Expediting Dystopia

    Cold War II

I have a problem in that I recently purchased a tablet that is a small seven inch screen with a tiny querky keyboard and a mind of its own. It does not have the same functionality that the laptop had but the laptop is no longer alive and I was not in a financial position to purchase another laptop. And I am stuck for the time being with errors in my writing, typing and layout of work submitted to the WWW.

When I was a child of the 1960s I watched my parents set up our first black and white television set which was such a big event in the home. Letters were the other option if a telephone call was not an option due to expense or logistical issues. Telegrams were for immediate good or bad news, newspapers were used as fish and chip wrapper Kodak instamatic cameras were cool and there was a social revolution going on that had something to do with peace and love.

My personal story does not matter because this is not about my narrative. This is about a more important story of where we are at today as a species. Yes we have evolved from those days where our knuckles scrapped the ground and that we grunted asva way of communicating. We have evolved to the point where we sit in isolation in our bedroom or office and communicate with our colleagues or family members in the next room by email or SMS.

We have evolved from the dark ages and moved through the age of reason. We have catapulted our species into the twenty first century on a very steep trajectory, one where we hope science will save us and solve our problems. One Hundred Years Of War, or the twentieth century, did not inpart much wisdom into the way that we resolve conflict. If we are to aspire to reaching the apex of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid then at the present rate we may reach it by 3016.

To understand our present position one needs to look at social contract theory and to go back to Socrates and Plato two of the first to explore this idea of our relationship with society and the world. The next three are rather obvious choices and they are Hobbes,Locke and Rousseau. To balance out the ideas of these three men I would suggest reading the work of Carol Pateman. If we understand that the welfare of man us in a state of eternal conflict, then we are closer to comprehending where we are today.

The hegemonic power of America is declining with the transition from bipolar world to the multipolar world that exists in this first quarter of this century. Hegemonic powers rise and fall and this is evident from all of the previous powers commencing with the Achaemenid Empire. Human history and the history of the planet involves change. What we are witnessing today is the changing global order where America and the West are being challenged by the Rest.

There are only two sides to the human species, constructive and destructive and there are only two utopias. Yesterday is history and tomorrow is still a mystery and for some of the world today it is dystopia. The media runs on the idea of if it bleeds it leads and we have now constructed a world where we have connectivity to the Internet every single second of every day…commonly referred to by the funky term 24/7. The media is designed to carry information from source to consumer and for the consumer to be entertained.

Countries are currently reviewing their strategic defence capabilities and ramping up the deployment of the latest weapons and I ask why. Are countries such as America, Russia, China and a long list of other countries, replacing old technology and weapons with new just to stimulate the economy. Is the current level of rhetoric from global leaders merely sabre rattling and chest beating. Is our world in a period of stable peace preparing for a future war.

One way to make the transition from this quarter into the next quarter an easy on, is for America to get serious about this current election for a head of state. If America can reform and adopt a new way of thinking about itself and it’s position in the world then it can retain a position of influence and it’s Hegemon status. If America is not able or willing to undertake a transformative process then it is expediting our rapid descernt into a global dystopia. Take the dys out and put the fun back into functional. Continue reading

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Geopolitical Tension

Tension

Click on the map for a clearer view

Roubini Warns : The violence and instability of North Africa is now spreading into Sub-Saharan Africa

Djibouti: The Middle East Meltdown and Global Risk – Impact of The Horn

New York (HAN) October 7, 2015 – Public Economic Diplomacy and the prospect of more onshore and offshore oil production in East Africa. Opinion By: Nouriel Roubini. A professor and was Senior Economist for International Affairs in the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers during the Clinton Administration. He has worked for the International Monetary Fund, the US Federal Reserve, and the World Bank.

Among today’s geopolitical risks, none is greater than the long arc of instability stretching from the Maghreb to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. With the Arab Spring an increasingly distant memory, the instability along this arc is deepening. Indeed, of the three initial Arab Spring countries, Libya has become a failed state, Egypt has returned to authoritarian rule, and Tunisia is being economically and politically destabilized by terrorist attacks.

The violence and instability of North Africa is now spreading into Sub-Saharan Africa, with the Sahel – one of the world’s poorest and most environmentally damaged regions – now gripped by jihadism, which is also seeping into the Horn of Africa to its east. And, as in Libya, civil wars are raging in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia, all of which increasingly look like failed states.

The region’s turmoil (which the United States and its allies, in their pursuit of regime change in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Egypt and elsewhere, helped to fuel) is also undermining previously secure states. The influx of refugees from Syria and Iraq is destabilizing Jordan, Lebanon, and now even Turkey, which is becoming increasingly authoritarian under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Meanwhile, with the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians unresolved, Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon represent a chronic threat of violent clashes with Israel.


What direction will US foreign policy take regarding this tension and will the next president have the power to be able to lead congress towards effective solutions ?
What influence will Russia, China and America have on the future of conflict and will foreign policy be part of the presidential debate ?

Inflation Dynamics and Monetary Policy

yellen-fed-wall-street

Martin Feldstein, Professor of Economics at Harvard University writes in a recent article about the rationale behind the Federal Reserve Bank monetary policy decision, focusing upon the relationship between China & America.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/chinese-economy-federal-reserve-policy-by-martin-feldstein-2015-09

There is more to the decision to leave interest rates on hold for the time being. Read through the recent speech by Janet Yellen at the Philip Gamble Memorial Lecture, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Amhearst, Massachusetts. Can you see the error in this page ? I hope that the Federal Reserve Bank of America spends more time in checking their data and decision making process than it does in proof reading official media articles/reports.

My guesstimate is that the Federal Reserve Bank decision will be to leave rates alone. There are only two ways it will move in Q4 with monetary policy and that is by an increase of 25bp or to leave well alone. The global economic fragility plays a part in the decision making process and not just inflation & employment. If the Fed moves rates in Q4 and there is a negative reaction down the line in Q1 it will not be until Q2 at the earliest that a reversal will be made. Considering the stall warning signs looming on the horizon, I doubt that the Fed will lift rates in Q4 even though they have been threatening this move in recent months.

I am not an economist nor an economic annalist and may just be incorrect with my idea of a delay in the normalisation of rates. I am skeptical about Yellen’s ability to effectively steer the ship considering that Bernanke & Greenspan were swamped on several occasions by stormy seas and we were all left trying to stay afloat in troubled waters. Inflation dynamics are a real concern. In respect to this I say better the devil you know than do not know and when it comes to monetary policy, beware of the wolf in sheep clothing.

America from the Outside

                                       Eagles+Birds+Wallpapers_

This report was written ten years ago but may as well have been written today – a $750 million dollar embassy in Baghdad with intelligence officers, last year missed the rise of Islamic State – there is still a lack of co-operation between agencies and one questions if counter terrorism, intelligence gathering & or analysis would not be best partially or fully outsourced to the private sector. If not being outsourced then an independent audit and review carried out. http://www.foia.cia.gov/document/0001229684-0

The Congress as with the Westminster system of government is going to have the occasional polarization over certain issues. Congress has been on a trajectory of polarization which is not going to reverse anytime soon and impedes the legislative process and undermines confidence. Polarization has been the norm in Congress throughout most of America’s history but what about some form of reform. Maybe a forum…”If the dominant metaphors for politics in America are the market and the arena, both holding vigorous competition central to how we think politicians and citizens should behave, perhaps we should find room for an alternative venue: the forum.” http://www.hks.harvard.edu/fs/dking/Extreme_Politics.pdf

What implications are there for domestic and foreign policy with this current system. Health Care & Social Security are two major challenges that have been around for more than ten years and so has the fiscal cliff and yet we keep seeing the same old battered can being kicked down the road. Maybe the House of Representatives could reassert itself somehow and be a conduit for law making…I am not an expert on US legislative process and it is outside of my area of expertise. 2017 is critical mass for the Dept. Social Security where money out will be more than money in – http://www.socialsecurity.gov/oact/solvency/THarkin_20130318.pdf

Economic Flaws – Systemic risks within the economy are real and not perceived based on and not limited to – algorithms, derivatives, collateral debt obligations, lack of a truly free market and more. The 401K is directly linked to the stock market – other countries have a broad spread in the superannuation portfolio which minimizes the risk of devaluation as occurred in circa 2008. The Federal Reserve Bank needs some form of review of its mandate/s. The head of the Fed from Allan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen have all failed to address underlying problems in monetary policy. The Federal Reserve Bank is a private company and the owners and board are an interesting read. Fiscal flaws are the responsibility of the government.

The establishment of Fannie May & Freedie Mac by government and regulated by government for the mortgage market (they basically dictated the interest rate for mortgages with around 50% of the marketplace in which they operated) and even as of 2005 Greenspan was waxing eloquently about how wonderful they were –  “Critical to the success of this innovation has been the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in promoting mortgage securitization–the key to the development of secondary mortgage markets in the United States. Their efforts spawned the vast asset-backed securities market that, along with credit derivatives, has contributed to the transfer of credit risk from highly leveraged originators of credit–especially banks and thrifts–to less-leveraged insurance companies and pension and mutual funds, among other investors.http://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/speeches/2005/20050519/default.htm

The speech found in the link above, is a wonderful read and full of praise for two G.S.E.s that directly contributed to the G.F.C.
How can the marketplace be free with this type of activity occurring and who was at fault, legislators or regulators or both ? Impunity seems to run hand in hand with government along the yellow brick road. Now going back to the Federal Reserve Bank and specifically the NY Fed, why were Maiden Lane LLC, Maiden Lane II LLC, Maiden Lane III LLC established – to take billions of dollars of toxic debt out of the marketplace – http://newyorkfed.org/markets/maidenlane.html#tabs-1

Look at the relationship with J.P. Morgan Chase and the loan where the NY Fed earns profits. Oh but this is all justifiable because it is a free and open market. Has anyone questioned greed, corruption and or dishonesty within the system and apology in advance for my skepticism here, but that would not be politically correct in our modern world and far to cynical. There is nothing wrong with democracy or a free marketplace capitalism…I believe that both of these have benefits and are better than the alternatives. The debt ceiling level and the process of dealing with it is flawed because the answer is not lifting it, time and time again and printing money…it does not address the structural reforms that are required to control it.

What is wrong with Operation Twist http://useconomy.about.com/od/Fed/g/Operation-Twist.htm
I refuse to be drawn into any Zionist debate or argument regarding the Federal Reserve Bank or any conspiracy theories about the same. Facts and figures can do the talking…but I personally believe that the underlying premise of a government monopoly on the money supply is detrimental to the economy and ultimately limits people’s freedom as it promotes the expansion and control of the state is wrong in that it is most flawed. I will cite Australia as an example with twenty two years of successive growth as a combination of the resources boom and well managed monetary and fiscal policy from the Australian Federal Reserve Bank & the government.

Foreign Policy Flaws – Lost opportunities to build and establish strong working relationships post Cold War. Underestimating or over estimating the capacity, strengths and weakness of either US capabilities or the country and culture of intervention/operation. Failure to meet objectives and counterproductive operations in various regional conflicts.  Nicaragua, Vietnam, Iraq Gulf War, Iraq War, Afghanistan, Libya and others. With Nicaragua –  The Republic of Nicaragua v. The United States of America – the International Court of Justice ruled that the U.S. had violated international law by supporting the Contras.
http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?sum=367&p1=3&p2=3&case=70&p3=5
http://www.alternativeinsight.com/Foreign_Policy_Failures.html
The reader can search for other countries and current flaws in foreign policy.

Constitutional Flaws – the ten questions asked by Professor Sanford Levinson from The School of Law at The University of Texas at Austin are worthy of reading and the very least, serious consideration…the two links at the end of the page are also worthy of  perusal. http://www.utexas.edu/law/news/2006/100906_che.html

The writer is not anti-American. What American men and women do every single minute of every single day in the pursuit of freedom and liberty I am most appreciative of and applaud their courage and commitment to upholding the idea of democracy and global stability. These people are from a range of government and non-government groups and place their lives on the line. If the United States of America can lead by example, then it would be think globally acting locally first.

To conclude, this is one view that does not matter if it is correct or incorrect and I hope it stimulates thought regarding any real or perceived flaws in North America, Europe or the world. Globally we are facing serious challenges that require effective solutions to be found as a united world.The hegemonic behemoth that is struggling to retain global stability has become a basket case in international politics. If America can not or will not perform triage on itself and undertake radical surgery, the multi-polar world will rapidly correct this and place it in a hospice.

John Coffey, retired Foreign Affairs Officer at the US State Department points out about Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power by Zbigniew Brzezinski:  Brzezinski highlights greater significance to the nation’s domestic problems such as a crushing national debt; a financial system driven by self-destructive greed; widening inequality; decaying infrastructure; a citizenry ignorant of the world; and a gridlocked political system.

May the captains of industry and global governors guide, protect and direct towards a sustainable future with…

  Truth, Trust & Transparency.

F35 – F16 = T-50 Arms Race

Fifth generation fighter jets –

Chinese, Russian, Indian and US

Arms Race

If you can believe the press reports surrounding the J-35s https://www.f35.com/ lack of capability to compete with old birds and new birds alike, then you would seriously ask why would you buy one. Strategic defence capabilities in the 21st Century still demand air superiority because of the part that it plays in overall planning. Within the parameters of conventional warfare air strike capability is a very important component to a successful mission. The three largest defence contractors in the world are American corporations, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Gruman & Boeing.

Can anyone trust the Lockhead Martin sales pitch on this aircraft and in light of the fact that this is the world’s biggest fighter project.

http://www.migflug.com/jetflights/f-35-biggest-aviation-project-ever.html

http://thediplomat.com/2015/07/f-35-loses-dogfight-to-fighter-jet-from-the-1980s/   http://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/the-f-35-cant-beat-the-plane-its-replacing-in-a-dogfigh-1714712248

The F-35 Lightning II was designed to be an affordable 5th Generation fighter

Production Costs

  • F-35A: $98 million
  • F-35B: $104 million
  • F-35C: $116 million

f13-09185pr__main factory__main

The claim made by Lockheed Martin – The F-35’s stealth capabilities are unprecedented in tactical fighter aviation. An integrated airframe design, advanced materials and other features make the F-35 virtually undetectable to enemy radar. Extensive analysis and flight test of the survivability of the F-35 with its combination of stealth, advanced sensors, data fusion, sophisticated countermeasures, and electronic attack demonstrate conclusively its superior advantages over legacy aircraft, is still yet to be proven in combat.

There are comparable aircraft that some say will outperform the F-35. China’s second fifth-generation stealth aircraft, the J-31 built by the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation has many similarities in design and in performance. Because there is little technical data available it is still too early to assess how much better it may is compared to other similar multipurpose jets. It will be able to compete with F15, F16 & F18 and will will come close or at least match the F35 according to aviation experts.

Shenyang J-31

Shenyang_J-31_(F60)_at_the_2014_Zhuhai_Air_Show

Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA

Sukhoi_T_50_PAK_FA_by_nellenmellen

“The aircraft is equipped – just like the Raptor – with  top modern weapons, stealth technology and has supercruise at mach 1.6. Since it has not yet been revealed there is very much speculations about it and there is a lot of propaganda involved. For instance Vladimir Putin claimed that: “This machine will be superior to our main competitor, the F-22, in terms of maneuverability, weaponry and range” which you can choose to interpret in any way you want. But it is by many considered to be the best fighter in the world when it enters service with the Russian air force. The main points that are considered by many to be better with the PAK FA than with the raptor is its IRST, its engines and its 3D Thrust vectoring system (the Raptor does not feature IRST and only has 2D TV). The engine that is currently being developed by Saturn and is said to be the “fifth generation fighter engine” will be delivered in the coming years and just like any other tremendously expensive project there has been a lot of speculations about it. India is also currently developing a fifth generation fighter projected to be introduced in 2022, namely the HAL FGFA, which is an upgraded version of the PAK FA. It is claimed that it is supposed to have 43 improvements compared to the PAK FA, among others stealth, supercruise, advanced sensors, networking and combat avionics.”

http://www.migflug.com/jetflights/fifth-generation-fighter-jets-a-chinese-russian-and-us-arms-race.html

The only way to verify the sales pitch by Lockhead Martin will be to test the J-35 in combat…but what an expensive way to confirm the capabilities.

Hegemonic Shadow Boxing

Hegemonic Power
&
Changing Global Order
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/south-china-sea-territorial-claims-unclos-by-gareth-evans-2015-06?utm_source=project-syndicate.org&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=authnote#

http://www.cfr.org/asia-and-pacific/chinas-maritime-disputes/p31345#!/

Who Went Where How & Why

IMG_2976-Edit Recently I found myself sitting alone with some spare time, which in today’s  world is a luxury. There were many things that I began to ponder, such as who we are as a species. I went on wondering how and why we are where we are in the 21st Century. We live in a paradoxical world of everything and nothing. We have complete freedom and yet we are enslaved by many aspects of our modern world.

Please wait a minute for I just need to check my email as I just received a text message. My thoughts drifted through time and through our modern history. Whilst ancient history is both fascinating and interesting, it is what it is, ancient history. The human species has been consistent throughout our history for we are only two things, constructive or destructive…we make babies or we kill them. Dramatic shocking analogy but it works to highlight the point.

There is a Great Zimbabwe, away from the common tourist spot, where the jungle has covered the walls of the fortress constructed to protect those indigenous people in the Zambezi Valley. It is like many other ancient structures, constructed to protect from one of many types of threat. We have only two responses to a threat, fight or flight. So if the welfare of the human species is in a state of eternal conflict, then we have been consistent throughout our history.

There is no difference between yesterday and today. Yesterday we lived in fear of one thing or another. Today we still live in the shadow of fear even though we understand the notion of the only thing to fear is fear itself. The reason that we live in fear today is because the world has lost something that is critical in the fight or flight response to a threat. We have lost trust in our world because it is in a transition from the West to the East, a huge paradigm shift. We wonder what the current Zeitgeist will be regarding our modern world.

Cognitive psychology would explain that we have certain conditioning agents that exist today. Today the sourcing, retention and retrieval of knowledge is one click of a button away. We are breeding ahistorical  generations who will only ever know the world wide web and who demand instant gratification. Where will they get wisdom from, certainly not from history. The internal mental state of the individual is being conditioned by data transferred through time and space by technology.

The Ahistoricism that exists today is because there is a lack of concern for history, historical development, or tradition from X,Y,Z generations. I was a baby boomer who is transitioning into becoming the sandwich generation and quite frankly I am not fearful of the future but I am most concerned. Does the dumbing down of our society in the West leave a window of opportunity open for the East to quietly enter?

I grew up in a world where it took a male and a female to be father and mother and there were no test tube babies. Now we have same sex parents and babies that have three parents.  Britain became the first country to approve three parent babies. Can you imagine the size of the parental form sent home with the child so that they can do whatever the school requires parental approval for, that says get mummy and mummy or daddy and daddy or all three to sign the form.

We live in a world of stranger danger where children are escorted wherever they go and where one can not take out a camera at your own child’s sporting event without being shot yourself. The only onward Christian soldier in the future will be limping home from war as Mohammed will have the Ten Commandments that will have been rewritten in Sharia Law.

It is the best of times and it is the worse of times as we have complete freedom in our politically correct mufti-cultural, multipolar global village of the future. Our bipolar world of yesterday has been changed by the new world order. When I grew up a BRIC was a component in a building and today it is an alliance and if you add the letter s, it does not make it plural.

Today we live in a world that has impunity and one that has a lack of trust. I wonder what tomorrow will have in stall. The time passed by and I wondered still and silently on how we got to where we are today. Maybe I do not need to Google the question for I already have the answer. If the perfect question is why then there is only one answer, which is because.

絲綢之路經濟帶 -The Silk Road Economic Belt & Eurasian Economic Union

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The PRC Silk Road Economic Belt initiative that aims to establish the network of land and sea routes that will link the western regions of China with the main markets of Central Asia and Europe. The Silk Road Economic Belt project and the Eurasian Economic Union led by Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus can become the main driving forces transforming Central Eurasia into a zone of joint development.

This initiative is addressing internal and external challenges. The policy that China has pursued since the late 1970s has allowed the country to increase its impact on the world stage and improve the domestic economic situation. This is China’s largest foreign trade project and its implementation will allow for the strengthening of economic ties between China and the Central Asian countries; the increase in the volume of trade with Europe is considered to be less of a priority.

This Chinese initiative is for economic, geopolitical and security reasons. It is a combined land sea project. The Northern route is supposed to go through the territory of Kazakhstan and the Trans-Siberian Railway. The sea routes will involve the Kazakh port of Aktau, and the ports of the Caspian Sea (Makhachkala, Baku) that provide access to the Caucasus region, Turkey and the Black Sea basin. The Southern routes go through the territory of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran, thus providing access to the Indian Ocean in the Persian Gulf.

The Eurasian Economic Union that commenced on 1st January 2015,brings together Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia, lays the foundation for a framework of legal conditions for the joint breakthrough and creates an effective tool for the prevention and resolution of international disputes. The union ensures free movement of goods, services, capital and labor, as well as working on the coordination and synchronization of economic policies in various sectors and there will be only one customs border between China & the E.E.U.

The E.E.U is in many ways a unique association because in addition to the purely economic component, it also includes cooperation in the defense sector – the C..S.TO. The E.E.U. projects and the Silk Road Economic Belt compliment each other and will create a new opportunities.

The first group (the Northern Route) includes the routes that run across the territories of China, Kazakhstan and Russia: Urumqi – Dostyk – Omsk – Moscow – EU countries. The second group (the Sea Route) includes the routes that run across the territory of Kazakhstan and use the Caspian Sea ports for transit. The third group (the Southern Route) includes the routes that bypass the territory of Russia. The Urumqi – Aktau – Baku – Poti – Constanta (the second option is: Urumqi – Dostyk Almaty – Shymkent Tashkent – Ashgabat Tehran – Istanbul route).

These two initiatives create a Eurasia that has unique opportunities for the development of transport and logistical corridors and hubs that will connect the production and consumption potential of Europe and Asia and means that the Suez Canal route can be bypassed.

The most advanced version of the route is the Western China – Western Europe transport corridor, which runs through the cities of Lianyungang, Zhengzhou, Lanzhou, Urumqi, Khorgos, Almaty, Kyzylorda, Aktobe, Orenburg, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Moscow and St. Petersburg, with further access to the Baltic Sea ports.

All this sets the scene for the revival of the Silk Road in its original capacity as the continental belt of trade and economic and cultural interaction among the adjoining states, allowing them to achieve wealth and prosperity.

A part of the EEU Treaty is the road map of movement towards a common market. There is a plan to unify the pharmaceutical regulations by 2016, to organize a common electric power market by 2019, to create common financial mega-regulators by 2022, and to have a common market for oil, gas and petroleum products by 2024–2025. This will already facilitate the development of specialized clusters in Eurasia.
There is also a prospect of a common electric power market using both hydro and nuclear power. In the future, it will be possible to raise the issue of creating a circular electric power system of Central Eurasia, including Siberia, Kazakhstan, Central Asia and western regions of China. Central Eurasia is home to enormous reserves of natural resources, including those that are very important: oil, natural gas, cerium- and non-ferrous metals.
Kazakhstan is piggy in the middle between Russia & China.
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African Conflict & Sustainable Development

 

The following is taken from Center for Strategic & International Studies
Document
A Report of the CSIS Program on
Crisis, Conflict, and Cooperation
October 2014

Africa is the continent with the highest concentration of countries that are affected by violence and conflict and that appear regularly on lists of fragile states. CSIS senior fellow Robert D. Lamb sat down with Africa Program deputy director Richard Downie to talk about the conflicts and crises Africa is likely to face in the future and how the United States has positioned itself to deal with those challenges.

In Angola, the United States played an unhelpful role in prolonging the civil war through its continued support for U.N.I.T.A. [the National Union for the Total  Independence of Angola]. But elsewhere, it’s played a constructive diplomatic role, helping negotiate an end to conflicts in South Africa, Namibia, and Mozambique. This region—Zimbabwe aside—has for the past two decades been by far the most stable region of Africa.

China’s influence in Africa has been a net positive, actually, providing Africans with much-needed infrastructure and increased opportunities for trade and investment. At the same time, China’s avowed policy of noninterference in domestic politics has meant it’s been willing to do business with some of the continent’s most corrupt, authoritarian regimes, such as those in Sudan, Angola, and Zimbabwe. This has been a boon for incumbent autocrats. But it’s hard to make the case that China has directly fueled conflict and extremism in Africa. It shares with the United States an interest in peace and stability, and conflict threatens its business interests, in places like South Sudan, for instance. As its ties in Africa get deeper, China’s doctrine of noninterference is going to come under more strain.

China does limit U.S. influence in Africa although not to the extent commonly portrayed in the media mainly by offering itself as an alternative suitor to African governments who have no interest in heeding U.S. advice on promoting democracy and good governance.

There are two big, intractable problems that have implications for security in the region. The first is poor governance, which continues to blight a number of [African] countries. Indeed, that number has increased in recent years, reversing some of the positive progress made in the 1990s and early 2000s. One particular manifestation of this problem is leaders who remove constitutional term limits. By altering, or threatening to alter, constitutions in order to stay in office, leaders like Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso undermine their nations’ institutions and run the risk that opposition to their incumbency will take on increasingly desperate, even violent, forms.

The second big problem is the lack of viable African security institutions to respond to conflict in a timely, professional manner. The continent currently lacks political leaders with the skill and vision to take ownership of the issue and produce models for a homegrown and financially sustainable African security architecture.

In July 2014, former UK foreign secretary William Hague described a turbulent global landscape as one not simply experiencing a series of regular disruptions; instead, he suggested that the world was suffering from “systemic disorder.” In a similar vein, former U.S. national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski characterized the environment as “historically unprecedented in the sense that simultaneously, huge swaths of global territory are dominated by populist unrest, anger, loss of state control.

Indeed, every day seems to bring news of emerging crises and deeper chaos, with few signs the world’s troubles are abating. China’s assertive posture in Asia has the neighbors scrambling to bolster their armed forces, reinforce territorial claims, and buttress relations with the United States. Russia’s confrontation with Ukraine and NATO holds the prospects of conflict in Europe. A worsening in one or both of these regions could herald a new economic downturn worldwide.Beginning in North Africa in late 2010, the Arab Spring offered the promise of economic opportunity, justice, and self rule. But four years later, the region has more often witnessed despair, economic paralysis, and violence. The players include countless militias, insurgents, terrorists, government security services, and political factions all contesting control of territory, populations, and resources. The integrity of Libya, Syria, and Iraq are in serious jeopardy at the same time insurgent groups like ISIS are surging in influence and capability and in some places governing as a state.

At the heart of this turmoil are two distinct but related phenomena. States are less able or willing to exercise power and authority over their people, territory, and (shrinking) resources, while actors at the sub state level are simultaneously wielding greater capabilities than ever before. This is not a new state of affairs, but the trend has worsened sharply over the past year. Incompetent or corrupt regimes are failing to provide basic services and opportunity to their populations. Filling that void are ethnic- or sectarian based groups and sophisticated criminal gangs that are not only supplanting traditional government roles but challenging states on the battle field. The ongoing confrontation between ISIS and several powerful nations bears witness to this reality.

Caught in the middle are millions of citizens with scant economic opportunities, security, and little control over their own lives. With their own governments often at fault, many people look to alternative sources of authority and service provision. Violent extremist groups offer a respite for those seeking relief, along with a promise of empowerment and even revenge very appealing choices for many individuals in this environment, given their lack of other options.

Despite the strong desire by many to avoid these cofounding problems, there is little doubt that the United States will remain deeply engaged in finding solutions. The prospects for continued violence, radicalization, and global “systemic disorder” appear to be very strong, and the United States and its partners must prepare themselves for a rough ride ahead.

At the end of the Cold War, humanitarian assistance by civilian aid workers to alleviate suffering evolved into “humanitarian intervention.” This dramatic shift in conflict from interstate wars, which declined during the last decade of the twentieth century, to intrastate conflicts arising from weak and fragile states tested the capacity of both civilian and military agencies to find appropriate responses to the dual crises of human suffering and bad governance.

Urban growth was rapid over the course of the twentieth century, and it will continue to advance quickly over the next 20 years. The overall world population reached 7.3 billion people in 2014 and is projected to exceed 8.3 billion by 2030. Notwithstanding its scale, this rate of population growth will not match the projected scale of urban growth over the same period: urban populations will grow from 3.8 billion in 2014 to more than 5 billion in 2030. Most of this growth will occur in Asia and Africa.

Every year, millions of men, women, and children relocate to periurban spaces. The newly urbanized commonly find themselves forced to live in the most insecure spaces, such as along the edges of ravines, on flood prone streambeds, on unstable slopes, or in slums and shantytowns so densely populated that they become marked with ignominious titles such as Lagos’s “Face Me, I Face You” complexes. The speed and nonuniformity of this migration overwhelms existing urban infrastructure and service provision capacities, generating interrelated negative social, health, and economic externalities. The severity of this insecurity is nowhere more apparent than for the 930 million inhabitants in developing countries, specifically in sub-Saharan Africa, who live in a slum.

Organized crime and the potential for violence from terrorist or insurgent networks pose a further challenge to human security in quickly urbanizing environments. Problems found in mega cities economic disparity and high unemployment make them a prime breeding ground for violent non state actors. Many fear the sheer size of these cities will allow criminal groups to flourish undetected by local government or legal authorities. The absence of rule of law and basic services has the potential to provide safe haven to organized criminals, insurgents, and other violent non state actors.

Transnational criminal organizations corrupt and intimidate governments and facilitate illicit trafficking, which makes them one of the more pernicious non state actors. UNODC emphasizes in its 2013 West African Threat Assessment that underserved communities particularly those in border areas can profit from the flow of contraband, “leading them further and further from the reach of the state.”

Livelihoods that benefit from governance vacuums are unsustainable but usually preferable to poverty. Those involved in illicit trade are willing to defend themselves violently when their livelihoods are threatened whether by the state or by rivals. To make matters worse, wealth accrued through illicit trafficking is often sufficient to buy cooperation from high levels of government, meaning corruption is both enabled by and an enabler of organized crime.

Many countries in sub-Saharan Africa are still experiencing a new kind of threat as stateless armies of criminal actors threaten the peace and security of many countries. In 2014, we still face the problem of accepting how long it takes to build strong institutions, grow civil society, and restore economic growth. Foreign assistance budgets are developed in five year bundles, yet reality tells us that state building is a 20 year task at a minimum. A generation is usually needed to see the results of stabilization and institution building, yet the high level of demand for the immediate resolution of conflict, often characterized by impatience and quick fixes, checking a box on a “to-do” list, fails to create a genuine understanding of how any short-term development interventions support a path to national development and a return to stable governance.

The rapid changes and instability emergent today require a comprehensive and effective response that brings people together to resolve differences peacefully and strengthens their ability to better overcome future potential conflict or strife.

I would like to focus here in conclusion, on two sub- Saharan African countries  that have overcome some  challenges and made some progress towards a modern democratic civil society. South Africa & Zimbabwe have enormous natural resources some of which contribute to their GDP and also a revenue stream for the government which can be further strengthened with bilateral trade agreements with their trading partners. Both countries share a common history in that they have had precolonization and colonization and are now in the third stage of their history which is post colonization.

The countries share a border and there is a certain amount of commonality with the challenges that they face moving into the Twenty First Century. South Africa & Zimbabwe are both part of the South African Development Community and the African Union. Ideally for progress to happen and for them to reach their full potential, truth, trust and transparency in government are paramount. Sustainable development that is part of a transformative state requires a collaborative and consultative approach with all of the stakeholders. There are many real challenges ahead, some of which were addressed in the Millennium Development Goals. The Sustainable Development Goals have continued the MDGs and also focus on future remaining challenges.

Governments can to be proactive regarding matters such as health, education, employment, infrastructure, gender equality, food security, population growth, structural reforms(whether they are regulatory, or institutional, or political, or fiscal, or social) and climate change, which will benefit the current citizens and future generations. It also is the duty and responsibility of foreign governments to work with these two countries to establish mutually beneficial relationships that benefit the citizens.

The proactive approach that government needs to address with structural reform is highlighted by a 2012 report by KPMG (http://www.kpmg.com/Africa/en/IssuesAndInsights/Articles-Publications/Press-Releases/Documents/Africa%20Fraud%20Barometer%20June%202012.pdf ) where it claims ” Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa make up 74 percent of all fraud cases reported in Africa. While fewer cases are reported in South Africa, the overall value of these cases is far greater in Nigeria”.

The writer welcomes and feedback and or ideas regarding the subject and appreciates the work that C.S.I.S. carries out and the contribution that is makes globally.

China & TheTwenty First Century

China 2015 White Paper Beijing issued its first white paper on military strategy, ushering in greater military transparency by giving details of the direction of its military buildup to other nations. The document of about 9,000 Chinese characters revealed a list of new expressions that have never before appeared in Chinese white papers.

In the preface it reaffirmed China’s adherence to peaceful development and its “active defense” military strategy. It interpreted the policy as “We will not attack unless we are attacked, but we will surely counterattack if attacked”. “China will never seek hegemony or expansion,” it added.

On China’s security environment, it mentioned increasing security challenges brought by certain countries, citing the growing US military presence in Asia and Japan’s major adjustment in its security policies.

For the first time, the paper noted that “some offshore neighbors take provocative actions and reinforce their military presence on China’s reefs and islands that they have illegally occupied”. “It is thus a long-standing task for China to safeguard its maritime rights and interests.”

Vietnam and the Philippines have kept building on some of China’s islands in the South China Sea. Accordingly, the paper said the navy of the People’s Liberation Army will “gradually shift its focus from ‘offshore waters defense’ to a combination of ‘offshore waters defense’ and ‘open seas protection'”.

China Military

China’s air force will soon commission the J-10B fighter jet, the most advanced military aircraft the country has ever developed on its own.

[Photo provided to China Daily]

It also mentioned an adjustment in preparations for military struggle. Following the guideline set in 2004 in order to win “informationized local wars”, the new expression highlighted maritime military struggle.

Regarding outer space, the paper reaffirmed China’s opposition to the weaponization of outer space and its disapproval of an arms race in outer space.

As for cyber space, it said “China will expedite the development of a cyber force” and enhance its capabilities in cyber situation awareness and cyber defense.

The paper also noted that as Chinese national interests stretch further abroad, it will “strengthen international security cooperation in areas crucially related to China’s overseas interests”.

It said the PLA will engage in extensive regional and international security affairs, and promote the establishment of the mechanisms of emergency notification, military risk precaution, crisis management and conflict control.

The paper highlighted future cooperation with Russian armed forces, saying the PLA will foster a comprehensive, diverse and sustainable framework to promote military relations.

On cooperation with the US, China intends to build a “new model of military relationships” that conforms to the two nations’ new model of major-country relations.

It will strengthen defense dialogues, exchanges and cooperation with the US military, and improve the mechanism for the notification of major military activities as well as the rule of behavior for safety of air and maritime encounters.

Zhao Weibin, a researcher on China-US military relations with the PLA Academy of Military Sciences, said though the paper named the US, Japan and some neighbors which pose security challenges, it is not written to counter them.

“In this chapter on the security environment, we just objectively assessed China’s situation.”

Wen Bing, a researcher on defense policies with the academy, said China has become one of the few countries that have published white papers to clarify military strategy. According to him, the US, Russia and Britain have issued similar reports.

“That is indeed a big step in China’s military transparency.”

Wen suggested the readers of the report examine every word of it, as “there are so many new expressions and ideas, through which you can better understand today’s PLA.”

Further to this white paper, The General Political Department of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has compiled Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speeches and writings on national defense for release in the military system.

The book, compiled and released under the approval of the Central Military Commission, includes major strategic thinkings, theories and policies reflected in 36 key articles by Xi between Dec. 2012 and March 2015.

The PLA General Political Department urged soldiers and officers to study the book to improve the army, with guided sessions to explain key theories and deepen the reader’s understanding.

China said on Wednesday that it was deeply shocked and dissatisfied with the Philippine president’s remarks likening China to Nazi Germany, warning Manila to stop provoking Beijing on the South China Sea issue.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that the Philippines has tried to occupy Chinese islands for decades and has kept “colluding with countries outside the region to stir up trouble and sling mud at China”.

“I once more seriously warn certain people in the Philippines to cast aside their illusions and repent, stop provocations and instigations, and return to the correct path of using bilateral channels to talk and resolve this dispute,” she said.

During a speech in Japan on Wednesday, Philippine President Benigno Aquino compared China’s actions to Nazi Germany’s territorial expansion before the outbreak of World War II.

Tensions have risen recently as the Philippines, as well as the United States and Japan — two nations that are not directly involved in the issue — repeatedly criticize China over its construction on some of its islands in the South China Sea.

China has said its projects mainly aim to provide a civilian service that will benefit other countries.

US President Barack Obama conceded on Monday that “it may be that some of their (China’s) claims are legitimate”, but he urged China to stop construction on the islands. The US has sent reconnaissance planes over Chinese islands with reporters on board.

Chinese Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai told The Wall Street Journal it was “very surprising to us that the US has overreacted to the situation and is escalating the situation.”

He said China is more concerned than anybody about the safety and freedom of navigation in the region, given China’s huge trade volume going through the South China Sea.

“If somebody wants to see escalation of tension, then that could be used as an excuse for advancing their military deployment, for setting up Cold War-type alliances and for setting up new missile defense systems,” he said.

During Aquino’s visit, Tokyo and Manila are likely to agree to start talks on a framework for the transfer of defense equipment and technology. Japan last year eased restrictions on arms exports set after World War II.

“As a major victim of Japan during the war, it is really cynical for the Philippines to unite with Japan and link China to Nazi Germany,” said Chen Qinghong, a Southeast Asian studies researcher at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

“Manila wants Tokyo to help press Beijing on the South China Sea issue. And Japan — which is under great international pressure for its attitude on history as the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II approaches in August — seeks to transfer the regional focus.”

In previous posts I have written about understanding China and the rise of the Red Dragon in this “The Asian Century”. I wonder how may of us in the West truly independently understand the complexities of this state and the global challenges we will face during the 21st Century as our global power structure transitions.