Author Topic: US Foreign Policy & Geopolitics  (Read 251173 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.

Crafty_Dog

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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?