclusion of the United Kingdom, Italy, Iceland and Norway in NATO granted the United States the basing rights it needed to utterly dominate the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean — the two bodies of water that would be required for any theoretical European resurgence. The one meaningful European attempt to challenge the new reality — the Anglo-French Sinai campaign of 1956 — cemented the downfall of the European navies. Both London and Paris discovered that they now lacked the power to hold naval policies independent of Washington.
    The seizure of Japan's Pacific empire granted the Americans basing access in the Pacific, sufficient to allow complete American naval dominance of the north and central portions of that ocean.
    A formal alliance with Australia and New Zealand extended American naval hegemony to the southern Pacific in 1951.
    A 1952 security treaty placed a rehabilitated Japan — and its navy — firmly under the American security umbrella.

Shorn of both independent economic vitality at home and strong independent naval presences beyond their home waters, all of the European empires quickly collapsed. Within a few decades of World War II's end, nearly every piece of the once globe-spanning European empires had achieved independence.

There is another secret to American success — both in controlling the oceans and taking advantage of European failures — that lies in an often-misunderstood economic structure called Bretton Woods. Even before World War II ended, the United States had leveraged its position as the largest economy and military to convince all of the Western allies — most of whose governments were in exile at the time — to sign onto the Bretton Woods accords. The states committed to the formation of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to assist with the expected post-War reconstruction. Considering the general destitution of Western Europe at the time, this, in essence, was a U.S. commitment to finance if not outright fund that reconstruction. Because of that, the U.S. dollar was the obvious and only choice to serve as the global currency.

But Bretton Woods was about more than currency regimes and international institutions; its deeper purpose lay in two other features that are often overlooked. The United States would open its markets to participating states' exports while not requiring reciprocal access for its own. In exchange, participating states would grant the United States deference in the crafting of security policy. NATO quickly emerged as the organization through which this policy was pursued.

From the point of view of the non-American founders of Bretton Woods, this was an excellent deal. Self-funded reconstruction was out of the question. The bombing campaigns required to defeat the Nazis leveled most of Western Europe's infrastructure and industrial capacity. Even in those few parts of the United Kingdom that emerged unscathed, the state labored under a debt that would require decades of economic growth to recover from.

It was not so much that access to the American market would help regenerate Europe's fortunes as it was that the American market was the only market at war's end. And since all exports from Bretton-Woods states (which the exception of some Canadian exports) to the United States had to travel by water, and since the U.S. Navy was the only institution that could guarantee the safety of those exports, adopting security policies unfriendly to Washington was simply seen as a nonstarter. By the mid-1950s, Bretton Woods had been expanded to the defeated Axis powers as well as South Korea and Taiwan. It soon became the basis of the global trading network, first being incorporated into the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and in time being transformed into the World Trade Organization. With a single policy, the Americans not only had fused their economic and military policies into a single robust system but also had firmly established that American dominance of the seas and the global economic system would be in the interest of all major economies with the exception of the Soviet Union.
5. Prevent any Potential Challengers from Rising

From a functional point of view the United States controls North America because it holds nearly all of the pieces that are worth holding. With the possible exception of Cuba or some select sections of southern Canada, the rest of the landmass is more trouble than it is worth. Additionally, the security relationship it has developed with Canada and Mexico means that neither poses an existential threat to American dominance. Any threat to the United States would have to come from beyond North America. And the only type of country that could possibly dislodge the United States would be another state whose power is also continental in scope.

As of 2011, there are no such states in the international system. Neither are there any such powers whose rise is imminent. Most of the world is simply too geographically hostile to integration to pose significant threats. The presence of jungles, deserts and mountains and the lack of navigable rivers in Africa does more than make Africa capital poor; it also absolutely prevents unification, thus eliminating Africa as a potential seedbed for a mega-state. As for Australia, most of it is not habitable. It is essentially eight loosely connected cities spread around the edges of a largely arid landmass. Any claims to Australia being a "continental" power would be literal, not functional.

In fact, there are only two portions of the planet (outside of North America) that could possibly generate a rival to the United States. One is South America. South America is mostly hollow, with the people living on the coasts and the center dominated by rainforests and mountains. However, the Southern Cone region has the world's only other naturally interconnected and navigable waterway system overlaying arable land, the building blocks of a major power. But that territory — the Rio de la Plata region — is considerably smaller than the North American core and it is also split among four sovereign states. And the largest of those four — Brazil — has a fundamentally different culture and language than the others, impeding unification.

State-to-state competition is hardwired into the Rio de la Plata region, making a challenge to the United States impossible until there is political consolidation, and that will require not simply Brazil's ascendency but also its de facto absorption of Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina into a single Brazilian superstate. Considering how much more powerful Brazil is than the other three combined, that consolidation — and the challenge likely to arise from it — may well be inevitable but it is certainly not imminent. Countries the size of Argentina do not simply disappear easily or quickly. So while a South American challenge may be rising, it is extremely unlikely to occur within a generation.

The other part of the world that could produce a rival to the United States is Eurasia. Eurasia is a region of extremely varied geography, and it is the most likely birthplace of an American competitor that would be continental in scope. Geography, however, makes it extremely difficult for such a power (or a coalition of such powers) to arise. In fact, the southern

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Former PM Tony Abbot: The view from Australia
« Reply #854 on: July 13, 2018, 07:43:13 PM »

By Tony Abbott
July 13, 2018 6:45 p.m. ET
49 COMMENTS

Eighteen months into Donald Trump’s term, the world is having trouble coming to grips with the most unconventional American president ever. Still, he is neither a bad dream from which the U.S. will soon wake up, nor a fool to be ridiculed.

For someone his critics say is a compulsive liar, Mr. Trump has been remarkably true to his word. Especially compared with his predecessor, he doesn’t moralize. It’s classic Trump to be openly exasperated by the Group of 7’s hand-wringing hypocrisy. Unlike almost every other democratic leader, Mr. Trump doesn’t try to placate critics. He knows it’s more important to get things done than to be loved.

The holder of the world’s most significant office should always be taken seriously. Erratic and ill-disciplined though Mr. Trump often seems, there’s little doubt that he is proving a consequential president. On the evidence so far, when he says something, he means it—and when he says something consistently, it will happen.

He said he’d cut taxes and regulation. He did, and the American economy is at its strongest in at least a decade. He said he’d pull out of the Paris climate-change agreement and he did, to the usual obloquy but no discernible environmental damage. He said he’d scrap the Iranian deal, and he did. If Tehran gets nuclear weapons, at least it won’t be with American connivance. He said he’d move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, and he did, without catastrophe. He said he’d boost defense spending. That’s happening too, and adversaries no longer think that they can cross American red lines with impunity.

In Mr. Trump’s first year, he acted on 64% of the policy ideas proposed in the Heritage Foundation’s “Mandate for Leadership” agenda—not bad compared with Ronald Reagan’s 49%.

It’s a pity that he kept his promise to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But his concerns about that deal shouldn’t be dismissed. In the short term, freer trade can be better for rich people in poor countries than for poor people in rich ones.

Mr. Trump thinks that the effect of freer trade has been to make America’s rivals stronger. But as the Harley-Davidson example shows, global supply chains mean that even “all-American products” are made all over the world. The consequence of taxing imports can be losing exports, too, as other countries retaliate. So far, though, Mr. Trump’s strong rhetoric and tough action haven’t triggered a full-scale trade war, but have forced other countries to address America’s concerns about technology theft and predatory pricing.

Then there’s the nuclear diplomacy with North Korea. Maybe a hitherto brutal dictator is looking for the survival strategy that Mr. Trump has offered. On the other hand, it could turn into a latter-day version of the Iran deal, in which pressure is eased on the basis of promises that are never fully kept, while leaving allies unsure of American support. That’s the trouble with one-on-one meetings. They may be good for building trust, but they’re bad for making decisions, because each participant has his own version of what was meant.

Still, whatever your judgment on Mr. Trump’s presidency so far, he has 2½ more years in the world’s biggest job and every chance of being re-elected. He is the reality we have to work with.

For Australia, Mr. Trump has so far been a good president. Despite his testy initial conversation with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, he has honored the “very bad deal” that President Obama made to take boat people from Nauru and Manus Island to settle in the U.S.

Mr. Trump seems to appreciate that Australia is the only ally that has been with America, side by side, in every conflict since World War I. He has exempted our steel and aluminum from the tariffs slapped on many others. As a country that’s paid its dues, so to speak, on the American alliance, we have been treated with courtesy and respect. Still, that’s no grounds for complacency in dealing with a transactional president.

As weightier allies found at the NATO summit this week, Mr. Trump is reluctant to help those who don’t pull their weight, and who can blame him? America has been the world’s policeman, the guarantor of a modicum of restraint from the world’s despots and fanatics. No other country has had both the strength and the goodwill for this essential task.

And America’s thanks for its seven decades of watchfulness and its prodigious expenditure of blood and treasure? Condescension from the intellectuals whose freedom the U.S. has protected, and commercial exploitation by the competitors that the American-led global order has created. It’s little wonder that Mr. Trump wants trade that’s fair as well as free, or that he’s tired of allies who give sermons from the sidelines while America keeps them safe.

The truth is that the rest of the world needs America much more than America needs us. The U.S. has no threatening neighbors. It’s about as remote from the globe’s trouble spots as is possible to be. It’s richly endowed with resources, including energy and an almost boundless agricultural capacity. Its technology is second to none. Its manufacturing base is vast. Its people are entrepreneurial in their bones. From diversity, it has built unity and an enviable pride in country.

In many respects, America is the world in one country, only a better world than the one outside. If it decided to live in splendid isolation from troubles across the sea, it would lose little and perhaps gain much, at least in the beginning. A fortress America would be as impregnable as any country could be.

Mr. Trump is clearly impatient with the liberal internationalism that has shaped American policy for 70 years, which he worries has been better for others than for the U.S. There are two possible versions of the evolving Trump doctrine. One goes something like this: America may help those who help themselves, but it will be likelier to help those who help America. The other, kinder version: They’re your values too, so don’t expect us to be the only ones fighting for them.

President Obama spoke beautifully about American values but was always cautious and sometimes slow to stand up for them. On his watch, the rules-based order was already unraveling. Mr. Trump is much more honest about the limits of American power. For all Mr. Obama’s high-mindedness on fringe issues like climate change, Mr. Trump’s America is more robust. It’s certainly less apologetic and readier to use force. So at least for those allies that don’t shirk their responsibilities, Mr. Trump’s America should remain a reliable partner. Just don’t expect too much.

A new age is coming. The legions are going home. American values can be relied upon but American help less so. This need not presage a darker time, like Rome’s withdrawal from Britain, but more will be required of the world’s other free countries. Will they step up? That’s the test.

I was prime minister when Mr. Obama declared at West Point in 2014 that America could not be the world’s policeman on its own. My response was that America need never be alone, and that while it would have more important and occasionally more useful allies, it would never have a more dependable one than Australia. As prime minister, I wanted to be a welcome contrast to those White House visitors asking America to do things for them—asking instead what we could do for America.

When the WikiLeaks spying scandal broke, there was nothing but strong support from Australia. When Islamic State stormed to the gates of Baghdad, Australian special forces, military training teams and strike fighters were there almost as quickly as American ones, because the U.S. should never have to take on the world’s fight solo.

Being America’s partner, as well as its friend, is even more important now, given Mr. Trump’s obsession with reciprocity. It may be the only hope of keeping America engaged in troubles that aren’t already its own.

In my judgment, Australia should have upgraded its Iraq mission to “advise, assist and accompany” as soon as America did, and extended it into Syria. Australia should have mounted freedom-of-navigation operations in the South China Sea. And Australia should have not only welcomed the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem but moved ours, too.

The rise of China means that Australia can no longer take for granted a benign strategic environment. For the first extended period in my country’s settled existence, the strongest power in our part of the world is unlikely to share our values. We can no longer be sure that a friendly nation will be the first to respond to a new challenge to peace, stability and decency in our region.

I fear there will have to be a much greater focus on strategic deterrence, especially if a rogue state like North Korea has long-range nuclear weapons—and especially if the American nuclear shield becomes less reliable.

My government increased Australia’s defense spending from a historical low of 1.6% of gross domestic product to 2%. I made the commitment to continuous construction of major surface ships and began the process of acquiring new submarines.

To its credit, the Turnbull government has continued this work. But I fear that dramatically increased military spending in our region overall—up 60% in the past decade—means that rather more now needs to be done. Can Australia’s ships be expected to operate without the air cover that an overstretched America may no longer provide? Can we afford to wait at least 15 years before the first of the next generation of submarines becomes operational? Does it really make sense for Australia to take a French nuclear submarine and redesign it for conventional power, making it less potent than it currently is?

My instinct is that acquiring a capacity to strike harder and further, while giving our country and our armed forces greater protection, could soon require military spending well beyond 2% of GDP. Our armed forces need to be more capable of operating independently against even a substantial adversary, because that is what a truly sovereign nation must be prepared to do.

America spends more than 3% of the world’s biggest GDP on its armed forces, and the rest of the Western world scarcely breaks 2%. It’s hard to dispute Mr. Trump’s view that most of us have been keeping safe on the cheap. The U.S. can’t be expected to fight harder for Australia than we are prepared to fight for ourselves. What Mr. Trump is making clear—to us and to others—is what should always have been screamingly obvious: that each nation’s safety now rests in its own hands far more than in anyone else’s.

Mr. Abbott served as prime minister of Australia, 2013-15. This is adapted from a speech he delivered Wednesday at the Heritage Foundation in Washington.


ccp

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Re: US Foreign Policy
« Reply #856 on: July 21, 2018, 06:02:54 AM »
Jonah makes good points.

Trumps utter clumsiness and speaking first and *reluctantly* thinking later (when forced to only)  is a big problem even if he is mostly right on a lot of constructs.

I can't agree less with Rush who promotes the idea that Trump is simply toying with other nations and the media deliberately and consciously.

We know that is an absurd conclusion .




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Re: Jonah Goldberg on the Rasion d'etre for NATO
« Reply #857 on: July 21, 2018, 06:22:56 AM »

https://www.nationalreview.com/g-file/donald-trump-nato-new-world-disorder/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=180720_G-File&utm_term=GFile

That is a great column and he has it about 99% right in my thinking.

He points out what is missing in other people's thinking, but what is missing in his thinking is this:

If the US is paying for 70 to 90% of the protection of Europe and Montenegro for example is paying .001% or so, what is the negotiating tactic that needs to be done to get all to pay their fair share? What is the lever other than threatening to drop them? What is the lever on any of them when all of them other than us come up short?

And what about applying Jonas's wisdom to the UN?  They did not avert war to my knowledge or accomplish all of these things. In some ways they have worsened the risks. For another thread I assume, but I would leave the UN in place to talk and to rot on the vine and create some new group that will establish its own reputation and Institution, sometimes called the association of democracies.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2018, 10:16:58 AM by DougMacG »

Crafty_Dog

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Re: US Foreign Policy
« Reply #858 on: July 21, 2018, 07:24:14 AM »
"what is the negotiating tactic that needs to be done to get all to pay their fair share? "

Exactly the question!

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Re: US Foreign Policy
« Reply #859 on: July 21, 2018, 09:21:47 AM »
"what is the negotiating tactic that needs to be done to get all to pay their fair share? "

Exactly the question!


Walking away. NATO has outlived it’s purpose.


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GPF: Russia-China growing closer
« Reply #861 on: August 16, 2018, 09:15:17 AM »
China and Russia are growing closer. Officials from both countries met in Moscow on Wednesday and discussed North Korea, the Iran nuclear deal and President Xi Jinping’s upcoming visit to Russia, according to Chinese news agency Xinhua. After the meeting, the director of China’s Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission said that China-Russia relations were at their “best point in history” and that together, the two sides would work to jointly build a “just and equitable international order.” The U.S. has identified Russia and China as its two main strategic competitors, and relations with both are shaky at best, what with the latest round of anti-Russia sanctions and tariffs on Chinese imports. A meeting and an impressive sounding statement by themselves aren’t much to write home about. The deeper issue here is whether the U.S. is giving two historical rivals a reason to work together.

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George Friedman on Sen. McCain
« Reply #862 on: August 31, 2018, 10:19:56 AM »

By George Friedman


John McCain and the Moral War


An obituary of the late U.S. senator.


There’s a saying that John McCain never saw a war he didn’t like. That is only partly true. He understood the price of war more than most. What McCain believed was that the United States, rightly or wrongly, had a strategic and moral obligation to use its power to impose liberal democratic principles. He proselytized war, that heavy instrument of human violence, because he believed it was the best way to end tyranny and its associated human rights abuses. His voting record on the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, to name just a few, attests to this belief.

It seems ironic that a neoconservative (as he was called) should have the same moral ends as human rights groups (as they are called). Both hold that the values of liberal democracy are moral imperatives, and both want the United States to use its power to reshape the world, often with the same tools – lectures, sanctions, intervention, and so on. I say it seems ironic because it really isn’t. It is the vision of U.S. foreign policy that emerged from World War II, which imparted its lessons to students such as McCain.

The United States saw World War II as a moral war. The Axis powers were evil states that did evil things. Their people needed to be saved from their own governments. It’s a tempting thought to dismiss, but doing so, I think, would be a mistake. There were important strategic considerations for joining the war, of course, but the immorality of the Axis powers was the basis for the sacrifice. That sacrifice required the use of overwhelming force, which led to the destruction of those regimes, the imposition of liberal democracy and the liberation of the Japanese, German and Italian people.

This vision was the foundation for the resistance to the Soviet Union and, later, China. The conceptual framework for defeating communism was the same as for defeating the Nazis: Stop their advance by stabilizing liberal democracies on their periphery, arm their enemies, then launch an overwhelming military campaign to defeat them.

The ensuing war was a world war by different means. Some fronts such as Korea were mostly conventional wars. Others like the Congo were covert, waged through proxies. Each side sought to undermine the other in a particular place rather than in a global theater. Decisive victory would have led to nuclear war, so combat was waged in relatively unimportant areas.

But in limiting their engagement, they violated the “total war” principle that governed World War II. Total war was intended to annihilate the enemy. These new wars were intended to defeat the enemy without annihilating it. The goal for both sides was the triumph of their ideology. In this sense, neither victory nor loss would alter the balance of power. So the point was not to win but to confront and block.

Nothing after World War II could be considered total war, not even the war in which McCain cut his teeth: Vietnam. When McCain went to school, there was a saying that the U.S. had never lost a war, Korea having been a tie. That was true until the U.S. lost in Vietnam. (Some may argue that it counts as a win because the U.S. defeated the Communists in every engagement. Yet the North’s flag flew in Saigon all the same.) And it lost because it pursued a World War II end without the coherence of a World War II means, whereby all resources were dedicated to total victory. Vietnam was not worth all of America’s resources, nor was total victory the goal. So some resources were devoted to an inarticulate goal, and those resources were wasted.

It was in this war that John McCain was famously captured, imprisoned and tortured for five years. He was eventually released, and when he came home, he came home to a country in which he, the warrior, was blamed for the war, where activists openly challenged America’s liberal democratic credentials and questioned the moral depravity of the enemy government and thus the moral rectitude of their own. In World War II, no one doubted that the Axis powers were morally depraved. No one criticized the soldiers for the devastation they wrought. Partly that’s because World War II was a morally unambiguous main event, not a sideshow in a global conflict whose primary goal was the avoidance of both victory and nuclear war.

Over time, though, America came together and accepted that the principles of World War II applied in Vietnam. Those who fought, fought a repressive regime. Those who served, served honorably.

But the things we were taught in school were no longer true. The United States had been defeated in a war. Now there are those who hesitate to pursue the moral ends of World War II, not because the ends are unjust but because victory, long held to be assured, is no longer guaranteed. John McCain was not one of those people. He never wavered in that belief, even if he evolved in other ways after he became a senator. He returned to Vietnam and accepted the regime, still a communist dictatorship, against which he fought. But he never forgot the lessons of World War II. He accepted the American moral mission. He continued to believe that the U.S. would win whatever war it entered. He became subtler and more understanding of the challenges, but his belief was unshakable that intervention was the moral course.
And so, paradoxically, McCain’s war was not Vietnam but World War II, where right governed all things and all wars are won by Americans. McCain never quite accepted that World War II was the exception, not the rule. He never quite accepted that some enemies cannot be defeated, even if they are militarily inferior, even if they are willing to die. He never quite accepted that the cost of pursuing human rights everywhere outstrips the ability and appetite of the American people. And he continued to believe in a neutral intervention in which Americans take no sides but awe everyone with their sheer firepower.

McCain and America fought the war in Vietnam based on the core principles of World War II – the right and might of the United States. We all know that in wars that are “just,” there is no such thing as too much power. But in, say, Iraq and Afghanistan, we learned there are wars where overwhelming force is no match for an enemy prepared to die, and willing to fight forever, no matter how many human rights they trample.

John McCain lived an extraordinary life, a life to be admired and emulated by the few who would dare, and he died a hero. He was a hero not because he was shot down or because he was tortured, but because he climbed into the cockpit of his A-4 day after day and flew into the most intense surface-to-air belt in the world, knowing that the chance of dying was high. He represented perhaps the purest of American times, the times when it was understood what was just, and when the decision to go to war carried with it the certainty of victory. McCain leaves behind two valuable lessons. One is the meaning of character. The other is that times change, and as they do, so too does the execution of power.


Crafty_Dog

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GPF: George Friedman: An Arab NATO?
« Reply #863 on: October 01, 2018, 01:54:15 PM »
By George Friedman

Creating an Arab NATO

It is hard to imagine an Arab alliance that can cohere as a military giant.


The United States has announced plans to hold a summit in January to launch what’s being called an Arab NATO, officially the Middle East Strategic Alliance. On the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meeting last week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held preliminary talks with the other main countries involved – namely, the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council plus Egypt and Jordan – to discuss the summit. The idea has been batted around before, but for the first time, the U.S. president is planning to preside over a meeting intended to discuss its creation. The story didn’t receive much coverage last week, with other stories monopolizing the press, but in other times, it would have dominated the news.

In the past, the idea of an Arab NATO was motivated by a desire to unite Arab nations against jihadists. Political realities delayed its creation, but this time around, it’s being motivated by the expansion of Iranian influence, which poses an existential threat to Arab states. Iran already has a dominant position in Iraq, substantial influence in Syria and Lebanon, and is supporting Shiites fighting in Yemen. And though its economy is under extreme pressure, particularly with the addition of U.S. sanctions, Iran would become a more direct threat to Arab regimes, if only it could consolidate its position. Iran’s interest in the Arab world is to guarantee its own security and, as important, to gain control of Persian Gulf and Arab oil. It's a distant threat, but distant threats should be addressed early rather than later. Hence the meeting between the leaders of the future Arab NATO.


 
(click to enlarge)


In creating the invitation list, however, the summit hit its first snag. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are deeply hostile to Qatar. Qatar is close to Iran geographically and in policy. Given the direction the winds are blowing, cozying up to Iran was prudent. For the Saudis and the UAE, it was a betrayal. This and undoubtedly other less visible issues triggered a diplomatic crisis last year, when a Saudi-led group formed a blockade against Qatar. The U.S. position seems to be that including Qatar – which hosts U.S. bases – would protect Doha and shift it away from Iran.

This is one of the virtues of an Arab NATO. It would bring Arab nations together and lock them into place, just as NATO did in Europe. It would start as a defensive platform, providing military, economic and political support to limit Iranian influence. Later, it could take on an offensive role, reversing Iranian gains in the region.

There are several questions still unanswered. Would the alliance include a collective defense clause, similar to NATO’s Article 5, stating that if one member is attacked, all the others must take action? Would the United States make such a commitment? Would it have a command structure with forces from each country committed to war plans, as NATO does?

It also poses some strategic questions. If this alliance actually works, then the Arabs go from being a divided and mutually hostile people to a united and potentially powerful entity. There’s a very real chance this could threaten both Turkey and Israel. Since both countries have large militaries, this could wind up, in the worst case, as an Arab power surrounded by non-Arab powers (Israel, Turkey and Iran). That would make quite a battle.

I am likely looking too far in the future of an organization that doesn’t yet exist and is still struggling over what to do with Qatar. It is hard to imagine an Arab alliance that can cohere as a military giant. But in geopolitics, imagination is a more powerful tool than common sense, since history constantly confounds common sense. The likelihood of this alliance surviving and growing powerful is small, but it is not impossible. If it happens, it could change the region, threaten other powers, and generate conflict.




Crafty_Dog

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Mead: VP Pence announces Cold War II
« Reply #864 on: October 09, 2018, 09:06:25 AM »


Mike Pence Announces Cold War II
The administration is orchestrating a far-reaching campaign against China.
101 Comments
By Walter Russell Mead
Oct. 8, 2018 6:58 p.m. ET
Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., Oct. 4.
Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., Oct. 4. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg News

Did Cold War II break out last week while no one was watching? As the Kavanaugh confirmation battle raged, many Americans missed what looks like the biggest shift in U.S.-China relations since Henry Kissinger’s 1971 visit to Beijing.

The Trump administration’s China policy swam into view, and it’s a humdinger. Vice President Mike Pence gave a guide to the approach in a speech last week at the Hudson Institute (where I am a fellow). Denouncing what he called China’s “whole of government” approach to its rivalry with the U.S., Mr. Pence vowed the Trump administration will respond in kind. He denounced China’s suppression of the Tibetans and Uighurs, its “Made in China 2025” plan for tech dominance, and its “debt diplomacy” through the Belt and Road initiative. The speech sounded like something Ronald Reagan could have delivered against the Soviet Union: Mr. Xi, tear down this wall! Mr. Pence also detailed an integrated, cross-government strategy to counter what the administration considers Chinese military, economic, political and ideological aggression.

In the same week as the vice president’s speech, Navy plans for greatly intensified patrols in and around Chinese-claimed waters in the South China Sea were leaked to the press. Moreover, the recently-entered trilateral U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement was revealed to have a clause discouraging trade agreements between member countries and China. The administration indicated it would seek similar clauses in other trade agreements. Also last week, Congress approved the Build Act, a $60 billion development-financing program designed to counter China’s Belt and Road strategy in Africa and Asia. Finally, the White House issued a report highlighting the danger that foreign-based supply chains pose to U.S. military capabilities in the event they are cut off during a conflict.

Any one of these steps would have rated banner headlines in normal times; in the Age of Trump, all of them together barely registered. But this is a major shift in American foreign policy. As China responds, and as other countries formulate their approaches to the emerging U.S.-China rivalry, a new international reality will take shape. With many longtime U.S. allies opposed to the Trump administration on trade policy and other matters, and with Russia, North Korea and Iran all looking to frustrate U.S. goals, an indignant China looking for opportunities to make Washington pay may find help.

American businesses engaged directly or indirectly with China could face difficulties as the U.S. strategy is implemented. American presidents have broad authority over trade and investment related to national security. Donald Trump has already used this to threaten and impose tariffs and Mr. Pence warned that even higher tariffs are on the way. The White House report highlighting supply-chain vulnerabilities could provide the basis for new and more far-reaching restrictions.

Business and investors may still be underestimating both the Trump administration’s determination to challenge China and the amount of economic disruption that greater U.S.-China tension can bring. To the mix of longtime China hawks and trade hawks now driving U.S. policy, national security matters more than economic friction, and many of the protestations from the U.S. business community may fall on deaf ears. Both China and the U.S. are likely to move quickly, unpredictably and disruptively as they struggle for advantage; Wall Street should brace itself for further shocks.

In terms of domestic politics, the new and more confrontational policy is likely to be broadly popular. Mr. Trump’s populist base resents the “theft” of American jobs, and human-rights and religious-freedom advocates are increasingly troubled by China’s severe repression at home and support for authoritarian regimes abroad. The foreign-policy establishment may oppose Mr. Trump’s tactics, but it generally accepts the need for a stronger stance against China. Businesses will be split; while some are heavily exposed to a potential deterioration in U.S.-China relations, others are angry about stolen intellectual property, resent restrictions on their access to Chinese markets, or fear competition from subsidized Chinese firms.

Democrats who have relished attacking Mr. Trump for allegedly being soft on Vladimir Putin will have a hard time explaining why a hard line on Russia is a patriotic duty but a tough China policy is a mistake. Things could change if the economic and political costs of confrontation rise, but at least initially the new China policy has encountered little opposition.

Replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement, reshaping the Supreme Court, and launching a new Cold War in the same week is quite the trifecta. America may or may not be on the road to greatness under Mr. Trump, but it is certainly going somewhere, and at an accelerating pace.

Appeared in the October 9, 2018, print edition.

Crafty_Dog

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WSJ: Richard Haas: The Crisis in US-Chinese Relations
« Reply #865 on: October 27, 2018, 02:39:23 PM »

Oct. 19, 2018 11:32 a.m. ET

Like all such meetings with senior Chinese officials, mine last week took place in a cloistered government compound, the overstuffed chairs placed side by side with only a small table between them, an arrangement that requires turning your entire body or twisting your neck to make eye contact. Just behind the table dividing us was the interpreter; my host was flanked by a phalanx of aides, all of whom took notes but said nothing throughout the hourlong session.

Just minutes into our meeting, his voice rose. “The Chinese people are upset and angry. From beginning to end he was just bashing China. In 40 years, we have never seen a speech like this. Many believe it is a symbol of a new cold war. We find this speech unacceptable, as it turns a blind eye to our joint efforts of the last 40 years and what China has achieved.”

The “he” is Vice President Mike Pence, and the speech is the much-publicized one that he delivered on Oct. 4 at the Hudson Institute in Washington. Another of my Chinese interlocutors compared the speech to the talk delivered in March 1946 by Winston Churchill in Fulton, Mo. The only difference, this person said, was that the “Iron Curtain” has been replaced by a “Bamboo Curtain.” “Winter is coming,” predicted a Chinese scholar over dinner.

The vice president’s speech heralds a new era in modern Sino-American relations. Many in China believe that the trade war being waged by the United States has evolved into a comprehensive effort to block China’s rise. U.S. sanctions introduced in response to a Chinese purchase of weapons from Russia, new U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, U.S. freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea—all reinforce the view that the Trump administration’s aims are strategic and not just economic.

To be sure, the speech by the vice president was broader and deeper in its criticism of China than any other U.S. government statement of the past several decades. A number of its accusations are debatable if not unfounded. That said, the remarks, which build on the December 2017 National Security Strategy describing China (along with Russia) as a “revisionist power,” are consistent with a critique of China that many in the foreign policy establishment, Democrats and Republicans alike, have voiced in recent years.

The critique has three parts. First, there is the view that China has violated the spirit and letter of the World Trade Organization, which it joined in 2001. The U.S. list of complaints includes higher-than-warranted tariff and nontariff barriers, forced transfers of technology, theft of intellectual property, government subsidies and currency manipulation designed to make exports cheaper and to reduce demand for imports.

Second, China’s integration into the world economy has not brought about hoped-for reforms. Large state-owned enterprises, once expected to be wound up, remain. President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign seems to be motivated in part by a desire to root out his opponents, and he has managed to abolish term limits for his own office. As many as one million Muslims in western China are in re-education camps. Civil society has been further circumscribed. China appears to be more authoritarian today than at any time since Mao Zedong was in charge.

Third, China’s foreign policy has become more assertive. China has acted unilaterally to militarize the South China Sea despite an international legal ruling rejecting its claims and a personal pledge from President Xi that China would not do so. It unilaterally declared an air-defense identification zone in the East China Sea and regularly challenges Japan on disputed islands. China is also pursuing its global “Belt and Road” infrastructure initiative, which looks less like a project to promote development than a geoeconomic ploy to increase its access and influence around the world.

This is hardly the first time that the U.S. and China have been at loggerheads. Their difficult modern history goes back to World War II. The Chinese, divided between Communist guerrillas led by Mao and authoritarian, pro-capitalist Nationalists led by Chiang Kai-shek, were fighting the Japanese occupation as well as one another. The U.S. provided extensive military assistance to the Nationalists. Even so, by 1949 the Communists controlled the mainland and the Nationalists were forced to flee to Taiwan. The U.S. retained diplomatic ties with the nationalist-led Republic of China and refused to recognize the newly declared People’s Republic of China.

Soon after, American and Chinese soldiers fought in Korea, and there were several crises over the status of islands in waters separating China and Taiwan. At one point in 1954, the U.S. seriously considered using nuclear weapons against China only to hold off when allies weighed in on behalf of restraint. The U.S. did, however, sign a mutual defense treaty with Taiwan.

There matters stood until the late 1960s, when American analysts realized that China and the Soviet Union increasingly saw one another as rivals. Acting on the adage that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” Richard Nixon and his national security adviser Henry Kissinger exploited the Sino-Soviet split to forge ties with the mainland in the hope it would give the U.S. leverage in its struggle with the far more dangerous U.S.S.R. Within a decade, the U.S. moved to recognize the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China, and relations with Taiwan were formally downgraded.

This second phase of Sino-American ties—in which, among other things, the two countries cooperated against the U.S.S.R. in Afghanistan—lasted some two decades, until the end of the Cold War. What provided the impetus for a third era in Sino-American relations was growing economic interaction, initiated by Deng Xiaoping, who took power after Mao and in 1978 declared a policy of “reform and opening.” Each side sought access to the market of the other, and the Chinese economy began its long and spectacular rise.

Many Americans hoped that engaging with China would open the country politically and economically and moderate any temptation on its part to challenge U.S. primacy. Nor was American policy just based on hope. The U.S. also hedged against the possibility that China would become a strategic rival by maintaining its alliances in the region along with air and naval forces to signal U.S. resolve.

This third, optimistic era has now drawn to a close, as Vice President Pence’s speech emphatically showed. The economic ties meant to buttress the relationship have now become a major source of friction. Limited strategic cooperation on North Korea or issues such as climate change cannot offset this trend, which has been made worse by political shifts in China itself. It is a non-starter to think that China—whose economy is 30 times larger than it was three decades ago and is now the world’s first or second largest—will be content as a mere “responsible stakeholder” (to use then-Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick’s 2005 phrase) in a U.S.-designed and dominated international system.

Not surprisingly, this liberal-democratic order holds little appeal for a Communist Party leadership that sees liberalism and democracy as a threat to its rule. Just as important, this order is fast fading. It has been rejected by Russia, North Korea, Iran and others, and new issues have emerged (climate change, cyberwar) that the order was not designed to handle. The Trump administration, for its part, has made clear that, unlike its predecessors, it sees the post-World War II order as inconsistent with U.S. interests.

The question now is what a new, fourth era of Sino-American relations will look like. There is a good deal of speculation that it will be a new cold war, but a cold war is a possible (and undesirable) outcome, not a strategy. The containment strategy that shaped U.S. policy against the Soviets doesn’t apply to a new challenge that is more economic than military. Indeed, some disagreements between the U.S. and China can be narrowed or even resolved, including those over tariff and nontariff barriers, requirements for joint ventures and the size of the trade imbalance. But these are exceptions.

The possibility of a U.S.-China armed confrontation over the South China Sea, Taiwan or even North Korea cannot be ruled out. But even if such a dramatic scenario does not materialize, it is easy to see how the relationship could deteriorate. As we know from the earlier Cold War, such competitions are risky and costly, and all but preclude cooperation even when it would be in the interests of both sides.

The most realistic option for the future is to focus on managing the two countries’ major disagreements. This approach has worked for four decades when it comes to Taiwan. The U.S. acknowledges the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China. The task now is for China, Taiwan and the U.S. to avoid unilateral steps that would jeopardize an arrangement that has kept the peace and allowed Taiwan to flourish economically and politically.

Management is also likely to be the best approach for the South China Sea. As with Taiwan, “final status” issues are best left vague. The emphasis ought to be on avoiding unilateral actions that could trigger a crisis.

    ‘ In other domains, the U.S. will simply have to accept China for what it is. ’

In other domains, the U.S. will simply have to accept China for what it is. China will continue to maintain a large (if somewhat reduced) state role in the economy and a closed political structure. “As China enters middle income, we need a strong anchor for our society,” one senior Chinese official told me. “We need to strengthen the Party. You equate authority with authoritarianism, and think China is a dictatorship. This is wrong.” The U.S. should call out human-rights abuses in China, but the focus of our foreign policy should be China’s foreign policy, where we are more likely to have influence.

Attempting to hold China back is simply not a realistic policy for the U.S. Worse, it would stimulate nationalist impulses there that will set the countries on a collision course.

To avoid outright conflict, the U.S. needs to persuade Chinese officials that taking on the U.S. militarily is a fool’s errand—a calculation that depends in some measure on our international support. The Trump administration has adopted a tough line toward China, but it has undermined its own policy by weakening our alliances and rejecting the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would have pressured China to further reform its economy. Such strategic inconsistency doesn’t serve U.S. interests.

The U.S. also needs to adopt new policies on several fronts. The just-signed-into-law “Build Act” to encourage private American investment in the developing world is a useful, if limited, response to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Strengthening controls on Chinese investment in the U.S. is also a step in the right direction. Some supply chains may need to be rerouted away from China, although such interdependence is one bulwark against conflict. Universities and think tanks should refuse to accept Chinese government funding. And if the U.S. isn’t to be left behind by Beijing’s major technology push, “Made in China 2025,” the public and private sectors will need to cooperate much more in developing critical fields such as artificial intelligence.

    ‘ China is not responsible for America’s health-care crisis, aging infrastructure or poor public schools. ’

The U.S. must also get its own house in order. China is not responsible for America’s health-care crisis, aging infrastructure, poor public schools, exploding debt or inadequate immigration policy. Foreign policy must truly begin at home for the U.S. to compete successfully. Progress across these areas would also disabuse the Chinese of the idea that the U.S. is in decline and lacks the will and ability to stand up to a dynamic new power.

Finally, it would be foolish to give up on the prospect of selective cooperation. North Korea is a case in point. Afghanistan could be another, given China’s influence in Pakistan. Sino-American cooperation is also essential if the world is to weather the next financial crisis, make progress on climate change, reform the WTO and set forth rules for cyberspace. The U.S. will want to avoid holding areas of potential cooperation hostage to areas of competition.


China will have to do its part as well. China’s economy is too large for it to hide behind the argument that it remains a developing economy that should not be expected to live up to global norms. President Xi has called for a new type of great power relationship between the two countries, but he has not explained what he means in such a way as to clarify or resolve current tensions. Doing so would be one mark of a great power.

Competition between the U.S. and China need not be “a four-letter word,” as Matthew Pottinger, the senior staff member on the National Security Council responsible for Asia, has said. A reasonable goal would be managed competition that allows for limited cooperation. For now, however, the Trump administration has adopted a confrontational approach without making clear what it seeks to achieve. It has thus ignored Clausewitz’s prudent advice—that battle should be joined only “as the means towards the attainment of the object of the War.”

Mr. Haass is president of the Council on Foreign Relations. His most recent book is “A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order.”


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Stratfor: When Human Rights become a handicap to US foreign policy
« Reply #867 on: November 11, 2018, 06:46:25 AM »
When Human Rights Become a Handicap to U.S. Foreign Policy
By Reva Goujon
VP of Global Analysis, Stratfor


    The degree to which a U.S. president will emphasize human rights in foreign policy is as much a product of the geopolitical climate as it is personal ideology.
    In addition to exposing the lengths to which the White House will go to maintain a strategic relationship, the slaying of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi revealed a broader defiance developing among authoritarian allies over Western human rights criticism.
    In an era of great power competition, in which the Chinese model of digital authoritarianism is a direct challenge to the Western liberal order, human rights abuses are bound to grow more frequent and blatant.
    Despite the cautionary tale of the Arab Spring, the United States and other Western powers will not be able to avoid the risk of entangling strategic imperatives with strongman personalities.

"We must seek partners, not perfection."

These were perhaps the most tantalizing words U.S. President Donald Trump could offer to the more than 50 leaders of the Islamic world who attended his speech in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in May 2017. And perhaps no one was listening more intently to that message than an excitable young prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who was merely days away from kicking his older cousin out of the line of succession while preparing to take the reins of the kingdom.

The shock surrounding the grisly killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi all comes back to that sublimely surreal summit in Riyadh. The royal carpet at the now legendary Ritz-Carlton was rolled out for America's new, gilded president, cementing a powerful personal bond between the young prince and the Trump family dynasty. Less than a month later, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, expecting a wink and a nod from the Trump White House, launched an aggressive diplomatic offensive against Qatar over Doha's ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran. By November, high-powered CEOs flocked to the Ritz in Riyadh to pledge billions of dollars in investment at the kingdom's inaugural "Davos in the Desert" conference. Two months after that, the same palatial digs became a temporary prison for hundreds of Saudi royals charged with corruption.

The Big Picture

When competition builds among great powers, strategic interests will generally trump human rights considerations in U.S. foreign policy. In today's geopolitical climate, China's technology-fueled style of authoritarianism provides a compelling alternative for authoritarian states that have grown weary of Western human rights lectures and see an opening to consolidate power.

Crown Prince Salman was on a roll, and he was not about to let anything get in his way. So long as he had the seemingly unwavering support of a White House fixated on crippling Iran and so long as he could count on Bloomberg, Financial Times and other major platforms to boost his image as the poster boy of reform in the Middle East, his strategy was clear: ruthlessly remove rivals from his path at home, squeeze regional partners to bend to his foreign policy priorities and double down on any foreign governments or corporations that dare to voice an opinion on his questionable methods.

But strategy by itself does not necessarily translate into strategic results. Placing Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri under house arrest and having him show up in selfies with the crown prince a few months later does not change the fact that any Lebanese leader will need a working relationship with Hezbollah to avoid paralyzing a deeply fractured country such as Lebanon. Cutting ties with Qatar will only give Doha more cause to shore up alliances with like-minded regional powers such as Turkey to avoid getting swallowed up by Saudi Arabia's shadow. And pursuing dissidents at any cost, including significant diplomatic and corporate fallout, could end up giving more space and credibility to the crown prince's rivals as questions over succession continue to swirl in the Saudi kingdom.

This was supposed to be the lesson of the Arab Spring for the United States and other powers in the Western world: Beware of getting overly attached to strongman personalities, keep your options open and focus on building up credible institutions in countries of interest to avoid getting caught in a lurch if and when a prized ally bites the dust. Perhaps that's easier said than done, especially when dealing with seemingly indestructible political dynasties or when democratic votes have the potential to produce unpleasant results.

The Blurry Line

That unavoidably blurry line around human rights and its role in U.S. foreign policy also tends to get a lot more contentious in a period of great power competition, and it can fluctuate widely between White Houses. In the Nixon-Kissinger era during the Cold War, the White House battled Congress to keep a tight lid on human rights concerns, from Chile's Pinochet to the Shah's Iran. As Kissinger said during his confirmation as secretary of state in 1973, "I believe it is dangerous for us to make the domestic policy of countries around the world a direct objective of U.S. foreign policy," insisting on a "pragmatic policy" in which the United States would have to determine whether or not "the infringement is so offensive that we cannot live with it” in managing the United States' bilateral relationships.

That ruthlessly realpolitik approach by the White House compelled a much more assertive Congress in 1976 to mandate annual reports from the secretary of state on the condition of human rights in countries that receive U.S. aid. President Jimmy Carter endorsed that track and made institutionalizing human rights oversight and cutting military aid to offending states a key feature of his foreign policy. President Ronald Reagan's administration returned to a more strategic approach, using human rights issues to rhetorically seize the moral high ground in its ideological crusade against communism, all while dealing much more pragmatically with unsavory allies in practice. President George H.W. Bush broadly continued with that approach, taking care to avoid a rupture in the Sino-U.S. relationship after the Tiananmen Square massacre, but he also gambled on interventions on humanitarian grounds in Panama and Somalia.

As great power competition waned and globalization took hold of the 1990s, human rights arguments gained more prominence in policy debates and U.S. foreign policy grew more experimental in practice. Under President Bill Clinton, the United States made humanitarian interventions in Haiti and the Balkans and held the prevailing, albeit mistaken, belief that China's entry into the World Trade Organization would be the long-term antidote to authoritarianism. President George W. Bush and his neoconservative camp combined the liberal idea of democratic peace promotion with military activism to capsize Iraq in an amorphous global war on terrorism. President Barack Obama, in trying to unbury the United States from its all-consuming wars in the Islamic world and prepare for rising competition from Russia and China, practiced a far more restrained approach to foreign policy overall, all while rhetorically championing democratic ideals abroad.

The Trump Approach

Like several of his predecessors, Trump follows a dualistic and selective approach to human rights issues, albeit in much blunter terms. Depending on whether a country is on the White House's friend or foe list, human rights will either be used as a Get Out of Jail Free card to reinforce strategic ties or as a hammer to whack problematic governments over the head. The White House approach to Saudi Arabia illustrates the former: A strategic partnership fueled in large part by a common agenda to weaken Iran and stabilize energy markets will overwhelm the near-term awkwardness over the Khashoggi affair or any other human rights spectacle that emerges from the kingdom. An overwhelming U.S. imperative to avoid a costly military conflict in Northeast Asia has largely omitted human rights from the U.S. diplomatic agenda on North Korea. But in the case of Iran's protest crackdowns, Turkey's detention of American evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson and China's treatment of the country's Uighur minority, the Trump White House has wielded human rights abuses and the threat of punitive measures as one of several pressure tactics to try to coerce these governments into meeting U.S. demands.

Some level of hypocrisy is expected from any president trying to steer U.S. foreign policy around human rights issues. But how foreign governments interpret the White House's general approach toward the subject from the onset will have a profound impact on their behavior. As journalist Tamar Jacoby described in a 1986 Foreign Affairs article on "The Reagan Turnaround on Human Rights," abuses in El Salvador, Haiti and South Korea soared just between Reagan's election and his inauguration. His rebuke of Carter for allowing human rights to get in the way of U.S. interests in Nicaragua and Iran brought a sigh of relief to authoritarian Cold War allies eager to shrug off Carter's human rights obsession. Similarly, the Saudi crown prince — along with a number of other regional players — interpreted Trump's message from the May 2017 summit as a clear-cut sign that the White House would not make human rights a fixture of Trump foreign policy.

Authoritarian Defiance

So it's little wonder that the Khashoggi affair has appeared to have little impact so far on the crown prince's royal clout. Not only does the crown prince remain in the public limelight and retain an array of powerful economic and security portfolios with the king's blessing, but he is also heading up the investigation and internal intelligence restructuring triggered by a crime that he is widely believed to have commissioned. And even as Saudi Arabia continues to face the threat of sanctions and investment curtailments in the wake of the slaying, Riyadh is staying the course and holding business ties hostage over their meddling in Saudi affairs (Saudi Arabia has reportedly frozen a $2 billion Egyptian-German defense deal that it helped finance in response to Germany's freeze on arms exports licenses to Riyadh).

And that defiance is by no means limited to Saudi Arabia. In an incredible display of Gulf solidarity after the Khashoggi crisis, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates called for boycotts of companies that threaten to pull out of Saudi Arabia, including Virgin and Uber, two critical investors for Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund expansion strategy. What would compel these Gulf neighbors to jump on a bloodstained bandwagon and risk tarnishing their reputation among investors when the Khashoggi fallout could have been just as easily confined to the Saudi kingdom? The opportunity to underscore a deeper message: that foreign governments and companies are not allowed to have an opinion on how they run their domestic affairs.

In this era of great power competition, that message has a powerful endorser. China, in harnessing and exporting its technological prowess in running a surveillance state, offers a compelling alternative to a number of politically paranoid regimes that are no longer convinced that the Western liberal order is the inevitable organizing principle of the international system. China's emulative model of digital authoritarianism and its growing challenge to the United States as a peer competitor will encourage a number of governments to spurn human rights lectures with the growing confidence that Western strategic interests will trump their humanitarian concerns in the end. Can Germany, for example, really afford a major breach with Turkey or Poland over human rights when these front-line states serve a core, strategic interest in balancing against Russia? Would the United States harangue Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte over human rights when China is actively chipping away at the United States' alliance network in Southeast Asia?

A cycle thus emerges: As competition intensifies among the great powers, the maintenance of strategic ties will outweigh humanitarian concerns in managing U.S. foreign relations. Illiberal allies will gain more confidence to crack down on dissidents and curb freedoms in a bid to consolidate power. The more power consolidated under a single personality or clan in a repressive climate, the more vulnerable that political system is bound to grow over time. In the face of rumbling dissent, authoritarian personalities will resort to more extraordinary measures to hold on to their dynasties. More and more egregious human rights abuses will be exposed, and Congress and the White House will spar over the handling and interpretation of matters of security. And the United States will ultimately find itself in an all too familiar dilemma: U.S. strategic imperatives hanging by a thread from the hands of despotic and arguably indispensable allies.

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GPF: The Illusion of a Russia-China alliance
« Reply #868 on: November 11, 2018, 07:45:10 AM »
second post


The Illusion of a Russia-China Alliance

Neither country can solve the other’s top economic and strategic problems.

George Friedman |November 7, 2018
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China is holding a weeklong event called the China International Import Expo in Shanghai this week meant to encourage trade, sell China as an import market and send the message that the Chinese economy is open for business. China’s motivation for doing this is obvious: It’s a nation dependent on exports, and American tariffs have decreased demand for its goods. In his opening address, President Xi Jinping stressed that China was prepared to open its markets even further to international trade – with the United States and the rest of the world. His remarks were clearly directed at the U.S., as he looks toward his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump at the G-20 meeting in Argentina later this month. But the conference has also raised questions about China’s relations with another country that’s experienced its own setbacks in U.S. relations: Russia. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at the expo that Moscow and Beijing are now closer than ever, and the Chinese emphatically agreed. Indeed, there has been much talk of a Russo-Chinese alliance, and the Shanghai extravaganza is a good opportunity to look closer at what this could mean.

China and Russia both have serious economic problems that have been exacerbated by the United States. Russia’s problems derive from the decline in the price of oil, a resource on which the Russian economy is heavily dependent. The United States, along with the EU, has compounded Moscow’s economic woes by imposing sanctions following Russian incursions in Ukraine and meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. China’s problems derive, at least in part, from its dependency on exports. This year, the U.S. has imposed tariffs on more than $250 billion worth of Chinese imports, and according to Bloomberg, it’s preparing to announce new duties on all remaining Chinese imports by December if trade talks don’t go well.

On the surface, that Russia and China share a common, powerful adversary should be the foundation of a strong alliance. Both countries are significant military powers, and they ought to be able to support each other economically. But appearances can be deceptive.

On the economic front, developing stronger ties with each other wouldn’t fully solve any of their problems. Russia needs to sell raw materials, particularly oil, in massive amounts to keep its economy running. Between January and August 2018, crude oil accounted for 28.8 percent of Russia’s total exports and natural gas accounted for 10.9 percent, according to Russia’s statistics agency. China was its biggest oil importer at 22 percent, though it purchased only 1 percent of Russia’s natural gas exports. (As a whole, however, the European Union imported more Russian oil than China did.) Indeed, China is a big oil importer and overtook the U.S. as the world’s largest crude buyer in 2017, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The problem, however, is that Chinese imports are limited by the lack of energy infrastructure between the two countries. Pipelines are costly and take a long time to build. China, therefore, might be able to ease a bit of Russia’s demand for oil consumers, but it can’t buy enough to keep prices high or ease the risk of further sanctions that could target its energy exports.

(click to enlarge)

China, meanwhile, needs to find buyers for its manufactured goods. In 2017, exports made up nearly 20 percent of its gross domestic product, according to the World Bank. The United States is its largest market, accounting for 19 percent of its goods exports, according to the International Trade Centre. With U.S. tariffs cutting into these exports and intensified competition from other exporters, Beijing needs to find new buyers for its goods. But Russia is in no position to consume enough Chinese exports to make up for these losses – it purchased only 2 percent of China’s total exports in 2017. Neither country, therefore, can provide meaningful economic support to the other.

(click to enlarge)

On the military front, it’s true that the two countries have increased cooperation in recent years. Since the end of the Cold War, China has been Russia’s largest arms purchaser, and according to Russian media, Beijing acquired a Russian-made S-400 air defense system in July of this year. In addition, Russia’s largest military exercises since the Cold War, held in September, were attended by thousands of Chinese troops. This had many speculating that the two countries were on the verge of forging a military alliance. The problem is that alliances are based on shared interests, and Russia and China have a history of mutual distrust. The two have clashed over border issues several times throughout the years and competed for influence in Asia throughout the Cold War.

They also have different strategic priorities. Russia is facing what it sees as intense pressure along its western frontier and, to a lesser extent, in the Middle East. China has little interest in expending its resources to protect Russia’s European buffer. They might share the world’s sixth-longest international border but deploying troops and resources to Russia’s west, where its major population centers are located, would be a logistical nightmare for China, to say the least. (Nor would Moscow welcome or be able to support such a deployment.)

China, on the other hand, faces a challenge from the United States in the South China Sea, where Beijing is trying to prevent any possible future blockade of its access to maritime shipping lanes by stationing military and naval assets on its artificial islands off its southeastern coast. The U.S. often conducts freedom of navigation operations in contested waters there to make the point that the Chinese buildup won’t prevent others from traveling freely through the region and to reassure its allies in Southeast Asia. The Chinese could undoubtedly use naval support there and in the Western Pacific, but the ability of the Russians to project significant naval power in these areas is limited. The Russians do have a naval base at Vladivostok, but it’s blocked from ready access to the Pacific by Japan, as well as U.S. air power. While a blockade of Vladivostok isn’t likely, any military action must take into account the worst-case scenario, and Vladivostok can easily become a trap for Russia’s fleet.

It might be far-fetched, but the only way the Russians and Chinese could coordinate to thwart their major threats would be through a simultaneous attack by Russia toward the west and by China on U.S. naval assets in the east. The problem is that whereas Europe is an army issue, the South China Sea is a naval issue. The U.S. could concentrate its naval forces against China without diverting land forces from Europe. But infinitely more important is the fact that, considering all their economic problems, neither China nor Russia intends to start a world war, which this certainly would do.

Though a Sino-Russian alliance would seem to be a logical counter to their common adversary, it’s just an illusion. All the warm gestures in Shanghai can’t hide the fact that Russia and China can’t help each other get out of their serious economic and strategic problems. It’s an alliance that works only on paper, at best

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Re: The Future of Conservative Foreign Policy
« Reply #871 on: December 07, 2018, 07:15:54 AM »
https://tnsr.org/roundtable/policy-roundtable-the-future-of-conservative-foreign-policy/

Some interesting and different perspectives in there.  Conservative foreign policy is what we used to American foreign policy.  )

I like the distinction Dr. Fonte made between two diverging views one taken by Trump and the other by Obama, “sovereigntists” and “post-sovereigntists”.  'American foreign policy' versus global vision.

Fonte quoting President Obama:  At the United Nations in 2016, Obama outlined a post-sovereigntist vision that was the mirror opposite of Trump’s worldview. Obama told the General Assembly, “We’ve bound our power to international laws and institutions.” He declared that the “promise” of the United Nations could only be realized “if powerful nations like my own accept constraints… . I am convinced that in the long run, giving up freedom of action — not our ability to protect ourselves…but binding ourselves to international rules over the long term — enhances our security.”

Without even getting to Obamacare that pretty much sums up how he lost the House, the Senate and the succession of the White House to the people who abhor that view.

[What conservatism aims to conserve] Fonte:  “conserve” something realistic — America’s military superiority and manufacturing base — and idealistic — America’s sovereignty and way of life.
----------------------------------------------------------------

One problem among many with the global citizen view [to an 'elite' ruling class] is that as you lose your sovereignty you become a subject, not a citizen.

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WSJ: Dobbins: Undoing post WW2 order could produce big problems
« Reply #872 on: December 10, 2018, 07:08:17 AM »
Interesting discussion in this piece.  I would ask Mr. Dobbins:  Is the US capable of doing what he calls for?

History Ended in 1945
Undoing the postwar order could produce global depressions and frequent wars.
44 Comments
By James Dobbins
Dec. 9, 2018 6:01 p.m. ET

Debate over the health of democracy and the liberal world order is all the rage these days, sparked by President Trump’s brand of “America First” nationalism, similar movements in Europe, the emergence of a revanchist Russia, and the rise of China.

In 1989 Francis Fukuyama published an essay heralding the “end of history,” by which he meant the triumph of representative democracy over all other forms of government. For a decade he appeared prescient, as democracy swept through Central and Southeastern Europe, Latin America and much of Asia. More recently some of those democracies have faltered. Although few have definitively collapsed, the democratic wave seems to have begun ebbing.

Yet in a larger sense, the “end of history” came in 1945. Since then there have been no wars between major powers and few between smaller states. The business cycle has been moderated if not eliminated. The subsequent seven decades saw almost continuous economic growth, lifting nearly half the world’s population into the middle class.

These accomplishments are based on two basic, widely accepted norms of international behavior: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s territory, and thou shall open thy markets to all equally. The norms were buttressed by numerous postwar institutions—the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, now the World Trade Organization. Equally important, the norms were backed by U.S. military and economic power and the attractiveness of the American political and economic model.

It is therefore legitimate to ask whether this order can survive if America proves unwilling to continue bearing the burden of leadership and what the alternatives would be. One possibility is that China fills the void, producing a new order—perhaps peaceful but no longer conducive to individual liberty. An even worse outcome would be a return to history—the age-old cycle of boom-and-bust economics and frequent major wars.

To see what happens when an international order breaks down, recall the first half of the 20th century, a time of global depression and world war. Civilization survived that paroxysm in the prenuclear age. With at least nine nuclear powers, cyberwarfare and potential aggressive applications of biotechnology, robotics and artificial intelligence, one cannot be so confident today.

In the early days of the Trump administration, the president’s top national-security and economic advisers, H.R. McMaster and Gary Cohn, wrote that “the world is not a ‘global community,’ but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage.” The authors of this Hobbesian vision were the two leading globalists in the White House, and neither lasted long.

Since then Mr. Trump has steadily chipped away at the postwar order starting with its original foundations, the trans-Atlantic and European communities, embodied respectively in NATO and the European Union. He has levied national-security tariffs on America’s closest allies, called into question the continued relevance of the trans-Atlantic alliance, and raised doubts about the durability of the U.S. commitment to Europe’s security. Reversing decades of American policy, Mr. Trump cheered Britain’s exit from the EU and effectively encouraged Germany to leave too when he urged Chancellor Angela Merkel to negotiate a bilateral trade deal with the U.S.

While not an isolationist, Mr. Trump is a bilateralist. His effort to achieve balanced trade one nation at a time runs counter to the core principles of the postwar trading system and to the economic consensus from John Stuart Mill and David Ricardo to the present day. Mr. Trump has attacked the WTO’s dispute-settlement mechanism even though the U.S. wins a large majority of its cases. He has even threatened to leave that organization.

These and other steps to undo past bargains represent a significant retreat from the norm-based, democratically inclined, open-market-based order that the U.S. largely invented beginning in 1945 and has championed since. Most of these steps are reversible, and some of the damage can be undone. But if this vision of the international order endures, the result may be a return to history where life for many will again become “nasty, brutish and short.”

Mr. Dobbins holds the Distinguished Chair in Diplomacy and Security at the RAND Corp. and is a former assistant secretary of state

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Re: US Foreign Policy
« Reply #873 on: December 10, 2018, 07:18:00 AM »
The norms were buttressed by numerous postwar institutions—the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, now the World Trade Organization.

 :roll:

All the above either hopelessly corrupt, ineffective or actually counterproductive towards their stated mission.

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CRS on war powers
« Reply #874 on: December 14, 2018, 02:51:07 PM »

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Re: US Foreign Policy
« Reply #875 on: December 14, 2018, 06:35:26 PM »
Thank you for that BD.

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Foreign Affairs: How World Order Ends
« Reply #876 on: December 15, 2018, 06:00:09 AM »

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Re: Spengler: Chutzpah to blame Trump for Syria
« Reply #879 on: December 31, 2018, 05:14:38 PM »
https://pjmedia.com/spengler/its-chutzpah-to-blame-trump-for-syria/  

Quite a thought provoking piece though I find things to agree and disagree with.  

The point of blaming Trump is future oriented. There is no blame now.  If something avoidable goes wrong, he pulled our forces out.

On the positive side they say our pullout frees Israel he says to be more aggressive with Syria, Iran, Lebanon.  Yes and no.  I don't think they checked those things with us before nor are they fully unconstrained after.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2018, 06:10:16 PM by DougMacG »

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Re: US Foreign Policy
« Reply #880 on: December 31, 2018, 09:49:57 PM »
Spengler is always very interesting.

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WSJ: Trump's successful pivot to Asia
« Reply #882 on: January 15, 2019, 08:32:19 PM »
Trump’s Successful Pivot to Asia
America’s regional allies are relieved to learn that the U.S. isn’t going anywhere—for now.
9 Comments
By Michael Auslin
Jan. 15, 2019 6:48 p.m. ET

President Trump signed legislation on the last day of 2018 designed to strengthen America’s role in the Indo-Pacific region. The Asia Reassurance Initiative Act is the most comprehensive statement in a generation of America’s regional interests. It authorizes expenditures of $1.5 billion annually through 2023 to enhance U.S. military, diplomatic and economic engagement with East and Southeast Asian allies such as Japan, India, South Korea and Taiwan. Unlike the Obama administration’s ballyhooed “pivot” to Asia, Mr. Trump’s turn to the East seems to have rattled China’s cage.

The president is regularly attacked by critics for withdrawing from the global stage and undermining the American-led world order, but his goal in Asia is consistent with that of previous administrations from both parties: preserving what the Trump administration calls a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” Mr. Trump has energetically pursued this goal, overturning significant parts of America’s Indo-Pacific policy dating back to the 1970s. His decision to levy tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods made clear that Washington is dropping the fiction that China is a fair trading partner. The U.S. military has increased freedom-of-navigation operations and flyovers near China’s new military bases in the South China Sea.

The administration has also abandoned the policy of looking away from Chinese cyberaggression. Moreover, by negotiating directly with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Mr. Trump has broken the model of negotiating multilaterally in the hope of compelling Beijing to push Pyongyang to denuclearize.

Mr. Trump is correct that America’s Asia policy needed a reset, and China’s global ambitions make it unlikely that future American presidents will return to business as usual. But if Mr. Trump fails to arrest China’s advances or North Korea’s nuclear successes, his pivot may ultimately diminish U.S. interests in the Indo-Pacific region.

Mr. Trump signed the new law, co-sponsored by Sens. Cory Gardner (R., Colo.) and Edward Markey (D., Mass.), a day before the 40th anniversary of the normalization of U.S.-China relations. The symbolic timing of this gesture is a clear signal that the administration sees China as the world’s greatest threat to U.S. interests. But even without the new law, Mr. Trump’s get-tough attitude toward Beijing sets him apart from his predecessors.

The administration has at last begun retaliating against China’s persistent cyber-espionage and global meddling. In October Belgian authorities arrested a Chinese intelligence officer and extradited him to the U.S., where he will soon face trial for stealing trade secrets from American aviation companies. In December, at the request of the U.S., Canada detained Meng Wanzhou, a senior executive of telecommunications giant Huawei. She is free on bail, but federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York are looking to have her extradited so they can charge her with helping companies circumvent American sanctions against Iran.

Though few in Washington will admit it publicly, policy makers on both sides of the aisle see Mr. Trump’s bold stance as long overdue. Yet his Asia pivot is also risky. Some worry he will rush into an agreement with North Korea, perhaps withdrawing U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula in return for a promise of denuclearization. If Mr. Trump caves in to pressure from Pyongyang, Seoul and Beijing to reach a bad deal, it may be impossible to convince Tokyo and other allies that Washington won’t pack up its troops and leave them to face the Chinese threat on their own.

Arrests and tariffs alone won’t force a change of heart in Beijing. Yet the U.S. administration likely has the upper hand. Global opinion is turning against China and the world’s second-largest economy is suddenly sputtering. Mr. Trump should therefore push for as detailed and verifiable a commitment as possible from Beijing to open its markets further, uphold international law, and crack down on state-sponsored hacking. Because prior Chinese pledges have proved hollow, if Beijing fails to follow through this time, Mr. Trump should immediately restrict the number of Chinese students permitted to study at U.S. universities, place curbs on Chinese tech companies’ American operations, and limit Chinese purchases of American companies and real estate.

No one should be in any doubt about the stakes: Beijing is looking to hasten the day when it replaces the U.S. as the indispensable Indo-Pacific power. America’s allies in the region are watching—some fearfully—to see whether the time has come to cleave to China and support Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative. Mr. Trump’s pivot may offer the last chance to forestall such an outcome.

Mr. Auslin is a fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author of “The End of the Asian Century.”


Crafty_Dog

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President Trump right again on dangers of Chinese Russian axis
« Reply #884 on: January 30, 2019, 02:21:34 PM »
I will be giving that a proper read BD.
================================

A Sino-Russian Entente Again Threatens America
The U.S. must revise its policy toward Moscow if it is to meet the threat from a rising China.
89 Comments
By Graham T. Allison and
Dimitri K. Simes
Jan. 29, 2019 7:09 p.m. ET
WSJ

Former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski warned in 1997 that the greatest long-term threat to U.S. interests would be a “grand coalition” of China and Russia, “united not by ideology but by complementary grievances.” This coalition “would be reminiscent in scale and scope of the challenge once posed by the Sino-Soviet bloc, though this time China would likely be the leader and Russia the follower.”

Few heeded his admonition. But this grand alignment of the aggrieved has been moving from the realm of the hypothetical toward what could soon be a geostrategic fact. Beijing and Moscow are drawing closer together to meet what each sees as the “American threat.”


The thought of an entente between Eurasia’s two great powers has for the most part struck the Washington establishment as so outlandish as not to require serious examination. Then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in August that Moscow and Beijing have a “natural nonconvergence of interests.” And there can be no doubt that their values and cultures differ starkly.

Nonetheless, a fundamental proposition in international relations is that the enemy of my enemy is a friend. Students of history know how often governments have been surprised by unnatural bedfellows, including the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany and the U.S.-Soviet alliance in World War II.

The U.S. and Russia have grown more antagonistic in theaters from the Middle East to Eastern Europe. Meanwhile, the Washington foreign-policy establishment is increasingly in agreement that China is the primary strategic adversary of the U.S. as the two countries clash over trade and the South China Sea. It would be surprising if strategists in Beijing and Moscow did not recognize a common enemy.

President Obama was visibly disdainful toward Russian President Vladimir Putin, and President Trump charges that China is “raping America.” By contrast, Xi Jinping took his first foreign trip as China’s president to Moscow and has recently declared the Russian leader his “best, most intimate friend.” Both Messrs. Xi and Putin see the U.S. as trying to undermine authoritarian regimes and therefore their own legitimacy as rulers.


In Chinese and Russian national-security documents, their relationship is called a “comprehensive strategic partnership.” Mr. Xi said in 2013 that “the Sino-Russian relationship is the world’s most important bilateral relationship, and is the best relationship between large countries.” China and Russia coordinate their positions in the United Nations Security Council (where they vote together 98% of the time), the Brics summits, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Russia is also pivoting east economically. China is Russia’s top trading partner and the top buyer of Russian oil. With the completion of the Power of Siberia pipeline this year, China will become the second-largest market for Russian gas, just behind Germany.

American experts have discounted Sino-Russian military cooperation. But one Russian official described the relationship as a “functional military alliance.” Russia has started selling China some of its most advanced technologies, including the S-400 air defenses. The two countries share intelligence and threat assessments and actively collaborate on rocket-engine research and development.

True, Russian elites continue to look west when it comes to tradition, culture and history. Wealthy Russians buy second (and third) homes in London and New York, not Beijing. But as their hopes for integration with the West have eroded, the number of Russians learning Mandarin and traveling east has increased.

A half-century ago, recognizing the threat from the Sino-Russian behemoth, Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon managed to forge a relationship with Mao’s China that widened an emerging fissure between the two powers. Over time, this helped the U.S. undermine the Soviet empire and achieve victory in the Cold War. Today China is taking a page from that script, pulling Russia into its orbit for a long confrontation with the U.S.

If the defining challenge to U.S. national interests in the 21st century is a rising China, preventing the emergence of a Sino-Russian entente should be a key U.S. priority. Persuading Russia to sit on the U.S. side of the balance of power seesaw will require American policy makers to revise substantially their strategic objectives in dealing with Moscow. As difficult as this is to imagine in the craze of American politics today, the starting point for the conversation must be clear-eyed recognition of cause and effect. When the U.S. seeks to punish Mr. Putin for his unacceptable behavior—no matter its intentions—it has the predictable consequence of pushing Russia into an unnatural alliance with China.

A sound U.S. global strategy would combine greater realism in recognizing the threat of a Beijing-Moscow alliance, and greater imagination in creating a coalition of nations to meet it.

Mr. Allison, a professor of government at Harvard, is author of “Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?” ( Houghton Mifflin Harcourt , 2017). Mr. Simes is president and CEO of the Center for the National Interes

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WSJ: Trump's endless wars and peace
« Reply #885 on: February 07, 2019, 08:51:31 PM »
Trump’s ‘Endless Wars’ and Peace
U.S. troops abroad are needed to deter war and bad actors.
26 Comments
By The Editorial Board
Feb. 7, 2019 7:38 p.m. ET
American troops coordinate with Iraqi counterparts to launch airstrikes and artillery from a small complex in the town of Qaim, Iraq, Jan. 25, 2018.
American troops coordinate with Iraqi counterparts to launch airstrikes and artillery from a small complex in the town of Qaim, Iraq, Jan. 25, 2018. Photo: Susannah George/Associated Press

President Trump won applause in Tuesday night’s State of the Union address when he declared that “great nations do not fight endless wars.” It’s a resonant line in a country that has been fighting in parts of the Middle East for nearly two decades. And, in a literal sense, the statement is true.

Yet the risk of Mr. Trump’s rhetoric is that it encourages a public belief that America can abdicate its responsibility to work with allies to preserve the peace. History shows the great danger in failing to distinguish between fighting wars and deterring them. That’s especially true now that the authoritarian nations of Russia, Iran and China are seeking to dominate their regions and sometimes join forces against U.S. interests.
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Trump's State of the Union Address
What we learned from Trump's State of the Union address.

One lesson is that keeping troops abroad is often cheaper than bringing them home. An unwavering commitment to the defense of Western Europe under NATO prevented the Cold War from becoming a hot one. Some 300,000 U.S. troops across Europe deterred Moscow for decades until the Warsaw Pact imploded.

The same strategy has preserved the peace in North Asia, to the benefit of the American homeland and economy. Strategic commitments to Japan and South Korea, bolstered by some 80,000 American military personnel, have partially contained the North Korean threat while creating space for both countries to become thriving democracies.

Mr. Trump himself sometimes seems to intuit the importance of troops abroad to protect American interests. The U.S. maintains a naval base in Bahrain, an air base in Qatar, and deployments across Africa to target terrorists that could strike the homeland. His Pentagon late last year dispatched a carrier strike group to the Persian Gulf for the first time in eight months to contain Iran.

The President said on Sunday he wants to keep American troops in Iraq to “watch Iran.” He also wants a 350-ship Navy to patrol key waterways, including on occasion the Taiwan Strait. The point of these sensible deployments is to deter bad actors precisely so the U.S. doesn’t have to fight a war.

The alternative lesson is that withdrawing U.S. forces can invite war. That’s the lesson of Barack Obama’s 2011 withdrawal of troops from Iraq while claiming “the tide of war is receding.” Jihadists used the reprieve to form Islamic State, and by 2014 Mr. Obama was re-sending thousands of troops to the same theater. Staying would have been far less costly.
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Join us on March 4 as WSJ Opinion’s Paul Gigot leads a “State of TV News” panel discussion including Fox Business’s Maria Bartiromo, CBS’s Christy Tanner and “Network” actor Tony Goldwyn. Included in your admission to the event is a ticket to see “Network” on Broadway at a subsequent date.

Mr. Trump sometimes talks as if the choice now in Syria and Afghanistan is between no troops or tens of thousands and permanent conflict. But the U.S. only has 2,000 troops in Syria, and even he says the U.S. will need to strike Islamic State if it reconstitutes itself. That will require troops somewhere in the region. Likewise, a decision to withdraw from Afghanistan should depend on whether it won’t again become a safe haven for global jihad.

A key point here—and why Mr. Trump’s rhetorical isolationism is damaging—is that America can’t deter rogue regimes by itself. Whether in NATO or North Asia or the Middle East, the U.S. relies on allies to magnify America’s effectiveness as a keeper of the peace. Those allies need to trust that America will also be there when needed.

All the more so as Mr. Trump focuses on the challenges posed by undemocratic regimes in China, Russia and Iran. The White House’s 2017 strategic review made these challenges explicit, and Mr. Trump has done better than Mr. Obama in addressing them.

He has pulled out of the flawed nuclear accord and tried to raise the cost of Iranian aggression with renewed sanctions. Against Russia, Mr. Trump’s appeasing rhetoric toward Vladimir Putin has belied his tougher policies: NATO deployments in Eastern Europe, lethal arms for Ukraine, lobbying against its Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Europe, and no easing of sanctions.

A rising China is the stiffest test, and a work in progress. Mr. Trump’s withdrawal from the Pacific trade accord was his worst strategic blunder, missing a chance to form a trade alliance without China. He can correct some of the damage if his talks with Beijing change China’s behavior. But that has a better chance of success if he’d rally Japan and Europe in a united front against China’s bad practices.

Mr. Trump’s foreign policy has been better than his rhetoric. But he shouldn’t mislead his supporters at home and upset friends abroad by suggesting that peace can be purchased by American retreat.

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US Foreign Policy - Trump Doctrine
« Reply #886 on: February 08, 2019, 04:15:32 PM »
Trump doctrine, in practice, isn’t the isolationism that he sometimes promised on the campaign trail; nor is it the flailing bellicosity that many of his critics feared. It’s a doctrine of disentanglement, retrenchment and realignment, in which the United States tries to abandon its most idealistic hopes and unrealistic military commitments, narrow its list of potential enemies and consolidate its attempts at influence. The overarching goal isn’t to cede United States primacy or abandon American alliances, as Trump’s opponents often charge; rather, it’s to maintain American primacy on a more manageable footing, while focusing more energy and effort on containing the power and influence of China.

https://outline.com/YDutEH
Ross Douthat, NY Times

Crafty_Dog

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WSJ: The French Philosopher Who Loves America
« Reply #887 on: February 08, 2019, 05:01:09 PM »
On the whole, I agree.

This article does not:

The French Philosopher Who Loves America
Bernard-Henri Lévy describes the gilets jaunes as a ‘crisis of liberal democracy’ and Trump as an ‘epiphenomenon’ of American ‘retreat.’
2 Comments
By Tunku Varadarajan
Feb. 8, 2019 6:32 p.m. ET
The French Philosopher Who Loves America
Illustration: Ken Fallin

New York

Bernard-Henri Lévy is bleary-eyed. He’s a dashing spectacle in every other way, but his eyelids loll from a lack of sleep. Bustling in the kitchen of his suite at the Carlyle Hotel is his young assistant, who knows exactly what to do for a boss who’s flown in from Paris. “Quatre sachets,” she says as she brings a small teapot to the table, crammed with four bags of Darjeeling.

BHL—to use Mr. Lévy’s nickname—is a philosopher given to interpreting the world’s maladies. He is in New York for the publication on Feb. 12 of his latest book, elegantly provocative, “The Empire and the Five Kings.” It describes “the new geopolitical order which is designing itself before our eyes” as a result of “America’s abdication” of global leadership.

“You have America going back,” he says, “retreating and lowering its flag, both on military and ideological terms.” In Mr. Lévy’s thesis, “five former empires, which we all thought to be dead and buried, are waking up again—Russia, China, Turkey, Sunni radical Islamism and Persia. We thought they were pure ghosts—but no, they are moving again; they are dancing again on the floor of the world.” They are rushing unchecked, he says, into the voids left everywhere by the retreat of the West, most notably under Donald Trump.

A public intellectual in the French manner, Mr. Lévy, 70, has long had the ear of many of his country’s presidents and other politicians. He does not shrink from inserting himself into the world’s war zones. Of these, he is most involved in Northern Iraq, where he is a tireless advocate for Kurdish autonomy. The high point of his worldliness came in 2011, when, by many accounts—including his own—he persuaded then-President Nicolas Sarkozy to pursue the toppling of Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi, who faced a major uprising in the Arab Spring.

The uprising that most preoccupies Mr. Lévy today is one that rumbles on in France itself. Since November, the country has seen the eruption of the gilets jaunes—the “yellow jackets”—political protesters who have converged on the heart of Paris, wreaking physical havoc on some of France’s most cherished symbols. Driven by an incendiary mix of ideologies, they have demanded the repeal of a steep new fuel tax, to which President Emmanuel Macron has acceded, as well as the implementation of “citizens’ referendums,” to which he has not.

The yellow jackets also called for Mr. Macron to resign, but he seems, for the moment, to have subdued the insurrection by launching a two-month Grand Débat National on what ails France. Some see the debate as a cynical ploy to deflate the enraged mob, others as a statesmanlike attempt to hear everyone out. BHL subscribes to the second view. “You know the Greek word maieutic?” he says. “It’s a word of Socrates. It means that your interlocutor is pregnant with an idea of which he’s not clearly aware himself, and that you help him to deliver it.” With his national debate, Mr. Lévy says, “Macron has invented a political maieutic.”

The protests, Mr. Lévy says, are “a big Event, with a capital E, in the history of France over the last two or three centuries”—so seminal that they will “remain in the archive” for later generations to marvel at.

“What’s happening here?” he asks, then answers: “Anger, for sure. A populist riot, for sure. But also the first real nihilist riots in modern European history.” Past riots, he says, always “had a target, a sense, a hope. There was the idea that the future could be better than the present. For the first time now, we have a pure moment of collective despair.” In the Paris Commune insurrection of 1871, he allows, “you had an attempt to burn the Louvre, so there was a nihilist dimension. But there was hope for a better world. There is nothing of the sort with the yellow-jacket movement.”
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So who are the gilets jaunes? “They are obviously desperate people, who feel they are treated in an unfair way,” says Mr. Lévy. “And they are right.” Yet many of the protesters own cars and tractors, farms and small businesses—that’s why they hate the fuel tax. How desperate can they be? “They work during the week,” Mr. Lévy says, “and they demonstrate on Saturday. In other words, they are certainly not the Damned of the Earth.”

Further, “the words in which they express this suffering,” Mr. Lévy says, “recall the worst of French history.” The movement has been egged on by “the two extremes of our political spectrum, Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Marine Le Pen”—the leaders of France’s extreme left and right, respectively. The two, Mr. Lévy adds, “are real twins,” who represent “the darkest political forces in France.” If the yellow jackets were American, Mr. Lévy adds, they would support Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders. “They might oscillate—swing between the two.”

In BHL’s mind, the protests constitute “the third crisis of liberal democracy in France.” The first happened at the time of the Dreyfus affair—the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The second was at the beginning of the 1930s, when citizens of a floundering France “began to think that liberal values were dead and that fascism represented the future.” He describes the yellow jackets as “the same sorts of people.” They turn their backs on democracy but don’t know what to put in its place: “What is sure is that they hate elites. They hate complexity. They hate the idea of France being open to the rest of the world. They hate immigration, trade.”

They also seem unfriendly to Jews. Mr. Lévy tells me protesters have made an arm gesture called the quenelle, invented by a comedian named Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, that is widely understood to be anti-Semitic. They have also chanted the word “Rothschild, again and again, as an obsession.” No doubt that is a way of anathemizing Mr. Macron, who worked for Rothschild & Cie Banque a decade ago—but it is also part of the French left’s anti-Semitic argot. “French socialism, when it was born 130 years ago, had two wings,” Mr. Lévy says. One of them, led by Jules Guesde and known as the Intransigents, “was really anti-Semitic. There was this idea, in this half of the party, that the embodiment of capitalism was the Rothschild Bank, and Rothschild was a nickname for the Jews. And this tradition continues, still, today.”

The yellow jackets hate Mr. Macron, BHL says, “because he wants France open to the world, and because he wants a country taking the risk of economic reforms.” More generally, Mr. Macron is “a man of complexity and of ideas, exactly what this sort of movement hates.” He adds a sweeping observation: “One of the characteristics of populism is that even when you are clever, you think that societies have to be governed in an unclever way.”

Mr. Macron’s cardinal sin in the eyes of France’s populists, BHL adds, is that he “is deeply pro-American. Like Sarkozy, he really believes in American exceptionalism.” Mr. Macron “believes that the U.S. is a shining city upon the hill.” Such a love for America, Mr. Lévy says, is itself “exceptional” in France. “Anti-Americanism is an important element of the French ideology. On the right and on the left, France was built upon the hate of America.” If you say you love America, “you are suspected of the worst. So imagine a French president! Being pro-American makes him an enemy of the true, real, well-rooted French people!”

Mr. Macron and French populists likewise have opposite views about the current American president, Mr. Lévy says. Mr. Macron “certainly thinks . . . that the shining city deserves better than Donald Trump.” The extreme left and right see “Trump killing America—and they like that. They like the idea of an American president destroying the values of America. They hate these values. They hate exceptionalism. They hate the idea of spreading democracy. They hated the neoconservative movement. So for them, Trump is a blessing.” In fact, he adds, one of the points on which far left and right agree in France is that “America is the embodiment of evil, not Russia.”

The genius of America, according to Mr. Lévy, “is to believe that it is a new Europe, an improved Europe.” The colonists, he says, read Virgil’s “Aeneid,” whose protagonist, Aeneas, “left his city in flames in order to replant its values on new ground. The Pilgrim Fathers were convinced that London, Amsterdam, and Paris were new Troys, devastated by the flames of intolerance,” so they left on ships and “replanted the values of a devastated Europe on the soil of America.”

Mr. Lévy worries that America’s “Virgilian link” may now be broken. “When did America cut this cord of life that made it a better Europe?” he asks. “Before Trump, for sure. The neoconservatives—even if I was not one of them—still believed in the gesture of Aeneas. They were probably the last pearl yielded up by the Virgilian oyster.”

Mr. Lévy is among the most pro-American of France’s public intellectuals. “I love America,” he says. “I was taught, all my childhood, that without America I would not even exist.” Mr. Trump dismays him, and the U.S. “retreat” from the world fills him with dread. But he says “Trump is only an epiphenomenon in this regard,” and America began drawing back when President Obama “offered the Middle East to Putin and Iran. Then you had the first breaches in the alliance with Europe.”

With Mr. Trump, BHL says, America’s retreat has become “tragically worse. For this time, the betrayal is generalized. He betrays the Syrian democrats, he betrays the valiant Kurdish fighters, and he delivers the Middle East to Putin. And this creates, for Israel, the most threatening situation there could be.”

In Mr. Lévy’s view, “when Trump says he wants to make America great again, that means he makes it small. He renounces the exceptionalism that is the vocation of his country. It means that America loses the moxie that was always the real source of its authority and its grandeur.” America has erred in the past, he adds, “when it has acted as if its oceans were borders.” It is making that mistake again under Mr. Trump, “with unprecedented proportions.”

What would BHL like the Trump administration to do? “Stand with the Kurds,” he says fiercely. “Stay in Syria. Tell Putin, ‘Hands off Ukraine! Don’t touch the Baltic states!’ Make Erdogan understand that the time of the Ottoman Empire is over. And understand that carrying out America’s democratic and liberal vocation isn’t only an honor, but in America’s best interests.”

The philosopher swirls his teapot, but he’s emptied it. He shrugs: “Anyway, Trump will pass, and America will remain. There is an essence of America, and it is infinitely stronger than any current president. You have people who believe that the Trump moment means the erasing of America. I believe the opposite.”

Mr. Varadarajan is executive editor at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

Appeared in the February 9, 2019, print edition.

Crafty_Dog

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General Keane on Mark Lavin
« Reply #888 on: February 18, 2019, 10:49:56 AM »
I'm a big fan of General Keane.  He was the guest on the Mark Lavin show last night.  Very much worth tracking down!

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George Friedman: Athens and Jerusalem
« Reply #889 on: March 01, 2019, 08:09:23 AM »



Athens and Jerusalem

On geopolitics and the intellectual tradition.

George Friedman |February 21, 2019




It is time for me to write the book I always wanted to write, the book that may have no readers but that sums up my work. My book on America, “The Storm Before the Calm,” will be out in September, freeing me to write the book that has no title yet. The intent of this next book is to embed geopolitics, my life’s work, with philosophy, my love; I want to imagine that geopolitics derives from the great minds I read. My other books I have written alone. The writing of this one, or at least the thoughts that give it life, will be shared with my readers. And they, being in my mind far wiser than all the professors of philosophy I have met, will point out my errors and inconsistencies and will enrage me until I do better.

Each week I will write about a fragment of thought that I have been mulling over. Some will be polished; most – such as this one – will not have reached the clarity worthy of the reader. But each fragment is meant to be a prism through which I can understand important things in due course. The pieces will appear each Thursday.

It may be that most people will object to its obscurity and carelessness. If so, I will return to my cave and mutter.

This week’s fragment of thought is on the relationship between geopolitics and the shaping of the human soul. It traces Europe to Christianity, Christianity to Athens and Jerusalem, and these cities to wars between Babylon and Persia. It also traces the tension between the dictums “know thyself” and “I am the Lord thy God.” It is only a first sketch, so don’t expect too much of it.

European civilization has a unique place in world history. It was Europe, through exploration and conquest, that forged the global understanding that there is a single humanity living in multiple hemispheres and made that notion common knowledge. Until then, humanity had lived with a different and false map of the world, ignorant of its breadth and variability. Since Europe was the continent of Christianity, it spread Christianity. But Europeans’ realization of the many different cultures that existed, worshipping so many different gods, ultimately weakened the self-confidence of Christianity and of European civilization. But that is a story to consider at a later date. For now, the question is why it was Europe and not some other civilization that tore the veil away and revealed the breadth of the world.

All of this is a geopolitical problem. Religion would seem not to be part of geopolitics any more than philosophy is, but geopolitics is complex. It is about the relationship of humans to a place, but the nature of a place is shaped by complex forces – which, in this case, include Christianity. And Christianity itself emerges from two cities that are both near and very far apart: Athens and Jerusalem. It is there that we must begin.

Athens was the city in which reason came to know itself as man’s highest moment, and in which Aristotle said, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” Jerusalem is the city that enshrined the commandment “I am the Lord thy God … Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Athens was the city of logos – reason and discourse. Jerusalem was the city of awe not of men but of God and his law. The Gospel of John begins with the proclamation, “In the beginning was the Word [logos], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In that phrase, John sought to unite reason and revelation, the principles of Athens and Jerusalem. Athens held the core belief that to know thyself was the highest of goods; Jerusalem, that knowing God’s law was the greatest of things. Christianity obsessed over the soul and the self at the same time that it obsessed over God’s will. The Christian scholar Thomas Aquinas struggled with this tension, as did the Jewish philosopher Maimonides and the Muslim scholar al-Farabi. The dilemma of Athens and Jerusalem embedded itself in Eurasia. The tension between reason and revelation defined the region.

From a purely geopolitical point of view, it is striking that all of this played out along the rim of the Mediterranean, a small region within a far vaster world. It is hard to imagine two cities more distant in spirit than Athens and Jerusalem. Athens was built above a port, Piraeus. Ships from all over the Mediterranean arrived daily, delivering luxuries from around the basin. Athens was a wealthy city and, as some have said, corrupt and even weak because of its wealth. Jerusalem rested on a hill, overlooking a hard land where luxuries were few and held in suspicion. Athens luxuriated in the good life. Jerusalem luxuriated in a hard and jealous God. Athens knew many truths; Jerusalem, only one.

The one thing that bound them together was Persia. Persia threatened the Athenians’ very existence – but they were saved first by the Spartans (who were more Hebrew than Athenian) and then by their own navy. The Israelites were not threatened by the Persians but rather saved by them. The prophets had warned the Israelites that their failure to adhere to God’s laws would cause the fall of Jerusalem. In the end, this is what happened. They were conquered by Babylon (roughly located in present-day southern Iraq), the Israelites were exiled, and many wound up in Persia. Persia and Babylon fought a war – or, more precisely, an episode of a war that is ancient if not eternal. After defeating Babylon, King Cyrus allowed the Israelites to return to Israel and rebuild the temple in Jerusalem.

The Athenians had allies. The Spartans and the Athenians had a common interest in avoiding being subjugated by Persia. The Israelites lived on difficult land and struggled with one other – one of the reasons for God’s aforementioned warning. And because the land was hard, there were few allies available, and because the Israelites were meant to focus on God, diverting their attention to subtle statecraft could be difficult. Their relative poverty and limited ports also meant they were not embedded in the wider world of the Mediterranean. So, the Athenians won, the Israelites lost – yet, they recovered what was lost because of Persia’s war with Babylon and the Israelites’ ability to shape Persian policy toward them.

Greece defeated Persia because it had strategic depth: a navy that could strike the Persian flank and rugged hills to retreat into. The Greeks, moreover, did not have to unite until war broke out. Their own fragmentation increased their defensive capability. Israel faced a different problem. It had hills in the north and desert to the south, but there was little to protect it in the east. Therefore, the Israelites had to maintain constant vigilance and unity, for a threat could materialize quickly. The Israelites did not have the Greek comfort of strategic depth. Greece had luxury – even Sparta was luxurious compared to Israel. The Greeks had the luxury to think about knowing themselves. Israel, united by the commandment to honor God and his laws, could mass and win. Divided by a lack of piety, they could be crushed – and they were. The moral problem and the geopolitical reality merged. Or, more precisely, geopolitical reality generated a moral principle essential to survival.

Athens and Jerusalem were in many ways forged in the Persian-Babylonian crucible. But their most significant effect was not to the east but to the west and north, in Europe. Athens and Jerusalem served as the foundation for post-pagan Europe and dominated it. Europe dominated the creation of a single world as well. Part of Europe’s hunger came from searching for discounts in India. But the Christian components of the European surge into the world should not be neglected. And therefore, Athens and Jerusalem must not be neglected.

As I’ve said, this is not intended to be anything more than a fragment of thought. But it is the beginning of the question: What is the relationship of geopolitics to the intellectual tradition? I do not regard geopolitics as a mechanistic tool designed to predict next week. I see it as part of a very old discussion of how we humans should understand the things we do and the things we have done. I regard global self-awareness as a giant punctuation mark in human history that can be traced back to Christianity, Christianity to Athens and Jerusalem, and Athens and Jerusalem to Persia and Babylon – one of the axes of the world.

There will be more to follow.

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GPF: George Friedman: After Hanoi, NK, US, and Japan
« Reply #890 on: March 12, 2019, 07:26:52 AM »
By George Friedman


After Hanoi: North Korea, the US and Japan


As the United States alters its strategy, the others will follow suit.


The Hanoi talks ended in deadlock. Both sides – represented by U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un – showed their anger by refusing to shake hands. The media labeled the talks a failure. But I’ve been involved in a number of negotiations in my life, and I see this as a normal part of the process. At some point, all parties will take positions designed to test the other side’s hunger for a deal, and prudent negotiators know that showing hunger can be devastating. So, ending the negotiation, particularly with a show of anger, is routine. At the same time, mutual rejection can be genuine, and now each side is trying to figure out how serious the other is. Establishing that you are prepared to walk away from the table is important – but sometimes the deal falls apart as a result.
Where Things Stand
War with North Korea is not a good option for the U.S. There’s the danger of artillery fire close to Seoul, the uncertainty of the location of North Korea’s nuclear weapons, and the U.S. aversion to the idea of getting bogged down in another war this century. North Korea, on the other hand, knows that one thing that would trigger a U.S. pre-emptive nuclear strike would be to develop weapons that can reach the U.S., and it wants to avoid such a strike at all costs. So, this failed negotiation leaves a reality in which war is not likely, giving both sides room for obstinacy.
The other major players in the region must now calculate their courses. For China and Russia, there’s little downside to the United States’ attention being diverted to North Korea. The more the U.S. feels under pressure to attend to other issues, the less it can focus on China and Russia. But it’s not clear whether the Hanoi outcome helps or hurts these two. On the one hand, the U.S. and North Korea are furious at each other. On the other hand, if this results in a frozen conflict, the U.S. can spare attention for others. The logic is that China and Russia will push North Korea to more overt moves to draw Washington’s focus. But North Korea has created room to maneuver for itself, and a cold distance from the United States serves it well.
For the U.S., the years since 9/11 have forcibly displayed the limits of its military power. The U.S. is very good at destroying enemy armies, but it is very bad at occupying enemy countries where the citizens’ morale has not been crushed (think Germany or Japan during World War II). In Iraq, for example, the U.S. expected Iraqis to welcome the Americans. Some did, some were indifferent and some resisted. The resistance was prepared to absorb substantial casualties; this was their country, and they had nowhere else to go. The U.S., quite reasonably, was not prepared for high casualties, as Iraq was not a fundamental, long-term, American interest. The local forces understood the social and physical terrain, while the U.S. had limited familiarity. The initial attacks were successful. The occupation was a mess.
Thus, out of necessity, the U.S. has adopted a strategy that draws down its forces and that is extremely cautious about engagements where it cannot crush civilian morale through World War II-style bombing and blockade. Even if confident in its ability to break a conventional or nuclear force, the U.S. has no appetite for occupation. The strategy since World War II, built on the assumption that U.S. conventional forces can defeat any foe and pacify the country, is being abandoned. And in the case of the Hanoi talks, the U.S. is following a new strategy of diplomatic deadlock without recourse to the insertion of force.
We understand therefore the North Korean, Chinese, Russian and U.S. positions. (South Korea, of course, wants a stable balance on the Korean Peninsula.) The country whose strategy is uncertain is Japan.
Japan’s Next Move
The major question that has emerged from the Hanoi talks is what Japan will do now. Japan is the world’s third-largest economy. It has a stable and homogeneous population, a substantial military force and an enormous capacity to increase that force.
The U.S. has decided to accept that North Korea is a nuclear state, so long as none of its nuclear weapons can reach the U.S. mainland. This completely destabilizes Japan’s strategy. Under that strategy, first imposed by the U.S. and happily embraced by Japan, the U.S. guarantees Japanese national security. The U.S., in exchange, has been able to use Japan as a base from which to project force across the Korean Peninsula, threaten China and block Russia’s Vladivostok fleet from accessing the Pacific Ocean. Japan, unencumbered by defense expenditures and any responsibility in American wars, could focus on the monumental task of its dramatic post-World War II recovery. Most important, the U.S. nuclear umbrella has guaranteed that any nation that might attack Japan with nuclear weapons would face retaliation from the United States. In reality, the United States’ willingness to launch a massive nuclear exchange if China or Russia hit a Japanese city was always uncertain. But since it was uncertain to potential aggressors too, it served its purpose, which was more psychological than military.
The Hanoi talks subtly shift that guarantee. The new U.S. position is that it cannot accept a North Korean nuclear program that threatens the United States. Implicit in that position is that it can tolerate one that threatens Japan. The U.S. nuclear umbrella is notionally still there, but the United States’ reluctance to engage raises the question of whether North Korea will be deterred. So, the U.S. nuclear deterrent still guards Japan – but can the guardian be trusted?
Japan lives in a rough neighborhood. The Russians hold islands to which the Japanese lay claim, and while it’s not a real threat now, the Russian future is always unknown. China is challenging Japan’s control of islands in the East China Sea and is threatening to potentially take control of the Western Pacific, which is currently in the hands of the United States. China has a long memory of Japanese occupation and atrocities committed during the Sino-Japanese War. The Korean Peninsula, too, has a long memory of Japanese occupation, exploitation and abuse. So apart from the current geopolitical reality, Japan lives in a region that resents it for historical reasons.
In this context, the Japanese continue to struggle internally over defense policy. Japan’s current policy is to build a substantial force while minimizing its capabilities, saying it is only for national defense purposes. The alternative is for the world’s third-largest economy to normalize its international status by abandoning the constitutional prohibition on military force (already ignored for the most part) and create an armed force congruent with its economic might and strategic interests.
The Japanese public is on the whole comfortable with its postwar strategy. But with the rise of China, North Korean nuclear weapons and a potentially aggressive Russia, it cannot remain so for long. As the U.S. puts pressure on its allies to carry their own burdens, the Japanese strategy is becoming increasingly untenable. It cannot undergo a serious shift until the public does, and that means there will be an internal political crisis over the matter. But public opinion is already shifting, and the Japanese will face their reality.
Behind all this is an inevitable shift in U.S. foreign policy, visible in its stance on North Korea and elsewhere and rooted in the failure of U.S. warfare since World War II. The Korean War was a costly tie. Vietnam ended with Hanoi’s flag flying over Saigon. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan failed to establish viable, pro-U.S. regimes. The only 20th century wars in which the U.S. fared well were those in which U.S. allies bore a massive part of the burden. These wars only ended well when there was no U.S. occupation or when the ruthless execution of the war shattered the morale of the enemy and permitted the U.S. to reshape the societies. And very few wars will be like that.


That U.S. strategy had to shift was obvious to me a decade ago when I wrote “The Next Decade.” The shift has arrived, and that means nations, enemies and allies are repositioning themselves. In Asia, the Chinese and Russians will mostly hold their positions. North Korea will exploit the shift to the extent it can. But it is Japan that will have to undergo the most radical change.



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Re: GPF: George Friedman: After Hanoi, NK, US, and Japan
« Reply #891 on: March 12, 2019, 07:35:43 AM »
US nukes in Taiwan would get their undivided attention.



By George Friedman


After Hanoi: North Korea, the US and Japan


As the United States alters its strategy, the others will follow suit.


The Hanoi talks ended in deadlock. Both sides – represented by U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un – showed their anger by refusing to shake hands. The media labeled the talks a failure. But I’ve been involved in a number of negotiations in my life, and I see this as a normal part of the process. At some point, all parties will take positions designed to test the other side’s hunger for a deal, and prudent negotiators know that showing hunger can be devastating. So, ending the negotiation, particularly with a show of anger, is routine. At the same time, mutual rejection can be genuine, and now each side is trying to figure out how serious the other is. Establishing that you are prepared to walk away from the table is important – but sometimes the deal falls apart as a result.
Where Things Stand
War with North Korea is not a good option for the U.S. There’s the danger of artillery fire close to Seoul, the uncertainty of the location of North Korea’s nuclear weapons, and the U.S. aversion to the idea of getting bogged down in another war this century. North Korea, on the other hand, knows that one thing that would trigger a U.S. pre-emptive nuclear strike would be to develop weapons that can reach the U.S., and it wants to avoid such a strike at all costs. So, this failed negotiation leaves a reality in which war is not likely, giving both sides room for obstinacy.
The other major players in the region must now calculate their courses. For China and Russia, there’s little downside to the United States’ attention being diverted to North Korea. The more the U.S. feels under pressure to attend to other issues, the less it can focus on China and Russia. But it’s not clear whether the Hanoi outcome helps or hurts these two. On the one hand, the U.S. and North Korea are furious at each other. On the other hand, if this results in a frozen conflict, the U.S. can spare attention for others. The logic is that China and Russia will push North Korea to more overt moves to draw Washington’s focus. But North Korea has created room to maneuver for itself, and a cold distance from the United States serves it well.
For the U.S., the years since 9/11 have forcibly displayed the limits of its military power. The U.S. is very good at destroying enemy armies, but it is very bad at occupying enemy countries where the citizens’ morale has not been crushed (think Germany or Japan during World War II). In Iraq, for example, the U.S. expected Iraqis to welcome the Americans. Some did, some were indifferent and some resisted. The resistance was prepared to absorb substantial casualties; this was their country, and they had nowhere else to go. The U.S., quite reasonably, was not prepared for high casualties, as Iraq was not a fundamental, long-term, American interest. The local forces understood the social and physical terrain, while the U.S. had limited familiarity. The initial attacks were successful. The occupation was a mess.
Thus, out of necessity, the U.S. has adopted a strategy that draws down its forces and that is extremely cautious about engagements where it cannot crush civilian morale through World War II-style bombing and blockade. Even if confident in its ability to break a conventional or nuclear force, the U.S. has no appetite for occupation. The strategy since World War II, built on the assumption that U.S. conventional forces can defeat any foe and pacify the country, is being abandoned. And in the case of the Hanoi talks, the U.S. is following a new strategy of diplomatic deadlock without recourse to the insertion of force.
We understand therefore the North Korean, Chinese, Russian and U.S. positions. (South Korea, of course, wants a stable balance on the Korean Peninsula.) The country whose strategy is uncertain is Japan.
Japan’s Next Move
The major question that has emerged from the Hanoi talks is what Japan will do now. Japan is the world’s third-largest economy. It has a stable and homogeneous population, a substantial military force and an enormous capacity to increase that force.
The U.S. has decided to accept that North Korea is a nuclear state, so long as none of its nuclear weapons can reach the U.S. mainland. This completely destabilizes Japan’s strategy. Under that strategy, first imposed by the U.S. and happily embraced by Japan, the U.S. guarantees Japanese national security. The U.S., in exchange, has been able to use Japan as a base from which to project force across the Korean Peninsula, threaten China and block Russia’s Vladivostok fleet from accessing the Pacific Ocean. Japan, unencumbered by defense expenditures and any responsibility in American wars, could focus on the monumental task of its dramatic post-World War II recovery. Most important, the U.S. nuclear umbrella has guaranteed that any nation that might attack Japan with nuclear weapons would face retaliation from the United States. In reality, the United States’ willingness to launch a massive nuclear exchange if China or Russia hit a Japanese city was always uncertain. But since it was uncertain to potential aggressors too, it served its purpose, which was more psychological than military.
The Hanoi talks subtly shift that guarantee. The new U.S. position is that it cannot accept a North Korean nuclear program that threatens the United States. Implicit in that position is that it can tolerate one that threatens Japan. The U.S. nuclear umbrella is notionally still there, but the United States’ reluctance to engage raises the question of whether North Korea will be deterred. So, the U.S. nuclear deterrent still guards Japan – but can the guardian be trusted?
Japan lives in a rough neighborhood. The Russians hold islands to which the Japanese lay claim, and while it’s not a real threat now, the Russian future is always unknown. China is challenging Japan’s control of islands in the East China Sea and is threatening to potentially take control of the Western Pacific, which is currently in the hands of the United States. China has a long memory of Japanese occupation and atrocities committed during the Sino-Japanese War. The Korean Peninsula, too, has a long memory of Japanese occupation, exploitation and abuse. So apart from the current geopolitical reality, Japan lives in a region that resents it for historical reasons.
In this context, the Japanese continue to struggle internally over defense policy. Japan’s current policy is to build a substantial force while minimizing its capabilities, saying it is only for national defense purposes. The alternative is for the world’s third-largest economy to normalize its international status by abandoning the constitutional prohibition on military force (already ignored for the most part) and create an armed force congruent with its economic might and strategic interests.
The Japanese public is on the whole comfortable with its postwar strategy. But with the rise of China, North Korean nuclear weapons and a potentially aggressive Russia, it cannot remain so for long. As the U.S. puts pressure on its allies to carry their own burdens, the Japanese strategy is becoming increasingly untenable. It cannot undergo a serious shift until the public does, and that means there will be an internal political crisis over the matter. But public opinion is already shifting, and the Japanese will face their reality.
Behind all this is an inevitable shift in U.S. foreign policy, visible in its stance on North Korea and elsewhere and rooted in the failure of U.S. warfare since World War II. The Korean War was a costly tie. Vietnam ended with Hanoi’s flag flying over Saigon. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan failed to establish viable, pro-U.S. regimes. The only 20th century wars in which the U.S. fared well were those in which U.S. allies bore a massive part of the burden. These wars only ended well when there was no U.S. occupation or when the ruthless execution of the war shattered the morale of the enemy and permitted the U.S. to reshape the societies. And very few wars will be like that.


That U.S. strategy had to shift was obvious to me a decade ago when I wrote “The Next Decade.” The shift has arrived, and that means nations, enemies and allies are repositioning themselves. In Asia, the Chinese and Russians will mostly hold their positions. North Korea will exploit the shift to the extent it can. But it is Japan that will have to undergo the most radical change.

Crafty_Dog

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Re: US Foreign Policy
« Reply #892 on: March 12, 2019, 08:13:43 AM »
That would be regarded as REAL unfriendly by China.

OTOH nukes in Japan and/or South Korea (as mentioned by candidate Trump in one of the debates btw) have a lot of promise , , ,

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Re: US Foreign Policy
« Reply #893 on: March 12, 2019, 11:00:46 AM »
"US nukes in Taiwan would get their undivided attention."

"That would be regarded as REAL unfriendly by China."
----------------------------------------------------------
Yes.  And they don't need Japan and others to become a permanent nuclear power too.  So, on balance, they should help end the NK threat.  China is facing his own economically existential negotiations with Trump.  Their cooperation on NK could very well be part of the agreement.  Settling both issues would be an amazing accomplishment.

Walking away from negotiations IS a negotiation.  Trump wrote a book about it and I imagine Kim has read it.  I did not know they the meeting ended "angrily" "without a handshake".  That does not help the one who needed the photo opp.  No one expected NK to just give up his most prized possessions based on a couple of meetings so Trump is not hurt by the perhaps temporary setback.

Trump's offer to Un stays open as sanctions hopefully tighten.  In the meantime, the refusal of North Korea to denuclearize means China can expect its neighbors, Japan especially, to begin a march to surpass NK's capability.  I cannot see how this is in China's best strategic interest.  To the contrary, the militarizing of China's regional rivals moves things irreversibly in the exact opposite direction of China's intent to dominate the region.

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Re: US Foreign Policy
« Reply #894 on: March 12, 2019, 01:06:39 PM »
Tit for tat. Nukes for NorKs means a nuclear Taiwan.


"US nukes in Taiwan would get their undivided attention."

"That would be regarded as REAL unfriendly by China."
----------------------------------------------------------
Yes.  And they don't need Japan and others to become a permanent nuclear power too.  So, on balance, they should help end the NK threat.  China is facing his own economically existential negotiations with Trump.  Their cooperation on NK could very well be part of the agreement.  Settling both issues would be an amazing accomplishment.

Walking away from negotiations IS a negotiation.  Trump wrote a book about it and I imagine Kim has read it.  I did not know they the meeting ended "angrily" "without a handshake".  That does not help the one who needed the photo opp.  No one expected NK to just give up his most prized possessions based on a couple of meetings so Trump is not hurt by the perhaps temporary setback.

Trump's offer to Un stays open as sanctions hopefully tighten.  In the meantime, the refusal of North Korea to denuclearize means China can expect its neighbors, Japan especially, to begin a march to surpass NK's capability.  I cannot see how this is in China's best strategic interest.  To the contrary, the militarizing of China's regional rivals moves things irreversibly in the exact opposite direction of China's intent to dominate the region.

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Re: US Foreign Policy
« Reply #895 on: March 12, 2019, 01:13:44 PM »
Not on board with nukes to Taiwan. 

Didn't Nixon sign on to Taiwan being part of China? 

This is NOT something they could accept any more than we would we accept Chinese nukes to Puerto Rico.

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Re: US Foreign Policy
« Reply #896 on: March 12, 2019, 01:23:17 PM »
Not on board with nukes to Taiwan. 

Didn't Nixon sign on to Taiwan being part of China? 

This is NOT something they could accept any more than we would we accept Chinese nukes to Puerto Rico.

The difference being that we could do something about Chinese nukes in Puerto Rico. If the PLA could take Taiwan, they already would have. They are working on it, but not there yet.


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WSJ: Why America needs new foreign alliances
« Reply #899 on: April 06, 2019, 06:44:16 AM »


Why America Needs New Alliances
The international order of the Cold War era no longer makes sense. But the world can’t do without U.S. leadership. Here’s a better approach.
By Yoram Hazony and
Ofir Haivry
April 5, 2019 6:30 p.m. ET
A joint U.S.-Indian army exercise in India, April 6, 2004. Photo: RAVEENDRAN/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump is often accused of creating a needless rift with America’s European allies. The secretary-general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Jens Stoltenberg, expressed a different view Thursday when he told a joint session of Congress: “Allies must spend more on defense—this has been the clear message from President Trump, and this message is having a real impact.”

Mr. Stoltenberg’s remarks reflect a growing recognition that strategic and economic realities demand a drastic change in the way the U.S. conducts foreign policy. The unwanted cracks in the Atlantic alliance are primarily a consequence of European leaders, especially in Germany and France, wishing to continue living in a world that no longer exists. The U.S. cannot serve as the enforcer for the Europeans’ beloved “rules-based international order” any more. Even in the 1990s, it was doubtful the U.S. could indefinitely guarantee the security of all nations, paying for George H.W. Bush’s “new world order” principally with American soldiers’ lives and American taxpayers’ dollars.

Today a $22 trillion national debt and the voting public’s indifference to the dreams of world-wide liberal empire have depleted Washington’s ability to wage pricey foreign wars. At a time of escalating troubles at home, America’s estimated 800 overseas bases in 80 countries are coming to look like a bizarre misallocation of resources. And the U.S. is politically fragmented to an extent unseen in living memory, with uncertain implications in the event of a major war.

This explains why the U.S. has not sent massive, Iraq-style expeditionary forces to defend Ukraine’s integrity or impose order in Syria. If there’s trouble on Estonia’s border with Russia, would the U.S. have the will to deploy tens of thousands of soldiers on an indefinite mission 85 miles from St. Petersburg? Although Estonia joined NATO in 2004, the certainties of 15 years ago have broken down.

On paper, America has defense alliances with dozens of countries. But these are the ghosts of a rivalry with the Soviet Union that ended three decades ago, or the result of often reckless policies adopted after 9/11. These so-called allies include Turkey and Pakistan, which share neither America’s values nor its interests, and cooperate with the U.S. only when it serves their purposes. Other “allies” refuse to develop a significant capacity for self-defense, and are thus more accurately regarded as American dependencies or protectorates.

Liberal internationalists are right about one thing, however: America cannot simply turn its back on the world. Pearl Harbor and 9/11 demonstrated that the U.S. can and will be targeted on its own soil. An American strategic posture aimed at minimizing the danger from rival powers needs to focus on deterring Russia and China from wars of expansion; weakening China relative to the U.S. and thereby preventing it from attaining dominance over the world economy; and keeping smaller hostile powers such as North Korea and Iran from obtaining the capacity to attack America or other democracies.

To attain these goals, the U.S. will need a new strategy that is far less costly than anything previous administrations contemplated. Mr. Trump has taken a step in the right direction by insisting that NATO allies “pay their fair share” of the budget for defending Europe, increasing defense spending to 2% of gross domestic product in accordance with NATO treaty obligations.

But this framing of the issue doesn’t convey the problem’s true nature or its severity. The real issue is that the U.S. can no longer afford to assume responsibility for defending entire regions if the people living in them aren’t willing and able to build up their own credible military deterrent.

The U.S. has a genuine interest, for example, in preventing the democratic nations of Eastern Europe from being absorbed into an aggressive Russian imperial state. But the principal interested parties aren’t Americans. The members of the Visegrád Group—the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia—have a combined population of 64 million and a 2017 GDP of $2 trillion (about 50% of Russia’s, according to CIA estimates). The principal strategic question is therefore whether these countries are willing to do what is necessary to maintain their own national independence. If they are—at a cost that could well exceed the 2% figure devised by NATO planners—then they could eventually shed their dependent status and come to the table as allies of the kind the U.S. could actually use: strong frontline partners in deterring Russian expansion.

The same is true in other regions. Rather than carelessly accumulate dependencies, the U.S. must ask where it can develop real allies—countries that share its commitment to a world of independent nations, pursue democratic self-determination (although not necessarily liberalism) at home, and are willing to pay the price for freedom by taking primary responsibility for their own defense and shouldering the human and economic costs involved.

Nations that demonstrate a commitment to these shared values and a willingness to fight when necessary should benefit from relations that may include the supply of advanced armaments and technologies, diplomatic cover in dealing with shared enemies, preferred partnership in trade, scientific and academic cooperation, and the joint development of new technologies. Fair-weather friends and free-riding dependencies should not.

Perhaps the most important candidate for such a strategic alliance is India. Long a dormant power afflicted by poverty, socialism and an ideology of “nonalignment,” India has become one of the world’s largest and fastest-expanding economies. In contrast to the political oppression of the Chinese communist model, India has succeeded in retaining much of its religious conservatism while becoming an open and diverse country—by far the world’s most populous democracy—with a solid parliamentary system at both the federal and state levels. India is threatened by Islamist terrorism, aided by neighboring Pakistan; as well as by rapidly increasing Chinese influence, emanating from the South China Sea, the Pakistani port of Gwadar, and Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa, where the Chinese navy has established its first overseas base.

India’s values, interests and growing wealth could establish an Indo-American alliance as the central pillar of a new alignment of democratic national states in Asia, including a strengthened Japan and Australia. But New Delhi remains suspicious of American intentions, and with good reason: Rather than unequivocally bet on an Indian partnership, the U.S. continues to play all sides, haphazardly switching from confrontation to cooperation with China, and competing with Beijing for influence in fanaticism-ridden Pakistan. The rationalizations for these counterproductive policies tend to focus on Pakistan’s supposed logistical contributions to the U.S. war in Afghanistan—an example of how tactical considerations and the demands of bogus allies can stand in the way of meeting even the most pressing strategic needs.

A similar confusion characterizes America’s relationship with Turkey. A U.S. ally during the Cold War, Turkey is now an expansionist Islamist power that has assisted the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, al Qaeda and even ISIS; threatened Greece and Cyprus; sought Russian weapons; and recently expressed its willingness to attack U.S. forces in Syria. In reality, Turkey is no more an ally than Russia or China. Yet its formal status as the second-largest military in NATO guarantees that the alliance will continue to be preoccupied with pretense and make-believe, rather than the interests of democratic nations. Meanwhile, America’s most reliable Muslim allies, the Kurds, live under constant threat of Turkish invasion and massacre.

The Middle East is a difficult region, in which few players share American values and interests, although all of them—including Turkey, Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and even Iran—are willing to benefit from U.S. arms, protection or cash. Here too Washington should seek alliances with national states that share at least some key values and are willing to shoulder most of the burden of defending themselves while fighting to contain Islamist radicalism. Such natural regional allies include Greece, Israel, Ethiopia and the Kurds.

A central question for a revitalized alliance of democratic nations is which way the winds will blow in Western Europe. For a generation after the Berlin Wall’s fall in 1989, U.S. administrations seemed willing to take responsibility for Europe’s security indefinitely. European elites grew accustomed to the idea that perpetual peace was at hand, devoting themselves to turning the EU into a borderless utopia with generous benefits for all.

But Europe has been corrupted by its dependence on the U.S. Germany, the world’s fifth-largest economic power (with a GDP larger than Russia’s), cannot field more than a handful of operational combat aircraft, tanks or submarines. Yet German leaders steadfastly resist American pressure for substantial increases in their country’s defense capabilities, telling interlocutors that the U.S. is ruining a beautiful friendship.

None of this is in America’s interest—and not only because the U.S. is stuck with the bill. When people live detached from reality, they develop all sorts of fanciful theories about how the world works. For decades, Europeans have been devising “transnationalist” fantasies to explain how their own supposed moral virtues, such as their rejection of borders, have brought them peace and prosperity. These ideas are then exported to the U.S. and the rest of the democratic world via international bodies, universities, nongovernmental organizations, multinational corporations and other channels. Having subsidized the creation of a dependent socialist paradise in Europe, the U.S. now has to watch as the EU’s influence washes over America and other nations.

For the moment, it is hard to see Germany or Spain becoming American allies in the new, more realistic sense of the term we have proposed. France is a different case, maintaining significant military capabilities and a willingness to deploy them at times. But the governments of these and other Western European countries remain ideologically committed to transferring ever-greater powers to international bodies and to the concomitant degradation of national independence. That doesn’t make them America’s enemies, but neither are they partners in defending values such as national self-determination. It is difficult to foresee circumstances under which they would be willing or able to arm themselves in keeping with the actual security needs of an emerging alliance of independent democratic nations.

The prospects are better with respect to Britain, whose defense spending is already significantly higher, and whose public asserted a desire to regain independence in the Brexit referendum of 2016. With a population of more than 65 million and a GDP of $3 trillion (75% of Russia’s), the U.K. may yet become a principal partner in a leaner but more effective security architecture for the democratic world.

Isolationists are also right about one thing: The U.S. cannot be, and should not try to be, the world’s policeman. Yet it does have a role to play in awakening democratic nations from their dependence-induced torpor, and assisting those that are willing to make the transition to a new security architecture based on self-determination and self-reliance. An alliance including the U.S., the U.K. and the frontline Eastern European nations, as well as India, Israel, Japan and Australia, among others, would be strong enough to exert sustained pressure on China, Russia and hostile Islamist groups.

Helping these democratic nations become self-reliant regional actors would reduce America’s security burden, permitting it to close far-flung military installations and making American military intervention the exception rather than the rule. At the same time, it would free American resources for the long struggle to deny China technological superiority, as well as for unforeseen emergencies that are certain to arise.

Mr. Hazony is author of “The Virtue of Nationalism.” Mr. Haivry is vice president of the Herzl Institute in Jerusalem.

Appeared in the April 6, 2019, print edition.