Showing posts with label USA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label USA. Show all posts

20 October 2018

The US-Saudi Relationship After Khashoggi


The US-Saudi relationship has been a rocky one, and its setbacks and scandals have mostly played out away from the public eye. This time, too, common interests and mutual dependence will almost certainly prevail over the desire to hold the Saudis to the standards expected of other close US allies. The alleged killing of the Saudi Arabian dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a permanent resident of the United States, in the Kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul has unleashed a tidal wave of criticism. In the US Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike have promised to end weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and impose sanctions if its government is shown to have murdered Khashoggi.

Agents Of Chaos: Trump, The Federal Reserve And Andrew Jackson – OpEd

By Binoy Kampmark

They are three players, all problematic in their own way. They are the creatures of inconvenient chaos. Donald Trump was born into the role, a misfit of misrule who found his baffling way to the White House on a grievance. Wall Street, with its various agglomerations of vice and ambition constitute the spear of global instability while the US Federal Reserve, long seen as a gentlemanly symbol of stability, has done its fair share to avoid its remit to right unstable ships, a power in its own right. The Federal Reserve, despite assuming the role of Apollonian stabiliser, remained blind and indifferent through the Clinton era under the stewardship of Alan Greenspan. The creatures of Dionysus played, and Greenspan was happy to watch. While he is credited with having contained the shock of the 1987 stock-market crash, he proceeded to push a period of manically low interest rates and minimal financial regulation through the hot growth of the 1990s and early 2000s. Rather than condemning “Ninja loans” and other such bank exotica, he celebrated them as creations of speculative genius.

18 October 2018



Late last week, as most of America’s political class was transfixed by the denouement of the Kavanaugh confirmation battle, Vice President Mike Pence gave a wide-ranging address on the U.S. relationship with China, and why the Trump administration is committed to opposing its expansionist designs. For the most part, it was a familiar litany of complaints about China’s efforts to coerce its neighbors in the western Pacific, its trade abuses, its hostility to religious freedom, and its support of unsavory regimes around the world. Yet halfway through his remarks, the vice president shifted his emphasis, turning from all the various ways the Chinese party-state was acting in the world outside America’s borders to how it was seeking to influence political and cultural life inside them.

How America Can Repair Its Damaged Relationship with Russia

by Nikolas K. Gvosdev

George Beebe’s recent analysis has presented the policy community with a very useful paradigm for understanding recent alleged actions taken by the Russian special services in a number of Western countries: the Skripal Rorshchach test Beebe is referring specifically to the attempted murder of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal on British soil by use of a Soviet-developed nerve agent that sickened him and his daughter and killed several British citizens—amidst growing evidence of the involvement of officers of Russian military intelligence (the GRU). That case can be broadened to encompass a series of computer hacking/information warfare operations that were uncovered in the last several weeks in the UK, the United States, Canada and the Netherlands, which also have been attributed to the GRU. Now the discussion revolves around whether those who have been accused of taking action were doing so in contravention of or in support of the instructions of the Russian state.

17 October 2018

How Would the United States Cope If It Lost the Next War?

Steven Metz

Last week, I argued that while the U.S. military, the Pentagon and most national security experts expect that the United States will always win the wars it is forced to fight, America could in fact lose one if an astute enemy capitalizes on the nation’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities. I sketched out three ways that might happen: if an enemy found a way to drag out a war past the limits of American patience; if a nuclear-armed enemy invaded another nation and then dug in; or if an adversary used what security experts call “gray zone” aggression to present the United States with a fait accompli. But there are three other ways America could lose its next war, all of which expose how the country has become weaker politically despite its military dominance. The first scenario might be if an adversary found a way to exploit geopolitics to its advantage. In today’s security environment, the United States is likely to fight a war far from home via long-range force projection—think the mostly air war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or the 2003 invasion of Iraq. America is more adroit at this kind of mobilization than any nation in history and constantly getting better. ... 

The EU Can’t Avoid U.S. Sanctions on Iran

By Elizabeth Rosenberg
Source Link

Late last month, the European Union and China announced that they intended to set up a special global payments system to allow companies to continue to trade with Iran despite U.S. sanctions. Some of the sanctions are already in place, but the bulk will to go into effect in November, thanks to the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal earlier this year. The announcement marks a small but notable step toward the fragmentation of the global economic order. Friends and foes of the United States were already seeking paths away from the traditional, dollar-dominated financial system. The Trump administration’s policy on Iran provided additional incentive to those who strive to undermine U.S. economic primacy and the effectiveness of U.S. economic statecraft. Washington should take note of the danger. In May, U.S. President Donald Trump delivered on his promise to leave the Iran deal, also known as the JCPOA, and reimpose unilateral, aggressive economic sanctions on Iran. The most forceful of these measures will snap into place on November 4, dropping an axe on Iran’s core banking institutions, oil sales, and conduits to the global financial system. The measures will prevent Iran from using the prevalent global payment system. They will also cause most of the international businesses that buy Iranian oil and conduct other commercial transactions with Iran to cease such activity.

In Pacific, US Army Shifts Training from Disaster Relief to War


The change reflects Trump’s defense strategy and rising threats from China and North Korea. Not long ago, U.S. Army forces in the Pacific spent most of their training time preparing for humanitarian relief missions, evacuations from natural disasters, and efforts to build up allied security forces. Not anymore. Since President Donald Trump has come to office, the administration has issued a new National Security Strategy focused on the persistent potential for military conflict with China and North Korea. The Army has shifted gears accordingly. “It’s dramatically different,” said Maj. Gen. Charlie Flynn, who manages the service’s strategy and plans as the service’s assistant deputy chief of staff. In the 1990s and 2000s, exercises in the Pacific were more “discreet, out-and-back operations” that “were kind of focused on disaster assistance, humanitarian relief, and it was really more for the ‘security cooperation’ part of it; much less so for interoperability,’” he said. “It’s vastly different today.”

16 October 2018

U.S. - China Trade Tariffs Are Reaching Their Limit

by Martin Armstrong

The U.S. announced the latest round of trade tariffs to be imposed on imports from China on Monday, with the affected goods valued at around $200 billion per year. The tariffs will come into force on September 24 while a Chinese retaliation of $60 billion worth of tariffs has also been threatened. Should this threat be carried out, the U.S. is said to be preparing tariffs on an extra $267 billion worth of imports. As our chart shows, using U.S. Census Bureau data analyzed by the BBC, the Trump administration has now imposed penalties on about half of all imports from China and would actually exceed the 2017 total import figure if the proposed $267 billion of new tariffs prove to be needed. The road is also starting to run out for China. If all proposed tariffs are put into place, that would leave Xi Jingping with only around $20 billion worth of U.S. imports to penalise when comparing to last year's total trade figure.

15 October 2018

The Trump Administration Has Escalated Its Conflict with China Even Further. Here’s What Needs to Happen to Stay Out of War

By JAMES STAVRIDIS, October 10, 2018

Admiral Stavridis (Ret.) was the 16th Supreme Allied Commander at NATO and is an Operating Executive at The Carlyle Group.
Those preoccupied last week with concerns over the effect Justice Brett Kavanaugh would have on the Supreme Court for decades were actually, it turns out, being too near-sighted — as the Trump Administration made a move that could significantly affect an international relationship that will last centuries. In a little-noticed pivot, the Administration set up China as the major geopolitical opponent of the United States in no uncertain terms, led by a speech from Vice President Mike Pence. This change in position — not to be confused with the far more benign “Pacific Pivot” of the Obama Administration — has set off alarm bells ringing from Tokyo to Melbourne.

We are seeing China bursting with new power and political purpose in global economics (with the one-belt, one-road strategy); aggressive political strategies aimed at hold-out democratic enclaves like Hong Kong and Taiwan; deep cultural accomplishment (featuring a dynamic film industry and a powerful state-sponsored sports culture); a muscular control over international Chinese figures (arresting the head of Interpol and a globally famous film star); and a far more assertive approach in international organizations (including creating the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank). The recent reports of China’s inclusion of intelligence devices into internationally sourced motherboards is a dramatic indicator of their intent to increase their control of global cyber supply chain — the real Silk Road of the 21st century. And having spent much of my long naval career in the Pacific, it is fascinating to watch China transform from the third-rate naval power of a couple of decades ago to a robust, highly capable maritime foe — one that has integrated offensive cyber warfare into their training and readiness far more effectively than the United States.

US Foolish To Start Another Cold War, Says Jack Ma

By Kalinga Seneviratne

U.S. will suffer more from the current trade war with China, warned Alibaba founder Jack Ma addressing over 1000 business leaders, government officials and economic experts from Malaysia and across the region attending the China Conference here on October 10-11. He added that America has been growing and unemployment has been on the decline, even with the deficit in the trade balance with China.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly cited the huge trade deficit with China as the reason for putting up tariff walls against Chinese goods. Ma warned that such trade wars could cause problems for anyone who trades with China or the U.S.

“This trade war is going to be long (and) solution will come from technology,” warned Ma, who spoke via a teleconferencing link from overseas. “We need to work together to solve problems,” he added.
Ma, who founded what is today the world’s largest e-commerce platform, pointed out that while governments in Asia are embracing technology, Europe is trying to regulate it. “In Europe people worry about how to control the Internet. Asia is different, governments are embracing technology,” said Ma. “Today Asia has a big advantage in Internet competence.”

Washington’s Silent War against Hezbollah in Latin America

by Joseph M. Humire, The Hill, October 08, 2018

On July 11, 2018, the government of Argentina took its first action against Hezbollah by freezing the financial assets of 14 individuals belonging to the Barakat clan in South America. Last week, Brazilian Federal Police arrested the leader of this clan, Assad Ahmad Barakat, who was sanctioned by U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in 2004 and is considered one of Hezbollah’s most important financiers. These recent actions against Hezbollah in Latin America signal a shift in the priorities of regional governments, with Washington’s help.

Hezbollah’s presence in a sub-region of South America known as the Tri-Border Area (TBA), at the crossroads of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay, long has been known to regional authorities, but recently factors have prompted action. One element was the June 2017 extradition from Ciudad Del Este to Miami of Lebanese-Paraguayan Ali Issa Chamas, for shipping cocaine through U.S. ports and airports.

Many circumstances contribute to a high-level extradition but, fundamentally, both nations need the political will to carry out this type of operation. The Obama administration repeatedly failed to extradite Hezbollah operatives when given the opportunity. For example, Obama’s Department of Justice and State Department failed in 2011 to bring Syrian-Venezuelan drug trafficker Walid Makled to the United States after he provided significant evidence of Hezbollah’s ties to Venezuelan officials shipping drugs to Europe and America. And, in 2016, Ali Fayad, a Lebanese-Ukrainian arms dealer charged in a New York court with “conspiracy to kill officers and employees of the United States,” was released from prison in the Czech Republic and returned to Lebanon.

America Must Realize It Has No Say in Syria's Future

The reality on the ground is that there is no good reason for a continued U.S. military presence.
Damascus is large and busy, as befits Syria’s capital. The city hosts the nation’s elite and is filled with government buildings and security forces. President Bashar al-Assad’s image adorns virtually every street. There is no doubt who is in charge.
But drive just a few minutes, and you enter a neighborhood only recently recovered after bitter fighting. Wrecked buildings stand as silent sentinels amid a sea of rubble. The carnage of seven years of horrid civil war reached even Damascus.

At long last, the conflict is winding down. Assad has won, and Washington has lost. However, the war’s impact will linger for years, perhaps decades. I just spent a week in the war-ravaged state (at my organization’s expense). America’s approach has been a disastrous failure.
Like Lebanon decades ago, the Syria conflict was an unusually complicated civil war. The fighting was brutal all around, with multiple warring forces to blame for an estimated half-million deaths. Indeed, past casualty breakdowns, admittedly of unknown accuracy, reported more combat than civilian deaths and more government than insurgent deaths.
Assad survived because he had—and still has—serious, even fervent support. He receives strong backing from his fellow Alawites, a minority sect and Shia offshoot. They commonly display pictures of him and speak of his humanitarian virtues. Other religious minorities, such as Christians, also tend to support his government. They saw the U.S.-inspired revolution in Iraq and didn’t like the ending. After all, even an American occupation didn’t prevent sectarian cleansing and slaughter, and many of the survivors fled to Syria.

14 October 2018

The Truth About the U.S. Military in Africa

The role of the U.S. military in Africa isn’t clear to anyone. And that will only hurt American interests. The U.S. military has been expanding its presence and operations in Africa over the past decade. In doing so, it has obscured the nature of its actions through ambiguous language and outright secrecy. It limits the amount of information available about the objectives of its operations, how those operations are carried out, the facilities it uses, and how it partners with governments in the region. At times, this has involved subverting democratic processes in partner countries, an approach that runs counter to years of diplomatic engagement ostensibly designed to strengthen governance institutions. 

How the United States Could Lose a War

Steven Metz

The U.S. military doesn’t spend much time thinking about how America could lose a war. Neither do America’s political leaders and security experts. Whether described in operational plans, strategic wargames or even fiction, the pattern mirrors the Civil War or World War II: Things are hairy at first and defeat even seems possible since an aggressor struck first, but then the United States gets serious, turns the tide and fights its way to victory. In the collective American memory, armed conflicts that have not followed this script—Vietnam, Korea—are largely forgotten or attributed to political ineptitude. Victory is still considered the norm.

12 October 2018

The Agreements That Ended the Cold War Are Disintegrating

By: Pavel Felgenhauer

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Nuclear Planning Group (NPG) was probably the Alliance’s most important and secretive institution during the Cold War. Notably, it worked out NATO members’ joint strategy and tactics for using non-strategic nuclear weapons in a possible all-European war with the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact. Such a confrontation seemed all too possible—and sometimes almost inevitable—during acute crisis situations that brought the Cold War opponents to the brink in 1949, 1956, 1962, 1973 and 1983. In the last of the aforementioned crises, tensions spiked as the United States deployed nuclear-tipped land-based cruise missiles as well as medium-range Pershing II ballistic missiles on the territory of several European NATO allies to counter the threat of the deployment of hundreds of Soviet SS-20 nuclear intermediary missiles known in Russia as Pioneer. The Soviets produced over 800 Pioneer missiles, and each carried a heavier payload than the Pershing IIs; but their US counterparts were stealthier and much more accurate.

8 October 2018

China and the U.S. Choosing Between the Four “Cs” – Conflict and Containment Versus Competition and Cooperation

By Anthony H. Cordesman

It is always hard to separate strategic posturing from strategic reality, but the last year has seen a steady deterioration in U.S. and Chinese relations. Economic relations have deteriorated to the point of a very real trade war, and both countries now seem to be trying to create military forces that not only deter but could "win" a war in the Pacific. It is getting harder and harder to determine which of the four "Cs" will shape strategic relations: Cooperation, Competition, Containment, or Conflict.

China’s emergence as at least an Asia superpower does pose challenges to an existing superpower like the United States, but it can also offer major benefits in terms of global economic development, trade, and technology gain. Nothing about the emergence of China must take place in the form of a two-player zero-sum game. In fact, the whole history of development is largely the history of steady cumulative benefits to all developed powers.

China-US Relations: What’s Next?

By Mark J. Valencia

The status quo is breaking down, and proactive steps must be taken to ensure it’s not replaced by another cold war. 

China-U.S. relations are rapidly deteriorating on a variety of critical fronts, including trade and technology transfer, military-to-military ties, Taiwan, and the South China Sea. Now in the midst of their deepening and widening trade war, the United States has — in quick succession — imposed sanctions against a unit of China’s Defense Ministry and its government director for purchasing Russian military equipment and announced a new sale of $330 million in military equipment to Taiwan. The United States also executed yet another freedom of navigation exercise against China’s maritime claims and stepped up its nuclear-capable B52 overflights of the East and South China Seas. To top it off, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence accused China of meddling in the upcoming U.S. elections.

7 October 2018

A New Take on General MacArthur’s Warning to JFK to Avoid a Land War in Asia

By Francis P. Sempa

“Anyone wanting to commit ground troops to Asia should have his head examined,” Kennedy wrote of MacArthur’s advice. 

In April 1961, U.S. President John F. Kennedy held a private meeting with retired General Douglas MacArthur at MacArthur’s suite at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. MacArthur, 81, advised the young president, who sought his advice on the conflict in Indochina, to avoid a land war in Asia.

Almost all historians and biographers of MacArthur have interpreted that advice to Kennedy as stemming from his wartime experiences during the Korean War, where U.S. forces achieved only stalemate instead of victory and where MacArthur’s illustrious but controversial military career came to an ignominious end.

6 October 2018

US to offer cyberwar capabilities to NATO allies

Secretary James Mattis climbs up the steps as he boards a US Air Force C-17.

Acting to counter Russia's aggressive use of cyberattacks across Europe and around the world, the U.S. is expected to announce that, if asked, it will use its formidable cyberwarfare capabilities on NATO's behalf, according to a senior U.S. official.

The announcement is expected in the coming days as U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis attends a meeting of NATO defense ministers on Wednesday and Thursday.

Katie Wheelbarger, the principal deputy assistant defense secretary for international security affairs, said the U.S. is committing to use offensive and defensive cyber operations for NATO allies, but America will maintain control over its own personnel and capabilities.

U.S. Withdraws From 1955 Treaty Normalizing Relations With Iran

By Edward Wong and David E. Sanger

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Wednesday that the United States was pulling out of a six-decade-old treaty with Iran that had provided a basis for normalizing relations between the two countries, including diplomatic and economic exchanges.

The largely symbolic move came hours after the International Court of Justice ordered the United States to ensure that a new round of American sanctions imposed against Tehran this year did not prevent food, medicine and aircraft parts from reaching Iran.

The treaty bears little relevance to the current relationship between Washington and Tehran. The move is the latest in a broad effort by the Trump administration to isolate Iran, reversing a diplomatic drive embraced by former President Barack Obama.