A New Chinese Foreign Policy.

It is from 2014 but with great links.

Here is it’s opening.

A new era is dawning in Chinese foreign policy as the country’s economic growth enables it to move from past timorousness in declaring itself a global leader and a relative inability to defend its interests, to one in which Beijing can seek adjustments in the security environment it has faced for the last sixty years. In the Chinese-language media, politicians are increasingly talking of China as a great power. Yet Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has put Beijing’s new foreign policy to the test and raised questions about the extent of China’s global role.

The rest can be read here.

Just peaceful devleopment​?

Here is one bit.

According to conventional wisdom, Chinese president Xi Jinping has launched a more ambitious and geopolitically game-changing era of Chinese foreign economic policy. And Beijing is certainly promoting new economic initiatives, from the creation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to the rollout of the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative. But China’s international economic grand strategy under Xi is not new. It is an extension of Beijing’s long-standing Peaceful Development frameworkfrom the mid-1990s, which asserts that China’s own development and stability is contingent on shared prosperity with its international economic partners, especially those in the developing world. In fact, the Peaceful Development strategy has not been uniformly successful, and Xi’s expansion of it is likely to create unexpected challenges for China and the world.

The rest can be read here.

Mearshimer ​on Iran.

Iran is not a direct threat to the United States. It is not even an indirect threat to the United States. First, Iran does not have nuclear weapons and it has signed an agreement with the world’s major powers that makes it impossible for Tehran to develop nuclear weapons in the foreseeable future. Second, Iran does not have missiles that can strike the U.S. homeland. Third, Iran has weak conventional forces, which cannot be used against the United States or any country in the Middle East that is under the American security umbrella. Fourth, Iran is not a serious threat to attack another country in its region. It has not launched a war against another country even once in modern times, and there is no evidence that it is now preparing to take the offensive against any of its neighbors. Fifth, Iran is not the source of America’s terrorism problem. To the extent that any one country deserves that title, it is Saudi Arabia, not Iran.


The truth is that it is the United States that is a direct threat to Iran, not the other way around. The Trump administration, with much prompting from Israel and Saudi Arabia, has its gunsights on Iran. The aim is regime change, and there is much evidence that the United States might use military force to achieve that goal.

The rest can be read here.

The alliance with Saudi Arabia

Great piece by Steven Metz on the outdated alliance with SA.

Here is one bit

Ironically, the rise of violent, transnational Islamist extremism, led first by al-Qaida and later by the Islamic State, both solidified the U.S.-Saudi relationship and amplified its fissures. While Riyadh never intended to create revolutionary movements like al-Qaida and the Islamic State, its aggressive efforts to spread its deeply conservative Wahhabist strain of Islam inadvertently set the stage for extremist ideologues like Osama bin Laden. Unlike the Soviet or Iranian threats, violent Islamist extremism emerged from within Saudi Arabia, as demonstrated by the fact that most of the 9/11 hijackers and many of the foreign fighters in the Iraqi insurgency were Saudis.

The rest can be read here.

Four years on, Yemen war remains Saudi Arabia’s albatross.

Four years on, Yemen war remains Saudi Arabia’s albatross

The piece notes how ineffectual military campaigns can be as well as the terrible toll American client states can produce when they wage war.

“According to the UN, 80% of Yemen’s 24 million people need humanitarian assistance and 10 million are close to starvation. “

Read more here.

Example of American assurance.

The headline is “Bombers fly coordinated missions from Indo-Pacific, Europe.”

Here is the opening paragraph.

“Bombers launched from Andersen AFB and flew north to an area east of the Kamchatka Peninsula before returning to base. Collectively, the flights from the Indo-Pacific and Europe demonstrated U.S. commitment to allies and partners through the global employment of military forces.”

The rest of the press release can be read here.

China seeks influence in Europe

“Rachel Ellehuus, a former U.S. Defense Department official who worked on NATO issues and is now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that China is undoubtedly seeking more influence in Europe, and it’s difficult to separate its commercial ambitions from geopolitical ones. “There’s this new understanding that much like Russia, China is seeking to use transactions, money, finance, and investment as leverage for influence in Europe,” she said.”

“U.S. officials also worry that China is gaining too many commercial footholds in some of Europe’s largest and most important ports, including Rotterdam, Antwerp, Hamburg, and Piraeus, that it could use to wield political influence over European governments.”

The author is Robbie Gammer and the rest can be read at Foreign Policy, found here.

What a Military Intervention in Venezuela Would Look Like

“Precision strikes are often portrayed as a quick, cheap, safe, and effective alternative to a broader military intervention. But two U.S. precision strike operations—in Libya, in 2011, and in Yugoslavia, in 1999—underscore their unpredictable nature and their limited ability to shape political outcomes. In Libya, where the strikes lasted for seven months, the intervention achieved its narrow objective—the collapse of Muammar al-Qaddafi’s regime—but left the country in chaos. The three-month bombing campaign in Yugoslavia was more successful: It degraded the Yugoslav military’s ability to repress the population and helped lead to the establishment of a UN-monitored political framework, although that was a more limited goal than regime change.”

“There’s no such thing as risk-free military action. But in this case, the social, economic, and security costs of intervening far outweigh the benefits. Whether the United States launched limited air strikes or a full ground invasion, it would almost certainly get sucked in to a long, difficult campaign to stabilize Venezuela after the initial fighting was over. Such an engagement would cost American lives and money and hurt the United States’ standing in Latin America. An extended occupation would reignite anti-Americanism in the region, particularly if U.S. soldiers committed real or perceived abuses, and it would damage U.S. relations with countries outside the region, too. Finally, a war-weary American public is unlikely to stand for yet another extended military campaign.

The author is Frank O. Mora and the rest can be read at Foreign Affairs, found here.

A benign hegemon?

The defining feature of the post-Cold War order has been American hegemony. Nearly every aspect of this order, from the international economy to all major security relationships, has been defined by the unprecedented concentration of power in the United States. This is largely celebrated in America, as both Democrats (liberal internationalists) and Republicans (neoconservatives) regularly tout how the world benefits from an abundance of American power. This is the “missing debate” in Washington. While they have large disagreements on economic and social issues, it is a widely shared assumption of the American political elite that the United States is a hegemonic power and that it should exploit its power to better the world.

There are two defining features of a hegemonic power. One is how powerful it is. The other is its character. The general description of American hegemony is that it is a benign superpower. It is thought to be benign because it isn’t imperial and employs its force in pursuit of noble ends, like spreading democracy. It is considered to be a superpower because of how dominate its military is.

Both descriptions are erroneous and misleading.

It is true that the American military is the most powerful in recorded history. As both supporters and critics regularly point out, the United States spends more per year on its military than the next dozen (or so) countries combined. Spending nearly 600 billion every year has purchased clear advantages in nearly every military metric available, whether nuclear or conventional. Supporting this advantage is a network of military bases and an assortment of semi-permanent alliances with formable military powers including the United Kingdom, Australia, and France. Undergirding this military is the largest and most dynamic economy in the world.

The problem isn’t the strength of the American military, which is indeed a second to none. The problem is that those who describe American hegemony in these terms fail to respect the limits of military power. The irony of American hard power is that it is so abundant it ends up begin used in counterproductive ways. The United States has used its military in at least 8 high profile exercises since 1989.[1] Each episode had two things in common. Not a single one addressed American security and each mission sought to introduce liberal values by way of military force. In this matter, each effort has failed as not a single country is today democratic. In places like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, American armed intervention has been disastrous. The undisciplined use of the American military is a result of mischaracterizing how powerful American hegemony actually is. The American military is designed to be destructive. At this there is no institution on Earth that is more capable. But the power to destroy does not easily translate into the power to build. What the enthusiasts misunderstand is that while America does own a military that can be described as a superpower, it is not the correct instrument for reengineering the politics of foreign countries.

The other narrative used to describe American hegemony is in regard to its character, which most of America’s political elite consider to be benign. There is a serious argument to be made that the United States fits such a description. When the United States does use force in the post-Cold War era, it has done so for arguably noble reasons, such as protecting the Kurds of northern Iraq or the Kosovar Albanians.Yet, what is considered benign will depend on a number of factors, and there is a lot of evidence that the United States uses its power in both illegitimate and gratuitous ways. The era of benevolent hegemony has often been one of American unilateralism. A glaring contradiction of the “benevolent America” description is that the United States claims the right to use force illegally. The invasion of Iraq was illegal. So was the overthrow of Gadhafi’s Regime. The United States justifies this double standard by claiming that it is exempt to the rules that regulate other state behavior. As Madeline Albright claimed, “If we have to use force, it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see further into the future.” While this attitude may be convenient for those who wield American power, to those outside it reeks of hypocrisy and arrogance and what seems benign to America is often considered malicious to others.

A more realistic and less self-aggrandizing understanding of American hegemony is in order. For one, the United States is not nearly as powerful as it thinks it is. American politicians are so intoxicated with American hard power that not only do they assume responsibility for solving the world’s problems, but that it also owns the tools to do so. The United States military has robust stopping power but is not the correct tool for most international problems. Bombs stop advancing armies but they do not build democracies. A more sober understanding of the limits of hard power will temper the hubristic use of the American military. The second point is that, fair or unfair, perceptions matter, and the routine use of force will expose America to accusations of hypocrisy that ironically reduce its influence in a “smart power” world. Why Libya but not Myanmar? Why the Balkans and not Rwanda? The inconsistent use of force serves to delegitimize America. Instead of a benign superpower, the United States should begin to view itself as first among equals. The United States is first owing to its phenomenally capable military. Despite it being misused in the past, the United States is still the dominant military power today. But the United States is also among equals and therefore must abide by the same rules it expects other countries to follow.

[1]I count Iraq (1991 and 2003) Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Libya.

The long term view of North Korean nuclear program.

The Singapore summit was theatrical, unprecedented, and largely symbolic. Theatrical because the world witnessed a former reality TV star greet the world’s most reclusive leader. Unprecedented because it was the first time a sitting American president has meet a member from the Kim dynasty. And symbolic because the agreement was vaguer than those of the past.

It’s hard to imagine that if Hilary Clinton had produced a similar agreement that Trump wouldn’t have called it “fake nuclearization.”

What the historic meeting did produce was a de-escalation in tensions, which is a good thing. But no real breakthrough on the regimes nuclear weapons should be expected and it is not because of the threat posed by American hegemony. No, the writing is on the wall in Asia and while the United States will always be the worlds most powerful country, America’s days as the principal military power of Asia are numbered. It is, rather, China which worries North Korea.

The most overstated alliance is not NATO or the U.S.-Japan security alliance, but the Chinese-North Korean alliance. It is a cliché to argue that the road towards North Korean nuclearization is through Beijing. China does appear to have some leverage over North Korea. Almost 90 percent of North Korean trade is with China, and it is China who has used its veto to shield North Korea from international sanctions.

As well, North Korea is the only country China is technically obligated to defend in the event it is attacked.

Yet, this alliance is not a result of a shared ideology or some cultural affinity but from a Chinese desire to ensure regime stability at home. Like most of the middle powers of Asia, China’s rise is viewed skeptically by North Korea. While it is true that China may prefer a nuclear North Korea to a collapsed regime, its long-term aim for the peninsula is not clear. The uncertainty of China’s long term plans is exacerbated by the complicated history of the two countries. It was China, after all, that normalized relations with the United States at the expense of North Korea’s main benefactor, the USSR. It was also China that recognized South Korea as an independent state, despite North Korean claims that it was part of its own territory. And it is China that uses its trade leverage and UN veto in an attempt to manipulate DPRK politics.

It is not unreasonable to assume that Kim trusts China less than he does America. After all, Kim’s first set of policies were to purge his regime of Chinese influence. This included executing his uncle, Jang Song-Thaek, recalling North Korean business elites living in China, and assassinating his half brother who, until his death, was protected by Beijing.

An unintended consequence of hegemony (whether global or regional) is the incentive for rouge states to pursue nuclear weapons. China has designs to replace America as the hegemonic power of the region and part of their grand strategy includes geopolitics. Considering that the current leadership of China has made historic claims of ownership to the peninsula, it should be no surprise that North Korea bristles when China attempts to control its public policy. From an American perspective, this makes negotiations for the dismantling of the DPRK nuclear weapons complicated. Unless America can control Chinese foreign policy, it is not likely that DPRK will denuclearize regardless of Chinese policy.

Understanding North Korea’s nuclear program as a deterrent of China presents the United States with an ideal opportunity to quietly withdrawal from the issue of DPRK nuclear program. The United States spends a great deal of its resources in an attempt to denuclearize the peninsula, yet with little return. America does all of this despite China being the biggest beneficiary of a dismantled nuclear program. Furthermore, American policy is arguably counterproductive. It is American power that creates the Chinese-North Korean alliance. Once that power recedes, a new front will open between China and North Korea which is arguably in America interests to see happen. If American grand strategy is to ensure no regional hegemon emerges in Asia, the United States should quietly welcome a nuclear Korea as it would mostly serve as an obstacle to Chinese hegemon.

The paramount question of international relations today is how to handle China’s rise. The middle powers of Asia have all made it clear that they are wary of how a future China will behave, North Korea included. North Korea’s strategy for handling a future China will be to direct their nuclear weapons at Beijing, not Washington DC. The United States should therefore slowly disengage from the region and allow Pyongyang to be Beijing’s headache.