Author Topic: US Foreign Policy & Geopolitics  (Read 330403 times)

Crafty_Dog

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GPF: The Big Five of 2022
« Reply #1300 on: December 30, 2022, 08:06:11 AM »
The Most Geopolitically Significant Events of 2022
undefined and Director, Stratfor Center for Applied Geopolitics at RANE
Rodger Baker
Director, Stratfor Center for Applied Geopolitics at RANE, Stratfor
8 MIN READDec 30, 2022 | 13:00 GMT





A Ukrainian soldier’s silhouette is seen in the city of Kharkiv on March 30, 2022, as a gas station burns behind him after Russian attacks.
A Ukrainian soldier’s silhouette is seen in Kharkiv on March 30, 2022, as a gas station burns behind him after Russian attacks on the city.

(FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images)

Choosing the top five most geopolitically significant events of 2022 is no easy feat. Russia’s (re)invasion of Ukraine clearly stands at the top of the list for the myriad of immediate and lingering implications, though events in and of themselves are rarely as significant as the broader trends and shifts they reflect.

That is why, in compiling the below list, we focused on the events over the past year that had the furthest-reaching impacts (both geographically and temporally) and/or represented key shifts in greater global patterns. There were, of course, numerous “honorable mentions,” but we were ultimately able to narrow it down to these final five:

The Most Geopolitically Significant Events of 2022
5) The Artemis I Mission (Nov. 16-Dec 11, 2022)

NASA successfully launched the Artemis I rocket on Nov. 16, sending an uncrewed Orion space capsule to the moon that returned to Earth on Dec. 11. The mission was the first major launch under NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration program, which aims to send astronauts back to the moon by 2025. The Artemis program represents a revival of the global space race, as well as the United States’ attempt to shape the future norms and governance of lunar and extra-terrestrial exploration and exploitation. The race to return to the moon has been underway for several years, drawing both nation-states and private industry into a mix of cooperative and competitive initiatives that go far beyond simply landing a person on the lunar surface for the first time since 1972. The next space race is looking at lunar orbital space stations that can facilitate lunar exploration and a potential staging point for future manned Mars missions. It’s also looking at lunar and asteroid resource exploitation, space-based manufacturing and biomedical engineering, and (less publicly) the increasingly important role of space in national security. The expansion of the private space industry is granting numerous new players access to the final frontier by making it cheaper and easier to venture beyond Earth's atmosphere. But while we may have “slipped the surly bonds of Earth” (to quote the 1940 poem penned by the Canadian airforce pilot John Gillespie Magee), we have not slipped the bonds of terrestrial politics and international relations — making an update to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty all the more important. As space becomes more crowded with geopolitical rivals and new entrants, it will not only drive technological breakthroughs and competition, but challenge global governance models.

4) Russia and Ukraine Sign Turkish-Brokered Grain Deal (July 22, 2022)

Turkey’s brokering of the grain export deal between Russia and Ukraine over the summer eased a major constraint on global food security instigated by the war in Ukraine. But it also highlighted Turkey’s expanding role as an activist middle power, as Ankara pursues its own interests and exploits new opportunities provided by the return to a multipolar world. Over the past few years, Turkey has intervened in the Caucasus (largely replacing Russia as the primary foreign influencer), continued to assert its interests (militarily) in Iraq and Syria, stepped up its involvement in the Eastern Mediterranean, threatened to hold up NATO expansion, and integrated Russian-made air defense systems while still retaining its military ties to Europe and the United States. Ankara has also sold armed drones to Ukraine and promoted the trans-Caspian route as an alternative for China’s Belt and Road Initiative after the Russian invasion of Ukraine threatened the transit corridors through Russia and Belarus. In addition, Turkey has managed to simultaneously work with (and frequently against) the United States, Russia, China and Europe, all while asserting itself as an important regional power. Turkey’s actions highlight how middle powers are navigating the gaps and seams between the big powers to better position themselves and secure their own interests in an increasingly multipolar world system. Indeed, Indonesia, Brazil, Poland, Japan and India have also started taking a more active role within their regions and beyond in an effort to insulate themselves against big power coercion and mounting pressure from China, Russia, the United States and the European Union to pick a side.

3) Eurozone Inflation Reaches 10.7% (October 2022)

European inflation rates continued to climb in 2022, driven by post-COVID-19 supply chain disruptions amid uneven economic openings, and exacerbated by additional disruptions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and constraints on Russian energy imports. While Europe’s programs to buy liquified natural gas (LNG) and delay the shuttering of hydrocarbon-powered energy plants have likely ensured energy supplies through the winter, these programs came at a cost; high food, fuel and commodity prices, as well as government actions to manage fuel supplies, reinforced European deindustrialization trends and contributed to rising political nationalism that has seen the European Union compromise on its "strategic autonomy" and accept more national and regional protectionist measures. Across the Atlantic Ocean, the United States’ Inflation Reduction Act — an amalgam of legislation aimed at responding to rising costs, national supply chain security and climate issues — highlighted the potential impact of protectionist policies even on allies, raising challenges from Europe and South Korea, among others. Globally, U.S. interest rates and localized political instability have seen many national currencies fall against the U.S. dollar, raising the risk of future debt crises in several developing (and even a few developed) nations, all while China’s uneven COVID-19 recovery suggests Beijing may be less than generous with its own outbound foreign assistance through at least 2023.

2) Chinese Military Exercises Around Taiwan (Aug. 4-9, 2022)

In response to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Aug. 2-3 visit to Taiwan, China held two consecutive sets of military exercises around the island, including live-fire exercises at multiple locations, ballistic missile tests, numerous aerial incursions across the Taiwan Strait median line, and anti-submarine and "sea assault" operations. The exercises marked a significant escalation from Beijing’s typical responses to what it portrays as political provocations by Taipei and Washington, and in doing so set a new baseline for future coercive responses. China’s actions accelerated regional security cooperation trends, with the Philippines approving new U.S. military facilities under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement and stepping up military exchanges with Japan, South Korea and Japan increasing defense cooperation dialogue, Australia reemerging as a key regional defense actor, and European countries committing to additional regional maritime patrols. In response to the Chinese exercises, several other countries also sent political representatives to Taiwan, blunting Beijing’s political message. Additionally, Washington agreed to increase key arms sales to Taiwan, and U.S. President Joe Biden, while claiming no change to U.S. policy, said the United States would intervene in a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. Beijing's military exercises also motivated the United States and other nations to accelerate their partial decoupling of key technologies and supply chain connections from mainland China.

1) Russia Announces 'Special Military Operation' and Invades Western Ukraine (Feb. 24, 2022)

The Russian invasion of Ukraine was the most geopolitically significant event of the year, raising the specter of nuclear war, driving NATO expansion, testing the continuity of global norms and European unity, and impacting energy prices and food security well beyond 2022. Russia’s poor performance revealed an underlying weakness that leaves the country vulnerable to its neighbors, particularly Turkey and China. Finland and Sweden, long holdouts of integrated security, applied for NATO membership, expanding NATO’s northern flank and perhaps solidifying a split in post-Cold War cooperative Arctic governance. Western European countries reinvigorated defense spending and cooperation, driving greater interest in both NATO and European defense concepts, though their debates also highlight differences between the states on the Russian frontier, which prefer NATO, and those in Western Europe. Global response to the war also highlighted the realities of multipolarity, as the United States and its key European partners were unable to garner universal cooperation to economically counteract Russia, at times even from key partners like India and Hungary. Europe’s energy dependence on Moscow triggered a rapid shift in European energy supplies and future plans, altering the infrastructure and future of energy imports, delaying some green energy goals, and expanding LNG supply chains. The war also revealed strains in the Russia-China relationship, and Moscow’s battlefield setbacks, coupled with strong Western economic counters, may push Russia to become increasingly dependent on China. And mere months after the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council signed a new statement on the prevention of nuclear war and arms races, Moscow’s less-than-subtle threats reopened the prospect of the use of nuclear weapons. These threats placed U.S. nuclear forces on their highest level of alert in decades and strengthened the perception in many non-nuclear states that nuclear weapons may be a necessary deterrent, as fear of expanded nuclear conflict appears to have limited Europe's and the United States' willingness to fully counter Russia’s actions in Ukraine. The revival of attention to nuclear security has only been compounded by China’s recent nuclear "breakout" and the challenges facing future arms control regimes that must take into account three, rather than two, major nuclear powers.

Crafty_Dog

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GPF: Grading Our 2022 Annual Forecast
« Reply #1301 on: December 30, 2022, 08:08:30 AM »
second

Grading Our 2022 Annual Forecast as 2023 Approaches
undefined and Director of Analytic Client Solutions
Amelia Harnagel
Director of Analytic Client Solutions, Stratfor
8 MIN READDec 29, 2022 | 21:38 GMT






(SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images; OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images; THIBAULT CAMUS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Our analysts take a lot of pride in their forecasts. And they should; it's an incredibly difficult discipline. But the work of forecasting is not complete when we hit publish. As I wrote years ago, ''the best way for us to improve our ability to look forward is to turn around and take a look back.'' A rigorous self-assessment process is as important to our forecasting methodology as anything else. There is an old quote that reads ''We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success.'' And we truly believe that.

Below you'll find our 2022 Forecast Scorecard, in which we celebrate what we got right and acknowledge what we got wrong (though I'm proud to say we, once again, had many more hits than misses).

Asia Pacific
In 2022, we forecast that ''Beijing will not act militarily against Taiwan'' (spoiler alert: this will also be our forecast in 2023), and we were correct. With that said, we did expect continued Chinese incursions in Taiwan's air defense identification zone (ADIZ), which did occur throughout the year. Taiwan also saw increased support from Europe and the United States this year, both economically and diplomatically.

In Hong Kong, we correctly asserted the island's alignment with Beijing would accelerate this year. Throughout 2022, we also saw the fulfillment of our forecast that ''Hong Kong's judicial and legislative independence [would] further deteriorate.''

Europe
France's presidential elections in the spring were highly contested, but the end results lined up with our forecasts: a moderate, pro-EU government led by incumbent President Emmanuel Macron. And from this correct forecast flowed many others. For example, we anticipated the Macron government would seek greater policy coordination with Germany and together pursue ''more flexible EU fiscal rules.'' And indeed, in 2022, the European Union suspended its fiscal rules to allow member states to free up spending and stabilize their economies, while France and Germany also pushed for EU-wide subsidies to protect their economies.

At the end of last year, we were confident that Europe's 2021 economic growth would not continue into 2022. Specifically, we identified increased food and energy prices as being a pain point for many governments across the Continent, which we said would ''create fertile ground for social unrest'' and force ''governments to continue or even expend their welfare measures.'' We saw significant strikes and protests across Europe this past year, most notably in France and the United Kingdom. And in response, most European countries approved billions of euros in aid, subsidies and other forms of spending to help companies and households cope with the economic crisis.

Middle East and North Africa
Entering the year we were optimistic that U.S.-Iran nuclear talks would yield a limited deal. But although negotiators came close to reaching an agreement in both March and August, Iran's overt support for Russia in the war against Ukraine ultimately complicated matters to a degree that became insurmountable. However, we were correct in asserting that Iran was unlikely to ''scale back its nuclear program or aggressive regional behavior'' in advance of inking such a deal, with Iran announcing greater uranium enrichment at its Fordow nuclear site and conducting continued attacks against Israel over the past year.

In Turkey, we correctly forecast that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) would pursue ''high-risk [economic] policies,'' with a focus on short-term growth at the expense of long-term stability, in an effort to boost support ahead of the country's 2023 national elections. We were also correct in forecasting that the AKP would ''pursue politics designed to curry favor with its traditional Islamist-nationalist base,'' as demonstrated by the Turkish government's recently proposed constitutional amendments related to same-sex marriage and secular headscarf rules.

Eurasia
There is no getting around it: We were wrong when we said Russia wouldn't invade Ukraine in 2022. Our assessment was based on two assumptions: a full-scale invasion was unlikely to be successful and would also do little to further Russia's interests (like deterring NATO's expansion). And both of these have proven true. Russia failed to quickly take control of the country after launching its ''special military operation'' in February, and is now struggling to hold on to the early territorial gains it made in eastern Ukraine. And instead of deterring NATO's expansion, the invasion has only accelerated it, as evidenced by Sweden and Finland's coming accession to the Western security alliance. The ongoing war in Ukraine has also seen both NATO forces and weapons systems move even closer to the Russian border. So, while our conclusion that Russia would not invade Ukraine was incorrect, the reasons behind it were solid. And we know that and have worked hard to learn from it. Coming out of February, we did multiple post-mortems on the matter; you can read the output of two of these here and here.

It is also worth noting the rest of our Eurasia forecast was correct. A ''significant improvement in U.S.-Russia bilateral relations [did] remain elusive in 2022,'' and ''Western sanctions [did] constrain the Belarusian economy, forcing the country to further align its foreign and domestic politics with Russia.'' And finally, ''Russia [did] demand a greater say in Belarus' domestic and foreign policies'' and achieved even deeper Belarusian dependence on Moscow. That said, the driver behind these developments was the Ukraine invasion, which we did not foresee. So while we were correct in our forecast, we were wrong in our reasoning, making these all partial hits.

Americas
In the lead-up to Brazil's general elections in the fall, we forecast that President Jair Bolsonaro would attempt ''to boost his appeal'' by increasing a monthly cash-transfer program, which he and his congressional allies did do in July. We were also correct that there would be clashes between different branches of the Brazilian government as each tried to ''shape the election.'' In addition, we correctly asserted (though this wasn't a stretch) that Bolsonaro would contest the outcome of the presidential election if his challenger, former left-wing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, won the race. That said, the protests staged by Bolsonaro supporters were certainly more half-hearted than we expected.

If it seems like we've been tracking Argentina's economic struggles for years, it's because we have. And once again we were correct in our forecast. In 2022, we expected that Argentina would teeter on the edge of a default but not fall down. The International Monetary Fund and the Argentine government were able to renegotiate the country's $44 billion debt in March. We also correctly anticipated a bumpy year politically for the government in Buenos Aires. What we forecast as ''fierce internal disputes'' played out most notably with the appointment of three economy ministers in less than two months.

South Asia
As we expected, India saw robust economic growth over the past year, despite global headwinds. With such a strong position, we forecast that India would look to finalize as many trade deals as possible in an effort to boost exports. And throughout the year, New Delhi was able to do so, striking final agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Australia, as well as an interim deal with the United Kingdom.

Sub-Saharan Africa
At the start of the year, the Ethiopian military was riding high after a series of battlefield gains against the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) in late 2021. And yet, we forecast that a victory was not at hand for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's government. In fact, we said 2022 would see ''a protracted conflict followed by a negotiated settlement.'' And after 24 months of war, and many false starts, representatives of the Ethiopian government and the TPLF agreed to a cessation of hostilities in early November.

In Nigeria, we forecast a ''highly contested and unstable run-up'' to the country's February 2023 election. And this has largely played out, with Nigeria's two largest parties — the ruling All Progressives Congress Party (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) — both nominating presidential candidates who, if elected, would break with the country's decades-long, informal power-sharing system. We also forecast that 2022 would see significant defections from the APC and PDP as politicians jockeyed for influence. While we have seen many such shifts this year, the most notable was Peter Obi's departure from the PDP to make a long-shot run as the smaller Labor Party's presidential candidate. We also forecast a ''worsening security situation'' throughout the year, and have tracked increased terrorist activity in Nigeria outside of the traditional northeastern states, as well as attacks on electoral officials and politicians.

Crafty_Dog

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GPF: Trends for 2023
« Reply #1302 on: January 03, 2023, 07:19:43 AM »
January 3, 2023
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Trends That Will Define the Coming Years
They include deglobalization, stagflation and the bursting of the tech bubble.
By: Antonia Colibasanu
The world is always changing, but some changes are more important than others. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will likely be remembered as the start of a new era in geoeconomics. In response to the war, the West launched sanctions against Russia, escalating the economic war the Kremlin began when it blocked Ukraine from trading with the world through its ports. Moscow answered by drastically reducing natural gas exports to Europe. The uncertainty and tit-for-tat measures kicked off an energy crisis. And the war renewed focus on the growing divide between the West and a nascent revisionist bloc led by China and Russia. It is difficult to see a path back to the status quo ante bellum, but several major trends that will define the next decade have become clear.

Protectionism and Global Realignment

For years before COVID-19, China, Russia, Iran and North Korea challenged the economic, financial, security and/or geopolitical order that the United States and its allies created after World War II. The era of relentless globalization had started to slow or even reverse. The pandemic kicked things into overdrive, accelerating reshoring and so-called friendshoring and depriving developing economies of foreign investment.

The war in Ukraine and its economic aftereffects are squeezing developing countries even more. In 2022, most of them put off making a choice between the West and Russia, hoping for a resolution to the conflict that would ease their economic pain. A case in point is Hungary, which, like many of these countries, depends on Russian energy and other commodities to sustain its economy and thus is wary of breaking ties with Moscow. Budapest has sought to slow the progression of Western sanctions against Russia. Others have avoided adopting anti-Russia sanctions altogether.

For Europe, the conflict between Russia and the West has shaken public and corporate confidence about the near future and made it nearly impossible to do business with Russian entities. Elsewhere, businesses expend time and resources checking whether their operations will incur sanctions, looking for alternatives whenever possible. The Black Sea is a de facto war zone, which has the upside of encouraging investment in overland infrastructure and the downside of making maritime trade more expensive.

As important as developments in Europe are, China and its internal stability may be the more consequential economic challenge in 2023. Facing growing protests late in the year, the Chinese government abandoned its zero-COVID policy with no apparent plan B. Official data is sparse and unreliable, and local and regional governments have been put in charge of managing the situation. It is unclear whether this will become a headache for Chinese leader Xi Jinping, especially since it falls between the start of the political transition in November and its end in March, when most officials will have their new posts confirmed. Meanwhile, the United States is escalating its trade war with China.

The result is likely to be a fragile economic recovery for China in 2023. The enduring weakness of the real estate sector has outweighed positive impulses in other economic areas, and fear of a financial crisis is weighing on private investment. Increasing youth unemployment adds a dangerous element to the mix. Beijing has taken steps recently to solve the real estate sector’s liquidity crisis, but it needs political stability for the measures to be effective.

This is not good news for the global economy. As much as the West would like to be shielded from events in China, Europe and the U.S. still depend on Chinese manufacturing of important inputs. Chinese lockdowns created kinks in supply chains, and the country’s political and economic instability could prolong them. Consumption and industrial activity in the U.S. and Europe are already in retreat, and there’s no end in sight to the energy crisis. A crisis in China would only make things worse.

Stagflation and Greenflation

In addition to the global economic slowdown, for the first time since the 1970s the world is simultaneously facing high inflation. The drivers of this bout of inflation include excessively loose monetary and fiscal policies that were kept in place for too long, the restructuring of global trade caused by the pandemic, and the sharp spike in the cost of energy, industrial metals, fertilizers and food as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Angered by the unequal distribution of the gains of globalization, voters demanded more government support for workers and those left behind. However well-intentioned, such policies risk an inflationary spiral as wages and prices struggle to keep pace with one another. Rising protectionism also restricts trade and impedes the movement of capital, limiting improvements on the supply side.

To the extent that the energy crisis is causing high inflation, investment in renewables will mitigate inflationary pressure. Renewable capacity will take time to develop, however, and in the meantime, there is underinvestment in fossil fuel capacity. The latter will take priority. Moreover, the green transition will require the development of new supply chains for certain metals and will increase the cost of energy generally, creating what’s been termed “greenflation.”

This coincides with a rapidly aging population not only in developed countries but also in China and some other emerging economies. Young people tend to produce more, while older people spend their savings and consume more services. And due to the market uncertainty caused by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, young people are producing less and reluctant to invest, which translates into a general economic slowdown. Therefore, just as the global economy will continue fragmenting into 2023, so will inflation persist.

Future of Tech

The war in Ukraine has caused disruption also in the tech industry. While most sectors have been impacted by declining investment and the challenging state of affairs overall, tech appears to be the hardest hit. Twitter, for example, has cut its workforce by 50 percent, and Facebook parent company Meta is letting go of 11,000, about 13 percent, of its employees. Amazon reportedly cut 10,000 jobs, representing about 1 percent of its global workforce. Meanwhile, FTX, the second-largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world, recently valued at $32 billion, has imploded. The full fallout of its collapse is still unclear, but other crypto firms have already felt the effects.

Gone are the days of the early 2000s, when global markets were relatively stable and supply chains built on cheap labor were reliable. In those times, companies increasingly depended on the internet to grow their business, and tech firms benefited from low interest rates. But the factors that helped propel the fast growth of the early 2000s are today progressively volatile, as the global economy hobbles through the early stages of restructuring.

Like companies in other sectors, many tech businesses won’t recover, while others will adapt and bounce back slowly. New opportunities will arise. The restructuring of manufacturing and supply chains will require technology, and automation will increase, especially as the population ages. More important, governments will likely seize the opportunity to steer the tech industry in specific directions. There has been much talk about the role of social media in politics and in shaping policy, and as a result, lawmakers have tried to regulate things like privacy and competition as they relate to social media platforms. Cybersecurity is also an increasingly concerning issue for governments worldwide, and will likely continue to be as the sophistication of cyberattacks increases. Governments will therefore be pushed to become more assertive in regulating tech beyond its military applications.

Conclusion

The major trends in geoeconomics for 2023 and beyond are interconnected. The challenges they pose will require a systematic, coherent approach, but the political leadership in countries around the world is struggling to keep up. The speed of the change requires a different toolset than governments are used to, leaving them trying, and sometimes failing, to adapt to new realities. Cooperation is increasingly difficult, but it has actually grown stronger in some limited areas, like the West’s economic war against Russia following the Ukraine invasion.

Thus, even as deglobalization gains momentum, interdependency isn’t going away completely. Restructuring itself will be a global process. There’s just no avoiding the fact that the world today is interconnected in ways never seen before. Different perspectives will need to be reconciled, and people’s place in society beyond their economic value as consumers and political value as voters will have to be acknowledged. Human behavior, and therefore state behavior, is driven by everything from politics and economics to culture and psychology and even technology. This complexity will drive the challenges, and potential solutions, of tomorrow.

Crafty_Dog

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George Friedman
« Reply #1303 on: January 07, 2023, 08:11:46 PM »

January 6, 2023
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Putting the World in Perspective
Thoughts in and around geopolitics.
By: George Friedman
In working on GPF’s Annual Forecast recently, I was looking for ways to measure national power and differentiate countries with large mouths from countries that are actually influential. The best approach to something like this is to be stupid and embrace the obvious. The obvious is to identify at least one of the elements of national power and find a way to measure it.

I thus stumbled upon something at once well-known and astounding. One self-evident measure of power is the economy, and the simplest way to measure the economy is by measuring gross domestic product. Rough though it may be, GDP can tell you much about a country, from the kind of military it might have, to the kind of public satisfaction it boasts, and ultimately the strength of its economy and its economic influence.

The following numbers are ones I know about but frequently don’t take the time to really absorb: the GDP of the top five nations as a percentage of global GDP:

The United States (24.06)
China (15.2)
Japan (6.02)
Germany (4.56)
India (3.2)
These five countries account for more than 50 percent of global GDP. Naturally, this correlates with military power. GDP measures production possibilities, including missiles and soldiers, but must also support civilian life. So there is a variation in the amount of effort put into military matters, but the potential to field a military force stands up to scrutiny. We can say, then, these five countries produce half of the world’s product and have the ability to produce equivalent massive militaries.

The most advanced and capable, if not numerically the largest, is the United States, a nation that has simultaneously maintained a relatively dynamic economy, systemic interludes of weakness notwithstanding. China boasts the world’s second-largest economy and has sought to build a major military. The historical question is whether the substantial gap between the United States’ GDP and China’s GDP has left China militarily weaker than the United States.

Behind the two major powers, Japan is trying to build a military based within the ever-changing parameters of its constitutional prohibition, but it certainly has the ability to become a substantial power again. Germany doesn’t really want to rearm but has never fully shut the door on the prospect. It is, however, involved in sending arms to Ukraine and in the economic war against Russia. India is engaged occasionally with China but, despite its GDP, is vast and impoverished. It is the smallest economically of the five and the least militarily engaged. It is also part of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue with the U.S., Australia and Japan, even as it builds relations with Russia.

The reality is that the five largest economies are either involved in a war or preparing their militaries with some rapidity in order to be able to wage one. This means that the world’s top economic powers are all engaged in active warfare or are preparing for it. Any uncertainty in military systems inevitably creates economic uncertainty. This, of course, applies to countries outside the top five list such as Russia, which is ranked number 11.

The most important country to forecast is, therefore, the United States. It has the largest economic and military footprint and has a tendency to engage in military operations at some level and economic operations as a main force. The next most important is China, particularly with regard to how it behaves in relation to the U.S. The U.S.-Chinese relationship is not only fundamental to what will happen for the rest of this year but also emblematic of the complex nature of power. It gives both nations a chance to compete on multiple levels and find a basis for collaboration. Washington’s role in the world is easy to forget among the political noise, but it's the basic reality driving the world.

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I wonder who pays for this
« Reply #1304 on: January 12, 2023, 08:28:40 AM »
Big global banks are eying some of the world’s most fragile countries for a new experiment in financial engineering: debt relief in exchange for environmental protections. Called “debt-for-nature swaps,” they present a tempting solution for the rising number of nations in distress, particularly those with ecosystems to protect. A country gets to avoid default and lower its debt burden, as long as it’s willing to earmark some of the savings to salvage a coral reef, preserve a forest or build a wind farm, for example. Global investors get better returns and enhanced green credentials. Wall Street takes a cut. As much as $2 trillion of developing country debt may be eligible for this kind of restructuring, according to a rough estimate by the Nature Conservancy, a US nonprofit that’s taking a lead role in these deals. Belize inked a $364 million nature swap in 2021; Gabon signaled plans for a $700 million restructuring in October; Ecuador is said to be working on a $800 million transaction, and Sri Lanka is considering a $1 billion deal. Buoyed by the finance industry’s newfound enthusiasm for biodiversity, backers of this latest flavor of swap are finding eager partners in investment banks and institutional investors. These are “turbocharged swaps,” said Daniel Munevar, economic affairs officer at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and former adviser to finance ministries in Greece and Colombia. “The limit in these operations isn’t the money to fund the swaps, it’s how much debt can be swapped.” (Source: bloomberg.com)

Crafty_Dog

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Re: US Foreign Policy & Geopolitics
« Reply #1305 on: January 12, 2023, 12:24:08 PM »
Of course, there is a cheat here.  OTOH getting blood from a stone is a non-starter.  The ecosystem of the planet IS threatened in various ways.  I can imagine there being times this would be a good thing.  Of course, with that camel's nose in the tent , , ,

Crafty_Dog

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A sidebar Uke warmonger friend comments
« Reply #1306 on: January 14, 2023, 10:58:05 AM »
By and large I agree with most of the points. Russia has lost the war since it has lost the element of surprise. NATO, the EU, and most importantly the Pentagon are now awake to the Russian threat. This is Russia's operation Barbarossa, the ill fated invasion of Russia by Hitler. Had Putin waited one or two years NATO would have been even further depleted of men and material that she couldn't sustain a major on Russia or support the Ukraine.

Moving on, Russia is involved in a major conflict that they thought would be a walk in the park. While Biden and the White House are involved in a major scandal that will at the very least stop Biden from running for a second term, and could result in him resigning for medical reasons, or facing an article 25. Everyone in the White House, including Blinken, are running around searching for a pair of iron pants to make sure they don't get caught up in this thing. What it seems is that the anyone but Trump candidate has finally screwed up to the degree that try as they may the US MSM can't save his ass.

For Israel this couldn't be better, Russia has had to recall it's troops and S-300s from Syria. Which means the sky's are open to take out Iranian assets in Syria. While just this week Israel has warned Hezbollah in lebanon to not push forward for a war against Israel or we will rain hell from the sky's on them. There is even doubt among the IDF that if we attack Iran, that Hezbollah and Hamas may put up only a token response or none at all. Israel itself is only months away from having operational laser weapons that only cost a few bucks to arm and fire. Compared to the thousands that it cost for Iron Dome to take out homemade or dumb rockets and missiles supplied by Iran. According to the current head of the IDF Israel is prepared for Iranian attacks, and have had three drills dealing with what they believe is the most likely long range nuclear attacks by the Mullahs.

So, Putin is busy in the Ukraine, China is watching and keeping its powder dry, and the US has domestic problems. England is fighting a war between liberals and Tories, lots of strikes and raising inflation. While in Europe, they are madly building up weapons system to help the Ukraine while defending themselves. The EU, UN, and NATO are all on the same page with regards to the Ukraine, and while the UN is an empty shield, NATO is seeing billions of dollars being spent on training and buying new equipment. In fact, the other day on German TV was a story that said for the first time since before the Second World War, German high school students see the military has an option for careers. What a difference between now and just five years ago when anti war pacifists dominated the countries politics. The peace dividend is over, money is being spent on the military, and today Germany is no longer dependent on Russia for energy....NATO is larger, even in Washington Iran is seen as a belligerent state, and China's problems with Covid have not stopped. I'm not saying things are Rosey,  but just one year ago I gave the Ukraine a one in three chance to survive the winter....Now, it looks like even odds......Thanks to America, Germany, Poland, and most of the rest of the EU.

My rejoinder:

I would add to your rosy scenario the recent militaristic developments in Japan which support of US-Taiwan goals see e.g. the recent war game by the Pentagon showing that if we bring Japan into the equation that at high cost we would beat China if it attempted to take Taiwan.

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« Last Edit: January 16, 2023, 06:03:06 AM by Crafty_Dog »

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Re: US Foreign Policy & Geopolitics
« Reply #1308 on: January 16, 2023, 06:03:44 AM »
Thought provoking and well worth considering well. 

Nice find!


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Walter Russell Mead: Europe on Thin Ice
« Reply #1309 on: January 23, 2023, 07:07:48 PM »
The Frailty Behind Europe’s Triumphalism Over the Ukraine War
The Continent’s hopes rely on GOP votes in Congress.
Walter Russell Mead hedcutBy Walter Russell MeadFollow
Jan. 23, 2023 5:52 pm ET


The temperature was in the single digits as your Global View columnist struggled to drag his suitcase across the icy streets of Davos to catch the 6 a.m. shuttle bus to Zurich on Saturday. The first winter meeting of the World Economic Forum since 2020 had been a success. While few Chinese and no Russians were present, India and the Gulf states more than took up the slack, and participation from the private sector reached an all-time high.

For Klaus Schwab, the 84-year-old founder and chief impresario of the World Economic Forum, the 53rd annual meeting was a triumph. French President Emmanuel Macron, pushing unpopular reforms to his country’s retirement system, prudently gave Davos a miss. But Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, and Roberta Metsola, president of the European Parliament, joined German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in delivering major addresses. A closing panel on the global economic outlook featured the president of the International Monetary Fund, the heads of the European and Japanese central banks, and luminaries like Larry Summers.

No other event brings together this mix of power and prominence. With all its flaws, the World Economic Forum remains an essential destination for the global power elite. And when CEOs and world leaders flock to Davos, journalists and commentators can hardly stay away.

While much of the real business of Davos takes place among CEOs and investors in private meetings, the gathering’s public agenda was dominated by two topics: climate change and the war in Ukraine.

The enthusiasm for Ukraine was vivid. Europeans wore yellow and blue to show their solidarity. President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the conference by video while Ukraine’s first lady visited in person. Both drew rapturous receptions—though non-European, non-American participants from places like India and the Gulf were less enthusiastic.

European enthusiasm for Ukraine is driven partly by relief. The combination of a warm winter and efforts by European governments foiled Vladimir Putin’s plan to bring the Continent to its knees by an energy embargo. And despite qualms in countries like Hungary, Greece and Slovakia, the European Union has been able to unite around economic sanctions against Russia and aid for Ukraine. Speaker after speaker returned to these themes: Europe is strong, Europe is united, Europe has become a major geopolitical actor like China and the U.S.

This latest bout of Euro triumphalism was unconvincing, and not only because of policy battles over issues like Germany’s reluctance to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine. Europe’s weakness matters even more than its divisions. If Ukraine had depended on Europe alone for help, the Russian flag would be flying over the ruins of Kharkiv, Kyiv and Odessa. More than 30 years after the end of the Cold War, Europe can’t act in its own backyard without depending on the U.S. But Washington is increasingly preoccupied by challenges in the Indo-Pacific. With many European leaders sheltering under the American security umbrella even as they double down on close economic relations with China, it isn’t clear how long the U.S. will be willing or able to protect the EU from the consequences of its geopolitical incapacity.

This isn’t an idle concern. Mr. Putin hasn’t yet lost his war. Fears that Russian mobilization could bring hundreds of thousands of fresh if poorly trained troops into the conflict, along with a sober assessment of the effectiveness of the Russian air campaign, are leading some in Kyiv and elsewhere to warn of a massive Russian offensive in the spring.

If Germany relents and sends tanks to Ukraine, Russian hopes for a successful offensive will take a hit. Yet even then, without American money, equipment and ammunition, Ukraine can’t continue the unequal struggle indefinitely.

In my last column, I noted that European hopes for concerted global action on climate change can’t succeed without support from American Republicans. Europe’s hopes for Ukraine likewise depend on GOP votes in Congress. The belief that the EU can achieve its core objectives without engaging seriously with American conservatives is magical thinking. Mr. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine should have alerted Europeans to the danger of erecting foreign policy on wishes and dreams. That doesn’t seem to have happened.

Europe is walking on thin ice. Russia, China and Iran challenge the existing world order. Much of the Global South increasingly resents the status quo. And in the U.S., the political consensus behind two generations of global American engagement is badly frayed.

European diplomats pride themselves on bridge building and dialogue, though they sometimes seem more willing to engage with Tehran and Beijing than with Ohio and Florida. Let’s hope that 2023 will begin an era of engagement, facilitated perhaps by the WEF, between European leaders and the increasingly disgruntled American conservatives whose support they desperately need.

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RANE: George Friedman: Forecast for 2023
« Reply #1310 on: January 26, 2023, 04:04:34 AM »
January 26, 2023
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Forecast for 2023
Though the war in Ukraine is agonizing to observe, it is not the most important issue of 2023.
By: George Friedman

Our 2023 Annual Forecast, like those before it, is an attempt to provide a sense of the direction of the world. We do this by looking at it holistically, paying particular attention to regions and nations whose actions significantly affect the global system. All countries matter to those who live in them, but for our purposes many are excluded, even though we expect them to be influenced – sometimes dramatically – by the countries and regions we do include.

The central issue this year will be the ongoing spasm of economic dysfunction, due in equal parts to the war in Ukraine, post-pandemic recovery efforts, and the more banal aspects of ordinary business cycles. These problems are compounded by the dramatic economic crisis in China, its effects inevitably transmitting throughout the world by virtue of China's economic weight. Transnational, multifaceted economic crises like these take years to resolve, and in their resolution, they will generate political consequences within countries and between them. This phenomenon will intensify in 2023. And though the war in Ukraine is agonizing to observe, it is not the most important issue we face this year. That honor belongs to China.

China

As expected, China’s economic crisis intensified in 2022, leading to more, higher-profile instances of social unrest. They were ostensibly caused by COVID-19 lockdown measures, but as with all protests, they became broader movements of people airing economic and political grievances. In some ways, China is a victim of its own success. Its breakneck economic growth was unsustainable, but domestic and international investors believed it to be permanent, as they're wont to do. China desperately needs investment capital and unfettered exports to stabilize its system. With the global economic crisis, both are harder to come by – a fact that has forced China to redefine its relationship with perhaps the only country able to provide investment capital and demand for products amid a recession: the United States.

Lockdown Protests Spread Across China
(click to enlarge)

China has had a formal communications channel with the United States since November. So far, talks have not been productive, but we forecast they will be. Beijing will have to ease military tensions with the United States, save for the normal face-saving theatrics. The U.S. has reason to play nice too; it doesn’t want China to move closer to Russia, nor does it want Beijing to act aggressively in the face of economic catastrophe.

For all the saber-rattling between the two, we do not expect a Sino-American war. China cannot afford a defeat in a war as its economic standing at home is in question. Its focus must be on solving its economic problems and quelling unrest. It will need a reasonable relationship with the U.S. to do that.

The United States

At this point, the U.S. cannot afford to abandon Ukraine. Having asserted its interests there and pressured other nations to cooperate, American options are limited. Still, Washington is fighting an optimal war. The Ukrainians are absorbing casualties, even as the delivery of U.S. weapons and munitions imposes heavy casualties on the Russians. Washington will press for a negotiated settlement that keeps Russia as far from NATO’s borders as possible and will hold this position through the year.

At home, the U.S. will experience a significant recession, similar to the 1970s, when the cost of Vietnam, the Arab oil embargo and natural downturns in the business cycle created massive inflation and job pressures. This recession, like that one, will begin to focus on cyclical changes for the decade.

Russia

The war in Ukraine is gridlocked. Every time the Ukrainian armed forces score a tactical victory, Russia prevents them from fully exploiting it – and vice versa. This state of affairs would suggest a negotiated settlement is in the offing, and though we believe that to be the logical outcome, so far no one seems willing to budge.

The prospects for a settlement depend, to some degree, on the viability of the Russian economy. The West’s initial response to the invasion was a debilitating campaign that, for a spell, crippled Russia’s economy. Though Russia isn’t out of the woods, it has rebounded well enough to at least maintain some leverage in the war, in international energy markets, and so on.

Russian Federal Budget
(click to enlarge)


(click to enlarge)

Economics aside, two major obstacles have frustrated any attempt to end the stalemate. The first is a precondition that neither side will resume hostilities at a time of their choosing. Both want to retain that right. The second is an unwillingness to cede territory, which is difficult for domestic political reasons. The Ukrainians want control of their whole country. The Russian public would be appalled that all the death and hardships were for far less than promised. (A key element on both sides of the war is management of the public. Ukraine and the U.S. have shown they can manage their publics. Russia is the one to watch.)

There is no reason to believe that either side will crush the other. It’s possible that there will be peace talks, but a rapid settlement is unlikely. The stakes are high, and neither side will break. The most likely course is that the war will continue, but don’t be surprised to see the beginnings of talks toward resolution.

Europe

It’s difficult to forecast Europe because "Europe" is ultimately a geographic concept bound together by multinational organizations, the biggest of which are NATO and the European Union, each with its own membership list and mission. It’s better to think of Europe as an arena for cooperation and coemption.

A major issue for Europe in 2023 will be continued access to Russian energy. Europeans agree that they need oil, but they cannot agree what price should be paid for it. Poland opposes any concession to Russia. Hungary doesn’t. Germany is eager to maintain oil shipments but must subordinate itself to the United States, its largest customer and guarantor of national security. Consider also that Europe broadly believes a Russian victory in Ukraine would be bad for the continent. Countries like Poland, the Czech Republic and Germany remember the Cold War, and they are in no hurry to recreate the boundaries that defined it. There is genuine support in governments – and in some publics – for the war.

Dependency on Russian Oil and Petroleum, 2020
(click to enlarge)

The European Union was designed for peace and prosperity. War strains these ideals and skews geopolitical interests and economic desires. Some countries feel they must prioritize war preparations over economic considerations. This will strain the unity of the EU in the coming year, not only over this issue but also over an increasing sense that the bloc undermines national economic and military interests. The EU will continue, however slowly, to fragment as national interests diverge.

India

India is slowly emerging as an economic and military power whose ascension affects everyone. It has one of the fastest-growing major economies – certainly among comparably developed and similarly sized economies. It must now be included with nations that influence the global system.

India's national strategy is to balance between greater powers, particularly Russia and the United States, a practice that will inevitably create tensions inside a country that is famously variegated. India will therefore grow in fits and starts as it manages its relationships with historical adversaries and skews ties with traditional allies. New Delhi will, for example, enhance economic and industrial cooperation with Russia to balance against China. There have always been questions as to when India would emerge as a great power. Next year seems the moment.

The Middle East and North Africa

New alliances will emerge and old ones will decay. Israel has already become a major anchor of the region, as evidenced by the Abraham Accords, but forces inside the country have created a degree of unease in Arab nations. More important is the political future of Turkey, with the Erdogan era waning and the region preparing for new Turkish policies. Internal matters will dominate the region in 2023 – no small matter for a region beset by decades of war – and those within Israel and Turkey most of all. Neither will yield much clarity.


(click to enlarge)

Latin America

Driving the behavior of Latin America in 2023 will be its inability to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. It was arguably the worst-hit region and has been the slowest to recover. Latin American countries will see intense social unrest, and governments will prioritize foreign ties with economic benefits. Increased global uncertainty and competition surrounding commodities like food, energy and metals will spark renewed interest from countries in the Western Hemisphere to establish commodity-driven commercial ties. Russia and China will not be able to compete as strongly in Latin America as they have in past years. Their own economic problems will prevent them from offering financial solutions this far afield, creating an opportunity for the U.S. to shore up ties, including with sometimes adversarial governments in Cuba and Venezuela.

Conclusions

It’s easy to forget we’ve been living in the post-Cold War era for more than 30 years. The world was never perfectly harmonious, but countries broadly seemed to be paddling in the same direction. 2023 may finally be the year the world starts to move into another age. Alliances and relationships will fragment as interests diverge, which could even ease pressure in some places. Tensions created by the U.S.-China competition will at least partly shape those interests, even as Beijing and Washington come to some kind of formal economic understanding and informal military understanding.

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Some of this makes a lot of sense
« Reply #1311 on: January 29, 2023, 04:38:17 PM »
Ukraine: The War That Went Wrong
NATO support for the war in Ukraine, designed to degrade the Russian military and drive Vladimir Putin from power, is not going according to plan. The new sophisticated military hardware won't help.
CHRIS HEDGES
JAN 29

 



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Empires in terminal decline leap from one military fiasco to the next. The war in Ukraine, another bungled attempt to reassert U.S. global hegemony, fits this pattern. The danger is that the more dire things look, the more the U.S. will escalate the conflict, potentially provoking open confrontation with Russia. If Russia carries out retaliatory attacks on supply and training bases in neighboring NATO countries, or uses tactical nuclear weapons, NATO will almost certainly respond by attacking Russian forces. We will have ignited World War III, which could result in a nuclear holocaust.

U.S. military support for Ukraine began with the basics — ammunition and assault weapons. The Biden administration, however, soon crossed several self-imposed red lines to provide a tidal wave of lethal war machinery: Stinger anti-aircraft systems; Javelin anti-armor systems; M777 towed Howitzers; 122mm GRAD rockets; M142 multiple rocket launchers, or HIMARS; Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, Wire-Guided (TOW) missiles; Patriot air defense batteries; National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS); M113 Armored Personnel Carriers; and now 31 M1 Abrams, as part of a new $400 million package. These tanks will be supplemented by 14 German Leopard 2A6 tanks, 14 British Challenger 2 tanks, as well as tanks from other NATO members, including Poland. Next on the list are armor-piercing depleted uranium (DU) ammunition and F-15 and F-16 fighter jets.

Since Russia invaded on February 24, 2022, Congress has approved more than $113 billion in aid to Ukraine and allied nations supporting the war in Ukraine. Three-fifths of this aid, $67 billion, has been allocated for military expenditures. There are 28 countries transferring weapons to Ukraine. All of them, with the exception of Australia, Canada and the U.S., are in Europe.

The rapid upgrade of sophisticated military hardware and aid provided to Ukraine is not a good sign for the NATO alliance. It takes many months, if not years, of training to operate and coordinate these weapons systems. Tank battles — I was in the last major tank battle outside Kuwait City during the first Gulf war as a reporter — are highly choreographed and complex operations. Armor must work in close concert with air power, warships, infantry and artillery batteries. It will be many, many months, if not years, before Ukrainian forces receive adequate training to operate this equipment and coordinate the diverse components of a modern battlefield. Indeed, the U.S. never succeeded in training the Iraqi and Afghan armies in combined arms maneuver warfare, despite two decades of occupation.

I was with Marine Corps units in February 1991 that pushed Iraqi forces out of the Saudi Arabian town of Khafji. Supplied with superior military equipment, the Saudi soldiers that held Khafji offered ineffectual resistance. As we entered the city, we saw Saudi troops in commandeered fire trucks, hightailing it south to escape the fighting. All the fancy military hardware, which the Saudis had purchased from the U.S., proved worthless because they did not know how to use it.

NATO military commanders understand that the infusion of these weapons systems into the war will not alter what is, at best, a stalemate, defined largely by artillery duels over hundreds of miles of front lines. The purchase of these weapons systems — one M1 Abrams tank costs $10 million when training and sustainment are included — increases the profits of the arms manufacturers. The use of these weapons in Ukraine allows them to be tested in battlefield conditions, making the war a laboratory for weapons manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin. All this is useful to NATO and to the arms industry. But it is not very useful to Ukraine.

The other problem with advanced weapons systems such as the M1 Abrams, which have 1,500-horsepower turbine engines that run on jet fuel, is that they are temperamental and require highly skilled and near constant maintenance. They are not forgiving to those operating them who make mistakes; indeed, mistakes can be lethal. The most optimistic scenario for deploying M1-Abrams tanks in Ukraine is six to eight months, more likely longer. If Russia launches a major offensive in the spring, as expected, the M1 Abrams will not be part of the Ukrainian arsenal. Even when they do arrive, they will not significantly alter the balance of power, especially if the Russians are able to turn the tanks, manned by inexperienced crews, into charred hulks.

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So why all this infusion of high-tech weaponry? We can sum it up in one word: panic.

Having declared a de facto war on Russia and openly calling for the removal of Vladimir Putin, the neoconservative pimps of war watch with dread as Ukraine is being pummeled by a relentless Russian war of attrition. Ukraine has suffered nearly 18,000 civilian casualties (6,919 killed and 11,075 injured). It has also seen  around 8 percent of its total housing destroyed or damaged and 50 percent of its energy infrastructure directly impacted with frequent power cuts. Ukraine requires at least $3 billion a month in outside support to keep its economy afloat, the International Monetary Fund’s managing director recently said. Nearly 14 million Ukrainians have been displaced — 8 million in Europe and 6 million internally — and up to 18 million people, or 40 percent of Ukraine’s population, will soon require humanitarian assistance. Ukraine’s economy contracted by 35 percent in 2022, and 60 percent of Ukrainians are now poised to live on less than $5.5 a day, according to World Bank estimates. Nine million Ukrainians are without electricity and water in sub-zerotemperatures, the Ukrainian president says. According to estimates from the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, 100,000 Ukrainian and 100,000 Russian soldiers have been killedin the war as of last November. 

“My feeling is we are at a crucial moment in the conflict when the momentum could shift in favor of Russia if we don’t act decisively and quickly,” former U.S. Senator Rob Portman was quoted as saying at the World Economic Forum in a post by The Atlantic Council. “A surge is needed.”

Turning logic on its head, the shills for war argue that “the greatest nuclear threat we face is a Russian victory.” The cavalier attitude to a potential nuclear confrontation with Russia by the cheerleaders for the war in Ukraine is very, very frightening, especially given the fiascos they oversaw for twenty years in the Middle East.

The near hysterical calls to support Ukraine as a bulwark of liberty and democracy by the mandarins in Washington are a response to the palpable rot and decline of the U.S. empire. America’s global authority has been decimated by well-publicized war crimes, torture, economic decline, social disintegration — including the assault on the capital on January 6, the botched response to the pandemic, declining life expectancies and the plague of mass shootings — and a series of military debacles from Vietnam to Afghanistan. The coups, political assassinations, election fraud, black propaganda, blackmail, kidnapping, brutal counter-insurgency campaigns, U.S. sanctioned massacres, torture in global black sites, proxy wars and military interventions carried out by the United States around the globe since the end of World War II have never resulted in the establishment of a democratic government. Instead, these interventions have led to over 20 million killed and spawned a global revulsion for U.S. imperialism.

In desperation, the empire pumps ever greater sums into its war machine. The most recent $1.7 trillion spending bill included $847 billion for the military;  the total is boosted to $858 billion when factoring in accounts that don’t fall under the Armed Services committees’ jurisdiction, such as the Department of Energy, which overseesnuclear weapons maintenance and the infrastructure that develops them. In 2021, when the U.S. had a military budget of $801 billion, it constituted nearly 40 percent of all global military expenditures, more than the next nine countries, including Russia and China, spent on their militaries combined.

As Edward Gibbon observed about the Roman Empire’s own fatal lust for endless war: “[T]he decline of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness. Prosperity ripened the principle of decay; the cause of the destruction multiplied with the extent of conquest; and, as soon as time or accident had removed the artificial supports, the stupendous fabric yielded to the pressure of its own weight. The story of the ruin is simple and obvious; and instead of inquiring why the Roman Empire was destroyed, we should rather be surprised that it had subsisted for so long.”

A state of permanent war creates complex bureaucracies, sustained by compliant politicians, journalists, scientists, technocrats and academics, who obsequiously serve the war machine. This militarism needs mortal enemies — the latest are Russia and China — even when those demonized have no intention or capability, as was the case with Iraq, of harming the U.S. We are hostage to these incestuous institutional structures.

Earlier this month, the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, for example, appointed eight commissioners to review Biden’s National Defense Strategy (NDS) to “examine the assumptions, objectives, defense investments, force posture and structure, operational concepts, and military risks of the NDS.” The commission, as Eli Clifton writes at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, is “largely comprised of individuals with financial ties to the weapons industry and U.S. government contractors, raising questions about whether the commission will take a critical eye to contractors who receive $400 billion of the $858 billion FY2023 defense budget.” The chair of the commission, Clifton notes, is former Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), who “sits on the board of Iridium Communications, a satellite communications firm that was awarded a seven-year $738.5 million contract with the Department of Defense in 2019.”

Reports about Russian interference in the elections and Russia bots manipulating public opinion — which Matt Taibbi’s recent reporting on the “Twitter Files” exposesas an elaborate piece of black propaganda — was uncritically amplified by the press. It seduced Democrats and their liberal supporters into seeing Russia as a mortal enemy. The near universal support for a prolonged war with Ukraine would not be possible without this con.

America’s  two ruling parties depend on campaign funds from the war industry and are pressured by weapons manufacturers in their state or districts, who employ constituents, to pass  gargantuan military budgets. Politicians are acutely aware that to challenge the permanent war economy is to be attacked as unpatriotic and is usually an act of political suicide.

“The soul that is enslaved to war cries out for deliverance,” writes Simone Weil in her essay “The Iliad or the Poem of Force”, “but deliverance itself appears to it an extreme and tragic aspect, the aspect of destruction.”

Historians refer to the quixotic attempt by empires in decline to regain a lost hegemony through military adventurism as “micro-militarism.” During the Peloponnesian War (431–404 B.C.) the Athenians invaded Sicily, losing 200 ships and thousands of soldiers. The defeat ignited a series of successful revolts throughout the Athenian empire. The Roman Empire, which at its height lasted for two centuries, became captive to its one military man army that, similar to the U.S. war industry, was a state within a state. Rome’s once mighty legions in the late stage of empire suffered defeat after defeat while extracting ever more resources from a crumbling and impoverished state. In the end, the elite Praetorian Guard auctioned off the emperorship to the highest bidder. The  British Empire, already decimated by the suicidal military folly of World War I, breathed its last gasp in 1956 when it attacked Egypt in a dispute over the nationalization of the Suez Canal. Britain withdrew in humiliation and became an appendage of the United States. A decade-long war in Afghanistan sealed the fate of a decrepit Soviet Union.

“While rising empires are often judicious, even rational in their application of armed force for conquest and control of overseas dominions, fading empires are inclined to ill-considered displays of power, dreaming of bold military masterstrokes that would somehow recoup lost prestige and power,” historian Alfred W. McCoy writes in his book, “In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power.” “Often irrational even from an imperial point of view, these micro-military operations can yield hemorrhaging expenditures or humiliating defeats that only accelerate the process already under way.”

The plan to reshape Europe and the global balance of power by degrading Russia is turning out to resemble the failed plan to reshape the Middle East. It is fueling a global food crisis and devastating Europe with near double-digit inflation. It is exposing the impotency, once again, of the United States, and the bankruptcy of its ruling oligarchs. As a counterweight to the United States, nations such as China, Russia, India, Brazil and Iran are severing themselves from the tyranny of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, a move that will trigger economic and social catastrophe in the United States. Washington is giving Ukraine ever more sophisticated weapons systems and billions upon billions in aid in a futile bid to save Ukraine but, more importantly, to save itself.

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Re: Some of this makes a lot of sense
« Reply #1312 on: January 29, 2023, 04:51:07 PM »
The "elites" thought they'd use Ukraine as a way to remove Putin and shatter Russia into pieces to be exploited, as well as distract from the slow-motion trainwreck that is the western world.

Now they are desperate to save face and are throwing miltech at the wall, praying something sticks.

Stupid AND desperate.

That makes them especially dangerous.

To us.



Ukraine: The War That Went Wrong
NATO support for the war in Ukraine, designed to degrade the Russian military and drive Vladimir Putin from power, is not going according to plan. The new sophisticated military hardware won't help.
CHRIS HEDGES
JAN 29

 



SAVE
▷  LISTEN
 


Everything Must Go - Mr. Fish

Upgrade to paid


Empires in terminal decline leap from one military fiasco to the next. The war in Ukraine, another bungled attempt to reassert U.S. global hegemony, fits this pattern. The danger is that the more dire things look, the more the U.S. will escalate the conflict, potentially provoking open confrontation with Russia. If Russia carries out retaliatory attacks on supply and training bases in neighboring NATO countries, or uses tactical nuclear weapons, NATO will almost certainly respond by attacking Russian forces. We will have ignited World War III, which could result in a nuclear holocaust.

U.S. military support for Ukraine began with the basics — ammunition and assault weapons. The Biden administration, however, soon crossed several self-imposed red lines to provide a tidal wave of lethal war machinery: Stinger anti-aircraft systems; Javelin anti-armor systems; M777 towed Howitzers; 122mm GRAD rockets; M142 multiple rocket launchers, or HIMARS; Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, Wire-Guided (TOW) missiles; Patriot air defense batteries; National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS); M113 Armored Personnel Carriers; and now 31 M1 Abrams, as part of a new $400 million package. These tanks will be supplemented by 14 German Leopard 2A6 tanks, 14 British Challenger 2 tanks, as well as tanks from other NATO members, including Poland. Next on the list are armor-piercing depleted uranium (DU) ammunition and F-15 and F-16 fighter jets.

Since Russia invaded on February 24, 2022, Congress has approved more than $113 billion in aid to Ukraine and allied nations supporting the war in Ukraine. Three-fifths of this aid, $67 billion, has been allocated for military expenditures. There are 28 countries transferring weapons to Ukraine. All of them, with the exception of Australia, Canada and the U.S., are in Europe.

The rapid upgrade of sophisticated military hardware and aid provided to Ukraine is not a good sign for the NATO alliance. It takes many months, if not years, of training to operate and coordinate these weapons systems. Tank battles — I was in the last major tank battle outside Kuwait City during the first Gulf war as a reporter — are highly choreographed and complex operations. Armor must work in close concert with air power, warships, infantry and artillery batteries. It will be many, many months, if not years, before Ukrainian forces receive adequate training to operate this equipment and coordinate the diverse components of a modern battlefield. Indeed, the U.S. never succeeded in training the Iraqi and Afghan armies in combined arms maneuver warfare, despite two decades of occupation.

I was with Marine Corps units in February 1991 that pushed Iraqi forces out of the Saudi Arabian town of Khafji. Supplied with superior military equipment, the Saudi soldiers that held Khafji offered ineffectual resistance. As we entered the city, we saw Saudi troops in commandeered fire trucks, hightailing it south to escape the fighting. All the fancy military hardware, which the Saudis had purchased from the U.S., proved worthless because they did not know how to use it.

NATO military commanders understand that the infusion of these weapons systems into the war will not alter what is, at best, a stalemate, defined largely by artillery duels over hundreds of miles of front lines. The purchase of these weapons systems — one M1 Abrams tank costs $10 million when training and sustainment are included — increases the profits of the arms manufacturers. The use of these weapons in Ukraine allows them to be tested in battlefield conditions, making the war a laboratory for weapons manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin. All this is useful to NATO and to the arms industry. But it is not very useful to Ukraine.

The other problem with advanced weapons systems such as the M1 Abrams, which have 1,500-horsepower turbine engines that run on jet fuel, is that they are temperamental and require highly skilled and near constant maintenance. They are not forgiving to those operating them who make mistakes; indeed, mistakes can be lethal. The most optimistic scenario for deploying M1-Abrams tanks in Ukraine is six to eight months, more likely longer. If Russia launches a major offensive in the spring, as expected, the M1 Abrams will not be part of the Ukrainian arsenal. Even when they do arrive, they will not significantly alter the balance of power, especially if the Russians are able to turn the tanks, manned by inexperienced crews, into charred hulks.

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So why all this infusion of high-tech weaponry? We can sum it up in one word: panic.

Having declared a de facto war on Russia and openly calling for the removal of Vladimir Putin, the neoconservative pimps of war watch with dread as Ukraine is being pummeled by a relentless Russian war of attrition. Ukraine has suffered nearly 18,000 civilian casualties (6,919 killed and 11,075 injured). It has also seen  around 8 percent of its total housing destroyed or damaged and 50 percent of its energy infrastructure directly impacted with frequent power cuts. Ukraine requires at least $3 billion a month in outside support to keep its economy afloat, the International Monetary Fund’s managing director recently said. Nearly 14 million Ukrainians have been displaced — 8 million in Europe and 6 million internally — and up to 18 million people, or 40 percent of Ukraine’s population, will soon require humanitarian assistance. Ukraine’s economy contracted by 35 percent in 2022, and 60 percent of Ukrainians are now poised to live on less than $5.5 a day, according to World Bank estimates. Nine million Ukrainians are without electricity and water in sub-zerotemperatures, the Ukrainian president says. According to estimates from the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, 100,000 Ukrainian and 100,000 Russian soldiers have been killedin the war as of last November. 

“My feeling is we are at a crucial moment in the conflict when the momentum could shift in favor of Russia if we don’t act decisively and quickly,” former U.S. Senator Rob Portman was quoted as saying at the World Economic Forum in a post by The Atlantic Council. “A surge is needed.”

Turning logic on its head, the shills for war argue that “the greatest nuclear threat we face is a Russian victory.” The cavalier attitude to a potential nuclear confrontation with Russia by the cheerleaders for the war in Ukraine is very, very frightening, especially given the fiascos they oversaw for twenty years in the Middle East.

The near hysterical calls to support Ukraine as a bulwark of liberty and democracy by the mandarins in Washington are a response to the palpable rot and decline of the U.S. empire. America’s global authority has been decimated by well-publicized war crimes, torture, economic decline, social disintegration — including the assault on the capital on January 6, the botched response to the pandemic, declining life expectancies and the plague of mass shootings — and a series of military debacles from Vietnam to Afghanistan. The coups, political assassinations, election fraud, black propaganda, blackmail, kidnapping, brutal counter-insurgency campaigns, U.S. sanctioned massacres, torture in global black sites, proxy wars and military interventions carried out by the United States around the globe since the end of World War II have never resulted in the establishment of a democratic government. Instead, these interventions have led to over 20 million killed and spawned a global revulsion for U.S. imperialism.

In desperation, the empire pumps ever greater sums into its war machine. The most recent $1.7 trillion spending bill included $847 billion for the military;  the total is boosted to $858 billion when factoring in accounts that don’t fall under the Armed Services committees’ jurisdiction, such as the Department of Energy, which overseesnuclear weapons maintenance and the infrastructure that develops them. In 2021, when the U.S. had a military budget of $801 billion, it constituted nearly 40 percent of all global military expenditures, more than the next nine countries, including Russia and China, spent on their militaries combined.

As Edward Gibbon observed about the Roman Empire’s own fatal lust for endless war: “[T]he decline of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness. Prosperity ripened the principle of decay; the cause of the destruction multiplied with the extent of conquest; and, as soon as time or accident had removed the artificial supports, the stupendous fabric yielded to the pressure of its own weight. The story of the ruin is simple and obvious; and instead of inquiring why the Roman Empire was destroyed, we should rather be surprised that it had subsisted for so long.”

A state of permanent war creates complex bureaucracies, sustained by compliant politicians, journalists, scientists, technocrats and academics, who obsequiously serve the war machine. This militarism needs mortal enemies — the latest are Russia and China — even when those demonized have no intention or capability, as was the case with Iraq, of harming the U.S. We are hostage to these incestuous institutional structures.

Earlier this month, the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, for example, appointed eight commissioners to review Biden’s National Defense Strategy (NDS) to “examine the assumptions, objectives, defense investments, force posture and structure, operational concepts, and military risks of the NDS.” The commission, as Eli Clifton writes at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, is “largely comprised of individuals with financial ties to the weapons industry and U.S. government contractors, raising questions about whether the commission will take a critical eye to contractors who receive $400 billion of the $858 billion FY2023 defense budget.” The chair of the commission, Clifton notes, is former Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), who “sits on the board of Iridium Communications, a satellite communications firm that was awarded a seven-year $738.5 million contract with the Department of Defense in 2019.”

Reports about Russian interference in the elections and Russia bots manipulating public opinion — which Matt Taibbi’s recent reporting on the “Twitter Files” exposesas an elaborate piece of black propaganda — was uncritically amplified by the press. It seduced Democrats and their liberal supporters into seeing Russia as a mortal enemy. The near universal support for a prolonged war with Ukraine would not be possible without this con.

America’s  two ruling parties depend on campaign funds from the war industry and are pressured by weapons manufacturers in their state or districts, who employ constituents, to pass  gargantuan military budgets. Politicians are acutely aware that to challenge the permanent war economy is to be attacked as unpatriotic and is usually an act of political suicide.

“The soul that is enslaved to war cries out for deliverance,” writes Simone Weil in her essay “The Iliad or the Poem of Force”, “but deliverance itself appears to it an extreme and tragic aspect, the aspect of destruction.”

Historians refer to the quixotic attempt by empires in decline to regain a lost hegemony through military adventurism as “micro-militarism.” During the Peloponnesian War (431–404 B.C.) the Athenians invaded Sicily, losing 200 ships and thousands of soldiers. The defeat ignited a series of successful revolts throughout the Athenian empire. The Roman Empire, which at its height lasted for two centuries, became captive to its one military man army that, similar to the U.S. war industry, was a state within a state. Rome’s once mighty legions in the late stage of empire suffered defeat after defeat while extracting ever more resources from a crumbling and impoverished state. In the end, the elite Praetorian Guard auctioned off the emperorship to the highest bidder. The  British Empire, already decimated by the suicidal military folly of World War I, breathed its last gasp in 1956 when it attacked Egypt in a dispute over the nationalization of the Suez Canal. Britain withdrew in humiliation and became an appendage of the United States. A decade-long war in Afghanistan sealed the fate of a decrepit Soviet Union.

“While rising empires are often judicious, even rational in their application of armed force for conquest and control of overseas dominions, fading empires are inclined to ill-considered displays of power, dreaming of bold military masterstrokes that would somehow recoup lost prestige and power,” historian Alfred W. McCoy writes in his book, “In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power.” “Often irrational even from an imperial point of view, these micro-military operations can yield hemorrhaging expenditures or humiliating defeats that only accelerate the process already under way.”

The plan to reshape Europe and the global balance of power by degrading Russia is turning out to resemble the failed plan to reshape the Middle East. It is fueling a global food crisis and devastating Europe with near double-digit inflation. It is exposing the impotency, once again, of the United States, and the bankruptcy of its ruling oligarchs. As a counterweight to the United States, nations such as China, Russia, India, Brazil and Iran are severing themselves from the tyranny of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, a move that will trigger economic and social catastrophe in the United States. Washington is giving Ukraine ever more sophisticated weapons systems and billions upon billions in aid in a futile bid to save Ukraine but, more importantly, to save itself.


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Russia-Iran Axis and Biden
« Reply #1314 on: January 31, 2023, 04:54:59 AM »

https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/19317/russian-iranian-axis

Russian-Iranian Axis: Biden Administration Missing in Action?
by Judith Bergman
January 31, 2023 at 5:00 am


Iran is now selling surface-to-surface missiles to Russia for use in its war on Ukraine -- on the cusp of a reported "major Ukrainian offensive" -- in addition to the drones it has already been delivering, two senior Iranian officials and two Iranian diplomats told Reuters.

"In exchange, Russia is offering Iran an unprecedented level of military and technical support that is transforming their relationship into a full-fledged defense partnership.... This is a full-scale defense partnership that is harmful... to the international community." — John Kirby, White House National Security Spokesperson, December 9, 2022.

When asked how Iran's sale of drones and missiles impacts the Biden administration's stance on the Iran nuclear deal... John Kirby deflected the question.

At a time when Iranians are desperately risking their lives to free themselves of a vicious theocratic dictatorship, it would be equally impressive if the Biden Administration would stand firmly behind the protestors in their fight for liberty and human rights, values America has always professed to support. President Ronald Reagan did it with great success to aid the collapse of the Soviet Empire.

Speaking a rally in California in October, President Joe Biden said, "we stand with the citizens, the brave women of Iran." Such words are cost-free: They will not do much to help the Iranian protesters fighting for freedom and human rights.

Even former President Barack Obama, who ignored Iran's "Green Movement" protesters in 2009, admitted in October that his lack of support then for the Iranian dissidents was a mistake.

Statements of solidarity, however strong, will not produce serious results. What is needed from the US is to help the people of Iran concretely – to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons to dominate the Middle East, South America, Europe -- and the United States.

Iran is now planning to station warships in the Panama Canal – which China is aggressively trying to control. The U.S. has not even had an ambassador in Panama since 2018.

All one has to do is look at how terrified the Biden administration has been of "provoking" Russian President Vladimir Putin into using nuclear weapons. What actually provokes dictators? That America exists.


Iran is now selling surface-to-surface missiles to Russia for use in its war on Ukraine, in addition to the drones it has already been delivering, two senior Iranian officials and two Iranian diplomats told Reuters. Pictured: Firefighters in Kyiv, Ukraine try to put out a fire in a four-story residential building, in which three people were killed when it was hit by a "kamikaze drone" (many of which are supplied to Russian forces by Iran), on October 17, 2022. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
Iran is now selling surface-to-surface missiles to Russia for use in its war on Ukraine -- on the cusp of a reported "major Ukrainian offensive" -- in addition to the drones it has already been delivering, two senior Iranian officials and two Iranian diplomats told Reuters.

According to anonymous US and allied officials quoted by the Washington Post, Iran has secretly agreed to send "what some officials described as the first Iranian-made surface-to-surface missiles intended for use against Ukrainian cities and troop positions."

Russia is reportedly buying Iranian-made missiles capable of hitting targets at distances of 300 and 700 kilometers, respectively.

"The Russians had asked for more drones and those Iranian ballistic missiles with improved accuracy, particularly the Fateh and Zolfaghar missiles family," one of the Iranian diplomats told Reuters.

The news of the missile deal came after it became publicly known in August that Russia had been buying Iranian drones, including the Mohajer-6 and the Shahed-series drones. The first batch, according to the Washington Post, was picked up by Russian cargo flights in late August, with Iranians reported to be training Russian soldiers in using them for Russia's war on Ukraine.

The Shahed-136s kamikaze drones, are designed to explode upon impact with their targets. According to the Washington Post, they are capable of delivering explosive payloads at distances of up to 1,500 miles.

John Kirby, White House National Security Council spokesperson, confirmed in December, that Iranian military support for Russia has become indispensable to Russia's war effort in Ukraine and directly enabling it to kill Ukrainians; that Iran is considering selling ballistic missiles to the country and that the two regimes are developing a military partnership that is mutually beneficial. Kirby said in a December 9 briefing:

"Iran is providing Russia with drones for use on the battlefield in Ukraine... In exchange, Russia is offering Iran an unprecedented level of military and technical support that is transforming their relationship into a full-fledged defense partnership.... This partnership poses a threat, not just to Ukraine, but to Iran's neighbors in the region..."

"Iran has become Russia's top military backer. Since August, Iran has transferred several hundred drones, UAVs, to Russia. Russia has been using these UAVs to attack Ukraine's critical infrastructure, and as I said earlier, to kill innocent Ukrainian people...

"We expect Iranian support for the Russian military to only grow in coming months. We even believe that Iran is considering the sale of hundreds of ballistic missiles from Iran to Russia... We've also seen reports that Moscow and Tehran are considering the establishment of a joint production line for lethal drones in Russia. We urge Iran to reverse course, not to take the steps...

"Russia is seeking to collaborate with Iran on areas like weapons development and training. As part of this collaboration, we are concerned that Russia intends to provide Iran with advanced military components. Moscow may be providing Tehran with equipment such as helicopters and air defense systems. As of this spring, Iranian pilots have reportedly been training in Russia to learn how to fly the Su-35. This indicates that Iran may begin receiving aircraft within the next year. These fighter planes would significantly strengthen Iran's air force relative to its regional neighbors.

"This is a full-scale defense partnership that is harmful, as I said to Ukraine, to Iran's neighbors, and quite frankly to the international community."

Russia's use of Iranian military equipment against Ukraine not only strengthens Russia in Ukraine, but it gives Iran what the Ukrainian Defense Ministry called "test runs' of its drones, to update their systems for future use against the US and its allies, such as Israel.

Kirby spoke on October 20 about the US response to Iran's drone sales to Russia:

"We have imposed new sanctions, including on an air transportation service provider for its involvement in the shipment of Iranian UAVs to Russia... We've also sanctioned... companies and even one individual that was involved in the research, development, production, and procurement of Iranian UAVs and components... including specifically the Shahed family of drones that we know are being used... in Ukraine."

When asked how Iran's sale of drones and missiles impacts the Biden administration's stance on the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Kirby deflected the question:

"Our focus right now, quite frankly... is not on the JCPOA. We are way far apart with the Iranians in terms of a return to the deal, so we're just simply not focused on that right now. They had demands that were well in excess of what the JCPOA was supposed to cover. And again, so we're just — we are not focused on the diplomacy at this point."

At a time when Iranians are desperately risking their lives to free themselves of a vicious theocratic dictatorship, it would be equally impressive if the Biden Administration would stand firmly behind the protestors in their fight for liberty and human rights, values America has always professed to support. President Ronald Reagan did it with great success to aid the collapse of the Soviet Empire.

Iranian security forces have killed at least 500 people since the protests there began in mid-September, including 69 children, according to the U.S.-based Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA). According to HRANA, Iranian authorities have recently arrested more than 18,400 people in connection with the protests. In addition, at least 100 protesters are currently at risk of facing "execution, death penalty charges or sentences," according to the Oslo-based Iran Human Rights NGO. "This is a minimum as most families are under pressure to stay quiet, the real number is believed to be much higher."

Speaking a rally in California in October, President Joe Biden said, "we stand with the citizens, the brave women of Iran."

Such words are cost-free: They will not do much to help the Iranian protesters fighting for freedom and human rights.

Even former President Barack Obama, who ignored Iran's "Green Movement" protesters in 2009, admitted in October that his lack of support then for the Iranian dissidents was a mistake.

"When I think back to 2009, 2010, you guys will recall there was a big debate inside the White House about whether I should publicly affirm what was going on with the Green Movement, because a lot of the activists were being accused of being tools of the West and there was some thought that we were somehow gonna be undermining their street cred in Iran if I supported what they were doing. And in retrospect, I think that was a mistake."

"Every time we see a flash, a glimmer of hope, of people longing for freedom, I think we have to point it out. We have to shine a spotlight on it. We have to express some solidarity about it."

Statements of solidarity, however strong, will not produce serious results. What is needed from the US is to help the people of Iran concretely – to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons to dominate the Middle East, South America, Europe -- and the United States.

Iran is now planning to station warships in the Panama Canal – which China is aggressively trying to control. The U.S. has not even had an ambassador in Panama since 2018.

All one has to do is look at how terrified the Biden administration has been of "provoking" Russian President Vladimir Putin into using nuclear weapons.

What actually provokes dictators? That America exists.

There are a number of ways the Biden administration can "take steps," suggest Eric Adelman Counselor at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments and senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and Ray Takeyh, senior fellow for Middle East Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations:

"First, the United States should formally declare that it will end negotiations with Iran on a putative return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action... The United States should also make clear that it will not negotiate with an Iranian government that is repressing the Iranian people and destabilizing its neighbors. Such declarations would rob the regime of its ability to generate hope among the population that sanctions might be lifted under its rule.

"Publicly closing the door on negotiations would also free up the Biden administration to fully enforce sanctions already on the books. The United States should target Iranian officials guilty of the most egregious human rights violations, bolstering hope among Iran's people for government accountability. This should be accompanied by full-throated and ongoing U.S. government statements supporting the protesters and drawing attention to the worst instances of repression."

Adelman and Takeyh also argue that the US should increase protesters' ability to communicate by "sending Starlink terminals," which would enable Iran's anti-regime protest movement to "get around the regime's censorship and blocks on social media. Apparently, thanks to Elon Musk, Iran now has "around 100."

"Other software apps, such as Ushahidi, have been used to monitor elections in sub-Saharan Africa by allowing voters to share images of polling places. Such applications could be repurposed to allow Iranians to share images of acts of protest in different parts of the country, enabling coordination among different groups of protesters and, by forcing the government to overstretch its security forces, making it harder for the regime to quash dissent. The United States should also use popular social media channels, such as Telegram, to provide dissidents with accurate information about what is going on throughout the country, including protests, human rights abuses, and executions. The expansion and creative use of such channels of communication could help new protest leaders emerge and drown out regime propaganda.

"In addition, the United States should ramp up broadcasting by the Voice of America's Persian Service and Radio Farda and fund private television broadcasting by Iranian expats, which could provide additional fuel for the fire raging in the streets of Iranian cities. Currently, the United States is projected to spend less than $30 million in the 2023 fiscal year on broadcasting in Iran."

Judith Bergman, a columnist, lawyer and political analyst, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute.

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