Archive for the ‘United States’ Category


Trump trade war: May and China fire warning shots
http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/trump-trade-war-may-china-fire-warning-shots-1665117?utm_source=email

 

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I thought Trump just wants to make a deal, not make war!

So what gives?

Methinks, the merchants of death are making Trump do this.

But this is self-defeating and counter-productive!

Since the truckers of death are not necessarily independent of, or far removed from, the merchants of innocuous commodities!

Take McDonell Douglas Corporation, an American company, which later on gobbled by The Boeing Company.

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McDonnell Douglas Corporation | American company | Britannica.com
https://www.britannica.com/to…/McDonnell-Douglas-Corporation

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So McDonnell (as Douglas Aircraft) produced the famous DC series of commercial aviation planes, used its expertise to convert the DC-3, the world’s first commercial airliner, into military use as the C-47.

This should not come as a surprise since Donald W. Douglas (1892-1981), Douglas Aircraft’s founder, designed the Cloudster, the first aerodynamically streamlined plane, and founded his company to fill an order for three of the planes for the U.S. Navy.

During the war Douglas contributed 29,000 warplanes, one-sixth of the U.S. airborne fleet. After the war the company continued to dominate the commercial air routes with its new DC-6 and in 1953 brought out its most advanced piston-engined airliner, the DC-7, whose range made possible nonstop coast-to-coast service. With the development of commercial jets, however, Douglas began to lag behind Boeing. It was because of its deteriorating financial condition in the 1960s that it sought a merger with McDonnell.

Under its founder James S. McDonnell (1899–1980), that company grew up quickly during World War II and became a major defense supplier. It designed the world’s first carrier-based jet fighter and went on to produce such widely used jet fighters as the F-4 Phantom, the A-4 Skyhawk, the F-15 Eagle, and the F-18 Hornet. The company also manufactured launch vehicles and cruise missiles. In 1984 it purchased Hughes Helicopters Inc. from the estate of Howard Hughes. In the 1970s the company began diversifying with the acquisition of companies engaged in data processing, satellite communications, information services, and the manufacture of electronic devices.

The end of the Cold War in the early 1990s resulted in a major contraction of U.S. defense industries. In the wave of business consolidations and mergers that followed, McDonnell Douglas was acquired by The Boeing Company.

And what does The Boeing Company produce?

AeroWeb | Boeing (Rockwell) B-1B Lancer

AeroWeb | Boeing CH–47/MH-47 Chinook

AeroWeb | Boeing P–8A Poseidon

But not only those nasty things that help politicians and military leaders command their underlings to kill people especially from afar and with almost no warning.

What else does The Boeing Company produce and sell?

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https://www.britannica.com/topic/Boeing-Company

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Boeing Company, American aerospace company—the world’s largest—that is the foremost manufacturer of commercial jet transports. It is also a leading producer of military aircraft, helicopters, space vehicles, and missiles, a standing significantly enhanced with the company’s acquisition of the aerospace and defense units of Rockwell International Corporation in 1996 and its merger with McDonnell Douglas Corporation in 1997. Formerly Boeing Airplane Company, the firm assumed its current name in 1961 to reflect its expansion into fields beyond aircraft manufacture. Headquarters were in Seattle until 2001, when Boeing relocated to Chicago.

Boeing Company’s constituent business units are organized around three main groups of products and services—commercial airplanes, military aircraft and missiles, and space and communications.

Boeing manufactures seven distinct families of commercial aircraft, which are assembled in two facilities—Renton and Everett—in Washington state and one facility in California. The Renton plant builds the narrow-body Boeing 737 and formerly built the 757 aircraft (discontinued in 2004), while the wide-body Boeing 767 and 777 aircraft and a limited number of the largely discontinued 747s are assembled at the Everett plant. The 787 aircraft are assembled at the Everett plant and at a facility in North Charleston, South Carolina.

Boeing Business Jets, a joint venture of Boeing and General Electric Co., makes and markets business jets based on the 737-700 airliner as well as VIP versions of the 747, 777, and 787 airliners.

The company’s military-related activities are centred on the design, manufacture, and support of fighter aircraft, bombers, transports, helicopters, and missiles. Its products include, among others, the F-15 Eagle, F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet, and AV-8 Harrier fighters; the C-17 Globemaster III airlifter; the AH-64 Apache series of attack helicopters; the CH-47 Chinook transport helicopter; and the AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) aircraft, based on the 767. Boeing contributes to the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor air-superiority stealth fighter and the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit stealth bomber.

In partnership with Bell Helicopter Textron, it builds the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, and, with United Technologies’ Sikorsky division, it made the RAH-66 Comanche armed reconnaissance helicopter.

The company also builds the Harpoon antiship missile, the air-launched Standoff Land Attack Missile (SLAM), and the air-launched cruise missile (ALCM).

In the space and communications sector, Boeing produces the Delta family of launch vehicles; the Inertial Upper Stage (IUS), an in-space solid-rocket booster; and rocket engines for Delta launchers and other vehicles. It participates in processing, ground operation, and training activities for the U.S. space shuttle fleet through United Space Alliance, a joint venture with Lockheed Martin Corporation.

As the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) prime contractor for the International Space Station, Boeing leads an industry team comprising most major U.S. aerospace companies and hundreds of smaller suppliers and integrates the work of ISS participants from non-U.S. countries. Its involvement in commercial space development includes partnerships in the multinational Sea Launch Company and in the Teledesic consortium formed to build a satellite-based, Internet-like telecommunications service.

It also makes satellites for the Navstar Global Positioning System (GPS).

In 2016 Boeing employed a workforce of about 150,500 people in 65 countries and 27 U.S. states.

1FireandFury

It seems that many modern-day technologies started as death technologies.

But not so!

The spear, a weapon that kills, is also the javelin thrown by well-contured athletes of the ancient Olympic Games, the Panhellinic Games of Ancient Greece, originally a festival in honor of Zeus.

It appears that human beings have been producing dual purpose tools since then.

What is quite different now is that the weapons of death have been developing across the centuries to enable alleged combatants in the comfort of airconditioned ‘fortresses’ thousands of miles away to kill other people, designated as adversaries or enemies, without warning and without the normal declaration of war.

I admire the bravery and courage of these arm-chair warriors!

But wait, the merchants of death need to wrack up more sales to keep the economy going, to keep people employed, to get representatives of the people elected and re-elected because they keep on bringing home the bacon by way of more defense contracts for the home district.

So why limit warfare against pip-squeak non-state actors like al-Qaeda and IS?

Why not bring the war to the rogue states: Iran, Iraq, Taliban’s Afghanistan, Yemen, North Korea, and the like?

But that still be inadequate for the merchants’ purposes.

So bring the war to the doorsteps of the great powers like China…and the Russian Federation!

Meanwhile, the same merchants of death will continue to produce and improve and innovate on innocuous products like commercial ailiners and GPS.

What else is new then?

What would be new is if the TRUMPy gets his way.

Everybody makes a deal to make money.

Nobody makes war.

I therefore nominate the Orange Clown in the North for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Further on, I propose that the Nobel Committee revoke the same award from former US President Barack Obama, for being a peace hypocrite and a murderous war-monger!

 

Barack Obama

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During the first day of the 3rd Katipunan Conference sponsored by the Strategic Studies Program (with which I am a fellow) yesterday, I asserted that a new cold war is on in the Indo Asia Pacific Theater.  And in fact, I am just echoing the views of very young and very junior scholars I have read way back in 2015 like Hendricks (2015)

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What was a Chinese military plane doing in South Korea’s special air defence zone for 4 hours?
http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/what-was-chinese-military-plane-doing-south-koreas-special-air-defence-zone-4-fours-1664076?utm_source=social&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=%2Fwhat-was-chinese-military-plane-doing-south-koreas-special-air-defence-zone-4-fours-1664076

 

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What’s going on in our neck of the woods?

A new cold war, that is!

In the Indo Asia Pacific theater with China and the US as the main protagonists.

 

An appropriate (even if old) theory that could help better understand the new East Asian strategic environment exists.  The Power Transition theory is a theory about the cyclical nature of war, in relation to power (of states) in international relations.   Created by A.F.K. Organski, and originally published in his textbook, World Politics (1958), contemporary power transition theory describes international politics as a hierarchy, with different degrees of power between states. The objective of the theory is to investigate the cyclic condition of wars, and how transition of power in terms of machtpolitik affect the occurrence of these wars.

 

The principal predictive power of the theory is in the likelihood of war and the stability of alliances.  War is most likely, of longest duration and greatest magnitude, when a challenger (a revisionist power; one of the great powers) to the dominant power (the global hegemon) enters into approximate parity with the dominant state and is dissatisfied with the existing system. Similarly, alliances are most stable when the parties to the alliance are satisfied with the system structure. This leads to the view that when the balance of power is unstable (i.e. one or two nations have taken a dominant role in geopolitics), the likelihood of war is greater.

 

According to Organski:

 

An even distribution of political, economic, and military capabilities between contending groups of states is likely to increase the probability of war; peace is preserved best when there is an imbalance of national capabilities between disadvantaged and advantaged nations; the aggressor will come from a small group of dissatisfied strong countries; and it is the weaker, rather than the stronger; power that is most likely to be the aggressor.

 

 

Using Organski’s theory, China can be characterized as a ‘revisionist’ power dissatisfied with the existing balance of forces in the world as well as in Asia.  Meanwhile, the United States is a ‘status quo’ power (or a stand patter) working to preserve its hegemony.  It is joined by other status quo powers like Japan, South Korea, and Australia. Since it does not share US interests and preferences, the Russian Federation under President Vladimir Putin is China’s natural ally.[1]  The same is true with Pyongyang since Seoul is on the opposing side.  India is in a predicament since it shares a land border with China and fought a brief border war with the latter in the 1960s.  Geopolitical realities may force India to either align with China or opt for neutrality in the conflict.

 

Thus, a new cold war is afoot in East Asia (or the eastern Pacific rim) involving great powers (both status quo and revisionists) plus their allies.

Note that Russia had agreed to sell its most advanced S-400 missile systems to China.  Please see   <http://www.themoscowtimes.com/business/article/china-and-russia-sign-contract-for-s-400-missile-systems/519010.html&gt;.

 

A similar cold war is fought between the US and the Russian Federation in, as usual the European and MENA theater.

Of course, they have proxies.

But this new cold war is quite different, qualitatively different than the Cold War between the US and the USSR that ended in 1989-1991.

China and US are not starightfoward enemies.

The US and the Soviet Union were.

China and the US are, in millenial speak, “frenemies”.

They are enemies and rivals in the strategic realm.

But even in the strategic realm, they need to cooperate so as not to blow the world up in smoke and cinders.

They are friends in the economic realm sharing interest in keeping the world economy an open one.

However, as economic powers, they also compete and rival each other.

China was and is the biggest beneficiary of contemporary globalization, of the liberalization of the world’s financial markets and FDI rules.

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Want to escape poverty? Replace pictures of Jesus with Xi Jinping, Christian villagers urged | South China Morning Post
http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2119699/praise-xi-jinping-not-jesus-escape-poverty-christian

 

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In the process, the US steadily lost jobs and this gave (or gives) a fillip to protectionist sentiments exploited by Trump and his kind specially among blue collar workers and within the Rust Belt and the South.

The war is fought because of the steady undermining of the post-World War II world order.

 

1FireandFury

The war is fought while the 4th Industrial Revolution is disrupting our lives, our economies, our ways of life, our politics, and our consciousness.

Fortunes are being made while misery and mayhem are widespread.

For this reasons, all gaps seem to be widening.

There is a great disconnect between competing truths. There is mass confusion, disaffection, and tumult.

The world is poised for a major shift.

 

 

In my previous piece which I wrote in response to my good friend Ramon Casiple’s “China’s Dilemma,” I argued that it is the United States and the Philippines which actually have a dilemma over Ayungin.

I based my argument on the fact that the US Senate has yet to ratify the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), upon which the Philippine claim is based. The US does not recognize such concepts and principles as archipelagic state, archipelagic waters, and exclusive economic zone upon which the Philippine claim is based.

Since Ayungin and other disputed islands and features in the Western Philippine Sea (a part of the larger South China Sea) are not part of the metropolitan territory of the Republic, I foresee difficulties in invoking the Mutual Defense Treaty between the US and the Philippines to explain why the US cannot come immediately to our aid.

 

For the complete article, click on the link below:

 

 

http://www.interaksyon.com/article/88634/commentary–being-a-us-protectorate-weakened-ph-position-vis-a-vis-china-in-dispute


PRC flag (taken at the Jinan University, Guangzhou, September 2013

PRC flag (taken at the Jinan University, Guangzhou, September 2013)

The People’s Republic of China is a revisionist rather than a status quo power. These rather old concepts still apply in this case. Despite appearing to have been socialized with the “civilized” behavior of the international community states, China seeks changes in the international order according to what it reads as best for its interests.

It may be a member of the United Nations Security Council, yet China is not secure. Compared to the Cold War period, the only improvement is rapprochement with Russia. On its flanks, China is hemmed in by hostiles like Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, and further afield–Australia.

China in Asia

China in Asia

China is basically a land power with a brown-water navy. While the US 7th fleet had a more formidable presence during the Cold War (it had an anti-Soviet orientation), this time American naval forces have an undisguised anti-Chinese orientation.

Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia

China seeks to build its forces steadily so it can over-match the opposition, the US included. It asserts its territorial claims for the twin purpose of interdicting sea lines of communications as well as pushing forward lines of defense. It has not entirely abandoned its charm offensive in so far as Cambodia, Myanmar, and Timor Leste are concerned. It wants to drive a wedge within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It is cautious with Vietnam and other territorial claimants in Southeast Asia. Cambodia and Myanmar offer possible outlets to the Gulf of Thailand and the Indian Ocean via the Bay of Bengal.

Indian sub-continent

Indian sub-continent

Only the Philippines is treated in a different manner. The Chinese leadership have apparently written the Philippines off. The resort to hard power is addressed more to the United States than Manila. The question seems to be: what will you do for your ally beyond the issuance of official communiques? To themselves: to what extent can we push the envelope?

With the key powers in the sub-continents–India and Pakistan–China have good relations. It’s true that India was closer to the Soviet Union during the Cold War given that a war was fought with China over disputed territory. The US sought to improve relations with India post-Cold War but India refuses to be trapped in a monogamous relationship. In addition, the US has cohabited with Pakistan, India’s principal enemy, for a long time. Pakistan will not change its anti-India orientation but it is doubtful if it could be mobilized in an anti-China effort.

China’s activities in sub-Saharan Africa are intended to create friendly spheres of influence through soft power. What is interesting is China’s pointed willingness to do business with states and leaders that are frowned upon by the Western powers.

China is obviously not a global power. Its current programme is to achieve parity with the United States in the East Asian theater. Whether it will go beyond what its currently doing is an empirical matter.

Who are China’s allies in the East Asian theater?

Together with Russia, China is a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a Eurasian political, economic, and security organization. However, SCO is principally oriented to Central rather than East Asia.

Shanghai Cooperation Organization

Shanghai Cooperation Organization

In the Yellow Sea region, only North Korea is apparently China’s ally. Its reliability is rather suspect. Opposing China is Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the American military forces.

Northeast Asia: The Yellow Sea region

Northeast Asia: The Yellow Sea region

The US alliances established during the Cold War with Thailand and the Philippines are still intact and the latter’s forces exercise regularly with the US and other American allies like Australia for inter-operability.

In short, China seems to be alone while the other side is heavily populated.

Why then is the apparently weaker and out-numbered side making very bold and provocative initiatives (at least vis-a-vis the Philippines and Japan)?

It is less risk-averse. Its moves are calibrated. It stops short of making a move that will invite catastrophic consequences. If an earlier move is more or less unanswered and gains are made, it will raise the ante until the returns are no longer attractive. It may lay low for a while and launch a new offensive in the future.

Such is the nature of revisionist powers. They will always take the initiative. I cannot imagine them to be merely reactive.


Flag of the People’s Republic of China

China may have strategic and psychological reasons behind its claims for much of the South China Sea. When the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was inaugurated in 1949, Chairman Mao proudly announced that China has risen; that it has risen  from the shame of colonial subjugation and defeat in war.  China was carved into separate spheres of influence by the Euopean powers and the US in the 19th century.  Its 1911 Revolution failed to improve the national condition.

Since 1949, it has transformed itself into an industrial and nuclear during Mao’s lifetime. While Mao’s rigid doctrines were rejected after his death, the pragmatic policies of his successors were intended to strengthen the country through the so-called Four Modernizations–including that of the economy and the military. The new Chinese leaders invited foreign investors and opened industrial zones and the country’s economy grew spectacularly through exports. China is now the second largest economy of the world.

Chairman Mao Zedong

Now that its economy has grown, China is now poised to project power commensurate to its prosperity. Its immediate objective is to secure its immediate periphery. Since Japan has invaded and conquered parts of China during the Second World War it seeks to pursue disputes in the East China Sea (ECS).

Together with Taiwan, both countries are in dispute over the Japan-administered Senkaku or Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea. Lest we forget, China also claims Taiwan as its province. And of course, we are aware of Chinese claims over the Spratly Islands, Paracels and the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea that are disputed by a number of Southeast Asian states and Taiwan. These Chinese claims intrude into or overlap with exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of other states.

Senkaku/Diaoyu/Tiaoyu islands

Disputed areas in the South China Sea

Apart from economic reasons, the Chinese claims should be seen as extensions of their defense lines. If they can indeed establish ownership over SCS waters, they can control important sea lanes of communication and interdict passage of warships. The SCS will be domestic waters which the PLA Navy can freely cruise. The United States is the power that will be most affected by this Chinese aggressive confidence. China is the reason behind the US pivot to Asia–the deployment of 60% of American military assets in Asia. If China owned Scarborough Shoal, its warships will be in a better position to take out a radar facility to be built by the US in the Philippines. To summarize, China’s territorial assertiveness is fueled by pride and strategic considerations and is based on a strong economy.

Republicans’ foreign affairs ‘expertise’.


Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney is considered by most survey respondents so far to be very weak in foreign affairs relative to incumbent President Barack Obama.

He decided to do something about it by travelling to the United Kingdom and Israel; the United Kingdom being the Americans’ closest ally in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Israel, the most  reliable friend in the volatile Middle East.

Did the visits help?  Based on reports, it looks like they did not.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron

When he met British Prime Minister David Cameron, he pointedly asked if London had the capacity to host the 2012 Summer Olympics.

What was he thinking?  That he can do a better job, having managed the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah?

For Mitt’s information, the Summer games are bigger with more events and athletes than the Winter edition.

Some Brits rightfully complained: Hey Mitt, isn’t your plate full enough?  You are already standing for the presidency; you still want to run OUR Olympics?

London Olympics 2012

You think that’s the end of it?

Mitt is just beginning!

Labour Party leader Ed Miliband

When he met Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, Mitt called the latter “Mr. Leader”.  Technically, Mitt was correct because Milliband led the Labour Party.  I am sure however that Milliband want to be called by his Christian, rather than generic, name.

Perhaps, Mitt’s aides heaved a sigh of relief as their jet left Heathrow for Tel Aviv.

Mitt was just warming up.

In Israel, Mitt espoused the thesis that cultural difference was the reason why Israeli GDP was twice that of Palestinian GDP.  

Sub-text: Palestinian culture is inferior to Israeli culture.  Since culture defines a people, then Palestinians are inferior to Israelis.

Romney delivering a speech in Israel

Of course, he won a lot of brownie points with the Israelis but obviously not with the Palestinians.

A survey commissioned by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA), the Bar-Ilan University Center for International Communication and the Anti-Defamation League revealed that Israelis generally trust Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney more than current US President Barack Obama, according to the Jerusalem Post.

But Mitt’s remarks might not be a mistake after all because Jewish-Americans and the so-called Israel lobby are formidable political forces in the United States.

The liberal press back home pilloried Mitt as a racist and a bigot and for failing to recognize that continued Israeli occupation of Palestine had adverse effects on Palestinian productivity.  The conservative press, meanwhile, praised him for supposedly telling the truth.

Later, Romney recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in a round-about manner.   The Jewish state has long maintained that Jerusalem is its capital city, a claim that is contested by Palestinians and the international community. The claim also runs counter to U.S. policy. Most nations, including the United States, have their embassies in Tel Aviv.

Mitt at the Wailing Well, Jerusalem

Romney made Jerusalem a campaign issue.  In his latest ad, the voice-over intoned:  “[A]s President, Barack Obama has never visited Israel and refuses to recognize Jerusalem as its capital, Mitt Romney will be a different kind of president, a strong leader who stands by our allies. He knows America holds a deep and cherished relationship with Israel”.

 

Contemporary Republicans are either prone to gaffes or have strong convictions.

2008 Republican party VP candidate Sarah Palin

My personal favorite remains the party’s 2008 candidate for vice president Sarah Palin, who was governor of Alaska.

When asked about her foreign affairs acumen, she proudly declared that she had a lot.

Only the Bering Strait separates Alaska from Russia!

 

 

Asked to elaborate, she explained that Alaska is separated only from the Russian Federation by the narrow Bering Strait.

 

The state capital of Alaska is the city of Juneau where Governor Palin held offices, is tucked near the eastern pocket of the Gulf of Alaska and is adjacent to northern British Columbia.  Juneau is hundreds of miles from the Bering Strait.  

 

Her house in Wasilla, Alaska is further inland and does not give one a regular glimpse of the Russian homeland, a requirement she apparently allows one to claim a respectable foreign affairs resume.  If she stayed and held offices in Nome, then perhaps that would do the trick.  Crossing the Bering strait into Russia might also exercise immigration officials on both sides.  

 

And that, folks, may be the sum of Palin’s foreign affairs expertise!