Archive for the ‘John Mearsheimer’ Category

IS & Waffen SS – Pakistan Observer

IS & Waffen SS
Pakistan Observer
JOHN Mearsheimer, an American political scientist, argues in his book The Tragedy of the Great Power Politics (2001) that great powers shake and shape the international system. This phenomenon exhibited by them often creates such shockwaves which …

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IS & Waffen SS – Pakistan Observer

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March 15, 2017   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

March 24 "Israel Lobby and American Policy" conference program at the National Press Club – PR Newswire (press release)

WASHINGTON, March 8, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The March 24 all-day conference “The Israel Lobby and American Policy” at the National Press Club features the following program:

8:00-9:00 AM Registration and “Two Blue Lines”: A documentary film screening in the Ballroom. Exhibition hall opens in adjacent Holeman Lounge.

9:00 AM Conference Organizer Welcoming Remarks

9:10 AM Grant Smith: The series of stunningbut underreportedpolls revealing true American attitudes about U.S. aid to Israel and other top American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) programs.

9:40 AM KeynoteProfessor John Mearsheimer: What has changed in the decade since his book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy was published. Subsequent findings, foreign policy choices the U.S. makes that it otherwise would notif not for Israeland what the new administration could do differently in the future that would better serve broader American interests.

10:30 AM Professor Katherine Franke: Recent legislation that threatens the First Amendment rights of Palestinian solidarity activists in the U.S. and the legal challenges thereto.

11:00 AM Morning Break

11:15 AM Former Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA): What it takes to beat the Israel lobby in Congress.

11:40 AM Former Congressman Nick Rahall (D-WV): How to support the members of Congress who are beginning to listen to their constituents on Middle East policy issues.

12:15 PM Lunch Break & Screening of selections from the four-part Al Jazeera six-month undercover investigative series “The Lobby.” Jack Shaheen and John Mearsheimer book signings.

1:00 PM KeynoteHanan Ashrawi: The Israel lobby and the “peace process” from a Palestinian perspective.

1:40 PM Tom Hayes: Challenges and changes in 25 years working on Israel-Palestine issues and advice for independent filmmakers. The documentary producer screens and comments on selections from his latest film, “Two Blue Lines.”

2:10 PM Jack Shaheen: Strategies to successfully push back against harmful Hollywood stereotypes about Arabs and Muslims, and the work new generations must now take on.

2:40 PM Wajahat Ali: The intersection of pro-Israel organizations & donors and Islamophobia uncovered as the lead author and researcher of the report “Fear, Inc: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America.”

3:15 PM Afternoon Break

3:30 PM Khalil Jahshan: The Israel lobby and “fake peace processing.”

4:00 PM Conference organizer remarks

4:15 PM KeynoteProfessor Ilan Papp: The value of viewing Israel-Palestine through the lens of settler-colonialism, how Zionist myths have been shaped and/or perpetuated by the Israel lobby, and what framework is necessary to overcome these myths and ensure that efforts to resolve the “conflict” are grounded in reality.

5:00 PM Clayton Swisher: The director of investigative journalism for Al Jazeera Media Network screens and comments on selections from “The Lobby,” the four-part series about the Israeli Embassy’s covert influence campaign in Britain. This undercover investigation reveals how the Israeli Embassy sought to establish supposedly “independent” pro-Israel groups in England, AIPAC’s efforts to establish itself in London, unfounded accusations of anti-Semitism lodged against Labour Party members, and discussions by disgraced former Israeli diplomat Shai Masot to “take down” UK lawmakers deemed hostile to Israel.

5:30-7:30 PM Networking Reception & Book Signings: Wajahat Ali, Hanan Ashrawi, Ilan Papp and Clayton Swisher.

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March 24 "Israel Lobby and American Policy" conference program at the National Press Club – PR Newswire (press release)

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March 24 "Israel Lobby and American Policy" conference program at … – Yahoo News

WASHINGTON, March 8, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The March 24 all-day conference “The Israel Lobby and American Policy” at the National Press Club features the following program:

8:00-9:00 AM Registration and “Two Blue Lines”: A documentary film screening in the Ballroom. Exhibition hall opens in adjacent Holeman Lounge.

9:00 AM Conference Organizer Welcoming Remarks

9:10 AM Grant Smith: The series of stunningbut underreportedpolls revealing true American attitudes about U.S. aid to Israel and other top American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) programs.

9:40 AM KeynoteProfessor John Mearsheimer : What has changed in the decade since his book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy was published. Subsequent findings, foreign policy choices the U.S. makes that it otherwise would notif not for Israeland what the new administration could do differently in the future that would better serve broader American interests.

10:30 AM Professor Katherine Franke : Recent legislation that threatens the First Amendment rights of Palestinian solidarity activists in the U.S. and the legal challenges thereto.

11:00 AM Morning Break

11:15 AM Former Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA ) : What it takes to beat the Israel lobby in Congress.

11:40 AM Former Congressman Nick Rahall (D-WV): How to support the members of Congress who are beginning to listen to their constituents on Middle East policy issues.

12:15 PM Lunch Break & Screening of selections from the four-part Al Jazeera six-month undercover investigative series “The Lobby.” Jack Shaheen and John Mearsheimer book signings.

1:00 PM Keynote Hanan Ashrawi : The Israel lobby and the “peace process” from a Palestinian perspective.

1:40 PM Tom Hayes : Challenges and changes in 25 years working on Israel-Palestine issues and advice for independent filmmakers. The documentary producer screens and comments on selections from his latest film, “Two Blue Lines.”

2:10 PM Jack Shaheen : Strategies to successfully push back against harmful Hollywood stereotypes about Arabs and Muslims, and the work new generations must now take on.

2:40 PM Wajahat Ali : The intersection of pro-Israel organizations & donors and Islamophobia uncovered as the lead author and researcher of the report “Fear, Inc: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America.”

3:15 PM Afternoon Break

3:30 PM Khalil Jahshan : The Israel lobby and “fake peace processing.”

4:00 PM Conference organizer remarks

4:15 PM KeynoteProfessor Ilan Papp : The value of viewing Israel-Palestine through the lens of settler-colonialism, how Zionist myths have been shaped and/or perpetuated by the Israel lobby, and what framework is necessary to overcome these myths and ensure that efforts to resolve the “conflict” are grounded in reality.

5:00 PM Clayton Swisher : The director of investigative journalism for Al Jazeera Media Network screens and comments on selections from “The Lobby,” the four-part series about the Israeli Embassy’s covert influence campaign in Britain. This undercover investigation reveals how the Israeli Embassy sought to establish supposedly “independent” pro-Israel groups in England, AIPAC’s efforts to establish itself in London, unfounded accusations of anti-Semitism lodged against Labour Party members, and discussions by disgraced former Israeli diplomat Shai Masot to “take down” UK lawmakers deemed hostile to Israel.

5:30-7:30 PM Networking Reception & Book Signings: Wajahat Ali, Hanan Ashrawi, Ilan Papp and Clayton Swisher.

This conference is dedicated to the memory of U.S. Ambassador Andrew I. Killgore, publisher of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.

View more information at the conference website and purchase tickets online at IsraelLobbyAndAmericanPolicy.org or Eventbrite . Purchase admission before March 24 and receive a free one-year subscription to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs magazine (non-subscribers only).

Members of the news media can apply for press credentials online to enter and cover this event at http://israellobbyandamericanpolicy.org/Press_Credentials/default.html

All attendees receive a box lunch and a beverage ticket for the post-conference networking reception.

The Israel Lobby and American Policy conference is solely sponsored by the American Educational Trust, publisher of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs , and the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy ( IRmep ).

To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/march-24-israel-lobby-and-american-policy-conference-program-at-the-national-press-club-300420526.html

SOURCE Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy

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March 9, 2017   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

Doomsday Cancelled: Trump is Good News for Allies and World Peace – War on the Rocks

The election of Donald Trump as U.S. president has rocked the U.S. security establishment and its allies around the world. President Trump has questioned the security guarantees that underpin the Pax Americana in speeches, personal conversations with world leaders, and of course on Twitter. He has claimed that allies are ripping the United States off, dismissed NATO for being obsolete, and mused that the time may have come for Japan and South Korea to develop their own nuclear weapons. He insists that U.S. allies have to pay and do more for their defense. Many in the United States and abroad have decried these statements as destabilizing and dangerous; The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists captured the general mood by moving their doomsday clock 30 seconds closer to midnight in response to Trumps inauguration.

This concern is massively overblown.

Rather than weakening Americas web of alliances, Trumps aggressive statements and erratic behavior will most likely strengthen the American-led security architecture during his presidency. This is good news for world peace because strong American alliances and strong American allies can deter rivals from launching destabilizing challenges to the predominant order. Trumps aggressive communications strategy and his America First approach to international negotiations have already frightened allies into doing something his predecessors could not: increase defense spending. Fear of abandonment has changed the nature of the defense debate in allied capitals in Asia and Europe. The question is no longer whether defense spending should increase, but how much. U.S. allies in Europe are now scrambling to produce concrete plans for how they will increase defense spending in time for President Trumps first visit to NATO in late May 2017.. His perceived unpredictability is also making military provocations and risk-taking by Americas adversaries less likely.

Trumpology is Misleading

The concern triggered by Trumps election stems in no small part from the rise of what I call Trumpology the incessant scrutiny of Trumps personality, his statements, and his tweets. Trumpology is a new growth industry and the media embraces it because it fits their definition of a newsworthy story perfectly. Trumps communications generate all the criteria journalists look for in a good story: conflict, anxiety, comedy, theater, and outrage. This helps media companies, even those attacked by Trump, sell advertising like hotcakes. Many experts now spend their time putting Trumps words under the microscope, seeking to identify all the disasters they might create. In addition, psychologists have been busy analyzing his personality and upbringing in order to explain why he is acting so weird.

The American intelligence community has used personality profiling since World War II to better understand how leaders in closed authoritarian systems such as Iraq, Iran, North Korea, and Russia think and act. The results have been useful on occasion, but the study of personalities and intentions is insufficient with respect to predicting foreign policy actions and outcomes. One must also analyze the consequences and the opposition that proposed actions are likely to generate. If one considers the consequences of undermining existing U.S. alliances and how much opposition such action would trigger, one gets a far more positive picture of Trumps impact on world security than the doomsday scenarios that Trumpologists have mass-produced since his election.

Consequences for U.S. Allies

Since the late 1940s, U.S. allies in Europe and Asia have based their national security on the assumption that the United States will assist them in a crisis. This assumption and the post-Cold War downsizing of Europes military forces have rendered Europeans incapable of conducting even relatively small-scale military operations without substantial American support. NATOs air war against Libya (2011) and the French intervention in Mali (2013) are two recent cases in point. Neither operation would have been possible without American logistics, lift, munitions, intelligence, and other forms of support. The situation in the same in Asia: Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan have all based their defense forces and defense spending on the assumption that the U.S. cavalry will come to their rescue if necessary.

If Trump degrades or withdraws these security guarantees, the allies will face a stark choice between deterrence and appeasement. In Europe deterrence is the most likely choice because the big three (Germany, France, and the United Kingdom) are strong enough to constitute the core of a new alliance that can credibly deter Russia. In Asia, China will become so strong that most states bordering the East China Sea will have no choice but to appease Beijing and accept its hegemony. Regardless of the outcome, both Europe and Asia would face a period characterized by high instability and a heightened risk of war. Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan would seek to develop nuclear weapons. In Europe, Germany and Poland would have a strong incentive to do the same unless France and Britain extend their nuclear umbrellas over them. Indeed, all of these countries, except Poland, either contemplated the development of nuclear weapons (Germany and Japan) or had active nuclear weapons programs during the Cold War (South Korea and Taiwan).

Consequences for the United States

Prominent American scholars such as John Mearsheimer, Barry Posen, and Stephen Walt have long recommended that the United States withdraw most of its forces from Asia and Europe because the costs of the existing onshore presence dwarf the benefits. In their view, the existing security guarantees amount to welfare for the rich and increase the risk of entrapment in wars that do not involve American national interests. They believe that the United States would be much better off by copying the offshore balancing strategy that the British Empire employed in Europe before World War II. This would involve providing support to shifting alliances and coalitions in order to prevent a single power from establishing a regional hegemony on the European continent.

Offshore balancing has clear limitations and did not serve the British well in the end: it threw them into two world wars that brought the empire to its knees. Britains fate highlights the weakness of offshore balancing: a loss of the ability to shape the security politics onshore decisively. The failure of British offshore balancing dragged the United States into both world wars. Americas decisions to help its allies in Europe defeat Germany proved costly in blood and treasure.

Since then the United States has benefitted tremendously from the onshore balancing strategy it adopted after World War II in both Asia and Europe, where it stationed its forces permanently to deter aggression. This presence, coupled with the allies military dependence, enabled Washington to shape development in both regions to align with U.S. interests. Washington repeatedly gave their allies offers they could not refuse. U.S. economic assistance programs provided to allies in the wake of World War II came with conditions that forced the recipients to buy American goods and liberalize their markets in ways that were highly beneficial to American firms. Washington forced Great Britain and France to withdraw their troops from Egypt during the Suez Crisis (1956), coerced Germany to support U.S. monetary policy (1966 to 1969), and leaned on many allies to stop their nuclear weapons programs and join the Non-Proliferation Treaty (1968) that made such weapons illegal, including Japan, Germany, South Korea, and Taiwan.

Military dependence on the United States also induced many allies to support U.S.-led wars in faraway places that did not affect their national security directly. The Afghan War and Iraq War are two recent cases in point. The allies closed their eyes to issues like secret detention and extraordinary rendition programs, the use of torture, and the massive surveillance of their own citizens that has characterized the War on Terror since 9/11. Allies have given the United States access to bases, facilities, as well as their airspace and territorial waters. This facilitates U.S. power projection globally. Finally, many allies buy American weapon systems as a way of maintain inter-operability and their security guarantees. The F-35 is the latest and greatest example of this.

The consequences of a U.S. military withdrawal from Europe and Asia would be dramatic. The United States would lose most of its military bases in Asia and Europe, American firms would find it much harder to gain access to Asian and European markets, the American defense industry would lose billions of dollars, and European allies would stop supporting the United States militarily in faraway conflicts. As a result, the United States would lose its global power status and be reduced to a regional power with limited say in the management of Asian and European security. This is why it will not happen. This outcome is not only at odds with Americas economic interests, but it is also completely at odds with the widely shared belief in American exceptionalism and greatness. This is a belief that Trump and his supporters also embrace. Most Americans continue to view their nation as the greatest power on earth with an obligation to lead and make the world safe for Americas universal values.

Trump is Scaring Allies into Spending

But if the costs of abandoning allies are prohibitive, why is Trump threatening to do so? Nobel Prize laureate Thomas Schellings work on game theory suggests an answer. Schelling demonstrated in his seminal Strategy of Conflict (1960) that it may be advantageous to appear mad or unpredictable, because it may induce your negotiating partners or opponents to give greater concessions that they otherwise would. In this perspective, Trumps statements and seemingly erratic behavior make a lot of sense as a negotiation tactic aimed at pressuring U.S. allies to increase their defense spending. Trumps predecessors in the White House have tried to do this for years without success; previous administrations have repeatedly warned its European allies that NATO was in danger of becoming irrelevant if the Europeans continued to cut their defense spending. Yet most European allies paid scant attention to demands from the Obama administration to stop freeriding and honor their own commitments to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense. Few European governments saw a pressing need to increase defense spending because the Obama administration reacted to the Russian annexation of the Crimea by enhancing its military presence in Europe.

Trump has changed the game completely. In line with Schellings expectations, his perceived unpredictability is adding credibility to the threat that he might actually withdraw U.S. forces even if it is not in the United States best interest to do so. There is genuine concern among U.S. allies about what Trump might do if they do not take immediate steps to increase their defense spending. Many have already taken steps in this direction, or signaled their intention to do so. In December 2016, Japan adopted a record high defense budget, which allocated considerable funds to the procurement of American equipment, notably F-35s and missiles. The South Korean government reacted to Trumps election by vowing to increase defense spending significantly if he insists on it. Likewise, the Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen promised to increase defense spending after his first phone conversation with Trump. In Germany Trumps election triggered a hitherto unthinkable debate on whether Germany should develop nuclear weapons.

Trump cannot take sole credit for the newfound allied attentiveness to longstanding U.S. demands. The Japanese defense budget has been increasing in recent years due to growing concerns about China. Russia has had a similar effect on the defense budgets of the eastern NATO members. However, Trump has made a crucial difference by completely changing the debate on defense spending in allied capitals, significantly strengthening the hands of the proponents of increased defense spending in allied governments. The 2016 IHS Janes Defence Budgets Report consequently expects European NATO allies and partners such as Finland and Sweden to boost their defense spending by about $10 billion over the next five years.

Trumps Unpredictability Deters Rival Risk-Taking

That Schellings logic applies equally well to President Trumps dealings with Americas opponents has already been pointed out by other commentators. They have referred to Nixons madman theory of negotiation, which holds that Americas opponents will tread more carefully if they perceive the president to be unpredictable or crazy. It has been debated at some length whether Trump is using this theory in a rational manner to extract concessions from U.S. adversaries, or if he is a madman in practice. Regardless, the point is that President Trumps unpredictability makes it next to impossible to calculate the risk of escalation involved in challenging the United States militarily, a concept also highlighted by Schelling. President Obamas reluctance to threaten and use force likely emboldened China and Russia to take greater military risks in Eastern Ukraine, Syria, and in the East and South China Seas. While Beijing and Moscow could be fairly confident that Obama would not take military counter-measures, they have no way of knowing what President Trump might do. It is very easy to imagine him giving the order to down a Chinese or Russian plane to demonstrate that America is great again.

In this way, Trump (intentionally or not) reduces the risk of military confrontations with China and Russia. This gives both states greater incentive to prioritize diplomacy over coercion in their efforts to settle disputes with the United States and its allies. Similarly, Trumps characterization of the nuclear agreement with Iran as the worst deal ever negotiated gives Tehran strong incentive to honor it in both letter and spirit for fear of a potentially much worse alternative if it collapses. Some are deeply worried that Trump versus Kim Jong-un will prove a highly explosive combination, which is understandable since North Korea has employing the same negotiating tactics as Trump for decades with considerable success. While the outcome of this confrontation is difficult to call, the disastrous consequences of war are likely to lead to mutual restraint. Moreover, concern about what Trump might do will induce Beijing to redouble its efforts to persuade Pyongyang to be less provocative.

Good News for World Peace

Paradoxically, Trumps tweets and the theatrics are most likely to enhance world peace. They create unpredictability and anxiety that the United States can use to obtain greater concessions from friends and foes. It is admittedly still early days, but all indications are that Trump will succeed in coercing his allies in both Asia and Europe to increase their defense spending significantly. Few of them will reach 2 percent of GDP in the next year or two, but he has set in motion a process that will make most allies spend far more much faster than they otherwise would have. His unpredictability is also an asset in Americas dealings with its opponents such as China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia. They will all need to think twice about provoking the United States and its allies militarily because they have no way of calculating how President Trump will react. Neither friends nor foes can be certain that Trump will not do something that a rational cost-benefit calculating actor would not. U.S. allies used to regard American threats to withdraw its forces as bluff because the costs of doing so would be prohibitive, and the same logic has induced American opponents to engage in military risk-taking with little fear of U.S. military retaliation. With Trump in the White House, this logic no longer applies. This is good news because the likely result is strengthened U.S. alliances and U.S. opponents that are more likely to favor negotiation over provocation in their efforts to settle differences with the United States and its allies.

Dr. Peter Viggo Jakobsen is an Associate Professor at the Royal Danish Defence College and a Professor (part-time) at the Center for War Studies at University of Southern Denmark.

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Doomsday Cancelled: Trump is Good News for Allies and World Peace – War on the Rocks

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March 3, 2017   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

Here’s How to Avoid a War With China – Daily Beast

If you are the betting type, I have a promising bet for you. Wager that the United States and China will engage in a major war in the near future. Some scholars who specialize in international relations, such as John Mearsheimer, contend that a war between the United States and China is more likely today than a hot war between the United States and the USSR ever was. Timothy Garton Ash, a British historian and commentator, states that the United States and China will probably go to war if they do not carefully manage the slew of points of tension between them. Michael Pillsbury, an expert with four decades of experience studying U.S.-China relations, observes that Chinas lack of military transparency practically guarantees inadvertent escalation, leading to war.

Others consider a war with China inevitable because of an iron law of history, according to which prevailing superpowers such as the United States necessarily fail to yield power quickly enough to a new power such as China, thereby causing rising tensions and, eventually, war. Graham Allison writes, The defining question about global order for this generation is whether China and the United States can escape Thucydidess Trap. The Greek historians metaphor reminds us of the attendant dangers when a rising power rivals a ruling power [Avoiding war] required huge, painful adjustments in attitudes and actions on the part not just of the challenger but also the challenged. Even optimists, against whom youd be betting, give the United States and China only a one in four chance of avoiding war. According to Allisons report, superpowers adjusted and avoided war with rising powers in four out of sixteen cases since 1500. (In one of these cases, Great Britain yielded to the United States during the late 1800s and early 1900s.)

This book hopes to sour your bet (with due apologies) by outlining several policies that may allow us to achieve a peaceful transition of power without endangering the United States core interests in Southeast Asiaor undermining the United States position as a global power. To find a peaceful way, both the United States and China need to change their foreign policies. Scores of books and articles argue what China must do: stop its military buildup, improve its transparency, bring its military more under the control of the government rather than the Communist Party, and transition to a liberal democracy, among other recommendations. This book, in contrast, is written by an American for Americans; it focuses on the actions the United States could take to reduce the probability that the world will face another major war.

I cannot stress enough that when I point in the following pages to flaws in the ways that the United States is currently dealing with China (for instance, by excluding it from the Trans Pacific Partnership), this does not mean that China has conducted itself better or does not need to mend its ways. It simply means that Chinas warts have been amply charted and dissected; this book focuses on what the United States could do better.

To proceed, Americans need to engage in a national dialogue, a public debate about what the United States China policy is and should be. The United States often engages in such debates about other subjects, such as same-sex marriage, climate change, dealing with ISIS and with Iran. Such a national debate about China policy has not yet happened.

Indeed, during the most recent presidential primary season, both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates have mainly avoided the subject, though Donald Trump argued that China is out to eat our lunch. Now that the elections are over, and a new administration has come in, this is a particularly opportune time to engage in such a public debate. This book seeks to serve this overdue give-and-take.

Going to or sliding into war with a rising China is especially tragic becauseas I see itChina and the United States share many complementary interests and have surprisingly few substantive reasons to come to blows. (By substantive I mean those issues that are distinct from symbolic or hyped-up ones, such as the question of who owns a pile of rocks somewhere difficult to find on a map.)

Some use the terms panda huggers and dragon slayers to categorize analysts and public leaders in the West according to the approaches they recommend adopting toward China; these terms replace the doves and hawks of the Cold War. (I sometimes refer to them as Engagers and Adversarians.)

Some might consider this book to fall on the dovish side. However, I am not a panda hugger but rather someone who has been to war. This experience left me with a strong commitment to seeking peaceful resolutions to international conflicts.

The overdue public debate about Americas China policy will not take place in a vacuum. The U.S. military, in the course of carrying out its duty to secure the United States, has identified China as a major strategic threat. Accordingly, it has made the case in the media, in congressional hearings, and in presentations to the White House that the United States should take a tougher approach to China and should build up its military in order to prepare for a war with China. The defense industry supports the same charge for its own reasons. To digress, I do not claim that there exists a military-industrial complex in the sense of a solid military-corporate bloc whose representatives meet at night in a motel in Arlington to plot how to gain glory and profit by pushing the United States into war with China. As a matter of fact, the U.S. militarys various services compete with each other; thus the U.S. Army is much less inclined to target China than the U.S. Air Force and Navy are. And many corporations that make money out of peaceful pursuits compete with defense-focused ones, and defense corporations compete with each other. However, as we shall see, major segments of the military and corporations do have strong, vested interests in preparing for war with China for reasons that do serve their constituents, but not necessarily the good of the United States.

Reprinted from the forthcoming AVOIDING WAR WITH CHINA: Two Nations, One World by Amitai Etzioni by permission of the University of Virginia Press.

Amitai Etzioni is University Professor in the Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies at George Washington University. He is the author of Security First: For a Muscular, Moral Foreign Policy and From Empire to Community: A New Approach to International Relations.

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Here’s How to Avoid a War With China – Daily Beast

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Trump’s Russia Policy Sends Mixed Messages as Investigations Mount – Chicago Tonight | WTTW


Chicago Tonight | WTTW
Trump's Russia Policy Sends Mixed Messages as Investigations Mount
Chicago Tonight | WTTW
John Mearsheimer is a professor of political science and the co-director of the Program on International Security at the University of Chicago and an expert on American foreign policy. Mearsheimer says that while he is not a fan of Trump, he feels that

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Trump’s Russia Policy Sends Mixed Messages as Investigations Mount – Chicago Tonight | WTTW

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NATO and Russia: a Sisyphean Cycle of Escalation? – Institute of Modern Russia

Today, on July 13, the NATO-Russia Council will hold its third meeting, albeit at an ambassadorial level, since cooperation under its auspices was suspended in April 2014 in response to the Kremlins aggression in Ukraine. Both NATO and Russia continue to have profound and persistent disagreements, but in light of intensifying geopolitical tensions in Europe and the Middle East, as well as Russias ongoing economic crisis, its become clear that a dialogue of some sort is necessary. With international affairs fundamentals changing in real time, a re-examination of the tumultuous relationship between NATO and Russia can help develop a more realistic view of the existing differences, set priorities straight, and pave the way to start bridging the gap.

A U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bomber leads a formation of fighter aircraft including two Polish air force F-16 Fighting Falcons, four U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons, two German Eurofighter Typhoons and four Swedish Gripens during NATO’s exercise BALTOPS on June 9, 2016 over the Baltic Sea. Photo: Sra Erin Babis / Planet Pix via ZUMA Wire / TASS

Moscow was handed a significant geopolitical victory on June 23 when, in a startling upset, British voters chose to leave the European Union. The development came just ahead of NATOs July summit in Warsaw, where the security alliance hoped to leverage the talks to reinforce its defenses in Poland and the Baltic states, and to salvage what remains of Western unity against Russia in response to the countrys annexation of Crimea. Indeed, during the summit, NATO pledged to station troops in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, and each of the Baltic states to deter further Russian aggression in the region. NATO members also formally invited Montenegro to join their ranks, and pledged to raise individual defense expenditures to 2 percent of GDP by 2020. Meanwhile, Moscow reiterated its stance that NATO is focused on a non-existent threat from Russia, adding that the Kremlin will seek explanations for the alliances plans at a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council on July 13.

It is unlikely, however, that the meeting will have any lasting effect on Russian-Western relations. Russia and the West have recently engaged in a series of hostile exchanges, most of which have occurred since Russian president Vladimir Putin won his third term in office in March 2012. These skirmishesrhetorical and otherwisehave prompted a heated debate about NATOs history, identity, and role in the conflict between Russia and the West.

In 1946, as the Western Allies and the Soviet Union vied for control over post-war Europe, American diplomat George Kennan penned the fabled long telegram to the State Department outlining his views on the USSR. In the document, Kennan argued that the Kremlin considered permanent peaceful coexistence with the West fundamentally impossible, and that its worldviewbornoutofatraditionalandinstinctiveRussiansenseofinsecurityhinged on the patient but deadly struggle for total destruction of rival power, never in compacts and compromises with it. Kennans telegram, combined with Soviet expansionism and competing Western and Soviet geopolitical objectives[1], contributed to an atmosphere of distrust; it is within this context that NATO was born. As the late NATO secretary-general Lord Ismay famously once said, the alliance aimed to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.

If a core tenet of NATOs founding centered on Soviet exclusion, it should come as no surprise that much of Russias modern leadership remains, at best, wary of the alliance. Putin served for years as a KGB officer, and it is estimated that upwards of one-third of Putins inner circle once worked for the Soviet intelligence service.[2] According to historian Walter Laqueur, they did this work from a sense of dutythat is to say, patriotism and idealism.[3] However, there is another view, pushed forward by Russia expert Karen Dawisha, asserting that the Soviet power ministries also operated out of self-interest. From this perspective, the security forces aimed to preserve the status quotheir wealth and powerby controlling the Soviet Unions domestic and overseas assets, and by maintaining access to foreign capital inflows.[4] Either way, when Putin claimed that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the twentieth century[5], it is safe to say that he was not just speaking on his own behalf. From Moscows perspective, who else but the West could be responsible for such a tragedy?

That NATO chose to exclude post-Soviet Russia from its ranks has certainly not soothed hurt feelings. Of course, many experts have noted the difficulty of including Russia in a security alliance whose past was rooted in the Cold War, and whose future is vested in the advancement of democracy and Western values. As Lilia Shevtsova argues in the American Interest, Those who blame the West for failing to integrate Russia should be asked whether an illiberal system can be integrated into the framework of a liberal civilization. And what would have happened to the West if such an attempt had indeed been made? But if such a scenario were actually possible, what should the West have done to make Russia reform itself? We can assume that the integrators are talking about the inclusion of authoritarian Russia into the Euro-Atlantic structuresan intriguing experiment, indeed. Are the integrators ready to see a collapse of the West?

In other words, Russian inclusion would have dampened NATOs effectiveness as a proselytizing force for the West. In the aftermath of the Cold War, consolidating Western gains was deemed more important than tiptoeing around Russias bruised ego.

As for NATOs expansion, historian Mary Sarotte argues that the West never explicitly promised to prevent NATO from spreading to Europes eastern bloc. Rather, Sarotte contends, such a deal was briefly hinted at during talks over German reunification, but in the end, there was never a formal deal, as Russia alleges. Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has confirmed himself (despite previous claims to the contrary) that such an agreement was never reached.

This is not to say that Russia never expressed concern over NATOs growth or actions abroad in the post-Cold War era. Political scientist Rajan Menon writes that Russian foreign minister Andrei Kozyrev warned against expansion as early as 1992; president Boris Yeltsin lambasted NATO for bombing Serbia and Kosovo in 1999; and in the aftermath of the 2008 Russo-Georgian War, president Dmitry Medvedev essentially proclaimed neighboring countries off-limits to Western affiliation. But since Putins return to power in 2012, Russian hostility toward NATO has risen to a feverish pitch. What explains Moscows recent animosity?

The answer largely depends on how much importance one places on macroscopic security dynamics versus Russian history and domestic politics. Realist theorist John Mearsheimer has focused on the former, arguing that Russias aggression in Crimea and eastern Ukraine was the culmination of two decades of Western encroachment into Eastern Europe. With Kievs pro-Russian government in tatters, Mearsheimer contends, Russia was faced with the prospect of a NATO member or proxy state materializing at its doorstep. From this perspective, Moscow reacted in a rational and defensive manner, entirely in line with its geopolitical self-interests. After all, wouldnt the United States be alarmed if Russia were to establish a military presence or hostile proxy government in Mexico?

Its not just that Putin and the West disagreeits that they arent even engaged in the same conversation. Putintruly believesthat the West always has and will continue todeceive Russiaand undermine its place in world politics.

Realists like Mearsheimer raise some pertinent points, but their explanations are often expressed in zero-sum terms, and too easily dismiss the importance of personality in Russian politics and foreign affairs. Although a number of Russian leaders have, in the past, expressed displeasure with NATO and the West, only Vladimir Putin has translated this displeasure into full contempt. It seems hardly a coincidence that his regimes jingoism, military adventurism, and anti-Western/anti-NATO rhetoric have often coincided with economic and political crises at home.

According to Leon Aron of the American Enterprise Institute, the Putin regime had long based its political legitimacy on economic development and stability, but by 2012, beset by electoral protests and unable to spark more than at best middling growth, Putin decided to shift the base of his regimes legitimacy away from economic growth and rising incomes and toward patriotic mobilization and anti-Westernism. For example, when Putin was faced with widespread opposition protests in Moscow in late 2011, he lashed out at then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton, claiming that she and the State Department were responsible for the unrest. A few years later, in the months preceding Russias March 2014 invasion of Crimea, Putin was once again beset by domestic political problems: his approval ratings had dropped to 61 percenta nadir not reached since June 2000. Putins weakening support base, coupled with the sudden ouster of pro-Kremlin Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, prompted the Kremlin to seize Crimea. Following the annexation, Putins approval ratings quickly skyrocketed to 80 percent, peaking to a crescendo of 89 percent in June 2015. Popularity notwithstanding, however, Russias economic troubles persist, and the Putin regime continues to engage in vehemently anti-Western rhetoric.

Its not just that Putin and the West disagreeits that they arent even engaged in the same conversation. Putin truly believes that the West always has and will continue to deceive Russia and undermine its place in world politics; consequently, the Russian president sees himself as a guardian of national sovereignty against American-dominated globalization and foreign intervention. In his view, NATO and the West are agents of illegitimate regime change (the color revolutions in Ukraine, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan, and NATOs 2011 bombing of Libya are often cited as examples). Meanwhile, the West considers Moscow a flouter of the universal rules and norms established after the Cold War; from the Western perspective, NATO is merely a goodwill enforcer of this system.

In addition to the difference in narratives, another issue concerns a difference of priorities: the Putin regime believes national sovereignty and security trump obligations to transnational systems and organizations, whereas the West does not. Thus, when NATO and the West defend their actions with notions of democracy and transatlantic security, it should be understood that the Kremlin does not accept these values as Russias own; on the contrary, it interprets them as existential threats to Moscows independence, security, and sphere of influence. Today, the Baltics, each of the former Warsaw Pact states, and several other Eastern European nations boast NATO membershipa development that runs directly counter to Putins vision for Russia and the post-Soviet space. It should be no mystery, then, as to why the Kremlin has actively opposed Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Finland, and Sweden joining the Western security alliance: Moscow sees its influence diminishing in its own backyard. The threat Moscow perceives from NATO, therefore, is just as political as it is security-focused, and perhaps even more so. The Putin regime fears that effective, democratic governance in the post-Soviet space could incite a color revolution at home.

As relations with Moscow continue to deteriorate, the West can no longer afford to misinterpret the nature of its conflict with Russia. The West must recognize that much of its history and identity is founded upon normative values quite different from Moscows own; that no amount of cajoling will persuade Putin to see the West as anything but Russias eternal enemy; and that as long as Putin heads the Kremlin, Moscow will go to great lengths to assert itself and challenge Western influence in its near abroad. This, of course, does not mean that NATO should discontinue its open door policy or abandon defenses in Eastern Europe; just as Moscow has the right to determine what it considers a threat, so do the West and the former Soviet-bloc states of Eastern Europe.

Are Russia and the West doomed to an endless, Sisyphean cycle of escalation and retaliation? The answer is no, and that is because even Putin (an autocrat by any reasonable standard) is constrained by public opinion. Despite his regimes heavy-handed control over the Russian media, electoral arena, and various branches of government, Putin cannot sustain military adventurism abroad in the absence of support at home. Thus, if the West is to curb Russias aggression, it must increase the political costs of that aggression[*] via economic and diplomatic means. This could involve strengthening current sanctions, or placing extra pressure on the Assad regime in Syria, potentially forcing Putin to choose between warmongering and domestic political support. In terms of more long-term deterrence, the West might consider bolstering Ukraines defenses, fortifying the Baltics, and mandating that NATO members contribute more to defense spending. While Moscow would undoubtedly denounce these actions as provocations, they just might force the Kremlin to think twice about pursuing further adventurism abroad.

Ultimately, though, before any long-term repairs can be made to Russian-Western relations, the two sides must reconcile disparate interpretations of history. After all, if rivals cannot even agree on the cause of an argument, then resolution remains perpetually unattainable. Even though Putin will remain in office for the foreseeable future, the West can still deal with Russia intelligently. Hard power and deterrence are certainly important parts of the equation; but containing Moscow also means, if necessary, forgoing well-trodden narratives for more productive conversation. Only when the lexicon of this conflict changes will Russia and the West truly find something meaningful to talk about.

Daniel Frey is an independent Russia analyst.

[*] The author used similar phrasing previously in a graduate school admissions essay.

Works cited:

[1] Gaddis, John Lewis.The Cold War: A New History. New York, NY: Penguin, 2005.

[2]Laqueur, Walter.Putinism: Russia and Its Future with the West. New York, NY: St. Martins, 2015.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Dawisha, Karen. Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia? New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2014.

[5] Lucas, Edward.The New Cold War: Putins Threat to Russia and the West. New York, NY: St. Martins, 2014.

Correction: A previous version on this article incorrectly stated that the July 2016 meeting of the NATO-Russia Council was the first since cooperation under its auspices was suspended, while it’s actually the third one.

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NATO and Russia: a Sisyphean Cycle of Escalation? – Institute of Modern Russia

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March 1, 2017   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

Back to the Jungle? – ChinaFile

The recent election of Donald J. Trump as the president of the United States is likely to have a profound effect on world history. The issue is not the controversies raised by Trumps character, personality, abilities, and preferences, but rather how his unique role as U.S. president will make his personality a major factor in world trends. To be sure, Trumps victory is first and foremost a product of Americas internal politics, and reflects the will of the American electorate. Given the influence this president will have on the rest of the world as well, we have cause to blame the American electorate for short-sightedness, because this new presidentbased on many remarks he has made in the short time since his electionmay take humanity backward, from the civilized society still being constructed with great difficulty to reflect universal values such as democracy, human rights, peace, and international responsibility, to a primitive society under the Law of the Jungle, in which selfishness and avarice prevail, and the weak are devoured by the strong. Such a trend will not strengthen the United States in its competition with its rising rival China, as some believe. On the contrary, it will weaken Americas ability to defend its uniquely influential and uniquely beneficial position in international affairs.

During the campaign, Trump indicated that he views democracy-promotion as inconsistent with American interests. We have a lot to be proud of, he stated in a speech in Washington, D.C. in April 2016, but then went on: After the Cold War, our foreign policy veered badly off course . . . this led to one foreign policy disaster after another. We went from mistakes in Iraq to Egypt to Libya, to President Obamas line in the sand in Syria. Each of these actions have [sic] helped to throw the region into chaos, and gave ISIS the space it needs to grow and prosper. He attributed this to the dangerous idea that we could make Western democracies out of countries that had no experience or interest in becoming a Western Democracy. Trump declared that he would work with our allies to reinvigorate Western values and institutions, but said he would not try to spread universal values that not everyone shares. The idea that democratic values are valid only in the West is a dangerous departure from the long and honorable tradition of American foreign policy.

In Trumps view, instead, what matters is only making America great again. In his view, Obama crippled us with wasteful spending, massive debt, low growth, a huge trade deficit and open borders. . . Were rebuilding other countries while weakening our own. Ending the theft of American jobs will give us the resources we need to rebuild our military and regain our financial independence and strength. Taken together with his favorable remarks about Vladimir Putin and the cooperative tone of his initial phone call with Putin, these statements suggest he might seek to remake the global strategic picture, setting aside competition with other big powers to produce a condominium that would allow the U.S. to withdraw from what he sees as its overextended global position in Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia. These indications have been welcomed by self-described strategic realists who favor the prospects of a major power condominium as a way to reduce global tensions. But is this actually the direction of Trumps China policy? Early indications seem instead to point in the direction of confrontation.

As he did during the presidential campaign, since taking office, Donald J. Trump has made many statements that seem to indicate an intention to confront China on both trade and military issues. He criticized Beijing for manipulating the exchange rate and engaging in unfair trading practices, complained about Chinas theft of American intellectual property and jobs, and threatened to impose a tariff of 45 percent on Chinese imports to deal with Americas enormous trade deficit with China. He appointed Peter Navarro, who has written several books urging the United States to push back against Chinas economic and military expansion, as chairman of the newly created White House National Trade Council. Trump accepted a congratulatory phone call on his election from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, referred to her as President, and indicated that he is not wedded to the longstanding American one China policy relating to Taiwan. His Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, stated during his confirmation hearing that the Trump Administration would not allow China access to islands it controls in the South China Sea; this position was backed up by White House spokesman Sean Spicer, and Trump issued a truculent Tweet after Chinas temporary seizure of an underwater drone operated by the U.S. Navy in the region. Although Trump and Tillerson moderated their positions lateramong other things, confirming a somewhat ambiguous our one China policymany China critics in the U.S. and pro-democracy liberals in China are hoping for a new American hard line on China. They believe that confrontation with the U.S. will damage the Chinese economy and the Beijing regimes legitimacy, thereby speeding the process of democratic transformation.

But to interpret these statements as a guide to future policy is to mistake noise for substance. In fact, Trumps China policy will be guided by his business instincts, and these will not allow him to seek confrontation with Beijing.

Consider the likely consequences of a U.S.-China trade war. The two economies are inseparably entwined: China is Americas second-largest trading partner, third-largest export market, largest source of imports, and largest creditor nation. The U.S. is Chinas second-largest trading partner, top export market, and fifth-largest source of imports. From 2007 to 2014, Sino-U.S. trade volume rose 9.1 percent per annum, from $302.1 billion to $555.1 billion, twice the annual rate of growth in global trade during that period (around 4.5 percent). The U.S. still has an enormous trade deficit in this relationship, amounting to $365.7 billion in 2015. But more than a third of the value of Chinas exports to the U.S. consists of commercial products from other countries. This implies that a trade war with China in the form of higher tariffs or reducing imports would create chaos in the global production chain and penalize countries other than China. Furthermore, Trumps proposals for massive tax reductions to stimulate investment and for an expansion of infrastructure to increase jobs are bound to result in budget deficits. These deficits will increase demand, and if the government prevents the use of imports to satisfy this demand, the result will be rising prices, rising interest rates, the rising value of the dollar, and a decrease in exports, reinforcing the already existing trade deficit at the cost of domestic living standards.

On the other hand, there is reason to doubt that a trade war on China would have a crippling effect on Chinas economy. Economics often refers to investment, consumption, and net exports as the troika that drives GDP growth. The 2015 Statistical Bulletin of National Economic and Social Development,published by the Peoples Republic of China National Bureau of Statistics, stated that Chinas GDP that year totaled 67,670.8 billion renminbi, investment in fixed assets 56,200.0 billion renminbi, retail sales of consumer goods 30,093.1 billion renminbi, and commodity imports and exports 24,574.1 billion renminbi, with exports of 14,125.5 billion renminbi exceeding imports by only 3,677 billion renminbi. Clearly, the net export item made only a modest contribution to the overall economy, even allowing for exaggeration in Chinas official statistics. A trade war blocking some export products would affect Chinas domestic investment and consumption, but given the enormous scale of the Chinese economy, shortfalls in one area can be made up elsewhere, and a trade war in one sector will not significantly damage Chinas overall economy. Not to mention that the U.S. is only Chinas second-largest trading partner, although its largest export market.

For these reasons, a trade war with China is hardly an attractive proposition for President Trump. It would create chaos in the global production chain and penalize countries other than China, including many American allies and America itself.

Some analysts believe Trump will use military tensions over Taiwan or in the South China Sea as bargaining chips to force China to make trade concessions. He may expect that crises in these two areas will not reach the level of military confrontation because China will back down in the face of superior American military power. If so, this calculation is overly optimistic, both because the military balance between the two powers is less unequal than many observers realize, and because territorial issues near Chinas shores are of more importance to Xi Jinping than to the new president of United States.

The rapid growth of Chinas military strength is a fact. While Beijing could only look on with frustration when U.S. aircraft carriers flaunted their strength in the Taiwan Strait in 1996, the Chinese military now has effective means to deal with aircraft carriers in the shape of the Dong-Feng-21D (DF-21D) anti-ship ballistic missile. Air Force Magazine has called the DF-21D the first post-Cold War capability that is both potentially capable of stopping our naval power projection and deliberately designed for that purpose. With a 1,500-kilometer range that effectively covers much of the South China Sea, the DF-21D could prevent an American aircraft carrier from entering the first island chain to render aid to Taiwan if war broke out. And the deployment of military aircraft from U.S. bases in Okinawa or Darwin would give Beijing justification for expanding the scale of the war by launching attacks on Japan or Australia. An attempt by the U.S. to prevent the Chinese armed forces from occupying Taiwan by directly attacking guided missile launch pads along the Chinese coast would spread the flames of war to the Chinese mainland and spur an even more intense counterattack from Beijing, targeting Guam or perhaps even Hawaii.

Some believe that the Peoples Liberation Armys combat capabilities have been compromised by rampant corruption. Corruption is a fact, but it is also a fact that Chinas military strength has advanced rapidly. A recent RAND Corporation report assessed the military balance between the two and concluded that U.S. military dominance over China is a receding frontier, partly because of Chinas technological advances in missiles, submarine warfare, and cyberwarfare, and partly because Chinas proximity to the theater of battle gives it an advantage in sustaining military operations. Moreover, a purely military analysis overlooks the important element of risk tolerance. No doubt, a severe and lengthy conflict would inflict severe losses on China. According to another RAND study, in such a conflict the U.S. would suffer a decrease of 5-10 percent in GDP, but Chinas GDP could sink by as much as 25-35 percent. In his new book Crouching Tiger: What Chinas Militarism Means for the World, Peter Navarro even predicts the possible outbreak of nuclear war.

Yet Xi Jinping has stronger motivations to undertake such a gamble than Donald Trump. Xis publicly articulated China Dream, which is the foundation of his regimes legitimacy, is the dream of a strong nation, and China cannot be a strong nation without consummating its control over Taiwan, the strategically vital island 90 nautical miles off its coast. Moreover, politically, unification across the Strait is the fundamental symbol of Chinas rise and the great resurgence of the Chinese nation through which Xi seeks to place himself on the same historical plane as Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, if not higher. Success in the mission to unify Taiwan would enhance the Chinese Communist Partys (C.C.P.) legitimacy at home, push its economic, political, and human rights failings to the background, and vanquish thoughts of independence among people in Tibet, Xinjiang, and Hong Kong. For Beijing, the Taiwan issue has become even more urgent recently, as public sentiment in Taiwan has moved increasingly away from unification toward independence. The C.C.P. has reaped minuscule rewards from its efforts to win over Taiwans political and business elite and ordinary people through economic means, while the Democratic Progressive Partys rise to power has further dimmed the prospects for unification, and employing military hawks to talk about peaceful unification has become pointless.1

Second only to Taiwan as a priority for Beijing is the South China Sea. Although the Nationalist Chinese government declared Chinas sovereignty over this enormous maritime region in the 1940s, it lacked the military strength to enforce its claim. Nationalist forces were able to occupy Taiping Island, not very far from Taiwan, in 1946 with only the aid of American-supplied warships. In the ensuing 30 years, various islands and reefs were occupied by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and other countries. By the time China joined the fray in the late 1980s, Vietnam already occupied more than 20 islands and reefs with the best topography in the Spratly Islands. But China has a long-term strategic vision for this region. Chinas leading post-Mao strategic thinker, the late Admiral Liu Huaqing, established the principle that in order to assure the security of Chinas mainland, the country must first establish dominance in the maritime region within the first island chain, and then extend its presence beyond the second island chain and into the high seas by 2020.2

In this vision, the Spratly Island group is of crucial strategic importance, because of its location in the southern part of the South China Sea. In the west, the Spratlys facilitate control of the Strait of Malacca (through which 85% percent of Chinas oil imports pass); to the east, they facilitate breaking through the second island chain; and to the north they form part of an encirclement of Taiwan. The area also offers a strategic hideout for Chinas nuclear-armed submarines, its waters deep enough to ensure Chinas ability to make a second nuclear strike. That is why Beijing snatched up the remaining Spratly Islands in the late 1980s, and in recent years has been reclaiming land and expanding military installations on the islands.

Trumps emphasis is on American soil, not on distant Taiwan or the South China Sea. Despite his braggadocio, his focus on profit and loss will make him calculate closely before any major decision. There is nothing to suggest that Trump will take a major risk of economic recession and nuclear war for the sake of American promises to Taiwan based on shared democratic values, or treaty commitments to allies like the Philippines.

Should the Trump Administration indeed seek confrontation over either of these strategic sites, China is unlikely to back down. Beijing is an old hand at dealing with this kind of bluff. Beijing will publicly proclaim that the Taiwan issue involves fundamental principles and cannot be used as a bargaining chip. It will then find an opportune moment and appropriate method to give Trump some face or benefit, and thereby achieve its fundamental strategic objectives. The Chinese have an old saying: Any problem that can be settled with money is not a problem.

As a businessman, Trump will seek to solve problems through trade-offs, admire strength, and not be concerned with principles. He has expressed admiration for Deng Xiaoping in violently suppressing the 1989 Democracy Movement, as well as for Putin, even suggesting at one point that he could accept Russias annexing of Crimea, although he later characterized Russian behavior in harsher terms. Trumps real goal is not to confront China, but to align with fellow strongmen Xi and Vladimir Putin in order to create space for the U.S. to withdraw from its role of world policeman. These are the characteristics of life in the jungle.

This notion is compatible with the theory of realism in international relations. Harvard-based British historian Niall Ferguson recently published an article analyzing veteran diplomat Henry Kissingers recent remarks (in particular his 2014 book, World Order) to suggest that Kissinger has advised Trump to not go all-out into a confrontation with China, whether on trade or the South China Sea. Rather, seek comprehensive discussion and aim to pursue that policy of dialogue and co-evolution. Regarding Russia, The central deal, Kissinger argues, would turn Ukraine into a bridge between NATO and Russia rather than an outpost of either side. Ferguson speculates that Kissinger has counseled Trump to model himself on the pre-war president Theodore Roosevelt, who used the principle of actual strength to establish an international order that allocated spheres of influence to regional great powers. Ferguson refers to this authoritarian alliance of China, the U.S., and Russia as a new world order.

In my view, however, it is not feasible for China, the U.S. and Russia to form such an alliance. The relationship between China and Russia is fundamentally different from the kind of relationship either of them is capable of forming with the United States. From the C.C.P.s perspective, resisting pressure from the U.S. in the east requires the party-state to expand its Western Development Strategy to ensure the stability and border security of the ethnic regions in its northwest and southwest, and to obtain petroleum and natural gas from Central Asia and Russia. These goals entail cooperative relations with Russia. Even more important is that Russian military products (especially military aircraft engines) have been crucial to Chinas military modernization; Chinas aircraft carriers, submarines, guided missiles, medium- and long-range bombers, and active duty third- or fourth-generation fighter planes were almost all developed on the foundation of Russian equipment.

Russia also needs an alliance with China. Initially, Putin continued the Yeltsin eras normal state relations with China, but as relations between Russia and the West became increasingly strained over the past 10 years, Putin felt compelled to join hands with China. This process accelerated after the Crimean crisis in March 2014, when the two sides signed a 30-year agreement for natural gas supply valued at more than U.S.$400 billion. In June 2016, Putin made a whirlwind visit to China and signed a joint statement on strengthening global strategic stability, which expressed concern over increasing negative factors affecting global strategic stability. Allegations of attempts in some quarters to serve national interests through the threat of force, resulting in out-of-control growth of military power that was shaking the global strategic stability system, were clearly aimed at the U.S. It was the first high-profile joint statement of this kind by China and Russia since the end of the Cold War.

More than strategic interests counsel Moscow-Beijing cooperation against Washington. Unlike in the world that Teddy Roosevelt knew, the great powers today have profound conflicts over values and ideology, especially when it comes to the U.S. and the C.C.P.s China. China and Russia join hands against the U.S. partly to protect their autocratic models against a democratic model that has at least until now enjoyed the moral advantage. Similarly, Beijings long-term blood transfusions to the North Korean regime reveal that Beijing sees Pyongyang as a member of the same species in terms of ideology and regime. By contrast, Beijing feels compelled to regard the U.S. as its fundamental opponent, because the values and political system that America represents are subversive to the communist regime. The current position of no conflict and no confrontation with the U.S. is merely public diplomatic language on the part of C.C.P. leaders, while a silent test of strength is what truly reflects the thinking of Zhongnanhais dictators. This is why the U.S. and China cannot possibly achieve a strategic balance or any kind of co-governance in the foreseeable future. Major nation-states can form a balance of power and coexist over the long term, but antagonism will always exist between fundamentally opposite major powers, because an autocratic regime will always regard the democratic system as a threat.3

Kissinger has come under widespread criticism from Chinas liberal intellectuals precisely because he claims to understand China. But his long-term contact with generations of Chinese communist leaders has led him consciously or unconsciously to equate China with the C.C.P., and to consider the C.C.P. a representative of Chinese culture. VOA has reported that Kissinger advised Trump to place someone who understands Chinese history and culture in his personal team, to serve as a liaison between the U.S. and the Chinese government, and at the same time that American leaders should perceive what this countrys fundamental national interests are, and not have their line of vision blocked by disputes that currently exist between the two sides. Yet using the cultural angle to decipher China is a completely different matter from using it to decipher the C.C.P. Some American scholars or political figures attribute mysterious powers to culture and consequently end up misreading their targets. Kissingers way of posing the question of Chinas fundamental national interests is wrong because China can be the nation-state China, or it can be the C.C.P.s China, and there is a vast difference between the two. The party-state has always regarded the security of the regime as paramount, and when it feels it is necessary, it places the regimes survival needs above the interests the Chinese people. The fact that it takes the democratic U.S. system as a threat is proof of this point.

After years of failed efforts to build democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is understandable that many Americans are tempted to undertake a strategic contraction and return to isolationism. But such a strategy would imply abandoning the ideals on which America was founded and the shared values that advance humanity.

A multi-polar world shared among the United States, Russia, and China would not be good news but a nightmarethe dawn of a new world in which the Law of the Jungle prevails. While it may be possible for the U.S. and Russia to move toward rapprochement (given that Putin doesnt have global ideological ambitions, but only wants the U.S. to acknowledge Russias status as a great power), a decisive battle between China and the U.S. (or more precisely, between the C.C.P. party-state system and the constitutional democracy represented by the U.S.) is inevitable, whether in 10, 20, or 50 years. This conflict arising from essential differences between regimes will be a fight to the death in which compromise is impossible. Blindness to, or purposeful obfuscation of, this point is the fundamental error of political figures such as Kissinger. There are reasons that the C.C.P. government has treated him as a guest of honor for so long.

To avoid the expansion of C.C.P. influence and the emergence of a 21st century world of the jungle, the United States must continue to lead the struggle for liberal valuesrule of law, democracy, and human rightsas it has done throughout its history. Isolationism, trade protectionism, the abandonment of Taiwan, and cooperation with dictators will in the long-run not strengthen the United States, but weaken its ability to influence Chinas evolution. While the ultimate fate of China rests in the hands of the Chinese people, those fighting for democracy in China need both the help, and the example, of the United States.

Translated by Stacy Mosher.

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Back to the Jungle? – ChinaFile

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February 28, 2017   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

Why Trump Can’t Break Russia Away From China – The Diplomat

The 2014 Russian military intervention in Ukraine resulted in Western sanctions and strategic pressure that drove Moscow toward greater cooperation with China. Since then, the mercurial Sino-Russian marriage of convenience has evolved into a genuine strategic partnership based on overlapping interests, and mutual antipathy toward the United States. Although Russia and China are unlikely to declare a formal alliance, it is not in Americas strategic interests to confront a de facto Sino-Russian entente.

Donald Trumps election generated hope in some conservative foreign policy circles that U.S. rapprochement with Russia could create distance between Moscow and Beijing. Proponents of rapprochement hearken back to Nixon and Kissingers triangular diplomacy, which exploited the Sino-Soviet split to achieve an opening to China, and positioned Washington for better relations with both Communist giants than they had with each other. Cato Institute fellow Doug Bandow espouses this viewpoint in a piece entitled A Nixon Strategy to Break the Russia-China Axis. He argues that improving relations with Russia would have the salutary side effect of discouraging creation of a common Russo-Chinese front against the United States. Americas leading offensive realist, John Mearsheimer, likewise claims that if Washington had a more positive attitude toward Moscow, this would engender better relations that would eventually lead Russia to join the balancing coalition against China.

Bandow and Mearsheimers arguments are based on a realist explanatory model, wherein relations between America, Russia, and China are conceived as a strategic triangle. According to this framework, it is logical for Trump to pursue Kissinger-style triangular diplomacy to seek an opening to the weaker power, Russia, in order to balance and attain leverage over the stronger power, China.

In the current international context, this approach is problematic for several reasons. First, the deep ideological fissures that drove the Soviet Union and China apart during the late 1950s and 1960s are nonexistent today. Furthermore, Sino-Russian geopolitical competition has lessened because Russia, unlike its Soviet predecessor, is a secondary power in Asia. As a result, there is little indication that Trump, despite his rapport with Vladimir Putin, can drive a wedge between Russia and China. Certainly there is room to improve U.S.-Russia relations from their current nadir, which could yield selective cooperation on mutual challenges such as the Islamic State (ISIS). However, there is little indication that achieving the modest improvements in U.S.-Russia relations that are politically and practically feasible would drive Moscow and Beijing apart.

The situation that Nixon confronted in Asia is not analogous to the one Trump deals with today. Unlike China and Russia at present, the Soviet Union and the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) were locked in an intense ideological battle for leadership of the Communist world. As Lorenz M. Lthi details in his cogent book,The Sino-Soviet Split: Cold War in the Communist World, the Soviet and Chinese Communist parties developed intractable ideological differences in the 1950s over which socialist development model to pursue. Mao Zedong rejected the Khrushchev era model of Bureaucratic Stalinism in favor of a Revolutionary Stalinist model with Chinese characteristics that produced the catastrophic Great Leap Forward. Ideological rivalry contributed to an acute security dilemma, particularly after China conducted a successful nuclear test in 1964. The convulsions unleashed by radical Maoism during Chinas Cultural Revolution further exacerbated Sino-Soviet enmity and deeply unnerved the Kremlin, which through 1970 deployed approximately 39divisions along the Sino-Soviet border. The existential threat of war with the Soviet Union drove Mao to seek rapprochement with America.

Realists give short shrift to the role ideological factors play in fostering comity between Russia and China. In contrast to the days of the Sino-Soviet split, ideology is now a unifying factor in relations. Both countries harbor intense authoritarian nationalist opposition to Western and globalist ideologies, but no longer share the common Marxist-Leninist political orientation that produced the divisive ideological schisms of the Cold War. Despite their distinctive brands of authoritarianism (personalist dictatorship versus one-party Leninist state), Putin and Chinas ruling Communist Party have similar views of the threat posed by Western universal values such as democracy and human rights. They see foreign influences, which they believe have penetrated their societies through globalization, the internet/social media, and NGOs, as the primary threat to their domestic grip on power. For China and Russian governing elites, these influences are a Trojan horse designed to spark destabilizing color revolutions that produce regime change in non-Western (i.e. authoritarian) political systems.

Since the 2011 Arab Spring, Moscow andBeijings perception of this threat has only grown, as movements demanding democracy and reform have swept the globe and reached Russia and Chinas doorsteps through Ukraines 2013-2014 Maidan protests and Hong Kongs 2014 Umbrella Revolution. Western observers often discount Russian and Chinese state medias obsession with color revolution as authoritarian propaganda. Nonetheless, as long as Russian and Chinese elites operate under the assumption that the West is subverting their political systems and domestic legitimacy, they will be reticent to put much distance between one another.

Russia-China relations today are geopolitically dissimilar to the relationship in the 1960s and 70s. During that time, Moscow and Beijing saw each other as major security threats. By contrast, Russia and Chinas current strategic objectives are much more impeded by the U.S. and its European and Asian allies than they are by one another. Chinas core strategic objectives are focused on East Asia, restoring control over Taiwan and favorably settling maritime territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas. Beijings primary obstacle is American naval power, and the web of U.S. bilateral alliances (the hub and spokes system) with regional powers such as Japan and Australia. The main obstacle to Russias efforts to secure spheres of interest on its Eastern European, and South Caucasian peripheries is the U.S.-led NATO alliance. The European Union Institute for Security Studies recently published a study of China-Russia relations containing an interview with a Chinese security expert that epitomizes this shared threat perception: China feels pressure in the South China Sea, and Russia feels pressure from NATO in the Baltic Sea. Russia faces anti-ballistic missiles systems in Romania and Poland, and China faces the same in South Korea and Japan. While NATO expands to the East, the U.S. is strengthening its military presence in Asia.

Driven by ideological and geopolitical fear of the West, Russia-China alignment has engendered close collaboration in mutually beneficial areas. Cooperation intensified following Western imposition of sanctions on Russia in 2014. The most high-profile example came in May 2014, when after nearly a decade of negotiations, Moscow finally cut a deal with Beijing to export Siberian gas to China. This followed the 2013 announcement of a joint venture between Russian oil conglomerate Rosneft and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) to develop Eastern Siberian oil and gas fields. In the short to medium term, it will take time to overcome economic and logistical challenges to develop stronger energy linkages. However, over the longer term, the deals should prove mutually beneficial. Russia secures Chinese investment and locks in comparatively high prices; China diversifies its energy mix and gains access to new overland energy supplies, which Beijing considers less vulnerable to geopolitical turmoil and blockade than energy imported from the Middle East via maritime routes.

The arms trade provides another example of symbiosis in Russia-China relations. The trade helps Russia ameliorate its biggest weakness a feeble and energy export-dependent economy while helping China sustain its ongoing military modernization efforts. Historically, a major impediment to this trade was Chinese reverse-engineering of Russian/Soviet armaments, most notoriously Chinese development of the J-11B fighter, which is a direct copy of the Su-27, a one-seat fighter that was developed by the Soviets through the 1970s and 1980s as a match for the U.S. F-15 and F-16. The problem of Chinese reverse-engineering was so severe that Moscow placed an informal ban on exports of high technology military equipment to China in 2004. However, Putins recent approval of advanced weaponry sales to China such as the Su-35 fighter and the S-400 Surface-to-Air Missile system indicates the moratorium has been lifted. Notably, both parties agreed not to include technology transfer licenses in these deals, which should reduce the feasibility (and resultant friction) of Chinese reverse engineering. The trade will remain mutually beneficial so long as Russias economy leans on arms exports (defense manufacturingemploys 2.5-3 million workers, around 20percent of Russian manufacturing jobs), and Chinas military industrial complex remain suboptimal at indigenously producing key technologies such as high performance jet engines and advanced conventional attack submarines. Russia will also increasingly rely on China as a key customer, as India, long the biggest buyer of Soviet/Russian arms, diversifies its suppliers and develops its domestic defense industry. Chinas dependence on Russia for advanced military technology is further reinforced by lack of access to European and American technology due to a Western arms embargo on China in place since 1989.

Western observers often highlight the tensions lurking below the surface of Sino-Russian relations, particularly Chinese economic expansion into Central Asia, and Russian arms sales to Chinas regional rivals, primarily India and Vietnam. Nonetheless, these sources of friction are manageable, and, furthermore, the United States has limited ability to exploit them. For example, it would not be in U.S. interests for Sino-Russian competition to intensify in Central Asia, as this would contribute to regional instability and hamstring regional cooperation against Islamist extremism. If the U.S. and Europe succeed in breaking Russian dominance of the arms trade with India and Vietnam, this would actually have the effect of reducing a source of tension between Moscow and Beijing.

Since Washington will have difficulty exploiting divisions between China and Russia, it makes little sense to freeze out one party and pursue rapprochement with the other in the hopes of achieving the sort of realignment that Nixon pulled off in the early 1970s. This is evidenced by previous President Barack Obamas experience with Russia and China. Although relations with both Moscow and Beijing became strained under Obama, the U.S.-China relationship, despite a growing rivalry in the Asia-Pacific region, remained more functional. It could even be said that Washington and Beijing have developed a peculiar sort of special relationship. This is best exemplified by continuing high-level engagement through the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED), an intensive, routinized series of bilateral summits, where American and Chinese leaders engage on an array of international issues. Despite many disagreements, Beijing has a working relationship with Washington, and Moscow does not. As a result, China now occupies the position that Nixons America enjoyed during the 1970s: Beijing enjoys closer relations with the two other powers in the strategic triangle than they have with one another.

An effective strategy for Trump to forestall consolidation of a Sino-Russian bloc would be to opt for selective engagement with both Beijing and Moscow. Obviously, engagement would have to be coupled with continued hedging against intensifying security competition with Russia in Europe, and China in Asia. Nevertheless, the Trump administration should also recognize that the shared perception in Beijing and Moscow that Washington aims to subvert and internally weaken its non-democratic rivals is detrimental to relations with both Russia and China, and strengthens Sino-Russian cooperation. Consequently, special efforts should be made to assure Moscow and Beijing that Washington has no interest in interfering in their internal politics. This, rather than tilting toward Moscow, would go a long way toward assuaging the anxiety that Russian and Chinese elites feel about the United States. If Beijing and Moscow begin to see the United States as a normal state with its own interests and goals, rather than a fading hegemon bent on ideological dominance, it would help maketriangular diplomacy possible once again.

John S. Van Oudenaren is a research assistant at the National Defense Universitys College of International Security Affairs. The views expressed in this article are solely his own.

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Why Trump Can’t Break Russia Away From China – The Diplomat

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IS & Waffen SS – Pakistan Observer

IS & Waffen SS Pakistan Observer JOHN Mearsheimer , an American political scientist, argues in his book The Tragedy of the Great Power Politics (2001) that great powers shake and shape the international system. This phenomenon exhibited by them often creates such shockwaves which …

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March 24 "Israel Lobby and American Policy" conference program at the National Press Club – PR Newswire (press release)

WASHINGTON, March 8, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The March 24 all-day conference “The Israel Lobby and American Policy” at the National Press Club features the following program: 8:00-9:00 AM Registration and “Two Blue Lines”: A documentary film screening in the Ballroom. Exhibition hall opens in adjacent Holeman Lounge. 9:00 AM Conference Organizer Welcoming Remarks 9:10 AM Grant Smith: The series of stunningbut underreportedpolls revealing true American attitudes about U.S. aid to Israel and other top American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) programs. 9:40 AM KeynoteProfessor John Mearsheimer: What has changed in the decade since his book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy was published. Subsequent findings, foreign policy choices the U.S. makes that it otherwise would notif not for Israeland what the new administration could do differently in the future that would better serve broader American interests. 10:30 AM Professor Katherine Franke: Recent legislation that threatens the First Amendment rights of Palestinian solidarity activists in the U.S. and the legal challenges thereto. 11:00 AM Morning Break 11:15 AM Former Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA): What it takes to beat the Israel lobby in Congress. 11:40 AM Former Congressman Nick Rahall (D-WV): How to support the members of Congress who are beginning to listen to their constituents on Middle East policy issues. 12:15 PM Lunch Break & Screening of selections from the four-part Al Jazeera six-month undercover investigative series “The Lobby.” Jack Shaheen and John Mearsheimer book signings. 1:00 PM KeynoteHanan Ashrawi: The Israel lobby and the “peace process” from a Palestinian perspective. 1:40 PM Tom Hayes: Challenges and changes in 25 years working on Israel-Palestine issues and advice for independent filmmakers. The documentary producer screens and comments on selections from his latest film, “Two Blue Lines.” 2:10 PM Jack Shaheen: Strategies to successfully push back against harmful Hollywood stereotypes about Arabs and Muslims, and the work new generations must now take on. 2:40 PM Wajahat Ali: The intersection of pro-Israel organizations & donors and Islamophobia uncovered as the lead author and researcher of the report “Fear, Inc: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America.” 3:15 PM Afternoon Break 3:30 PM Khalil Jahshan: The Israel lobby and “fake peace processing.” 4:00 PM Conference organizer remarks 4:15 PM KeynoteProfessor Ilan Papp: The value of viewing Israel-Palestine through the lens of settler-colonialism, how Zionist myths have been shaped and/or perpetuated by the Israel lobby, and what framework is necessary to overcome these myths and ensure that efforts to resolve the “conflict” are grounded in reality. 5:00 PM Clayton Swisher: The director of investigative journalism for Al Jazeera Media Network screens and comments on selections from “The Lobby,” the four-part series about the Israeli Embassy’s covert influence campaign in Britain. This undercover investigation reveals how the Israeli Embassy sought to establish supposedly “independent” pro-Israel groups in England, AIPAC’s efforts to establish itself in London, unfounded accusations of anti-Semitism lodged against Labour Party members, and discussions by disgraced former Israeli diplomat Shai Masot to “take down” UK lawmakers deemed hostile to Israel. 5:30-7:30 PM Networking Reception & Book Signings: Wajahat Ali, Hanan Ashrawi, Ilan Papp and Clayton Swisher.

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March 24 "Israel Lobby and American Policy" conference program at … – Yahoo News

WASHINGTON, March 8, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The March 24 all-day conference “The Israel Lobby and American Policy” at the National Press Club features the following program: 8:00-9:00 AM Registration and “Two Blue Lines”: A documentary film screening in the Ballroom. Exhibition hall opens in adjacent Holeman Lounge. 9:00 AM Conference Organizer Welcoming Remarks 9:10 AM Grant Smith: The series of stunningbut underreportedpolls revealing true American attitudes about U.S. aid to Israel and other top American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) programs. 9:40 AM KeynoteProfessor John Mearsheimer : What has changed in the decade since his book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy was published. Subsequent findings, foreign policy choices the U.S. makes that it otherwise would notif not for Israeland what the new administration could do differently in the future that would better serve broader American interests. 10:30 AM Professor Katherine Franke : Recent legislation that threatens the First Amendment rights of Palestinian solidarity activists in the U.S. and the legal challenges thereto. 11:00 AM Morning Break 11:15 AM Former Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA ) : What it takes to beat the Israel lobby in Congress. 11:40 AM Former Congressman Nick Rahall (D-WV): How to support the members of Congress who are beginning to listen to their constituents on Middle East policy issues. 12:15 PM Lunch Break & Screening of selections from the four-part Al Jazeera six-month undercover investigative series “The Lobby.” Jack Shaheen and John Mearsheimer book signings. 1:00 PM Keynote Hanan Ashrawi : The Israel lobby and the “peace process” from a Palestinian perspective. 1:40 PM Tom Hayes : Challenges and changes in 25 years working on Israel-Palestine issues and advice for independent filmmakers. The documentary producer screens and comments on selections from his latest film, “Two Blue Lines.” 2:10 PM Jack Shaheen : Strategies to successfully push back against harmful Hollywood stereotypes about Arabs and Muslims, and the work new generations must now take on. 2:40 PM Wajahat Ali : The intersection of pro-Israel organizations & donors and Islamophobia uncovered as the lead author and researcher of the report “Fear, Inc: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America.” 3:15 PM Afternoon Break 3:30 PM Khalil Jahshan : The Israel lobby and “fake peace processing.” 4:00 PM Conference organizer remarks 4:15 PM KeynoteProfessor Ilan Papp : The value of viewing Israel-Palestine through the lens of settler-colonialism, how Zionist myths have been shaped and/or perpetuated by the Israel lobby, and what framework is necessary to overcome these myths and ensure that efforts to resolve the “conflict” are grounded in reality. 5:00 PM Clayton Swisher : The director of investigative journalism for Al Jazeera Media Network screens and comments on selections from “The Lobby,” the four-part series about the Israeli Embassy’s covert influence campaign in Britain. This undercover investigation reveals how the Israeli Embassy sought to establish supposedly “independent” pro-Israel groups in England, AIPAC’s efforts to establish itself in London, unfounded accusations of anti-Semitism lodged against Labour Party members, and discussions by disgraced former Israeli diplomat Shai Masot to “take down” UK lawmakers deemed hostile to Israel. 5:30-7:30 PM Networking Reception & Book Signings: Wajahat Ali, Hanan Ashrawi, Ilan Papp and Clayton Swisher. This conference is dedicated to the memory of U.S. Ambassador Andrew I. Killgore, publisher of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. View more information at the conference website and purchase tickets online at IsraelLobbyAndAmericanPolicy.org or Eventbrite . Purchase admission before March 24 and receive a free one-year subscription to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs magazine (non-subscribers only). Members of the news media can apply for press credentials online to enter and cover this event at http://israellobbyandamericanpolicy.org/Press_Credentials/default.html All attendees receive a box lunch and a beverage ticket for the post-conference networking reception. The Israel Lobby and American Policy conference is solely sponsored by the American Educational Trust, publisher of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs , and the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy ( IRmep ). To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/march-24-israel-lobby-and-american-policy-conference-program-at-the-national-press-club-300420526.html SOURCE Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy

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March 9, 2017   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

Doomsday Cancelled: Trump is Good News for Allies and World Peace – War on the Rocks

The election of Donald Trump as U.S. president has rocked the U.S. security establishment and its allies around the world. President Trump has questioned the security guarantees that underpin the Pax Americana in speeches, personal conversations with world leaders, and of course on Twitter. He has claimed that allies are ripping the United States off, dismissed NATO for being obsolete, and mused that the time may have come for Japan and South Korea to develop their own nuclear weapons. He insists that U.S. allies have to pay and do more for their defense. Many in the United States and abroad have decried these statements as destabilizing and dangerous; The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists captured the general mood by moving their doomsday clock 30 seconds closer to midnight in response to Trumps inauguration. This concern is massively overblown. Rather than weakening Americas web of alliances, Trumps aggressive statements and erratic behavior will most likely strengthen the American-led security architecture during his presidency. This is good news for world peace because strong American alliances and strong American allies can deter rivals from launching destabilizing challenges to the predominant order. Trumps aggressive communications strategy and his America First approach to international negotiations have already frightened allies into doing something his predecessors could not: increase defense spending. Fear of abandonment has changed the nature of the defense debate in allied capitals in Asia and Europe. The question is no longer whether defense spending should increase, but how much. U.S. allies in Europe are now scrambling to produce concrete plans for how they will increase defense spending in time for President Trumps first visit to NATO in late May 2017.. His perceived unpredictability is also making military provocations and risk-taking by Americas adversaries less likely. Trumpology is Misleading The concern triggered by Trumps election stems in no small part from the rise of what I call Trumpology the incessant scrutiny of Trumps personality, his statements, and his tweets. Trumpology is a new growth industry and the media embraces it because it fits their definition of a newsworthy story perfectly. Trumps communications generate all the criteria journalists look for in a good story: conflict, anxiety, comedy, theater, and outrage. This helps media companies, even those attacked by Trump, sell advertising like hotcakes. Many experts now spend their time putting Trumps words under the microscope, seeking to identify all the disasters they might create. In addition, psychologists have been busy analyzing his personality and upbringing in order to explain why he is acting so weird. The American intelligence community has used personality profiling since World War II to better understand how leaders in closed authoritarian systems such as Iraq, Iran, North Korea, and Russia think and act. The results have been useful on occasion, but the study of personalities and intentions is insufficient with respect to predicting foreign policy actions and outcomes. One must also analyze the consequences and the opposition that proposed actions are likely to generate. If one considers the consequences of undermining existing U.S. alliances and how much opposition such action would trigger, one gets a far more positive picture of Trumps impact on world security than the doomsday scenarios that Trumpologists have mass-produced since his election. Consequences for U.S. Allies Since the late 1940s, U.S. allies in Europe and Asia have based their national security on the assumption that the United States will assist them in a crisis. This assumption and the post-Cold War downsizing of Europes military forces have rendered Europeans incapable of conducting even relatively small-scale military operations without substantial American support. NATOs air war against Libya (2011) and the French intervention in Mali (2013) are two recent cases in point. Neither operation would have been possible without American logistics, lift, munitions, intelligence, and other forms of support. The situation in the same in Asia: Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan have all based their defense forces and defense spending on the assumption that the U.S. cavalry will come to their rescue if necessary. If Trump degrades or withdraws these security guarantees, the allies will face a stark choice between deterrence and appeasement. In Europe deterrence is the most likely choice because the big three (Germany, France, and the United Kingdom) are strong enough to constitute the core of a new alliance that can credibly deter Russia. In Asia, China will become so strong that most states bordering the East China Sea will have no choice but to appease Beijing and accept its hegemony. Regardless of the outcome, both Europe and Asia would face a period characterized by high instability and a heightened risk of war. Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan would seek to develop nuclear weapons. In Europe, Germany and Poland would have a strong incentive to do the same unless France and Britain extend their nuclear umbrellas over them. Indeed, all of these countries, except Poland, either contemplated the development of nuclear weapons (Germany and Japan) or had active nuclear weapons programs during the Cold War (South Korea and Taiwan). Consequences for the United States Prominent American scholars such as John Mearsheimer, Barry Posen, and Stephen Walt have long recommended that the United States withdraw most of its forces from Asia and Europe because the costs of the existing onshore presence dwarf the benefits. In their view, the existing security guarantees amount to welfare for the rich and increase the risk of entrapment in wars that do not involve American national interests. They believe that the United States would be much better off by copying the offshore balancing strategy that the British Empire employed in Europe before World War II. This would involve providing support to shifting alliances and coalitions in order to prevent a single power from establishing a regional hegemony on the European continent. Offshore balancing has clear limitations and did not serve the British well in the end: it threw them into two world wars that brought the empire to its knees. Britains fate highlights the weakness of offshore balancing: a loss of the ability to shape the security politics onshore decisively. The failure of British offshore balancing dragged the United States into both world wars. Americas decisions to help its allies in Europe defeat Germany proved costly in blood and treasure. Since then the United States has benefitted tremendously from the onshore balancing strategy it adopted after World War II in both Asia and Europe, where it stationed its forces permanently to deter aggression. This presence, coupled with the allies military dependence, enabled Washington to shape development in both regions to align with U.S. interests. Washington repeatedly gave their allies offers they could not refuse. U.S. economic assistance programs provided to allies in the wake of World War II came with conditions that forced the recipients to buy American goods and liberalize their markets in ways that were highly beneficial to American firms. Washington forced Great Britain and France to withdraw their troops from Egypt during the Suez Crisis (1956), coerced Germany to support U.S. monetary policy (1966 to 1969), and leaned on many allies to stop their nuclear weapons programs and join the Non-Proliferation Treaty (1968) that made such weapons illegal, including Japan, Germany, South Korea, and Taiwan. Military dependence on the United States also induced many allies to support U.S.-led wars in faraway places that did not affect their national security directly. The Afghan War and Iraq War are two recent cases in point. The allies closed their eyes to issues like secret detention and extraordinary rendition programs, the use of torture, and the massive surveillance of their own citizens that has characterized the War on Terror since 9/11. Allies have given the United States access to bases, facilities, as well as their airspace and territorial waters. This facilitates U.S. power projection globally. Finally, many allies buy American weapon systems as a way of maintain inter-operability and their security guarantees. The F-35 is the latest and greatest example of this. The consequences of a U.S. military withdrawal from Europe and Asia would be dramatic. The United States would lose most of its military bases in Asia and Europe, American firms would find it much harder to gain access to Asian and European markets, the American defense industry would lose billions of dollars, and European allies would stop supporting the United States militarily in faraway conflicts. As a result, the United States would lose its global power status and be reduced to a regional power with limited say in the management of Asian and European security. This is why it will not happen. This outcome is not only at odds with Americas economic interests, but it is also completely at odds with the widely shared belief in American exceptionalism and greatness. This is a belief that Trump and his supporters also embrace. Most Americans continue to view their nation as the greatest power on earth with an obligation to lead and make the world safe for Americas universal values. Trump is Scaring Allies into Spending But if the costs of abandoning allies are prohibitive, why is Trump threatening to do so? Nobel Prize laureate Thomas Schellings work on game theory suggests an answer. Schelling demonstrated in his seminal Strategy of Conflict (1960) that it may be advantageous to appear mad or unpredictable, because it may induce your negotiating partners or opponents to give greater concessions that they otherwise would. In this perspective, Trumps statements and seemingly erratic behavior make a lot of sense as a negotiation tactic aimed at pressuring U.S. allies to increase their defense spending. Trumps predecessors in the White House have tried to do this for years without success; previous administrations have repeatedly warned its European allies that NATO was in danger of becoming irrelevant if the Europeans continued to cut their defense spending. Yet most European allies paid scant attention to demands from the Obama administration to stop freeriding and honor their own commitments to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense. Few European governments saw a pressing need to increase defense spending because the Obama administration reacted to the Russian annexation of the Crimea by enhancing its military presence in Europe. Trump has changed the game completely. In line with Schellings expectations, his perceived unpredictability is adding credibility to the threat that he might actually withdraw U.S. forces even if it is not in the United States best interest to do so. There is genuine concern among U.S. allies about what Trump might do if they do not take immediate steps to increase their defense spending. Many have already taken steps in this direction, or signaled their intention to do so. In December 2016, Japan adopted a record high defense budget, which allocated considerable funds to the procurement of American equipment, notably F-35s and missiles. The South Korean government reacted to Trumps election by vowing to increase defense spending significantly if he insists on it. Likewise, the Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen promised to increase defense spending after his first phone conversation with Trump. In Germany Trumps election triggered a hitherto unthinkable debate on whether Germany should develop nuclear weapons. Trump cannot take sole credit for the newfound allied attentiveness to longstanding U.S. demands. The Japanese defense budget has been increasing in recent years due to growing concerns about China. Russia has had a similar effect on the defense budgets of the eastern NATO members. However, Trump has made a crucial difference by completely changing the debate on defense spending in allied capitals, significantly strengthening the hands of the proponents of increased defense spending in allied governments. The 2016 IHS Janes Defence Budgets Report consequently expects European NATO allies and partners such as Finland and Sweden to boost their defense spending by about $10 billion over the next five years. Trumps Unpredictability Deters Rival Risk-Taking That Schellings logic applies equally well to President Trumps dealings with Americas opponents has already been pointed out by other commentators. They have referred to Nixons madman theory of negotiation, which holds that Americas opponents will tread more carefully if they perceive the president to be unpredictable or crazy. It has been debated at some length whether Trump is using this theory in a rational manner to extract concessions from U.S. adversaries, or if he is a madman in practice. Regardless, the point is that President Trumps unpredictability makes it next to impossible to calculate the risk of escalation involved in challenging the United States militarily, a concept also highlighted by Schelling. President Obamas reluctance to threaten and use force likely emboldened China and Russia to take greater military risks in Eastern Ukraine, Syria, and in the East and South China Seas. While Beijing and Moscow could be fairly confident that Obama would not take military counter-measures, they have no way of knowing what President Trump might do. It is very easy to imagine him giving the order to down a Chinese or Russian plane to demonstrate that America is great again. In this way, Trump (intentionally or not) reduces the risk of military confrontations with China and Russia. This gives both states greater incentive to prioritize diplomacy over coercion in their efforts to settle disputes with the United States and its allies. Similarly, Trumps characterization of the nuclear agreement with Iran as the worst deal ever negotiated gives Tehran strong incentive to honor it in both letter and spirit for fear of a potentially much worse alternative if it collapses. Some are deeply worried that Trump versus Kim Jong-un will prove a highly explosive combination, which is understandable since North Korea has employing the same negotiating tactics as Trump for decades with considerable success. While the outcome of this confrontation is difficult to call, the disastrous consequences of war are likely to lead to mutual restraint. Moreover, concern about what Trump might do will induce Beijing to redouble its efforts to persuade Pyongyang to be less provocative. Good News for World Peace Paradoxically, Trumps tweets and the theatrics are most likely to enhance world peace. They create unpredictability and anxiety that the United States can use to obtain greater concessions from friends and foes. It is admittedly still early days, but all indications are that Trump will succeed in coercing his allies in both Asia and Europe to increase their defense spending significantly. Few of them will reach 2 percent of GDP in the next year or two, but he has set in motion a process that will make most allies spend far more much faster than they otherwise would have. His unpredictability is also an asset in Americas dealings with its opponents such as China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia. They will all need to think twice about provoking the United States and its allies militarily because they have no way of calculating how President Trump will react. Neither friends nor foes can be certain that Trump will not do something that a rational cost-benefit calculating actor would not. U.S. allies used to regard American threats to withdraw its forces as bluff because the costs of doing so would be prohibitive, and the same logic has induced American opponents to engage in military risk-taking with little fear of U.S. military retaliation. With Trump in the White House, this logic no longer applies. This is good news because the likely result is strengthened U.S. alliances and U.S. opponents that are more likely to favor negotiation over provocation in their efforts to settle differences with the United States and its allies. Dr. Peter Viggo Jakobsen is an Associate Professor at the Royal Danish Defence College and a Professor (part-time) at the Center for War Studies at University of Southern Denmark.

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Here’s How to Avoid a War With China – Daily Beast

If you are the betting type, I have a promising bet for you. Wager that the United States and China will engage in a major war in the near future. Some scholars who specialize in international relations, such as John Mearsheimer, contend that a war between the United States and China is more likely today than a hot war between the United States and the USSR ever was. Timothy Garton Ash, a British historian and commentator, states that the United States and China will probably go to war if they do not carefully manage the slew of points of tension between them. Michael Pillsbury, an expert with four decades of experience studying U.S.-China relations, observes that Chinas lack of military transparency practically guarantees inadvertent escalation, leading to war. Others consider a war with China inevitable because of an iron law of history, according to which prevailing superpowers such as the United States necessarily fail to yield power quickly enough to a new power such as China, thereby causing rising tensions and, eventually, war. Graham Allison writes, The defining question about global order for this generation is whether China and the United States can escape Thucydidess Trap. The Greek historians metaphor reminds us of the attendant dangers when a rising power rivals a ruling power [Avoiding war] required huge, painful adjustments in attitudes and actions on the part not just of the challenger but also the challenged. Even optimists, against whom youd be betting, give the United States and China only a one in four chance of avoiding war. According to Allisons report, superpowers adjusted and avoided war with rising powers in four out of sixteen cases since 1500. (In one of these cases, Great Britain yielded to the United States during the late 1800s and early 1900s.) This book hopes to sour your bet (with due apologies) by outlining several policies that may allow us to achieve a peaceful transition of power without endangering the United States core interests in Southeast Asiaor undermining the United States position as a global power. To find a peaceful way, both the United States and China need to change their foreign policies. Scores of books and articles argue what China must do: stop its military buildup, improve its transparency, bring its military more under the control of the government rather than the Communist Party, and transition to a liberal democracy, among other recommendations. This book, in contrast, is written by an American for Americans; it focuses on the actions the United States could take to reduce the probability that the world will face another major war. I cannot stress enough that when I point in the following pages to flaws in the ways that the United States is currently dealing with China (for instance, by excluding it from the Trans Pacific Partnership), this does not mean that China has conducted itself better or does not need to mend its ways. It simply means that Chinas warts have been amply charted and dissected; this book focuses on what the United States could do better. To proceed, Americans need to engage in a national dialogue, a public debate about what the United States China policy is and should be. The United States often engages in such debates about other subjects, such as same-sex marriage, climate change, dealing with ISIS and with Iran. Such a national debate about China policy has not yet happened. Indeed, during the most recent presidential primary season, both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates have mainly avoided the subject, though Donald Trump argued that China is out to eat our lunch. Now that the elections are over, and a new administration has come in, this is a particularly opportune time to engage in such a public debate. This book seeks to serve this overdue give-and-take. Going to or sliding into war with a rising China is especially tragic becauseas I see itChina and the United States share many complementary interests and have surprisingly few substantive reasons to come to blows. (By substantive I mean those issues that are distinct from symbolic or hyped-up ones, such as the question of who owns a pile of rocks somewhere difficult to find on a map.) Some use the terms panda huggers and dragon slayers to categorize analysts and public leaders in the West according to the approaches they recommend adopting toward China; these terms replace the doves and hawks of the Cold War. (I sometimes refer to them as Engagers and Adversarians.) Some might consider this book to fall on the dovish side. However, I am not a panda hugger but rather someone who has been to war. This experience left me with a strong commitment to seeking peaceful resolutions to international conflicts. The overdue public debate about Americas China policy will not take place in a vacuum. The U.S. military, in the course of carrying out its duty to secure the United States, has identified China as a major strategic threat. Accordingly, it has made the case in the media, in congressional hearings, and in presentations to the White House that the United States should take a tougher approach to China and should build up its military in order to prepare for a war with China. The defense industry supports the same charge for its own reasons. To digress, I do not claim that there exists a military-industrial complex in the sense of a solid military-corporate bloc whose representatives meet at night in a motel in Arlington to plot how to gain glory and profit by pushing the United States into war with China. As a matter of fact, the U.S. militarys various services compete with each other; thus the U.S. Army is much less inclined to target China than the U.S. Air Force and Navy are. And many corporations that make money out of peaceful pursuits compete with defense-focused ones, and defense corporations compete with each other. However, as we shall see, major segments of the military and corporations do have strong, vested interests in preparing for war with China for reasons that do serve their constituents, but not necessarily the good of the United States. Reprinted from the forthcoming AVOIDING WAR WITH CHINA: Two Nations, One World by Amitai Etzioni by permission of the University of Virginia Press. Amitai Etzioni is University Professor in the Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies at George Washington University. He is the author of Security First: For a Muscular, Moral Foreign Policy and From Empire to Community: A New Approach to International Relations.

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March 2, 2017   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

Trump’s Russia Policy Sends Mixed Messages as Investigations Mount – Chicago Tonight | WTTW

Chicago Tonight | WTTW Trump's Russia Policy Sends Mixed Messages as Investigations Mount Chicago Tonight | WTTW John Mearsheimer is a professor of political science and the co-director of the Program on International Security at the University of Chicago and an expert on American foreign policy. Mearsheimer says that while he is not a fan of Trump, he feels that …

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March 1, 2017   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

NATO and Russia: a Sisyphean Cycle of Escalation? – Institute of Modern Russia

Today, on July 13, the NATO-Russia Council will hold its third meeting, albeit at an ambassadorial level, since cooperation under its auspices was suspended in April 2014 in response to the Kremlins aggression in Ukraine. Both NATO and Russia continue to have profound and persistent disagreements, but in light of intensifying geopolitical tensions in Europe and the Middle East, as well as Russias ongoing economic crisis, its become clear that a dialogue of some sort is necessary. With international affairs fundamentals changing in real time, a re-examination of the tumultuous relationship between NATO and Russia can help develop a more realistic view of the existing differences, set priorities straight, and pave the way to start bridging the gap. A U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bomber leads a formation of fighter aircraft including two Polish air force F-16 Fighting Falcons, four U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons, two German Eurofighter Typhoons and four Swedish Gripens during NATO’s exercise BALTOPS on June 9, 2016 over the Baltic Sea. Photo: Sra Erin Babis / Planet Pix via ZUMA Wire / TASS Moscow was handed a significant geopolitical victory on June 23 when, in a startling upset, British voters chose to leave the European Union. The development came just ahead of NATOs July summit in Warsaw, where the security alliance hoped to leverage the talks to reinforce its defenses in Poland and the Baltic states, and to salvage what remains of Western unity against Russia in response to the countrys annexation of Crimea. Indeed, during the summit, NATO pledged to station troops in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, and each of the Baltic states to deter further Russian aggression in the region. NATO members also formally invited Montenegro to join their ranks, and pledged to raise individual defense expenditures to 2 percent of GDP by 2020. Meanwhile, Moscow reiterated its stance that NATO is focused on a non-existent threat from Russia, adding that the Kremlin will seek explanations for the alliances plans at a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council on July 13. It is unlikely, however, that the meeting will have any lasting effect on Russian-Western relations. Russia and the West have recently engaged in a series of hostile exchanges, most of which have occurred since Russian president Vladimir Putin won his third term in office in March 2012. These skirmishesrhetorical and otherwisehave prompted a heated debate about NATOs history, identity, and role in the conflict between Russia and the West. In 1946, as the Western Allies and the Soviet Union vied for control over post-war Europe, American diplomat George Kennan penned the fabled long telegram to the State Department outlining his views on the USSR. In the document, Kennan argued that the Kremlin considered permanent peaceful coexistence with the West fundamentally impossible, and that its worldviewbornoutofatraditionalandinstinctiveRussiansenseofinsecurityhinged on the patient but deadly struggle for total destruction of rival power, never in compacts and compromises with it. Kennans telegram, combined with Soviet expansionism and competing Western and Soviet geopolitical objectives[1], contributed to an atmosphere of distrust; it is within this context that NATO was born. As the late NATO secretary-general Lord Ismay famously once said, the alliance aimed to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down. If a core tenet of NATOs founding centered on Soviet exclusion, it should come as no surprise that much of Russias modern leadership remains, at best, wary of the alliance. Putin served for years as a KGB officer, and it is estimated that upwards of one-third of Putins inner circle once worked for the Soviet intelligence service.[2] According to historian Walter Laqueur, they did this work from a sense of dutythat is to say, patriotism and idealism.[3] However, there is another view, pushed forward by Russia expert Karen Dawisha, asserting that the Soviet power ministries also operated out of self-interest. From this perspective, the security forces aimed to preserve the status quotheir wealth and powerby controlling the Soviet Unions domestic and overseas assets, and by maintaining access to foreign capital inflows.[4] Either way, when Putin claimed that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the twentieth century[5], it is safe to say that he was not just speaking on his own behalf. From Moscows perspective, who else but the West could be responsible for such a tragedy? That NATO chose to exclude post-Soviet Russia from its ranks has certainly not soothed hurt feelings. Of course, many experts have noted the difficulty of including Russia in a security alliance whose past was rooted in the Cold War, and whose future is vested in the advancement of democracy and Western values. As Lilia Shevtsova argues in the American Interest, Those who blame the West for failing to integrate Russia should be asked whether an illiberal system can be integrated into the framework of a liberal civilization. And what would have happened to the West if such an attempt had indeed been made? But if such a scenario were actually possible, what should the West have done to make Russia reform itself? We can assume that the integrators are talking about the inclusion of authoritarian Russia into the Euro-Atlantic structuresan intriguing experiment, indeed. Are the integrators ready to see a collapse of the West? In other words, Russian inclusion would have dampened NATOs effectiveness as a proselytizing force for the West. In the aftermath of the Cold War, consolidating Western gains was deemed more important than tiptoeing around Russias bruised ego. As for NATOs expansion, historian Mary Sarotte argues that the West never explicitly promised to prevent NATO from spreading to Europes eastern bloc. Rather, Sarotte contends, such a deal was briefly hinted at during talks over German reunification, but in the end, there was never a formal deal, as Russia alleges. Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has confirmed himself (despite previous claims to the contrary) that such an agreement was never reached. This is not to say that Russia never expressed concern over NATOs growth or actions abroad in the post-Cold War era. Political scientist Rajan Menon writes that Russian foreign minister Andrei Kozyrev warned against expansion as early as 1992; president Boris Yeltsin lambasted NATO for bombing Serbia and Kosovo in 1999; and in the aftermath of the 2008 Russo-Georgian War, president Dmitry Medvedev essentially proclaimed neighboring countries off-limits to Western affiliation. But since Putins return to power in 2012, Russian hostility toward NATO has risen to a feverish pitch. What explains Moscows recent animosity? The answer largely depends on how much importance one places on macroscopic security dynamics versus Russian history and domestic politics. Realist theorist John Mearsheimer has focused on the former, arguing that Russias aggression in Crimea and eastern Ukraine was the culmination of two decades of Western encroachment into Eastern Europe. With Kievs pro-Russian government in tatters, Mearsheimer contends, Russia was faced with the prospect of a NATO member or proxy state materializing at its doorstep. From this perspective, Moscow reacted in a rational and defensive manner, entirely in line with its geopolitical self-interests. After all, wouldnt the United States be alarmed if Russia were to establish a military presence or hostile proxy government in Mexico? Its not just that Putin and the West disagreeits that they arent even engaged in the same conversation. Putintruly believesthat the West always has and will continue todeceive Russiaand undermine its place in world politics. Realists like Mearsheimer raise some pertinent points, but their explanations are often expressed in zero-sum terms, and too easily dismiss the importance of personality in Russian politics and foreign affairs. Although a number of Russian leaders have, in the past, expressed displeasure with NATO and the West, only Vladimir Putin has translated this displeasure into full contempt. It seems hardly a coincidence that his regimes jingoism, military adventurism, and anti-Western/anti-NATO rhetoric have often coincided with economic and political crises at home. According to Leon Aron of the American Enterprise Institute, the Putin regime had long based its political legitimacy on economic development and stability, but by 2012, beset by electoral protests and unable to spark more than at best middling growth, Putin decided to shift the base of his regimes legitimacy away from economic growth and rising incomes and toward patriotic mobilization and anti-Westernism. For example, when Putin was faced with widespread opposition protests in Moscow in late 2011, he lashed out at then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton, claiming that she and the State Department were responsible for the unrest. A few years later, in the months preceding Russias March 2014 invasion of Crimea, Putin was once again beset by domestic political problems: his approval ratings had dropped to 61 percenta nadir not reached since June 2000. Putins weakening support base, coupled with the sudden ouster of pro-Kremlin Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, prompted the Kremlin to seize Crimea. Following the annexation, Putins approval ratings quickly skyrocketed to 80 percent, peaking to a crescendo of 89 percent in June 2015. Popularity notwithstanding, however, Russias economic troubles persist, and the Putin regime continues to engage in vehemently anti-Western rhetoric. Its not just that Putin and the West disagreeits that they arent even engaged in the same conversation. Putin truly believes that the West always has and will continue to deceive Russia and undermine its place in world politics; consequently, the Russian president sees himself as a guardian of national sovereignty against American-dominated globalization and foreign intervention. In his view, NATO and the West are agents of illegitimate regime change (the color revolutions in Ukraine, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan, and NATOs 2011 bombing of Libya are often cited as examples). Meanwhile, the West considers Moscow a flouter of the universal rules and norms established after the Cold War; from the Western perspective, NATO is merely a goodwill enforcer of this system. In addition to the difference in narratives, another issue concerns a difference of priorities: the Putin regime believes national sovereignty and security trump obligations to transnational systems and organizations, whereas the West does not. Thus, when NATO and the West defend their actions with notions of democracy and transatlantic security, it should be understood that the Kremlin does not accept these values as Russias own; on the contrary, it interprets them as existential threats to Moscows independence, security, and sphere of influence. Today, the Baltics, each of the former Warsaw Pact states, and several other Eastern European nations boast NATO membershipa development that runs directly counter to Putins vision for Russia and the post-Soviet space. It should be no mystery, then, as to why the Kremlin has actively opposed Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Finland, and Sweden joining the Western security alliance: Moscow sees its influence diminishing in its own backyard. The threat Moscow perceives from NATO, therefore, is just as political as it is security-focused, and perhaps even more so. The Putin regime fears that effective, democratic governance in the post-Soviet space could incite a color revolution at home. As relations with Moscow continue to deteriorate, the West can no longer afford to misinterpret the nature of its conflict with Russia. The West must recognize that much of its history and identity is founded upon normative values quite different from Moscows own; that no amount of cajoling will persuade Putin to see the West as anything but Russias eternal enemy; and that as long as Putin heads the Kremlin, Moscow will go to great lengths to assert itself and challenge Western influence in its near abroad. This, of course, does not mean that NATO should discontinue its open door policy or abandon defenses in Eastern Europe; just as Moscow has the right to determine what it considers a threat, so do the West and the former Soviet-bloc states of Eastern Europe. Are Russia and the West doomed to an endless, Sisyphean cycle of escalation and retaliation? The answer is no, and that is because even Putin (an autocrat by any reasonable standard) is constrained by public opinion. Despite his regimes heavy-handed control over the Russian media, electoral arena, and various branches of government, Putin cannot sustain military adventurism abroad in the absence of support at home. Thus, if the West is to curb Russias aggression, it must increase the political costs of that aggression[*] via economic and diplomatic means. This could involve strengthening current sanctions, or placing extra pressure on the Assad regime in Syria, potentially forcing Putin to choose between warmongering and domestic political support. In terms of more long-term deterrence, the West might consider bolstering Ukraines defenses, fortifying the Baltics, and mandating that NATO members contribute more to defense spending. While Moscow would undoubtedly denounce these actions as provocations, they just might force the Kremlin to think twice about pursuing further adventurism abroad. Ultimately, though, before any long-term repairs can be made to Russian-Western relations, the two sides must reconcile disparate interpretations of history. After all, if rivals cannot even agree on the cause of an argument, then resolution remains perpetually unattainable. Even though Putin will remain in office for the foreseeable future, the West can still deal with Russia intelligently. Hard power and deterrence are certainly important parts of the equation; but containing Moscow also means, if necessary, forgoing well-trodden narratives for more productive conversation. Only when the lexicon of this conflict changes will Russia and the West truly find something meaningful to talk about. Daniel Frey is an independent Russia analyst. [*] The author used similar phrasing previously in a graduate school admissions essay. Works cited: [1] Gaddis, John Lewis.The Cold War: A New History. New York, NY: Penguin, 2005. [2]Laqueur, Walter.Putinism: Russia and Its Future with the West. New York, NY: St. Martins, 2015. [3] Ibid. [4] Dawisha, Karen. Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia? New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2014. [5] Lucas, Edward.The New Cold War: Putins Threat to Russia and the West. New York, NY: St. Martins, 2014. Correction: A previous version on this article incorrectly stated that the July 2016 meeting of the NATO-Russia Council was the first since cooperation under its auspices was suspended, while it’s actually the third one.

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March 1, 2017   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

Back to the Jungle? – ChinaFile

The recent election of Donald J. Trump as the president of the United States is likely to have a profound effect on world history. The issue is not the controversies raised by Trumps character, personality, abilities, and preferences, but rather how his unique role as U.S. president will make his personality a major factor in world trends. To be sure, Trumps victory is first and foremost a product of Americas internal politics, and reflects the will of the American electorate. Given the influence this president will have on the rest of the world as well, we have cause to blame the American electorate for short-sightedness, because this new presidentbased on many remarks he has made in the short time since his electionmay take humanity backward, from the civilized society still being constructed with great difficulty to reflect universal values such as democracy, human rights, peace, and international responsibility, to a primitive society under the Law of the Jungle, in which selfishness and avarice prevail, and the weak are devoured by the strong. Such a trend will not strengthen the United States in its competition with its rising rival China, as some believe. On the contrary, it will weaken Americas ability to defend its uniquely influential and uniquely beneficial position in international affairs. During the campaign, Trump indicated that he views democracy-promotion as inconsistent with American interests. We have a lot to be proud of, he stated in a speech in Washington, D.C. in April 2016, but then went on: After the Cold War, our foreign policy veered badly off course . . . this led to one foreign policy disaster after another. We went from mistakes in Iraq to Egypt to Libya, to President Obamas line in the sand in Syria. Each of these actions have [sic] helped to throw the region into chaos, and gave ISIS the space it needs to grow and prosper. He attributed this to the dangerous idea that we could make Western democracies out of countries that had no experience or interest in becoming a Western Democracy. Trump declared that he would work with our allies to reinvigorate Western values and institutions, but said he would not try to spread universal values that not everyone shares. The idea that democratic values are valid only in the West is a dangerous departure from the long and honorable tradition of American foreign policy. In Trumps view, instead, what matters is only making America great again. In his view, Obama crippled us with wasteful spending, massive debt, low growth, a huge trade deficit and open borders. . . Were rebuilding other countries while weakening our own. Ending the theft of American jobs will give us the resources we need to rebuild our military and regain our financial independence and strength. Taken together with his favorable remarks about Vladimir Putin and the cooperative tone of his initial phone call with Putin, these statements suggest he might seek to remake the global strategic picture, setting aside competition with other big powers to produce a condominium that would allow the U.S. to withdraw from what he sees as its overextended global position in Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia. These indications have been welcomed by self-described strategic realists who favor the prospects of a major power condominium as a way to reduce global tensions. But is this actually the direction of Trumps China policy? Early indications seem instead to point in the direction of confrontation. As he did during the presidential campaign, since taking office, Donald J. Trump has made many statements that seem to indicate an intention to confront China on both trade and military issues. He criticized Beijing for manipulating the exchange rate and engaging in unfair trading practices, complained about Chinas theft of American intellectual property and jobs, and threatened to impose a tariff of 45 percent on Chinese imports to deal with Americas enormous trade deficit with China. He appointed Peter Navarro, who has written several books urging the United States to push back against Chinas economic and military expansion, as chairman of the newly created White House National Trade Council. Trump accepted a congratulatory phone call on his election from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, referred to her as President, and indicated that he is not wedded to the longstanding American one China policy relating to Taiwan. His Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, stated during his confirmation hearing that the Trump Administration would not allow China access to islands it controls in the South China Sea; this position was backed up by White House spokesman Sean Spicer, and Trump issued a truculent Tweet after Chinas temporary seizure of an underwater drone operated by the U.S. Navy in the region. Although Trump and Tillerson moderated their positions lateramong other things, confirming a somewhat ambiguous our one China policymany China critics in the U.S. and pro-democracy liberals in China are hoping for a new American hard line on China. They believe that confrontation with the U.S. will damage the Chinese economy and the Beijing regimes legitimacy, thereby speeding the process of democratic transformation. But to interpret these statements as a guide to future policy is to mistake noise for substance. In fact, Trumps China policy will be guided by his business instincts, and these will not allow him to seek confrontation with Beijing. Consider the likely consequences of a U.S.-China trade war. The two economies are inseparably entwined: China is Americas second-largest trading partner, third-largest export market, largest source of imports, and largest creditor nation. The U.S. is Chinas second-largest trading partner, top export market, and fifth-largest source of imports. From 2007 to 2014, Sino-U.S. trade volume rose 9.1 percent per annum, from $302.1 billion to $555.1 billion, twice the annual rate of growth in global trade during that period (around 4.5 percent). The U.S. still has an enormous trade deficit in this relationship, amounting to $365.7 billion in 2015. But more than a third of the value of Chinas exports to the U.S. consists of commercial products from other countries. This implies that a trade war with China in the form of higher tariffs or reducing imports would create chaos in the global production chain and penalize countries other than China. Furthermore, Trumps proposals for massive tax reductions to stimulate investment and for an expansion of infrastructure to increase jobs are bound to result in budget deficits. These deficits will increase demand, and if the government prevents the use of imports to satisfy this demand, the result will be rising prices, rising interest rates, the rising value of the dollar, and a decrease in exports, reinforcing the already existing trade deficit at the cost of domestic living standards. On the other hand, there is reason to doubt that a trade war on China would have a crippling effect on Chinas economy. Economics often refers to investment, consumption, and net exports as the troika that drives GDP growth. The 2015 Statistical Bulletin of National Economic and Social Development,published by the Peoples Republic of China National Bureau of Statistics, stated that Chinas GDP that year totaled 67,670.8 billion renminbi, investment in fixed assets 56,200.0 billion renminbi, retail sales of consumer goods 30,093.1 billion renminbi, and commodity imports and exports 24,574.1 billion renminbi, with exports of 14,125.5 billion renminbi exceeding imports by only 3,677 billion renminbi. Clearly, the net export item made only a modest contribution to the overall economy, even allowing for exaggeration in Chinas official statistics. A trade war blocking some export products would affect Chinas domestic investment and consumption, but given the enormous scale of the Chinese economy, shortfalls in one area can be made up elsewhere, and a trade war in one sector will not significantly damage Chinas overall economy. Not to mention that the U.S. is only Chinas second-largest trading partner, although its largest export market. For these reasons, a trade war with China is hardly an attractive proposition for President Trump. It would create chaos in the global production chain and penalize countries other than China, including many American allies and America itself. Some analysts believe Trump will use military tensions over Taiwan or in the South China Sea as bargaining chips to force China to make trade concessions. He may expect that crises in these two areas will not reach the level of military confrontation because China will back down in the face of superior American military power. If so, this calculation is overly optimistic, both because the military balance between the two powers is less unequal than many observers realize, and because territorial issues near Chinas shores are of more importance to Xi Jinping than to the new president of United States. The rapid growth of Chinas military strength is a fact. While Beijing could only look on with frustration when U.S. aircraft carriers flaunted their strength in the Taiwan Strait in 1996, the Chinese military now has effective means to deal with aircraft carriers in the shape of the Dong-Feng-21D (DF-21D) anti-ship ballistic missile. Air Force Magazine has called the DF-21D the first post-Cold War capability that is both potentially capable of stopping our naval power projection and deliberately designed for that purpose. With a 1,500-kilometer range that effectively covers much of the South China Sea, the DF-21D could prevent an American aircraft carrier from entering the first island chain to render aid to Taiwan if war broke out. And the deployment of military aircraft from U.S. bases in Okinawa or Darwin would give Beijing justification for expanding the scale of the war by launching attacks on Japan or Australia. An attempt by the U.S. to prevent the Chinese armed forces from occupying Taiwan by directly attacking guided missile launch pads along the Chinese coast would spread the flames of war to the Chinese mainland and spur an even more intense counterattack from Beijing, targeting Guam or perhaps even Hawaii. Some believe that the Peoples Liberation Armys combat capabilities have been compromised by rampant corruption. Corruption is a fact, but it is also a fact that Chinas military strength has advanced rapidly. A recent RAND Corporation report assessed the military balance between the two and concluded that U.S. military dominance over China is a receding frontier, partly because of Chinas technological advances in missiles, submarine warfare, and cyberwarfare, and partly because Chinas proximity to the theater of battle gives it an advantage in sustaining military operations. Moreover, a purely military analysis overlooks the important element of risk tolerance. No doubt, a severe and lengthy conflict would inflict severe losses on China. According to another RAND study, in such a conflict the U.S. would suffer a decrease of 5-10 percent in GDP, but Chinas GDP could sink by as much as 25-35 percent. In his new book Crouching Tiger: What Chinas Militarism Means for the World, Peter Navarro even predicts the possible outbreak of nuclear war. Yet Xi Jinping has stronger motivations to undertake such a gamble than Donald Trump. Xis publicly articulated China Dream, which is the foundation of his regimes legitimacy, is the dream of a strong nation, and China cannot be a strong nation without consummating its control over Taiwan, the strategically vital island 90 nautical miles off its coast. Moreover, politically, unification across the Strait is the fundamental symbol of Chinas rise and the great resurgence of the Chinese nation through which Xi seeks to place himself on the same historical plane as Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, if not higher. Success in the mission to unify Taiwan would enhance the Chinese Communist Partys (C.C.P.) legitimacy at home, push its economic, political, and human rights failings to the background, and vanquish thoughts of independence among people in Tibet, Xinjiang, and Hong Kong. For Beijing, the Taiwan issue has become even more urgent recently, as public sentiment in Taiwan has moved increasingly away from unification toward independence. The C.C.P. has reaped minuscule rewards from its efforts to win over Taiwans political and business elite and ordinary people through economic means, while the Democratic Progressive Partys rise to power has further dimmed the prospects for unification, and employing military hawks to talk about peaceful unification has become pointless.1 Second only to Taiwan as a priority for Beijing is the South China Sea. Although the Nationalist Chinese government declared Chinas sovereignty over this enormous maritime region in the 1940s, it lacked the military strength to enforce its claim. Nationalist forces were able to occupy Taiping Island, not very far from Taiwan, in 1946 with only the aid of American-supplied warships. In the ensuing 30 years, various islands and reefs were occupied by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and other countries. By the time China joined the fray in the late 1980s, Vietnam already occupied more than 20 islands and reefs with the best topography in the Spratly Islands. But China has a long-term strategic vision for this region. Chinas leading post-Mao strategic thinker, the late Admiral Liu Huaqing, established the principle that in order to assure the security of Chinas mainland, the country must first establish dominance in the maritime region within the first island chain, and then extend its presence beyond the second island chain and into the high seas by 2020.2 In this vision, the Spratly Island group is of crucial strategic importance, because of its location in the southern part of the South China Sea. In the west, the Spratlys facilitate control of the Strait of Malacca (through which 85% percent of Chinas oil imports pass); to the east, they facilitate breaking through the second island chain; and to the north they form part of an encirclement of Taiwan. The area also offers a strategic hideout for Chinas nuclear-armed submarines, its waters deep enough to ensure Chinas ability to make a second nuclear strike. That is why Beijing snatched up the remaining Spratly Islands in the late 1980s, and in recent years has been reclaiming land and expanding military installations on the islands. Trumps emphasis is on American soil, not on distant Taiwan or the South China Sea. Despite his braggadocio, his focus on profit and loss will make him calculate closely before any major decision. There is nothing to suggest that Trump will take a major risk of economic recession and nuclear war for the sake of American promises to Taiwan based on shared democratic values, or treaty commitments to allies like the Philippines. Should the Trump Administration indeed seek confrontation over either of these strategic sites, China is unlikely to back down. Beijing is an old hand at dealing with this kind of bluff. Beijing will publicly proclaim that the Taiwan issue involves fundamental principles and cannot be used as a bargaining chip. It will then find an opportune moment and appropriate method to give Trump some face or benefit, and thereby achieve its fundamental strategic objectives. The Chinese have an old saying: Any problem that can be settled with money is not a problem. As a businessman, Trump will seek to solve problems through trade-offs, admire strength, and not be concerned with principles. He has expressed admiration for Deng Xiaoping in violently suppressing the 1989 Democracy Movement, as well as for Putin, even suggesting at one point that he could accept Russias annexing of Crimea, although he later characterized Russian behavior in harsher terms. Trumps real goal is not to confront China, but to align with fellow strongmen Xi and Vladimir Putin in order to create space for the U.S. to withdraw from its role of world policeman. These are the characteristics of life in the jungle. This notion is compatible with the theory of realism in international relations. Harvard-based British historian Niall Ferguson recently published an article analyzing veteran diplomat Henry Kissingers recent remarks (in particular his 2014 book, World Order) to suggest that Kissinger has advised Trump to not go all-out into a confrontation with China, whether on trade or the South China Sea. Rather, seek comprehensive discussion and aim to pursue that policy of dialogue and co-evolution. Regarding Russia, The central deal, Kissinger argues, would turn Ukraine into a bridge between NATO and Russia rather than an outpost of either side. Ferguson speculates that Kissinger has counseled Trump to model himself on the pre-war president Theodore Roosevelt, who used the principle of actual strength to establish an international order that allocated spheres of influence to regional great powers. Ferguson refers to this authoritarian alliance of China, the U.S., and Russia as a new world order. In my view, however, it is not feasible for China, the U.S. and Russia to form such an alliance. The relationship between China and Russia is fundamentally different from the kind of relationship either of them is capable of forming with the United States. From the C.C.P.s perspective, resisting pressure from the U.S. in the east requires the party-state to expand its Western Development Strategy to ensure the stability and border security of the ethnic regions in its northwest and southwest, and to obtain petroleum and natural gas from Central Asia and Russia. These goals entail cooperative relations with Russia. Even more important is that Russian military products (especially military aircraft engines) have been crucial to Chinas military modernization; Chinas aircraft carriers, submarines, guided missiles, medium- and long-range bombers, and active duty third- or fourth-generation fighter planes were almost all developed on the foundation of Russian equipment. Russia also needs an alliance with China. Initially, Putin continued the Yeltsin eras normal state relations with China, but as relations between Russia and the West became increasingly strained over the past 10 years, Putin felt compelled to join hands with China. This process accelerated after the Crimean crisis in March 2014, when the two sides signed a 30-year agreement for natural gas supply valued at more than U.S.$400 billion. In June 2016, Putin made a whirlwind visit to China and signed a joint statement on strengthening global strategic stability, which expressed concern over increasing negative factors affecting global strategic stability. Allegations of attempts in some quarters to serve national interests through the threat of force, resulting in out-of-control growth of military power that was shaking the global strategic stability system, were clearly aimed at the U.S. It was the first high-profile joint statement of this kind by China and Russia since the end of the Cold War. More than strategic interests counsel Moscow-Beijing cooperation against Washington. Unlike in the world that Teddy Roosevelt knew, the great powers today have profound conflicts over values and ideology, especially when it comes to the U.S. and the C.C.P.s China. China and Russia join hands against the U.S. partly to protect their autocratic models against a democratic model that has at least until now enjoyed the moral advantage. Similarly, Beijings long-term blood transfusions to the North Korean regime reveal that Beijing sees Pyongyang as a member of the same species in terms of ideology and regime. By contrast, Beijing feels compelled to regard the U.S. as its fundamental opponent, because the values and political system that America represents are subversive to the communist regime. The current position of no conflict and no confrontation with the U.S. is merely public diplomatic language on the part of C.C.P. leaders, while a silent test of strength is what truly reflects the thinking of Zhongnanhais dictators. This is why the U.S. and China cannot possibly achieve a strategic balance or any kind of co-governance in the foreseeable future. Major nation-states can form a balance of power and coexist over the long term, but antagonism will always exist between fundamentally opposite major powers, because an autocratic regime will always regard the democratic system as a threat.3 Kissinger has come under widespread criticism from Chinas liberal intellectuals precisely because he claims to understand China. But his long-term contact with generations of Chinese communist leaders has led him consciously or unconsciously to equate China with the C.C.P., and to consider the C.C.P. a representative of Chinese culture. VOA has reported that Kissinger advised Trump to place someone who understands Chinese history and culture in his personal team, to serve as a liaison between the U.S. and the Chinese government, and at the same time that American leaders should perceive what this countrys fundamental national interests are, and not have their line of vision blocked by disputes that currently exist between the two sides. Yet using the cultural angle to decipher China is a completely different matter from using it to decipher the C.C.P. Some American scholars or political figures attribute mysterious powers to culture and consequently end up misreading their targets. Kissingers way of posing the question of Chinas fundamental national interests is wrong because China can be the nation-state China, or it can be the C.C.P.s China, and there is a vast difference between the two. The party-state has always regarded the security of the regime as paramount, and when it feels it is necessary, it places the regimes survival needs above the interests the Chinese people. The fact that it takes the democratic U.S. system as a threat is proof of this point. After years of failed efforts to build democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is understandable that many Americans are tempted to undertake a strategic contraction and return to isolationism. But such a strategy would imply abandoning the ideals on which America was founded and the shared values that advance humanity. A multi-polar world shared among the United States, Russia, and China would not be good news but a nightmarethe dawn of a new world in which the Law of the Jungle prevails. While it may be possible for the U.S. and Russia to move toward rapprochement (given that Putin doesnt have global ideological ambitions, but only wants the U.S. to acknowledge Russias status as a great power), a decisive battle between China and the U.S. (or more precisely, between the C.C.P. party-state system and the constitutional democracy represented by the U.S.) is inevitable, whether in 10, 20, or 50 years. This conflict arising from essential differences between regimes will be a fight to the death in which compromise is impossible. Blindness to, or purposeful obfuscation of, this point is the fundamental error of political figures such as Kissinger. There are reasons that the C.C.P. government has treated him as a guest of honor for so long. To avoid the expansion of C.C.P. influence and the emergence of a 21st century world of the jungle, the United States must continue to lead the struggle for liberal valuesrule of law, democracy, and human rightsas it has done throughout its history. Isolationism, trade protectionism, the abandonment of Taiwan, and cooperation with dictators will in the long-run not strengthen the United States, but weaken its ability to influence Chinas evolution. While the ultimate fate of China rests in the hands of the Chinese people, those fighting for democracy in China need both the help, and the example, of the United States. Translated by Stacy Mosher.

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February 28, 2017   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed

Why Trump Can’t Break Russia Away From China – The Diplomat

The 2014 Russian military intervention in Ukraine resulted in Western sanctions and strategic pressure that drove Moscow toward greater cooperation with China. Since then, the mercurial Sino-Russian marriage of convenience has evolved into a genuine strategic partnership based on overlapping interests, and mutual antipathy toward the United States. Although Russia and China are unlikely to declare a formal alliance, it is not in Americas strategic interests to confront a de facto Sino-Russian entente. Donald Trumps election generated hope in some conservative foreign policy circles that U.S. rapprochement with Russia could create distance between Moscow and Beijing. Proponents of rapprochement hearken back to Nixon and Kissingers triangular diplomacy, which exploited the Sino-Soviet split to achieve an opening to China, and positioned Washington for better relations with both Communist giants than they had with each other. Cato Institute fellow Doug Bandow espouses this viewpoint in a piece entitled A Nixon Strategy to Break the Russia-China Axis. He argues that improving relations with Russia would have the salutary side effect of discouraging creation of a common Russo-Chinese front against the United States. Americas leading offensive realist, John Mearsheimer, likewise claims that if Washington had a more positive attitude toward Moscow, this would engender better relations that would eventually lead Russia to join the balancing coalition against China. Bandow and Mearsheimers arguments are based on a realist explanatory model, wherein relations between America, Russia, and China are conceived as a strategic triangle. According to this framework, it is logical for Trump to pursue Kissinger-style triangular diplomacy to seek an opening to the weaker power, Russia, in order to balance and attain leverage over the stronger power, China. In the current international context, this approach is problematic for several reasons. First, the deep ideological fissures that drove the Soviet Union and China apart during the late 1950s and 1960s are nonexistent today. Furthermore, Sino-Russian geopolitical competition has lessened because Russia, unlike its Soviet predecessor, is a secondary power in Asia. As a result, there is little indication that Trump, despite his rapport with Vladimir Putin, can drive a wedge between Russia and China. Certainly there is room to improve U.S.-Russia relations from their current nadir, which could yield selective cooperation on mutual challenges such as the Islamic State (ISIS). However, there is little indication that achieving the modest improvements in U.S.-Russia relations that are politically and practically feasible would drive Moscow and Beijing apart. The situation that Nixon confronted in Asia is not analogous to the one Trump deals with today. Unlike China and Russia at present, the Soviet Union and the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) were locked in an intense ideological battle for leadership of the Communist world. As Lorenz M. Lthi details in his cogent book,The Sino-Soviet Split: Cold War in the Communist World, the Soviet and Chinese Communist parties developed intractable ideological differences in the 1950s over which socialist development model to pursue. Mao Zedong rejected the Khrushchev era model of Bureaucratic Stalinism in favor of a Revolutionary Stalinist model with Chinese characteristics that produced the catastrophic Great Leap Forward. Ideological rivalry contributed to an acute security dilemma, particularly after China conducted a successful nuclear test in 1964. The convulsions unleashed by radical Maoism during Chinas Cultural Revolution further exacerbated Sino-Soviet enmity and deeply unnerved the Kremlin, which through 1970 deployed approximately 39divisions along the Sino-Soviet border. The existential threat of war with the Soviet Union drove Mao to seek rapprochement with America. Realists give short shrift to the role ideological factors play in fostering comity between Russia and China. In contrast to the days of the Sino-Soviet split, ideology is now a unifying factor in relations. Both countries harbor intense authoritarian nationalist opposition to Western and globalist ideologies, but no longer share the common Marxist-Leninist political orientation that produced the divisive ideological schisms of the Cold War. Despite their distinctive brands of authoritarianism (personalist dictatorship versus one-party Leninist state), Putin and Chinas ruling Communist Party have similar views of the threat posed by Western universal values such as democracy and human rights. They see foreign influences, which they believe have penetrated their societies through globalization, the internet/social media, and NGOs, as the primary threat to their domestic grip on power. For China and Russian governing elites, these influences are a Trojan horse designed to spark destabilizing color revolutions that produce regime change in non-Western (i.e. authoritarian) political systems. Since the 2011 Arab Spring, Moscow andBeijings perception of this threat has only grown, as movements demanding democracy and reform have swept the globe and reached Russia and Chinas doorsteps through Ukraines 2013-2014 Maidan protests and Hong Kongs 2014 Umbrella Revolution. Western observers often discount Russian and Chinese state medias obsession with color revolution as authoritarian propaganda. Nonetheless, as long as Russian and Chinese elites operate under the assumption that the West is subverting their political systems and domestic legitimacy, they will be reticent to put much distance between one another. Russia-China relations today are geopolitically dissimilar to the relationship in the 1960s and 70s. During that time, Moscow and Beijing saw each other as major security threats. By contrast, Russia and Chinas current strategic objectives are much more impeded by the U.S. and its European and Asian allies than they are by one another. Chinas core strategic objectives are focused on East Asia, restoring control over Taiwan and favorably settling maritime territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas. Beijings primary obstacle is American naval power, and the web of U.S. bilateral alliances (the hub and spokes system) with regional powers such as Japan and Australia. The main obstacle to Russias efforts to secure spheres of interest on its Eastern European, and South Caucasian peripheries is the U.S.-led NATO alliance. The European Union Institute for Security Studies recently published a study of China-Russia relations containing an interview with a Chinese security expert that epitomizes this shared threat perception: China feels pressure in the South China Sea, and Russia feels pressure from NATO in the Baltic Sea. Russia faces anti-ballistic missiles systems in Romania and Poland, and China faces the same in South Korea and Japan. While NATO expands to the East, the U.S. is strengthening its military presence in Asia. Driven by ideological and geopolitical fear of the West, Russia-China alignment has engendered close collaboration in mutually beneficial areas. Cooperation intensified following Western imposition of sanctions on Russia in 2014. The most high-profile example came in May 2014, when after nearly a decade of negotiations, Moscow finally cut a deal with Beijing to export Siberian gas to China. This followed the 2013 announcement of a joint venture between Russian oil conglomerate Rosneft and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) to develop Eastern Siberian oil and gas fields. In the short to medium term, it will take time to overcome economic and logistical challenges to develop stronger energy linkages. However, over the longer term, the deals should prove mutually beneficial. Russia secures Chinese investment and locks in comparatively high prices; China diversifies its energy mix and gains access to new overland energy supplies, which Beijing considers less vulnerable to geopolitical turmoil and blockade than energy imported from the Middle East via maritime routes. The arms trade provides another example of symbiosis in Russia-China relations. The trade helps Russia ameliorate its biggest weakness a feeble and energy export-dependent economy while helping China sustain its ongoing military modernization efforts. Historically, a major impediment to this trade was Chinese reverse-engineering of Russian/Soviet armaments, most notoriously Chinese development of the J-11B fighter, which is a direct copy of the Su-27, a one-seat fighter that was developed by the Soviets through the 1970s and 1980s as a match for the U.S. F-15 and F-16. The problem of Chinese reverse-engineering was so severe that Moscow placed an informal ban on exports of high technology military equipment to China in 2004. However, Putins recent approval of advanced weaponry sales to China such as the Su-35 fighter and the S-400 Surface-to-Air Missile system indicates the moratorium has been lifted. Notably, both parties agreed not to include technology transfer licenses in these deals, which should reduce the feasibility (and resultant friction) of Chinese reverse engineering. The trade will remain mutually beneficial so long as Russias economy leans on arms exports (defense manufacturingemploys 2.5-3 million workers, around 20percent of Russian manufacturing jobs), and Chinas military industrial complex remain suboptimal at indigenously producing key technologies such as high performance jet engines and advanced conventional attack submarines. Russia will also increasingly rely on China as a key customer, as India, long the biggest buyer of Soviet/Russian arms, diversifies its suppliers and develops its domestic defense industry. Chinas dependence on Russia for advanced military technology is further reinforced by lack of access to European and American technology due to a Western arms embargo on China in place since 1989. Western observers often highlight the tensions lurking below the surface of Sino-Russian relations, particularly Chinese economic expansion into Central Asia, and Russian arms sales to Chinas regional rivals, primarily India and Vietnam. Nonetheless, these sources of friction are manageable, and, furthermore, the United States has limited ability to exploit them. For example, it would not be in U.S. interests for Sino-Russian competition to intensify in Central Asia, as this would contribute to regional instability and hamstring regional cooperation against Islamist extremism. If the U.S. and Europe succeed in breaking Russian dominance of the arms trade with India and Vietnam, this would actually have the effect of reducing a source of tension between Moscow and Beijing. Since Washington will have difficulty exploiting divisions between China and Russia, it makes little sense to freeze out one party and pursue rapprochement with the other in the hopes of achieving the sort of realignment that Nixon pulled off in the early 1970s. This is evidenced by previous President Barack Obamas experience with Russia and China. Although relations with both Moscow and Beijing became strained under Obama, the U.S.-China relationship, despite a growing rivalry in the Asia-Pacific region, remained more functional. It could even be said that Washington and Beijing have developed a peculiar sort of special relationship. This is best exemplified by continuing high-level engagement through the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED), an intensive, routinized series of bilateral summits, where American and Chinese leaders engage on an array of international issues. Despite many disagreements, Beijing has a working relationship with Washington, and Moscow does not. As a result, China now occupies the position that Nixons America enjoyed during the 1970s: Beijing enjoys closer relations with the two other powers in the strategic triangle than they have with one another. An effective strategy for Trump to forestall consolidation of a Sino-Russian bloc would be to opt for selective engagement with both Beijing and Moscow. Obviously, engagement would have to be coupled with continued hedging against intensifying security competition with Russia in Europe, and China in Asia. Nevertheless, the Trump administration should also recognize that the shared perception in Beijing and Moscow that Washington aims to subvert and internally weaken its non-democratic rivals is detrimental to relations with both Russia and China, and strengthens Sino-Russian cooperation. Consequently, special efforts should be made to assure Moscow and Beijing that Washington has no interest in interfering in their internal politics. This, rather than tilting toward Moscow, would go a long way toward assuaging the anxiety that Russian and Chinese elites feel about the United States. If Beijing and Moscow begin to see the United States as a normal state with its own interests and goals, rather than a fading hegemon bent on ideological dominance, it would help maketriangular diplomacy possible once again. John S. Van Oudenaren is a research assistant at the National Defense Universitys College of International Security Affairs. The views expressed in this article are solely his own.

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February 26, 2017   Posted in: John Mearsheimer  Comments Closed


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