Archive for the ‘GEOPOLITICS’ Category

IRAN PROTESTS A WARNING TO BEIJING?

January 5, 2018

Fox News on December 31, 2017, published a commentary on the Iran protests against the Islamist tyranny by Christian Whiton. Excerpts below:

Protesters took the streets in more than a half-dozen cities in Iran for a second day [at the end of 2017] risking their lives to challenge the Islamist tyranny that has prevailed in the country since 1979, when it held American diplomats hostage.

The protests began as demonstrations against austere economic conditions but have now grown to express general opposition to the Islamist government.

…we…see spontaneous protesters crying “death to the dictator” and “death to Rouhani,” referring to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Protests have even spread to Qom, the intellectual heartland of the 1979 Islamist revolution and the onetime base of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini when he successfully worked to destroy Iran’s secular government before 1979.

The last widespread and sustained protests in Iran occurred in 2009, after fraudulent elections. At the time, President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shamefully sat on their hands, saying and doing nothing to support the protesters.

…Lech Walesa, the leader of the Solidarity movement that challenged and eventually brought down communism in Poland in the 1980s, credited President Ronald Reagan’s unabashed support for the movement’s success.

Elsewhere in the Soviet bloc, a dissident named Natan Sharansky was rotting in a Russian prison when he and his fellow prisoners heard that President Reagan had referred to the Soviet Union as an evil empire destined for the ash heap of history.

Sharansky later remarked: “For us, that was the moment that really marked the end for them, and the beginning for us. The lie had been exposed and could never, ever be untold now.”
Clearly, the moral support of the American president can make a big difference in influencing political outcomes abroad.

If President Trump acts now he will not just be engaging in an act of idealism, but working in a pragmatic way against our Iranian adversaries.

Christian Whiton is a senior fellow for strategy and public diplomacy at the Center for the National Interest and the author of “Smart Power: Between Diplomacy and War.”

Comment: Iran is one of the challengers to the West on what Sir Halford Mackinder termed World Island (Europe, Asia, Africa). Any weakening of the regime in Teheran is welcome news. One can only hope that the protests in Iran are the beginning of the end of oppression in a country that openly threatens to destroy Israel.

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PRESSURE OF THE PEOPLE THREATENS LEADING REGIME IN THE MIDDLE EAST CHALLENGING THE WEST

December 31, 2017

Fox News on December 31, 2017, Fox News published a commentary on the ongoing protests against the Iranian regime. Excerpts below:

President Trump should take decisive action in 2018 to support the ouster of the virulently anti-American theocracy that has ruled Iran with an iron fist and threatened its neighbors for the past four decades.

The president’s first step should be to throw American support behind the brave anti-government protesters who have taken to the streets in mass demonstrations across the Islamic Republic since [October 28, 2017].

President Trump himself used his Twitter account to condemn the arrest of protesters in Iran, writing…: “Many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with regime’s corruption & its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad. Iranian govt should respect their people’s rights, including right to express themselves. The world is watching!”

The United States should next impose crippling economic sanctions targeting key institutions that act as a lifeline for the Iranian regime, in particular the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. The U.S. should also make it clear that Iran will face serious consequences if protesters are suppressed violently.

As a political gesture, the Trump administration should also formally recognize the Iranian people’s right to regime change and the legitimacy of the organized resistance that is pursuing this goal.
The latest nationwide demonstrations are indicative of fierce discontent and growing frustration with the Iranian regime’s corruption, incompetence and badly misplaced priorities.

With slogans like “Death to the dictator, death to Rouhani,” and “Leave Syria alone; think about us instead,” – referring to Iran’s unpopular military intervention to prop up Syrian dictator Bashar Assad – protestors have demonstrated their frustration with the endemic culture of corruption in Iran.

Slogans targeting the Iranian regime’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, show that resentment is giving way to anger and that the regime is more vulnerable to losing the consent of the governed than many Western analysts may have thought.

Unfortunately, America and its allies have pursued relations with so-called Iranian moderates since long before President Rouhani emerged as a player in contemporary Iranian politics. The result has only been a worsening situation for Western interests and also for the beleaguered people of Iran.

But American officials have put the U.S. relationship with opposition forces at risk time and again by pursuing back channel deals with Iran’s clerical rulers, while ignoring the voices of the Iranian people.

Each new protest against the rulers of Iran represents an opportunity to use the people’s resentment as leverage against the regime.

To its credit, the Trump administration has taken preliminary steps in the right direction by imposing comprehensive sanctions on the Revolutionary Guards, a leading perpetrator of domestic crackdowns and international terrorism.

The opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran and its leading constituent group, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), are mobilized to safeguard the people’s rights in the Islamic Republic.

If the U.S. provides strong support to anti-regime forces in Iran, America will have the opportunity to strike a fatal blow against a dangerous and tyrannical government by leveraging the discontent on the Iranian street and closing ranks with those seeking to topple the regime.

President Trump should follow this course in 2018.

IRAN’S IMPERIAL PROJECT – A CHALLENGE TO THE WEST

December 2, 2017

Washington Times on November 20, 2017, published a commentary by Ilan Berman, a leading US foreign policy expert on what is actually the main political problem in the Middle East. Excerpts below:

Iran is on the march in the Middle East.

…accounts out of Iraq, Lebanon and beyond has pointed to an inescapable conclusion: Iran is erecting a new empire in the region.

Already three years ago, the contours of Iran’s regional ambitions were coming into focus. With the seizure of Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, by the country’s Iranian-supported Houthi rebels in the fall of 2014, the Islamic Republic of Iran could effectively claim control of four Arab regional capitals (including Beirut, Damascus and Baghdad).

Since then, Tehran’s grip on those territories has only tightened. In Syria, Iran’s strategic footprint has expanded steadily, to the point at which Tehran is now reportedly planning a permanent military presence in the country as part of its partnership with the regime of Bashar Assad.

In Lebanon, working via its chief terrorist proxy, Hezbollah, the Islamic republic has become…dominant in national politics…

Meanwhile in Iraq, Iran’s support for the hashd al-shaabi, the powerful Shiite militias that now dominate the country’s Ministry of Interior, has made it a key stakeholder in (and the most likely winner of) the country’s national elections next year.

And in Yemen, the expanding power of the Houthis, and the threat that they pose to neighboring Saudi Arabia as well as to American forces in the Gulf, has had everything to do with growing political and military support from Tehran.

…Iran’s imperial project is now accelerating in at least two ways.

First, mounting evidence from the Syrian theater indicates that Iran has succeeded in deploying a formidable expeditionary force of fighters there. Historically, Iran’s clerical army, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, has served as the regime’s dedicated foreign legion. But the Syrian civil war has provided Iranian officials with an opportunity to marshal a supplemental cadre of irregular fighters and “volunteers,” drawn from Iraq’s Shiite militias as well as places like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen.

The result is a secondary Iranian proxy force that, according to some estimates, could number as many as 200,000 men under arms, and which can be deployed by Tehran to other theaters in the future, once the war in Syria dies down.

Second, Iran has succeeded in establishing resupply routes to funnel both personnel and materiel to the Levant….Iran’s growing control over Iraq via the Hashd al-Shaabi has created a land corridor that provides a direct transport link into Syria for Iranian forces and arms. This has been supplemented by an “air bridge” of flights spearheaded by Iran’s national air carrier, Iran Air, which has helped to ferry both guerrillas and Guardsmen to the Syrian front. The end result is a zone of Iranian control stretching from territorial Iran all the way to the Eastern Mediterranean.

What has made all this possible? A large portion of the blame rests with the 2015 nuclear deal concluded between Iran and the P5+1 powers. That agreement proffered enormous economic benefits to the Islamic Republic in hopes that, over time, it would lead to a moderation of the Iranian regime. Instead, the opposite has happened. The extensive sanctions relief built into the deal has provided Iran’s ailing economy a much-needed fiscal shot in the arm, and freed up funds that Iran has poured into its proxy forces and its military modernization efforts.

Today, policymakers in Washington remain preoccupied with degrading and defeating the Islamic State terrorist group in Iraq and Syria. As a result, they have paid scant attention to how other regional actors might be empowered by our counterterrorism fight.

Comment: Iran is a long-time challenger of the West. The Persian Sassanian empire has been the organizational model (third to seventh century AD) for the Islamic Iranian state. The statecraft offered a bureaucracy, an effective military system and diplomacy intelligence. Muslim rule is built on classical Persian documentation such as the tenth century Book of Kings and the epic Shahnama.

The Sassanian empire was centered on a Persian “power state”. The Book of Government (seyasat-nameh) by Nizam al-Mulk (d. 1092 AD) was prepared as aid to helping sustain fundamentalist Islam, but the origin of the work is completely Iranian.

Persia was also the home to the Assassins (ca 1000 to 1275 AD).

Iran is a megastate and empire on the world island. It is the home of endemic conspiracy thinking. The coastline in the south constitutes half of the Arabian Gulf. With Oman it controls the vital Strait of Hormuz.

Russia was for a long time a provider of arms to Iran. Moscow has also since the 1990s provided Iran with nuclear materials and technology for missile systems. Iran also has military cooperation with North Korea despite. Another threat to the West (including Israel) is that Iran is actively seeking Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). Hezbollah and Hamas are terrorist partners of Iran.

RUSSIAN EMPIRE APPROACHING ITS END?

November 21, 2017

American Professor Paul Goble on November 11, 2017, published an article on predictions of a Czech Russia expert, Vit Kucik, on the future of the last survival of European colonial empires. It can, so Kucik, only be preserved by an authoritarian regime. Excerpts below:

“One can expect a liberal and economically effective system only after the collapse of Muscovite centralism and the fragmentation of the country into small national units.

He points out that “the centralism of power in the empire has an authoritarian and not liberal character” because “liberal mechanisms would quickly weal the power centralism, and the empire would begin to call into pieces.” But the authoritarian power now in its place relies on individuals rather than institutions, something that is reinforcing until it leads to collapse.

Moreover, in the Russian case, “the empire is the political peak of the era of a feudal agrarian economy of the village, while a nation state in turn reflects the industrial economy of the city. Present-day nationalism,” Kučík continues, “is an urban phenomenon and it is not widely distributed in the villages.”

All European empires ended their existence at the start or in the middle of the 20th century except for Russia where the formally imperial government was replaced by the Bolsheviks who “destroyed the national and liberal forces which led to the end of the European empires and with the assistance of a harsh dictatorship conserved the tsarist empire up to now.”

“In the 1990s,” Kučík says, “Russian lost its buffer zone of security in the form of its central European satellites and an outer belt of its own territory: the Baltic states, Belarus, Ukraine, the Trans-Caucasus and the Central Asian republics.” Only the coming to power of the authoritarian Vladimir Putin prevented Russia from continuing to fall into pieces.

The Czech analyst insists that Russians are fully capable of developing a liberal democratic state, but they are prevented from doing so by a state that views all conquests as permanent and irreversible and is prepared to repress its own population in order to hold on to the empire.

The leaders of the Russian state know and the Russian people suspect that under conditions of democracy many non-Russian republics and large swaths of what they view as predominantly ethnic Russian territories would elect to cut their ties with Moscow. Consequently, they oppose any liberalization lest that happen.

According to the Czech analyst, Russian foreign policy, “which always was active and at times even aggressively expansionist,” is defined by three factors: military, economic, and domestic political. Militarily, Moscow must cope with the fact that its European core has no natural geographic boundaries, and thus it feels always threatened.

Economically, it wants to dictate conditions and prices for the transit and sale of the raw materials on whose sale Moscow depends to survive.

Moscow’s ideal world would include “a belt of unstable and also poorer countries among which Russia would be set apart as a stable and flourishing state. This domestic political motive of Russian foreign policy is more important than all the others because so-called color revolutions can sweep away Russia from the map of the world.”

And because this is so, Kučík says, “the Russian empire will always represent a threat or at least a problem for neighboring states, including Eastern and Central Europe. Russian influence will spread ever further to the West until it encounters a balancing force which will be Germany or the European Union.”

With democracies, like Georgia, Ukraine and the Baltic states, it will inevitably be in conflict.

Given this, he continues, “Russia will cease to be a threat only when it disintegrates into smaller formations.” Such states “will be able “to construct more effective economies and be less dependent on the sale of raw materials” and thus will seek to stimulate other forms of economic growth and cooperation.

“The West is afraid of instability on such an enormous territory and therefore it will help the Kremlin leader to preserve unity, but just as in 1991,” Kucik says, “all these efforts will be for naught. The local liberation forces will turn out to be stronger, and besides, they will be supported by powers like Turkey, Iran, China and Japan which will see an opportunity for themselves to bring the new states into their spheres of influence.”

The collapse of the last empire, albeit “a century late, will simplify the life of Europe and of the Russians themselves,” the Czech analyst concludes.

WESTERN CORE INTERESTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST

June 18, 2017

Washington Times on June 13, 2017, published a commentary by retired U.S. Navy admiral James A. Lyons on the emerging Middle East doctrine of the Trump administration. Excerpts below:

President Trump’s historic visit last month to Saudi Arabia, where he met with the heads of more than 50 mostly Sunni heads of state, dramatically marked the end of eight years of Barack Obama’s appeasement of Iran. It signaled to all the Muslim leaders that the United States as the “strong horse” is back. There was no doubt in any of the Muslim leaders’ minds that Mr. Trump is a man of action and a leader who will keep his word.

Mr. Trump’s goal of establishing a coalition of nations that share the objective of defeating terrorist groups and providing for a stable and hopeful future made it clear that the assembled nations cannot be indifferent to the presence of evil.

Mr. Trump also made it clear that this coalition of nations must adopt a policy of “sovereign responsibility,” which means that they cannot wait for American power to defeat the enemy for them. They must be directly involved, with our assistance.

[On U.S. and vital Western interests]:

Eliminating ISIS as a functioning entity.

Preventing Iran from achieving a nuclear weapon capability.

Preventing Iranian hegemony throughout the Middle East.

Preventing Iranian hegemony throughout the Middle East.

Removing the Iranian theocracy from power.

Re-establishing and strengthening …relations with…traditional allies.

Ensuring the survival of Israel.

[Establishing a sovereign Kurdistan].

Maintaining freedom of navigation throughout the Persian Gulf and Red Sea, including strategic choke points, e.g., the Suez Canal, the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the Strait of Hormuz.

The establishment of a Global Terrorism Center for Combating Extremism in Riyadh was a manifestation of the shared objective of defeating terrorist groups and isolating Iran, but its effectiveness will depend on results. The same can be said for the establishment of the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center, co-chaired by the United States and Saudi Arabia, as well as the United States-United Arab Emirates Center to Counter the Online Spread of Hate.

…mosques and imams that preach hate and urge all Muslims to conduct violent jihad should be closed and the imams removed.

Concrete steps must be taken to stop funds from going to radical mosques and front groups that promote terrorism. Targeting funds being sent to various terrorists groups, e.g., ISIS and al Qaeda, must receive immediate priority. The source of these funds, be it from individuals or states like Qatar, must be identified and interdicted.
Qatar has been a particular problem because of its support of the Muslim Brotherhood and its cozy relationship with Iran.

An underlying element of the Trump doctrine that cannot be overstated is recognition that 65 percent of the population of the Middle East is under the age of 30, and that those youths must be provided with opportunities for a satisfying life as an attractive option to the lure of terrorist groups. While this is a worthy objective, Muslims don’t commit to jihad because they don’t have jobs. They commit to jihad because they are devout Muslims, many with university degrees.

Nevertheless, the indispensable principle for achieving the objectives of the Riyadh summit is the isolation of Iran, the prime mover of instability throughout the region. As a start, sanctions on the mullahs’ ballistic missile programs must be imposed. Further, until the unsigned nuclear weapons deal with Iran is formally canceled, real inspections by the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency must be conducted on all the sites in their nuclear weapon infrastructure.

James A. Lyons, a retired U.S. Navy admiral, was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.

Comment: Admiral Lyon’s commentary clearly shows that the foreign policy of the Trump Administration is clear and consistent. Defeating the Islamic State and isolating the Iranian regime is of vital strategic interest to the West. A new policy against Iran would be an important step to ensure the survival of Israel. The importance of the strategic choke points in the Middle East cannot be emphasized enough. The British territory of Diego Garcia (Indian Ocean) is an example of how important offshore islands are. Location and political reliability is everything to ensure the safety of the chokepoints. The United States, as always, with its NATO partners is facing a growing challenge in some of the world’s most dangerous areas. This challenge is now met in a decisive way.

Diego Garcia (British Indian Ocean Territory) offers politically unconstrained access near the Middle East and contributes greatly to safeguarding the chokepoints.

DEFENDING THE WEST: SOFT POWER IS NOT ENOUGH

June 9, 2017

Washington Times on June 6, 2017, published a review of an important new book by Professor Eliot A. Cohen on the necessity of military force in strategic policy. ”The Big Stick: The Limits of Soft Power and the Necessity of Military Force” (Basic Books, 2017) should be required reading for policy makers. Excerpts from Dan Negrea’s review below:

Professor Eliot A. Cohen, a Johns Hopkins University historian who served as an adviser in both the Defense and State Departments,…argues forcefully that strong American leadership is indispensable for peace and prosperity in the world, and relying on soft power alone to provide it is unrealistic.

Facts are stubborn, the reality of world conflicts is not pretty, and…leaders better be prepared to deal competently and unsentimentally with the tough decisions they must make.

The author’s overview of America’s adversaries starts with increasingly aggressive China, whose rapid economic and military rise he views as the most important international phenomenon of the 21st century. Still, China has many obstacles on the road to becoming a superpower and a weak strategic position because of its border disputes with every single one of its neighbors.

As for confronting al Qaeda, ISIL and other terrorist organizations, Mr. Cohen asks for clarity of purpose: We need to state plainly that their ideology is rooted in Islam and that we are engaged in a generational war to eradicate them. But he also believes that their barbarism limits their appeal and will eventually halt their momentum.

A chapter titled “Dangerous States” Cohen treats…adversaries [like Russia] and Iran They are…authoritarian, willing to use force, and economically fragile. And their nuclear weapons or nuclear aspirations are central to their national defense…[They] have a “paranoid style” in politics, with their media filled with presumed plots by enemies both foreign and domestic.

…America’s military spending dwarfs that of its opponents. Since it represents today just 3 percent of our GDP (compared to 8 percent in the Reagan years), America’s strategic solvency is high. Its many alliances are a critical asset that give it “an extraordinary global logistical infrastructure.” And considering its powerful economy, positive demographics and robust political system, the odds are that America will prevail: “No other country, or collection of countries, has a better hand to play in international politics.”

…this is a book about difficult decisions imposed by unforgiving facts. Diplomacy has an important place in the tool kit of statecraft, even when it requires political compromises with “odious regimes.” So does soft power, which, Mr. Cohen argues, is not always gentle: Sanctions, for example, can deprive a country’s poor of food and medicine.

But when all else fails, our leaders must make politically difficult decisions involving hard power. Like increasing military spending to at least 4 percent. Or like stationing troops for many years in areas of potential conflict, which worked well in the past: Leaving American troops for decades in Germany and South Korea helped those two war-torn nations find their way to democracy and prosperity. In the interest of global stability, today’s American politicians must find the courage to station American troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Poland and the Baltic states.

The ultimate hard power decisions, though, deal with going to war and even doing so preemptively. The most sobering passages of the book regard pre-emptive strikes, especially necessary if weapons of mass destruction fall into “utterly irresponsible hands.”

This is a lucid book about war by a man who loves peace…But he also knows that appeasing evil is not an option. Tragically, the world continues to add to what Churchill called the “dark and lamentable catalog of human crime.”

“The Big Stick” is a valuable resource for those trying to keep America’s flame of liberty burning bright in this stormy world.

Dan Negrea is a New York private equity investor.

CHINA IS WEAPONIZING OUTER SPACE

April 18, 2017

Harsh Vasani, an Indian geopolitician, on January 19, 2017, in The Diplomat warned of the rising power of China in Outer Space. Below are excerpts from his article:

In the highly “informatized” and technologically advanced battles that characterize the 21st century, outer space will play a dominant role. Space assets direct military operations and help in making crucial battleground decisions. In this regard, attempts to weaponize space and command this sphere are to be expected from great powers. The United States and USSR started weaponizing space in the in the 1950s and 1960s respectively, and China is now following suit.

The weaponization of space includes placing weapons in outer space or on heavenly bodies as well as creating weapons that will transit outer space or simply travel from Earth to attack or destroy targets in space. Examples include the placing of orbital or suborbital satellites with the intention of attacking enemy satellites, using ground-based direct ascent missiles to attack space assets, jamming signals sent from enemy satellites, using lasers to incapacitate enemy satellites, plasma attacks, orbital ballistic missiles, and satellite attacks on Earth targets. These can be further classified into direct-energy and kinetic-energy weapons.

The weaponization of space is different from the militarization of space, which includes using space-based assets for C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance). The militarization of space assists armies on the conventional battlefield, whereas via the weaponization of space, outer space itself emerges as the battleground, sometimes referred to as the “fourth frontier of war.”

China has been making impressive headway in its ICBM program and in theory, these ICBMs can target U.S. Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) satellites.

In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping… acknowledged that the space dream is part of the dream to make China stronger. “With the development of space programs, Chinese people will take bigger strides to explore further into space,” he said.

…the Chinese strategic community sees space as the ultimate high ground, the key to military success on the terrestrial battlefield.
Washington believes that underlying the various civilian aspects of China’s space program is an active military component. A 2015 report prepared by the U.S. Department of Defense suggests that China has invested in advanced space capabilities, with particular emphasis on “satellite communication (SATCOM), intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), satellite navigation (SATNAV), and meteorology, as well as manned, unmanned, and interplanetary space exploration.”

A report prepared for the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission states that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) recognizes that in a time of war it must deny enemies the use of strategic information about troop and ship movements, incoming missiles, navigation, communication, etc, along with depriving its opponents the use of C4ISR systems.

There is considerable merit in Washington’s claims about the dual-use nature of China’s space program. For instance, Colonel Li Daguang, writing in his book Space War published by National Defense University in 2001, recommends that the Chinese should combine military and civilian technology and integrate peacetime and wartime facilities. His rationale was that space equipment is costly to develop and maintain, hence it is important to have civil-use technology that can also have military applications.

A brief survey of recent tests by Beijing confirms that China is rapidly improving its counter space program and making advances in its anti-satellite systems. China’s first ASAT test was conducted in May 2005 and its capabilities have come a long way since.

A 2013 test by Beijing involved its new missile, the DN-2 or Dong Neng-2, and the test was conducted in “nearly geosynchronous orbit,” where most of the United States’ ISR satellites are located.

…The Washington Free Beacon quotes unnamed defense officials as saying that the DN-3 is “primarily a direct-ascent missile designed to ram into satellites and destroy them, even if intelligence assessments hold that the weapon has some missile defense capabilities.”

Beijing’s recent space activities indicate that it is developing co-orbital anti-satellite systems to target U.S. space assets. Co-orbital anti-satellite systems consist of a satellite “armed with a weapon such as an explosive charge, fragmentation device, kinetic energy weapon, laser, radio frequency weapon, jammer, or robotic arm.” Besides the “hard-kill” methods, Beijing is also testing soft-kill methods to incapacitate enemy satellites. For instance, China has been acquiring a number of foreign and indigenous ground-based satellite jammers since the mid-2000s. These jammers are designed to disrupt an adversary’s communications with a satellite by overpowering the signals being sent to or from it.

The Chinese believe that the greatest threat to them comes from the United States. To counter the United States’ conventional strength and gain strategic parity, Chinese strategists believe, Beijing will need to strike at the U.S. Achilles heel — Washington’s over-reliance on satellites for C4ISR. Beijing plans to exploit the vulnerable space infrastructure of the United States in the case of a war.
According to a recent RAND report, space and counterspace operations would be important elements in any armed confrontation between the United States and China.

The PLA’s interest in the use of space for military purposes gained momentum after the 1991 Gulf War, which has been referred to as the “first space war,” and has only increased since.

The DN-2 2013 test jolted Washington and made the United States realize that crucial national security satellites, parked in geostationary earth orbit, are well within the reach of Beijing. As a response, Pentagon announced the launch of a “Space War Center” to counter threats from China and Russia in space, part of a $5 billion boost in space security spending for the Department of Defense. However, over a year and a half later, precious little has come of the Center.

Harsh Vasani is a Postgraduate Research Scholar at the Department of Geopolitics and International Relations, Manipal University.

Comment: The Chinese development of its warfare capability in space is growing threat to American national security. It is yet another area in which Democratic administrations after 1991 have neglected the rising threat of China. Beijing is not interested in ”strategic partnership”. The communis regime views America as an adversary. The first step for China is to displace U.S. influence in the Asia-Pacific region. It is modernizing its military forces especially in the nuclear field.

China does not want open war with the United States. It relies on Sun Tzu, the ancient Chines strategist who wrote: ”Supreme excellence in war consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting”.

China is with Russia and Iran/Persia one of the three powers in the Rimland of Asia that are presently challenging the West. It is important that the United States reviews its nuclear posture and extends its control of outer space as one step to counter the three empires on the World Island.

EMPIRE FOR LIBERTY – PURCHASING ALASKA 150 YEARS AGO

April 2, 2017

”We should have such an Empire for Liberty as [the world] has never surveyed since the Creation…” wrote Thomas Jefferson to James Madison on April 27, 1809. After the defeat of Soviet communism in 1991 the United States has been an unchallenged hegemon in the world. Now it is challenged by three empires on the World Island: China, Russia and Iran/Persia. As America is promoting liberty it must not sacrifice the liberties it has at home. To continue to function as the strong defender of the West America must also heed the warnings of Jefferson. It must not be entangled in a profusion of treaties and institutions that will serve only to hinder it from defending its moral and national security interests. That is why the Iran deal of Obama was wrong and could only strengthen Iran to continue its attacks on the United States (and Israel).

The purchase of Alaska in 1867 (celebrated in 2017) marked the end of Russian efforts to increase its imperial and colonial expansion to the East. For America it was the beginning of its rise in the Asia-Pacific. In 1725 Peter I sent the Dane Vitus Bering to explore the area around the strait that would later be named the Bering Strait. America had expanded over the continent to the west during the first half of the 19th century. It then had to compete with Russian traders. Fortunately the Russian empire lacked the financial resources to establish a heavy military presence in what was called Russian America.

Russia therefore in 1859 wanted to sell Alaska to the United States in 1859 but the American Civil War delayed the sale. It was not until after the war that Secretary of State William Seward agreed on March 30, 1867, to purchase Alaska for $7.2 million. The Senate approved the treaty of purchase and President Andrew Johnson signed the treaty on May 28.

It was however not until October 18, 1867 that United States formally took posession of the new territory in a ceremony in Sitka, Alaska. In 1884 a civil government was constituted. It was not until 1896 that a major gold deposit was discovered in the Yukon and made Alaska into a gateway to the goldfields.

The strategic importance of Alaska was discovered during World War II and the Cold War. In 1959 the territory joined the United States as a state.

This contribution will be followed by a sketch of the influence of admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan and his classical geopolitical works on the policy of the United States after 1890 to secure the Empire For Liberty of Jefferson.

RUDOLF KJELLÉN IN THE WORLD TODAY

February 15, 2017

Rudolf Kjellén (1864 – 1922), a Swedish geographer published his works in Swedish, which made him less accessible to those who were not familiar with the Swedish language. This denied large parts of academia the acquaintance with and examination of his work. Some of his books were translated into German, but there has so far been little interest in him in the Anglo-Saxon world.

One of his classical geopolitical works, The Great Powers (Stormakterna), appeared in a first edition 1905 in Sweden. It had over 20 editions in Germany.

Latin America

Today he is probably best known in South America, where classical geopolitics has remained strong (see Phillip Kelly, Checkerboards & Shatterbelts – The Geopolitics of South America, Austin: University of Texas Press 1997).
In 1902 Kjellén had been appointed professor of political science and statistics at the University of Gothenburg.

Japan

Kjellén was interested in Japan and its rise in the Far East. In his view Japan and China, once free of Western control, would be great powers of the future. Their rise would come as the European powers declined. He was also critical of colonialism and racism.

In 1909 he traveled to Japan and China, a journey that would have significant influence on his geopolitical research. On this trip around the world he travelled first by train through Siberia and arrived in Beijing in April 1909. After 12 days in the Chinese capital he concluded in his diary that the days of European power were coming to an end. The powers, in his view, acted with hubris and arrogance.

On steamer he continued to Japan and made his base in Yokohama. There he was invited to stay in the home of the Swedish diplomat Gustaf Oskar Wallenberg (1863 – 1937).

For more on Kjellén and Japan see Bert Edström’s “Rudolf Kjellén och Japan”, journal Orientaliska studier, No. 89, 1996, pp. 12 – 35 and Storsvensken i Yttersta Östern – G.O. Wallenberg som svenskt sändebud i Japan, 1906 – 1918, Working Paper 52, August 1999, Center for Pacific Asia Studies, University of Stockholm.

In June he sailed on the “Empress of India” across the Pacific Ocean to Vancouver. From there he crossed Canada on the Canadian Pacific Railway to board the Atlantic liner for Europe and Sweden. On July 13 he was back in Gothenburg after a four month tour.

In the autumn of 1916 Kjellén wrote the introduction to a work that would give him international fame, ”The State as a Life-Form”. The book was a bestseller in its Japanese edition.

Great Britain and Russia

After the Great War he saw Great Britain and Russia grow into “planetarian” powers or superpowers in today’s terminology. The United States is today a hegemon far more powerful than the United Kingdom. Already in 1919, he predicted a development towards superpower influence in the world. These views were based on the future strength of geographically and demographically large countries. In fact his predictions were proven correct. During the Cold War, for instance, the United States and the Soviet Union were the geographically large and dominating superpowers. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 China and India, for example, have risen to become great powers, both having large populations.

Kjellen and the Genocidal Vladimir I Lenin

The Swedish geopolitician published a number of articles with sharp criticism of Lenin and communist ideology. The article on Lenin ended with the words: “Only history will in the future show if Vladimir I. Lenin was a scourge or God or the devil.”

On Marx he remarked that he was a curious bastard of Hegel (form) and Rousseau (content). Half a million Bolsheviks ruled the 100 million of Russia. This half million was controlled by a couple of hundred tyrants in the Kremlin. If one of the usual labels is to be attached to that kind of state, it would be that of aristocracy in the degenerate form known as oligarchy.

Finally Kjellén focused on the question of the “historical side” of a state and movements that can occur. The “historical side” of Russia has for instance been the movement from the Baltic Sea-the Barents Sea to the Black Sea-the Mediterranean and then (1878) to the Far East and after 1905 mainly southward. An important aspect of this is also the movement of capital cities: Moscow to St. Petersburg and back to Moscow and in Turkey from Istanbul to Ankara.

Geopolitics, both as Kjellén viewed it and in its main Western stream, (Mackinder, Mahan, Spykman et al) is a science between history, geography and political science but it can also be regarded as an aid to all three.

Kjellén correctly predicted the collapse of the Habsburg Empire, the gradual decline of France as a great power and the decay of the British Empire.

These predictions were based on the view that the European great powers were influenced by hubris of superiority, which would lead to resistance and liberation in the colonial world. The father of geopolitics also believed Islam would be a rising threat in global politics due to the weakening of European great powers.

He also correctly predicted the coming of World War I already in 1899. In that he was not of course alone. Kjellén based the forecast on the growing antagonism of on one side of Great Britain and France. On the other side was Germany and Austria.

Conclusion

It is possible that Kjellen would today have viewed Russia, China and Iran (Persia) as the foremost challengers to the United States, Great Britain and Japan. The Swedish geopolitician could in the 21st century be a valuable tool for grand strategists, geopoliticians and geostrategists. We live

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION LEAVING A DANGEROUS WORLD

October 12, 2016

Washington Times on October 6, 2016, published an opinion piece by Wesley Pruden on the dangerous world the Obama administration is leaving behind. Mr. Pruden reflected on Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize. Excerpts below:

…everyone agreed that Mr. Obama certainly didn’t deserve the prize, cheapened as it had become by politics. Nearly eight years later the president has become something of a maker of war, not peace, which is the usual lot of any man or woman elected, like it or not, leader of the world.

The world is a far more dangerous place now. Radical Islamic terrorism, which the president still dares not call by its name, has become the new normal everywhere, gruesome death of innocents in the name of a prophet dead for centuries. The world hasn’t measured so many deaths in battle since the end of the Vietnam War, and refugees from war and terrorism have washed over Europe in numbers to remake the map, and threaten now to overwhelm the culture in America.

Mr. Obama…has pulled more than 100,000 soldiers out of Iraq, enabling the success of ISIS in taking vast territory for its so-called Islamic State, and now he has to begin the painful and embarrassing task of sending some of them back…

He rewarded Fidel Castro and the old men of the Cuban revolution, eager for the comforts of capitalism as they lie dying, but he is unable to do anything but draw imaginary red lines in the sand, like a child with his coloring book, to prevent the destruction of the Syrians.
But the president’s peacemaking legacy will be the sweetheart deal he made with the mullahs in Iran, preserving their dream of an Islamic bomb, which the mullahs promise to use to make a second Holocaust of Israel.

Hillary Clinton goes along with the president’s cynical assurance that against emerging evidence he has halted the development of the Iranian bomb.

Mr. Kaine, trying to reassure with his Howdy-Doody smile and happy talk, said three times that the Iranian nuclear-weapons program had been “stopped” or “capped.” He divided the “credit” between Mr. Obama and his negotiating skill and Hillary’s performance as secretary of State.

Whether manufacturing peace or disarming Islamic terror, Barack Obama and his protege have demonstrated incompetence all but unique in the history of the American presidency. And Hillary Clinton wants America to reward the incompetence with four more years.

Wesley Pruden is editor-in-chief emeritus of The Times.

Comment: The Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama has certainly left the Western world during his four years in power in a dangerous position. The traditional challengers of the West, Russia, China and Iran, have become increasingly powerful as the Obama administration has abandoned the wise and traditional policy of securing the rimland to avoid one or more powers to rise in Eurasia. It was Nicholas J. Spykman, the founder of the Institute of International Studies at Yale in 1935 who formulated the Rimland Doctrine. He argued that geography was everything and the United States as hegemon had to be involved in the rimland from Scandinavia to Japan. The reason was that the rimland was key to world power. The United States has followed Spykman’s advise since the Second World War but since 2009 America has been withdrawing from the rimland opening up the West to international terrorism and the three anti-Western empires Russia, China and Iran. It is up to the next U.S. president to steer America back to the Rimland Doctrine and increase American presence in the Middle East and the Far East.