Periodic World Craziness Update # 7

The latest month’s wackiness in the world of international relations, politics, and  brinkmanship.

An Authoritarian Axis Rising?:  Perhaps more people should be talking about this.   This article asks the intriguing question of whether world events over the past year or so, but particularly since Putin’s return to power, don’t highlight the beginning of a new bipolar world order.   These supposed Axis states are China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela.   Interestingly, as the article points out, half of them rely on oil money and thus lower oil prices are seen as a threat.   Is the world once again aligning along authoritarian lines?  That is a good question, and on I would answer by saying that no, it is not.   It has always been ordered this way it is just that in the last 2-3 years those differences/alignments are becoming more distinct.   The fuzzy period of shifting alignments of the last 20+ years are coming to an end.   What the west lacks today is a Chruchill, Thatcher, or Reagan willing to call a duck a duck.   Instead we get Obama, Merkel, and Hollande who are willing to do no more than mouth platitudes and deplore “human rights abuses.”  I fear the next 10-15 years is going to be ore exciting than the last twenty years was and those had excitement enough.

Turkey Says Syria Downed Plane in International Airspace: This event begs the question f whether the obvious but unacknowledged civil war in Syria could possibly spread beyond it’s borders.   I would guess that both Turkey and Assad will work hard to smooth any ruffled feathers over this incident but I am not certain.   I get the feeling that Turkey wants to be more assertive in regional affairs than have hitherto been.   This raises some interesting issues as Turkey is a NATO member and if they can a make a good case for Syrian provocation they may be able to invoke the NATO charter and draw other NATO countries in.   I rate the probability of this as very low though.

Celebration in Egypt as Morsi declared winner:  The triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood candidate in Egypt raises several obvious issues.   The biggest being is what is going to happen in Israeli-Egyptian relations as the MB has consistently said they want to revisit the Sadat negotiated Israel-Egypt peace treaty.   Another is what becomes of Egypt’s large Christian minority if Sharia Law is imposed, are they to be reduced to Dhimmitude?  Lastly is how does the MB coming to power affect the overall state of Mideastern politics?  The rise of Islamist/Salafist regimes in the wake of the Arab Spring is alarming to say the least.

China’s space, deep-sea progress has military implications:  Anyone who does not think that China’s space program has military as well as civilian goals is deluding themselves.   All doubt should have been removed in 2009 when they successfully deployed an anti-satellite missile as a capability demonstration.   It only take a minimum amount of familiarity with the physics of space and orbital mechanics to understand the implications for any of China’s rivals if they are allowed to gain control of Low-Earth Orbit (LEO).   Among the most dangerous weapons deployable from LEO are kinetic such as the Tungsten penetrators the US Air Force has had on the drawing board for decades.   Kinetic space weapons are essentially un-interceptable once fired and can do massive or little damage with scaling, to stop these weapons their delivery platform would have to be destroyed.   The progress of China’s space program bears watching and it should also serve as a spur for the US to get serious again about developing an organic launch capability.   The US should not be at the mercy of the Russians or a private company to get into orbit.

Two pieces this time; Assad says Syria at war as battle reaches capital and Backed by NATO, Turkey Steps Up Warning to Syria:  In the first Assad is just finally acknowledging facts, Syria is in fact engaged in a Civil War.   One that nobody really knows how it will end.   The second is more interesting from my perspective.   I wonder what Turkey and NATO think a stern warning will achieve?  They have to be aware that Assad cannot react to it in any manner that seems to be capitulation.   Currently he does not need to because the other public statements of NATO and Turkey seem to indicate that they and Turkey in particular, are afraid to do anything concrete.   My analysis says that Assad can safely ignore any western warnings for now, whether they come from NATO or the UN.   As long as Assad gas the tacit or implied backing of China and Russia he pretty much has a free hand and he is using it.   He can also make the argument that he is merely engaged in the suppression of an insurrection, which is also patently true.   If the west becomes involved it will show that modern Liberals have become truly divorced from Traditional Just War doctrine and are creating their own set of rules as they go along.   I am afraid that at some point R2P is going to rear it’s ugly head again.

Is the PLA a Paper Dragon?:  This editorial piece from the WSJ misses a key point in my opinion.   That is that while the PLA may only be a regional power, they have aspirations of being a global player on a par with the economic power China currently wields.   The PLA aims to be not just a global player but globally dominant within the next 20-30 years.   They can afford to wait and waiting obviously aids them more than the West, at least as ,long as the West cannot get it’s social and economic act together.   China thinks long-term, many in the West forget that at our and their peril.

U.S. Grants Special Ally Status to Afghanistan: This is just funny.   What advantage does the US gain by granting such a spurious status to a regime that is at best apathetic to the US and at worst actively hostile.   This is Kabuki theater at its worst.   First, the Karzai government is corrupt and probably illegitimate having stolen the last round of elections.   Second, the same Karzai government is more concerned with securing their power base than securing the country.   Al their protests are pro-forma and ways to show his base supporters that he is not the puppet he really is.   It is imperative that he shore up his power before NATO pulls out otherwise there is a rope in his future.   The administration is playing a game of political expedience y because they want out, the American left despise the military at the same time as they use them.   The granting of Special Ally status is a sham and only good for PR anyway.