AUKUS – the beginning of the end of NATO?

Is creation of a new alliance between the US, UK and Australia – the beginning of the end of NATO pact?

So it started!

The announcement that the United States, Great Britain and Australia have entered into a joint pact in the field of defense and security, dubbed AUKUS, has become an event that has already caused quite a lot of noise in the world from the very beginning.

In particular, in China – this event was received with hostility. In Beijing, in general, they called this pact directed against China. And Chinese interests not only in the Asia-Pacific region, but also in the world. China announced that this agreement between the three countries intensifies the arms race and seriously undermines the “regional peace”.

In the EU, this event, judging by the first reactions of politicians and various institutions of power on this fact, was a complete surprise. And even more, it was the reason why one of the EU countries, namely France as a whole, announced that this agreement on the creation of a kind of alliance – “was a stab in the back” which undermined trust between the allies!

Moreover, I want to note that the reaction of France in this case is quite understandable. This event became the reason for Australia’s refusal to purchase submarines from Paris.

First reactions

In the countries of Oceania, this event, in general, was the reason for the condemnation of the creation of a new military-political alliance and the signing of this agreement. In New Zealand, this event became the reason for the statement that they would ban Australian submarines from leaving their waters!

Only in Russia so far, at the time of this writing, this event has not been commented on at the official level. It has not generally expressed any reaction, but I think that if not today, then tomorrow this event will still receive assessment.

I consider this event from the point of view as the beginning of the end of NATO.

Yes! This is exactly what it is in my opinion. European members of NATO were already shaken in their trust in the aliance leaders – USA. It seems that Afghanistan debacle was just a beginning of something much bigger. Has American establishment made assessment that NATO is not necessary and is too expensive? Are we starting to witness transition of an intelligence alliance known as the “five eyes” into new military alliance spreading over Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Will Europe be left to deal with “Russian threat” on its own?

Why do I think so?

Let’s consider this situation, or rather this event, from a purely political point of view. EU “neither sleep nor spirit” knew about the ongoing negotiations on the creation of this alliance. This came as a complete surprise to the EU! It should be noted that it can and even should be regarded as an open expression of mistrust and even disregard on the part of the United States, Great Britain and Australia for the interests of their allies from the EU. 

In fact Washington, London and Canberra are simply, and not so simply, created a new military-political alliance without notifying their closest allies in the military-political NATO bloc about it. Thus, openly demonstrating their true attitude towards their own allies!

The creation of US, UK and Australia alliance in the field of defense and security without notifying its NATO allies is essentially nothing more than an open demonstration of complete disregard for the opinions of its so-called “allies.” In my opinion, it is a very rash step on the part of the participants in the new pact. It suggests that there is a rather serious split in views in the ranks of NATO. This gives a clear understanding of the fact that the very essence of the meaning of NATO’s existence for some of its member countries, such as the United States and Great Britain, has simply lost its relevance.

There is no alliance without trust

Well, the right thing is how you can be an ally with those who talk about the need to confront threats to Europe, but at the same time, behind Europe itself, it creates new alliances, which not only leave Europe alone with China, but also take away from the countries of Europe large enough orders for their military products?

It is impossible to talk about some kind of alliance if one of the parties makes and creates new pacts, about which the other ally finds out only after the fact. What do we understand and say that there is no longer any sense in the existence of NATO!

Secondly, if this event is viewed from a purely economic and technological point of view, then it should also be noted that the creation of this new alliance is nothing more than the beginning of the end of NATO! Especially if we take into account the fact that Australia has abandoned its plans to purchase submarines from France. 

The United States essentially destroyed the multi-billion dollar deal between France and Australia. And even more than that, the United States has pledged to transfer its technologies for the production of nuclear submarines! Yes, not transfer them to NATO member countries, but Australia – not even a member of NATO. In my opinion it also suggests that there is no longer any sense in the existence of NATO!

Technology transfer

During the entire existence of NATO, the United States has shared its technologies only with Great Britain!

There is a possibility that Europe may be outraged for the sake of appearance and then calmly forget all this. It would not be the first time. 

Something inside tells me that it is quite real. The events of recent year demonstrate to the whole world the fact that NATO is no longer relevant! And this event underlines this very clearly!

Please share your opinion in the comments!

“We are not a colony of the EU”

A new leader came to the fore of the EU

Since July 2021, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa has risen to the level of politicians in the Old World of the first rank. Over the next six months, his country will hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. For many in the unification leadership, this is an unpleasant acquaintance

He is considered a copycat of Donald Trump for the revised slogan of the American President “Slovenia First”. For his addiction to social networks, he is called “Marshal of Tvito”, and for his rejection of migration, he is called “an anti-liberal democrat.” But none of those nicknames would have attached to Slovenia’s 62-year-old Prime Minister Janez Janshe, a right-wing conservative, were it not for his habit of expressing thoughts bluntly. Jansha began his country’s presidency of the Council of the European Union by warning about the disintegration of the bloc, which could happen if some countries continue to “impose” “imaginary European values” on others, and immediately warned against considering Slovenia a  “colony” or “Europe of the second class”. 

Jansha knows what he is talking about firsthand: his political career started during the years of the collapse of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Over time, starting as a left-wing radical, he turned into a staunch Slovenian nationalist. You have to pay for everything: the price was the damage to relations with Brussels.

Among the seven authorities of the European Union, only one – the Council of the EU (which is sometimes equated with the upper house of the European Parliament) – assumes the chairmanship of all members of the association in turn. This is the only platform that allows the EU countries that are in opposition to its course (Slovenia is also included) to declare themselves. In Brussels, however, they know how to manage a bureaucratic calendar. So, preparations were made for the appearance of Janez Janshi in the European political Olympus in advance – this event was preceded by numerous critical publications in the press.

The main message of most of them was similar: the Slovene, already well-known in the European arena, has changed a lot in recent years. When Yansha headed his country in 2004-2008, she had no difficulties with the European Union. But the ensuing global economic crisis and mass migration from the Middle East in 2015–2016 pushed the former European-compatible politician to a position of nationalism. Since then, he has supported the construction of walls on the borders with neighbors, quarrels with liberal journalists and judges, and prefers to be friends with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Jansha became critical of ideas that the EU considers to be part of their values, which lies beyond compromise: in particular, support for LGBT people. Together, this is a rather big burden in the eyes of the EU leadership, especially when it comes to a person,

That is why no one was surprised that a disagreement between the future partners occurred already at the first joint press conference of the Slovenian leader in his new capacity and the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. “The European Union unites countries with different traditions, different cultures … and all these discrepancies must be taken into account and respected,” Jansha made a statement with subtext. Von der Leyen didn’t like it: “Freedom of speech, [cultural and racial] diversity and equality are fundamental European values,” she retorted . The European media saw the beginning of a conflict in this exchange of views, which seems convincing, because von der Leyen’s deputy Frans Timmermans reacted rather harshly: he refused to be photographed with Janscha.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, left, speaks with Slovenia’s Prime Minister Janez Jansa during a round table meeting at an EU summit in Brussels, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. European Union leaders gather for a second day of meetings to discuss the coronavirus pandemic and to assess new measures on how to meet targets to become climate-neutral by mid-century. (John Thys, Pool via AP)

During the first speech in the European Parliament, the Slovenian had no easier time. Green and Liberal MPs (Renew Europe) gave him a cold welcome. “I am afraid, Mr. Jansha, that the events in your country do not leave us the opportunity to trust you,” said Malik Azmani, the people’s choice from the Netherlands. LGBT. This also includes corruption and abuse. ” Ska Keller, co-chair of the Green faction in the European Parliament, accused Jansha, a former journalist, of “a campaign to slander the Slovenian mass media.”

Eastern European Union?

Jansha has long compensated for the difficulties with the countries of Western Europe by rapprochement with Hungary. Until now, his support for this country was mostly moral. Like Orban, Yansha strongly opposed the participation in politics of the American billionaire George Soros and even entered into controversy with him through the social network: “Stay away from Europe, please. Your dirty money and so-called non-profit organizations have become the most serious provocateurs of conflicts on the continent. destroying trust between peoples and democracy. Brexit alone is enough. Europe needs to recover, ” wrote the  indignant Jansha. 

Another point of intersection between the leaders: Slovenia has long been considered one of those states, on whose help Hungary can count on if sanctions against it are put to a European vote.

However, as the  authors of the investigative journalism argue , Yansha’s and Orban’s connections extend beyond that. Allegedly, when creating his own mass media, the Slovenian leader attracted funds from Hungarian entrepreneurs from Orban’s entourage.

But on the other side of the business relationship, there is something that brings both politicians together, which is not limited to money. Both Fidesz Orbana and the Slovenian Democratic Party of Janshi assume that they represent small countries whose identities are threatened by the changes taking place in the world. Therefore, back in 2015, both states developed a common approach to the migration issue: the construction of walls. And Slovenia even got ahead of its neighbor, erecting sections of fortifications on the Croatian border, that is, directly within the EU, “protecting” not Europe, but the Schengen zone from states that did not enter it.

“Slovenia in the first place!”, “Without us, Slovenes, there will be no Slovenia!” – These slogans, considered marginal at the beginning of the century, brought Yanshi’s party an election victory in 2018. The local media, oriented to European public opinion, launched a campaign against the prime minister, but could not undermine his power. The relationship between them turned into a regime of mutual attacks. Knowing the attitude of Yanshi to the Yugoslav communist regime (which condemned him to a criminal term), the media called the prime minister “Marshal Tvito” – by analogy with the Yugoslav dictator Marshal Josip Broz Tito. Yanshe also managed to touch the sensitive strings of the soul of his opponents. While still in opposition, his party organized a nationwide essay competition for children on the benefits of living in a homogeneous country without migrants.

Small country and one very big

In the plane of confrontation between part of the Eastern European states and Brussels in the 2010s, a new player, China, made itself felt. A conflict with the European Union in the language of real politics usually means a willingness to deal with the Middle Kingdom. This is most clearly demonstrated by Viktor Orban himself: his country has actively joined the Belt and Road Initiative, the key element of which is planned to be the railway between Budapest and Belgrade. Orban readily accepts loans from Chinese banks, which are given in such a way that the money will be spent on projects related to the PRC. One of these is the branch of Shanghai Fudan University in Budapest. True, the outcome of this undertaking is unclear: the Hungarian opposition mobilized against it in the summer of 2021.

For Slovenia, which is at odds with Brussels, it is also about receiving Chinese money. The main directions of these investments are outlined by the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China: improving the port in the city of Koper, laying railways, participating in the privatization of local state-owned companies. The advantage of Chinese investment in the eyes of Eastern Europeans is the lack of political conditions and respect for local culture. A potential drawback is the growth of debt, which for a small state may be unbearable. This is one of the reasons why Budapest and Ljubljana will hardly dare to go east too far.

However critical in Eastern Europe (including Slovenia) some of the proposals of the pan-European leadership may be, for the elites of these countries it is not only and not so much an adversary as a difficult negotiating partner. After all, both Slovenia and Hungary are direct recipients of the EU’s annual aid, which they (especially in a crisis) are not ready to refuse. Therefore, we can expect that the verbal escalation between Orban, Yansha and Europe, although it will continue, but the critical line, both leaders will not cross. Their task is different – to be heard. After all, what seems natural for large countries with a long history of persecution of minorities, followed by late repentance, looks completely different from the point of view of small states (Slovenia’s population is only 2.1 million) without a sense of collective guilt.

Watch out! Biden wants to save the planet

Technology choices will decisively impact whether climate-pivoted economic policy brings benefit or disaster

By JONATHAN TENNENBAUM

President Joe Biden’s climate plan is a grandiose vision. Combining deliberate echoes of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal with the crash-program approach to development of technology. Exemplified by the Apollo program of the 1960s. If it works, planet Earth and the US economy will be saved at the same time.

Biden has vowed to establish US leadership in saving the planet from an impending climate apocalypse. His appointments of establishment climate activists to high positions in his administration, along with his opening salvos of executive orders, confirm his intention to make climate the central topic in all spheres of US government activity.

He calls it the “Whole of Government Approach to the Climate Crisis.”

Among other things Biden ordered a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of the threat that climate change poses for US national security. He made climate officially the priority focus of US foreign policy. 

One has the distinct impression that the Biden Administration intends to use the climate crisis as an occasion for reasserting the primacy of US power in international affairs. Far beyond rejoining the Paris Agreement on his first day in office, Biden has made clear that the United States will act as global enforcer of CO2 reduction measures. And, needless to say, he intends to focus especially on China. 

Biden has committed himself to making climate the center of US domestic economic policy. The recent executive orders already contain elements of his campaign promise to channel $2 trillion into building a “clean” national infrastructure. And thereby creating millions of new jobs and driving innovation and economic growth.

If all goes according to plan, by 2035 the US should have 100% CO2-free electricity generation. By 2050 total net emissions should reach zero.

“Social Cost System”

Among the first concrete steps is to initiate planning for replacing the entire fleet of over 600,000 vehicles used by federal government and the US Postal Service to zero-emission vehicles.

A key move, which has so far attracted little attention in the news media, is to implement the so-called “social cost system” as a guiding criterion for daily government decision-making. The social cost system is based on attaching a numerical value to the “global damage” attributed to emission of a given amount of carbon dioxide – in the production of a given commodity, for example.

This will have a big economic impact through the choice of products and vendors for government purchases, on which Washington spends about $600 billion a year.

The $2 trillion climate plan – whose funding must, of course, be approved by Congress – would follow on the heels of a $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan to help the US economy and population recover from the effects of Covid-19.  

All in all, the degree of concentration of a US government on a single theme is practically unprecedented in peacetime. Were it not for the Covid-19 pandemic there would doubtless be much more discussion about this radical course.  People who believe that global warming is the greatest crisis of our time might easily overlook problematic, even ominous implications of declared policies.   

I wish to emphasize that I am not motivated by political opposition to the Biden Administration. Nor, of course, do I oppose rational measures to reduce and eventually eliminate the world’s one-sided dependence on fossil fuels.

One should also keep an open mind in respect to any new administration, which carries contradictory interests and impulses with it into office. It may adjust its course as it confronts reality.

Taking Biden’s declarations very seriously

But there are reasons to take Biden’s declarations very seriously.

Firstly, to all appearances Biden and his close advisors truly believe that the world is headed toward an unprecedented catastrophe through global warming. And that the clock is ticking and that urgent action is necessary to reduce CO2 emissions world wide. Not only the US but other nations as well must do so. Especially the largest COemitters, with China in first place.

Countries that refuse to reduce their emissions by the necessary amounts voluntarily must be forced to do so. The logic is inescapable. 

Secondly, as Biden has emphasized for the United States, replacing the world’s entire fossil fuel infrastructure with “clean technology” over the next 30-40 years creates a new market of colossal dimensions. Assuming that the nations and populations are able to pay for it. 

Thirdly, immense amounts of financial capital have already been committed to the expectation of radical climate policies. CO2 emissions are being monetized and a vast financial machinery created, tying asset valuations to parameters such as “carbon intensity” and “sustainability indices.”

Climate projections are being built into long-term risk strategies and the premium structures of insurance companies. The volume of carbon trade is growing exponentially. With it, the market for climate-linked financial instruments such as green bonds (already at $500 billion) and other so-called green assets.

Shaping global investment patterns and financial flows

Thereby, climate policy becomes a powerful instrument for shaping global investment patterns and financial flows. In his 2020 “Open Letter to CEOs” Larry Fink, the Chairman of the world’s largest asset management company, BlackRock, declared: “I believe we are on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance.”

In the meantime BlackRock, several of whose executives have been named to high positions in the Biden Administration. And announced that it is making climate change central to its investment strategy for 2021.

Thus, in all probability the Biden Administration will indeed pursue the radical course announced during his campaign and signaled by initial executive orders.

What will that mean?

From the positive side, I have reason to expect that areas of science and technology that are critically important for the future – nuclear fission and fusion, new materials, hydrogen technologies, high-density energy storage, applications of high temperature superconductivity and much more – will receive greater support under the new administration, than has been the case under preceding ones.

This is a crucial point. Leaving many other factors aside, the choice of technologies employed in the promised rebuilding of US infrastructure. Assuming it actually occurs. It will have a decisive impact on whether Biden’s climate-pivoted economic policy will benefit the nation or lead to disaster.

Following this introductory article no. 1, further installments in the series will take up the following concerns:

  • Green imperialism: Is the Biden Administration turning the climate issue into a vehicle for great-power geopolitics? 
  • Will Biden’s climate policy serve, defacto, as a vehicle for financial interests that are positioning themselves to profit from the tectonic shifts in global financial flows, arising from a forced move away from fossil fuels? Is this a “BlackRock Administration”?
  • Will overheated climate measures set the stage for a financial crisis? Major bets are being placed on the future of the world energy system, and market stability faces the dual menaces of a “green bubble” of climate-linked financial assets and a “carbon bubble” of potentially worthless fossil fuel assets.
  • Consider the risk of a California-like horror scenario: economically ruinous over-expansion of so-called renewable energy sources and ideologically-driven environmentalist measures, leading to exploding energy prices, blackouts, economic austerity, productivity losses and growing poverty. Will ill-conceived climate measures generate a political backlash and a resurgence of the Republicans, at latest by the 2024 Presidential elections?
  • Will the United States descend into economic and social crisis when the temporary, government money injections-induced “high” begins to wear off?
  • What’s the danger that ill-conceived measures by the Biden Administration, in the name of saving the planet, will undermine the capability of the United States and other nations to cope with climate changes in the future?
  • At the end I shall make some remarks concerning what a rational approach to the climate issue would look like.

Jonathan Tennenbaum received his PhD in mathematics from the University of California in 1973 at age 22. Also a physicist, linguist and pianist, he is a former editor of FUSION magazine. He lives in Berlin and travels frequently to Asia and elsewhere, consulting on economics, science and technology.

John Pilger on The New Cold War With China..

John Pilger on The New Cold War With China, American Exceptionalism, Biden’s Victory, Coronavirus


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In this episode of Going Underground, we speak to legendary journalist and filmmaker John Pilger. He discusses the devastating impact of Coronavirus in the U.K., rising poverty and militarism, the Western logic for the new Cold War with China, the victory of Joe Biden over Donald Trump and why not much will change with Trump leaving the Presidency, the Yemen War, the survival of Venezuela despite crippling international sanctions, mainstream journalism vs real journalism and much more!

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We contacted HM Treasury and they directed us to Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s words following the Spending Review.

Well, you know, yesterday was a spending review we were setting the budgets. And I was very clear when I set out the fiscal situation that what is happening this year is obviously not sustainable. You know that, your viewers know that. It is right to act in the way that we have this year to protect the economy in the medium term. I’m glad that the Office for Budget Responsibility who or independent fiscal watchdog acknowledged that what we’ve done has made a difference and it made a difference to keeping people in work primarily, which is what we’re trying to do.

But yes, you’re right, that can’t go on. Now is not the time to make those decisions because we’re dealing with so much uncertainty with the economy. The OBR yesterday presented three different scenarios. But once we get through this and we have greater certainty about the outlook, we can’t obviously have a situation where we’re borrowing this much and that is going up forever and a day.  When we get to an appropriate point, where we have certainty over the economy, we’ll look at how best to make sure that we have strong public finances. And the reason for that is simple.

I have been able to respond in a comprehensive and generous way during this crisis. It is in part because of the decisions of my predecessors. Which meant that we came into this with a strong set of public finances. I want to make sure whenever the next difficult thing comes along, the Chancellor can do the same response that I’ve done. That will require us to make sure we get back to that strong position.


Iran wants to join Eurasian Economic Union

Will Russia allow it?

There are some good reasons for Moscow’s lukewarm response to the possibility of Tehran’s admission to the EAEU. What are factors for and against Iran joining Eurasian Economic Union from Russian point of view?

By NIKOLA MIKOVIC

The Russia-dominated Eurasian Economic Union might soon be acquiring a new member: Iran. Boxed in because of its rivalry with other states in the Middle East, and laboring under US-imposed sanctions, Tehran believes it needs to strengthen ties with such neighbors as might be willing to accept it.

Iran appears to think that membership in the EAEU is a done deal. That is despite officials of the bloc denying they had received any formal request. When Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, Speaker of the Iranian parliament, visited Moscow on February 10, he declared Iran would “permanently join the EAEU in two weeks.” Apart from the fact that the date has passed, such optimism is extremely premature.

The response from Mikhail Myasnikovich, chairman of the board of the Eurasian Economic Commission, was telling. The Eurasian union wants Iran to have “a special view on cooperation with Eurasia,” he said. It hardly sounds like a warm welcome. Other EAEU officials have stressed that Iran must formally apply for membership. A veiled warning, perhaps, that Iran cannot expect to bypass procedures.

On the face of it, there are reasons for Tehran and Moscow to support Iran’s inclusion into the bloc. The economic area is an integrated market of 180 million people with a combined GDP of more than US$5 trillion. It encourages the free movement of goods and services and can formulate common policy in key areas such as energy, agriculture, transport, customs, and foreign trade and investment.

Iran already has had a free-trade agreement with the Eurasian union since 2018. In 2020, trade turnover between Iran and the EAEU increased by 2%, exceeding $2 billion.

Mutual benefits

Food products and agricultural raw materials accounted for most of that trade in both directions. 80% of the goods that the EAEU supplied to Iran and 68% of what Iran sent to the EAEU.

Joining the EAEU would improve Iran’s economic and political position globally and help to offset, at least partly, the cost of US sanctions.

On the Russian side, Moscow wants another pathway to the markets of the Middle East. That is why the Kremlin strongly supports the construction of the Nakhchivan corridor. It is a land route connecting not only Azerbaijan to its Nakhchivan exclave between Turkey and Armenia, but also Russia and Turkey and – crucially – Russia and Iran.

A future rail link between Russia and Iran, passing though Azerbaijan and Armenia, will undoubtedly enhance economic ties between the two countries as well as Iran’s trading relations with other Eurasian union member states.

However, how receptive Arab Middle East states would be to Russian goods transiting through Iran is another question altogether. This might be a reason for Moscow’s distinctly lukewarm response to the possibility of Tehran’s admission to the bloc.

In fact, there are several large questions hanging over inducting a new member into the bloc. Bloc consists of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, in addition to Russia. Uzbekistan, Moldova and Cuba have observer status.

Impact on Russian relationship with Israel and Arab States

It is not improbable that closer economic ties would lead to stronger military ones. The UN Security Council embargo on conventional arms shipments to Iran expired in October. It is no secret that Iran is interested in purchasing Russia’s S-400 anti-aircraft system. As well as Su-30 fighter jets. But such a deal would almost certainly ramp up tensions between Moscow and Washington and raise alarm bells in Gulf Arab states.

Then there is Russia’s relationship with Iran’s arch-enemy, Israel. The Russians have not prevented Israel from striking at Iranian targets in Syria, despite operating S-400 units in the area. Russia was the mediator in a prisoner exchange between its ally, Syria, and Israel that took place this month and there are rumors of further ongoing negotiations on humanitarian issues and even on wider geopolitical matters.

Speculation aside, what is known is that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed continued coordination between their two countries in light of developments in regional security. Was Iran also on the agenda?

Moscow, after all, must maintain its own delicate balancing act and guard its geopolitical interests. The normalization of ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and other Arab states has changed interest-dynamics in the region, tilting the balance further toward the Arab Gulf region’s anti-Iran alliance. How does Russia profit from the new Middle East?

Some other countries are already in the queue to join

Finally, there is the fact that there are others ahead of Iran in the queue to join the Eurasian union. Syria is one of them; 40 other countries also have stated their wish to develop trade and economic cooperation with the bloc.

As well as declaring that Iran would soon join the EAEU, Qalibaf said he had brought “a very important message” from Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. It may well be that Moscow is composing its own, equally important message to send back to Tehran.

NIKOLA MIKOVIC

Nikola Mikovic is a political analyst in Serbia. His work focuses mostly on the foreign policies of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, with special attention on energy and “pipeline politics.” 

More by Nikola Mikovic

The moral case for China to fight a war

Ancient Chinese philosophy draws a clear and moral distinction between an ‘attack’ and ‘punishment’

By FRANCESCO SISCI

War sounds nearer for China while its contours remain rather foggy. But Hu Xijin, the editor of the Global Times, a popular newspaper associated with the Communist Party organ the People’s Daily, recently broached the possibility of a real war.

“Chinese people don’t want war, but we have territorial disputes with several neighboring countries encouraged by the US to confront China. Some of these countries believe that the US support provides them with a strategic opportunity and try to treat China outrageously.

“They believe that China, under the US’s strategic pressure, is afraid, unwilling or unable to engage in military conflict with them. Thus, they want to pull the chestnuts out of the fire. Considering that there is also the Taiwan question, the risk of the Chinese mainland being forced into a war has risen sharply in recent times,” he wrote.

In this context, Hu makes some interesting and important points. War must have a solid moral justification; thus, China would not fire the first shot and it should be clear that it is the victim and not the aggressor.

The point harks back to ancient times: Mozi, an ancient philosopher who deals with the reasons for war, condemns the aggressive war of big states against small ones (gong 攻) but supports the actions sanctioned by the supreme Son of Heaven who punishes (zhu 誅) unruly rulers.

今遝夫好攻伐之君,又飾其說以非子墨子曰:「以攻伐之為不義,非利物與?昔者禹征有苗,湯伐桀,武王伐紂,此皆立為聖王,是何故也?」墨子曰:「以攻伐之為不義,非利物與?昔者禹征有苗,湯伐桀,武王伐紂,此皆立為聖王,是何故也?」子墨子曰:「子未察吾言之類,未明其故者也。彼非所謂攻,謂誅也.

The warring lords would gloss over their conduct with arguments to confute Mozi, saying: “Do you condemn attack and assault as unrighteous and not beneficial? But anciently Yu made war on the Prince of Miao, Tang on Jie and King Wu on Zhou. Yet these men are all regarded as sages. What is your explanation for this?”

Mozi replied: “You have not examined the terminology of my teaching and you do not understand its motive. What they did is not to be called ‘attack’ but ‘punishment.’”

The issue is crucial for Mozi, and we are in a situation totally different compared with that of Sunzi, who has no moral qualms but wants to win the military engagement. He utters:

攻其無備,出其不意,此兵家之勝,不可先傳也。

“Attack him with superior forces where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected. These military devices, leading to victory, must not be divulged beforehand.”

Hu Xijin, like Mozi and unlike Sunzi, is not concerned here with actual military success, but with a very important and delicate point that helps to lead to military success: how to build a moral case justifying a military intervention.

If the moral case is well built, it will help to reinforce domestic consensus and undermine enemy consensus, both crucial elements for a victory.

Chinese philosopher Mozi differentiated between attacks and punishments. Image: Wikimedia

International consensus-building

The point from this is how to build a domestic consensus in an authoritarian society and take it abroad successfully. In theory, the first part is simple. The government has a monopoly on information and what it says is true. It should be enough not to be too rough and naive with the use of its tools.

The problem is how to export the authoritarian truth to an open world. In theory, this was already done. Communist governments effectively engaged free capitalist societies for decades. In the Vietnam War, for example, they positively helped to undermine the enemy’s will to fight. This was no simple effort.

Communism was a complex ideology with a body of articulated and fascinating literature promising to improve the lives of people and the structure of state and society. It built a church and a theology in which all elements of the socialist life were encoded. The coding was fine-looking and so attractive that it cut a lot of ice in Western capitalist societies.

The ideological “capitalist” answer to the communist philosophical-propaganda offensive was also extremely complex, mixing theoretical elements with practical results, ie, tangible improvement of livelihoods in the capitalist West versus dwindling economic performance in the communist East.

Most importantly, both “capitalist” and “socialist” ideologies had no spatial border. Both were concerned with the well-being of everybody in the world and both wanted to change the whole world.

China now doesn’t want to export its socialist system; it wants to defend what it deems are its sovereign rights against a perceived aggression on many fronts of its frontiers: India, Vietnam, Japan, a “splittist” Taiwan, the US, and possibly other countries. But its size and its different system by themselves undermine the global US-dominated system.

This scares many countries at its borders, which may feel that if China’s ambitions are not territorially restrained, they will fall under Beijing’s economic and political clout.

Beijing may believe these concerns are totally unwarranted, it may want to assuage them and win over public opinion in these countries, just as these countries may try to do with Chinese public opinion.

Yet China doesn’t have a global philosophical outlook developed through decades of international debate. Russian communism, battling international physical and philosophical assaults in the 1920s, inherited communist literature dating back at least to the 1848 Marx-Engels Communist Manifesto. China has nothing similar.

Moreover, its stress on patriotism, borders and protection give a sense that China’s interests and those of its neighbors are at odds over specific nationalistic issues. In a nationalistic brawl, everybody sticks to their own nation.

Lastly, in a world adhering mostly to free exchange of opinions, ideas coming from an authoritarian, possibly nationalist, society cut little or no ice and conversely can be proof of Chinese bad and deceptive intentions.

To change this situation – that is, to have an effective philosophical-propaganda machine –China should develop an internationalist reach, like communism or “capitalism,” or stop being an authoritarian regime. For a better result, it should do both.

Short of that, Beijing finds itself painted in a corner. It doesn’t matter if India, Taiwan, Japan or anybody else is right or wrong with its grievances against China; Beijing’s reasons have little or no appeal outside of China. That is, its reasons for war will work only domestically and only as long as its monopoly on information holds.

Internal morale can be easily undermined in a public information onslaught by its enemies. They, in theory, can basically construct whatever reason to attack China and will get away with it because Beijing will have no credible voice.

Fake news is nothing new, but battling it is a very sophisticated game that a monopoly on information can sort out only if imposed on a global and absolute scale. On top of that, Beijing may actually be wrong.

Why Beijing is not totally wrong

But this is beside the point. Even if Beijing is right, without an open debate platform, without an appealing internationalist ideology, it will only have brute force and money to fend for itself and its morale.

If force and money were enough to hold power, Mao would have died in a ditch and Chiang Kai-shek’s grandson would rule China now.

Then this leaves the final, practical point: what did Hu Xijin want to say in the article?

Possibly by arguing about the moral issues in going to war he is building an argument that tries to cool down the animus of domestic hardliners. They are growing annoyed and nervous about what some in China perceive as a state of siege led by the US.

Hu is basically saying, it is impossible to go to war if we don’t have a clear-cut case and to have that we cannot be the ones who move first. It appears as an internal message against Chinese war-mongers to wait longer. It is a command not to rush things and ponder them.

Chinese People’s Liberation Army soldiers marching with their bayonets during a military parade. Photo: AFP/Stephen Shaver

But, actually, as soon as China speaks of war, many countries are impatient about the details of its arguments; they simply shrug, taking it as naive braggadocio. Conversely, some in Beijing may believe that this grand talk could actually intimidate certain foreign parties.

Now, given the international mood around China and the long shadow of events in Hong Kong, Xinjiang and on other fronts, it is possible that outside of China the message will be simply received as “Beijing is talking of going to war.”

China may be seen as trying to build a case to start a war and be provocative. Then, the foreign parties may think: this must be taken seriously and countermeasures must be arranged.

In this way, we are all one step closer to a slippery slope of massive misunderstandings leading to a war.


Used with permission of Settimana News. Read the original here.

Working with China is more beneficial than fighting it



By Ken Moak

It appears the political and security elites in the United States are preparing for an OK Corral-type showdown with China. On December 1, the US Justice Department asked (some would argue pressured) Canada to arrest Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, on a provisional warrant. It went on to charge two Chinese government employees with stealing information from firms and governments in 12 countries.

The big question is: Why now and what does the US hope to gain from these provocations?

China’s economic, technological and military rise

A brief look at China’s accomplishments in the economic, technological and military realms might shed light on the question.

The size of China’s economy is estimated at US$13.7 trillion in nominal exchange rate measurement and it met the targeted growth rate of 6.5%  in 2018, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics (CNBS). China’s growth rate is far greater than that of the US, estimated at around 3% by the US National of Statistics. If the trend continues, the Chinese economy could well topple that of the US, becoming the biggest economy in both measures.

The remarkable annual average growth rate of nearly 9% has allowed the country to spend lavishly on research and development and higher education, estimated at over US$260 billion and US$175 billion, respectively, in 2017 by the CNBS. A big chunk of higher education spending was on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

As a result, China produces over 6 million STEM graduates each year and a similar number worked in research. These millions of STEMs are the country’s best and brightest scientific and engineering minds.

This might be a more compelling explanation of why the country is fast closing the innovation gap with and even surpassing the US in some areas – 5G, AI, driverless cars, high-speed railway, etc – than China stealing American secrets.

Huawei is at the forefront of 5G technology and the biggest (and some would suggest the best) telecommunications equipment manufacturer in the world. According to the company’s press release, almost 170 countries are using its equipment. Huawei is also the world’s second-largest smartphone producer, surpassing Apple but behind South Korea’s Samsung.

Other than the US, Australia and New Zealand, no country has accused Huawei of being a “spy” for the Chinese government. Indeed, France and Germany welcome the company’s investment.

It is probably the fear that Huawei might displace Apple that the US barred the company’s products from entering its market and asked Canada to arrest its chief financial officer. According to Jeffery Sachs, a Columbia University  professor and Washington Post columnist, Meng Wanzhou’s arrest might have been politically motivated, contrary to what both the US and Canada have claimed. This allegation was supported by Trump himself when said he would intervene if China would not give him the “deal” he wants.

While China is not interested in getting into an arms race with America, it is spending heavily on developing new weapons systems to ensure it has a credible deterrent. The latest is the JL3, a submarine missile that can carry 10 nuclear bombs with a range of over 7,500 kilometers. Together with its DF21, DF26, DF31 and DF41, China has achieved that credible deterrent capability.

America’s ruling elite upset and frustrated

The US political, security and intelligence communities are upset with China because it is able to challenge American supremacy but cannot do anything about it short of a nuclear attack.

It was not supposed to be that way. The US did not expect China to transform itself from an impoverished and backward country into a superpower within four decades. Based on Soviet economic performance, the West and Japan, in fact, laughed at Deng Xiaoping’s “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics,” dubbed “state-capitalism.” Indeed, they cheered for India.

However, the West, the US in particular, and Japan are shocked because China has done so well. According to the World Bank, China’s economy was just a little over US$250 billion in 1978, the year Deng opened the country up and established economic reforms, turning away from dogmatic central planning to a market economy with Chinese characteristics.

Since then, China’s economy has grown enormously, reaching nearly US$13.7 trillion in 2018. Along the way, the government managed to lift between 750 and 800 million people out of poverty, build the largest and most sophisticated high-speed train system in the world, and establish a formidable space program, just to name a few accomplishments.

In a span of 40 years, China has managed to become a near-peer power of the US, economically, technologically and militarily, and therein lies the frustration: having China as an equal is unthinkable but stopping her is unimaginably costly.

Is Beijing as “evil” as the US says?

It could be argued that the “communist” government might be more responsible and caring than any in the West, including the US.  According to the World Bank and other supranational institutions, the Chinese government has lifted 800 million people out of poverty and elevated over 400 million to middle-class status within 40 years. In doing so, it has erased considerable human misery and lived up to its stated aim of “serving the people.”

Putting economic development at the forefront has not only benefited China, but also the world. Since the 2008 financial crisis caused by the US, China has contributed to a third of global economic growth by buying huge quantities of resources and other goods and services around the world. Indeed, the Australian China hawk Tony Abbott even admitted that it was China that made his country the “lucky continent.”

Because of huge industrial and infrastructural investment from China, many countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia are beginning to develop more rapidly.

What did the “holier than thou” US do to improve the lives of its poor and middle class?

A final comment

Demonizing China with “fake news” would only make the world a more dangerous and miserable place. US provocations in the South China Sea in the name of “freedom of navigation operations” could lead to a military clash, risking American, Chinese and other people’s lives.

As the UK’s last colonial governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, painfully discovered, China is too big to be bullied. The US and its allies should do the right thing for their countries: work with China to make this world a better place.

There is nothing to be gained from conflict. Spending more money on defense translates to less money for improving people’s lives.

Ken Moak Ken Moak taught economic theory, public policy and globalization at university level for 33 years. He co-authored a book titled China’s Economic Rise and Its Global Impact in 2015. HIs second book, Developed Nations and the Economic Impact of Globalization, was just published by Palgrave McMillan Springer.