miércoles, 30 de noviembre de 2016
Para el director saliente de la CIA, John Brennan (foto) sería "un error" romper con los acuerdos alcanzados con Irán en torno al programa nuclear de ese país. El aviso es para Donald Trump, el presidente electo. Nos preguntamos qué es lo que quieren hacer en/con Irán estos chicos. porque romper con los acuerdos casi siempre es un error, John. Leemos en el diario español El País:
Título: El director saliente de la CIA cree sería una “locura” romper el pacto nuclear con Irán
Subtítulo: John Brennan cree que esta decisión ayudaría a que Teherán y otras regiones se embarquen en sus propios programas nucleares
Texto: El director saliente de la CIA, John Brennan, ha asegurado que sería "una locura" para el presidente electo estadounidense Donald Trump romper el acuerdo nuclear de Washington con Teherán que limita el programa nuclear iraní a cambio de un levantamiento de sanciones porque haría más probable que Irán y otras regiones de la zona adquirieran armas nucleares.
En una entrevista con la BBC, este miércoles, Brennan señaló que esta decisión "podría conducir a un programa de armas dentro de Irán que podría llevar a otros estados de la región a embarcarse en sus propios programas ". "Creo que rozaría la locura que la próxima administración de los Estados Unidos rompiera ese acuerdo ", añadió.
Las históricas relaciones entre el Reino del Desierto y EE. UU. atraviesan momentos difíciles a causa, en parte, la firma del acuerdo nuclear con Irán el año pasado tras dos años de laboriosas negociaciones, tal y como contaba Ángeles Espinosa, corresponsal de EL PAÍS en Dubái, tras la victoria de Trump. El presidente electo habló durante la campaña de romper el acuerdo, algo que de producirse daría alas a los sectores más inmovilistas de Irán que siempre han desconfiado de esa firma.
Durante la entrevista, Brennan también dijo que al tratar con la crisis siria, Trump debe ser cauteloso en tratar de trabajar con Rusia. "Espero que vaya a haber una mejora en las relaciones entre Washington y Moscú ", confió. "El presidente electo Trump y la nueva administración deben ser cautelosos con las promesas rusas porque yo tengo en mente algunas promesas que no nos han cumplido", añadió.
martes, 29 de noviembre de 2016
Acá va una interesante nota de William Engdahl publicada la semana pasada en su sitio web (http://www.williamengdahl.com/). El tema: el triángulo estratégico conformado por China, rusia e Irán. A ver si te gusta:
Título: The Iran-Russia-China Strategic Triangle
Epígrafe: The developing economic, political and military links binding Iran, China and Russia in what I see as an emerging Golden Triangle in Eurasia, are continuing to deepen in significant areas. This, while it seems to be US geopolitical strategy in a prospective Trump Administration to distance Washington from both Iran and from China, while dangling the carrot of lessened confrontation between Washington and Moscow–classic Halford Mackinder or Kissinger geopolitics of avoiding a two-front war that was colossally backfiring on Washington by trying to shift the power balance. At present, the dynamic of the past several years of closer cooperation by the three pivotal states of the Eurasian Heartland is gaining strategic momentum. The latest is the visit of China’s Minister of Defense and of Russian senior officials to Teheran.
Texto: On November 14-15 in Teheran, during a high-level visit of the Chinese Defense Minister, General Chang Wanquan, with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan, the two major Eurasian nations signed a deal to enhance military cooperation. The agreement calls for intensification of bilateral military training and closer cooperation on what the Iran sees as regional security issues, with terrorism and Syria at the top of the list. Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri, said Iran is ready to share with China its experiences in fighting against the terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria. Dehghan added that the agreement represents an “upgrade in long-term military and defense cooperation with China.”
In recent weeks China has directly become engaged, joining Russia and Iran, at the behest of the government of Syrian President Bashar al Assad, in the war against ISIS and other terrorist groups including Al Qaeda-Al Nusra Front and its numerous spinoffs. The formal agreement with Teheran, which has considerable on the ground experience with the fight in Syria, clearly represents a deepening of bilateral China-Iran relations.
At the same time as China and Iran were meeting in Teheran, Viktor Ozerov, head of the Defense and Security Committee of the Russian Federation Council, the upper house of the Parliament, was also in Teheran. There, he told RAI Novosti that Russia and Iran are in talks over an arms deal worth around $10 billion. It calls for Russia to deliver T-90 tanks, artillery systems, planes and helicopters to Iran.
In brief, we have a deepening of military defense links between the three points of the emerging Eurasian Triangle. This will have huge consequences, not merely for stabilization of Syria and Iraq in the Middle East. It will also give a major boost to the emerging economic links between the three great powers of the Eurasian Heartland.
Halford J. Mackinder, the father of British geopolitics variously called Russia the Heartland Power, and towards the end of his life, in a 1943 guest article in Foreign Affairs, journal of the New York Council on Foreign Relations, suggested China might equally play the geographic and political role of Russia as the Eurasian Heartland Power.
Today, given the enormous growth since 1943 of the geopolitical importance of the Persian Gulf oil and gas-producing nations for the world economy, the bonding together of Iran to China and to Russia forms a new Heartland Power, to stay with the designation of Mackinder.
The added element since 2013 is the initiative of China President Xi Jinping to criss-cross all Eurasia and even South Asia with what he calls China’s One Belt, One Road infrastructure. Both China and Russia have formally agreed to coordinate with China in this multi-trillion dollar vast infrastructure project to link entire new emerging markets of Central Asia, Iran–and potentially Turkey– to a coherent high-speed rail and maritime port network that within the end of this decade will already begin to transform the economic worth of the entire Eurasia.
Already despite onerous US and EU economic sanctions on Iran, Sino-Iranian trade had grown even before the 2015 nuclear agreement loosened some sanctions. Bilateral trade grew from $400 million in 1989 to almost $52 billion in 2014. Today the Iran-China Chamber of Commerce and Industries (I.C.C.C.I.), has grown from 65 members in 2001 to 6,000, an indication of the intensity of economic cooperation.
On the lifting of sanctions this January, 2016 China President Xi Jinping went to Teheran where the two countries signed major economic agreements. After their January 23 talks, Iranian president Rouhani announced that, “Iran and China have agreed to increase trade to $600 billion in the next 10 years,” adding that both countries, “have agreed on forming strategic relations, reflected in a 25-year comprehensive document.” Moreover, Iran agreed to nuclear energy cooperation and formally participating in China’s One Belt, One Road which Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union countries had formally agreed to join in 2015.
Iran – Key Link
China’s One Belt, One Bridge, sometimes referred to as her New Economic Silk Road, is a brilliant geopolitical, economic, military and cultural project. It will enable the member nations to be far more shielded from USA Naval power to interdict vital goods trade by sea from Europe or the Middle East that must pass through the US-patrolled Strait of Malacca. As well, while Washington and Brussels impose economic sanctions on Russian trade with Europe, the Ukrainian crisis forced a far more serious Russian “pivot to the East,” notably to China.
What has emerged since the crisis created for Russia with the USA February 2014 Ukraine coup d’etat, is a strategic cooperation between the three major powers–Iran, China and Russia, what Zbigniew Brzezinski described in his 1997 book, The Grand Chessboard, as the largest geopolitical challenge facing continued Sole Superpower supremacy of the United States following Washington’s destruction of the Soviet Union in 1989-91.
Brzezinski declared then, accurately, “…how America ‘manages’ Eurasia is critical. A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world’s three most advanced and economically productive regions. A mere glance at the map also suggests that control over Eurasia would almost automatically entail Africa’s subordination, rendering the Western Hemisphere and Oceania (Australia) geopolitically peripheral to the world’s central continent. About 75 per cent of the world’s people live in Eurasia, and most of the world’s physical wealth is there as well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil. Eurasia accounts for about three-fourths of the world’s known energy resources.”
For the Eurasian cohesion under the China OBOR infrastructure developments, Iran is strategic. Not only is China a major buyer of Iranian oil, Iran’s largest export customer. But Iran is also vital to China’s vision to create entirely new manufacturing and logistics centers or hubs in Central Asia and Europe. And, as Indian strategic consultant, Debalina Ghoshal points out, China, “has a keen interest in Iran’s geostrategic location, bordering both the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf. The location enables China to carry out the One Belt One Road agenda.”
Iran is already partly linked to a recently-completed section of China’s OBOR rail-port infrastructure great project. In early 2015 rail freight began to move across the new Zhanaozen—Gyzylgaya—Bereket—Kyzyl Atrek—Gorgan railway, completed in December, 2014 in the impressive time of five years from start.
That rail line links Iran to China via the rail line through Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, a founding member of the OBOR idea since Xi Jinping first unveiled it in a visit to Kazakhstan in 2013. The new rail link, known as the North-South Transnational Rail Corridor connects Iran to Kazakhstan via Turkmenistan and on to the China border. The new rail line runs 908 kilometers, beginning at Uzen in Kazakhstan (120 km), then through Gyzylgaya-Bereket-Etrek in Turkmenistan (700 km) and ending at Gorgan in Iran (88 km). As a result of the new rail link, freight traffic is shifting from truck to rail as the line connects all key ports and terminals of the entire Caspian region.
The recently completed Uzen to Gorgan rail line as part of the OBOR is transforming the economic importance of an entire part of Central Asia
The new Iran-Turkmenistan-Kazakhstan to China rail line will transform the entire economic significance of the vast Central Asian region. Bereket in Turkmenistan — which is at the crossroads of the existing Trans-Caspian rail line linking Turkmenbashi on the Caspian Sea with Uzbekistan, Eastern Kazakhstan and China — is now to be site of a large locomotive repair depot together with a modern state-of-the-art freight terminal, making it a major freight hub.
Further, the Turkmen government is building a huge port at Turkmenbashi that would enable further trade links potentially to the Russian Federation by sea. The rail link to Gorgan in Iran already is linked to Iran’s national railway grid and will thereby enable rail transport between China, Central Asia and the Persian Gulf. The connection will shorten the route by 400 km, and reduce freight transport time more or less in half, from 45-60 days at present to 25-30 days. This is a huge economic gain.
Since April this year as well, Moscow and Teheran have been engaged in discussions of building a ship canal from the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf through Iran. Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran also agreed to speed up the talks on a North-South transport corridor that partly would go along the western coast of the Caspian Sea from Russia to Iran through Azerbaijan. The North-South corridor, when completed will reduce the time of cargo transport from India to Central Asia and Russia from at present about 40 days from Mumbai, India to Moscow to 14 days and bypass the congested and expensive Suez Canal.
Everywhere we go today across Eurasia, from the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea to Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and on to China, there is a process underway for the first time since the original Silk Road era of more than two thousand years ago, of building up an entire new economic space, the Eurasian Heartland. Were the Turkish government to join the OBOR project wholeheartedly, the potentials for a Eurasian transformation would become enormous. It remains to be seen what a USA with a Trump presidency will do or not do to try to destroy this beautiful Eurasian build up. If he is as wise as his sound bites make him sound, he will recognize that this kind of development is the only true future for his United States other than bankruptcy, economic depression and wars of destruction. If not, more and more much of the rest of the world seems determined to go it without the “Sole Superpower.”
La elección de Donald Trump en los EEUU dejó descolocados a unos cuantos en Europa, en particular a esos generales típicos de la actitud "Animémonos y vayan" en lo que se refiere a las confrontaciones con Rusia. Un pañal descartable ahí. Leemos en Sputnik:
Título: Election of Donald Trump as US President ‘Shocks’ NATO States
Epígrafe: Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 US elections shocked the member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) due to the president-elect's views on cooperation with Russia, Russia's envoy to NATO Alexander Grushko said Tuesday.
Texto: Grushko added that the "shock" was mostly caused due to the position of those, who expressed fear that possible improvement of the US-Russian relations could damage the policy NATO had been following in the past years.
"Speaking about the developments on the NATO platform, election of [Donald] Trump as the new US president left a shocking impression," Alexander Grushko said in response to a RIA Novosti query. Trump repeatedly said during his presidential campaign that Washington should review its relationships with NATO allies which he insisted should pay more for having their security guaranteed by the United States.
Earlier in the day, Carter Page, who served as an adviser to Trump during his presidential campaign told Sputnik that the US president-elect and Russian leader Vladimir Putin need to establish mutual respect for each other on a personal level to promote a fair dialogue between the two states.
Trump reaffirmed his willingness to normalize US relations with Russia in the first ever phone with President Vladimir Putin on November 14. Trump, who beat his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in the November 8 presidential elections, has repeatedly noted during his public speeches and interviews that "it would be nice" to have a good relationship with Russia. In his victory speech, the president-elect pledged to prioritize US national interests, but he also promised to treat fairly all other nations.
Una interesante nota de Brian Cloughley para el sitio web Strategic Culture Foundation complementa bien la nota anterior. Acá va:
Título: NATO’s Rear-Guard Actions
Texto: In the military a rearguard action is defined as ‘a defensive action carried out by a retreating army’ and it is an appropriate description of the desperate scrabbling by NATO to convince the rest of the world — and especially Donald Trump — that its existence is justified.
President-elect Trump has never said that the US should actually leave NATO. Certainly Hillary Clinton declared that he ‘wants to pull out of NATO’ but this was just another of her lies, and what he said back in April was that it is ‘obsolete’ which is a gentle way of indicating that it’s hopeless. He did, after all, tell a town hall meeting in Wisconsin: «Maybe Nato will dissolve and that’s OK, not the worst thing in the world», but although that may have sent shivers up the supple spine of NATO’s Secretary General Stoltenberg, it was by no means a definitive statement of intention.
The fact remains that The Donald is unhappy with NATO, and he’s perfectly right to consider that it’s a vastly expensive and largely ineffective military grouping that indeed should be disbanded. On the other hand, the massive propaganda campaign waged against Russia has convinced much of the world that Moscow has expansionist plans and that the only way to counter its supposed ambitions is to spend more money — lots and lots more money — and deploy troops and aircraft and ships all over the place to make it look as if gallant little NATO is defending the so-called Free World against the might of an illusory aggressor.
Trump may not have examined the minutiae of the NATO shambles, but in spite of being a bit of a blowhard whose knowledge of international affairs is modest, he’s not a fool, and even he can perceive that NATO has a record of catastrophe.
The Financial Times reported him as saying «Its possible that we're going to have to let Nato go. When we’re paying and nobody else is really paying, a couple of other countries are but nobody else is really paying, you feel like the jerk». He said that if elected president he would contact many of the other 27 Nato members and put pressure on them to make a larger financial contribution or leave. «I call up all of those countries…?and say 'fellas you haven't paid for years, give us the money or get the hell out’», he said, to loud cheering.
This may have been populist rhetoric, but it played to the people who matter to him — to the people who elected him. When he becomes President he might well think that he owes them a lot more than he does to NATO.
In March Stoltenberg told NATO countries that «the time has come to invest more in defence» but his motives for doing so were not those of Mr Trump, because Trump, like any businessman, wants to look carefully at expenditure and go on to make a profit, while Stoltenberg wants to spend money — including a great deal of American money — to justify existence of the costly monolith that has grown larger, more expensive and less effective over the past twenty years.
Stoltenberg sought to vindicate NATO’s record by writing an article for Britain’s Observer newspaper to say that NATO had strongly supported the United States following the 9/11 atrocities by joining it in its war in Afghanistan. ‘This,’ he declared, ‘was more than just a symbol. Nato went on to take charge of the operation in Afghanistan. Hundreds of thousands of European soldiers have served in Afghanistan since. And more than 1,000 have paid the ultimate price in an operation that is a direct response to an attack against the United States.’
The truth differs from what Stoltenberg claims. He is correct in saying that NATO became heavily involved (and lost a thousand troops for no reason at all), but gives the impression that NATO was there, poised and ready to take the leap into action when the US and Britain invaded Afghanistan in October 2001. Certainly the forces of the US and the UK were joined by troops from other countries — but it wasn’t until August 2003 that NATO itself managed to become involved, when, as the BBC reported, it ‘assumed control of peacekeeping in Afghanistan - the alliance's first ever operational commitment outside Europe.’ And things went screaming downhill from that time.
There was no need for NATO, as such, to become involved, because there were plenty of alliance countries with contingents already in Afghanistan (for example, the Germans had been there since January 2002 and Canadians and Italians since December 2001). All that NATO added to the foreign military machine in Afghanistan was yet another layer of military bureaucracy. The result was described in, among other histories, ‘The Good War’, an excellent account of the catastrophe by Jack Fairweather who describes the reaction of President Bush’s National Security Adviser, General Douglas Lute, who saw the map of NATO operations in 2008 and was of the opinion that «each nation was fighting its own private war. Nobody was running the show, and there was no common purpose».
In present-day NATO there are far too many people «running the show» and the purpose of the show itself is far from clear. Stoltenberg and other champions of the continuing existence of the expensive farce claim that there’s a threat from Russia — but if they genuinely believe that Russia is going to invade a NATO member country they belong in a lunatic asylum.
To be blunt, had Russia wanted to invade Ukraine at the time of the US-engineered coup in 2014 (recollect Obama’s admission that the US ‘brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine’), it could have done so with ease. It would have taken about three weeks to defeat the Ukrainian military and occupy the country right up to the border with Poland. But why on earth would it have wanted to do that?
Russia would have been extremely unwise to take such action, because once you invade a country you have to occupy and pacify it, which is extremely difficult — as US-NATO has found to its enormous cost in lives and money in the Afghanistan debacle.
Similarly, for what possible reason would Russia attempt to invade Estonia or Latvia, or any other country for that matter? It would be insane to do so, yet this totally imaginary threat is trotted out as the reason for NATO’s present posture of confrontation. There is never explanation for the US-NATO expansion up to Russia’s borders that took place from 1999 to 2009, which is rightly regarded as confrontational by the Russian people. (And remember that it’s not correct in the west to refer to ‘the Russian people’. Rather, it is mandatory to call the country ‘Putin’s Russia’.)
Stoltenberg’s message to President-elect Trump is that the US-NATO military grouping must continue to confront ‘Vladimir Putin’s Russia’, but Trump has other priorities, not the least being the appalling economic circumstances in regions where he received most support. He’s no fool, and he’s going to pay attention to these voices rather than the plaintive wailing of Stoltenberg who rests his case for US expenditure on the foundation that ‘our proud history is one of common challenges overcome together’.
One thing that Secretary General Stoltenberg had better bear in mind is that President-elect Donald Trump does not care about history, and most decidedly not the history of Europe. He cares about the hard facts of here and now. Not intellectually, but practically. He is devoid of sentiment. Europe and NATO mean nothing to him in terms of nostalgia and all that sob-stuff.
And he’s not going to forget the volume of insults delivered by European political leaders and media, such as ‘loudmouth’ and ‘hatemonger’. In the British parliament he was described as a ‘buffoon, demagogue and wazzock’. The British foreign minister, Boris Johnson (who really is a buffoon), said in June that ‘the only reason I wouldn't visit some parts of New York is the real risk of meeting Donald Trump’. French President Hollande (another fool) declared that Trump’s ‘excesses’ made him ‘want to retch’ and in one particularly amusing reaction to Trump’s election, Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, said ‘We hope that Donald Trump will respect the fundamental rights and rules of the European Union,’ in which, be assured, Mr Trump has not the slightest interest.
President-elect Donald Trump might not be the ideal person to enter the White House in January (although Clinton would have been a disaster), but he’s going to try to look after America. NATO’s wellbeing comes way down on his priorities. NATO Secretary General and confronter-in-chief Stoltenberg will continue fighting his rearguard action to keep his wobbly and mega-expensive military circus in existence, but it’s possible that Mr Trump might make the world a safer place by letting the whole thing collapse.
lunes, 28 de noviembre de 2016
El mapa de arriba muestra la situación sobre el terreno en la ciudad de Alepo, en el norte de la República Arabe Siria. En rojo, las áreas controladas por las fuerzas gubernamentales; en azul, las zonas controladas por distintas facciones “insurgentes”. En púrpura, el territorio ganado por el gobierno sirio en los últimos días. Las noticias que llegan anuncian más éxitos de las fuerzas gubernamentales. Da la impresión de que Alepo caerá bajo su control en poco tiempo más. Para Siria, la caída de Alepo será considerada como un hecho decisivo en el devenir de la “guerra civil” que lleva ya seis años. Si esto ocurre, la correlación de fuerzas en Medio Oriente habrá cambiado sustancialmente para cuando se produzca la asunción del próximo presidente del Imperio. Leemos en el sitio web libanés Al Manar:
Título: Colapso terrorista en Alepo: Ejército toma 9 distritos y controla 45% del Este
Texto: Poco después de que las Fuerzas del Tigre [unidad de élite del ejército sirio] capturaran todo el distrito de Hanano, en el Este de Alepo, en menos de 48 horas, las fuerzas del Ejército sirio continuaron su ofensiva en varios frentes en la zona, haciendo colapsar las líneas enemigas.
El Ejército sirio aprovechó el colapso de estas líneas para capturar más distritos, como el de Bustan al Pasha, Ard al Hamra y Yabal Badru, adyacentes a Hanano, y el fortificado distrito de Sajur, que une las partes norte y sur de la bolsa formada por los distritos ocupados por los terroristas en el Este de Alepo.
Además de los avances anteriores, el Ejército sirio ha logrado capturar las Fábricas de Yandul, el distrito de Ain al Tal, el distrito de Baibdin y grandes partes de los distritos de Hallak Fuqani y Hallak Tahtani.
El distrito más estratégico
Estos espectaculares avances se producen en medio de una retirada masiva de los militantes desde la parte norte de la bolsa del Este de Alepo hacia la parte sur abandonando los barrios situados en la primera, lo cual permitirá previsiblemente la rápida captura de los barrios situados en esta área por parte del Ejército. Ha sido precisamente esta retirada desorganizada lo que ha permitido la captura del distrito de Sajur, dividiendo así la bolsa en dos.
Otro distrito que ha sido liberado, el lunes, es el de Haidariyah, en la parte norte, que había sido evacuado por los terroristas.
Las fuerzas implicadas en este avance militar son las Fuerzas del Tigre, la Brigada de los Halcones del Desierto, Hezbolá y la Brigada de Al Quds.
Durante los combates en el Este de Alepo, 42 terroristas cesaron las hostilidades y rindieron sus armas al avance del Ejército Árabe Sirio, según el comunicado. Varios otros militantes del grupo Nureddin al Zinki se han rendido a las Unidades de Protección del Pueblo Kurdo (YPG) cerca del distrito de Sheij Maqsud para evitar su captura por el Ejército sirio.
Asimismo, varios combatientes trataron de huir de la ciudad mezclándose con los civiles y fueron detenidos por los soldados sirios.
Los éxitos del domingo 27 de noviembre en Alepo han sido los mayores logrados por el Ejército sirio desde el inicio de la lucha en la ciudad en 2012. Ellos suponen que el Ejército sirio controla ahora el 45% de la zona del Este de Alepo que estaba en manos de los terroristas.
En las próximas horas podrían producirse más avances, ya que el Ejército continúa imparable su ofensiva.
La semana pasada la revista Defense and Foreign Affairs publicó un extenso artículo de Gregory R. Copley (foto) que fue luego re posteado en varios sitios web, de uno de los cuales lo tomamos (OilPrice.com). El Sr Copley, de nacionalidad australiana, es historiador y analista estratégico. La nota de marras se explaya sobre el mundo que le espera a Donald Trump, y sobre los pasos que debería dar el nuevo presidente de los EEUU de cara a este nuevo mundo. Varios de sus puntos de vista nos sorprendieron. A ver si les gusta (los subrayados son nuestros):
Título: Geopolitical Overhaul: What Will A Post-Obama World Look Like?
Texto: US President-elect Donald J. Trump in many ways faces the most circumscribed strategic options of any modern U.S. President entering office. Not only has the global context changed — and will change rapidly even further — so also has the United States’ abilities, tools, and resources to assert itself on the world stage.
The options, opportunities, and threats, then, are substantially new, not only to the US, but to the rest of the world, and therefore require clean-sheet analysis for every society. Similarly, the scale of urban-regional political divides in the United States and in most other countries is now unprecedented, and this makes the immediate future less predictable than in the past, especially when coupled with global popula-tion movement and growth and decline trends.
The two significant structural changes of 2016 — the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union and the U.S. election of Donald Trump — were the confirmation that the globalism era was being forcibly rejected by electorates in modern societies, even though the structures and tools of globalization (communications, access) will continue to flourish in a changing environment.
Strategic re-thinking may be most difficult for the U.S. itself, given that the U.S. was the pre-eminent global power and perhaps the sole superpower just a decade or two prior. The context in which that condition prevailed has now changed, and faces significant variables in the coming decades. As a result, attempts to posture U.S. strategic policy and actions as a mere linear extrapolation of the past era of unquestioned dominance will result merely in delaying the US’ ability to respond appropriately to the new global architecture.
Much of the rest of the world is already on the move in terms of policy thinking. The most reluctant to ad-just strategic policy thinking are the close historical allies of the US, most particularly, for example, Australia and some European states. This is particularly evidenced by their sense of denial of the voting changes in the U.S. and the UK, and their belief that the U.S. and UK must return to the status quo ante. Even Canada and Japan are stirring in their understanding that the world is changing, even if they are as yet unaware of the scope of change they require.
Several “new” macro-level realities are evident, and which are creating new and evolving dynamics:
- Russia and the People’s Republic of China have broken out of their earlier containment by the West;
- The Five+one deal with Iran in 2015 was one of the factors which changed the Middle East dynamic irreversibly. That factor was compounded by the strategic decline now facing Saudi Arabia, which had — because of the collapse of Iranian governance in 1979 and the decades of isolation which followed for Iran — enjoyed an artificial period of regional dominance;
- The artificial structure of the European Union is in profound decline, but its continued existence in its present form will make it difficult for member states and their allies to achieve any strategic flexibility, which may set the stage for implosion. The euro currency is being deployed as a holding measure to ensure a degree of control, but it is also inhibiting flexible economic recovery mecha-nisms within member states;
- Some parts of Africa and the Middle East, now without overarching external power and economic in-fluence to give them structure, are reverting to the influence of traditional factors. Inherent con-cepts of nationhood and sovereignty will begin to emerge, but will be resisted by the “modern” power structures — the post-colonial nation-state structures and borders of Africa and the Middle East — which were created in the 20th Century, and which have benefited from the exploitation of the inherent wealth of those societies. In other words, older ethnic, linguistic, and cultural struc-tures will begin again to re-assert influence;
- New security technologies and structures are emerging which render obsolescent many older sys-tems and doctrines, and yet capital-intensive legacy systems and thinking cannot yet be entirely abandoned. This is its own technology version of the “Thucydides Trap”: rising new security options versus declining older capabilities. As a result, the risk of miscalculation in attempting strategic confrontation has risen substantially, and in many respects this represents a generational gap in thinking as to how to technologically and doctrinally approach the transformed global architecture;
- Totally transformed population cohesion in many societies — due to population decline (in many areas), urbanization and trans-national migration — significantly impacts national productivity and economic planning, but in turn raises the viability of earlier (pre-globalism) approaches to self-sufficiency within nation-states; and so on.
Managing the Post-Containment Era
It is not merely a matter of recognizing that the past two centuries or so of containment of Russia and China have ended, it is worth looking at the separate original and evolving reasons for those policies in the first place, as well as understanding the reality that the containment policies could not even be reinstated adequately even if that was a desirable policy. But the fact that the rigid architecture has now been breached, it behooves analysts to look at the options which are afforded to all the parties.
Does this mean that the ostensible neutrality of the global commons — the oceans and open skies/space — has also now been breached? Not necessarily. Does it mean that absolute Western dominance over these commons will continue? Absolutely not. These basic factors mean that new diplomatic thinking is required to deal with global commons issues which are now of multi-polar concern.
Does the end of containment mean that the sea lines of communications (SLOCs) are now less assuredly in the hands of the US-led West? Absolutely, and this condition has been transforming for more than a decade. In some respect, the SLOCs and maritime choke-points are up for negotiation, and the PRC [People’s Republic of China] itself has been moving globally to assert its commercial/diplomatic position of choke-point/SLOC control even before, in 2016, it had acquired the military capacity to do so, a situation which is still evolving.
Russia’s recent and current diplomacy with Turkey and Ukraine has had this issue as a primary driver, too: to ensure expanded, even unfettered, maritime access to Russia’s south. Arguably, the covert and proxy warfare of the U.S. against Russia for the past eight years, attempting to dominate Ukraine and Georgia in particular, has had as its primary motivation the continued containment of Russia.
Significantly, U.S. Pres. Ronald Reagan (1981-89) had — along with UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher — the objective themselves of ending the containment of Russia, a policy which had solidified with the Crimean War (1853-56). The Reagan view was that the Cold War should be won as quickly as possible and that the Russian/Soviet peoples should be integrated with the West.
Successive U.S. administrations failed to allow this to happen, or actively campaigned to ensure that it would not. Particularly emerging as anti-Russian post-Cold War U.S. administrations were those of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Significantly, present in both of these administrations was the contributing influence of Hillary Clinton and others who had profoundly identified with the Soviet philosophies in the USSR, which the end of the Cold War also brought to an end. As a result, the past eight years of the Obama Administration saw a hardening of U.S. anti-Russian policies and a consequent defensive posturing of Russia which, however, fell short of being expressly anti-Western.
For the incoming U.S. Trump Administration, the difficulty will be in moving away from the U.S. confrontational posture toward Russia (in particular), without further diminishing the perceived national standing of the US. This will see a difficult set of strategic-diplomatic challenges for Washington, if it is not to further erode its standing in the Middle East and Mediterranean while damping down concerns within the European community, particularly in the Balkan states and Poland.
This will require Washington to avoid being led, particularly by Poland and Lithuania and their historical concerns and rivalries with Moscow, into strategies which are against broader U.S. interests while at the same time preserving a stable balance in Europe. But at this time, for the first time since World War II, Washington must ask itself whether its interests still lie in seeing a prosperous Europe, or whether the U.S. can afford to once again be a guarantor of European peace. It is possible that the U.S. must now consider the cost-benefit ratio of such a commitment, given that the U.S. itself is not at present in a position to offer unlimited largesse.
The end of the containment of the PRC poses different questions for the US. The maritime challenge for the U.S. must now differentiate between being able to counterbalance the PRC’s People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) on the global commons and being able to counter-balance it (and other PRC military capabilities) in China’s near-ocean areas, such as the South China Sea. For the former, the USN’s legacy capabilities and doctrine retain the advantage; for the latter, the PRC has gained the advantage. In the broader Indo-Pacific realm, and the attendant ASEAN, Suez-Red Sea, Cape of Good Hope and other areas, the power projection capabilities of the US’ allies (Japan, Australia, the ROC, ROK) and India will be a critical component of the equation, but that fabric requires Washington to sit down for a sober reassessment of the framework.
It is insufficient for the U.S. to complain that its key allies in the region have done insufficient work to manage this situation; the U.S. itself has comprehensively and progressively failed in this arena for the past decade, in large part causing its Asian and Australasian allies to doubt whether the continued alliance with the U.S. could be sustained.
The situation vis-à-vis the PRC begs for a revised approach by the U.S. to its strategic allies, bearing in mind that the old doctrine of containing the PRC within the First Island Chain has been breached, requiring the U.S. and its allies to think of a more flexible strategy for assured dominance of trade routes to, for example, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of China (ROC: Taiwan), and the ASEAN states, given that the Philippines (an ASEAN member) has removed itself from the US-aligned security bloc.
New sea line doctrines will emerge, including the prospect of some Asian maritime traffic from the Indian Ocean skirting the South China Sea in times of crisis or tension. The viability of sea routes south of Australia and into the broader Pacific, northward to Japan, the ROK, and ROC, will be considered. As far as the East China Sea is concerned, it is now clear that Japan’s strenuous maritime and air power projection ca-pabilities have caused Beijing to approach projection into that region with greater caution than it has done in the South China Sea.
The abject failure of the Obama Administration to take up the proposals by then ROC Pres. Ma Ying-jeou on August 5, 2012, to create an East China Sea Peace Initiative, which would have enabled harmonious management of the area’s resources, setting aside questions of sovereignty. There was strong evidence that the Japanese Government would have supported that, as well as the PRC, but for the hasty and in-completely-thought-through response of the U.S. Dept. of State supporting a move by the then-Governor of Tokyo to attempt to assert Japanese sovereignty over the Diaoyutai/Diauyu/Senkaku islands, something the Tokyo Governor had no jurisdiction to proclaim. The East China Sea situation deteriorated from there, only re-stabilized by a major Japanese investment in naval and air power capabilities, a process which is ongoing.
Inevitably, the question arises in Japan, the ROK, and the U.S. as to whether the transformed situation calls for Japan or South Korea to consider the adoption of nuclear weapons as part of their deterrence against further strategic loss to the PRC or the DPRK (North Korea). This would be a reversion to 20th Century thinking and realities. Nuclear weapons no longer represent the most cost-effective (or, indeed, effective) military capability under such circumstances, and the cost of building and maintaining a military nuclear capa-bility would be much higher than the cost of adopting anti-nuclear capabilities and cyber/information dominance capabilities which could more adequately contain a PRC or DPRK nuclear threat.
As history shows, when weapons can be countered by cheaper defenses, or can be leapfrogged by cheaper and more flexible technologies, there is little argument to be had in favor of the more expensive systems. Forcing an adversary to depend on expensive systems which can be countered by cheaper (and therefore potentially more pervasive) systems is a path to strategic success. Building nuclear capabilities in today’s strategic environment only has a short-term psychological viability, but a long-term economic/force structure distortion cost.
But this would not obviate a move by the ROK or Japan into the adoption of nuclear weapons for tactical functions, such as anti-fleet or other counter-force doctrines.
Iran and the New Middle Eastern Framework
Iran’s position vis-à-vis the U.S. remains a point of emotional and jingoistic policymaking for both Washington and Tehran, but this defies strategic logic. The reality is that Iran has also broken out of the regime of sanctions containment of it which has prevailed since 1979, and Iran is poised to once again be the dominant power in its region, based simply on historical unity, resources, industrial and scientific capability, its agricultural base, and its geopolitical situation.
It can also be argued that Iran’s “revolutionary” internal dynamic is now settling on a path toward normalization in historical Persian terms. Its framework — although declared as an “Islamic republic” — actually parallels the Persian norm: its “Supreme Leader” is essentially akin to the sultans and sultan-shahs of the Qajar and Sassanid eras, which combined the secular and theocratic leadership of the state or empire into what the Turks would have dubbed an “ethnarchic” post, much as the British sovereign combined (and nominally still combines) the post of secular and religious symbolic leadership.
Continuing to view Iran as a solely theocratic state, driven by Shi’ism, overlooks the reality that Iran continues to be a Persian geopolitical entity. It is geopolitics which drives Iran, and it is Shi’ism which gives only nominal legitimacy to the clerics who currently control the governance of the State.
Equally, it would be outmoded for the incoming U.S. Administration to view Iran, or the greater Middle East, in terms of its significance as an energy supplier. The age of concentrated oil and gas dependence on the region is over, particularly for the US, and the main importance of the Middle East to the U.S. — apart from its dominance of trade crossroads — is how the region spends its largely energy-derived wealth. With the impending economic constraints facing Saudi Arabia, the medium-term play for the U.S. to gain access to the spending of the region should largely be focused on Iran. Thus, for the U.S. to believe it is “punishing” Iran by denying it the ability to buy U.S. (Boeing) commercial aircraft, for example, or (because of the high U.S. parts content) Airbus aircraft, is almost ludicrously short-sighted.
Similarly, the outrage which entered the U.S. political campaign season in 2016 over the release of US-held Iranian funds as a result of the 2015 Five+one accords with Iran misses the point that the release of Iran’s own funds to the Iranian Government opened the way for a normalization of relations which would have benefited the U.S. perhaps even more than it would benefit Iran. The claim that the accords did not definitively stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons itself missed the point: Iran already has a stockpile of nuclear weapons, including at least several weapons designed and developed by Iran itself.
But even that debate over Iranian nuclear weapons capabilities misses the point. Ultimately, it is Iran which is the key to accessing Central Asia, at least as far as the U.S. is concerned, and it is also a key area of southward projection by Russia and the PRC into the Middle East. Thus, the incoming Trump Administration would do well to undertake a clean-sheet analysis of its position in the Northern Tier, including an evaluation of whether the time has come to support the creation of a Kurdish state which would break up the resurgent Islamist offensive intent of Turkey against the West, the Middle East, and the Caucasus.
It is clear, in this regard, that Turkey is no longer a “Western bulwark” against Russia. Quite the contrary.
Similarly, while the outgoing Obama Administration is still attempting to maneuver the U.S. into a long-term military engagement in Yemen and Syria (Barack Obama’s intended legacy to the next U.S. Administration), the reality must be faced as to whether such an engagement is, in fact, in the US’ strategic interest. That particularly must be considered given the questionable stability of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which, like Turkey, faces a fracturing or collapse of the state within a decade.
The Trump Administration must ask itself what is important to it in the Middle East in the medium- to long-term. For the U.S. to re-start its influence and prestige in the region, the answers must include:
- Security and freedom of transit through the Mediterranean, Suez Canal, and Red Sea;
- Security and freedom of transit through the Arabian Sea, Strait of Hormuz, and Persian Gulf;
- Stable and reliable access to the entire Mediterranean littoral, including access through the Levant to the Persian Gulf and Iran (which implies a settled relationship with Syria, Iraq, and Iran);
- A cessation of the ability of Turkey to interfere with, or directly oppose, U.S. interests in the region and in the Black Sea (which is currently the case), and therefore whether this demands U.S. support to break up Turkey to allow for a Kurdish state, and the withdrawal of Turkish hostile influence over Cyprus and the Ægean. In essence, this also begs the question as to whether it is now time to restructure the alliance with Greece, to the extent that a dysfunctional Greek Government would also consider its own longer-term interests;
- Rapid development of the Eastern Mediterranean gas deposits by Israel, Egypt, Cyprus, Lebanon, and Greece to strengthen the already-developing regional bloc(s) which are essentially stabilizing to the region;
- Assist in the evolution of a nascent common market area engaging, initially, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Western Saudi Arabia, possibly extending over time to include Syria and Lebanon;
- Rapid cessation of the conflict in Yemen and Syria;
- Cooperative resolution of Nile waters issues, particularly between Egypt and Ethiopia, but also in-cluding possible development of White Nile expansion, linking to Congo River to boost overall Nile water flow;
- Containment of the destabilization efforts against Ethiopia, by Eritrea, supported by others;
- Preparation for a potential break-up of Yemen, and preparation to help ensure continuity and stabil-ity in Oman in preparation for a post-Qabus Government;
- Isolating Turkish support for DI’ISH (Islamic Caliphate) operations, particularly in Syria, Libya, and the Sinai;
- Reversing the past eight years of U.S. support for the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan);
- Promoting international recognition of the Republic of Somaliland and promoting a return to politi-cal stability and normalcy there, to attain improved security on the Red Sea egress to the Indian Ocean;
- Seeking a new modus vivendi in the RedMed region (Eastern Mediterranean and Red Sea) to balance PRC expansion into that region;
- Reconsider U.S. dependence on Qatar, and the encouragement given to Qatar (by virtue of the Obama Administration’s explicit pro-Muslim Brotherhood policy) to support regional jihadism;
- Ending the US’ ambiguity in supporting its oldest ally in the region, Morocco, on the question of sov-ereignty recognition of Morocco’s Sahara territory, and working with Algeria to rebuild Algeria-Morocco relations, and thus bring Morocco into the African Union (AU) fold.
Looking Beyond the EU in Europe
The continued decline in the political cohesion of the European Union, and Britain’s decision to exit the Union means that the U.S. will need to revert to a country-by-country approach to its relationships in Europe. This will also accord with the incoming Trump Administration’s commitment to backing away from a confrontational approach to Russia. It will also mean explicitly stepping away from outgoing Pres. Barack Obama’s warning to the UK that the U.S. would put Britain “at the back of the queue” in trade negotia-tions. Even the Canadian Government, threatened with disruption of its free trade agreement with the EU by Wallonian regionalists in Belgium, has re-evaluated its position with Europe, recognizing that almost 50 percent of Canadian trade with the EU has been with the UK, and that it could actually boost trade even further by pursuing a better trade relationship bilaterally with the UK.
Given that the UK has, by following the same dynamic which elected the Trump Government in the US, proven to be moving toward a more resilient global economic basis, and recognizing that the U.S. needs to re-galvanize its strategic links, the Trump Administration may need to consider bolstering its strategic links with the UK. This would mean upgrading the Five Eyes accords (the UKUSA Accords, providing intelligence exchanges between the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) to a peer strategic relationship which may ultimately be more beneficial to the U.S. than NATO and ANZUS.
By rebuilding the alliance with the UK, the U.S. could also tap into the UK’s ability to re-launch the Com-monwealth as a more meaningful global trading and political alignment.
In short, the Trump Administration cannot continue the Obama Administration policy of thinking of the European Union as Europe, and needs to cease the Obama Administration policy of insisting on the inclu-sion of Turkey within the European Union. Moreover, the U.S. should consider how best to help bolster the protection of European borders against the organized political strategy of Turkey to create the conditions which generate a refugee flow out of the Middle East and North Africa into Europe.
The Trump Administration has been saddled with the former Clinton Administration’s move to create criminal-jihadist strongholds in the heart of the Balkans, in Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina. That the Administration of Pres. George W. Bush did nothing to contain this threat to U.S. and European interests (and the Obama Administration continued to promote it) does not mitigate the need for the Trump Administration to find ways to remedy the damage being done by the continued unfettered behavior of the Bosnian (ie: not the Bosnian Croatian or Bosnian Serbian) and Kosovo leaderships in supporting jihadism, narco-trafficking, and human trafficking (including organ trafficking).
Dealing With a New Africa
The same forces of identity politics which led to the election of the Trump Administration and the Brexit vote in the UK are at work in Africa, largely undermining the colonially-based modern nation-state structures. As a result, the Trump Administration National Security Council, State Dept., and Defense Dept. should be encouraged to begin re-thinking how best to re-set U.S. relationships in Africa.
Can some, or all, of the present nation-states of sub-Saharan Africa be preserved? And if so, to what extent will this necessitate helping the modern governance structures in those states better reflect the groundswell of internal group identities now resurging? Virtually no attention has been paid by the U.S. to what are presently sub-national (or eclipsed) traditional structures in Africa, and it may be that these will be the key determinants of stability or otherwise in the Continent in the coming decade, as well as in, for example, Ethiopia.
The International Strategic Studies Association’s Center for the Study of Monarchy, Traditional Governance, and Sovereignty (the Zahedi Center) has identified many hundreds of currently active sub-national monarchies or traditional governance systems in Africa, and in many areas — particularly, for example, in Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana, and South Africa — these are of growing importance in stabilizing domestic societies.
Again, the clean-sheet approach to Africa, or any of the other challenges facing the Trump Administration, must include a fresh view as to what the U.S. wants or needs from Africa. If it requires new markets, or stable access to resources, then it will need to help ring-fence those societies which offer them. If the U.S. requires stability of strategic reach over sea lanes around the Continent, or the denial of the geography and its resources and markets to, say, the PRC, then it will also need to prioritize its approaches in that regard.
Avoiding the Technology/Doctrine “Thucydides Trap”
The incoming Trump Administration has, on several occasions, showed an understanding of the reality that the “Nuclear Age” — the age dominated by strategic nuclear weapons — is now over, and has been re-placed by the Information Dominance age, spearheaded by strategic cyber warfare. President-elect Trump has shown less commitment to basing his strategies on the continued emphasis on nuclear weapons (both stressing their continued validity for the U.S. and preventing them in others) than has the outgoing Obama Administration.
This means that the Trump Administration is likely to be more dispassionate in its approach to U.S. Defense spending than the outgoing Administration in that it may be able to see that future defense planning can-not be based around merely a linear continuation of past technology and doctrine. It is likely to promote a far more innovative approach to resurrecting U.S. defense leadership than the Obama Administration’s so-called “Third Offset” approach. There is no doubt that the Third Offset strategy, introduced by then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in 2014 to offset the disadvantages the U.S. faces against (primarily PRC) anti-access and area-denial (A2/AD) systems, recognized the sliding into defensiveness of the U.S. position.
And yet despite the Third Offset strategy, the vested U.S. defense interests have pushed largely for linear extrapolations of older technologies and doctrines, rather than for something totally innovative to leap-frog the technological advantages — particularly in A2/AD — of PRC and Russian systems and deployments. The “technological/doctrinal Thucydides Trap” for the US, as well as for most Western societies, lies in determining how much funding and weight to give the linear improvement in existing forces and structures and how much to give to totally new strategic thought. Too much one way or the other, depending on tim-ing, could leave the nation vulnerable, but getting it right could regain the global high ground.
The incoming Administration in Washington will, however, face significant resistance from the existing military command structure, which was basically purged and molded by the past eight years of the Obama White House’s insistence on subservience rather than sound military advice, as well as from the defense industrial establishment, which gave heavily in many instances to Hillary Clinton via the offshore mechanism of the Clinton Foundation. Pres. Trump will be required to reach deep into the military leadership to bring into prominence officers who have not made their promotions based on subservience to Pres. Obama.
In short, Pres. Trump will need to de-politicize the military, possibly the first time an incoming President has been required to undertake such an action. He will also need to incentivize creative strategic thinking in Defense, and to encourage the next generation of U.S. military and diplomatic officials to think outside the stove-piping which has meant that “whole of government” cooperation has been avoided. Indeed, the U.S. has yet to see the George W. Bush Administration’s attempts at a broader policy approach to security, ex-emplified by the Homeland Security Department, achieve anything like harmony and efficiency.
Successful regeneration of U.S. strategic capability and prestige will not, in fact, come from increasing defense and diplomatic spending. Such spending has been increasing even during the Obama years, but to no effect. It will only come through a reconsideration of policies, which may — as with the intelligence community — be better served by leanness than by over-indulgence.
Similarly, U.S. space strategies need to be seen as part of the holistic review of U.S. repositioning. Significantly, the Trump Transition Team seems to have grasped this rapidly and is expertly advised on the matter, but it cannot allow space strategy to be considered separately from diplomatic, military, and scientific strategies. And, within the Strategic Information Dominance (SID) era, now emerging, consideration needs to be given to redundancy and defensive hardening of space assets. It may also be the case that the militarization of space will occur within the period of the Trump Administration.
Within this context, academic cyber analysts have postulated the potential threat to modern computer and electrical grid frameworks from electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) weapons, but much of this stems from — once again — extrapolating older technologies from the nuclear era. EMP weapons are, in many respects, expensive to deploy and are strategically viable mostly if linked with strategic delivery systems and, in some instances, nuclear weapons themselves. This makes them, in the cyber/SID age, far too expensive and clumsy to be viable, compared with more flexible offensive cyber weapons.
The proponents of an EMP threat have overstated its viability, but have still underestimated the vulnerability to a “virtual EMP threat” from disguised-source cyber infiltrated attacks on infrastructure. Moreover, the supposed threat of an EMP destruction of low-earth-orbit space assets ignores the reality that such an action damages the offensive power to the same degree that it damages the target. Very few actors on the world stage would risk such a capability; even the DPRK is increasingly space reliant (albeit to a lesser degree than its supposed adversaries).
What is clear, however, is that international cyber conflict has already begun, perhaps on a restricted scale, but also, perhaps, with the installation of pre-placed cyber triggers on the scale required to effectively bring down grids on a major scale. The loss of the integrated electrical grid which reaches from south of Washington, DC, up to Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia, even for a matter of weeks would result in the death of many millions and literally the collapse of the U.S. economy.
Even without a major cyber-attack, the U.S. overall infrastructures — water, electricity, bridges, and more — are now geriatric, and it is beyond the scope of a single electoral term to adequately remedy this challenge. The capability of cyber warfare to push the structures beyond the tipping point is clearly there. And the U.S. with gaping holes in its infrastructures cannot be made “great again”. A number of those who have advised President-elect Trump during the campaign are indeed aware of this, but how much will Mr Trump be able to do in a single term to start the process of hardening the grids and other infrastructural networks in the face of established lobbies for spending on traditional areas of investment?
Not that, for example, the U.S. Navy’s desire — and President-elect Trump’s support — for a plan to move the Navy back to at least a 350-ship fleet is unreasonable. Indeed, that, too, is critical, but with the caveat that this may be the opportunity to look seriously at what may be the most cost-effective way forward to achieve an effective all-ocean fleet. Certainly, the lessons of unjustifiable mission creep which was seen in the Littoral Ship project should be grasped and avoided.
As well, real grounding in learning the nature of the emerging global strategic context is critical before scarce defense funding is committed to linearist thinking on the modernization of the Minuteman III inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) fleet or the nuclear payloads. Innovation and creativity are required before committing to next-generation manned aerial penetrators such as the B-21 Raider bomber.
For the first time in almost a century, the U.S. will need to comprehend that innovation is best driven by the threat, and not only the threat from an external rival, but also the threat of budgetary limitation. Britain’s example of frugality driving genius in World War II weapons development and production is apposite.
The Threat of “Strategic” Terrorism
The U.S. will need to move decisively against the principal state sponsors of terrorism. Today, the principal enabler of terrorism is Turkey, functioning largely through its National Intelligence Organization, the Milli ?stihbarat Te?kilat? (M?T), but with considerable covert support and alliance with the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia. This has been not only tolerated, but in many instances, actively supported and encouraged, by the outgoing U.S. Obama Administration.
It is critical to be aware that the present overall weakness of most states — including the U.S. and the People’s Republic of China and others — means that they will conduct their warfare as much as possible through proxies in the immediate future. In this regard, it is important to remember that no terrorist force in history has ever survived and succeeded without support from a hidden sponsor. Forces such as al-Qaida or DI’ISH — the so-called Islamic Caliphate — all have foreign state sponsors, just as the marxist terrorists of the Cold War era had. But also remember that there are second and third order consequences of this sponsorship of proxy warfare which have been shown many times to ultimately rebound to impact the sponsors.
US sponsorship of the jihad against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan is what is impacting U.S. now. The ongoing rumblings of the marxist proselytization by the Soviets in the 1950s and ‘60s is what gives U.S. the Bernie Sanders support base in the U.S. today, or the “Occupy” movement, decades after the Soviet Union — and the viability of communism — crumbled and died.
But it is important to recognize that terrorism only becomes strategically viable with the compliance of the target audience, and Western media networks (indeed, the global Internet) has become complicit in giving terrorism breathing space. What is significant is that the U.S. George W. Bush Administration also gave the jihadist terrorism movement oxygen by recognizing it as a strategic threat, when largely its threat level was actually dependent on the U.S. elevating a tactical adversary to strategic status.
At that point, U.S. and allied counter-terrorism capabilities became essentially de-professionalized by becoming symbiotic partners in the terrorism business. A Trump Administration de-emphasis on terrorism would help balance U.S. national security thinking, budgeting, and capabilities.
Achieving Domestic Cohesion and a Return to Economic Growth
The first step in the strategic recovery of the U.S. would be in its return to strength, something which can only be achieved by improved prestige. And if, as the great strategist Dr. Stefan Possony noted, “prestige is the credit rating of countries”, then a poor economic credit rating axiomatically affects the strategic prestige of the United States.
Debt reduction, stimulated domestic economic growth and employment, the visible reduction of what is seen internationally as overbearing statism in the U.S. economy, and creative attempts to build a new era of investment in the U.S. will be critical to building back long-term U.S. global capabilities. This would imply a process to reduce U.S. debt creation through the creation of Federal budget surpluses, something which several U.S. administrations until this point have felt disinclined to attempt. Deficit spending by the U.S. Government has been a short-term tool to buy votes, creating a longer-term certainty of economic self-strangulation.
A full four-year term by the Trump Administration spent on achieving stable economic growth would almost certainly guarantee Pres. Trump a second term in office, but it does not mean that such a domestic focus should represent a return to U.S. isolationism. Quite the contrary, adept management of a growing economy — even in a situation in which stimulus is created by incentivizing domestic investment and pur-chasing — can stimulate the revival of the U.S. as a net exporter of cash (investments).
In short, the U.S. has not seen such an opportunity for strategic reversal since the Reagan Administration. But only if the incoming Administration adheres to the principles which won it the election, and avoids the compromises which the bureaucratic base of government will attempt to force on it to avoid disruption of the status quo.