Showing posts with label Geopolitics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Geopolitics. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

South Korea says it wants U.S. troops to stay regardless of any treaty with North Korea

MAY 2, 2018 / 4:22 AM / UPDATED 3 HOURS AGO
Christine Kim
3 MIN READ

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea said on Wednesday the issue of U.S. troops stationed in the South is unrelated to any future peace treaty with North Korea and that American forces should stay even if such an agreement is signed.

“U.S. troops stationed in South Korea are an issue regarding the alliance between South Korea and the United States. It has nothing to do with signing peace treaties,” said Kim Eui-kyeom, a spokesman for the presidential Blue House, citing President Moon Jae-in.

The Blue House was responding to media questions about a column written by South Korean presidential adviser and academic Moon Chung-in that was published earlier this week.

Moon Chung-in said it would be difficult to justify the presence of U.S. forces in South Korea if a peace treaty was signed after the two Koreas agreed at an historic summit last week to put an end to the Korean conflict.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The Thucydides Trap

When one great power threatens to displace another, war is almost always the result -- but it doesn’t have to be.
BY GRAHAM ALLISON | JUNE 9, 2017, 10:21 AM

n April, chocolate cake had just been served at the Mar-a-Lago summit when President Donald Trump leaned over to tell Chinese President Xi Jinping that American missiles had been launched at Syrian air bases, according to Trump’s account of the evening. What the attack on Syria signaled about Trump’s readiness to attack North Korea was left to Xi’s imagination.

Welcome to dinner with the leaders who are now attempting to manage the world’s most dangerous geopolitical relationship.

The story is a small one. But as China challenges America’s predominance, misunderstandings about each other’s actions and intentions could lead them into a deadly trap first identified by the ancient Greek historian Thucydides. As he explained, “It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable.” The past 500 years have seen 16 cases in which a rising power threatened to displace a ruling one. Twelve of these ended in war.

Of the cases in which war was averted — Spain outstripping Portugal in the late 15th century, the United States overtaking the United Kingdom at the turn of the 20th century, and Germany’s rise in Europe since 1990 — the ascent of the Soviet Union is uniquely instructive today. Despite moments when a violent clash seemed certain, a surge of strategic imagination helped both sides develop ways to compete without a catastrophic conflict. In the end, the Soviet Union imploded and the Cold War ended with a whimper rather than a bang.

Although China’s rise presents particular challenges, Washington policymakers should heed five Cold War lessons.

Lesson 1: War between nuclear superpowers is MADness.

The United States and the Soviet Union built nuclear arsenals so substantial that neither could be sure of disarming the other in a first strike. Nuclear strategists described this condition as “mutual assured destruction,” or MAD. Technology, in effect, made the United States and Soviet Union conjoined twins — neither able to kill the other.

Today, China has developed its own robust nuclear arsenal. From confrontations in the South and East China Sea, to the gathering storm over the Korean Peninsula, leaders must recognize that war would be suicidal.

Lesson 2: Leaders must be prepared to risk a war they cannot win.

Although neither nation can win a nuclear war, both, paradoxically, must demonstrate a willingness to risk losing one to compete.

Consider each clause of this nuclear paradox. On the one hand, if war occurs, both nations lose and millions die — an option no rational leader could choose. But, on the other hand, if a nation is unwilling to risk war, its opponent can win any objective by forcing the more responsible power to yield. To preserve vital interests, therefore, leaders must be willing to select paths that risk destruction. Washington must think the unthinkable to credibly deter potential adversaries such as China.

Lesson 3: Define the new “precarious rules of the status quo.”

The Cold War rivals wove an intricate web of mutual constraints around their competition that President John F. Kennedy called “precarious rules of the status quo.” These included arms-control treaties and precise rules of the road for air and sea. Such tacit guidelines for the United States and China today might involve limits on cyberattacks or surveillance operations.

By reaching agreements on contentious issues, the United States and China can create space to cooperate on challenges — such as global terrorism and climate change — in which the national interests the two powers share are much greater than those that divide them. Overall, leaders should understand that survival depends on caution, communication, constraints, compromise, and cooperation.

Lesson 4: Domestic performance is decisive.

What nations do inside their borders matters at least as much as what they do abroad. Had the Soviet economy overtaken that of the United States by the 1980s, as some economists predicted, Moscow could have consolidated a position of hegemony. Instead, free markets and free societies won out. The vital question for the U.S.-China rivalry today is whether Xi’s Leninist-Mandarin authoritarian government and economy proves superior to American capitalism and democracy.

Maintaining China’s extraordinary economic growth, which provides legitimacy for sweeping party rule, is a high-wire act that will only get harder. Meanwhile, in the United States, sluggish growth is the new normal. And American democracy is exhibiting worrisome symptoms: declining civic engagement, institutionalized corruption, and widespread lack of trust in politics. Leaders in both nations would do well to prioritize their domestic challenges.

Lesson 5: Hope is not a strategy.

Over a four-year period from George Kennan’s famous “Long Telegram,” which identified the Soviet threat, to Paul Nitze’s NSC-68, which provided the road map for countering this threat, U.S. officials developed a winning Cold War strategy: contain Soviet expansion, deter the Soviets from acting against vital American interests, and undermine both the idea and the practice of communism. In contrast, America’s China policy today consists of grand, politically appealing aspirations that serious strategists know are unachievable. In attempting to maintain the post-World War II Pax Americana during a fundamental shift in the economic balance of power toward China, the United States’ real strategy, truth be told, is hope.

In today’s Washington, strategic thinking is often marginalized. Even Barack Obama, one of America’s smartest presidents, told the New Yorker that, given the pace of change today, “I don’t really even need George Kennan.” Coherent strategy does not guarantee success, but its absence is a reliable route to failure.

Thucydides’s Trap teaches us that on the historical record, war is more likely than not. From Trump’s campaign claims that China is “ripping us off” to recent announcements about his “great chemistry” with Xi, he has accelerated the harrowing roller coaster of U.S.-China relations. If the president and his national security team hope to avoid catastrophic war with China while protecting and advancing American national interests, they must closely study the lessons of the Cold War.

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2017 issue of FP magazine.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Turkey says will take action if militants do not leave Syria's Manbij

MARCH 28, 2018 / 8:09 PM / 2 DAYS AGO
Reuters Staff

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey will take action if militants do not withdraw immediately from Syria’s Manbij region and areas in the country east of the Euphrates, Turkey’s National Security Council said on Wednesday.

Turkey, which stormed the northern Syrian town of Afrin last week after a two-month offensive against the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, has repeatedly threatened to push its operations further east to Manbij where U.S. troops are stationed.

Expanding Turkey’s military campaign into the much larger Kurdish-held territory further east, which President Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to do, would risk confrontation between the NATO allies who have been at loggerheads over the U.S. policy in Syria and other issues.

“In the meeting, it is stated that the terrorists in Manbij should be removed from the area, otherwise Turkey will not hesitate to take initiative by itself as it did in other regions,” the statement from the security council, chaired by Erdogan, said.

It said the same approach also applied to the militants on Syrian soil at the east of Euphrates, without elaborating where that would specifically apply to, or who it might target.

Turkey considers the YPG to be an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long insurgency against the state, and has been infuriated by the support Washington has provided the Syrian Kurdish fighters.

The Council said it also expected Iraq’s government to prevent the PKK operating in Iraq, especially in towns of Sinjar and Qandil. If that was not possible Turkey would prevent them itself, the council added.

“In the meeting it is stated that aside from Syria, Turkey expects Iraq to prevent operations by the separatist terrorist organization in its territory and if it is not possible Turkey will prevent them by itself,” the council statement said using the term it applies to PKK.

On Tuesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Iraqi armed forces would prevent Kurdish militants based in northern Iraq from staging cross-border attacks against Turkey during a phone call with his Turkish counterpart.

Reporting by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Alison Williams

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Friday, March 2, 2018

2 Greek soldiers on patrol accidentally stray into Turkey

By Associated Press March 2 at 4:35 AM

The Washington Post

THESSALONIKI, Greece — Greece says two of its soldiers on patrol on the Greek-Turkish border accidentally strayed into Turkey and have been taken to the city of Edirne by Turkish authorities.

The Greek army said Friday the two-man patrol strayed into Turkish territory on Thursday because of bad weather, and that Greek and Turkish authorities were in contact with each other and were undertaking procedures for the two to be returned to Greece.

Most of the Greek-Turkish border is marked by a river, and a fence runs along much of the land section. Some parts, however, aren’t clearly marked, and the area where the soldiers strayed was reportedly in woodland.

Although NATO allies, relations between Greece and Turkey are often strained.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Monday, February 19, 2018

The United States and Turkey should fix their relationship—Before it’s too late

ORDER FROM CHAOS
Amanda SloatFriday, February 16, 2018

The Brookings Institute

Editor's Note: It is positive that Washington is going to Ankara this week. Engagement by America’s three most senior national security officials with their Turkish counterparts in the same week sends a strong signal about the seriousness with which the United States takes this relationship. At the same time, U.S. officials must express their concerns about Turkish actions that are contributing to fractious ties. This piece originally appeared on Foreign Policy.

American diplomats are out in force in Turkey this week. On Sunday, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster met in Istanbul with Ibrahim Kalin, his nominal counterpart. On Wednesday, Secretary of Defense James Mattis met with Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli in Brussels on the margins of the NATO ministerial summit. Later this week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is set to visit Ankara for talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Turkey Is Out of Control. Time for the U.S. to Say So.

There’s a real danger of a clash between U.S. and Turkish forces. The administration should make clear that it won’t tolerate any more bad behavior—now.

By ERIC EDELMAN and JAKE SULLIVAN February 13, 2018

Following Turkey’s incursion into Syria, the once unthinkable prospect of a direct clash between Turkish and American soldiers has become alarmingly real. Turkey’s current fight, against U.S.-backed Kurdish troops in the northwestern Syria territory of Afrin, is destabilizing enough. But the real risk will come if Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan follows through on his repeated promises to press further east toward the Kurdish-controlled and U.S.-patrolled city of Manbij. The only way to prevent a conflict is for U.S. policymakers to adopt a clear and tough-minded approach to Turkey now, before things get worse.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Turkey assails US over ties with Syrian Kurdish militia


By Associated Press February 12 at 7:39 AM
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s foreign minister assailed the United States on Monday, claiming that American forces in Syria are intentionally stalling the fight against Islamic State militants as an excuse not to cut ties with Syrian Kurdish militiamen as Ankara has demanded.

Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Istanbul that U.S. forces are leaving “pockets” with IS militants intact to justify continued cooperation with the Kurdish militia.

Speaking ahead of a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson later this week, Cavusoglu said Turkey’s ties with the U.S. are at a make-or-break stage and that Washington needs to take “concrete steps” to regain Turkey’s trust.

“Our relations are at a very critical stage,” Cavusoglu said. “Either we will improve ties or these ties will totally break down.”

Monday, February 5, 2018

Greeks rally in Athens to protest use of the name Macedonia

The Washington Post

By Elena Becatoros | AP February 4 at 2:02 PM
ATHENS, Greece — Well over 100,000 protesters from across Greece converged Sunday on Athens’ main square to protest a potential Greek compromise in a dispute with neighboring Macedonia over the former Yugoslav republic’s official name.

Hundreds of chartered buses brought protesters in from around the country to the Greek capital, while more people arrived on ferries from the islands. Traffic was blocked throughout the city center and three major subway stops were closed.

Chanting “Hands off Macedonia!” and “Macedonia belongs to Greece!” the protesters converged on Syntagma Square in front of parliament, many waving flags bearing the Star of Vergina, the emblem of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedonia.

Police officials estimated the attendance at 140,000. Organizers, who claimed 1.5 million were at the rally, used a crane to raise a massive Greek flag over the square.

Greeks rally in Athens over Macedonia name row

FEBRUARY 4, 2018 / 7:22 PM / UPDATED 15 HOURS AGO
Lefteris Papadimas, Vassilis Triandafyllou
4 MIN READ

ATHENS (Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of Greeks rallied outside parliament in Athens on Sunday to protest against the use of the term Macedonia in any settlement the government pursues with the ex-Yugoslav Republic to end a decades-old name row.

The two countries have agreed to step up negotiations, mediated by the United Nations, this year to settle the dispute, which has frustrated the aspirations of Greece’s small northern neighbor to join NATO and the European Union.

Thoroughfares in central Athens turned into a sea of people waving blue and white Greek flags in what locals said was the largest gathering in decades, easily outdoing rallies against austerity foisted by lenders on the crisis-hit country.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Turkey's 11% Economic Growth Fuels Expectations of Rate Hike


By Selcan Hacaoglu
11 Δεκεμβρίου 2017, 9:29 π.μ. EET Updated on 11 Δεκεμβρίου 2017, 1:45 μ.μ. EET

Turkey’s economy grew faster in the third quarter than any other of the world’s 20 biggest economies as household spending and exports surged, stoking expectations that the central bank will increase borrowing costs to curb inflation.

Gross domestic product expanded 11.1 percent in the three months to Sept. 30 from a year earlier, the fastest pace in more than six years, according to official data released on Monday. The median estimate of economists in a Bloomberg survey was 8.5 percent.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Five Argentines among 8 dead in New York City terror attack

By Renae Merle, Devlin Barrett, Wesley Lowery, Rachel Siegel and Samantha Schmidt November 1 at 12:19 AM

The Washington Post

NEW YORK — A 29-year-old man driving a rental truck plowed down people on a Manhattan bike path Tuesday in what authorities described as a terrorist attack that killed eight and injured 11 before the suspect was shot and arrested by police.

A sunny fall day along the Hudson River erupted in chaos just around the time students were getting out from nearby Stuyvesant High School, when a rented Home Depot truck turned on to the bike path along the West Side Highway.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Western media is still wrong. China will continue to rise.

By Eric Li October 24 at 2:28 PM

The Washington Post

SHANGHAI — As the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China draws to a close, analysts are parsing through President Xi Jinping’s 30,000-plus-word report — delivered in a three-and-a-half-hour address without breaks — to decipher the direction of the most populous nation in the world. It is a laborious effort, especially considering the report’s extensive official jargon and policy details.

But there is a much easier way. Read The Economist’s coverage of the congress, which is considerably shorter in length, and bet on the opposite being true. Let me explain.

Xi Jinping Unveils China’s New Leaders but No Clear Successor

By CHRIS BUCKLEYOCT. 24, 2017


The New York Times

BEIJING — President Xi Jinping thrust China into a new era of strongman politics on Wednesday, unveiling a leadership team without a likely successor among the six officials who will help him rule for the next half decade.

In a nationally televised ceremony, Mr. Xi introduced the new members of China’s highest council of power, the Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee, on the red carpet of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. In addition to Mr. Xi and China’s premier, Li Keqiang, the committee included five new members, all men in their 60s.

“Over the past five years, we’ve done a lot. Some work has been finished, some we must continue with,” Mr. Xi, 64, said after briefly introducing the committee members, who stood stiffly in line. “A new era needs a new look, and even more needs new accomplishments,” he added.

Friday, October 20, 2017

China’s leader Xi Jinping declares the start of a “new era”


It sounds much like the old one—only more so

The Economist

Oct 21st 2017 | BEIJING
IN THE days before the opening on October 18th of the Chinese Communist Party’s quinquennial congress, the country’s security officials put their surveillance efforts into overdrive. On Chang’an Avenue, the boulevard that passes by the venue in Tiananmen Square, naked flames were banned. Tough luck for restaurants, family dinners and smokers. Out-of-towners driving to the capital were stopped at checkpoints and made to sign papers promising not to get into trouble during the week of the congress. Foreigners were barred from travelling to Tibet. The region is well over 1,000 miles from the capital, but the party fears that even a lone banner-waving separatist sympathiser that far away could spoil the event in Beijing.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

With Combative Style and Epithets, Trump Takes America First to the U.N.

By PETER BAKER and RICK GLADSTONESEPT. 19, 2017


The New York Times

UNITED NATIONS — President Trump brought the same confrontational style of leadership he has used at home to the world’s most prominent stage on Tuesday as he vowed to “totally destroy North Korea” if it threatened the United States and denounced the nuclear agreement with Iran as “an embarrassment” that he may abandon.

In his first address to the United Nations General Assembly, Mr. Trump framed the conflicts as a test of the international system. The bombastic flourishes that generate approving roars at political events were met by stony silence, interrupted a few times by a smattering of applause, as Mr. Trump promised to “crush loser terrorists,” mocked North Korea’s leader as “Rocket Man” and declared that parts of the world “are going to hell.”

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

First on CNN: US troops exchange fire with Turkish-backed rebels in Syria



By Ryan Browne, CNN
Updated 1927 GMT (0327 HKT) August 29, 2017

(CNN)US troops in northern Syria came under direct attack last week by Turkish-backed rebels, a military official with the coalition fighting ISIS told CNN Tuesday. The official said that while US troops returned fire there were no casualties on either side.

The coalition believes the attackers are part of the Turkish-backed opposition forces, a loose grouping of Arab and Turkmen fighters that have helped the Turkish military clear ISIS from the Turkish-Syria border area.

Iran Building Weapons Factories in Lebanon and Syria, Israel Says


By ISABEL KERSHNERAUG. 29, 2017

The New York Times

JERUSALEM — Israel is using a visit this week by the United Nations secretary general, Antonio Guterres, to highlight concerns about what it says are Iran’s efforts to produce advanced, precision weapons in Lebanon and Syria.

“Iran is busy turning Syria into a base of military entrenchment,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a news conference with Mr. Guterres on Monday, “and it wants to use Syria and Lebanon as war fronts against its declared goal to eradicate Israel.”

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Chastised by E.U., a Resentful Greece Embraces China’s Cash and Interests


By JASON HOROWITZ and LIZ ALDERMANAUG. 26, 2017

The New York Times

ATHENS — After years of struggling under austerity imposed by European partners and a chilly shoulder from the United States, Greece has embraced the advances of China, its most ardent and geopolitically ambitious suitor.

While Europe was busy squeezing Greece, the Chinese swooped in with bucket-loads of investments that have begun to pay off, not only economically but also by apparently giving China a political foothold in Greece, and by extension, in Europe.

Last summer, Greece helped stop the European Union from issuing a unified statement against Chinese aggression in the South China Sea. This June, Athens prevented the bloc from condemning China’s human rights record. Days later it opposed tougher screening of Chinese investments in Europe.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Greece launches new offshore oil and gas tenders

AUGUST 7, 2017 / 3:38 PM / 15 MINUTES AGO

Reuters

ATHENS, Aug 7 (Reuters) - Greece launched two tenders on Monday for offshore oil and gas exploration and exploitation in the west and south of the country, the energy ministry said.

The move follows expressions of interest by a consortium of Total, Exxon Mobil and Hellenic Petroleum for exploration in two sites off the island of Crete, and by Greece's Energean for a block in the Ionian Sea in western Greece.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Turkey Leaks Secret Locations of U.S. Troops in Syria

Ankara has long been angered by the alliance between Washington and Kurdish factions. But a new report exposing secret American bases is a dangerous way to strike back.

Roy Gutman
ROY GUTMAN
07.19.17 1:00 AM ET

The Daily Beast

ISTANBUL—In the latest display of Turkish anger at U.S. policy in Syria, the state news agency has divulged the locations of 10 U.S. military bases and outposts in northern Syria where the U.S. is leading an operation to destroy the so-called Islamic State in its self-styled capital of Raqqa.
The list published by the Anadolu news agency points to a U.S. presence from one end to the other of the Kurdish self-administration region—a distance of more than 200 miles. The Anadolu news agency even listed the number of U.S. troops in several locations and in two instances stipulated the presence of French special forces.