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.
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’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.”
Red Dragon Rising
Prior to trying to formulate an informed opinion on China’s role in the first half of the 21st Century, a brief review of the make up of the current leadership of the P.R.C. related to global strategic defence, specifically the South China Seas region would assist the reader. The P.R.C. President and Premier are Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang. Their roles are head of state and head of government and the leadership is commonly referred to as the Xi Li team. The Minister for Defence is Chang Wanquan. These three men will be responsible for the continued global positioning of the P.R.C. during Q1 of the 21st Century.
Xi Jinping is one of the three wise men (Mao & Deng are the other two) and he is focused upon positioning China for Q2 of the 21st Century with domestic and international foundations that have been constructed or are being constructed by China. With his quasi-Maoist values he is changing China. He has gained more power than his predecessors with a strong power base in the P.L.A. He is the key figure of the Fifth-Generation leadership in this renaissance period or golden age of the P.R.C.
Xi is changing the growth mode and improving quality and efficiency at the center, the economy will be driven by consumption, investment and exports instead of only by investment and exports. China will shift from relying on secondary industries alone to reliance on the primary, secondary and tertiary industries, turning away from resource consumption and toward technological progress through innovation. With the 13th five year plan (2016 – 2020) Xi is driving the industrialisation, informatisation, urbanisation and agricultural modernisation. The weakest link is agriculture which Xi is transforming agricultural development with agricultural technology innovation.
Li Keqiang is the driving force behind China’s positive efforts to promote political reforms such as decentralization of government and the positioning of government to be efficient and streamlined to meet the needs during this transitional phase stage two of China’s global dominance, stage one being the one that Deng Xiaoping implemented. China’s economic development is now in the transitional period from export driven to domestic demand and makes up the other component of the Li leadership, and that is of development.
Chang Wanquan was born 1949 in Nanyang City, Henan Province,
home of ancient strategist, Zhuge Liang. Rise to power possible from President Hu Jintao (2003-2013) and anit-terrorism background. Writings and speeches demonstrate support for President Hu’s “scientific development” effort, Confucian in nature, and a heavy emphasis on training. Partly due to his leadership background in military technology, including the manned space program, Chang has been a strong advocate of rapid modernization in PLA military equipment and of the integration of a combined operations supreme command, with an emphasis on better operational coordination among the army, navy, land forces, and missile forces in warfare.
Chang has had direct influence in the continued pursuit of China’s space programe via the Second Artillery Corps which is the strategic ballistic missile force of the PLA, and it maintains China’s nuclear arsenal. The ultimate end goal is to move away from the S.A.C. control of the space progame, have an independent organization that will still have a collaborative role with the military. Hainan Island (space programe and a Deep Blue for the Navy and physical location of GhostNet) is a critical geographical location for both military and space operations.
Whilst a single decision-maker does not decide upon military strategies, policies, and weapons development, Chang is part of the apex in the decision making process. Chang is diverse in his roles and is involved in various military and space related activities. He was the commander of the manned space mission named Shenzhou VII. Chang advocates certain strategies such as the importance of Shih in Chinese military strategy. “Instead of using military force to subjugate another society or to defeat an enemy’s army, Shih operates to convince an opponent to yield without battle.
Whilst Chang is Minister for defence and the P.R.C. military strength is increasing along with a space programe, Chinese preference for psychological warfare over weaponry and firepower, victory without fighting, nonviolent stratagems, and deception still exists in the 21st Century. China’s ancient and modern history has demonstrations of great violence; however, Chinese rhetoric today promotes peace in the world and a defensive posture. Chang has made statements that whilst pursuing peace the P.R.C. will defend it’s assets with force.
Chang’s birthplace Henan Province is historically significant because it is the “cradle” of Chinese civilization due to its proximity to the Yellow River.However, maybe more importantly, many in Nanyang City consider it the home to the greatest military strategist and public official during the Three Kingdoms Period, Zhuge Liang (181-234 AD). Zhuge Liang often quoted Confucius and reflected an undercurrent of Taoist thought in his attitudes toward life and work, and stressed the importance of military preparedness, training, and the need for strong allies as consultants.
Chang joined the P.L.A. in 1968 and has risen through the ranks with various roles such as and not limited to: Chief-of-Staff of the 140th Division, 47th Field Army, Division Commander of the 61st Division of the 21st Group Army, Director of the General Armament Department, Director of the Campaign Teaching and Research Office at the National Defense University. Chang’s credentials are not technical; instead, he is a trainer. His role is likely not the technical management of the latest weapon systems in the PLA arsenal, but instead, is to make the P.L.A. qualified to operate in an “informationalized” environment with high-technology equipment.
Chang’s rhetoric often is close to that of Zhuge. In his published article “Ancient Thought of Military Management in China and Its Inspiration” is said to be a work designed to revitalize Confucian teachings and thinking. Chang understands why the P.R.C. has used force against its neighbors at least 12 times since 1949 and why in 1950, Mao committed his people to fight the United States, not because of any threat to China’s survival but to resist U.S. expansion on China’s periphery. China’s culture developed its own world order and attitudes toward warfare over nearly three millennia and through its history of survival, evolution, domestic conflicts, and defenses against foreign aggressions, China’s distinctive culture has shaped and limited strategic choices and profoundly influenced China’s interactions with other states.
Chang may not fully understand the complex nature of China’s strategic rival, the U.S.A. but he has much to draw upon to drive the military and space programes, and protect the P.R.C. through the 21st Century. He is a vital part of the P.R.C. triangle, Xi – Li – Chang.
China’s long history has seen evidence of both a defensive and offensive culture. Additionally, the writings of Sun Tzu and others offer a method of statecraft that is secretive and deceptive.
Many analysts do not understand the motivations, priorities, and perspectives of Chinese decision-makers, especially regarding China’s space programe. The programe has a duality – it is for defence as much as it is for economics.
China’s strategic culture has converged around Tao three additional
important ideas that emerged from prehistoric Confucian thought and belief:
Shih, Hsing, and Li. Any analysis of China’s strategic culture and uses of force must begin with an understanding of these four faces of Chinese
Shih-strategy. The defining theme in Sun Tzu’s The Art of Warfare, the essence of Shih was the dynamic power that emerged in the combination of men’s hearts, military weapons, and natural conditions.
Shih-strategy, which converged Shih along three broad dimensions of warfare: the people, the context, and the enemy. Shih-strategy concentrated the power of the people in the soldiers and their weapons. The power of context appeared in opportunity, timing, and logistics. The enemy’s power lay in the relative skill, competence, and will of the opposing force.
Hsing as a military term is described as the deployment and employment of forces. Hsing is explicitly the tangible, visible, and determinate shape of physical strength and Hsing is static.
Li refers to self-interest or material gain and carries a definite priority for the present. arising from materialistic thought and theory, Li-strategy does not recognize intangible human factors as important elements of power. Instead it focuses on visible, material assets and enemy forces
Sun Tzu’s famous metaphor is a strategic message that the method of draining the water was more important than the amount of water behind the dam.
The Asian Century
The most prudent way of looking at the future of the human race is to look back at our history. The fiscal year is divided by quarters and this is how the last century will be divided for historical purposes and for this brief review of where we have been, where we are at and where we are going as a global village in the 21st Century. The 20th Century began with some issues that were left over from the previous century and had influence upon the political tensions within Europe. The world population was approximately 1.6 billion in 1900 and would almost double in sixty years (just over three billion in 1960) and would double again in fifty years (over six billion in 2010).
Over thousands of years the human race has been involved in conflict and it is but human nature to create or to destroy. One of the most appropriate people to quote here is Thomas Hobbes who states – The condition of man… is a condition of war of everyone against everyone. And so one must understand the human condition being one that is best explained as the welfare of man is in a state of eternal conflict. It would be advisable for the reader to give serious consideration to reading the following works.
The Social Contract – (Du contrat social ou Principes du droit politique; 1762) written by Jean Jacques Rousseau and Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan (1651) to obtain insight into this century.
The reader will be influenced by specific data that is external to this information. To endeavour to formulate an independent unbiased and informed opinion on the 21st Century, merely look at the facts that have been presented.
20th Century Conflict
The last century had four quarters of conflict and is known as one hundred years of war. The First World War was in Q1 and the Second World War in Q2. The third quarter (Q3) was the Korean War and then the Vietnam War and finally in Q4 the world experienced The Gulf War. Below is a more detailed account of our human history and war in the 20th Century.
1898-1901 Boxer Rebellion
1899-1902 Boer War
1904-1905 Russo-Japanese War
1910-1920 Mexican Revolution
1912-1913 First and Second Balkan Wars
1914-1918 World War I
1915-1918 Armenian Genocide
1917 Russian Revolution
1918-1921 Russian Civil War
1919-1921 Irish War of Independence
1927-1937 Chinese Civil War
1935-1936 Second Italo-Abyssinian War (also known as the Second Italo-Ethiopian War or the Abyssinian War)
1936-1939 Spanish Civil War
1939-1945 World War II
1945-1990 Cold War
1946-1949 Chinese Civil War resumes
1946-1954 First Indochina War (also known as the French Indochina War)
1948 Israel War of Independence (also known as the Arab-Israeli War)
1950-1953 Korean War
1954-1962 French-Algerian War
1955-1972 First Sudanese Civil War
1956 Suez Crisis
1959 Cuban Revolution
1959-1973 Vietnam War
1967 Six-Day War
1979-1989 Soviet-Afghan War
1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War
1990-1991 Persian Gulf War
1991-1995 Third Balkan War
1994 Rwandan Genocide
The current world population is just over 7.3 billion and there are various implications that are associated with this figure. The world population has never doubled in such a short period – (1960 – 3 billion to 2010 – 6.75 billion) and there are environmental, social, economic and political consequences from the increasing global population. There are two ways that an individual will react to threat, fight or flight and humans embrace gradual change with comfort and immediate change with discomfort. The current world dynamics are very complex and complicated with no easy quick fix solution to the challenges that we face during this century. It would be naive for the reader to assume that the human race will find peace and love this century.
There are three sources of global tension which are economic, political and religious. The economic tensions could be as simple as internal sovereign debt related issues, unemployment, lack of natural resources or as complex as climate change or the percentage of debt to gross domestic product and the servicing of that debt. The political tension could be due to lack of resources, climate change or one of various other economic related issues. The religious tension between groups such as Jews, Muslims, Christians or Muslims and even Muslims amongst themselves
(Sunni, Shia or Alawite Muslims) creates challenges that effect both regional and global stability.
Global conflict is surrounded by certain factors such as and no limited to extreme weather events; failure of national governance; state collapse or crisis; unemployment or underemployment; natural catastrophes; failure of climate change adaptation; water crises; data fraud or theft; and cyber-attacks. Other factors to consider when evaluating possible conflict are the following – water crises; the spread of infectious diseases; weapons of mass destruction; interstate conflict; failure of climate-change adaptation; energy price shocks; a breakdown in critical information infrastructure; fiscal crises; unemployment or underemployment; and biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse.
Along with foreign policy mistakes the USA has made other mistakes since the end of the Cold War such as underestimating China.
There are several reasons why the East China and South China Seas are of concern to the West and the East. The ongoing tensions between China, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, United States and Vietnam has political and economic challenges that requires a solution.
China has been drilling for oil and gas for several years in an area of sea with known reserves (the newly discovered gas field, dubbed Lingshui 17-2, is located 150 kilometers south of Hainan Island).
China’s rapidly growing interest in deepwater drilling represents a convergence of two of China’s major strategic interests: protecting its claims to much of the South China Sea and reducing China’s growing reliance on imported energy.
Another interesting aspect to the tension in the South China Seas is the progress that China has made with its space program on what is referred to as China’s Hawaii (Hainan Island). The space launch centre is completed and the fourth of such facilities. The island also has military capability with naval resources. China has stated that they expect to have a man on the moon by 2017 and Mars by 2021 both of which are possible achievements. China has been on the moon since 2013 (China’s Chang’e 3 moon lander and its Yutu rover touched down on the moon Saturday (Dec. 14) at about 8:11 a.m. EST (1311 GMT). It is the first soft-landing on the moon by any spacecraft in 37 years.
Currently the Helium 3 (3He) reserves on the moon are estimated to be 2469000 tons – http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2007/pdf/2175.pdf .
The current estimate is that one ton has a potential worth of 3 billion dollars. Approximately 25tons could power the USA for one year. Helium 3 could be used in future fusion power plants (currently we use fission power plants).
The current trajectory that the human race is on is one that has challenges that we have not experienced before, and whilst that can be argued regarding our history and that we have had great challenges before, these future challenges are most serious in complexity and in the outcome. This fist quarter of the twenty first century is merely one where the foundations are being laid in the transition between the West and the East. China could well be mining Helium 3 in the early part of Q2 of the 21st Century and positioning itself to be the dominant political and economic leader for the second half of the century.
The USA is most concerned about REE – Rare Earth Elements or rare earth metals and alloys that contain them are used in many devices that people use every day such as computer memory, DVDs, rechargeable batteries, cell phones, catalytic converters, magnets, fluorescent lighting and much more. During the past twenty years, there has been an explosion in demand for many items that require rare earth metals. Twenty years ago there were very few cell phones in use, but the number has risen to over 7 billion in use today. The use of rare earth elements in computers has grown almost as fast as cell phones.
Rare earth elements play an essential role in our national defense. The military uses night-vision goggles, precision-guided weapons, communications equipment, GPS equipment, batteries and other defense electronics. These give the United States military an enormous advantage. Rare earth metals are key ingredients for making the very hard alloys used in armored vehicles and projectiles that shatter upon impact. Substitutes can be used for rare earth elements in some defense applications; however, those substitutes are usually not as effective and that diminishes military superiority.
China began producing notable amounts of rare earth oxides in the early 1980s and became the world’s leading producer in the early 1990s. Through the 1990s and early 2000s, China steadily strengthened its hold on the world’s rare earth oxide market. They were selling rare earths at such low prices that the Mountain Pass Mine and many others throughout the world were unable to compete and stopped operation.
Chinese companies have been purchasing rare earth resources in other countries. In 2009 China Non-Ferrous Metal Mining Company bought a majority stake in Lynas Corporation, an Australian company that has one of the highest outputs of rare earth elements outside of China. They also purchased the Baluba Mine in Zambia. Mines in Australia began producing rare earth oxides in 2011. In 2012 and 2013 they were supplying about 2% to 3% of world production. In 2012, the Mountain Pass Mine came back into production and the United States produced about 4% of the world’s rare earth elements in 2013. India has been producing about 3% of the world’s supply for the past decade. Indonesia, Russia, Nigeria, North Korea, Malaysia, and Vietnam are minor producers.
If a single country controls almost all of the production and makes a firm decision not to export, then the entire supply of a commodity can be quickly cut off. That is a dangerous situation when new sources of supply take so long to develop. The demand for REE will remain as the middle class require consumer products that contain these elements. The global demand for automobiles, consumer electronics, energy-efficient lighting, and catalysts is expected to rise rapidly over the next decade. Rare earth magnet demand is expected to increase, as is the demand for rechargeable batteries. New developments in medical technology are expected to increase the use of surgical lasers, magnetic resonance imaging, and positron emission tomography scintillation detectors.
From the information presented regarding REE the reader can make the assumption that there will be economic pressure placed upon certain countries that could exacerbate tensions between the West & the East. Never before has the human race experienced the challenges that we are facing today that will remain throughout the rest of the 21st Century. China has had three men of great significance and we shall call them the three wise men. They are 1) Mao Zedong 2) Deng Xiaoping 3) Xi Jinping – and these three men are why China is what it is today. Mao set about creating foundations which Deng then built upon and where Xi is transforming China today and preparing it for tomorrow.
There are other men that have had an influence on China such as and not limited to the following – Qin Shi Huang (221-210 B.C.) – Kublai Khan (1279-1294) – Sun Yat-sen (1912) and two great tacticians and strategists – Zhuge Liang (181–234) and Sun Tzu (544–496 BC). The Republic of China began on January 1, 1912 and in 1949 Mao proclaimed the People’s Republic of China.
The reader can make their own conclusions about the future from this information.
When Eric Arthur Blair wrote the novel 1984 he cemented himself into the Twentieth Century as one of the great writers.
It is now 2014, some thirty years from the date that was the title for this work and one has to ask the question:
Is life imitating art ?
There are some other examples of this frightening world that we live in today, such as Brave New World, Blade Runner and Soylent Green, to name a few. To reflect upon these works specifically Nineteen Eighty Four, one is left with very strong mixed emotions regarding our current situation and where we may be positioned as a species in another thirty years. Our Western culture is one of hedonistic narcissistic overindulgences and self gratification, whereby, through an insatiable appetite for consuming the latest product and or service in pathetic attempts to achieve a satisfactory level of being satiated, in a lifestyle that is shallow, false and unsustainable, we are left highly dependent upon technology and over medicated in a regime of anti-oxidant, multi-vitamin & anti-depressant pills.
The golden utopia of tomorrow is what we are spoon fed via the intravenous drip that is attached to us twenty four seven and is our pager, cell phone, tablet, laptop or flatscreen television. We gossip and discuss the most insignificant details about some individual who has randomly floated to the surface and been portrayed as a unique human, and we do this for five seconds before we dump them for the next person and or gadget. Terms such as retail therapy in our spiritual quest for happiness and the meaning of life we have accepted and made to be our best friend.
Yesterday, BTW we downloaded the latest widget that is available to us for 99 cents so that we can have a more functional easier life 24/7 but let us not get carried away here for we need to keep this post in a KISS format. CCTV for security and peace of mind so that in the event that we are raped, robbed or murdered, the authorities can peruse the footage before it goes viral on Youtube or Instagram or becomes a Tweet and maybe, just maybe goes to trial. What a sad day it is when Blade Runner is a world wide televised court room scene in the Republic of South Africa involving the manslaughter or murder of a young woman.
If we are to look at our world today and describe it in one word what one word would that be ?
The writers preference here is Hamartia as a description for the whole tragic situation and current state of affairs. The disturbing truth about describing our world today in this one word, is that it is so, through a calculated deliberate set of circumstances and not through some comedy of human errors. The tragedy is that we have become what we have become and we are left to surf this wild steep trajectory of the Twenty First Century with no social backbone of reform and we place our hopes and dreams into the hands of tyrants and technology.
When Nineteen Eighty Four was first published 1949 circa, the Great Depression and World War Two had occurred and we humans set about building a better tomorrow. Somehow we have lost the plot in where we have allowed ourselves to wander and now we are most certainly lost. Aristotle wrote about this Hamartia as a tragic flaw and indeed we humans are flawed and our history proves how vicious, complex and self absorbed we truly are as a species. Brother against brother and state against state as we live in a morally bankrupt modern world and the welfare of man is in a state of eternal conflict.
How then does the world become balanced again and move away from the dystopia that currently exists. If human beings are truly to become evolved, if we are truly to move towards a global self actualisation, then what cathartic exercises do we need to undergo or to religiously follow. The dumbing down of society has been an ongoing well orchestrated highly successful execution of oppression and population control by multi-generational power brokers from both church and state. The proletariat, us mere mortal folk who are the modern serfs, require a long term plan of strategic moves in a R evolution to take back our future and our children’s tomorrow.
The Great Global Backlash
Nouriel Roubini |
Anaemic economic recovery has given populist parties
an opening to blame foreign trade and foreign workers
“In the immediate aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis, policymakers’ success in preventing the Great Recession from turning into Great Depression II held in check demands for protectionist and inward-looking measures. But now the backlash against globalization—and the freer movement of goods, services, capital, labour, and technology that came with it—has arrived. This new nationalism takes different economic forms: trade barriers, asset protection, reaction against foreign direct investment, policies favouring domestic workers and firms, anti-immigration measures, state capitalism, and resource nationalism. In the political realm, populist, anti-globalization, anti-immigration, and in some cases outright racist and anti-Semitic parties are on the rise. These forces loath the alphabet soup of supra-national governance institutions—EU (European Union), UN (United Nations), WTO (World Trade Organization), and IMF (International Monetary Fund), among others—that globalization requires. Even the Internet, the epitome of globalization for the past two decades, is at risk of being balkanized as more authoritarian countries—including China, Iran, Turkey, and Russia—seek to restrict access to social media and crack down on free expression”.
One does not need to be violent or to wage a war against government and state. If we are truly to move forward towards a better world with equality and sustainability, then we simple ordinary citizens need to unite together as one mob, with one voice to achieve our one objective, in the utopia that we deserve and can truly create. Presently we are a fractured fragile 7,300,000,000 mob of sheep that are just surviving and when we can become a well rehearsed finely tuned and well honed collective, we shall then, not just survive, but, we shall truly live.
Freedom Liberty Egalitarian
Live it love it life…
Prevention is better than cure…
heck we all know that
and prevention in the short-term may be the more expensive option.
But over the lifetime of something it may be the cheaper alternative.
Who said that there was going to be a bubble burst in America in 2017 ?
If there are systemic flaws in America will they blame the Obama era or will they leave him alone, not because he was the first African-American President but more so that he tried to make it matter and in two terms tried to make a difference.
The mid terms are coming up in America and one questions who is there to replace the current president and to take on the responsibility of leading the country through challenging turbulent seas. There is not one strong leader who can lead in America, not because there aren’t any dynamic leaders of vision and strength, but because there are other influences in America and the president is merely one person at the apex.
Budget requests & demands from a myriad of sources for all worthwhile programs from health & education to defence and cyber-security. I have no bias towards America but what I do have is a keen interest in where they are headed and how they are hopefully going to be proactive rather than reactive during the remainder of the Obama era.
What will political science academics and foreign policy analysts anticipate will be the word from the State Department & the White House during 2014 & the end of the second term ? Will it be not what is said but what is not said that will be of importance. One questions what the Middle East will look like in 2017 and will the American people be involuntarily dragged into another global conflict.
Whilst the words well delivered as they may have been by Barack Obama have a positive spin, that spin one questions.
Let us hope & pray that a dead cat bounce does not happen.
Click here – http://youtu.be/Lk7BWjMEMHw – to listen and read
The history of the human species reveals that we are only ever two things and these are constructive and destructive.
There are many references to these two sides of human nature that are found throughout literature and the Bible has many examples of these. There are many opposites…sun & moon, positive & negative, war & peace, black & white, red & green, up and down and many others inclusive of life & death. We’re born & we die, it is as simple as that…in between of course there is cabaret.
Conflict has existed since the beginning or our time here on Earth and will continue till that day when it finally ends.
To briefly look at where we are today and where we humans possible will be at the end of this first quarter of the Twenty First Century the writer recommends the reader to look at modern history in two writers from France & England. There are other writers, and more modern and ancient history that one can review, in an attempt to understand where we are at today and how we got to this point in our timeline.
Click here – http://youtu.be/GRxofEmo3HA – to listen & read
The condition of man… is a condition of war of everyone against everyone.
We are born weak, we need strength; helpless, we need aid; foolish, we need reason. All that we lack at birth, all that we need when we come to man’s estate, is the gift of education.
‘ One Hundred Years of War ‘ – http://www4.samford.edu/belltower/031313/boyatt.php
One questions the past century and the trajectory that we are currently on which was set in the latter half circa 1950-2000.
The slow evolution of the human species and have we moved forward towards a better tomorrow ?
In his book ‘ Strategic Vision – America and the Crisis of Global Power ‘ Zbigniew Brzenzinski argues that America can and should be actively engaged in navigating this period of crisis. The book seeks to outline the needed strategic vision, looking beyond 2025. There are other matters that both Brzezinski and the writer of this post have not explored in detail. These other matters are of concern and are not limited to these three – Population Growth, Climate Change, Sustainable Development
The World After America : By 2025, Not Chinese but Chaotic
Unlike the failed twentieth-century aspirants to world power, China’s international posture is at this stage neither revolutionary nor messianic nor Manichean. China thus seems to understand–and its investments in America’s well-being speak louder than words because they are based on self-interest–that a rapid decline of America’s global primacy would produce a global crisis that could devastate China’s own well-being and damage its long-range prospects. Prudence and patience are part of China’s imperial DNA.
Deng Xiaoping’s famous maxim “Observe calmly; secure our position; cope with affairs calmly; hide our capabilities and bide our time; be good at maintaining a low profile, and never claim leadership.”
Sun Tzu – the wisest posture in combat is to lay back, let one’s opponent make fatal mistakes, and only then capitalise on them.
Deng Xiaoping took China from Mao to Today.
Brzezinski does conclude that ” since America is not yet Rome and China is not yet its Byzantium, a stable global order ultimately depends on America’s ability to renew itself and to act wisely as the promoter and conciliator of a rising new East. “
China has cemented itself in Africa with such dexterity that the foundations have cured for a strong and continued ‘mutually beneficial’ relationship based upon infrastructure for resources. There is a trade off here because this relationship between China & Africa is based upon this business model that is not ‘apples for apples’, but it has worked thus far. Whoever runs Africa this decade rules the world in the next…this statement may not be historically accurate, but the idea is understood.
The change that is required to sail through the difficult uncharted waters in tomorrow was required yesterday.The uncharted waters are not a reference to 2050, this is a reference to the next five years specifically and the remainder of Q1 of the 21st Century. Sustainable development is vital if we are to survive into the next centuries. Sustainability of our species is not possible on the current trajectory and there are major global challenges ahead.
How do we fight poverty ? Okay that is not easily answered because as we assist those who live in poverty to move into the middle class, they then contribute to a larger carbon footprint as consumers. America has tried to slow the growth of China by saying that the Chinese must reform and address the MDGs without contributing to global pollution – e.g. not to use fossil fuels for the generation of electricity etc.
Which Course of Course
Old habits die hard as they say and one wonders if we can in fact change our course. At present the world is sailing with a lee shore (lee shores are dangerous to water craft because, if left to drift, they will be pushed into shore by the wind, possibly running aground) and that if we do not or can not change the consequences are catastrophic.
But which course to take ? A responsible government has a thinking society…that would be a very good place to start.
Over the past fifty years the communication age taught consumers what to consume, how and why to consume.
What symphony can the world write to sooth our troubles. This conflict cocktail composition that we’re intoxicated from is merely because the welfare of man is in an eternal state of conflict.
May we all drink clean cool water from now on…I’m thirsty and is there any left ?