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

26 June 2019

US blacklists 5 Chinese tech firms


The five blacklisted organizations placed on the so-called Entity List includes supercomputer maker Sugon, which is heavily dependent on U.S. suppliers.

The United States is blacklisting five Chinese organizations involved in supercomputing with military-related applications, citing national security as justification for denying its Asian geopolitical rival access to critical U.S. technology.

The move by the U.S. Commerce Department could complicate talks next week between President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, aimed at de-escalating a trade dispute between the world’s two biggest economies.

The five blacklisted organizations placed on the so-called Entity List includes supercomputer maker Sugon, which is heavily dependent on U.S. suppliers, including chipmakers Intel, Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices.

Infographic Of The Day: In One Chart - A Decade Of The U.S. Trade Deficit With China


Since 2010, the United States and China have had the world's largest economies by GDP. But one interesting difference is that the U.S. is the world's biggest importer while China is the world's biggest exporter. The U.S. is currently China's biggest trade partner, but recent talks about tariffs have highlighted the imbalance of imports and exports between the two countries. As economic tensions continue to rise, here is a look at how the trade deficit between the U.S. and China has changed over the past ten years.

Beating the Americans at Their Own Game


During the Cold War, the U.S. military relied on technological superiority to “offset” the Soviet Union’s advantages in time, space, and force size. Our military-technical edge allowed the U.S. Joint Force to adopt force postures and operational concepts that largely compensated for the Soviet military’s numerical conventional advantage without needing to match it man-for-man or tank-for-tank. After the Cold War ended, this same military-technical advantage provided the U.S. military a decisive conventional overmatch against regional adversaries for over two decades.

Chinese technological capabilities are growing as rapidly as its economic power. The Soviets were never able to match, much less overcome, America’s technological superiority. The same may not be true for China.

Now, however, the “rogue” regional powers that have preoccupied U.S. attention for so long have been replaced by two great powers with substantially greater capabilities. A resurgent and revanchist Russia and a rising, increasingly more powerful China are taking aggressive actions that threaten regional security and stability and challenge the existing international order. Without question, of these two great-power competitors, China poses the greater challenge over the long term. Since about 1885, the United States never has faced a competitor or even group of competitors with a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) larger than its own. China surpassed the United States in purchasing power parity in 2014 and is on track to have the world’s largest GDP in absolute terms by 2030. In comparison, our Cold War adversary, the Soviet Union, was hobbled by unsustainable economic contradictions that ultimately crumbled under pressure. At the height of its power, its GDP was roughly 40 percent the size of the United States’.1

24 June 2019

America Can Face Down a Fragile Iran

Reuel Marc Gerecht 

In the U.S. and Europe, much of the mainstream media has swallowed a narrative about Donald Trump and Iran. While Iran is an aggressive authoritarian state, the story goes, it is nonetheless a victim of American belligerence. Tehran was adhering to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, negotiated by the Obama administration, when the truculent Mr. Trump abruptly abandoned the accord. For more than a year, according to the narrative, the mullahs have shown patience by continuing to abide by the agreement, even with the resurrection of punishing American sanctions.

Iranian patience has run out, critics complain, because of the Trump administration’s recent announcement that it will try to drive the Islamic Republic’s oil exports to zero. Tehran’s “hard-liners” now have the upper hand. Washington’s economic warfare, the narrative goes, may provoke the clerical regime into a military conflict. And if war comes, the mullahs are ready to trap America in another Middle Eastern quagmire.

23 June 2019

Are Academics Pursuing a Cult of the Irrelevant?

by Michael Lind

Michael Desch offers an illuminating survey of the century-long relationship between practitioners of U.S. foreign policy and the professors who study it.

Michael C. Desch, Cult of the Irrelevant: The Waning Influence of Social Science on National Security (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2019), 351 pp., $35.00.

IN APRIL 2008, Robert M. Gates, secretary of defense in the George W. Bush administration, asserted that the national security community “must once again embrace eggheads and ideas.” Why this hope, often expressed before, was likely to be disappointed again is the subject of Michael Desch’s illuminating survey of the century-long relationship between practitioners of U.S. foreign policy and the professors who study it.

Desch, a professor of international relations at Notre Dame and founding director of the Notre Dame International Security Center, explains that “from the beginning of the twentieth century, there has been a tension between the two objectives of the evolving research university system. Science and practical application were in tension generally, but the social sciences experienced it particularly acutely.” In relating the history of debates about the interaction between the making and the study of foreign policy, Desch narrates the larger story of American political science, whose birth as an independent scholarly discipline can be dated to the founding of the American Political Science Association (APSA) in 1904. Desch observes that a majority of the early members of the APSA were not academics and that its early presidents like Frank Goodnow and Woodrow Wilson were progressives committed to using social science to promote social reform. But public-spirited scholars like Charles Beard, president of the APSA in 1926, were already losing out by the 1920s to the likes of University of Chicago’s William Fielding Ogburn, who opined that the scholar had “to give up social action and dedicated [himself] to science.”

22 June 2019

Are We Ready For a Rare Earths Trade War?

Jeffrey Wilson

Rare earth minerals have emerged as the latest front in the escalating US-China trade war. Nearly a decade after the Chinese government controversially suspended rare earth exports to Japan during the 2010 Senkaku dispute, similar threats are now being made if the bilateral trade dispute with the US deepens.

How prepared is the global economy for another deployment of the so-called “rare earths weapon”?

Rare earths are an ideal instrument for economic coercion. They are an essential input into a wide range of high-technology products, across the electronics, petrochemical, renewable energy and defence sectors. As there are few economically-feasible substitutes for their use, any suspension to rare earth value chains would have a disastrous impact on an economy’s technological ecosystem.

China also possesses an extraordinary degree of market power. While not strictly a “monopolist”, in 2017 it produced an estimated 79% of the world’s rare earth oxides. By comparison, OPEC – a longstanding and sometimes-feared energy cartel – accounts for only 41% of global oil output. Outsized market power gives the Chinese government considerable scope to use rare earths as leverage in diplomatic disputes.

20 June 2019

Iran: America’s Latest Drive For War – OpEd

By Ryan McMaken*

This week, two oil tankers exploded in the Persian Gulf, reportedly as a result of a limpet mine attack. Neither tanker flew a US flag. One was Panama-flagged, and the other was Marshall Islands-flagged. No one was killed.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo immediately accused the Iranian regime of being responsible for the attack. Pompeo told reporters that the accusation was “based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping.”

It’s unclear yet what course of action the administration will opt for in coming days. But, it’s likely to include calls for new sanctions at the very least. But it may also include calls for invasions, bombings, and yet another US-involved war.

Needless to say, we’ve all seen this movie before, and we know how it works: the US government claims that something a foreign country has done poses a grave threat both to the international order and to the United States directly. Or we may be told the foreign regime in question is perpetrating horrific human rights violations against its own people. The US then insists it must launch new airstrikes, enact new economic sanctions, or even orchestrate a new invasion and occupation of a foreign country.

American Foreign Policy Adrift

By Brett McGurk

In a May 11 speech at the Claremont Institute in Beverly Hills, entitled “A Foreign Policy from the Founding,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo quoted John Quincy Adams to explain how Donald Trump’s foreign policy is grounded in a “realism” that eluded his predecessors, particularly George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Adams, then Secretary of State, wrote in 1821 that America “goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all.”

According to Pompeo, Trump’s foreign policy is grounded in this prudent tradition of the United States’ founding generation, with an emphasis on “realism, restraint, and respect.” Trump, Pompeo said, “has no aspiration to use force to spread the American model.” Instead, he aims to lead by example. “The unsurpassed attractiveness of the American experiment is something I market every day,” Pompeo said, describing his role as America’s top diplomat. He then quoted George Washington, who predicted that the United States’ democracy might ultimately inspire “the applause, the affection, and the adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger to it.”

18 June 2019

Why America Needs a New Way of War

By Chris Dougherty

For the first time in decades, it is possible to imagine the United States fighting—and possibly losing—a large-scale war with a great power. For generations of Americans accustomed to U.S. military superiority and its ability to deter major wars, the idea of armed conflict between great powers may seem highly improbable. The idea that the United States—with the most expensive armed forces in the world by a wide margin—might lose such a war would seem absolutely preposterous. Nevertheless, the possibility of war and U.S. defeat are real and growing.

Given that U.S. armed forces’ last major conventional combat operations were the massively lopsided victories against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 1991 and 2003, many Americans might be wondering how this could come to pass. This report makes the case that one salient issue is that the American way of war—the implicit and explicit mental framework for U.S. military strategy and operations—that coalesced after the Gulf War is no longer valid.

Why America Needs a New Way of War

By Chris Dougherty

For the first time in decades, it is possible to imagine the United States fighting—and possibly losing—a large-scale war with a great power. For generations of Americans accustomed to U.S. military superiority and its ability to deter major wars, the idea of armed conflict between great powers may seem highly improbable. The idea that the United States—with the most expensive armed forces in the world by a wide margin—might lose such a war would seem absolutely preposterous. Nevertheless, the possibility of war and U.S. defeat are real and growing.

Given that U.S. armed forces’ last major conventional combat operations were the massively lopsided victories against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 1991 and 2003, many Americans might be wondering how this could come to pass. This report makes the case that one salient issue is that the American way of war—the implicit and explicit mental framework for U.S. military strategy and operations—that coalesced after the Gulf War is no longer valid.

17 June 2019

The UTC-Raytheon deal highlights the changing nature of war


With a deep voice and physique of a former American-football player, Greg Hayes, boss of United Technologies Corp (utc), does not seem like the soft sort. But the ego is delicate. As he told Schumpeter in February while explaining his decision to carve utc, a conglomerate dating back to the 1920s, into three parts, it was hard for him emotionally to accept that he may end up in charge of a smaller slice of the pie. Shed no tears, though. As he said those words, he was probably plotting a megamerger that could make him one of America’s biggest military-industrialists.

On June 9th utc, which is big in jet engines, and Raytheon, a prominent missile-maker, said they would join together to create America’s second-largest aerospace and defence company after Boeing, with a combined market value of $166bn. utc shareholders will get 57% of the combined company, to be called Raytheon Technologies. The merger reflects two trends sweeping America: the reshaping of defence because of fears about China and the streamlining of industry because of shareholder activism.

14 June 2019

A Persistent Crisis in Central America


For years, Central America has contended with the violence and corruption stemming from organized crime and the drug trade. Now the countries of the region also find themselves in U.S. President Donald Trump’s line of fire, due to the many desperate Central Americans who make their way across Mexico to seek asylum at the United States’ southern border. 

The steady stream of outward migration is driven by ongoing turmoil, particularly in Nicaragua and in the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The three Northern Triangle countries rank among the most violent in the world, a legacy of the civil wars in El Salvador and Guatemala, which destabilized security structures and flooded the region with guns. In that context, gangs—often brought back home by deportees from the U.S.—have proliferated, and along with them the drug trade and corruption, fueling increasing lawlessness. Popular unrest has done little to produce political solutions, leading many of the most vulnerable to flee. 

Britain and America are Paying for Their Nationalist Ways

by Paul R. Pillar

London and Washington are engulfed in political turmoil and awash with economic problems.

Current political strife in the United Kingdom and the United States has been providing a study in political pathology, partly involving parallels between the two countries and partly involving contrasts. A breakdown of party disciplinein one case and blind partisanship in the other—opposite phenomena in most respects—have inflicted damage in each country, given the differences in the political system in each. A further question concerns the costs and false promises of narrow, primitive nationalism in both countries. Specifically, when will the economic costs of such nationalism have significant political effects, in which country will such effects be seen first, and how bad will the economic story have to get in either place before the political story changes?

In Britain it’s all about Brexit, of course. Theresa May, having defined her premiership (perhaps unavoidably, given the hand she was dealt) in terms of delivering Brexit, and having failed to deliver because of the inherently unachievable nature of what the Brexiteers had promised, is on the way out. Current betting says that a Brexiteer will succeed May. Friends of Britain should be dismayed that the front-runner is prominent Brexiteer Boris Johnson, whose political strength is based primarily on shallow charisma and who performed dismally as foreign secretary. Also dismaying is that a no-deal Brexit, in which the UK would simply crash out of the European Union without a new trade agreement, has become a significant possibility. If a no-deal Brexit were to occur, the economic consequences would be severe in Britain (and less extreme, but still negative, on the European continent).

10 June 2019

America is an empire, not a nation

Matthew Walther

Every time some tinpot nationalist Euro-huckster wins a meaningless election — a local council seat or control of a given country's delegation in the European Parliament — we are told that we are witnessing the rise of a movement. This Nationalist International is, we are told, both dangerous and unstoppable. The latter at any rate looks increasingly true.

Where students of the new nationalism err, I think, is lumping Matteo Salvini and Marine le Pen and Nigel Farage in with Donald Trump. There are, one admits, certain incidental similarities between the leaders of the European far right and our president. But these are mostly confined to such questions as who are their mutual enemies — i.e., the cultural and social elite of their respective countries — and in some cases with rhetorical style. What all the former have in common is something that Trump utterly lacks: that is, a political program that could accurately be described as nationalist.

There is a vast amount of commentary on the subject of so-called American nationalism, both pro and contra. But both sides are begging the question by debating the merits of a concept they have willed into existence together.

21 May 2019

The US Should Be Strengthening Deterrence. The Opposite Is Happening.

BY ALEXANDRA BELL

Instead of debating no-first-use policies and other potential advancements, Trump is undermining an alliance system built over decades. 

Trust – real, solid trust – takes a long time to build, but it can be lost in an instant. The American public is now getting a real-time demonstration of how that concept applies to our hard won and carefully-constructed alliance system, especially as it applies to extended deterrence.

At a rally in Florida last week, President Trump told an audience, “We lose four and a half billion dollars to defend a country that’s rich as hell and probably doesn’t like us too much.” He was almost certainly alluding to the ongoing negotiations between the United States and South Korea about cost-sharing for U.S. troops in the country. These remarks were not only undiplomatic, they were completely misleading

The China challenge and critical next steps for the United States

Mark Warner (D-VA)


The following is a light adaptation of a speech delivered at Brookings on May 9, 2019 by Senator Mark Warner (D-VA). In conversation with Brookings Nonresident Senior Fellow Victoria Nuland, Sen. Warner offered his view of China’s overseas activities and footprint. These are issues that Brookings scholars will be researching closely over the coming year as part of a new Foreign Policy initiative: “Global China: Assessing China’s growing role in the world.” This piece reflects only the view of Sen. Warner.

Until a few years ago, my views of China were pretty similar to a lot of people in the business world. As a former entrepreneur and venture capitalist, I looked at China—a rapidly modernizing country of 1.3 billion people with rising incomes and expectations—and saw mostly opportunity. At the time, I believed what a lot of people believed: that a rising China could be good for the world, and that our two countries—one a true democracy, and one inevitably headed, at least, in a less authoritarian, more open direction—could co-exist peacefully. That we could rise together as competitors, but partners nonetheless.

But a few years and many, many classified briefings later, a lot has happened to fundamentally shift my viewpoint.

CHALLENGE OF CHINA

US: We’ll Pay Countries to Ditch Russian, Chinese Arms

BY MARCUS WEISGERBER

The State Department wants to go global with a program originally aimed at ex-Warsaw Pact members. 

The U.S. State Department wants to expand a little-known effort that offers countries cash to buy American-made weapons if they give up Russian-made arms.

The year-old initiative, called the European Recapitalization Incentive Program, is already helping six eastern European countries buy new helicopters or armored vehicles. Now, State Department officials are looking to take the effort global to get allies and partners to abandon not only Russian weapons, but Chinese ones too.

“The goal is to help our partners break away from the Russian supply chain [and] logistics chain that allows Russian contractors and service personnel and Russian-manufactured spare parts onto either NATO allied bases or partner military bases,” a State Department official said this week.

10 April 2019

Reimagining U.S. Diplomacy for a Changing World


How the practice of diplomatic relations by the U.S. and the rest of the world is evolving. 

In recent years, many American officials have regarded withholding diplomatic relations as a way to punish countries for actions ranging from human rights abuses, to failure to abide by international law, to specific treaty violations and acts of war. But withholding diplomatic relations usually doesn't work, and can seriously handicap America's ability to achieve major foreign policy and national security goals. 

What's more, re-establishing diplomatic relations with a country after they have been severed is no simple matter for the Department of State. U.S. administrations have a great track record of painting themselves into a corner by curtailing relations with considerable brio, with the result that the path is blocked when it is in the national interest to resume normal relations.

2 April 2019

Mueller’s Done. Now Can the U.S. Figure Out How to Deal With Russia?

Judah Grunstein

The vaudeville and at times burlesque spectacle that has dominated U.S. politics for over two years now reached a pivotal climax last week, when special counsel Robert Mueller delivered his report on alleged collusion between Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russia to the Justice Department. The culmination of an investigation that dates back to the early months of Trump’s presidency, Mueller’s report—according to the summary of it released by Trump’s hand-picked attorney general, William Barr—failed to establish evidence of coordination on Russia’s efforts to influence the election.* Mueller also refrained from reaching a conclusion on whether or not evidence that Trump sought to obstruct his investigation supported an indictment. 

Predictably, Trump’s supporters claimed the Mueller report totally vindicated the president and confirmed his characterizations of the collusion charges as a hoax and the special counsel’s investigation as a witch hunt. The narrative of a great victory for Trump and a turning point in his presidency has gathered momentum and seems to be establishing itself as the conventional wisdom among a chastened national media.

28 March 2019

Superpower Constrained

By Jack Thompson

Jack Thompson contends that the US’ longstanding role of international leadership is under threat. Washington is struggling to manage external challenges —including great power competition and globalization— and domestic constraints, such as the underfunding and mismanagement of the military and diplomatic corps. Unfortunately, prospects for reform are uncertain given the dysfunctionality of the US political system. So what does all this mean for the future of US foreign policy? Further, what implications could this have for European policymakers? Here’s Thompson’s answer.

The US’ longstanding role of international leadership is under threat. It is struggling to manage external challenges, including great power competition and globalization, and domestic constraints, such as underfunding and mismanagement of the military and diplomatic corps. Unfortunately, prospects for reform are uncertain given the dysfunctionality of the US political system. This should worry European policymakers and will hopefully hasten their efforts to develop a more robust and independent Common Security and Defense Policy.