The Ethnic Origins, Source of Power and Current Political Methods of Globalism

July 26, 2016 at 12:19 pm (tWP) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

The first image in this article is that of the English royal family’s coaagincourtt of arms. It is not chosen by accident but it is a powerfully symbolic image for the topic in question. The coat of arms is emblazoned with two repeated heraldic icons: the three fleur-de-lys and the three lions. The former were the arms of French royalty for a millennium, the latter are to this day the arms of the Danish royal family. Why is this relevant? Because it is an especially apt way of defining Britain: a mix of continental Europe and Nordic Europe. It is specifically in Nordic Britain that lies the original sin whose offspring globalism – universalism academically – is today.

Nordics are a very distinct group among the world’s ethnicities. Their geographical circumstance forces them to be highly productive since they have to generate enough resources to survive the winter. Simultaneously, they cannot rely on family ties or resources because the territory, while harvestable, is scarcely populated. This has bred a mentality which is individualistic to an extreme and radically self-reliant and disciplined. Other regions of the planet are too densely populated and too easily farmed for self-reliance to take hold. In the case of aboriginal peoples, their mentality was usually Asian and therefore collectivistic. This meant some level of discipline but not self-reliance and therefore not productivity. Discipline can be a competitive advantage in fertile regions but not in difficult ones since creativity is especially needed when overcoming challenges.

The reason why the Reformation reached almost exclusively Germanic Europe is easily explained by the mentality already in existence there: the self-reliant kind. One who is self-reliant requires a personal relationship with God and eschews collectivistic rituals. Such rituals may be well suited for preserving community ties but not so for allowing a personal interpretation of the good book. In the case of the Reformation phenomenon too, Britain is a rare breed, as its Anglicanism is a clear compromise between protestant principles and catholic ritual.

England in particular is worthy of note because it was there that many Nordics settled during the Middle Ages. We call Britain Anglo-Saxon because of these raids and invasions and what better place demonstrates this History than the tellingly named East Anglia? East Anglia is a very special place for English History: it was one of the main sources of puritanism in Britain and it was also one of the earliest regions to support the Parliamentarian (republican) revolution under the authoritarian Oliver Cromwell.

It is worth understanding that one of the key features of the Nordic mentality is that of political correctness. This is probably due to the higher need for an efficient decision-making process within Nordic settlements. Human resources are scarce and weather is unforgiving which translates into a laconic and simplistic conferential system. The great poets of the world, after all, come from the South: Middle Eastern poetry, Latin novels, etc. And lest we forget, time became a commodity in northern formal cultures, not in southern ones, which means that there was concern in optimising its usefulness in the North, not the South.

Political correctness must be understood in its puerile simplicity before moving to the next link in the chain: New England. As it happens, New England was settled mostly by …you guessed it: East Anglians; and puritan ones at that. Is it then really surprising that the two most important radical anti-hypocrisy revolutionary movements in American History – namely republican separatism and abolitionism – began in New England?

The cause of independence found its earliest and most passionate support in puritan settlements, the ‘tea party’ took place on Boston, Massachusetts. Northern (New England) colonies contributed about as many soldiers for the Revolutionary War as the Southern ones but while the northern fought the English, the southern fought with the English. The contradiction of ‘taxation without representation’ could simply not be tolerated by the puritans’ protestant ethics. Nor could, for that matter, the contradiction between the ‘self-evident truth’ that ‘all men are created equal’ and slavery. The founding fathers, of course, could perfectly tolerate it but then again, most of them were southerners like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson or James Madison.

The puritan zeal eventually spread into the Midwest and it is again revealing that it was a Midwesterner that led the abolitionist revolution: Abraham Lincoln. Indeed, most actual Nordic-Americans (those who immigrated directly from Scandinavia to America) still inhabit the Midwest and this fact became very salient during the recent Republican primaries when Donald Trump lost Wisconsin to Ted Cruz. Nordics have precious little tolerance for the antics of eccentric political incorrectness; Trump’s Berlusconism is a competitive disadvantage with Nordics and Puritans. During the civil war, whereas French-Americans and Catholics in general supported the South’s secession, English-Americans and protestants in general, supported the North.

Yet both the Midwest and New England have seen their demographics change: Boston has become progressively catholic – which explains Trump’s appeal in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New Jersey – and the industrialisation of the ‘rust belt’ brought with it labourers from the South – whereas enriched original settlers slowly moved to the vicinities for better living conditions – which allows us to understand Trump’s success there.

9815a31c194e4a99dcc7488a12d6c153This same zeal was in evidence in the baby-boomers political conscience during the protests of the May of 68. The soixante-huitards were extremist in their beliefs, calling for absolute pacifism and social justice with the world’s poor. As soon as they reached power towards the end of the Cold War and at the onset of the ‘new world order’, theirs became the generation of endless indebtedness, overwhelming generosity towards to 3rd world and moralisation of every conflict via the ‘end of History’ paradigm. The EU itself being the ultimate soixante-huitard project of replicating in Europe the utopian extreme idea-state of American exceptionalism – a notion whose germen had been established by the founding fathers in rhetoric and by Lincoln in practice. After the end of the Cold War, America’s East-Anglian exceptionalism has now become for the Atlanticist elites, the foundation for their messianic vision of the “end of History”: a liberal-democratic, and, ultimately, a Nordic individualist, world.

It is this ethnic record that explains why Western universalists periodically do not find it difficult to support neonazi or jihadi movements. At the heart of the matter is the cause of universalism. A normal state would only consider supporting extremist movements if vital existential interests were at stake. In WWII the Allies brought in the USSR because they alone could not beat Nazi Germany, for instance. Yet, Western universalists show much smaller compunction in doing so today because they know a victory of extremist forces would advance the universalist cause. Better to have a jihadi regime in Syria or a neonazi one in Ukraine so long as they subscribe, even if only nominally, to universalist doctrine. In practice of course, a moderate but anti-universalist regime in Syria may be brutal to its citizens but it does not genocide them, and a moderate regime in Ukraine may be incredibly corrupt but it doesn’t launch the army against its citizens nor does it pass discriminatory laws which cause respect for minorities and political opponents to drop.

The world is divided between universalists and those submissive to them, and the ones who resist universalism. The Manichean division tolerates absence of universalist practices only in so far as those who don’t practice are submissive to those who preach it. Thus Saudi Arabia Egypt or Hungary can exist at the margin of universalist practice because they contribute to the cause worldwide and they can even hypocritically call for democracy, human rights and rule of law elsewhere, so long as that fits the interests of the globalist elites.

The problem is not hypocrisy, the problem does not lie in cooperating with ideologically dissimilar regimes, the problem rather consists in the fact that, at the end of the day, what is being advanced is not the interests of the different Western states, what is being advanced is only an ideological cause. Being ruled by activists means the powers of the state are subverted into serving a particular ideology.

Part of the reason why the universalists’ power is slowly eroding is their zealotry, to be sure. However, another factor is the immense contradictions that serving a failed ideology cause since the more it fails, the more excuses one requires to justify it and at some point too many excuses become counter-productive as justification.

AKP Turkey is an excellent example of this very phenomenon. According to most (recep_tayyip_erdogan_by_setobuje-d2rs6grWestern) standards, by now Turkey should be one of the most reviled regimes in the world: it is an authoritarian state where its leader is manipulating parliament to unilaterally alter the constitution in order to reinforce his own powers and remain in office, political adversaries are regularly lustrated, journalists are periodically incarcerated and media outlets brought under governmental/ruling party control, the will exists to restrict the internet, the leader’s family is corrupt and syphons money using its family connection to the leader, the country is restricting individual liberties and reinforcing religious norms, its foreign policy is disastrous since it has deteriorated its relations with most neighbours, geopolitically the government either tolerates or actively supports extremist movements abroad and it is aligned with another illiberal state to accomplish it (Qatar).

Turkey is even better as an example than Saudi Arabia because the Kingdom only seeks to survive and to what extent it changed internally, it did so to become more liberal, not less. Also important is foreign policy orientation since Riyadh has geopolitical reasons to wish to force into power an anti-Iranian regime in Syria and in Yemen. Turkey, on the other hand, has nothing to fear from Iran both because it is equivalent in size and because it can count on NATO.

Apart from totalitarian DPRK, Russia is perhaps the most detested regime in the world as far as the West is concerned but in terms of values, Putin pales in comparison to Erdogan in every respect except one: resistance to universalism. Putin may actually be more democratic, less tolerant of extremism, more accepting of opposing media, his nepotistic corrupt ties less obvious/sizeable, be more respectful of the constitutional order, less restrictive of personal freedoms, his foreign policy more successful, rational, predictable and purveyor of stability. Unlike Erdogan though, Putin is not a team player. Quite to the contrary, the Kremlin actively resists universalist influence and that is a much greater threat to an ideology than herded black sheep.

Why is that so? Because this particular ideology is revisionist to the core. It matters little that individualist universalism is not implemented in actuality. Thanks to a culturally Marxist academia and largely sympathetic media and intellectuals, what is preached today will slowly be practiced tomorrow so long as there is enough critical mass for it. The populace has a short memory and its very language and thoughts can be manipulated by the elites.

The West is often histrionic, and rightly so, when other countries revise their history books so as to gloss over past crimes. The West is not quite so outraged when the same is done in its own turf to promote its own ideology.

So at a time of record ignorance on the part of Westerners, of the role played by Russia in defeating Nazi Germany – according to polls, most Westerners believe Western troops were the ones that made the biggest effort to defeat the III Reich – Western leaders decide they will boycott V Day celebrations in Moscow because of the Kremlin’s intervention in Ukraine… so much for statesmanship and concern for historical accuracy. Similarly, there is outrage and mockery when Russian soldiers are filmed in Ukraine while Russia issues denials, and there is scandal at the breach of international law that the ‘little green men’ represent but when Western troops are found operating in secret in other countries such as Libya or Pakistan, there is no problem, no cartoons, no talk of ‘little green men’. European values are often touted as the unifying factor of the EU’s ‘unity in diversity’ project but when eastern Europeans vote against gay rights or western Europeans vote in xenophobic parties, when the death penalty is praised in one place or corruption keeps a leader in power in another, the narrative of the common values does not go away… the end of the UK’s membership of the EU was supposed to be the harbinger of multiple catastrophes from economic collapse to the erupting of wars across the continent – at least according to BBC’s ‘documentaries’ on the matter – and yet things simply went on as usual. Last but not least, one of the myths propagated by Western historical revisionists is that the EU brought with it peace to the continent: this is an outright lie which ignores that other parts of the world have been at peace without the EU or more simply that without a common security and defence policy until the 90s it was the sheer will of the states that kept Europe at peace, or that indeed, it still does today.

Then again, most citizens don’t study History so if the new truth is not canon now, it will be for the next generation.

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Why Won’t the West Just Let Ukraine Go?

August 9, 2014 at 11:34 am (tWP) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

fair

The downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, seemingly by action of pro-Russian separatists in East Ukraine, has reinvigorated the Russophobe wave in the West. Interventionists and Russia-isolationists alike, feel vindicated in their view that there can be no compromise on Ukraine with Moscow. As tragic as the loss of life may be, it is difficult to conclude the downing of the aircraft changes much in the way of political calculations to any of the actors in question.

If indeed the separatists did it, the intention was surely not to down a civilian airliner, much less one carrying Australians, Malaysians and Dutch. It was not even a surprise attack as the separatists have been shooting down Ukrainian large transport and attack aircraft for the past months and weeks. The much referenced analogy of the German sinking of the ship Lusitania in 1915 is not an analogy at all as that attack was intentional and the result of a clear policy; MH17 was most likely an accident – but an avoidable one if the airspace over a warzone had been appropriately closed.

What is Russia’s motivation in Ukraine? Ukraine is perhaps the most important state for Russia: its market, industrial interdependence, cultural and historical ties and strategic location make it imperative for Russia to preserve Ukraine in its orbit. Moscow had apparently even been willing to allow Kiev to pursue an equidistant path under the leadership of Viktor Yanukovych, so long as that path never strayed from neutrality. Ukraine’s Finlandisation however, was interrupted abruptly by the forceful removal of Yanukovych from power earlier this year. That event empirically proved to the Kremlin that its influence over Ukraine was no longer accepted: its economic subsidies and electioneering could not buy it coexistence of interests with the West as the West was more than willing to recognize and support violent forces in Ukraine, so long as these were pro-Western.

Faced with what it saw as a betrayal – after the West’s governments had declared themselves guarantors of a power sharing agreement between the Yanukovych regime and the Maidan movement, but then reneged on it – Moscow decided to pay back in kind and play the game with the same methods: by exerting force and sponsoring violent pro-Russian movements.

Can the West boast the same concerns and interests? Hardly. Washington, Paris or London don’t have much in the way of economic interests in Ukraine, they share no cultural or historical ties and Ukraine’s location can only really be useful when planning a conflict with Russia. The Atlantic powers do have some economic interests in the country but so far those interests have not been threatened. On the contrary, it will be more difficult for Russia’s economic interdependence with Ukraine to linger with Kiev increasingly tied to the EU.

Never one to discourage the West from defending its interests, there is however a cost-benefit ratio to assess in the matter: is Ukraine worth antagonism with Russia? It often happens that smaller countries become strategically more important than bigger powers. For instance, Israel may be a small economy relatively speaking, but it is a regional power in its own right, culturally close to America and a much more stable regional ally than any Muslim nation. History also teaches that economic ties are not a guarantee for peace in and of themselves: France and Germany, China and Japan, Turkey and Iran, all were great economic partners and the greatest geopolitical rivals.mi24

Thus Russia should not be given a break simply because its economy is more important to the West than Ukraine’s. The problem is that the West has a number of challenges to deal with and creating new ones should not be a priority. In Africa and Latin America, Western powers face increasing economic rivalry from Asian powers, in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, their interests are threatened by regional spoilers such as China and Iran. On top of all this the West is facing a severe economic crisis which limits its power projecting abilities. It is very difficult to see how France’s interests would be served by redirecting its power projection from sub-Saharan Africa and the MENA, to Eastern Europe; how Britain’s interests would be served by involving itself in a continental dispute when its navy is already the weakest it has been in decades; how America’s need to balance its military budget, keep sea lanes open and counter-balance regional spoilers would be positively affected by a new deployment to a region that not only cannot help America but is in fact characterised by its perennial security deficit.

All this assuming, of course, that Europe and America will continue to cooperate rather than rival each other, around the world.

To leave Ukraine to its own fate would not constitute a loss to the West because the West never had Ukraine to begin with. To leave Ukraine would be a statement of stability, it would be a mere recognition of the status quo. The more pressure is put on Russia and Ukraine, the more Moscow will seek to cut its losses by weakening Kiev’s central rule.

In his op-ed at Offiziere, Nick Ottens writes:

1. “Russian president Vladimir Putin stands to gain little from continuing to incite rebellion in Ukraine (…)Russia’s economy expected to hardly expand this year at least partially as a result of Western financial sanctions”

Russia has everything to gain from protecting its interests in Ukraine – hard to see how the opposite is true – and what is at stake is a strategic asset, not a short-term gain. By the same token, what would the US have to gain by defending Taiwan? Or China, by seeking to co-opt it? Russia’s financial pain is to the Kremlin an investment in a more strategically safe future, where a buffer better insulates Moscow from threats from the West – which Western ideological universalism has only made more urgent.

2. “(…) Putin’s strategy failed (…) only hardened most European leaders in their resolve to draw the country into their orbit”

Russia actually needs Ukraine and Russia’s strategic focus does not have a short attention span. Hypothetically, does Nick Ottens believe that Russia should also surrender Siberia to China to avoid short-term economic pains from a Chinese embargo?…

3. “Putin’s actions also alienated the vast majority of Ukrainians”

This is perhaps the most irrelevant of arguments which are often raised in the West. Not only because it in no way changes the calculation of interests but also because; since when do interventions hinge on the targeted populations’ approval?! This is absurd. Should Israelis wait until Palestinians are fond of Benjamin Netanyahu before enacting reprisals against terrorist rockets? Or perhaps the US should wait until Iran’s ayatollahs are sufficiently unpopular before targeting a hypothetical nuclear weapons programme…

“it turned most Ukrainians decidedly away from Putin’s regime and convinced them their future lay in Europe”

Ottens needs only to speak to the instigators of the current regime in power in Kiev to quickly learn that Putin’s regime was never very tempting. Quite to the contrary, if Western Ukrainians were already Russophobic, it was Crimeans and East Ukrainians who became far more pro-Russian with the current crisis.

But lets face the argument’s validity head on: when a state intervenes, it does so to defend the interests of the citizens it represents, no one else’s.

4. “Putin had appeared to warm to the fantasies of the likes of Dugin”

This is another meme that deserves to be disproven since it is another Western lazy myth. Putin is a politician and does not follow any one person’s advice unconditionally. Aleksandr Dugin himself seems anything but Kremlin’s favourite these days. Most importantly, Dugin advises autarky and strategic counter-balancing of both the West and China. This Putin has acted against time and again: by collaborating with NATO on AfPak, with the West on Iran, by siding with China against the West, etc. By contrast Dugin would’ve preferred an alliance with Germany, Iran and Japan against both China and America. Oddly enough, Western mainstream media analysis resembles something more akin to FOX News or Russian media these days, which is ironic given its strong pride in objectivity.

5. Ottens goes on to accuse Russia of crony capitalism and claiming Moscow’s stance on Ukraine is a way for Putin to shore up the support of the working classes. Yet, Putin’s Russia always reacts to any perceived threat – be it in Chechnya, Georgia or Ukraine – regardless of who is voting for Putin at any particular moment.A10soverM1commanderart

I would suggest Nick Ottens applies the same analysis instead to the West, whose Liberal post-modern elites persist in mobilizing the limited resources of their respective nations, to serve the interests of the limitless, universalistic, radical and autistic project of converting the planet to the mantra of Western liberal democracy.

Only this tremendous bias could possibly justify Western obsession with a territory it is barely connected with or thinly depends on. Western obsession with Ukraine is ideologically corrupt – no other conflict deserves as much Western attention under the justification of the same declared principles – but most of all it is incommensurately strategically incompetent.

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Red Lines Aren’t For Everyone

June 13, 2013 at 10:42 am (tWP) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Artwork:  "Alaska Air Command F-15's From Galena FOB Intercept a Soviet TU 95 Bear Over the Berlng Sea".  Artist:  Marc Ericksen (SF)

The conflict in Syria has raised many questions about international intervention. Critics from the right and left alike have berated President Obama for staying America’s hand and thus preventing any form of intervention. Indeed without US capabilities, as much as other states like France and the UK would like to intervene, they are unable to.

The Obama administration came under media fire especially when its self-imposed catalyst for intervention was reached: the use of chemical weapons by the regime. Obama’s red line was discovered to be more hazy than expected and the press cartoonists had a field day.

However, it is not unusual for democracies to display incoherent foreign policies given the political representatives’ dependence on popularity with the public. Other countries do not face the same level of scrutiny and Russia has been particularly coherent throughout the length of this conflict and even throughout the past decades. Vladimir Putin has himself drawn lines in the sand before, the difference being he tends to keep them. The West might want to borrow a few lessons from Putin’s playbook.

Chechnya

The first indicator of such an attitude was Chechnya. In the primordial days of Vladimir Putin’s top level political career, the PM was touted by President Boris Ieltsin as a prodigal son to bring order to Russia. The most distinctive legacy of Vladimir Vladimirovich’s first stint as PM was undoubtedly the 2nd Chechen War. Under his premiership Russia adopted a very clear policy of rejecting any secession that was not based on the territorial precedents of the USSR administrative divisions. The Russian Federation itself, while the self-proclaimed successor state of the SU, based its legitimacy for independence on self-determination for all the Soviet Socialist Republics.

Until then there was no consensus or doctrine on where the limits for self-determination should be drawn and Moscow had even briefly recognised the Chechen Republic. At the end of the first Putin government, Chechnya was subdued and Russia’s territorial integrity was no longer a matter for debate.

Missile Defence

With the internal front consolidated, Putin turned to foreign affairs. Unlike what Russian leaders had always pleaded, NATO progressively encroached into Eastern Europe by extending membership and similar agreements to central and Eastern European states. Russian leaders claimed that Eastern Europe should be left as a neutral buffer zone but Moscow was politely ignored and given the NATO-Russia Council as a reassurance.

In the 2000s, with Putin now President and Russia reeling in considerable oil profits, the tone changed and soon enough so did the actions: NATO’s plans to establish a missile defence system for Europe which was partly based in Poland, the Czech Republic and Romania met with considerable Russian resistance and counter-pressure. Russia still maintains its Cold War nuclear armed intermediate-range missile deterrence, which makes Russian diplomatic outrage somewhat bewildering (as NATO’s limited systems could never hope to best Russian capabilities) but even if only motivated by Moscow’s preference to keep Eastern Europe as unimportant for NATO as possible, this has however been a battle that Vladimir Putin has chosen to fight.

L-39s seem to be a weapon of choice in small scale civil wars and certainly proeminently featured in the Arab Spring in both Libya and Syria

L-39s seem to be a weapon of choice in small scale civil wars and certainly prominently featured in the Arab Spring in both Libya and Syria

It is difficult to assess whether it is being won since NATO’s system is yet to be made operational but officially the deployment continues. Will Russia’s threat to redirect the targeting of its own ballistic devices towards Eastern European sites be fulfilled and will it persuade NATO to recede? It would seem Moscow is attempting to put forth objections to further fading of the geostrategic neutrality of Eastern Europe but given these countries inclusion into NATO, it is too late for that.

Georgia

Another important red line was that drawn against the colour revolutions which Putin has now succeeded in reversing in practically every country they struck: the Orange coalition is out of power in the Ukraine, the Tulip revolution’s leaders were driven from Bishkek and then there was Georgia, the original sin. The Rose revolution was the first in which a Russophobe pro-Western regime came to power through civil society pressure. Saakashvili wasted no time in switching allegiances and soon found himself at loggerheads with Moscow. These tensions would eventually culminate in the 2008 Ossetian War, trade embargoes declared against Georgia, Russian occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and finally Saakashvili’s own defeat in Georgia’s national elections.

Moscow was thus conveying a clear message: while Russia’s advanced Warsaw Pact buffer zone was now lost, the new buffer’s politically neutral integrity is sacrosanct. In other words, regardless of regime or leadership, no European state east of the ‘near abroad’ curtain – east of Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova – has permission to adopt an anti-Russia geopolitical positioning.

The US, the French and the Germans understood and backed off; Georgia’s and Ukraine’s accession to NATO was indefinitely postponed. It is not as if they could do much seeing as how their forces were not only tied in the Middle East but the campaign in Afghanistan actually depended on Russian air routes.

So far Putin has successfully drawn 2 out of 3 red lines against the West. There are those who would criticise Putin for his anti-Western stance and actually accuse him of anti-Western bias. Secretary Brzezinski notably stated as much last April in Bratislava, outraged that Moscow cannot see its interest in cooperating with the West against more dangerous foes like China. Putin however is flexible and has a keen strategic mind. Putin only cooperates with China as long as it is the West trying to encroach on Moscow’s sphere of influence; China on the other hand, attempts nothing of the kind. Putin probably does not believe that Russia can rely and trust in Beijing ad eternum, or even that Russia’s culture should be viewed as Eastern rather than Western, he however understands that were China to make any menacing moves towards Siberia, it would be as much a Russian interest to fight back as it would be a Western interest in general.

Syria

Syria is Putin’s latest attempt at drawing a line in the sand. This time Putin is not securing its domestic legitimacy or its hegemonic sphere of influence, this time Russia is claiming back a chief role in world affairs. Russia would never attempt something similar in Latin America, Africa or Southeast Asia. The Mashreq though is of vital importance to a number of Russian strategic and geoeconomic interests. Russia is then drawing a line in which world affairs it perceives itself to be too weak to influence and those where it simply cannot allow its stakes to be overlooked by ultra-voluntaristic Western forces.

If Putin succeeds it will have proven once again that the new Russia is not to be trifled with. If he doesn’t, he will understand he overstretched his country’s projection abilities.

For the time being however, Russia’s actions cannot be criticised since the West rhetorically entrapped itself into being unable to negotiate with the Syrian regime. The time to negotiate was when the regime was on the defensive, but last year the West was too busy making arrogant demands for Assad to step down and surrender unconditionally. Now it may be too late.

If Putin can be accused of making mistakes, then the S-300 delivery to Syria would be one of them. If this actually takes place rather than being used as a bargaining chip, then Putin will be escalating the strategic implications of the conflict by risking that Syria delivers such systems to its patron Iran. This would incur the rightful wrath of both Israelis and Westerners and would unnecessarily broaden the conflict.MARCH 8, 2013 - Syria  illustration. Illustration by Chloe Cushman

One reason why the US has stayed its hand is because Barack Obama prioritises Iran and China over small sideshows like Syria. While defeating Assad would deal Iranian projection a severe blow, it would do nothing against the Iranian regime and its nuclear programme. Syria is also very much a regional power game rather than a global one. For the US to intervene would be to ask the Chinese to drop their cooperative diplomatic attitude in the UNSC.

Democracy is Geostrategy-adverse

One of the sad conclusions of the whole ‘red lines’ affair is once again that democracy does not deal well with long term planning. In a way, it is precisely because Russia has kept the current leader in place for over a decade, that such red lines can be drawn and successfully implemented. As much as liberal democracies would like to do the same, their emphasis on soft power undermines their red lines, as do their ever-changing geopolitical doctrines. There is much to be said for stability and coherence. Putin is not a firebrand, quite to the contrary he has remained remarkably steady in the course he set for himself and for Russia, and done so in the face of explosive interventionism by the West as well as unforeseen shifts like the Arab Spring.

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Tales from the Shia Crescent

August 22, 2010 at 1:12 pm (tWP) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Halford McKinder seems to be quite popular in both Tehran and Damascus these days. Several reports have recently emerged about a new strategy developing in the shia governments which consists of an alliance with Russia and Turkey – which implies autonomy from and circumvention of the West – in order to secure a new geopolitical order.

This alliance would permit the ‘heartland’ powers not to rely on sea lanes and control the pipelines which flow through Eurasia. By supplying Europe and China through land, more dangerous and hostile routes through the sea could thus be avoided and allow the four allies unfettered influence in Central Asia and the Middle East.

Allegedly, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been active in the promotion of what he designates as the ‘Four Seas Strategy’, a plan to unite the energetic future of the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean and their respective pipeline networks under the quadrilateral leadership of Moscow, Ankara, Tehran and of course Damascus.

In the Mediterranean, the natural gas to be found off the Levantine coast as well as the oil tankers coming out of the Suez would thus be diverted to the Syrian and Turkish coastal pipeline hubs and carried expediently to the Balkans and central Europe using preferably the South Stream network. In the Black Sea, Turkey and Russia would control the oil flowing through the Baku-Tbilisi pipeline and the trans-Caucasian infrastructure and secure the supply of Central Asian oil and gas to Europe. The Caspian Sea would be protected by the Russo-Iranian tandem which would ensure the eastwards flow of Iranian, Caspian and Central Asian fossil fuels to China and India. Finally the Persian Gulf would form the final source of oil reserves to be expediently supplied through Iran to Turkish and Russian pipelines as well as to the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline.

Turkey is the naval hegemon of the eastern Mediterranean and with Russia considerably reinforcing its Black Sea fleet with Mistral class vessels and the refurbishing of the Tartus naval installations in Syria for use of the Russian Fleet’s 5th squadron, any potential rivals of Moscow or Ankara would feel dissuaded from intervention.

If ever this vision came into being, such an alliance would top all geopolitical arrangements on the planet: bearing more military might than OPEC, more energetically autonomous than NATO. Extending throughout the Russian steppes, the Anatolian valleys and the Iranian mountains hardly could any external entity threaten the use of force.

The basic idea is to replicate the past forte of the Muslim world: intermediacy. By controlling the trade routes, this ‘heartland bloc’ would rival, and keep at bay, any and all external superpowers: America by containment, China and India by co-option.

But the very fact that such a pact would wield insurmountable strength should hint at the unlikelihood of its inception; like many such concepts, if it sounds too good be true, it usually is.

An alliance should always be based on objective interests but the most enduring alliances are the ones that include normative bonds. While NATO was formed against the Soviet threat, the Atlantic philosophical links helped its maintenance throughout and even after the Cold War. The same can be said of the Treaty of Windsor or the Saudi-Pakistani alliance.


This is the safe rule – to stand up to one’s equals,

to behave with deference towards one’s superiors,

and to treat one’s inferiors with moderation‘.

– History of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides


This proposition however ignores any such links beyond a desire for autonomy from the Washington Consensus. Iran, Turkey and Russia are roughly equivalent in power and historical rivals competing for the same areas of influence. Only an extremely powerful threat would bring such rivals together; the USSR, a universalist superpower and successor state to the old Russian Empire was such a threat and caused Tehran and Ankara to join efforts in its containment. The US however are not. American influence in the Caucasus and Central Asia is not unilateral and in many cases relies on regional interlocutors such as Turkey and Russia – lest we forget their bases’ availability to the USAF. While the American navy keeps naval supremacy in all oceans and seas, Washington’s power is waning and Secretary Gates is conducting massive expenditure cuts which will on the medium term imply compromises in the global naval hegemony of the US Navy. Given this state of affairs Russia and Turkey have no need to affront the remaining superpower for they possess enough leverage as it is. Not to even mention that Russia would hardly consent to dependency on Islam.

The al-Assad plan seems ultimately to be wishful thinking. If for no other reason the notion has been advertised by Damascus and Tehran but has had little resonance in more ambiguous Ankara and Moscow.

The shias’ fundamental errors? Anti-Americanism – the nature of Iran’s regime is not a major hindrance for cooperation with the US, blind hostility towards America is – and ignorance of the dynamics of multipolarism.

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On Missile Defense

November 16, 2009 at 10:59 am (tWP guest) (, , , , , , , )

missile launch

By M. Duncan*


Given changes in U.S. intelligence assessments about Iranian ballistic missile (BM) capability and technological developments, the president decided to change the focus of the U.S. missile defense (MD) architecture. The new phased adaptive approach (PAA) will enhance the U.S. ability to counter current threats to U.S. forces deployed abroad and U.S. Allies and adapt to meet future changing threats.

The new system provides a layered defense in Europe against incoming BMs from Iran, and provides the opportunity for global burden-sharing with U.S. Allies and partners. The improved system incorporates Ground Based Interceptors (GBIs) deployed at Ft. Reilly, AK and Vandenberg AB, CA; sea and land-based Standard Missile-3s (SM-3s); Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missiles; Patriot-missile batteries, and sensors.

The enhanced architecture does not require the deployment of GBIs to Poland or a single, large, fixed radar in the Czech Republic. The U.S. is under no legal obligation to continue these deployments because the requisite Status-of-Forces-Agreements (SOFAs) were not ratified by the intended host governments. However, given Polish and Czech willingness to participate in the previous program of record, they will be given the right of first refusal to hosting elements of the new system. Press reports from Vice-President Biden’s recent trip to Poland and the Czech Republic indicate they intend to participate in the PAA.

Beginning in Phase II of the deployment (2015), SM-3 IB interceptor missiles and sensors necessary for detecting and tracking a BM launch, will deploy to Allied host countries in Europe. The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has determined that part of the PAA architecture must be deployed in southeastern Europe. After presentations made by the head of the MDA, LTG O’Reilly, and Under Secretary of Defense (Policy) Flournoy, at NATO, it is clear that all NATO-allies are supportive of this new approach.

missle_defenseGiven the across-the-board support by NATO Allies, it will be easier to find willing hosts for the architecture that meet geographic requirements. The difficulty in selecting sites will come down to political-military concerns of the potential host countries.

The many landmines to this policy will be political and diplomatic in nature. Russia’s reaction and posture will certainly be an issue, though the system is not designed as a threat to them. Public opinion in Europe and the United States could make implementation of the policy difficult. Finally, Congress must be willing to accept this change in MD and appropriate sufficient funds for the new architecture, as well as the necessary defense assistance to Romania.

Russia: Initial reaction to the new PAA in Russia was jubilant and victorious. The government of Russia perceived the previous program of record as a threat to Russia’s own BMs and had placed short-range missiles in Kaliningrad. Due to the poor rollout of the phased adaptive approach, Russia and others were able to spin the decision as a copout to Russian demands, and one official even suggested they would pull their missiles out of Kaliningrad. According to press reports, upon learning more about the system, the government of Russia is no longer displaying a jubilant and victorious posture. The statement was later retracted, saying that it was premature to make the decision on pulling missiles out of Kaliningrad.

OBAMA/Medvedev

The rollout of the presence options must be managed with Russia in mind. U.S. policy cannot be seen as “giving in” to Russia, though it would not hurt to win Russia over to the U.S. position and develop a new partner for MD.

Public Opinion: The views of European and American publics will be important in making these programs succeed. Governments can be convinced by technology transfers and assurances to remain supportive, but a solid public diplomacy campaign is necessary to win the public’s approval. The U.S. has to demonstrate that it is committed to the new program through investment and implementation. It must demonstrate the value a PAA shield adds to the population. This may be challenging given the lack of common threat-perception vis-à-vis Iran. The same is true for the U.S. domestic audience, who will shape the way Congress approaches the issue. The PAA must demonstrate that it is protecting Americans, first and foremost, from a dangerous threat. The White House and the Department of Defense should explore ways to declassify more intelligence to indicate the level of threat posed by Iran, and relate how protecting U.S. forces and Allies around the world ensures American security.

Congress: Though the Democrats control both houses of congress, and are likely to do so through the next election cycle, it is important to unify congressional support. The linkages between continuous technological development of antiballistic missiles, funding modernization of Eastern European air defense forces, deploying secure MD in Europe, and protecting from BM threats from Iran and North Korea must be made crystal clear to the members. These are funding priorities for the U.S. military against current and future threats, and are vital to U.S. national security and diplomatic relations.


*M. Duncan is a Master’s Student in International Relations at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, currently focusing on Global Security.

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Seoulmates ?…

March 22, 2009 at 6:15 pm (tWP) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

antius1The relationship between South Korea and America is not what it used to be. But it stands to reason that the relationship will only keep growing …apart.

The RoK has depended on its alliance with America since the Korean War but after the opening of China and the fall of the USSR, South Korea finally found contiguous markets and cheap labour with which to fuel its economy.

Just as important, its trade is no longer entirely dependant on sea lanes and air routes passing through Japan. The Sea of Japan involves Korea and is a source of unresolved territorial disputes between the two nations.

The relations are further strained by the history of Japanese domination and colonisation. In Korea, the anti-American prejudice is prevalent and only surpassed by niponophobia and strong feelings against the totalitarian north.

Alliances and partnerships are of course objective but in democracies the prejudices of the people speak loud and this leaves the South Korean leaders one viable partner: Russia.

The one neighbour never to have dominated Korea, Russia is also a big market, a valuable partner in technological endeavours and a privileged supplier of raw materials and energy. Russia shares Korea’s interest in keeping both Beijing and Tokyo from dominating the region – partnering with Russia would also help to downplay China’s continental hegemony in the Far East.

Furthermore, unlike the PRC and Japan, Korea does not possess enough critical mass to balance its regional rivals and in addition mobilise forces to protect its trade flows. Were such ambitious deployments to be realised and it would undoubtedly put too much pressure on the Korean budget and military establishment. This means that regional trade partners with contiguous borders are in extreme high demand from Seoul.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s considerably superior influence over the DPRK is also to be factored in, since the Korean reunification is a priority.korrus2

After considering all this, one must ask what the US has to offer to the Koreans. Washington still has technology and equipment the Koreans need but the military ties are a constant embarrassment for the government and their pertinence is out of date. The DPRK is no longer a threat, and neither are China or Russia. The American market will always be important but China will quickly become the paramount client.

Finally, the US are of little use in Seoul’s rivalry with Tokyo due to the Quadrilateral agreements.

Reality dictates that South Korea will much rather catch the transiberian in a nearby future than board the transpacific.

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