Author Topic: US Foreign Policy & Geopolitics  (Read 256532 times)


Crafty_Dog

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George Friedman: The Geopolitics of President Trump
« Reply #951 on: August 27, 2019, 11:15:20 AM »
www.geopoliticalfutures.com© 2019 Geopolitical FuturesTHE GEOPOLITICS OF DONALD TRUMP

11War II and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States reinterpreted this final imperative as maintaining the balance of  power  among  smaller  countries.  This  resulted  in  smaller  wars  like  Korea,  Vietnam,  Desert  Storm,  Kosovo,  Afghanistan  and Iraq, and within this framework even smaller wars. To  this  end,  the  United  States  created  a  range  of  alliances,  some  emerging  from  the  Cold  War,  like  NATO,  and  some  ad  hoc  coalitions.  The  wars  were  always  fought  within  some  alliance structure, however thin. But the U.S. did poorly in most of these limited conflicts. Where it had excelled in total war and  potential  total  war,  these  limited  conflicts  had  as  their ends political outcomes that were strongly resisted by forces in the countries that had a far greater interest in the outcome than  did  the  U.S.,  and  therefore  an  imperative  of  continued  resistance  that  went  beyond  the  American  imperative.  The  culmination  was  the  series  of  wars  that  arose  out  of  9/11  and has continued, on a diminishing basis with unsatisfactory outcomes, to this day.

www.geopoliticalfutures.com© 2019 Geopolitical FuturesTHE GEOPOLITICS OF DONALD TRUMP12

This raises the question of the value of the alliance structures and  the  ability  of  the  U.S.  to  use  direct  American  force  to  achieve  its  desired  ends.  It  also  raises  the  question  of  the  ability of American leadership to clearly define the desired end. Any president would have had to address the question of the value of the Cold War alliance system and the wisdom behind the wars the U.S. has waged since World War II, particularly in light of the 18 years of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is no neat ideological division here. Many internationalists who support the U.S. alliance structure oppose the current wars and others the U.S. has fought. Many nationalists who oppose the alliance structure want to see ongoing military action against jihadists. Others want both, and still others want neither.While the question of alliances and military strategy does not map  to  the  social  divisions,  there  is  another  dimension  that  does: internationalism versus nationalism. This division does not  directly  translate  into  strategy  or  tactics,  but  rather  into  an  intellectual  and  even  moral  sensitivity.

 Internationalists,  drawing their vision from the failure of key nations to cooperate in blocking the rise of Hitler, argue that the United States must be deeply embedded in global affairs and that it should do so in collaboration with other nations. They argue that involvement in international structures is both in the United States’ interest and  a  moral  imperative.  More  important,  they  argue  that  whatever  short-term  costs  this  might  incur,  the  long-term  advantage to the United States outweighs the cost.The nationalist view argues that the U.S. is overexposed in the world and that its strategy in Eurasia increases the possibility of  war  that  may  or  may  not  be  in  American  interests.  The  alliance structures in general depend on the United States for their main force, meaning that obligation to the alliance places the  U.S.  at  disproportionate  risk.  The  exposure  throughout  the  Eastern  Hemisphere  allows  potential  enemies  to  initiate  conflicts  at the time and place of their choosing by striking

at  Americans  in  the  region  or  at  allies  the  U.S.  is  obligated  to  defend. Nationalists use the case of Munich to argue that the failure  of  the  United  States  to  join  Britain  and  France  against  Hitler  in  1938  misses  the  point.  Britain  and  France  could  have defeated Hitler at that point had they chosen to bear the burden. They chose not to. The failure was not the absence of the United States but the Anglo-French calculation of their self-interest. U.S. presence would merely have entangled the U.S. in an impossible situation. Taking all these things into account, nationalists argue that the internationalist  ambition  is  not  only  too  grandiose  but  leaves  the U.S. perpetually exposed. U.S. foreign policy must be based on  U.S.  interest,  and  U.S.  alliances  must  be  based  both  on  that interest and on shared burdens. In addition, the constant use  of  force  that  does  not  reach  its  ends  is  untenable.  The  nationalist  view  has  many  components  of  leftist  views,  just  as the internationalist has right-leaning views. The ideological division has less meaning.Strategy in the Trump  PresidencyU.S. foreign policy is not coherent, nor does it have a political consensus  behind  it.  America’s  geopolitical  imperative  is  to  constantly  manipulate  Eurasia,  but  it  does  not  provide  for  limits. Militarily, the U.S. is divided between those who believe wars in the Middle East cannot simply be abandoned without creating instability in the region and those who argue that the presence  of  U.S.  troops  achieves  nothing  but  U.S.  casualties.  The   argument   between   nationalists   and   internationalists   creates  two  competing  viewpoints,  each  with  a  reasonable  core, and neither compatible.


The geopolitical situation is currently stable. What is unstable is a coherent, systematic response to it. Presidents are political. Their  job  is  to  craft  a  majority,  and  at  a  time  of  deep  social  tension that is difficult. Presidents normally go to their base to produce a foreign policy. Trump’s base – not all his support by any  means  –  is  made  up  of  the  declining  industrial  workers.  His response to these forces stems from that.In the experience of this class of voters, the world is dangerous, the government indifferent. Trump harnessed that to become president.  This  explains  why  his  foreign  policy  reflects  a nationalist outlook and deep suspicion of foreign commitment. From  this  logic,  there  is  an  aversion  to  war  as  a  foreign  policy  tool.  He  has  spoken  of  withdrawals  more  than  he  has  withdrawn, but the basic principle of his foreign policy is not to initiate war. Instead,  he  approaches  foreign  issues  with  a  different  tool,  one  that  has  been  common  to  all  presidents,  but  which  has  become  central  to  his  foreign  policy:  the  use  of  economic warfare,  including  sanctions,  embargoes,  tariffs  and  related  tools.  This  achieves  three  things.  First,  it  provides  a  tool  that  strikes at the stability of other countries. Second, it avoids the use of the military as the primary tool for managing adversarial relationships. Finally, it solidifies his political base behind him.It is important to note that this is not a new policy for the United States.  The  U.S.  has  used  economic  weapons  many  times  since  World  War  II.  The  Cuban  trade  embargo  was  one  case.  The embargo on sales of wheat to the Soviet Union during the 1980s  was  another.  More  recently,  sanctions  against  Russia,  Iran and North Korea have been a near-constant feature of U.S. foreign  policy.  What  is  new  is  the  degree  to  which  it  is  being  used,  and  the  types  of  economic  actions  –  tariffs  –  that  are  being used.

The use of trade sanctions perturbs Trump’s opponents, whose interests are tied to international markets and the free flow of products and capital. But it pleases those for whom free trade has been synonymous with economic distress. For Trump, the use  of  economic  warfare  endears  him  to  those  who  regard  close alignment of the United States with foreign countries as dangerous but see warfare as ineffective. It angers those who see  free  trade  as  a  foundation  of  international  peace.

But,  on  the whole, its political and geopolitical logic make it a mutually supportive system.This is not the place to go into all the complexities of a foreign policy, and clearly Trump’s policy is both as impulsive and as planned  as  others’.  That  will  be  challenged  by  some  on  all  sides of the political spectrum, but as I have argued, presidents are  the  prisoner  of  impersonal  forces.  They  align  themselves  with  those  forces.  They  do  not  create  them.  This  is  not  how  presidents  think  of  themselves,  nor  how  their  passionate  advocates  and  enemies  think  of  them.  Nevertheless,  in  my  view that is the reality. While not attempting a tour of the world, I  want  to  present  a  short  description  of  Trump’s  actions  in  various  regions,  so  that  his  actions  can  be  compared  to  my  analysis.  I  will  disregard  Trump’s  rhetoric  and,  as  I  have  with  other presidents, focus on actions. North AmericaNorth  America  is  larger  in  population  and  in  GDP  than  the  European  Union.  It  follows  that  there  would  be  tensions.  The  United States, Canada and Mexico have had the routine pain of renegotiating NAFTA. The greatest tension is with Mexico, which is  a  transit  route  for  large  numbers  of  migrants  from  Central  America.  This  obviously  intersects  with  domestic  American  politics generated by Trump’s base and has now been countered by using tariffs on Mexican exports to the United States. Here, immigration and economic weapons have merged as issues.

www.geopoliticalfutures.com© 2019 Geopolitical FuturesTHE GEOPOLITICS OF DONALD TRUMP16East AsiaNorth Korea. In North Korea, an issue that preceded Trump by decades,  the  threat  posed  by  nuclear  weapons  was  not  met  with  airstrikes  or  other  military  actions  but  with  intensified sanctions  and  negotiations.  The  aversion  to  initiating  military  action is the key.
www.geopoliticalfutures.com© 2019 Geopolitical FuturesTHE GEOPOLITICS OF DONALD TRUMP17

China.  The  confrontation  with  China  is  a  continuation  of  an  extended  friction  between  China  and  the  United  States  over  China’s blocking U.S. exports, manipulating its currency, stealing U.S. intellectual property and so on. China is different for Trump because it has become the symbol of the deindustrialization of the United States. Trump therefore imposed substantial tariffs on Chinese goods while engaging in desultory discussion. The confrontation is asymmetrical in the sense that China exports about 4 percent of its GDP to the United States, while the United States exports less than one-half of one percent of its GDP to China.  Still,  there  is  economic  pain  in  the  United  States  that  causes  political  friction,  but  Trump’s  base  may  forgive  him  if  they are convinced he took enough action against China.Middle EastIran.  The  Iranians  have  expanded  their  power  throughout  the  region, including in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Trump has used  as  his  basic  weapon  economic  sanctions,  which  have  been sufficiently severe to create serious tension in Iran. He has moved some military assets but has not engaged militarily. He has also acted against the wishes of allies in Europe, using the  issue  of  Iran’s  missile  program  to  justify  these  actions,  clearly also or perhaps primarily aimed at the spread of Iranian power. In addition, he helped create an alliance including Israel, Saudi  Arabia,  the  United  Arab  Emirates  and  some  others  to  resist  Iran.  This  is  an  impermanent  alliance  to  which  the  U.S.  has contributed little or no force.EuropeNATO. Trump has not appreciably changed NATO, his demands for  greater  participation  from  the  Europeans  in  their  defense  spending  budgets  notwithstanding.  The  United  States  has  focused  on  an  imperative  to  curb  Russian  hegemony  by 

www.geopoliticalfutures.com© 2019 Geopolitical FuturesTHE GEOPOLITICS OF DONALD TRUMP18supporting Ukraine and placing troops in Poland and Romania. This structure is in some ways part of NATO, but practically it is a structure created for a particular purpose and outside the purview of NATO.Russia. After the Ukrainian revolution, former President Barack Obama placed sanctions on certain Russian individuals. Trump has  continued  and,  in  some  ways,  intensified  the  sanctions program.  While  in  some  ways  the  pressure  of  charges  of  collusion with Russia likely made him more amenable to public actions against Russia, it continues a model that he has taken as central to his global strategy: economic action.ConclusionThe core argument I make in this special report is that Trump’s rise to power was based on deep divisions in the United States that originated in U.S. relations with other nations. The tensions between   China   and   the   U.S.   translated   into   energizing   a   significant faction in the United States, and Trump’s campaign challenging China was important in getting him elected. Having been elected through this geopolitical process that generated a  political  response,  he  then  engaged  in  negotiations  with  China that seemed similar to prior negotiations but terminated in tariffs.When  we  look  at  prior  presidents,  they  employed  a  mix  of  economic  and  military  actions,  the  mix  determined  by  circumstance   and   mission.   Trump   has   consistently   tilted   away  from  military  action,  and  sometimes  reduced  it  as  was  the case in Syria. He has consistently shown a preference for economic action, using the power of the United States, against China  for  example,  to  try  to  compel  changes  in  the  policies  of  adversaries.  He  has  also,  in  the  case  of  Mexico,  sought  to  use  tariffs  to  shape  its  actions  around  immigration.  This  has  created new sorts of crises but may well avoid other kinds.

www.geopoliticalfutures.com© 2019 Geopolitical FuturesTHE GEOPOLITICS OF DONALD TRUMP19I refuse to get involved in the contemporary argument between Trump’s  supporters  and  opponents.  That  debate  is  certainly  part of democratic life and necessary, but in my view, it misses the point. There are social pressures in the United States that conflict with other social pressures.The  global  balance  has  its  own  realities.  The  United  States  has  the  largest  economy,  the  largest  military  and  deepest  cultural  influence  –  for  bad  or  good  –  in  the  world.  It  has clear  national  imperatives  it  must  protect  and  pursue.  It  is  global,  and  therefore  interacts  with  nations  around  the  world  and  the  interactions  sometimes  bring  hostile  responses.  The  global  reality  interacts  with  the  American  domestic  reality  and generates certain outcomes. One of the outcomes made Trump  president  of  a  country  in  which  his  opposition  was  at  least  as  equally  powerful  as  his  support.  Therefore,  he  must,  as any president does, take care of his political base and also avoid international disaster, like a war with North Korea. I have said many times that history makes presidents, and then presidents do what it demands of them. This is not true in every detail,  but  it’s  true  in  the  broadest  sense,  of  who  a  president  regards  as  a  friend  and  enemy  and  how  he  uses  his  power.  What  I  have  tried  to  show  is  the  degree  to  which  Trump  has  changed the tempo of foreign policy, and the way it is waged. I  also  tried  to  show  why  he  did  it.  Forget  whether  you  like  him or not. That’s irrelevant in the long run. He did it because geopolitical reality is in charge, not Donald Trump

Crafty_Dog

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GPF: Rusian-Chinese cooperation
« Reply #952 on: September 11, 2019, 09:52:03 AM »
or China and Russia, Common Interests Make for Closer Security Ties
Military officials salute each other in a ceremony before Russia and China warships set out for a naval cooperation exercise.

(YURI SMITYUK\TASS via Getty Images)

Highlights

    To counter the United States in key Asian and European theaters, Russia and China will increase the size and scope of their joint military exercises in the coming months.
    Russia and China will also increase consultations with each other on internal security issues, including their shared desires to create a sovereign internet and manage unrest in Moscow and Hong Kong, respectively.
    But such cooperation will be limited by Russia and China's own strategic competition with one another, particularly in areas of overlapping influence such as Central Asia and the Russian Far East.
    In the longer term, Russia-China security ties will last only until the three great powers' triangular relationship inevitably shifts again, and prompts Moscow and Beijing to recalibrate their positions.

As the saying goes, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." And indeed, that dynamic is what has seemingly brought Russia and China closer together in recent years amid the two countries' separate standoffs with the United States. The U.S. trade war with China and Washington's prolonged sanctions campaign against Moscow, for one, have driven greater economic and energy ties between the Eastern neighbors. Over the past year, Russia and China have also coordinated their diplomatic positions to counterbalance U.S. interests and influence in areas such as Venezuela, Iran and North Korea.

As a result, Beijing and Moscow have found themselves aligned with each other in the many areas where they both stand at odds with Washington — and increasingly, that includes security issues. But in the long term, Russian-Chinese security ties will ultimately depend on the evolution of each country's relationship with the United States and, thereby, with each other.

The Big Picture

Escalating tensions between the United States on one hand and Russia and China on the other are pushing Moscow and Beijing into greater cooperation on numerous fronts. The growth of this partnership, however, will ultimately be limited by the inherent differences between the two Eastern powers, as well as future swings in the balance of power between Moscow, Washington and Beijing.




A Path for Military Cooperation

Perhaps the greatest area of U.S.-motivated growing alignment between Russia and China has been in the security sphere. As Washington challenges Russia in the former Soviet periphery and contends for influence in China's maritime periphery, Moscow and Beijing have recently increased military cooperation with each other, particularly when it comes to joint military exercises. And broader U.S. military buildups in both European and Asian theaters will likely continue to prompt even more joint military drills between the two countries — especially now that the United States is less constrained to develop its missile capabilities amid the collapse of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.

Following years of accusations of non-compliance from both sides, the United States suspended its Cold War-era treaty with Russia in February before formally withdrawing in August. In its announcement, the United States said that Russia's weapon development had not been in compliance with the INF limits the two countries agreed to more than 30 years ago. But Beijing has also been significantly ramping up the development of its own intermediate-range missiles, which no doubt factored into the U.S. decision to withdraw from the agreement as well.

As a counterweight to China's weapon development, Washington will likely first focus on building up its missile capabilities in Asia with the help of its chief regional allies, South Korea and Japan. Given this, it is perhaps no coincidence that Russia and China chose to conduct their first-ever, joint long-range air patrol in the Sea of Japan in late July. During the joint exercises, South Korea accused a Russian surveillance plane of entering its airspace over the disputed island of Dokdo (also known as Takeshima), prompting South Korean warplanes to even fire a warning shot. That's not to say the recent joint exercise was directly linked to Washington's INF withdrawal, as such exercises don't directly affect weapons capabilities or deployments that the treaty limited. But it nevertheless points to a growing level of shared military cooperation as a result of shared concerns between Russia and China.

This map shows areas where Russia and China have conducted joint military exercises.


In tandem with U.S. military buildups, joint Russian-Chinese military exercises will thus likely only increase in size, scope, and frequency in the coming months. This could include joint air drills elsewhere in Asia, or joint naval drills in areas like the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean. To further signal their growing military interoperability to Washington and its global allies, Moscow and Beijing could also start pooling assets like surveillance and tanker aircraft, and engage in the joint production of heavy-lift helicopters and other military equipment.

Battles on the Homefront

In addition to conventional military cooperation, Russia and China are also finding common ground on internal security matters, with both countries facing protracted protest movements in recent months. China, for its part, continues to grapple with ongoing demonstrations in Hong Kong. And Russia has also faced some of the biggest protests it has seen in nearly a decade, prompted by the government's decision to exclude many opposition candidates from the country's Sept. 8 regional elections. In handling each situation, the Russian and Chinese governments have opted for a similar mix of limited security crackdowns and selective political concessions, in the hopes of avoiding a broader military intervention.

Both Moscow and Beijing have also publicly blamed the United States for helping fan the flames in each situation. Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated that Moscow "took seriously" China's claims that Washington and other Western countries have "directly participated and organized unrest" in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang said U.S. support for the protests in Moscow serves as "an example of interference in Russia's domestic politics, which points to (the West's) hegemonic claims." According to Zakharova, Moscow and Beijing plan to hold consultations over U.S. involvement in their respective protests. While the details and extent of such consultations remain unclear, the fact that Russia and China have vocalized their support for each other over their respective claims of U.S. interference is significant in itself.

Similar Cyber Visions

Another area of potential security coordination between Russia and China is in the cybersphere. The two countries have been increasingly discussing their shared desire to each create an internet that can operate independently from the rest of the world — or what Moscow has coined "internet sovereignty." In July, Russia's state communications watchdog Roskomnadzor hosted a delegation from the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) — the first such delegation to ever visit Russia. Officials from the CAC also reportedly visited Yandex, Russia's major online search engine, as well as the Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab, to discuss joint cooperation prospects.

When the power balance between Russia, China and the United States inevitably shifts, so too will the incentives driving Moscow and Beijing's current security alignment.


Such consultations with China indicate that Russia is planning to take further steps to crack down on the cybersecurity front. In recent years, Moscow has been continuously tightening its internet controls, including blocking the use of the Telegram messenger app over its refusal to hand over encryption keys to the security services. Russia is also considering using Huawei's 5G networks next year, just as some countries are trying to avoid doing so under U.S. pressure (though Washington has been far less successful than it hoped in terms of getting other countries to outright ban Huawei). Russia, meanwhile, is also still pushing ahead with the development of its own indigenous 5G infrastructure to maintain a degree of technological independence, though it is significantly behind China, Europe and the United States on this front.

A Partnership of Circumstance

There are, of course, limits on how far this burgeoning cooperation between China and Russia can go. Beijing, for one, has a much higher threshold for overt state involvement in the cybersphere compared with Moscow. And this, combined with the vast differences between the two countries' domestic conditions and political environment, means that cooperation between Russia and China on internal issues like protest management and cybersecurity will likely remain more consultative than collaborative.

On the conventional military front, Russia and China's cooperation will also be limited by the fact that, historically, they pose as much of a strategic threat to each other than the United States does to them currently. Because of the two countries' geographic proximity, there are several areas where their interests have the potential to clash rather than overlap, particularly in regions close to their respective borders. While Moscow and Beijing have established a division of labor of sorts in Central Asia, China's growing economic clout is leading to an increased security focus and footprint there — one that has been carefully managed up until now, but could ruffle Russia's feathers down the line. Meanwhile, in the Russian Far East, ties could become more sensitive amid growing Chinese power and involvement in the region, with Moscow already threatening to cut off its timber exports due to what it claims as Beijing's illegal logging operations in the region.

Ultimately, however, Russia-China security ties and the broader relationship will be shaped by each country's respective relationship with the United States. In the current trajectory, both Russia and China are facing pressures and challenges from the United States that are pushing the two countries together on several security issues out of pragmatism and convenience. But when the balance between the three great powers inevitably shifts, so too will the incentives driving Moscow and Beijing's current security alignment.

ccp

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Bolton: life after Trump
« Reply #953 on: September 14, 2019, 03:45:06 PM »
a relationship that fulfilled its destiny.
what is surprising is Romney's comments at end of this article:

https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/461425-bolton-returns-to-political-group-after-exiting-administration


Crafty_Dog

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WSJ: Don't bet on Sino-Russian Alliance
« Reply #955 on: September 15, 2019, 11:57:34 PM »



A Sino-Russian Alliance? Don’t Bet On It
Students in Beijing and Moscow want to keep their neighbor at arm’s length. They also admire the U.S.
By Thomas Sherlock and
John Gregory
Sept. 15, 2019 3:52 pm ET
A meeting of senior Chinese and Russian officials in Beijing, Sept. 6. Photo: pool/Reuters

‘Great-power competition” is increasingly a central concern in Washington foreign-policy circles. The 2017 U.S. National Security Strategy warns that “China and Russia challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity.” The era of great-power competition is all the more dangerous if America’s adversaries join forces. In a column this year, the Journal’s Walter Russell Mead described factors shaping cooperation between China and Russia. But do the Chinese and Russian people support greater cooperation against the U.S.?

Our research suggests the future elites of both countries, at least, are wary. In mid-2018 we conducted 21 focus groups of students—primarily undergraduates in their junior or senior years, but also a few graduate students—at the leading universities in Beijing and Moscow. We asked each to evaluate Russia, China and the U.S. as “great powers.” The students expressed disinterest, ambivalence or misgivings about Sino-Russian cooperation. Many believed China and Russia did not share sufficient values or interests to work together over the long term. We also found that most of the students in both countries saw much to respect or admire in the U.S.

The Chinese students had internalized Communist Party propaganda that China’s political system is a genuine democracy tailored to Chinese conditions. Consistent with the party’s “China Dream” campaign, students felt that the legitimacy of a particular political order depends on whether it can produce social and economic “development.”

This standard has inadvertently devalued Russia as a partner in their eyes. The Chinese students were unimpressed by their neighbor’s culture and society, in part because they did not view either as sources of significant national power. They also were skeptical that the Russian political system could modernize the economy and support Moscow’s return to great-power status.

By contrast, the students in Beijing identified the U.S. as the kind of dynamic, wealthy and influential country that China aspires to be. American culture, particularly movies, captivated the students: “America’s cultural influence is obvious in movies broadcast worldwide, for instance in Captain America and Black Panther,” one said. Others echoed this assessment of American soft power: “Culture is what makes [America] a superpower,” offered another participant. These sentiments were common across the Chinese focus groups despite ubiquitous Communist Party criticism of U.S. foreign policy and the American system. The students used the following terms most often to describe America: free, diverse, developed, strong, advanced, cultural, international, technology, individualism and rule of law.

Unlike their counterparts in Beijing, the students in Moscow often criticized their own government, expressing concern about the future of Russia. This pessimism underscores the deteriorating ability of state-controlled media to neutralize societal disapproval of the Kremlin and its policies—including its policy of closer ties to China. For many of the participants, China encompassed a “mysterious” world that was incompatible with dominant strands of Russian culture and identity.

Some Russian students also found China untrustworthy, in part because its regime is so authoritarian: “If we aren’t a democratic country in full measure, they are even more so,” one said. “That’s scary. You do not know what to expect from such a closed society.” A common worry was that in a partnership with China, Russia would be relegated to political, strategic and economic dependency. This could produce grievances and insecurities even worse than those associated with Russia’s relationship with the West, both in the past and the present.

Most Russian participants not only acknowledged American cultural and technological prowess but also respected the American political system. According to one student, “despite all the problems of the United States we’ve discussed, it all works, it all holds. And it’s been holding for a quite a long time.” For another student, “we deeply associate America with freedom.” The members of the focus groups also viewed the “American dream” as an authentic aspiration, not an anachronism or a legitimating narrative concocted by ruling elites.

It’s striking that the perspective most strongly shared across the groups in Beijing and Moscow was respect and often admiration for America. To be sure, both Chinese and Russian students criticized U.S. policies overseas and American domestic problems. Yet for the Chinese participants, America’s cultural and economic power stimulated intense interest and fascination. The Russian students were also drawn to the U.S. because of its Western identity and by the perceived importance of American political values and institutions.

The U.S. can strengthen these positive views and its soft power by adhering to its liberal-democratic principles. Such conduct will help blunt the narrative of the Russian and Chinese governments that America’s expression of universal values is a self-interested smokescreen. The U.S. must also avoid demonizing Russia and China as it grapples with the challenge of great-power competition. Otherwise, Washington risks stoking anti-American nationalism as well as support for Sino-Russian collaboration—even as a rising generation of elites prefers to stand apart.

Mr. Sherlock is a professor of political science at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y. Col. Gregory directs the Chinese Program and the Center for Languages, Cultures and Regional Studies at West Point.

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Special Ops Policy Forum
« Reply #956 on: September 20, 2019, 08:26:38 PM »

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China and Russia growing closer
« Reply #957 on: October 04, 2019, 07:19:54 PM »

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Russian-Chinese cooperation on missile warning system points to alignment
« Reply #958 on: October 04, 2019, 07:53:11 PM »
second post


snapshots
Russia, China: Cooperation on a Missile Warning System Points to an Increasing Alignment
2 MINS READOct 4, 2019 | 19:08 GMT
The Big Picture

The status of the relationship between China and Russia is a major factor in global geopolitics, especially in the context of their great power competition with the United States. Tracking the trajectory of this relationship, especially as China continues to rise and Russia faces up to its systemic constraints, is therefore of significant importance.
See 2019 Fourth-Quarter Forecast

At the 16th annual meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club on Oct. 3, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia was helping China create an anti-missile early-warning system. The active cooperation between Russia and China on such a strategic project highlights the degree to which Sino-Russian relations have improved.

Early-warning systems, generally consisting of long-range radar stations and satellite constellations, play a critical role in a country's strategic nuclear deterrence by offering advance warning of an impending attack, enhancing the attacked country's ability to respond with its own strikes before it can no longer offer any deterrence. These early-warning systems are expensive, and Russia and the United States are the only countries that have created large networks of this kind.

Given the secrecy associated with such systems, there needs to be a high degree of mutual trust for both Russia and China to work with each other on such a sensitive project. Putin's statement, if true, suggests China is largely unconcerned about a potential attack from Russia down the line as Moscow's cooperation on the construction of such a network will naturally give the Kremlin some degree of insight into its strengths and weaknesses.

Given the sensitivity and secrecy associated with early-warning systems for missiles, Putin's statement suggests China is largely unconcerned about a potential attack from Russia.

Russia and China have found themselves increasingly aligned in a number of security areas, particularly with regard to their concern over U.S. moves. In particular, Moscow and Beijing have both denounced the U.S. withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and specifically its intention to place intermediate-range missiles in the western Pacific. Russia and China have also jointly pushed back on the U.S. buildup of missile defense, which both countries see as a threat to their nuclear deterrent.

This increasing alignment between Russia and China, especially in terms of the strategic balance versus the United States, has played a prominent role in paving the way for increasingly closer security cooperation between the two powers.

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GPF: George Friedman: The Origins of New US-Turkish Relations
« Reply #959 on: October 14, 2019, 08:27:52 PM »

The Origins of New US-Turkish Relations
By
George Friedman -
October 14, 2019
Open as PDF

For several years, there has been a significant shift underway in U.S. strategy toward the Middle East, where Washington has consistently sought to avoid combat. The United States is now compelled to seek accommodation with Turkey, a regional power in its own right, based on terms that are geopolitically necessary for both. Their relationship has been turbulent, and while it may continue to be so for a while, it will decline. Their accommodation has nothing to do with mutual affection but rather with mutual necessity. The Turkish incursion into Syria and the U.S. response are part of this adjustment, one that has global origins and regional consequences.

Similarly, the U.S. decision to step aside as Turkey undertook an incursion in northeastern Syria has a geopolitical and strategic origin. The strategic origin is a clash between elements of the Defense Department and the president. The defense community has been shaped by a war that has been underway since 2001. During what is called the Long War, the U.S. has created an alliance structure of various national and subnational groups. Yet the region is still on uneven footing. The Iranians have extended a sphere of influence westward. Iraq is in chaos. The Yemeni civil war still rages, and the original Syrian war has ended, in a very Middle Eastern fashion, indecisively.

A generation of military and defense thinkers have matured fighting wars in the Middle East. The Long War has been their career. Several generations spent their careers expecting Soviet tanks to surge into the Fulda Gap. Cold Warriors believed a world without the Cold War was unthinkable. The same can be said for those shaped by Middle Eastern wars. For the Cold War generation, the NATO alliance was the foundation of their thinking. So too for the Sandbox generation, those whose careers were spent rotating into Iraq or Afghanistan or some other place, the alliances formed and the enemies fought seemed eternal. The idea that the world had moved on, and that Fulda and NATO were less important, was emotionally inconceivable. Any shift in focus and alliance structure was seen as a betrayal.

After the Cold War ended, George H.W. Bush made the decision to stand down the 24-hour B-52 air deployments in the north that were waiting for a Soviet attack. The reality had changed, and Bush made the decision a year after the Eastern European collapse began. He made it early on Sept. 21, 1991, after the Wall came down but before the Soviet Union collapsed. It was a controversial decision. I knew some serious people who thought that we should be open to the possibility that the collapse in Eastern Europe was merely a cover for a Soviet attack and were extremely agitated over the B-52 stand-down.

It is difficult to accept that an era has passed into history. Those who were shaped by that era, cling, through a combination of alarm and nostalgia, to the things that reverberate through their minds. Some (though not Europeans) spoke of a betrayal of Europe, and others deeply regretted that the weapons they had worked so hard to perfect and the strategy and tactics that had emerged over decades would never be tried.

The same has happened in different ways in the Middle East. The almost 20-year deployment has forged patterns of behavior, expectations and obligations not only among individuals but more institutionally throughout the armed forces. But the mission has changed. For now, the Islamic State is vastly diminished, as is al-Qaida. The Sunni rising in Iraq has ended, and even the Syrian civil war is not what it once was. A war against Iran has not begun, may not happen at all, and would not resemble the wars that have been fought in the region hitherto.

This inevitably generates a strategic re-evaluation, which begins by accepting that the prior era is gone. It was wrenching to shift from World War II to the Cold War and from the Cold War to a world that many believed had transcended war, and then to discover that war was suspended and has now resumed. War and strategy pretend to be coolly disengaged, but they are passionate undertakings that don’t readily take to fundamental change. But after the 18 years of war, two things have become clear. The first is that the modest objective of disrupting terrorism has been achieved, and the second is that the ultimate goal of creating something approaching liberal democracies was never really possible.

Consistency

The world has changed greatly since 2001. China has emerged as a major power, and Russia has become more active. Iran, not Sunni jihadists, has become the main challenge in the Middle East and the structure of alliances needed to deal with this has changed radically since Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom. In addition, the alliances have changed in terms of capability. The massive deployments in the Middle East have ended, but some troops remain there, and to a section of the American military, the jihadist war remains at the center of their thinking. To them, the alliances created over the past 18 years remain as critical as Belgium’s air force had been during the Cold War.

There is another, increasingly powerful faction in the United States that sees the Middle East as a secondary interest. In many instances, they include Iran in this. This faction sees China or Russia (or both) as the fundamental challenger to the U.S. Its members see the Middle East as a pointless diversion and a drain of American resources.

For them, bringing the conflict to a conclusion was critical. Those who made their careers in this war and in its alliances were appalled. The view of President Donald Trump has been consistent. In general, he thought that the use of military force anywhere must be the exception rather than the rule. He declined to begin combat in North Korea. He did not attack Iran after it shot down an American drone or after it seized oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz. After the attack on the Saudi oil facility, he increased Saudi air defenses but refused offensive actions against the Iranians.

Given the shift in American strategy, three missions emerge. The first is the containment of China. The second is the containment of Russia. The third is the containment of Iran. In the case of China, the alliance structure required by the United States is primarily the archipelago stretching from Japan to Indonesia and Singapore – and including South Korea. In dealing with Russia, there are two interests. One is the North European Plain; the other is the Black Sea. Poland is the American ally in the north, Romania in the south. But the inclusion of Turkey in this framework would strengthen the anti-Russia framework. In addition, it would provide a significant counter to Iranian expansion.

Turkey’s importance is clear. It is courted by both Russia and Iran. Turkey is not the country it was a decade ago. Its economy surged and then went into crisis. It has passed through an attempted coup, and internal stress has been massive. But such crises are common in emerging powers. The U.S. had a civil war in the 1860s but by 1900 was producing half of the manufactured goods in the world while boasting a navy second only to the British. Internal crises do not necessarily mean national decline. They can mean strategic emergence.

Turkey’s alignment with Iran and Russia is always tense. Iran and Russia have at various times waged war with Turkey and have consistently seen Iraq as a threat. For the moment, both have other interests and Turkey is prepared to work with them. But Turkey is well aware of history. It is also aware that the U.S. guaranteed Turkish sovereignty in the face of Soviet threats in the Cold War, and that the U.S., unlike Russia and Iran, has no territorial ambitions or needs in Turkey. Already allied through NATO and historical bilateral ties, a relationship with Turkey is in the American interest because it creates a structure that threatens Iran’s line to the Mediterranean and compliments the Romanian-U.S. Black Sea alliance. The U.S. and Turkey are also hostile to the Syrian government. For Turkey, in the long term, Russia and Iran are unpredictable, and they can threaten Turkey when they work together. The American interest in an independent Turkey that blocks Russia and Iran coincides with long-term Turkish interests.

Enter the Kurds

This is where the Kurds come into the equation. Eastern Turkey is Kurdish, and maintaining stability there is a geopolitical imperative for Ankara. Elements of Turkey’s Kurds, grouped around the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, have carried out militant attacks. Therefore it is in Turkey’s interest to clear its immediate frontiers from a Kurdish threat. The United States has no overriding interest in doing so and, indeed, has worked together with the Kurds in Iraq and Syria. But for the Turks, having Kurds on their border is an unpredictable threat. American dependency on the Kurds declines as U.S. involvement in the Middle East declines. Turkey becomes much more important to the United States in relation to Iran than the Kurds.

Trump clearly feels that the wars in the Middle East must be wound down and that a relationship with Turkey is critical. The faction that is still focused on the Middle East sees this as a fundamental betrayal of the Kurds. Foreign policy is a ruthless and unsentimental process. The Kurds want to establish a Kurdish nation. The U.S. can’t and doesn’t back that. On occasion, the U.S. will join in a mutually advantageous alliance with the Kurds to achieve certain common goals. But feelings aside, the U.S. has geopolitical interests that sometimes include the Kurds and sometimes don’t – and the same can be said of the Kurds.

At the moment, the issue is not al-Qaida but China and Russia, and Turkey is critical to the U.S. for Russia. The U.S. is critical for Turkey as well, but it cannot simply fall into American arms. It has grown too powerful in the region for that, and it has time to do it right. So Trump’s actions on the Syrian border will result in President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Washington and, in due course, a realignment in the region between the global power and the regional power.

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Walter Russell Mead:
« Reply #960 on: October 15, 2019, 08:46:54 PM »

Mike Pompeo’s Predicament
The Syria withdrawal worried allies, divided the GOP, and made his job a lot harder.
By Walter Russell Mead
Oct. 14, 2019 6:53 pm ET

As Turkey advances into Syria, foreign powers will increasingly act on the belief that the American executive is both politically weak and intellectually unfocused.

Foreign leaders have found much to dislike in President Trump’s policy—the aggressive stance on trade, the chaotic policy process, the disregard for convention and past agreements. Yet they’ve seemed willing to work with the administration anyway. However much it pained them, they appeared to believe that Mr. Trump had a strong enough political coalition behind his foreign-policy program that, on the whole, it was better to deal pragmatically with the administration than to try to wait out his presidency.

That changed last week. The sudden decision to break with the Syrian Kurds, the shambolic execution of the decision, and the administration’s evident inability to manage the easily foreseeable political consequences in the Republican Senate crystallized a perception that the White House is in over its head. Unless that changes, foreign powers will increasingly act on the belief that the American executive is both politically weak and intellectually unfocused. The consequences for political stability and economic prosperity around the world are not good.

Mr. Trump’s trade diplomacy is particularly at risk. China is much less likely to make significant compromises if it thinks the president is a lame duck. As the Europeans shift from dealing with Mr. Trump through gritted teeth to waiting for his administration to end, the European Union will likely stiffen its trade stance as well.

The geopolitical consequences of a weakened Trump administration will also be significant. Revisionist powers large and small are more likely to take risks and challenge American power when they believe the U.S. is distracted and divided. Russia’s attack on Georgia came in the summer of 2008 when George W. Bush was an unpopular lame duck and the building financial crisis was beginning to distract Americans from international news.

Russia, far from seeking any kind of special relationship with Mr. Trump, is likely to revel in his weakness. In the western Balkans, in Syria, and in hot spots like Venezuela, Russia must be expected to move more aggressively.

A belief that the Trump administration has divided political support will encourage hard-liners in Iran to press their regional advantage, leading to crises that could force Israel and its new Arab allies into risky moves of their own. Israelis are wondering how far they can count on the Trump administration even as they recalculate the odds that Democrats will control both Congress and the White House after the 2020 elections.

The Taliban is unlikely to make significant concessions at the negotiating table in the face of perceived American weakness. China will see a sustained period of internal division in America as an excellent opportunity to intensify its effort at strengthening its regional position and creating of a rival sphere of influence in the Asia-Pacific.

The greatest damage will likely be to U.S. relationships with allies that were already nervous—either because of the pattern of American withdrawal under President Obama or erratic decision making under Mr. Trump. As they watch the Democratic Party shift left and the Clinton-Biden wing of the party lose ground in the primary campaign, U.S. allies are likely to conclude that America’s turn inward will continue past 2020.

From South Korea and Japan to Australia, India, Israel, Germany, France and the U.K., policy makers and public opinion will perceive the U.S. as a less reliable, less engaged partner. They will, inevitably, think about how they can ensure their security and their other interests without America. Their interest in aligning their policies with America’s will diminish; it will only become harder for Mr. Trump and his successors to reach agreements with allies that benefit the U.S.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo now faces the most critical challenge of his career. Leading a divided State Department in a divided country, America’s chief interlocutor with foreign governments must work to restore a sense of competence, continuity and calm. That won’t be easy. Mr. Pompeo has made loyalty to the president the foundation of his tenure—something that is necessary for anyone in that job, and especially vital in the Age of Trump. Without losing Mr. Trump’s confidence, Mr. Pompeo must also speak up for America’s permanent interests as most Americans, regardless of party, still understand them.

The only man in Washington under more pressure than Mr. Pompeo is Mr. Trump. This president is a unique historical figure whose unconventional approach to politics has reshaped American political life. But at the moment Mr. Trump has lost control of the international agenda and faces some of the greatest risks of his presidency. His survival in office and his place in history both depend on putting American foreign policy on a more solid footing, and the clock is against him. The coming episodes of “The Trump Show” look to be the most compelling, and the most consequential, yet.

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Re: Walter Russell Mead:
« Reply #961 on: October 16, 2019, 08:08:30 AM »
"Mike Pompeo’s Predicament
The Syria withdrawal worried allies, divided the GOP, and made his job a lot harder."


I like Walter Russel Mead, but there is that "sudden withdrawal" mantra again.  He comes at this as both a hawk and a Democrat.  He buys the current spin that Trump is weakened from this, "lame duck"?  Therefore it hurts Trump with China etc.  I see  just the opposite.  If Mattis and Bolton can't talk him out of this in Syria, his political and economic advisers aren't going to change his mind with China.  Standing up to advisers and to short term pain is a strength in negotiations.

Maybe Pompeo can help Trump come up with a more clear and persuasive explanation of his own policy. 

I was just going to write that we can wait for VDH to help sort this all out, and there it was:

https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/10/kurdish-syrian-turkish-ironies/
...
So, yes, it is incumbent on the Trump administration in general and on Secretary Pompeo in particular to find ways to prevent mass Turkish attacks on the Kurds, while not inserting American ground troops into a cauldron of fire between Turks and Kurds.
...
The chief problem is that the Kurds are our friends but not our legal allies. In contrast, the Turks are not really our friends anymore but are legal, treaty-bound allies.
...
If all Trump has done for now is to remove a few dozen Americans from a “trip wire” deployment between the two belligerents, he can hardly have “sold out” the Kurds.
...
As I understand the present outrage, the logic goes like this: It is a sellout to leave the Kurds vulnerable to the Turks, and it undermines our noble promises and our credibility in a way that ignoring our ignoble, legal commitments to Turkey do not.
...
Our allied Syrian Kurds of the YPG in Syria, for instance, are also affiliated with the Kurdish PKK inside Turkey — a group that has often committed terrorist attacks on Turkish civilians and authorities.
...
The Realities of Protecting the Syrian Kurds
Any current critics calling for the use of American trip-wire soldiers to protect Kurds from the Turkish military — in the current stated mission to defeat ISIS and keep it defeated — should at least make the case that de facto fighting against Turkey means that it is therefore no longer a friend and should no longer be a NATO ally, and thus, in extremis, can be opposed militarily, and also that we can do without its geographic access and bases in the Middle East without harming ourselves or our interests. And note they should also assume that Turkey, out of spite, will release millions of refugees into Europe, and it will react to friction with Americans troops in Syria in who knows what fashion to their U.S. counterparts now stationed with nuclear weapons at Incirlik Air Base inside Turkey. Do we really wish to risk a shooting war with a NATO ally while 5,000 American airmen are inside its country equipped with 50 nuclear weapons?


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Seriously serious folks on Open Skies
« Reply #962 on: October 21, 2019, 09:44:56 AM »

Open Skies Help Keep the Peace With Russia
Ike’s idea, codified in a 1992 treaty, is still a good one. The U.S. shouldn’t abandon the pact.
By George P. Shultz,
William J. Perry and
Sam Nunn
Oct. 20, 2019 3:20 pm ET
A Russian reconnaissance aircraft flies over Omaha, Neb., April 26. Photo: Chris Machian/Associated Press

International security isn’t a given. Historically, peace among the great powers is a rarity. It’s also a great accomplishment. Like trust, peace and security take a long time to build and only a moment to dismantle.

One of the pillars upholding international peace and security today is the 1992 Open Skies Treaty. Thirty-four nations, including the U.S. and Russia, have agreed to this treaty, which allows signatories to fly unarmed surveillance aircraft over one another’s territory. This important tool, known as overflight, has been especially useful for the U.S. and our allies to monitor Russian military activities. Even when relations between Moscow and Washington are tense, the Open Skies Treaty helps preserve a measure of transparency and trust.

This great accomplishment of post-Cold War diplomacy could soon be erased if, as has been widely reported, some Trump administration officials have their way and the U.S. unilaterally exits the treaty. Such a withdrawal would be a grave mistake. It would undermine trust between the U.S. and Russia and endanger American allies.

Since the emergence of the superpower nuclear-arms race, leaders in Moscow and Washington have sought to avoid all-out war. They’ve had to overcome mutual distrust and negotiate agreements to manage military competition, reduce tensions, and lower the risk of surprise attack.

The idea for the Open Skies Treaty dates back to the 1950s. President Dwight D. Eisenhower realized that without better information about each side’s capabilities, worst-case assumptions would drive decisions and exacerbate risks. In 1955 he made a bold proposal: The U.S. would permit unarmed Soviet aircraft to make unlimited surveillance flights over U.S. territory if the Soviet Union would reciprocate. U.S. allies, the American public and many congressional leaders backed the idea, but the Soviets were skeptical and the proposal was shelved. The two sides went on to negotiate a series of nuclear arms-control agreements, beginning in the 1960s, that verifiably capped and later slashed their enormous nuclear arsenals.

As the Cold War ended, President George H.W. Bush outlined a new vision for security that included a fortified version of Open Skies. Bush saw overflight as an effective way to verify the new limits on military forces established by 1990’s Conventional Forces in Europe agreement. The idea was supported by smaller European countries that believed it would be beneficial to have an independent ability to monitor events around the continent.

Moscow hesitated at first, but in 1992 the new Russian government agreed to open its entire territory to observation and overflight. The Open Skies Treaty was signed in Helsinki in 1992 and took effect a decade later.

The treaty has authorized more than 1,426 missions, including more than 500 U.S. flights over Russia, which is by far the most overflown and best-monitored country in the treaty. The flights, scheduled on short notice, provide valuable photographic evidence of major military movements across Europe, reducing uncertainty and worries about surprise attack. They add important information to what satellites provide.

The treaty stipulates that mission aircraft can be equipped only with specified sensors limited to an agreed resolution. By agreement of all parties, including the U.S., a process is under way to upgrade the sensors. These detailed, verifiable procedures allow observing parties to identify significant military equipment, such as artillery, fighter aircraft and armored combat vehicles. All imagery collected from flights is made available to any signatory.

As with any treaty, implementation disputes arise. Current disagreements are related to underlying territorial and political issues between Russia and some of its neighbors. But these problems can be solved through professional, pragmatic diplomacy, not by abandoning treaty commitments.

Today, Republicans and Democrats agree that Vladimir Putin’s Russia poses serious international-security challenges. Rather than walk away from security agreements that help the U.S. and its allies manage the risks posed by Moscow, Washington needs to redouble its longstanding commitment to proven risk-reduction strategies and arms-control treaties advanced by successive presidential administrations. Unilateral withdrawal from Open Skies would damage the security of the U.S. and its allies.

We respectfully urge President Trump to reject calls to abandon the treaty. Congress also needs to approve Pentagon requests for upgrades to U.S. observation aircraft, as other Open Skies countries, like Germany, are already doing.

Open Skies has become what Eisenhower envisioned—a critical confidence-building treaty that improves Euro-Atlantic security with every flight. The U.S. should preserve this agreement, particularly in a time of renewed tensions with Russia.

Mr. Shultz served as secretary of state, 1982-89. Mr. Perry served as defense secretary, 1994-97. Mr. Nunn, a Democrat, was a U.S. senator from Georgia, 1972-97, and was chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

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Re: D1: Ten Ways Middle East Will Get Worse
« Reply #965 on: October 23, 2019, 05:01:26 AM »
https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2019/10/10-ways-americas-situation-middle-east-will-get-worse/160752/?oref=defenseone_today_nl

This may be right but seems unnecessarily negative to me, and some of it is contradictory.  If it hurts Iran, it is good the region, for one thing.  Our leaving might create a new balance of power between the remaining Middle East powers, Turkey, Saudi, Iran, and Russia, and Israel.  Our staying without committing to fight all foes may have led to other problems, and fatalities.  Our stepping back keeping powder dry doesn't mean we can't step back in as necessary.

Why is being caught up in a Middle East quagmire all empowering for Russia but bad for the US?  Iran and Russia are both failing economies.  Why is having their resources and commitments spread wider good for them but bad for us?

We moved a few hundred advisers a short distance.  We avoided a 'red line' situation that we might not have chosen to enforce with all out war against 'ally' Turkey.  This wasn't the largest military move of the century that it is being portrayed.

It could lead to Turkey being booted from NATO if they overplay their hand with genocide.  More likely, the Kurds, who are not helpless, will reach a new balance and new peace with Turkey instead of an artificial balance held up by an indefinite US presence.

Syria was a mess before and after this, with or without us.  Maybe fewer refugees leave the region this way.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2019, 05:03:02 AM by DougMacG »

Crafty_Dog

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Shadow Diplomacy
« Reply #966 on: October 23, 2019, 09:39:18 AM »
Intelligent thoughts.

For the record, I follow D1 because they regularly post about things military that are off the radar screen elsewhere.  As best as I can tell, they are definitely Democrat and definitely anti-Trump.  That said, they often bring up things that need considering and/or response.

=================

https://www.realclearinvestigations.com/articles/2019/10/23/giuliani-style_shadow_diplomacy_par_for_the_course_of_us_history_120883.html
« Last Edit: October 23, 2019, 01:47:08 PM by Crafty_Dog »


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Re: US Foreign Policy & Geopolitics
« Reply #968 on: October 24, 2019, 09:15:09 AM »
One more point on what changed since we were all hawks in Middle East:

Iran blew up half of Saudi's refinery capacity recently and gas prices here went from 2.45 to 2.42/gal. once the market settled.  Arab (and Persian etc) Muslim extremists in a faraway desert don't hold the world economy by the short hairs anymore.

Back to my NHL referee analogy, the refs let the fights go on until the parties are exhausted and then step in to remind them the rules say no fighting. 


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George Friedman: Wars of Credibility
« Reply #971 on: October 29, 2019, 08:16:35 AM »
   
    Obama, Trump and the Wars of Credibility
By: George Friedman

The United States is in the process of shifting a core dimension of its strategic doctrine. In the past, the U.S. resorted to the use of force to address international threats. Barack Obama was the first president to argue that the use of force, particularly in the Middle East, was costly and ineffectual and that other means had to be used to exercise foreign policy. He ran his first campaign for president on this basis. He was only partially able to shift the direction of U.S. strategy. Donald Trump has extended Obama’s policy and applied it more consistently by refusing to strike at Iran over the Persian Gulf crisis and the Saudi oil facilities attack and, most recently, withdrawing from the Syria-Turkey border.

The shift in strategy was something I predicted in my 2011 book, “The Next Decade.” The basic argument was that the United States is now a global power with no global challenger, only regional ones of various sizes. Having a strategic doctrine of responding to challenges with military force would leave the decision on when to go to war up to the adversary. John F. Kennedy once said, “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” This doctrine made sense in dealing with the Soviet Union, but in a less orderly world, it reads like a blank check on U.S. military power and an invitation to other nations to draw the U.S. into combat at their will. I reasoned that a more nuanced foreign policy would emerge in the 2010s, one that would compel the U.S. to become more disciplined and selective in committing U.S. forces to combat.

In the 74 years since World War II ended, the U.S. has spent about 28 years, roughly 38 percent of the time, engaged in large-scale, division-level combat, leaving over 90,000 U.S. military personnel dead. This includes the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Afghan War and the War in Iraq, and there have been other deployments in smaller conflicts. Nearly three decades over a 74-year period is a staggering amount of time for any nation to be at war, particularly the leading global power.

With the exception of Operation Desert Storm, the United States has not won any of these wars. Korea ended in an armistice, with both sides at roughly the same point as when they began. Vietnam ended with the enemy flag flying over Saigon. Afghanistan, Iraq and related wars did not end in outright defeat, but they have not ended in victory. Given that the United States crushed both Japan and, with the help of the Allies, Germany in World War II and emerged with overwhelming military power, the increased tempo of U.S. military operations since 1945, combined with consistently unsatisfactory outcomes, must be analyzed to understand the emergence of the Obama-Trump doctrine.

One explanation that must be dispensed with is that the American public does not have the patience to allow a war to be fought to a satisfactory conclusion. There was no anti-war movement of any significance during Korea. There was an anti-war movement over Vietnam, but the conflict continued for seven years, and the public voted overwhelmingly for pro-war Richard Nixon and against anti-war George McGovern in 1972. There has been opposition to the Iraq War, but it was only a peripheral reason for the U.S. drawdown there, after nine years of war.

World War II was fought on a different scale. It was a total war, one that could not be lost. Defeat would have posed fundamental dangers to the United States, so all necessary resources were devoted to the war effort. It was the central focus of society as a whole. Bringing massive resources to bear, including atomic bombs at its conclusion, the United States emerged from the war victorious.

None of the other conflicts were total wars that involved existential threats to the United States. During the Cold War, the interventions in Korea and Vietnam were the result of indirect U.S. interests. From the Truman administration’s perspective, Korea was outside core U.S. interests. The U.S. had no treaty with or strategic interest in South Vietnam. In both cases, the benefits of engaging in conflict were indirect.

The U.S. strategy in the Cold War was containment. The U.S. did not intend to invade the Soviet Union, or later China, but it opposed its expansion. The U.S. got involved in both Korea and Vietnam to defend the credibility of the doctrine of containment, fearing that a lack of U.S. engagement in these conflicts would be interpreted by the Soviets and Chinese as a lack of commitment to the doctrine. Even more important, the U.S. was afraid that staying out of these wars would lead its allies to draw the conclusion that American guarantees were hollow and that the alliance structure needed for the containment strategy would collapse.

The U.S. engaged in the two wars, therefore, not out of strategic necessity but to demonstrate American reliability. They therefore could not be fought as total wars. The amount of effort required to show a willingness to engage was much less than the amount of effort needed to decisively crush enemy forces. It was necessary to demonstrate U.S. will for global reasons, but imprudent to devote the force needed to win the war. It was also impossible to withdraw from the war, as abandoning a conflict would be the same as refusing to engage. The wars were being fought for the sake of demonstrating that the U.S. was willing to fight wars, and no coherent strategy or even clear definition of what victory meant or how to achieve it emerged. In a strange way, this made sense. Maintaining the confidence of West Germany, Turkey, Japan and all other U.S. allies was of enormous strategic importance, and Korea and South Vietnam were needed to hold the alliance together. Over 90,000 died in wars that were gestures, yet how many more would have died if the gestures were not made? That was the logic, but the truth is that no one anticipated the length of engagement and amount of bloodshed in either war. Wars fought to reassure allies have no strategic basis on which to calculate such things.

What we will call the anti-jihadist wars were framed differently but had similar results. After 9/11, the U.S. goal was to destroy Islamic jihadists and governments that gave them haven and to impose governments favorably inclined to the United States. The problem was that terrorists are mobile. Al-Qaida was a global, sparse and capable force. It could exist anywhere, including hostile territory, and its members were capable and difficult to locate, making them excellent covert operators, as seen on 9/11.

To dismantle the organization, it was assumed that the U.S. had to deny al-Qaida sanctuary for its operations and have the cooperation of countries in the region, ensuring that they would resist al-Qaida and provide intelligence. The invasion of Afghanistan was designed to displace the Taliban and force al-Qaida to disperse. The Taliban withdrew, dispersed and reformed. Al-Qaida was built to be mobile. This placed a premium on getting others to support the American effort, a difficult task inasmuch as the U.S. withdrawal from Lebanon and Somalia made them feel the U.S. wouldn’t back them up. In Iraq, there were many strands behind the U.S. invasion, but credibility was an important one. In the end, the problem was that al-Qaida was not destroyed when it had to mobilize. In addition, occupying a country that is hostile to foreign interference is impossible. Even the Nazis couldn’t defeat the Russian and Yugoslav partisans, and they were far less gentle than the U.S. was.

Demonstrating credibility was part of what motivated the jihadist wars, just as it motivated U.S. involvement in the wars in Korea and Vietnam. The problem with wars designed to demonstrate U.S. will, however, is that they are almost by definition without end. But if the U.S. is going to lead a coalition, credibility is a critical asset, even if the likelihood of success in the war is uncertain. There is therefore an inherent dilemma. In World War II, the war was aligned with U.S. strategy. In the wars that have been fought since then, the conflicts have not been aligned with U.S. strategy. As a result, stalemate or defeat did not undermine basic U.S. interests. The conflicts created vacuums in regions where the U.S. had interests, but all forces were committed to what I will christen as wars of credibility. These were wars that didn’t have to be won, but only fought.

Given the sweeping breadth of U.S. power, and the lack of challengers that might absorb the U.S. as it was absorbed in World War II (including China and Russia), coalition building and management becomes an end in itself. And that leaves the U.S. constantly off balance, as in the long run it undermines coalitions anyway. It was inevitable, therefore, that the U.S. would significantly curtail its military involvement and devote resources to upgrading the force, rather than constant deployment.   




DougMacG

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US Foreign Policy, The atlantic, US encouraged Saudi to arm Syrian rebels
« Reply #972 on: November 01, 2019, 07:40:41 AM »
From fire hydrant thread.  VDH did a column around that time noting how complicated it is to know who is allies and enemies with whom in the Middle East.

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/06/isis-saudi-arabia-iraq-syria-bandar/373181/

'Thank God for the Saudis': ISIS, Iraq, and the Lessons of Blowback
U.S lawmakers encouraged officials in Riyadh to arm Syrian rebels. Now that strategy may have created a monster in the Middle East.

STEVE CLEMONS
JUN 23, 2014

ISIS fighters at a checkpoint in the northern Iraq city of MosulREUTERS
“Thank God for the Saudis and Prince Bandar,” John McCain told CNN’s Candy Crowley in January 2014. “Thank God for the Saudis and Prince Bandar, and for our Qatari friends,” the senator said once again a month later, at the Munich Security Conference.

McCain was praising Prince Bandar bin Sultan, then the head of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence services and a former ambassador to the United States, for supporting forces fighting Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria. McCain and Senator Lindsey Graham had previously met with Bandar to encourage the Saudis to arm Syrian rebel forces.

But shortly after McCain’s Munich comments, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah relieved Bandar of his Syrian covert-action portfolio, which was then transferred to Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. By mid-April, just two weeks after President Obama met with King Abdullah on March 28, Bandar had also been removed from his position as head of Saudi intelligence—according to official government statements, at “his own request.” Sources close to the royal court told me that, in fact, the king fired Bandar over his handling of the kingdom’s Syria policy and other simmering tensions, after initially refusing to accept Bandar’s offers to resign. (Bandar retains his title as secretary-general of the king’s National Security Council.)

The Free Syrian Army (FSA), the “moderate” armed opposition in the country, receives a lot of attention. But two of the most successful factions fighting Assad’s forces are Islamist extremist groups: Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the latter of which is now amassing territory in Iraq and threatening to further destabilize the entire region. And that success is in part due to the support they have received from two Persian Gulf countries: Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Qatar’s military and economic largesse has made its way to Jabhat al-Nusra, to the point that a senior Qatari official told me he can identify al-Nusra commanders by the blocks they control in various Syrian cities. But ISIS is another matter. As one senior Qatari official stated, “ISIS has been a Saudi project.”

ISIS, in fact, may have been a major part of Bandar’s covert-ops strategy in Syria. The Saudi government, for its part, has denied allegations, including claims made by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, that it has directly supported ISIS. But there are also signs that the kingdom recently shifted its assistance—whether direct or indirect—away from extremist factions in Syria and toward more moderate opposition groups.

The United States, France, and Turkey have long sought to support the weak and disorganized FSA, and to secure commitments from Qatar and Saudi Arabia to do the same. When Mohammed bin Nayef took the Syrian file from Bandar in February, the Saudi government appeared to finally be endorsing this strategy. As The Washington Post’s David Ignatius wrote at the time, “Prince Mohammed’s new oversight role reflects the increasing concern in Saudi Arabia and other neighboring countries about al-Qaeda’s growing power within the Syrian opposition.”

The worry at the time, punctuated by a February meeting between U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice and the intelligence chiefs of Turkey, Qatar, Jordan, and others in the region, was that ISIS and al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra had emerged as the preeminent rebel forces in Syria. The governments who took part reportedly committed to cut off ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, and support the FSA instead. But while official support from Qatar and Saudi Arabia appears to have dried up, non-governmental military and financial support may still be flowing from these countries to Islamist groups.

Senior White House officials have refused to discuss the question of any particular Saudi officials aiding ISIS and have not commented on Bandar’s departure. But they have emphasized that Saudi Arabia is now both supporting moderate Syrian rebels and helping coordinate regional policies to deal with an ascendant ISIS threat.

Like elements of the mujahideen, which benefited from U.S. financial and military support during the Soviet war in Afghanistan and then later turned on the West in the form of al-Qaeda, ISIS achieved scale and consequence through Saudi support, only to now pose a grave threat to the kingdom and the region. It’s this concern about blowback that has motivated Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to encourage restraint in arming Syrian rebels. President Obama has so far heeded these warnings. 

John McCain’s desire to help rebel forces toss off a brutal dictator and fight for a more just and inclusive Syria is admirable. But as has been proven repeatedly in the Middle East, ousting strongmen doesn’t necessarily produce more favorable successor governments. Embracing figures like Bandar, who may have tried to achieve his objectives in Syria by building a monster, isn't worth it.

Crafty_Dog

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GPF: Inching towards the End of Conflict in Syria
« Reply #973 on: November 04, 2019, 09:53:12 PM »
   
    Inching Toward the End of the Conflict in Syria
By: Hilal Khashan

Starting a protracted conflict is much easier than ending it. That’s especially true when the regime in question is callous and fossilized and foreign countries are waiting for an opportunity to take advantage of a deteriorating situation. These two factors explain how the brutal armed conflict in Syria got underway. Before his death in 2000, Hafez Assad entrusted select members of his old guard with shoring up the safety of the future regime of his politically inexperienced son, Bashar Assad.

Instead of applying Hafez's Machiavellian approach in addressing a seemingly spontaneous and innocuous protest movement, the old guard recommended heavy-handed action. The regime's use of excessive coercive force militarized the uprising and invited foreign intervention – from Iran, to rescue the younger Assad, and Saudi Arabia, to bring Iran down and prevent the formation of the Shiite Crescent (that is, Iran’s overland route to the Mediterranean).
 
(click to enlarge)

Syrian army defectors established the Free Syrian Army, with the goal of bringing down their former commander in chief. But as uncoordinated material support from outside militaries flowed to rebel groups, jihadist militias arose in Syria’s overwhelmingly religious society.

Syria, a Geopolitical Chessboard

The United States did not seek to overthrow Assad's regime, despite what people may think. (This was borne out, in particular, when the Obama administration failed to punish the regime for crossing the notorious “red line” of using chemical weapons against the Syrian people.) Rather, the CIA’s 2013 program was aimed at supporting the FSA against radical Islamic movements, such as the Nusra Front. But when the program proved ineffective, Langley terminated it in 2017 and recognized Russia's leading role in defeating jihadism in Syria and restraining Iran’s burgeoning power.

Russia, in partnership with the Syrian air force, had already begun in 2015 a systematic air campaign to support Assad’s army, which, despite massive backing by Iran and its multinational Shiite militias, had been forced into retreat. Russia also intended to help rebuild the Syrian state.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan abandoned the core demands of Syrian rebels in favor of establishing a safe zone despite American, Russian and Iranian reservations. While moderating Turkish ambitions, clearly with tacit U.S. backing, Russia seems determined to rein in Iran’s influence in Syria. Foreign power players share a desire to prevent Iran from extending its territorial control in eastern Syria and filling the vacuum caused by the withdrawal of most U.S. troops from the area. Russia has been keen to recruit young Syrians away from Iran; it invested in the formation of the Fifth Assault Corps that reports directly to Russian officers, and whose 50,000 members come from pro-regime groups and elements of the defunct Free Syrian Army. Russia is also expanding its Hmeimim air base and naval facility in Tartus. Russia deployed FAC units last year in southwestern Syria and near the cease-fire line in the Golan Heights after reaching an understanding with the U.S. and Israel.

Iran demonstrated its anger at Russian efforts to weaken its influence on the government in Damascus by ordering its Shiite militia allies to refrain from participating in the battle for Idlib in June, which rendered it an unnecessary war of attrition.

Contrary to media reports that Islamic militants sought to attack Russia’s Hmeimim air base near Latakia, the truth is that the Iranian-created 313th Battalion in Qardaha, the Assad family's hometown, sent drones to fly over the base only for harassment. The Russians ordered the Syrian regime to disband this battalion after implicating it in launching drones.

Competition between Russia and Iran in Syria goes beyond military influence on the ground to economic supremacy. Russia has a competitive advantage over Iran in winning big reconstruction projects. Russian President Vladimir Putin angered the Iranians when he negotiated to grant Russian businesses the lion’s share of postwar projects in return for propping up Assad’s regime. Assad is unhappy about Iranian attempts to control the centers of decision-making in Syria. He prefers to work with Russia because Moscow wants to be a junior partner, whereas Tehran wants to be the dominant partner.

Assad also understands that the United States, Russia and Israel have decided to disallow Iran's permanent presence in Syria. Russia has concerns that Iran will be an obstacle to its long-term economic interests in Syria. The Russians reason that Syria will emerge from the devastating civil war as a fragile state. Putin does not want to have rivals in determining Syria’s domestic and foreign policy, and he made this point clear to Assad before committing himself to rescuing Syrian regime. Russia understands Syrian sectarian and ethnic sensitivities, and, unlike Iran, which promotes a strictly religious agenda, it has no reservations about dealing with the country's diverse groups. When Moscow secured the withdrawal of Islamist rebels from Greater Damascus last year, it used Chechen military police officers to communicate with them. The Russians want to work with an able Syrian government and avoid getting stuck there, whereas the Iranians prefer to work with a lackey administration. The crippling sanctions against Iran curtail its ability to preserve its achievements in Syria. The eventual readmission of Syria to the Arab League, which Assad is eager to realize, threatens to distance its regime from Iran.

The cost of staying in Syria is high and useless. In addition to business opportunities in Syria, Putin is more interested in flexing military muscle to project the surge of Russian military might and win concessions in Europe. The Russian public sees no strategic reason to squander scarce resources on such a volatile country, while poverty-stricken Iranians are unable to comprehend their mullahs' ideological drive in Syria. In terms of articulating their Syrian policy, Russia is pragmatic, while Iran is dogmatic. Thanks to Russian mediation, there is increasing evidence that Turkey is willing to work with the Syrian government whose forces, even if token, are positioning themselves in specific border posts. The release of 18 Syrian soldiers recently arrested by the Turkish army, despite Assad's anti-Turkish rhetoric, points in that direction. Erdogan had to shelve his ambitions to overthrow Assad's regime and install a pro-Turkish government in Damascus. He's now resigned to the establishment of a safe zone along the Syrian border under strict American and Russian surveillance after halting Operation Peace Spring.

Iran’s heavy involvement in the Syrian conflict generated the false impression that its influence there has become paramount. This claim is far from reality. Iran faces a fundamental weakness in determining the future of Syria, mainly because of its overbearing political style and the small size of Syria’s Shiite community. Shiite proselytization is not as widespread as the Iranians think it should be, since Sunnis have an aversion to it and Alawites disfavor it. Despite Iran's best efforts, there are less than 300,000 Syrians who follow Twelver Shiite Islam – the branch of Shiite Islam favored by Iran. Even though Iran founded Syrian Shiite militias (such as Imam al-Rida Forces in Homs and al-Baqir Brigade in Aleppo), the main forces commanded by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are Iraqi and Afghan Shiites.

Postwar Syria

No matter what shape postwar Syria takes, the country will look different than what it was before 2011. Nearly 600,000 Syrians have lost their lives, and more than half of the country’s population of 21 million on the eve of the uprising have been displaced, both internally and externally. Even though Assad escaped the fate of other presidents in the countries of the Arab Spring uprisings, he did not win the war; in fact, he is the biggest loser in the battle for Syria. Syria is economically devastated, and he is presiding over a shattered country, whose cost of reconstruction could reach a staggering $1 trillion. (For reference, Syria’s gross domestic product in 2010, just before the war, was about $60 billion.) It is doubtful whether reconstruction can occur in Syria's massively corrupt business and bureaucratic environment. Postwar reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Lebanon do not bode well for Syria. The regime lost critical oil and water resources and the fertile agricultural areas of northeastern Syria. Iran’s IRGC and Russian forces control the command structure of most Syrian military and security formations, and the Turks established their much-sought security belt to prevent the Kurds on both sides of the border from linking up. The perceived Kurdish threat remains a top priority for Turkey and a stable determinant of its foreign policy choices.
The ongoing understandings among the major actors in Syria, be they bilateral or multilateral, are setting the stage for military action in Idlib, the site of the last major battle in the Syrian armed conflict. Syria's march toward the final settlement of its conflict will commence only then. One must not assume that Iran's presence there is about to end. It will not, but its scale would not live up to the expectations of Iran's conservative ruling elite. Unlike Iran’s sway over Iraqi politics, Syria is reemerging as an arena of inconclusive regional competition.   






Crafty_Dog

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STratfor: Lessons from the past fro Trump's transactional foreign policy
« Reply #976 on: November 13, 2019, 09:42:03 PM »
Lessons From the Past for Trump's Transactional Foreign Policy
Ian Morris
Ian Morris
Board of Contributors
13 MINS READ
Nov 13, 2019 | 16:40 GMT
An illustration of an aged world map.
(ILOLAB/Shutterstock)
HIGHLIGHTS
President Donald Trump's administration is anything but the first to pursue a transactional foreign policy. An important comparison case: 18th-century Britain.
The British experience suggests there are huge benefits to reap from a transactional foreign policy but huge costs to avoid. Doing transactionalism correctly is difficult.
While 18th-century Britain resembles our own world in many ways, there are differences. It's in those differences that the United States possesses few of the advantages Britain enjoyed three centuries ago.
One of the Trump administration's hallmarks has been its transactional approach to foreign policy. Writing in Foreign Policy magazine shortly before the 2016 presidential election, the strategist Rosa Brooks suggested that "To Trump, U.S. alliances, like potential business partners in a real estate transaction, should always be asked: 'What have you done for me lately?'" Since entering office, President Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened to walk away from alliances that no longer seem to be paying dividends, regardless of old friendships or cultural affinities. He has brought American troops home from distant shores and favored national interests over multinational cooperation. He self-consciously presents himself as disrupting an American foreign policy tradition, going back at least to 1941, of promoting the spread of democracy, human rights, open markets and supranational organizations like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations.

Few alliances, no matter how long-standing, have avoided the president's criticism. He has called NATO "obsolete" and named the European Union as the United States' "biggest trade foe." Nor are newer allies secure. The Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) has lost 11,000 dead since 2014 in an American-led war in Syria against the self-styled Islamic State, while the United States has suffered only six fatalities, but the president abruptly cast it aside in October. "We never agreed to protect the Kurds for the rest of their lives," Trump tweeted. "Where's the agreement that we have to stay in Middle East for rest of civilization? … I don't think it is necessary, other than that we secure the oil." The Turkish army immediately attacked the Kurds.

South Korean legislator Won Yoo Chul calls this the "Trump risk" — the nagging fear that he'll wake up to a tweet announcing the withdrawal of American forces from the Korean Peninsula. When asked, shortly after the United States abandoned the Kurds in Syria, whether he still thought Europeans could rely on Article 5 of NATO's constitution (the idea that an attack on one NATO member is an attack on all), French President Emmanuel Macron answered, "I don't know … to have an American ally turning its back on us so quickly on strategic issues; nobody would have believed this possible."

A Comparison Case
The U-turn in U.S. foreign policy seems to have baffled many observers. According to The Washington Post, "Donald Trump's ignorance of government policy, both foreign and domestic, is breathtaking." However, the Trump administration is anything but the first to pursue a transactional foreign policy. It might be worth taking a look at the experience of the most important comparison case, 18th-century Britain.

Through the 16th and 17th centuries, English strategy ("Britain" did not exist until the union of England and Scotland in 1707; Ireland was added in a second Act of Union in 1800) had been intensely ideological, focusing on fighting Catholicism to protect what were called "English liberties." After 1713, however, Britain increasingly acted as if (as the foreign secretary, Lord Palmerston, put it in 1848) "We have no eternal allies and we have no perpetual friends … [only] our interests are eternal and perpetual."

The new British policies focused on preserving a balance of power in Europe, intervening against any power — regardless of its religion or constitution — that looked like it might be about to dominate the Continent. If one power did dominate the Continent, British strategists feared, it would gain a free hand to build a navy powerful enough to challenge Britain at sea; but so long as the Continent remained divided, Britain, protected by its fleet, could concentrate on grabbing up transoceanic trade and building a worldwide empire.

This strategy paid off. Britain rose from being a second-rank European power in the 1680s to a first-rank global one 150 years later. However, it had costs too, particularly on the moral side. By constantly shifting alliances, Britain earned a reputation as untrustworthy ("perfidious Albion"). At critical moments, it found itself utterly isolated. Foreign relations spilled over into domestic politics too, dividing the country deeply.

There are no 1:1 correlations between what worked in the past and what will work today. But as U.S. foreign policy breaks radically with the traditions of the past 75 years, it might be worth taking a look at 18th-century Britain, not only for how it resembles our own world but also for how it differs from it.

'When Will This Bloodshed Ever Cease?'
For several centuries before 1713, English foreign policy had been highly ideological. France's victory in the Hundred Years' War in 1453 had reduced England to a bit player whose independence depended on playing Spain and France against each other and bullying the Scottish enemy to its rear. Things got significantly worse after 1534 when Henry VIII took England out of the Roman Church. England became a pariah state, much like the Soviet Union after 1918, and 16th-century England's relations with the Continent's great powers were every bit as polarized, ideological and violent as the 20th-century Cold War.

Sixteenth-century England's relations with the Continent's great powers were every bit as polarized, ideological and violent as the 20th-century Cold War.

Henry VIII paid for his wars to defend England's Reformation by looting the country's monasteries, but by the time he died, in 1547, that money was long gone. His successors were trapped between the Scylla of satisfying Protestant sentiments within England by waging anti-Catholic crusades (which the country couldn't afford) and the Charybdis of avoiding unaffordable wars by cozying up to France and Spain (which enraged domestic opinion). Edward VI (reigned 1547-53) tried the former and Mary I (1553-58) the latter, while Elizabeth I (1558-1603) walked a tightrope between them, several times considering but never quite concluding a Catholic marriage. When the tightrope snapped in 1588, it took good luck as much as good gunnery to save England from invasion by a Spanish Armada.

Elizabeth knew that England could not fund such wars with Spain for long, and her successor James I immediately compromised with the Catholic powers. He sidestepped being dragged into the ruinous Protestant-Catholic conflict now known as the Thirty Years' War, and, blessed by a generation of neutrality, England's shipping and share of the growing transatlantic markets grew dramatically. The domestic price of these policies, however, was enormous. The English elite polarized between a "Court" faction, which favored peace, a degree of religious toleration, a strong monarchy and alliances with Spain and/or France, and a "Country" group, virulently anti-Catholic, suspicious of royal decadence and incompetence and ready to fight Spain and France (at the same time, if necessary) to defend the Protestant cause.

Political violence erupted into civil war in 1642, ending in a victory for the anti-monarchical rebels. Revealing what a united government could do with England's new wealth, Oliver Cromwell built the greatest fleet the country had ever seen. Protected by it, he crushed Scottish and Irish resistance in the home isles, struck across the Atlantic at Spanish possessions in the Caribbean and joined anti-Catholic campaigns on the Continent.

However, Cromwell's triumphs also revealed the continuing obstacles to sectarianism. Commercial rivalries compelled him to fight fellow Protestants in the Netherlands before taking on Spain, while his attempts to build a Puritan New Jerusalem at home failed miserably. The solution, moderates concluded, was to restore the monarchy, but when that was achieved, in 1660, it solved little. Like his antebellum predecessors, Charles II found himself stuck between cozying up to France and Spain but generating internal dissent and harnessing Protestant energies into anti-Catholic conquests but going broke. He quickly decided not just to lean toward the Continental Catholics but actually to sell the country out to them. In a secret treaty signed in 1670, he agreed in return for cash payments not only to support Catholic France's aggressive young king Louis XIV in attacking the Protestant Netherlands but even to let Louis' troops reimpose Catholicism in England. In the end, that did not happen, but when Charles' brother James converted to Catholicism before becoming king, even royalists panicked.

In 1688, a bipartisan alliance of Tories and Whigs (the successors of the old Court and Country factions) asked William of Orange, the staunchly Protestant leader of the Dutch armies fighting France, to intervene against their own Catholic king. James promptly fled, whereupon William formed an alliance with the Whigs and committed England fully to the Dutch fight against Catholicism.

The result was a quarter-century of brutal warfare, which turned Britain into Europe's rising power. A Bill of Rights, signed in 1689, merged the crown and Parliament, making civil war less likely, and the Bank of England, established in 1694, gave Parliament the deepest credit in Europe. England destroyed France's fleet in 1692, won one of its greatest land victories at Blenheim in 1704 and forged a political union with Scotland in 1707.

As ever, though, the costs of confronting Catholicism were ruinous. The national debt spiraled, there were waves of bankruptcies and the casualties became intolerable. As a proportion of the population, more Englishmen died at the Battle of Malplaquet in 1709 than on the first day on the Somme in 1916, driving Queen Anne — previously even more committed to the anti-Catholic war than King William had been — to demand "When will this bloodshed ever cease?" As the political elite fragmented, Tories undermined the crown's alliance with the Whigs. They even drove the Duke of Marlborough — the victor of Blenheim and Malplaquet — from office and convicted him of embezzlement. Marlborough's fall left the way open for peace with France.

A Strategic Pivot
The Treaty of Utrecht, signed in 1713, began the biggest strategic pivot in British history. Its Tory architects did not just end the current war with France; they put British foreign policy on an entirely new footing. Who cares, they asked, whether potential allies were Protestant or Catholic, or what gratitude Britain owed them? What mattered was protecting Britain's Atlantic trade. That called for the biggest fleet in Europe, and the obvious way to stop any Continental power building a fleet to rival Britain's was to keep Europe divided. If France grew too strong, Britain would back any coalition (even one including the Muslim Turks) to restore a balance of power, but if one of its allies — Spain, Austria, Russia or whoever — did too well, Britain would switch to a coalition (even one including France) that would block it. And, while the Europeans fought each other, Britain would encompass the world's maritime trade.

Who cares, the British architects of the Treaty of Utrecht asked, whether potential allies were Protestant or Catholic, or what gratitude Britain owed them? What mattered was protecting Britain's Atlantic trade.

The Treaty of Utrecht rejected ancient notions of loyalty and honor, leaving Britain's allies in the lurch and unleashing a level of political fury beyond anything seen in the United States since 2016. As soon as the Whigs won back power, they impeached, exiled and imprisoned the Tories responsible, and whenever Tories gained a local advantage, they turned the purge back on the Whigs. Already by the 1720s, though, the Tories' transactional approach to foreign policy was clearly winning the debate.

The new policies unfolded against a surprisingly modern background of financial meltdown (particularly the "South Sea Bubble" of 1720), elite corruption, mounting inequality, growing distrust of the political class and the power of a spectacularly partisan news media, capable of whipping up violent mobs at a moment's notice. Through it all, though, the political giant Robert Walpole (probably the most venal prime minister Britain has ever had, but also the greatest master of patronage) kept Europe off-balance, taxes low, Britain out of Continental wars and transatlantic trade growing.

He did this by dropping one ally after another as they became inconvenient. By 1739, Walpole himself conceded that Britain was "at present without any one ally upon the Continent." Some Tories thought this was fine, but in the end, Walpole's failure to keep all the diplomatic balls in the air brought him down. Slowly, painfully, Britain rebuilt its diplomatic networks, to the point that a new coalition won a mighty victory over France in 1759 — only for Britain once more to cast its expensive allies aside in the 1760s. When an American colonial revolt posed entirely new challenges in 1776, Britain found itself utterly without friends. In trying to fight France, Spain and the Netherlands as well as the rebels, Britain lost the bulk of its empire.

And on the cycle went. Continental powers learned to treat Britain as transactionally as Britain treated them, breaking alliances at will. Not even the danger that Napoleon would completely overturn the European system was enough to make governments trust Britain; in 1807, the Russian czar told Napoleon, "I hate the English as much as you do." Only when Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812 revealed that his ambition truly was insatiable and then broke his military power did Austria, Prussia and Russia fully commit to fighting him, and his final defeat, at Waterloo in 1815, left Britain as the world's greatest superpower. The Tories' transactional strategy had been vindicated.

Important Differences Between Then and Now
It is easy to see analogies between post-1713 Britain and post-2016 America, casting Donald Trump as Walpole and China and Russia in the parts of France and Spain. However, the differences between the two cases are equally important. In 1713, Britain was still a rising power, challenging the status quo powers of France and Spain, but in 2016, the United States had been dominant for a century, and China was the emerging rival. Britain in 1713 boasted the world's fastest-growing economy; the United States in 2016 did not. The Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 was a diplomatic interlude after 25 years of great power war; in 2016, there had been no such war for more than seven decades, and its resumption was unthinkable.

These differences, and others, probably make it unwise to conclude that because a transactional foreign policy worked so well for 18th-century Britain, it will always succeed. Rather, we should be focusing on the broader strategic principles revealed by the British case — which suggest that those who view Trump's foreign policy as incoherent and those who think that it is just common sense are equally mistaken.

A no-eternal-allies/no-perpetual-friends model worked for two centuries to keep Britain out of expensive Continental wars, allowing it to reduce military costs and lower taxes while maintaining a great fleet to protect its global trade and expand its commercial networks. However, even if we leave aside all moral questions, this diplomatic ruthlessness carried high costs. Britain repeatedly found itself isolated internationally and divided internally, and transactionalism seems to carry the same costs today. On the international front, I have heard policymakers from Canberra to Seoul say openly that American behavior is making them rethink their relationships with China, while Macron suggests that American inconstancy will produce European "rapprochement" with Russia. Domestically, Trump is facing impeachment over his foreign policy transactionalism.

I see three big lessons in 18th century British diplomatic history. First, transactionalism is difficult to do right, frequently driving former allies into enemy camps; second, trust takes decades to build but only days to destroy; and third, British transactionalism would not have succeeded had the country not possessed the world's fastest-growing economy and most modern institutions and infrastructure. Three centuries later, the United States possesses few, if any, of these advantages. American leaders might want to pay attention to Britain's earlier experiment with transactionalism if they are to avoid paying all the same costs without reaping any of the same benefits.

ccp

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Re: US Foreign Policy & Geopolitics
« Reply #977 on: November 14, 2019, 04:38:21 AM »
Above Stratford piece:

"transactional" foreign policy is a very good thought piece.
not simple and the historical experience not straightforward in applying to today.

The S Korean leader having trouble sleeping thinking he could wake up any day and read about a tweet that the Trump has decided (while watching Tucker Carlson) to remove the US from the Southern Korean Peninsula is VERY REAL.

On the other hand we don't need situations where are "allies" simply take us for granted like the Euros seem to do with NATO.


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Stratfor: How 3 key allies will respond to US demands on troop deployments
« Reply #979 on: November 22, 2019, 11:17:09 AM »
How 3 Key Allies Will Respond to U.S. Demands on Troop Deployments
8 MINS READ
Nov 22, 2019 | 11:00 GMT
This photo shows U.S. soldiers standing guard in the Korean border village of Panmunjom, located inside the Demilitarized Zone separating South and North Korea, on April 18, 2018.
U.S. soldiers stand guard in the Korean border village of Panmunjom, located inside the Demilitarized Zone separating South and North Korea, on April 18, 2018.

(CHUNG SUNG-JUN/Getty Images)
HIGHLIGHTS
Seoul finds itself in a weak position to resist U.S. demands for more money to base troops in South Korea, but the demands will spur its efforts to reduce its dependence on the U.S. military.
Japan will try to bargain Washington's asking price down, but its significant wealth and need for close alignment with the United States mean it will reach a deal.

Germany's relatively secure, by contrast, and the fact that U.S. troops would likely depart for neighboring Poland, and still shield Germany from Russia, means a complete drawdown of U.S. forces is more likely there.

U.S. demands for huge payment increases from three of its major allies, South Korea, Japan and Germany, for basing military forces on their territory could cause significant shifts in the global U.S. military footprint. The centrality of the United States and its military to South Korea's and Japan's security strategies means Washington is in a strong position to extract more money. But the effort could push Germany further away from the United States.

Reports emerged this month that U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration have demanded that South Korea pay $4.7 billion next year — or 400 percent more than what it currently pays — for continued U.S. military protection. Then a report emerged that in July, the United States had requested that Japan increase its own share of military cost-sharing fourfold to $8 billion after their bilateral Special Measures Agreement expires in March 2021. These reports came as the United States was already preparing to press its NATO allies in Europe, in particular Germany, to pay more for the presence of U.S. troops on the Continent.

The Big Picture

Favorable security alliances are central to the United States' ability to continue as global hegemon. The current U.S. administration has accelerated efforts to extract money from key allies in exchange for basing troops on their territory. These efforts could trigger far-reaching effects, possibly significantly reshaping the U.S. military footprint.

See The U.S. and the Balance of Power

The latest U.S. demands were not the first indication that such a policy shift was in the works. In March, Bloomberg reported that under White House direction, the administration was drafting demands that Germany and Japan pay not only the full cost of U.S. forces deployed on Japanese soil, but also an additional 50 percent for the privilege of having them there. The same template was initially used in the Special Measures Agreement negotiations with South Korea in 2018 before the United States backed off. And in June, The Washington Post reported that the Pentagon was analyzing the impact of the large-scale removal of U.S. troops from Germany, alarming European officials, who sought an explanation from their U.S. counterparts.

Despite pushback from the Pentagon and the State Department, which have at times successfully moderated the demands, the White House and Trump personally are determined to negotiate what they see as fair deals for U.S. troop deployments from its wealthiest allies. The Pentagon study on the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Germany underscores that the United States actually appears willing to withdraw forces if such negotiations fail.

The U.S. effort to get money for troop deployments is not new, and will not disappear when Trump leaves office. But Trump and the current White House have supercharged the process, making it a central component of relations with these countries. Given the negotiation timetable, South Korea finds itself in a tough spot with little room to stall, but Japan and Germany can be expected to stall and see whether 2021 will bring a new U.S. administration with a less intense position on this policy. Either way, for at least the next year and potentially beyond, U.S. efforts to significantly alter basing agreements with key allies could trigger far-reaching effects.

South Korea: Continued Defense Dependence, but Growing Defense Ambitions

South Korea finds itself in a weak position to resist the new U.S. approach. After already agreeing to pay the United States 8.2 percent more in a tough round of Special Measures Agreement negotiations in 2018, South Korea now faces U.S. demands for a 400 percent increase in payments. The new negotiations did not begin on a cordial note: On Nov. 19, U.S. negotiators cut talks short when it became clear no progress would be made for the time being.
 
But eventually, Seoul will have to strike a deal. This is because, despite its considerable military strength, its defense strategy remains heavily dependent on the U.S. military and its 28,500 troops on the Korean Peninsula. While more powerful conventionally than North Korea, in any major military conflict with the North the South Koreans would rely on the U.S. military, and in particular on U.S. command and control and intelligence gathering capabilities and its air and naval power. These capabilities would be crucial in neutralizing North Korean offensive capabilities before Pyongyang could inflict grievous damage on South Korea's people and economy. The growing strength of the North Korean missile and nuclear arsenal has only increased the importance of the U.S. defense role.
 
The tough U.S. demands on South Korea have increased calls for greater defense autonomy, especially from lawmakers on the left. South Korea has already been working to lessen this dependence by bolstering its defense capabilities, with some even calling for the acquisition of nuclear arms. But creating true defense independence will take decades, making an immediate South Korean defense rupture with the United States highly unlikely despite the steep U.S. demands. Nevertheless, contentious talks would increase the South Korean momentum toward greater autonomy in defense, while an impasse could prompt Trump to unilaterally reduce U.S. troop numbers in South Korea.

Japan: Wealth and a Dangerous Neighborhood Will Force Tokyo to Bargain

Like South Korea, Japan remains heavily dependent on U.S. security guarantees — and like South Korea, Japan also faces forceful U.S. demands for a large increase in payments. According to a report in Foreign Policy, in July the United States asked Japan to increase its share of military cost-sharing fourfold, to $8 billion, when their bilateral Special Measures Agreement expires in March 2021. Also like South Korea, Japan maintains a powerful military. But Japan's armed forces have long heavily focused on defensive capabilities, and Tokyo is only now beginning to accumulate serious offensive firepower. In the meantime, Japan relies on the roughly 50,000 U.S. troops on its territory to bolster its ability to respond to external threats.
 
These threats, and especially that of a rising China, will ensure that like South Korea, Japan will not break with the United States over demands for more money. Though Japan will strive to strike a better deal than the one Washington is offering, it is one of the safer allies for the United States to pressure given its significant wealth plus its need for close alignment with the United States.

Though Japan will strive to strike a better deal than the one Washington is offering, it is one of the safer allies for the United States to pressure.

Tokyo might well use the pressure to bolster its case for an acceleration of the normalization of the Japanese military, arguing with domestic critics that a better-rounded military will make Japan more self-reliant. While Washington has long demanded just this from Tokyo, an expanding Japanese military poses some risks for Washington — such as a greater risk of Japan dragging the United States into conflict.

Germany: A Position of Strength Could See U.S. Troops Head East

Germany is in a much better position than South Korea and Japan to resist U.S. defense demands, which Washington is expected to push with NATO — and especially with Berlin — in 2020. Like South Korea and Japan, Germany hosts a hefty number of U.S. troops — 34,000 in its case — but unlike them, it feels secure from immediate military threats. Also unlike South Korea and Japan, Germans as a whole are far more critical of the U.S. military presence in their country. Recent polls show that while about two-thirds of South Koreans and Japanese support the U.S. military presence in their countries, a 2018 YouGov poll for DPA news agency found that more Germans would welcome the departure of U.S. forces (42 percent) than would oppose it (37 percent).
 
Germans often see U.S. military bases on their soil as primarily serving U.S. foreign policy interests rather than those of Germany. And in fact, the military infrastructure the United States has built up in Germany over the decades, including airfields and hospitals, has seen heavy use during U.S. wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan. These factors make Germany the most likely to reject U.S. demands for a massive increase in payments, and to see a subsequent significant drawdown of U.S. forces.
 
Even more likely to make Germany stand its ground is the most likely place departing U.S. troops might go to: neighboring Poland. For its part, Poland is actively lobbying for more U.S. troops and has offered to pay a significant sum to attract them. Since the main German security concern is Russia, shifting U.S. troops to Poland would give Berlin what it wants without having to pay. This scenario would, however, come at the cost to Germany of even worse relations with Washington.

Crafty_Dog

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Walter Russell Mead: China is Europe's Problem too
« Reply #980 on: November 27, 2019, 11:30:24 PM »
I respect WRM a lot, but I'm not quite sure where the last paragraph comes from , , ,


China Is Europe’s Problem Too
Only the trans-Atlantic alliance can counter Beijing’s moves in the Pacific.
By Walter Russell Mead
Nov. 25, 2019 7:06 pm ET
Opinion: China's Rise Makes U.S.-European Alliances More Important
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Opinion: China's Rise Makes U.S.-European Alliances More Important
Opinion: China's Rise Makes U.S.-European Alliances More Important
Global View: As the United States focuses its foreign policy on the Pacific and the rise of China, U.S.-European alliances should be recognized as an important tool in countering the burgeoning Moscow-Beijing alliance. Image: Pang Xinglei/Zuma Press
What will the trans-Atlantic alliance look like in a world focused on the Indo-Pacific? That, more than President Trump’s unpredictable diplomacy, is the question that haunts Europe. During the Cold War, protecting Europe from Soviet aggression was Washington’s highest foreign-policy priority. That didn’t only mean that the U.S. put troops in Europe. Washington took European opinions seriously, engaged with Europeans, cut deals with them and was willing to make concessions to preserve alliance unity.

Clearly, some of that has changed. The next U.S. president may not share Mr. Trump’s undiplomatic instincts or his affinity for Brexiteers such as Nigel Farage and anti-Brussels figures like Hungary’s Viktor Orbán. But will he or she engage in the ritualistic ceremonies of diplomatic consultation with the various chancellors, presidents, commissioners and high representatives that Europeans so love? When America’s most urgent foreign policy worries involve smoothing over Japanese-Korean spats or facing down China in the Taiwan Strait, just how relevant will Europe be? When Europe calls Washington, will anybody answer the phone?

The French like to say they are a Pacific nation, thanks to Tahiti and other outposts, but it takes more than a sprinkling of islands, however idyllic, to make you a serious factor in Pacific politics. From a military standpoint, the European powers—and NATO itself—won’t play a large role in the Indo-Pacific zone. Nor will European ideology or Europe as a model have much appeal there. The memories of colonialism are too strong, and many Asian countries see the slow-growth, high-regulation European social model as a trap to avoid, not a goal to be reached.

Yet as China looms larger, a new trans-Atlantic consensus is forming. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in one of her rare political missteps, decided last month to allow China’s Huawei to supply components for Germany’s 5G internet. Americans made the usual protests and threats, to be met by the usual refusals. But the matter didn’t end there. Delegates to her party’s conference last week revolted, adopting a resolution that could lead to a Bundestag vote to block Huawei from Germany’s 5G rollout. Prominent Social Democrats, the center-left party uneasily allied with Mrs. Merkel’s Christian Democrats, agree. Chinese companies cannot be trusted with German data.

The convergence between European and U.S. views on China is far from complete. France has refused to exclude Huawei from its 5G program, and other European governments as well as many European companies still see China through rose-tinted lenses. But opinions are changing. Like Americans, Europeans sympathize with Hong Kong’s democracy movement, and are horrified by Beijing’s treatment of the Tibetans and Uighurs. The Federation of German Industries has been voicing sharp criticism of Chinese business practices for the past year.

There is another force pushing Americans and Europeans closer together: Vladimir Putin, who appears to have resigned himself to a full-fledged alliance with China. Russia’s disruptive agenda in Europe, ranging from the annexation of Crimea to efforts to influence European elections through disinformation, has always suffered from a lack of money that is the curse of Russian power projection. A perception that Russian activity in Europe is more of a nuisance to the U.S. than a strategic threat has gained ground in some neo-isolationist circles. But as China makes major investments in Greece and across Southern and Eastern Europe, that perception could change. The closer Russia and China are aligned, the more important Europe’s Russia problems become for a China-focused U.S. foreign policy.

The Indo-Pacific isn’t Las Vegas—what happens there doesn’t stay there. As China’s economic, political and military reach expands in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, European as well as U.S. interests will be affected. Efforts by China to export its method of authoritarian governance backed by high-tech surveillance will pose a serious threat to a vision of the open society that Europeans and Americans mostly share.

One hates to say anything so obvious, but world politics is a global endeavor. During the Cold War, America’s main focus was on Europe, but Japan and South Korea were important allies without whose support and counsel the Cold War would have been much harder to win.

The real question isn’t whether the U.S. will take the problems of the Indo-Pacific too seriously and write off its old allies in Europe. It is whether Americans and Europeans will recognize the global nature of the challenge before us.

About this, I am an optimist. The Americans who best understand the potential threats emerging from China also know that without Europe’s help it will be difficult and perhaps impossible to prevail. The harder Americans think about China, the more they will care about Europe. If enough Europeans share U.S. concerns about Beijing, the Western alliance will remain a vital force even as the world’s political center of gravity shifts to the Indo-Pacific.

DougMacG

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Re: Walter Russell Mead: China is Europe's Problem too
« Reply #981 on: November 28, 2019, 06:00:17 AM »
"I respect WRM a lot, but I'm not quite sure where the last paragraph comes from , ,,"

WRM is great for analysis and views on foreign policy.  I often call him my favorite Democrat.  But if he is a Democrat on some things, eventually a different view is going to show through.  If our success and future depends on Europe for anything, I am not an optimist.

That said he is right, Europe needs to be with us to fix China by standing up to them, whether they like each US President or not.  Our support of Brexit should not be a factor in that.  Brexit has been a major blunder of Europe, just as the US makes mistakes too.  Brexit and their distaste for Trump do not alter the China threat.  Europe needs to get its head on straight.

The 'other' 5G company, Ericsson, is European, incidentally.
https://www.ericsson.com/en/5g

G M

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Re: Walter Russell Mead: China is Europe's Problem too
« Reply #982 on: November 28, 2019, 06:24:16 PM »
Europe has become the sick man of Europe. They have imported their own doom and are well past the point of no return.



"I respect WRM a lot, but I'm not quite sure where the last paragraph comes from , ,,"

WRM is great for analysis and views on foreign policy.  I often call him my favorite Democrat.  But if he is a Democrat on some things, eventually a different view is going to show through.  If our success and future depends on Europe for anything, I am not an optimist.

That said he is right, Europe needs to be with us to fix China by standing up to them, whether they like each US President or not.  Our support of Brexit should not be a factor in that.  Brexit has been a major blunder of Europe, just as the US makes mistakes too.  Brexit and their distaste for Trump do not alter the China threat.  Europe needs to get its head on straight.

The 'other' 5G company, Ericsson, is European, incidentally.
https://www.ericsson.com/en/5g



Crafty_Dog

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Walter Russell Mead: Ukrainegate- treason or common sense?
« Reply #985 on: December 10, 2019, 12:12:20 PM »


‘Ukrainegate’—Treason or Common Sense?
Beneath the circus lies a real conflict of foreign-policy visions.



By
Walter Russell Mead
Dec. 9, 2019 7:28 pm ET

Opinion: Impeachment Has Turned Ukraine Into a Foreign Policy Showdown
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Opinion: Impeachment Has Turned Ukraine Into a Foreign Policy Showdown
Opinion: Impeachment Has Turned Ukraine Into a Foreign Policy Showdown

Global View: The United States is facing a policy battle between those who see Europe as the top foreign policy objective, and others who see the Indo-Pacific as the primary challenge that the U.S. needs to focus on. Image: Ludovic Marin/Getty Images

“Ukrainegate,” like Russiagate before it, is more than a domestic scandal; it is also a foreign-policy showdown of historic proportions.


Much of the American foreign-policy establishment, both inside and outside the government, is liberal internationalist and Atlanticist. They believe that America’s chief task is to build a world order on liberal principles and that America’s chief allies are the NATO and European Union countries that share our convictions. They see Russia as the primary opponent of this effort and therefore of the U.S. Moscow’s efforts to interfere in European and American domestic politics threaten the cohesion of the EU and the liberal democratic principles for which the West stands. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea are direct attacks on liberal order and the Atlantic world.


From this perspective, the war in Ukraine matters to the whole world. To use Ukraine’s aid as a bargaining chip in a cynical domestic political ploy isn’t merely a political dirty trick. It’s collusion with the enemy. It’s like blocking Lend-Lease during the Blitz to make Winston Churchill investigate Thomas E. Dewey. President Trump’s exact feelings toward the Kremlin aren’t of great importance. It doesn’t matter if he is being blackmailed into it, sees the Russian president as a soul mate and fellow traveler on the road to destroying American democracy, or is a malignant clown bent on destroying a complex international system that he doesn’t understand. Donald Trump, his most determined opponents believe, has committed something very close to treason even as he shamelessly abuses his office to enrich himself.


For most Republicans, the Ukrainegate question is much narrower: Was Mr. Trump’s attempt to hold back congressionally authorized aid to force Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden a constitutional crime that requires removal from office, or can the decision be left to the voters? Unless investigators can show that Mr. Trump pressed Ukraine to frame the Bidens, to concoct false evidence and make false charges to discredit them, the president’s hold on the White House through January 2021 looks secure.


It isn’t that Republicans don’t care if Mr. Trump is a Russian agent. They approach Ukrainegate differently because many of them, uneasy as they may be about some aspects of his foreign policy, see some much-needed changes taking shape.



Among the administration’s most consistent features is a belief that the U.S. should change the priority it gives to the different theaters in world politics. From this perspective, the center of gravity of American policy must move from the Atlantic to the Indo-Pacific. Latin America deserves more attention as a growing social and political crisis creates larger threats in the hemisphere—of which the chaos on the Southern border may be only a foretaste.


After Latin America, the threats of jihadist violence and Iranian expansionism make the Middle East the next-highest priority for the Trump administration. Europe, America’s highest priority for much of the Cold War, has fallen to fourth place. For the Trump administration and many of its Republican allies, Russia, because it is weaker and poorer than China, comes after Beijing on America’s list of geopolitical concerns—an important disagreement with the liberal Atlanticist foreign-policy establishment and not the only one.


Beyond geopolitics there is ideology. The rules-based world order means much less to Mr. Trump and to many Republican senators than it does to liberal Atlanticists. The president isn’t a believer in the application of the broken-windows theory of foreign policy—that a violation of one rule in one place materially increases the chance of other rules being broken in other places. A “realist” in the jargon of international relations, Mr. Trump thinks that national power matters much more than international law.


Given these views, it is natural that Mr. Trump and some of his Senate defenders don’t believe Ukraine matters much to the U.S., or that a few weeks or months of delay in military aid would have a discernible impact on world events. Even Republican Russia hawks like Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin tend to see developing a long-term strategy to combat China as a top priority for U.S. foreign policy.


Mr. Trump’s views on foreign policy aren’t always correct, and his conduct of foreign affairs is often destructively chaotic even when his instincts are sound. But he is not all wrong, either. The decline of Europe as a force in world affairs and the shift of the axis of world politics to the Indo-Pacific are realities that American foreign policy cannot ignore. The liberal Atlanticist consensus cannot guide American foreign policy going forward, and new ways of thinking and acting will have to be found.


The domestic political circus will go on as it must. But the need to replace the liberal Atlanticist approach with a new foreign-policy framework is a bigger problem than the future of President Trump. One must hope that Democrats and Republicans can find ways to advance this vital debate even as each episode of the Trump Show that airs is more dramatic than the last.

Crafty_Dog

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George Friedman and the Strategy of Economic Sanctions
« Reply #986 on: December 10, 2019, 11:35:54 PM »
   
    Pearl Harbor and the Strategy of Economic Sanctions
By: George Friedman

There have been many lessons drawn from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. One was that wars need not begin according to international law. Another was that attacks can be unexpected and that constant vigilance is necessary. Still another was that underestimating an enemy can be catastrophic. And yet another was that failure to understand how new technology changes the nature of war can be disastrous.

The list of lessons learned is of course longer than the list of lessons remembered, one of which is particularly germane at this moment: When imposing economic sanctions, the more powerful the sanctions, the greater the pressure on your adversary to strike back. At a time when the U.S. is shifting from the use of military force to the use of economic power, the lesson of why Pearl Harbor was attacked needs to be considered carefully.

War Plans

Prior to World War I, Japan was the leading industrial power in the Western Pacific. After World War I, Japan expanded its military sphere of influence. It had sided with the Anglo-French alliance during the war, and as a reward, German holdings in the Western Pacific were turned over to it. This paralleled the growth of Japanese naval power, and it seemed that the American position in the Pacific, built around Hawaii and the Philippines, was in danger.

The United States had developed a series of global war plans after the end of World War I. War Plan Black assumed a war with Germany. War Plan Red assumed a war with Britain (not quite as insane as it sounds, since the U.S. had been dueling with Britain over control of the North Atlantic since its founding). The plan that was taken most seriously was War Plan Orange. For the U.S. Navy, War Plan Orange was the basis of all planning between 1920 and 1941. It assumed that the Japanese would move against the Philippines in order to take control of the resources in present-day Indonesia and Southeast Asia. The U.S. assumed that Japan could not achieve its goals unless the Philippines was in Japanese hands, since ships in the Philippines could cut the flow of supplies to Japan. The U.S. plan was to accept the conquest of the Philippines and then send the U.S. Pacific Fleet, a massive force built around battleships, westward to force the Japanese navy into a decisive battle that the U.S. fleet would win.
The entire premise behind War Plan Orange was that the Japanese had a hunger for raw materials. That was the decisive reality. Japan was a significant industrial power but was bereft of minerals at home. They had to import nearly all the raw materials needed for their domestic industry and defense. The U.S. assumed that at some point Japan would move south and intervened in China to undermine such a move. The U.S. national defense strategy was built not on Europe but on Asia, and on the assumption that Japan would move south.

The Japanese did not move beyond Japan until 1940. They had treaties with both the Netherlands and the French to supply a wide range of raw materials. But the collapse of France and the Netherlands put in question the value of those treaties and posed an existential problem for Japan. Japan saw Indochina as unable to guarantee compliance with the treaties, and so it moved into Indochina. The United States believed that if it simply accepted the move, it would guarantee Japanese control of China and open the door for their expansion into the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean basin.

The U.S. solution to this was actions they regarded as a means short of war. It halted all sale of U.S. oil and scrap metal to Japan and had U.S. agents buy up Indonesian oil not for shipment to the United States but to prevent Japan having access to it. The Americans demanded that Japan withdraw not only from Indochina but from China as a whole. The U.S. sought to put Japan in an impossible spot on the assumption that an aggressive Japanese response would trigger War Plan Orange, force a confrontation with the Japanese fleet somewhere between Taiwan and Borneo, and finish the Japanese.

The Japanese were familiar with the concepts behind War Plan Orange due to numerous naval war games that simulated it. The danger of peacetime readiness is that it reveals the kind of war you expect to fight. The Japanese knew that if they failed to comply with U.S. demands, U.S. sanctions would cripple them at best. But if they did comply with U.S. demands, they would be reduced to an American vassal state.

Their third option was war, but knowing the specifics of U.S. war plans, they would have to fight the war in a way that would deny the U.S. the opportunity to bring its fleet of battleships to bear. They knew that the U.S. expected to lose the Philippines but that the Americans intended the loss to lead to the destruction of the Japanese navy. The Japanese understood the threat that resisting or complying with U.S. sanctions posed, and that war waged as the U.S. expected it to be waged would lead to defeat. The Japanese had hoped to avoid war with the United States, but American sanctions convinced them that the U.S. intended to break Japan. What the U.S. saw as an alternative to war the Japanese saw as forcing their hand.

Most important, they would not fight as War Plan Orange expected. They would not engage the American fleet in a surface battle. Rather than serving as the culmination of war, they decided they had to engage the U.S. fleet as the first act of war. Thus, they chose to use aircraft carriers as the main strike force that would approach from a completely unexpected direction (from the northwest), and try to fight the decisive battle not with a surface fleet against a surface fleet, but with naval air power against a surface fleet in port.

To emphasize, the Japanese did not intend or expect war with the U.S. until the U.S. put sanctions on them. Japan saw itself as maintaining access to raw materials guaranteed by treaty. It saw U.S. sanctions as an attempt to compel Japan to capitulate without engaging in war and capitulation as permanent subordination to the United States. Under this pressure, they chose war but deliberately avoided the war the U.S. had planned. They ultimately lost by underestimating the recuperative power of the United States. But they understood that their core geopolitical problem was lack of resources, which compelled them to capture Southeast Asia.

Economic Warfare

The Japanese could not back off; they had to be aggressive. The United States saw the challenge posed to U.S. security by Japan’s imperative as requiring the imposition of pressure that challenged Japan’s fundamental interests. Rather than capitulating, the Japanese chose to launch a war in a totally unexpected way. The U.S. had constantly signaled how they would wage a war with Japan, and the Japanese adjusted their own war plan in ways the U.S. didn’t expect. The Japanese were aware of the extremely high risk of the war, but thought the U.S. would negotiate rather than try to invade Japanese-held territory. Japan viewed war as less risky than sanctions. Both sides were wrong. The Americans did not anticipate the Japanese response to sanctions directed at fundamental Japanese interests. The Japanese did not understand that after Pearl Harbor, the U.S. would wage war asking and giving no quarter.

American strategy during and especially after the Cold War has depended heavily on the use of sanctions. Over the past decade, the U.S. has shifted its posture away from military action toward economic warfare. In China, Iran, Russia, Turkey and numerous other countries, the first American response to divergent interests is not to wage war but to take what is seen as a less threatening step of imposing sanctions. The United States produces nearly 25 percent of the world’s gross domestic product and is the largest importer in the world. This gives it significant options and forces other countries to consider whether complying with U.S. demands is less harmful than the risk of resisting those demands.

The Japanese example is a classic case in which sanctions, deliberately targeted against a country’s core interests, caused the country to choose a military option rather than to duel economically. Tokyo realized it would lose the latter and had a chance with the former. The core lesson of Pearl Harbor was not that economic pressures aren’t a valuable tool, but that the assumption that the adversary would not choose a military response is uncertain. The more effective the sanctions, the greater the chance of a military response. The assumption that the adversary has no military options may be true given expectations of capabilities. But, as with Japan, effective sanctions can compel the other side to develop innovative and painful solutions.

The danger of War Plan Orange was that it drilled into a generation of naval officers a perception of how a war would be fought. The combination of effective sanctions and the gift of a clear understanding of American war plans caused the Japanese to adjourn the economic confrontation and commence an unexpected opening to war.
In undertaking economic sanctions, there must also be parallel and unexpected military options on the table. The predictability of U.S. operational principles allows the enemy to innovate unexpectedly. The assumption that the economic dimension will remain economic because we wish it to fails to understand one of the main lessons of Pearl Harbor.

This is not an argument against economic sanctions; they have been used for decades. It is a warning to carefully select who they are directed against and how they are applied. They can create a situation where the sanctions are so effective that war can seem like an attractive alternative. If such sanctions are required, the U.S. should not expect the enemy to go to war in a way that is most advantageous to the United States. As with Pearl Harbor, the enemy will strike where we least expect and as hard as possible. The more desperate the adversary becomes, the more the military must anticipate an unexpected response.