Tag Archives: U.S.

Mark Collins – “The fall of Aleppo shows us exactly what we have become”

Terrible Terry Glavin roars his rage; amongst other things he excoriates feckless and irrelevant Canadian word-mongering at the UN General Assembly–an excerpt:

The truth of it is we’d just rather not take the trouble [see end of post]. We aren’t prepared to suffer the sacrifices demanded of the commitments to universal rights we profess, so we absolve ourselves by talking about “the Muslim world” as though it were a distant planet. We talk about Arabs as though they were a different species. It’s easier on the conscience that way.

Between the drooling bigotries of the isolationist Right and the clever platitudes of the “anti-imperialist” Left, the only place left to address the solemn obligations we owe one another as human beings is in negotiations over the codicils of international trade agreements, or in the rituals of deliberately unenforceable resolutions entertained by the United Nations General Assembly.

Just last Friday, Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion and his diplomats conducted just such a ceremony in sponsoring a non-binding General Assembly resolution demanding an immediate cessation of hostilities in Syria, humanitarian aid access throughout the country, and an end to the siege of Aleppo. It passed, 122 to 13. This is what counts these days as a diplomatic coup [and heralded by our government–wowsers: “UN General Assembly calls for action on Syria in Canada-led resolution”].

Canadian Ambassador to the UN Marc-André Blanchard was pleased to claim that the resolution was already having an effect even before it was voted on, because the day before, Russia announced it was temporarily halting its bombing of Aleppo and had even offered to open corridors to allow civilians to flee. This is what counts these days as a diplomatic triumph.

The UN human rights office later announced that it had received credible reports that hundreds of men who crossed into Aleppo’s regime-controlled districts had gone missing…

Whilst Aleppo was falling our government issued this clarion call; one is sure it had Assad and Putin furiously reconsidering their course. Why do we bother with this worthless verbiage?

Canada demands that Assad regime and backers stop violence now and respect human rights in Syria

And if they don’t? Bah and humbug.

The start of a post from April:

The West and the Middle East: No Guts

I wrote earlier:

What to Do About the Bloody Middle East?

Poor bloody locals. If the West is truly willing to sort things out right now, are we then willing to rule–one way or another–for some decades or so to try to ensure things work out wellish? Triple double HAH! Given no willingness for, or today in the West intellectual acceptance of, such a prospect, then let us just face things honestly…

We don’t. Thank goodness we have Mr Glavin.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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Mark Collins – South China Sea: Why is USN Admiral Leading on US Policy vs China? Part 2

Further to this post in May, the head of US Pacific Command is at it again, note my italics–one would have thought such statements should be for civilian policy makers (in any event President Trump unlikely to be bothered)–at Defense One’sD-Brief“:

The U.S. will cooperate with China, “but we will be ready to confront when we must,” said PACOM’s Adm. Harry Harris during a speech this morning in Sydney. “We will not allow a shared domain to be closed down unilaterally no matter how many bases are built on artificial features in the South China Sea,” he said. “The U.S. fought its first war following our independence to ensure freedom of navigation. This is an enduring principle and one of the reasons our forces stand ready to fight tonight [emphasis added, talk about robust]”. More here

More here on the South China Sea.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Big Dragon “Yikes!”–From 2010 to 2020 “China is set to nearly double its military spending…”

This should sure get the attention of PEOTUS Trump–the rest of the headline:

…as an arms race heats up in Asia.
China’s defense spending will balloon to $233 billion in 2020, up from $123 billion in 2010, according to a new report by IHS Jane’s.

Very relevant:

Can the US Cope With a Big War Against a Major Power? Part 2

USAF “Officers Give New Details for F-35 in War With China”

RAND on War Between the Dragon and the Eagle

US Navy: Carriers or Subs, with the Dragon in Mind

Rising Sun’s Yen for Defence Spending, Part 3

Take that Dragon! Indian PM Modi Embraces the Rising Sun (plus the Eagle and the Bear)

A real Asian military cockpit, what? Meanwhile quite a few Canadians want to embrace the Chicoms.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Sublime Erdogan the Magnificent vs the Kurds (plus ISIS/Syria)

This murderous terrorism,

Istanbul bombing: Terror attack death toll rises to 38 including 30 police as officials accuse PKK
PKK blamed for attack which is the latest in an escalating scale of violence in the country

will only make this worse–at the NY Times:

As Turkey Cracks Down, Kurdish Mayors Pack Bags for Jail

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey — When Kurdish officials here in Diyarbakir, the biggest Kurdish city in the world, say they’ve been “unavoidably detained,” it is not just an excuse for lateness.

Even before I arrived, the co-mayors, Gultan Kisanak and Firat Anli, were jailed on terrorism charges that rights groups say are trumped up. Interviews in prison are not possible because, officially, foreign journalists are barred from the city.

Ahmet Turk, 74, a Kurd despite his name and the venerable mayor of another Kurdish city, Mardin, was out of jail at the moment. But his press officer, Enver Ete, said that it would be hard to arrange an interview: “We can’t give a time since so many people are getting arrested we can’t foresee what will happen.”

Kamuran Yuksek, a Kurdish politician, was on the phone with a reporter when he was detained briefly — just after being released from five months in prison.

I could not see Selahattin Demirtas, the leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, or H.D.P., the country’s third-largest, although he lives in Diyarbakir. He, too, was jailed, along with nine other H.D.P. members of Parliament, so I arranged to see his wife, Basak, instead.

She canceled, not because she was jailed, but perhaps because she worried she would be, and she had two small children at home.

Turkey’s crackdown on Kurdish politicians, officials, news outlets, schools, municipalities, think tanks and even charities has been so thoroughgoing that it has left those who remain free expecting arrest at any moment. “My bag is packed for prison,” said Feleknas Uca, an H.D.P. member of Parliament. “Everybody has a bag in their house for prison. Now, everyone can be arrested at any moment.”

The crackdown on Kurds is part of a broader assault by the government on Turkey’s democratic freedoms after a failed coup in July, even though hard-line Islamists, followers of the cleric Fethullah Gulen, who are rabidly anti-Kurdish and hardly democratic paragons themselves, are accused of the overthrow attempt…

The crackdown on democracy has been nationwide, but on the political front it has been concentrated in the mostly Kurdish southeast, though there is no evidence, or even a government accusation, that Kurdish parties, legal or illegal, had any role in the attempted coup.

But a peace process with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., broke down last year, and since then fighting has claimed 2,393 lives on all sides, including civilians, according to a tally by the International Crisis Group.

Mr. Erdogan’s government had been stunned in 2015 elections when the H.D.P. decimated the ruling Justice and Development Party, or A.K.P., in the east especially, winning six million votes, sending 80 candidates to Parliament, and becoming overnight a nationwide political force and the third-largest party. Critics accused Mr. Erdogan of deliberately rekindling violence in Kurdish areas to stir nationalist passions and reverse his flagging fortunes.

Since the coup attempt, the government has focused on jailing officials of the H.D.P. and its local sister parties, arresting at least 45 mayors of Kurdish towns beginning in late October. New arrests are coming practically every day. This year, 2,700 local Kurdish politicians affiliated with the H.D.P. have been jailed…

Kurds have borne the brunt of the crackdown, not just in politics but also in the news media and other areas. The publications and media organizations ordered closed by the government included nearly every Kurdish outlet, except for the government’s Kurdish television channel. Some Kurdish publications have begun publishing under other names…

Meanwhile the Kurdish complication vs ISIS in Syria:

U.S. to Send 200 More Troops to Syria in ISIS Fight

The military advance is complicated by the predominant role played by Kurdish militia members, who make up a majority of the 45,000 fighters and are the most effective American partner against the Islamic State in Syria. But the Kurdish militia fighters are viewed by Turkey — a pivotal American ally — as a terrorist threat.

Turkey regards the Syrian Kurdish fighters, known collectively as the Y.P.G., as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the Kurdish rebel group that has sought autonomy from Turkey since the 1980s. Ankara has demanded that the Y.P.G. not take part in the fight to retake Raqqa.

Turkish forces in recent months have swept across the border into Syria to attack Islamic State strongholds, an offensive the Pentagon has applauded [e.g. recently: “Turkish Troops, Syrian Rebels Attack Key Town Held by Islamic State”]. But the Turkish advance has also served to blunt the Kurdish fighters’ efforts to carve out a contiguous swath of territory inside Syria stretching to the Iraqi border.

As Turkish and Kurdish forces repeatedly clashed, American officials and commanders intervened to curtail the fighting. Washington desperately needs the two sides to focus on fighting the Islamic State in Raqqa, not each other.

To that end, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has met twice in the last month with his Turkish counterpart, Gen. Hulusi Akar, to consult on battle plans for Raqqa. American Special Operations troops were assigned to accompany Turkish troops in Syria, giving the Pentagon on-the-ground liaisons.

In another unusual move, Brig. Gen. Jon K. Mott of the Air Force, a senior operations officer from the Pentagon’s Central Command, was recently dispatched to the Turkish Army’s operations center in Ankara to help coordinate the war effort and defuse any conflicts with the Kurds.

Pentagon officials are also toning down their vocal support for Kurdish fighters to avoid further inflaming Turkish domestic political sensitivities about any collaboration between Turkish troops and Kurdish fighters…

Where it will all end knows only…Earlier (Operation Euphrates Shield— this from August):

Sublime Erdogan the Magnficent Pushing his Syria/Iraq Turkish Delight

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Trump, Russia, NATO and…German Nukes?

Possible disturbing fall-out (pun intended) from The Donald’s election–guess how the Russkies would react to the prospect of Germans with their own, not dual-key American, nuclear weapons (yes Virginia, they’re still there)–at Spiegel Online:

Elephant in the Room
Europeans Debate Nuclear Self-Defense after Trump Win

For decades, American nuclear weapons have served as a guarantor of European security. But what happens if Donald Trump casts doubt on that atomic shield? A debate has already opened in Berlin and Brussels over alternatives to the U.S. deterrent. By SPIEGEL Staff

The issue is so secret that it isn’t even listed on any daily agenda at NATO headquarters. When military officials and diplomats speak about it in Brussels, they meet privately and in very small groups — sometimes only with two or three people at a time. There is a reason why signs are displayed in the headquarters reading, “no classified conversation.”

And this issue is extremely sensitive. The alliance wants to avoid a public discussion at any cost. Such a debate, one diplomat warns, could trigger an “avalanche.” The foundations of the trans-Atlantic security architecture would be endangered if this “Pandora’s box” were to be opened.

The discussion surrounds nuclear deterrent. For decades, the final line of defense for Europe against possible Russian aggression has been provided by the American nuclear arsenal. But since Donald Trump’s election as the 45th president of the United States, officials in Berlin and Brussels are no longer certain that Washington will continue to hold a protective hand over Europe.

It isn’t yet clear what foreign policy course the new administration will take — that is, if it takes one at all. It could be that Trump will run US foreign policy under the same principle with which he operates his corporate empire: a maximum level of unpredictability…

what happens if the president-elect has an even more fundamental shift in mind for American security policy? What if he questions the nuclear shield that provided security to Europe during the Cold War?

For more than 60 years, Germany entrusted its security to NATO and its leading power, the United States. Without a credible deterrent, the European NATO member states would be vulnerable to possible threats from Russia. It would be the end of the trans-Atlantic alliance.

Could the French or British Step In?

In European capitals, officials have been contemplating the possibility of a European nuclear deterrent since Trump’s election. The hurdles — military, political and international law — are massive and there are no concrete intentions or plans. Still, French diplomats in Brussels have already been discussing the issue with their counterparts from other member states: Could the French and the British, who both possess nuclear arsenals, step in to provide protection for other countries like Germany?

An essay in the November issue of Foreign Affairs argues that if Trump seriously questions the American guarantees, Berlin will have to consider establishing a European nuclear deterrent on the basis of the French and British capabilities. Germany’s respected Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, meanwhile, even contemplated the “unthinkable” in an editorial: a German bomb.

‘The Last Thing Germany Needs Now’

Politicians in Berlin want to prevent a debate at all costs. “A public debate over what happens if Trump were to change the American nuclear doctrine is the very last thing that Germany needs right now,” says Wolfgang Ischinger, head of the Munich Security Conference. “It would be a catastrophic mistake if Berlin of all places were to start that kind of discussion. Might Germany perhaps actually want a nuclear weapon, despite all promises to the contrary? That would provide fodder for any anti-German campaign.”

The debate however, is no longer relegated the relatively safe circles of think tanks and foreign policy publications…

Could be a scary new world. By the way, for quite a few years during the Cold War Canadian forces with NATO in Europe also had dual-key nukes–see “The Great Canadian Traditional Peacekeeping Myth vs Nuclear Weapons“. How many Canadians today are aware of that?

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – South China Sea Update: Vietnam Building; Philippines Smacking US

Two stories:

1) Exclusive: Risking Beijing’s ire, Vietnam begins dredging on South China Sea reef


2) Manila says will not help US on patrols in South China Sea

So the US and Vietnam are closer and close to being  de facto allies vs China whilst President Duterte’s Philippines smoozes the Dragon, effectively saying “Up yours, Uncle Sam!” What will PEOTUS Trump do in office? Looks a job for the good old CIA to me.

Meanwhile India and Vietnam are also getting together with Beijing much in mind. Lots of great games going on.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Dragon Devouring Eurotech, German Section–Obama Steps In

Further to this post, the outgoing US president gets tough (our PM noticing?):

Obama Moves to Block Chinese Acquisition of a German Chip Maker

The intervention in a Chinese company’s bid to buy a German semiconductor company, Aixtron [website here], comes after Chinese companies have spent billions to acquire technology in Europe and the United States. American officials have increasingly moved to stop such deals, but Chinese companies have shown growing adeptness in getting around those restrictions to strike up relationships that could someday lead to greater access to technology.

A statement from the Treasury Department said the administration blocked the purchase of the American portion of Aixtron’s business because it posed a national security risk relating to “the military applications of the overall technical body of knowledge and experience of Aixtron.”

It wasn’t clear whether other parts of the deal could be salvaged. Officials at the German chip company and its would-be Chinese buyer, the Fujian Grand Chip Investment Fund [website here], did not immediately comment.

By rejecting the deal, the Obama administration showed how far it would go to keep China from using its wallet to acquire sensitive technology from the West. It blocked previous Chinese technology purchases only indirectly, using an advisory panel of government and intelligence officials who can discourage — but not directly kill — foreign deals. That same panel earlier expressed skepticism over the Aixtron deal.

Last year the United States accounted for more than one-fifth of Aixtron’s sales. And nearly one-fifth of its more than 700 employees are based in the United States.

That indirect strategy kept Mr. Obama from looking like a free-trade opponent, especially when the company in question was not American, and softened any potential response from Beijing. But Aixtron and its Chinese suitor tested that strategy by plowing ahead despite the panel’s concerns, forcing Mr. Obama to act…

Related:

Chicom State-Owned Firms’ Investment in US: a Good Thing?

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Trump vs Trade: CPP Instead of TPP?

That’s the China-Pacific Partnership–a NY Times story on important talks with little public profile:

China’s Influence Grows in Ashes of Trans-Pacific Trade Pact

A toxic political war over money, jobs and globalization killed the vast and complex trade deal that was supposed to be a signature legacy of President Obama. But the deal, between the United States and 11 Asian and Pacific nations, was never just about trade.

The agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, was conceived as a vital move in the increasingly tense chess match between China and the United States for economic and military influence in the fastest-growing and most strategically uncertain part of the world. The deal, which excluded China, was intended to give those 11 nations more leverage in that strained match by providing them with a viable economic alternative. And its defeat is an unalloyed triumph for China, the country that President-elect Donald J. Trump castigated repeatedly over trade

Much of Asia has for decades quietly accepted American security guarantees while also running large trade surpluses with the United States, turning them into prosperous manufacturing powerhouses. But China is now the largest trading partner for most of the region, while at the same time making territorial claims against many of its neighbors [see e.g. the South China Sea].

The neighbors fear they could soon face a stark choice among money, pride and place: Accede to China’s security demands, or lose access to China’s vast market…

Just three days before Mr. Obama’s arrival here, Peru’s foreign minister, Eduardo Ferreyros, said the country still hoped the Pacific pact would someday become a reality. But given the changing dynamics, his government also opened talks this autumn with Beijing to join the rival, Chinese-led trade pact, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

“Since Mr. Trump is not so interested in requiring economic integration and trade liberalization, why not have other countries follow this free-trade proposal?” asked Song Guoyou, a longtime trade specialist who is the deputy director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai.

Since the election, Australia’s government has also called for rapid progress in concluding that rival trade pact. Even Japan, despite facing territorial demands from China and close, but peaceful, confrontations between the two countries’ military jets and coast guard vessels, is paying more attention to China’s vision for global trade [note also Japan’s military build-up].

Australia and Japan have been bargaining for years with China on the deal. But they wanted it as a complement to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, to balance their economic relationship with the United States instead of replacing it with ties to China.

“If T.P.P. doesn’t move forward, there’s no doubt that the focus will shift” to the China-led deal, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan told his country’s Parliament on Tuesday [Nov. 15, emphasis added] . Mr. Abe met with Mr. Trump on Thursday.

Since 2011, trade negotiators from China, Japan, Australia, India and 12 other Asian nations have been meeting several times a year to stitch together the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership [more here]. And with Mr. Trump’s victory, those efforts are almost certain to accelerate. The next round of talks is to be held in Indonesia early next month [emphasis added].

Trade officials across Asia met to negotiate details in Cebu, the Philippines, the week before Mr. Trump won the election. Almost no one noticed outside of Cebu. The next meeting, scheduled for early December, could attract far more attention, including some at this weekend’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting in Lima…

Will Canada try to get involved or just negotiate bilaterally with the Dragon?

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Oh, that cuddly panda. But consider:

The Dragon and the Beaver: Ottawa in Cloud Cuckoo Land

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – The Donald, US Colleges–and History?

The inimitable George Will weighs in at the Washington Post–and Canadian campuses?

Higher education is awash with hysteria. That might have helped elect Trump.

Many undergraduates, their fawn-like eyes wide with astonishment, are wondering: Why didn’t the dean of students prevent the election from disrupting the serenity to which my school has taught me that I am entitled? Campuses create “safe spaces” where students can shelter from discombobulating thoughts and receive spiritual balm for the trauma of microaggressions. Yet the presidential election came without trigger warnings?..

Even professors’ books from serious publishers are clotted with pretentious jargon. To pick just one from innumerable examples, a recent history of the Spanish Civil War, published by the Oxford University Press, says that Franco’s Spain was as “hierarchizing” as Hitler’s Germany, that Catholicism “problematized” relations between Spain and the Third Reich, and that liberalism and democracy are concepts that must be “interrogated.” Only the highly educated write so badly. Indeed, the point of such ludicrous prose is to signal membership in a closed clerisy that possesses a private language.

An American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) study — “No U.S. History? How College History Departments Leave the United States out of the Major,” based on requirements and course offerings at 75 leading colleges and universities — found that “the overwhelming majority of America’s most prestigious institutions do not require even the students who major in history to take a single course on United States history or government.” Often “microhistories” are offered to history majors at schools that require these majors to take no U.S. history course: “Modern Addiction: Cigarette Smoking in the 20th Century” (Swarthmore College), “Lawn Boy Meets Valley Girl” (Bowdoin College), “Witchcraft and Possession” (University of Pennsylvania).

At some schools that require history majors to take at least one U.S. history course, the requirement can be fulfilled with courses like “Mad Men and Mad Women” (Middlebury College), “Hip-Hop, Politics and Youth Culture in America” (University of Connecticut) and “Jews in American Entertainment” (University of Texas at Austin). Constitutional history is an afterthought.

Small wonder, then, that a recent  CTA-commissioned survey found that less than half of college graduates knew that George Washington was the commanding general at Yorktown; that nearly half did not know that Theodore Roosevelt was important to the construction of the Panama Canal; that more than one-third could not place the Civil War in a correct 20-year span or identify Franklin Roosevelt as the architect of the New Deal; that 58 percent did not know that the Battle of the Bulge occurred in World War II; and that nearly half did not know the lengths of the terms of U.S. senators and representatives.

Institutions of supposedly higher education are awash with hysteria, authoritarianism, obscurantism, philistinism and charlatanry. Which must have something to do with the tone and substance of the presidential election, which took the nation’s temperature.

Read more from George F. Will’s archive or follow him on Facebook.

Meanwhile one Canadian example at the University of British Columbia (quote at bottom of webpage):

The Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice and the Critical Studies in Sexuality Program are at the forefront of leading research globally. Help us to forward our research and our teaching, and join us in supporting social justice and advocating for change.

Dig in at the site.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Chicom State-Owned Firms’ Investment in US: a Good Thing?

An American government body has its doubts–music to president-elect Trump’s ears? Might our government think very hard about what sorts of Dragon investment in Canada might come under the aegis of any future bilateral trade agreement?

U.S. panel urges ban on China state firms buying U.S. companies

U.S. lawmakers should take action to ban China’s state-owned firms from acquiring U.S. companies, a congressional panel charged with monitoring security and trade links between Washington and Beijing said on Wednesday [Nov. 16].

In its annual report to Congress [see here], the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission said the Chinese Communist Party has used state-backed enterprises as the primary economic tool to advance and achieve its national security objectives.

The report recommended Congress prohibit U.S. acquisitions by such entities by changing the mandate of CFIUS, the U.S. government body that conducts security reviews of proposed acquisitions by foreign firms [website here].

“The Commission recommends Congress amend the statute authorizing the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to bar Chinese state-owned enterprises from acquiring or otherwise gaining effective control of U.S. companies,” the report said.

CFIUS, led by the U.S. Treasury and with representatives from eight other agencies, including the departments of Defense, State and Homeland Security, now has veto power over acquisitions from foreign private and state-controlled firms if it finds that a deal would threaten U.S. national security or critical infrastructure.

If enacted, the panel’s recommendation would essentially create a blanket ban on U.S. purchases by Chinese state-owned enterprises…

One wonders if this committee established by the previous Conservative government is still active:

Foreign Investment in Canada and National Security: Pretty Secret Review

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds