Thursday, 27 August 2015

The New Great Game: China and the US in South East Africa.

The US backed the secession of South Sudan led by Salva Kiir in 2011. Now it is threatening the South Sudanese president with a UN arms embargo as only China has increased its influence and arms sales there ever since. As Washington has pledged the US to checking Chinese ambitions in Africa, this was a setback.
The idea back in 2011, the year of Obama's Pivot To Asia, was to forge an independent US client state to better control oil flows in Central Africa. South Sudan contains 75% of Sudan's oil. The US had hoped that by retaining influence over Juba it would retain control over an important source of oil against China.
Given that Kiir aligned towards Beijing, especially after Vice President Machar decided to vie for power against “President for Life” Kiir back in 2013, the West has started to swing behind Machar while officially still being for Kiir. China's decisions to back Kiir with arms deals ties has made him an unreliable client for the US.
It is thought the US is pressurising Kiir to concede ground to Machar after two years of civil war so as to prevent not just the collapse of South Sudan into chaos but to retain the ability to assert oil interests against Beijing. It is also a question of US credibility after yet another failing 'humanitarian' intervention.
2011 saw not only US withdrawal from Iraq and the collapse of Syria into a civil war that has the great global and regional powers contending over pipeline routes in the Greater Middle East. It saw renewed attempts to check Chinese influence in Libya and across Africa where China threatens to the dominant player.
Whereas China tended to use infrastructure projects and investments to advance strategic resource interests, the proliferation of Islamist insurgents fanning across Sub Saharan Africa has provided both a threat and opportunity to ratchet up the expansion of counter-terrorist military technology such as drones.
China basically outmanoeuvred the US in South Sudan; they have managed to put Washington in a position of having to provide 27% percent of the cost of United Nations peacekeeping force and in humanitarian programmes while China reaps all the rewards in oil concessions and trade.
Obama in July 2015 made his first visit to his father's homeland in order to big up the US-Kenya trade and business relationship as well as counter Nairobi's shift away from its traditional role as a Western client state and the rise of Ugandan influence over South Sudan after its military intervention to prop up Kiir
The threat of regional power alignments in south-east Africa that exclude US influenced clients is it could lead to oil being pumped from Uganda and South Sudan through to the Indian Ocean and on to China over which the US would lack strategic control should military ties with Kenya were diminished.
The loss of US arms markets in strategic regions of Africa could well explain why big US defence corporations such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing are willing financers of George Clooney's humanitarian advocacy group in South Sudan, aptly called Sentry which is part of The Enough Project.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Anti-Semitism, Jeremy Corbyn and the British "Anti-War" Left

Israel – unlike, say, Isis – is backed by democratic western governments whose foreign policy we can influence. And the Israel-Palestine question, an intractable conflict stretching back decades, has long been the key foreign policy issue for supporters of both Israel and Palestine-  Owen Jones, Anti-Semitism has No Place of the Left, It's Time to Confront it.
Jeremy Corbyn is bound to get flak for 'sharing a platform' with those for Palestinian self determination against Israel. But this is not only because uncritical admirers of Israel want to smear its critics as anti-semites as a means to delegitimise them. It arises out of the failures of Western 'leftist' thinking.

It should be first observed that for most British people, the Israel-Palestine conflict is not something they are as seemingly obsessed by as the British left in particular or a good number of British Muslims and Jews. When the conflict enters the news, a good number of Britons regard it a bore or say 'they are always fighting'.

There is a good reason why. Not only is it a very complicated issue but discussion seems monopolised by fanatics, demagogues and trendy 'Islington' types looking for a conflict that involves 'we' in the West being to blame for so that their crusade to right the wrongs of the world will be 'empowering'.

This points to some flaws in the thinking of the pro-Palestine left in Britain. The injustices the Palestinians suffer mean that no particular attention is paid to the fact that there are many leaping at the opportunity to disguise a hatred of Israel for a number of reasons that have nothing to do with the fate of the Palestinians.

Often the enmity towards Israel on parts of the left is connected to their Anti-Americanism and simplistic view that Israel is a frontier outpost of American global hegemony over the Greater Middle East. For those such as George Galloway, the Palestinians are counters in a geopolitical power game.

The problem with the 'anti-war movement' that stands behind Corbyn is that it was united by that which it was against rather than that which it was for. This meant it was dominated by radical ideologues of the SWP and Islamists back in 2003 who linked opposition to the war on Iraq with the unrelated issue of Palestine.

Jones calls for anti-semitism to be 'recognised, routed out and defeated'. But it is in part a manifestation the paranoid belief that Israel and the lobby was telling the US to invade Iraq and because Iraq was Muslim and the West is an evil imperialist force in league with Zionists. There was no attempt to challenge that.

Having supported the Soviet Union and being in sympathy with Arab secular dictatorships aligned with Moscow, Galloway lauds any force resisting Israel long after 1991 because, as with Seumas Milne, they are still embittered by the collapse of the USSR and the victory of 'the West' in the Cold War.

While Galloway is not anti-semitic, he is anti-Zionist in the 'hard left' sense of regarding all the instabilities in the Middle East that are not caused directly by Israel as part of their covert, almost superhuman cunning plots to destabilise Arab states and pit Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims against each other.

Unfortunately, conspiracy theories predominate among uneducated or semi-educated people In Britain. In Muslim communities paranoid theories are popular among Islamists who see their own victim status and failures as wholly the fault of a dastardly global Western-Zionist alliance or 'them'.

Of course, Israel is backed by EU nations and while this has something to do with European-especially German-guilt over the Holocaust, it also has much to do with the convenient trade benefits they enjoy with Israel and the interest they have in arms deals and the potential for a secure supply of its offshore gas.

It is possible to be opposed to Israel's callous and brutal geostrategy of provoking Hamas into retaliating as a pretext for 'demilitarising' Gaza without lauding Hamas, a force which regularly plays into Israel's hands and allows Israel to justify its attempt to secure Gaza Marine gas and so shore up its regional client.

The geopolitical reality in the Eastern Mediterranean is one of sectarian enmities and wars for resources. It is impossible to have a sane, objective view of the conflict if it acts as a draw for those in Britain fighting a soft version of a proxy conflict in which, by protesting against Israel, they are fighting US 'imperialism'.

The US has different interests to the EU in the region and has actually tried to reduce its commitments there to shift its attention towards China. Israel acts as an independent global power and has built up closer relations with Russia, India, China and Egypt. Israel always has other markets for its sizeable gas reserves.

Turkey is generally supported by Western democracies but there is not that much of a protest by the StWC against the US deal to allow Turkey to bomb Kurdish militias ranged against ISIS. Nor is there that much concern with the Kurds unless they are seen as being 'betrayed'.

The reason for this could also be that Israel backs Kurdish independence and so anything that could possibly fall in with Israel's strategical objectives is bad. After all, Corbyn and his followers are against the break up of Iraq, despite complaining that it was essentially an imperial creation of Britain in the 1920s.

If Owen Jones wants to confront anti-semitism he may well have to confront those who promote a certain form of anti-Zionism no less than he opposes the virulent forms of anti-Arab hatred that exist among radical Israeli nationalists. And that means taking issue with 'anti-war' heavyweights such as Galloway.

The Worldview of the StWC is Inherently Simplistic 

In so far as it conforms to a worldview,  the StWC's task is to 'stop' wars that Britain is responsible for starting. As Britain is generally supportive of Israel, it is regarded as a war in some sense 'started' by Britain just as the Russo-Georgia War of 2008 or the civil war in Ukraine in 2014 was 'started' by NATO.

Part of the reason they look and sound stupid is that the name 'Stop the War Coalition' is a meaningless and, perhaps, Trotskyist construction. For them 'the war' is not Afghanistan or Iraq. It is capitalism and imperialism which is just one permanent war of the 'rich west' against the 'poor rest'.

A 'British Peace Coalition' would be better and 'stopping wars' indicates that it might be pacifist. But clearly by being 'anti-war' they mean 'western war' because others wars, revolutionary or 'resistance' based are politically correct and not Western so that violence is valid.

In the StWC outlook, most wars are caused by the West. So wars that are against it are considered fine unless it is either Al Qaida or ISIS because it would make for bad propaganda to claim they are just the extreme fringe of anti-imperialist forces. So they are also wholly caused by imperialism. 
This usually means a selective interpretation of Cold War history in which the West backed the mujahadeen against the PDPA in Afghanistan after 1979 and so caused 9/11. But Arab Afghans were a tiny faction of the mujahadeen and the PDPA regime actually caused a jihad prior to US meddling.
The reason for this oversimplified history is that it suits Western radicals in Britain to believe the evils of the world are caused by their own governments because it means if 'we' act to change the government, then the world can be changed for better. Ironically, it's Westernocentric.

But, the other problem with this worldview, apart from its stupidity, is that it acts as a magnet for all sorts of paranoid cranks who associate imperialism with cosmic plots to destroy Arab and Muslim unity. This easily lends itself to anti-semitism because of the aspect of conspiracism Inherent in the worldview.

StWC propaganda generally also denies agency to people in foreign lands, presupposing they are either incredibly moronic for always allowing their country to be destabilised by plots or else very easily hoodwinked by super cunning Israelis and assorted imperialists.

For example, it used to be the complaint that Hamas was an Islamist tool to destroy the unity of the Fatah lead Palestinian Liberation Organisation and divide and rule Gaza and the West Bank. Yet when Fatah showed signs of giving in to Israel and the US, Hamas became lauded as a heroic resistance force.

Corbyn, Labour Internationalism and Britain as a "Global Player".

“Those would not be policies I could support. I would not support a policy of leaving Nato. It would be highly irresponsible with the world as it is right now,”
No policy debate in British politics is as futile as the future direction of Britain's foreign policy. The Labour leadership race in particular makes that apparent. Andy Burnham claims he would not serve in a Corbyn cabinet if he insisted on scrapping Britain's Trident nuclear defence system or left NATO.
If politicians like Burnham are going to make assertions such as these they need to provide reasons. It is not immediately apparent how the attempt to expand NATO east is either wise or responsible. Nor is it obvious why renewing the Trident nuclear system is so important. For the Cold War ended in 1990.
'Establishment' politicians are fixated by Britain being a 'global player' and 'sitting at the top table' so that 'no options are off the table' and it thereby has 'credibility'. As a consequence of Britain's outdated and dysfunctional electoral system-and so leadership power hunger-none of these shibboleths is ever challenged.
If, as Tony Blair asserts, 'this is not the 1980s', then there is no reason why the existing 'defence' orthodoxies and policies need endure. The absurdity of Britain and France being Global Players in the UN, as a consequence of a international power political balance created 70 years ago, is quite evident.
Corbyn, of course, is no less deluded than the establishment he claims to confront. The idea Britain giving up nuclear weapons would set a 'moral example' and convince China or Russia to follow suit is as much a hangover from the last days of empire in the 1960s as is the hankering after a 'Global Role'.
The flaw in Corbyn's stance on Britain and the World is not due to him being an 'isolationist' as Yvette Cooper claims, in contrast to her standing in the tradition of the left's 'internationalism'. This word, which has resonance on the left, has been purloined by Cooper to mean Britain is a global power'.
Whereas Cooper thinks Britain has the duty to be a global social worker and using the military to install liberal democracy in Afghanistan, which is completely absurd, Corbyn seems to think that if Britain renounced 'imperialism' the world would be a better place and it would just give peace a chance.
There is a good case for Britain engaging with Iran and involving it in a political peace settlement over Syria. But with Britain having established diplomatic relations with Tehran recently, this is probably going to be the policy anyway. This was a result of the nuclear deal that the US led and Britain followed.
However, the war in Iraq and Syria is a Sunni-Shia conflict that has origins deep in history and which preceded Britain's imperial role and has little to do with either the US or Britain. That evident fact often leads StWC hacks to come out with paranoid nonsense about it being caused wholly by a "divide and rule" strategy.
The irony is that Corbyn's followers, weaned on Chomsky's texts, would appear to be wanting to claim the West has more power over events in the Greater Middle East than the US or it's junior partner Britain really has. No less than with the Blairites and New Labour, Britain has the power to remake the global future. 
This myth also applies with the idea Corbyn could force Israel to sit down with his 'friends' Hamas and Hizbollah and forge a political settlement. The fact that growing Sunni-Shi'ite enmity means Iran no longer backs Hamas-and that Hizbollah is not friends with Hamas any more-complicates that.
It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Corbyn is crowd pleasing, grab the Muslim vote in Britain as well as unify Muslim and non-Muslim as an empowered 'we' who can really force a nuclear armed superpower in the Middle East to negotiate with a resistance organisation that, for good or ill, is isolated and mostly defeated.
The other problem is that because Corbyn is opposed to nuclear power, as a consequence of his obsolete and unscientific worldview about the hazards they pose to humanity, Britain and EU states would be ever more reliant on gas. In turn that means that the 'energy security' dilemma remains.
Corbyn rightly points out that NATO expansion and war in Afghanistan were about energy security and geopolitics. But unless Britain finds real alternatives-or reduced its population and curtailed migration-it is bound to be set on finding secure energy sources such as Israel's planned EU pipeline via Cyprus.
Corbyn has been candid about 'energy security' involving a ramping up of militarism and conflict .i.e insecurity is good and much needed. The problem is he views that through his dated 'anti-imperialist' ideology and so it is bound to be mechanically written off as 'extreme', 'cynical' and 'anti-western'.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Geopolitics and Oil : US "Democracy Promotion" in Cuba and Venezuela.

"We remain convinced the people of Cuba would be best served by genuine democracy, where people are free to choose their leaders"- John Kerry.
Washington is less interested in democracy for Cuba than in the geopolitical and trade benefits that would accrue if it were to draw it away from Chinese and Russian interest in Cuba's offshore oil reserves. For the US has shown no sign it has ever accepted the verdict of democracy in Venezuela.
Having colluded with Saudi Arabia to drive down oil prices, so as to kick start a sluggish global economy and as a means of destabilising oil producing states such as Venezuela, Obama has been able to help trigger off economic collapse in Caracas while offering the prospect Cuba could buy oil on the open market.
By severing the previously close alignment between Cuba and Venezuela, Washington would be able to revive its ability to exert hemispheric influence over Central and South America once more. This has become more important as concerns over Chinese influence in the region have grown.
China has aligned with Daniel Ortega's leftist government in Nicaragua and backed a $50 billion project to build a “grand inter-oceanic canal” that would rival the Panama Canal and give China a strategic toehold in Central America. Destroying Venezuela's economy would weaken its ability to subsidise Nicaragua and Cuba
More annoyingly for Washington is that in 2014 and 2015 China provided multi-billion-dollar loans to Venezuela to shore up its economy and so thwarting moves to generate political upheaval and so help push through an overthrow of the Maduro government just as it was able to in Ukraine in March 2014.
By reintegrating Cuba back into the regional economy, the Obama administration hopes to buy goodwill and offset criticism of its support for the 2014 Caracas protests which were slammed by Maduro as a 'slow motion coup'attempt and greeted with hostility by other Latin American states.
By easing crude oil exports to Mexico, Obama can get US domestic Big OIl producers onside and fetch high prices for heavy oil. Washington also wants to gain a dominant stake in tapping oil reserves in the Gulf of Mexico and hold out future moves into Cuba's offshore fields once the US helps mediate in disputes over who owns them
These energy interests and the geopolitical contest for influence with China is far more the reason for the interest in bringing Cuba out from its isolation as the strategy of destroying Venezuela's democratically elected governmentbears benefits for the US. It is far from clear the US is that friendly to Cuban dissidents.
In fact, the 2009 Wikileak made clear that old style dissidents who protested about arbitrary imprisonment and the lack of democracy and human rights such as Oswaldo Paya were more of an irritant for being 'out of touch' with young Cubans wanting consumerism rather than putting principles first.
The US much prefers its internet age savvy designer dissidents promoted by covert funding and the NED. Examples are frauds like Yoani Sanchez who is more interested in creating a new rich strata of citizens receptive to US influence and economic neoliberalism while pretending to care about fellow Cubans.
One reason Oswaldo Paya was treated with contempt in Washington was that he opposed 'a neoliberal programme.For this, we are under attack by the powerful groups in Miami. When people say what is going to happen in Cuba after Fidel, we say – hold on, there are 11 million people in Cuba, not only Fidel Castro."

Tony Blair Pivots to Asia.

'Tony Blair will fly into Beijing next month to take part in high-profile Chinese commemorations of the end of the second world war....Since leaving office in 2007 Blair has nurtured his ties with Beijing, making repeated trips to China to meet with senior Communist party leaders..his memoir, A Journey, was published here in 2011.' 
'The relationship between government and governed in China is changing, and for the better'-Tony Blair.
Blair Champions Stability Through Resource Development.
Blair is bound to want to stay on the side of China because he is still convinced he is, if not actually Prime Minister, still in office with a duty to serve himself and so both Britain and the world.Though an 'idealist' when it suited him, Blair has also liked to pose as a sage 'realist',a reason he admires Henry Kissinger.
Blair is both in contact with the Foreign Office gets to rake off the fees that come from advocating energy projects in Kashgar in Western China. These are known as "strategic cooperation deals". He also drums up investment interest in Xinjiang's mining industries.
None of this is surprising as it fits in entirely with Blair and the FO's reasons for advocating military involvement in both Afghanistan and Iraq:energy geopolitics. Blair 'believes' that a world in which resources are used to connect undeveloped regions to the rest of the world is a way to bring peace, even through war.
Blair's essential outlook is that economic growth and getting control over natural resources for the greater good of regional and global development can be done even under dictatorships so long as they serve the interests of greater good or great and good powers and help enhance "stability".
Blair and Hamas : Partners for Peace.
This is why Blair did an excellent job as Peace Envoy in the Middle East in advocating Israel extend its control over Gaza Marine gas and through supporting the coup in Egypt. With Israel in a position to use Gaza's gas for the benefit of Jordan and Egypt, it is promoting stability.
The reason is Hamas has no other option but to deal with Israel or watch its gas wealth seized and used for Israel and it's partner's benefit until such time as it runs out leaving the regional powers, including the Fatah controlled PA in the West Bank as well as Gaza wholly dependent Israel's larger gas reserves.
To that end, Hamas has entered into secret talks with Blair with a view to getting other powers to underwrite a peace agreement between Hamas and Israel. For Blair, this would be clear evidence that wars to control resources and push insurgent groups into a corner can reap the rewards of peace.
Blair Pivots East: New China, New Cultural Revolution. 
Likewise Blair no doubt believes that by playing a role in helping Xinjiang develop he is simply continuing his grand designs while in office to get the oil of Iraq working for the global economy as a consequence of removing an evil dictator, Saddam Hussein, who was "not exactly a force for stability either".

That is true enough as ISIS spread into Syria after the civil war started in 2011, the year when Obama pivoted East towards China in his foreign policy. With Chinese Uighurs joining ISIS and crossing back into Western China, Blair was insistent that the global Islamist threat has also even 'reached as far Xinjiang'.
Blair needs his continued mission because it allows him to rationalise problems in Iraq as merely one part of his 'ongoing' global career as a revered statesman. Xinjiang is, after all, itself threatened by a Uighur insurgency so developing its mineral potential is one way to ensure increased wealth to all living there. 
China was engaged in a 'war on terror' after September 11 2001 in Xinjiang.So Blair is keen to align with China's programme of modernising the western lands and the city of Kashgar. Blair himself, after all, still regards himself as a radical moderniser and lauded what he called China's New Cultural Revolution.
'Think of trying to meld China's 56 native ethnic groupings into one cohesive state. Think of the disaster, not just to the Chinese, but to ourselves, if it fractured. Understand also how dramatic and daunting the challenge of China's development is. Imagine we were analyzing the consequences of a threat to China's stability and cohesion. And then be glad we are not'.
Supporting China's New Silk route strategy in the west appeals to Blair's desire to be part of history-in- the-making and so he has started reading lots of books on China in an attempt to emulate Kissinger who also wrote a book on it. While Blair may not write one himself, part two of his Journey is being written.

Monday, 24 August 2015

China and the New Global Great Game for Strategic Control in Eurasia.

Rising Tensions in East Asia.

Tensions between Japan and China have risen recently with the seventieth anniversary of the end of World War Two in Asia. Unsurprisingly, Japan's Shinzo Abe turned down an invitation to attend victory events in Beijing on September 3 to celebrate "a war of resistance against Japanese aggression"

The parades which will rumble through the Chinese capital will include 12,000 troops and nuclear misiles. This is clearly meant to impress upon Japan China's military power and the fact that, unlike in the last major war between 1937 and 1945, China in in 2015 is an Asian military superpower.

The real issue, in which growing nationalism is as much a symptom as a further stimulus towards potential war in East Asia, is oil. China asserting its claims to islands in the East and South China Seas in part in response to US efforts to assert naval control over sea lanes from the Middle East to Asia.

The grand design is to 'contain' China and be in a position to throttle its economy should China challenge Washington's position as the globe's biggest economy and as a military superpower. As both have nuclear weapons, using the threat of an oil cut off to its economy is the preferred tool of coercion.

As the US shifts the weight of its military expenditure east away from the Greater Middle East-hence the nuclear deal with Iran-towards Asia, the US has been developing bilateral military ties with a chain of maritime powers to China's eastern seaboard while trying to block China's land based 'March West'.

Checking China and Iran in Afghanistan.

The retention of Bagram air base and the continued US war in Afghanistan is part of a strategy of control to prevent it becoming too heavily influenced by China and Iran who have, much to the annoyance of Washington, gave the go-ahead for constructing a gas pipeline from Iran to Pakistan.

The main reason for the prolonging the Afghanistan War has nothing to do with the 'war on terror' or women's rights and all the rest of the public diplomacy dissimulation uncritically absorbed and recycled in the western media. A major geopolitical goal is to get the TAPI pipeline constructed as an alternative to the IP.

Given that energy would flow from Iran to the Pakistani port of Gwadar, the US has all the more reason to build up its control over the sea lanes between the Persian Gulf to the South China Sea. The sanction on Iran were less to do with any nuclear weapon threat than with strategic control over resources

That much is clear as Washington is still threatening sanctions to stop any unwelcome and “significant support to Iran’s energy sector, such as providing significant investment or technology”.It fears China would be able to prize Pakistan away from the US and draw it and Iran firmly towards closer alignment with Beijing.

The Significance of Closer Ties between China and Myanmar.

China's ability to exert strategic influence between the Greater Middle East and South East Asia increased dramatically also through the construction of the new China-Myanmar oil gas pipeline. This has allowed China to reduce dependence of oil tanker routes via the Straits of Malacca between Malaysia and Indonesia.

This new energy highway gives China the upper hand over Japan and South Korea when it comes to ensuring 'energy security' and an additional reason why Japan in particular wants to build up its military capacity and so expand is global role and ability to counter China's geopolitical energy strategies.

Turkey Plays a Dangerous Games with China in Xinjiang.
“…East Turkestan is not only the home of the Turkic peoples, but it is also the cradle of Turkic history, civilization and culture…the martyrs of East Turkestan are our own martyrs…may their struggle always be remembered. Today the culture of the people of East Turkestan is being systematically sinocized.”-  Erdogan as Mayor of Istanbul in 1995
Japan has sought to restore older historic strategic ties with Turkey and develop new strategic ties in the fields of nuclear technology and science. But Japan has a history of having aligned with pro-Ottoman forces in Turkey keen on promoting Uighur separatism in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang.

Xinjiang literally means 'New Land' in Chinese and has always been a strategic crossroads between West and East. It also has a large population of Turkic Uighurs that Turkey's President Erdogan has claimed is oppressed and deserving of Ankara's backing as part of his imperial neo-Ottoman strategy.

Xinjiang has been increasingly settled with Han Chinese since Mao's Communist state was created in 1949 and control extended into the western frontier regions. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union it has acted as a vital oil and gas transit route for Central Asian gas pumped through from Kazakhstan.

The pipeline deals, pushed through in the early 2000s, came at the same time as the upsurge in Islamist terrorism in the region that gained global attention after the 9/11 attacks on New York. Thereafter, China started to ratchet up its own 'war on terror' on Uighur groups wanting autonomy or independence from Beijing.

Beijing has become suspicious that Turkey could be encouraging Islamist Uighur separatists as part of a strategy to upgrade its bargaining power and influence over the oil of Kurdistan which China is vying for. It is thought Erdogan could be covertly facilitating the movement of Islamists from Syria and Turkey into Xinjiang.

Since 2011 with President Obama's Pivot to Asia, Erdogan has also been pivoting himself east as well. He has shifted his stance on what is referred to as East Turkestan. He provocatively called China's suppression of Uighur uprising in 2009 "a kind of genocide". Moreover, as Christina Lim comments,
'Using China’s recent counter-terrorism measures as an excuse to refer Beijing to the UN for human rights violations, Ankara is resorting to legal warfare, or “lawfare”, to de-legitimize the Chinese government’s sovereignty over its territory. Additionally, Ankara’s recruitment for Syria’s anti-Assad groups that include Uyghur separatists is fanning insurgency in Xinjiang, risking escalation of broader conflict between Ankara and Beijing.
In November 2014 Uighurs from Xinjiang were caught by the Chinese authorities along with ten Turkish citizens provided with  false passports passports so they could go across to fight in Syria, showing a terrorist network that stretches through northern Iraq into the Caucasus and deep into Central Asia.

Turkey is thought to have smuggled Uighur separatists from Xinjiang into Turkey and allowed them to fight for Islamic State in Syria and Iraq as a means to overthrow Assad and counter Iranian influence via its Shi'ite militia proxy forces. China and Iran have thus vied for favour with the Kurds.

In turn, there is evidence China has supplied Kurdish forces in Iraq with arms. Ankara's recruitment of Chinese Uighurs as cannon fodder for ISIS could lead China to not only support the Kurds but even the PKK, the radical Kurdish movement Turkey started bombing in late July 2015 after a deal with the US.

It would be an extremely dangerous geopolitical situation in which the easternmost member of NATO is engaged in a war against a force covertly backed by China.The PKK have been strategically aligned with Assad in Damascus whose main Great Power ally is Russia which has aligned closer to China over Ukraine.

Consequently, China and Russia sought to reaffirm their military ties and mutual interests in being the predominant powers in Eurasia through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), designed to check NATO expansion into post-Soviet space and hence Western influence in Central Asia.

China and Russia have also aimed at extending their influence off Syria in the Eastern Mediterranean through joint naval manouevres or 'war games'. As the US pursues a futile geopolitical fantasy of backing another "moderate" CIA trained rebel force, the Turkish assault open up opportunities for China.

As Christina Lim puts it , 'with the new US-Turkish alliance and support for Turkey’s Kurdish policy, the Kurds may now find a new ally with a rising China in the Middle East.' The deal with Turkey has effectively led to many Kurds regarding them as bad allies with a long history of betraying their cause.

The danger in moving in as patron of the Kurds in Syria and Iraq, is Turkey, already facing an insurgency in the south-east Kurdish regions could step up its support for Chinese Uyghur jihadists and, it turn, result in China moving in further to support the Kurds, its oil interests in Erbil and combat jihadism.

The TAPI Pipeline Draws India in to Counter Chinese Dominance in Central Asia.

The TAPI pipeline is backed by the US. It would run through Pakistan and link up with India, thus leaving Iran out and ensuring its export of gas is not used to extend its geopolitical interests in ways that displease Washington and that might get Saudi Arabia to ratchet up its support for Sunni jihadists in Afghanistan.

The US insists on TAPI as it would increase India's bilateral economic partnerships with Turkmenistan and hence other Central Asian oil and gas rich states "creating the possibility of new alliance formations that would help ensure that Central Asia would not become subject to some form of Sino-Russian joint hegemony".

The US Builds Up its Military Presence in South Korea.

Courting India is one way of rebalancing against China as is arming Japan and building a naval base in Jeju South Korea. Apart from making North Korea even more paranoid than it usually is, the naval base will take in US nuclear submarines. Aegis missiles will be positioned just 300km from mainland China.

The missiles are only 500km away from China's huge commercial city of Shanghai. It would not take much imagination to understand the panic that would ensue in Washington if China were to situate a huge new naval base in Nicaragua or Venezuela to protect its strategic control over oil resources.

Aegis missiles are designed to intercept incoming missiles and so give the upper hand over China to the US and its regional allies regarding offensive missile capabilities against 'the Middle Kingdom'. Even if ostensibly 'defensive' the strategy is offensive and has thereby accelerated the arms race in Asia.

China fears encirclement because the US has been so diplomatically ambiguous about its strategy to contend control over the 'Eurasian Heartland', claiming is is devoted to working in military partnership with China, on the one hand, while seeming to be building up a coalition of states around it on the other.

The threat of hostile states being a position to snap the energy lifelines its economy requires has made it all the more insistent on facing down rival Japanese claims to the Diaoyu/ Senkaku island as these are estimated to hold 160 billion barrels of oil, enough oil to keep China running for 45 years.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

The Looming Crisis on the Korean Peninsula.

While the origins of this present escalating tit for tat confrontation between the two Koreas goes back to the Korean War of 1950-1953, and the fact only a truce was agreed upon back then. the current danger of conflict has been intensified by geopolitical shifts since 2011, a pivotal year in global history.
As Obama has shifted the focus of US foreign policy towards Asia and containing China, Beijing has become all the more concerned to secure its influence in geopolitically volatile frontier regions as part of its 'One China Policy',from Xinjiang in the West to Manchuria in the Far East.
War would be a disaster for China and South Korea should the North Korean state implode or if it exploded all out into full war. That's precisely why Kim Jong Un ratchets up the threat level because it means China has to make concessions, supply oil and so help preserve the regime from collapse.
For the thinking behind the Obama administration's strategy in Asia is focused on controlling energy supply routes to China by sea or land where possible to as to retain its power political clout in the face of the rising Chinese economic superpower. Beijing fears that while Washington denies 'containment' is the goal.
Joint US-South Korean naval manoeuvres have increased. A controversial new US base at Ganjeong is set to open later in 2015 to advance South Korean control over the Socotra Islands against China and so aid its strategic reach over the oil and gas reserves in disputed maritime waters in the East China Sea.
The Jeju naval base is just 300km from mainland China and contain US Aegis missiles aimed at China. Yoon Yong-taek at Jeju National University states that the base could damage relations with China so “worsening rather than improving national security”. This despite the increased economic ties and trade.
This strategic ambiguity on the part of the US towards China has ensured that the Obama administration has simply neglected the issue of North Korea and its weapons programmes as part of a 'wait and see' approach. It has been far more focused on the Greater Middle East and sorting the nuclear deal with Iran first.
The danger is this has made Beijing more insecure and insistent on shoring up North Korea without restraining it, through fear that regime collapse would create chaos, huge numbers of migrants and an unpredictable instability and war in which South Korea, backed by the US, would advance up to the Chinese border.
North Korean insecurity was heightened when George Bush II made his messianic 'Axis of Evil' speech.The invasion of Iraq in 2003 clearly made Pyongyang even more paranoid about the US threat of military attack. The regime is fixated on nuclear missiles as the one sure last way to survive in power.
Kim Jong Il also developed trade ties with China to provide hard currency to buy off the elites with consumer goods. The creation of a 'selectocracy' continued under Kim Jong Un, who is said to look more like his grandfather Kim Il Sung and promise a return to the relatively better times of the 1960s and 70s.
Consequently, the economic downturn in China, plunging commodity prices, the fall in Chinese investments and 'tourism',and so diminished earnings, directly threatens the regime in Pyongyang. But China lacks the leverage over the nuclear weapons issue because it is forced to prop up North Korea.
Kim Jong Un may have calculated that escalating the crisis to the point just short of all out war is the last strategy left to ensure China does not pull the plug on the regime. Drought has dried up the supply of water to North Korea's hydroelectric power plants. Climate change is set to ensure this is a recurring phenomenon.
The terrible danger is that the crisis does in fact escalate into an actual war. It should not be understimated how North Korea's military elite are even more paranoid versions of the Soviet elites who, back in 1983, were convinced the US was about to launch an all out war against them as Hitler had in 1941.
With the seventieth anniversary of the end of World War Two in Asia being commemorated and China aligning closer with South Korea for economic reasons, the elites, indoctrinated with the idea Kim Il Sung alone had to forge the state out of a war against fascist enemies and treacherous Chinese, will be edgy.
It is often forgotten that the US bombing in the Korean War devastated the north. Bruce Cumings inThe Korean War : A History cites the appalling scale of the destruction. Pyongyang 75% destroyed, Sariwon 95%, Sinanju 100%. Fear of South Korea and the US is not based only on propaganda.

The war in Asia ended effectively with the US use of atomic weapons on Japan. The Cold War sequel, in which the US backed a South Korean regime containing collaborators with the Japanese, saw more bombs dropped on Korea than were dropped in the Pacific theatre in the entire course of World War Two.

China and the US are not co-operating enough to find a diplomatic solution to the problem of North Korea, a regime which could very soon be in the process of 'regime collapse' should the Chinese economy go into full recession. A global slump could raise tensions further in the region as in the 1930s.
Across East Asia, growing nationalism, historical animosities, struggles for control over oil and an accelerating arms race threaten the looming possibility of conflict. The fate of North Korea, if badly managed, could be a flashpoint that triggers off a wider sense of insecurity and set the course for a wider war.

On the Brink of War: North and South Korea.

'KCNA said Kim ordered frontline, combined units of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) to “enter a wartime state” on Friday evening. The troops should be “fully battle ready to launch surprise operations” while the entire frontline should be placed in a “semi-war state”'
On August 22 2015 the KCNA reported "The situation on the Korean peninsula is now inching close to the brink of a war due to the reckless provocations made by the south Korean military war hawks". Claims have been made that a 'quasi-state of war" exists, though officiall the Korean War of 1950-1953 has never ended. South Korea, in response to landmine explosions earlier in August in the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) that wounded two South Korean soldiers, set up loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts along the border. Pyongyang has demanded their removal or else Seoul would face a war. North Korea has ratcheted up tensions on the DMZ and its warlike rhetoric to an insane fever pitch of belligerence as part of a reinvigorated strategy of imposing control from within through diverting discontent outwards.This makes it easier, in a climate of hysteria, to ward off the threat from internal 'enemies of the people'. Throughout 2015 there have been signs Kim Jong Un's iron grip could be in danger of slipping and that the regime requires constant purges and executions to keep the elites in line as drought and the prospect of hunger stalks the land again on a large scale for the first time since the 1990s. It was at that time that the previous Dear Leader, Kim Jong Il, proclaimed a 'Military First' policy to secure the regime from collapse after its economic lifelines from the Soviet Union ended and China had no need to subsidise it in its geopolitical competition with Moscow to secure influence on the Korea Peninsula. Since 2011 Kim Jong Un has continued Kim Jong Il's policy of buying off elites and creating a widening circle of of loyal party member through redistributing consumer goods bought from the hard currency earnings from trade with China. Keeping this 'selectocracy' content is an ever growing, more difficult task. The economic recession and financial crisis in China could seriously affect Pyongyang's ability to retain control other than through outright war or state terror. It is estimated that Kim Jong Un has already executed 70 government officials in the four years since he assumed power compared to his father's tally of 10.

2011 was a pivotal year in global history. As Obama has shifted the focus of US foreign policy towards Asia and containing China, Beijing has become all the more concerned to secure its influence in geopolitically volatile frontier regions as part of its 'One China Policy',from Xinjiang in the West to Manchuria in the far east. War would be a disaster for China and South Korea should the North Korean state implode or if it exploded out into full out war. That's precisely why Kim Jong Un ratchets up the threat level because it means China has to make concessions, supply oil and so help preserve the regime from collapse. For the thinking behind the Obama administration's strategy in Asia is focused on controlling energy supply routes to China by sea or land where possible to as to retain its power political clout in the face of the rising Chinese economic superpower. Beijing fears that while Washington denies 'containment' is the goal.

Joint US-South Korean naval maneouvres have increased. A controversial new US base at Ganjeong is set to open later in 2015 to advance South Korean control over the Socotra Islands against China and so aid its strategic reach over the oil and gas reserves in disputed maritime waters in the East China Sea. This strategic ambiguity on the part of the US towards China has ensured that the Obama administration has simply neglected the issue of North Korea and its weapons programmes as part of a 'wait and see' approach. It has been far more focused on the Greater Middle East and sorting the nuclear deal with Iran first.

The danger with this is that it has made Beijing more insecure and insistent on shoring up North Korea without restraining it through fear that regime collapse would cause chaos,huge numbers of migrants and an unpredictable instability in which South Korea,backed by the US, would advance up to the Chinese border.
This has hardly been helped by the disastrous legacy of the George Bush II and his messianic 'Axis of Evil' speech and the invasion of Iraq in 2003 which clearly made Pyongyang even more paranoid about the US threat of military attack. The regime is fixated on nuclear missiles as the one and sure way to survive in power. But over the longer term, the economic downturn in China, plunging commodity prices, the fall in Chinese investments and 'tourism' and so diminished hard currency directly threatens the regime in Pyongyang. But China lacks the leverage over the nuclear weapons issue because it is forced to prop up North Korea. Kim Jong Un may have calculated that escalating the crisis to the point just short of all out war is the last strategy left to ensure China does not pull the plug on the regime. Drought has dried up the supply of water to North Korea's hydroelectric power plants. Climate change is set to ensure this is a recurring phenomenon. The terrible danger is that the crisis does in fact escalate into an actual war. It should not be understimated how North Korea's military elite are even more paranoid versions of the Soviet elites back in 1983 who were convinced the US was about to launch an all out war against them as Hitler had in 1941. With the seventieth anniversary of the end of World War Two in Asia being commemorated and China aligning closer with South Korea for economic reasons, the elites, indoctrinated with the idea Kim Il Sung alone had to forge the state out of a war against fascist enemies and treacherous Chinese, will be edgy.

It is often forgotten that the Korean War devastated the Korean Peninsula, especially the north. Bruce Cumings in The Korean War : A History cites the appalling scale of the destruction. Pyongyang 75% destroyed, Sariwon 95%, Sinanju 100%. Fear of South Korea and the US is not based only on propaganda.

The war in Asia ended effectively with the US use of atomic weapons on Japan. The Cold War sequel, in which the US backed a South Korean regime containing collaborators with the Japanese, saw more bombs dropped on Korea than were dropped in the Pacific theatre in the entire course of World War Two.

The US carpet bombing was, in the words of Blaine Harden "perhaps the most forgotten part of a forgotten war...a major war crime. Hatred and fear of the Us "is not all manufactured..It is rooted in a fact-based narrative, one that North Korea obsessively remembers and the United States blithely forgets."

Friday, 21 August 2015

The Politics of Jeremy Corbyn's Foreign Policy

There is no doubt Jeremy Corbyn's stand on Iraq and on foreign policy is 'principled'; the question not addressed by Owen Jones is whether they are always logical, coherent and based on a real understanding of international power politics. The inference as regards Tony Blair is that he was somehow not 'principled'.

There is no evidence Blair was ever an outright cynic who use humanitarian rhetoric to advance the case for either the war in Afghanistan or Iraq: to him 'liberal intervention' was part of his concept of what the believed 'internationalist' idea of the British Labour Party should mean in the 21st century.

However, in one important way, Corbyn is no different that the liberal interventionists who supported military action in both Iraq and Afghanistan. For Corbyn is still a militant progressive who does not believe in the existence of evil as a persistent and ineradicable feature of human existence.

This means Corbyn refuses to accept that there are actually limits to what Britain could achieve in the world if it pursued a real version of the 'ethical foreign policy' promised by Robin Cook back in 1997. Corbyn believes more fervently than Blair that purity of motive should animate the spirit of Britain's global role.

Yvette Cooper, Corbyn's rival for the Labour leadership, has maintained Corbyn is not an 'internationalist' because she wants to portray him as as an 'isolationist' and so a threat to Britain's role as a 'global player'. His is not. He rejects the attempt to play this role through unquestioning partnership with the US.

Scepticism about American global policy, however, is different from the ideological anti-Americanism. This holds to the position that the root of most evil in the Middle East has either been caused historically or at present by a hypocritical US imperial project that prates about human rights as a fig leaf for resource wars.

This was clear with the invasion of Iraq in 2003. But Corbyn also asserts that any attempt by the West to use war as a means of removing evil states, which is really based on securing oil and gas or minerals, is not only hypocritical but is bound to be seen as such by those in the 'liberated' lands and so resisted.

The danger is that the line between dislike for hypocrisy and sympathy with those resisting by whatever means possible in Iraq gets blurred in the statements of some of the spokesmen in the in the StWC such as Tariq Ali who lauded the 'Iraqi resistance' despite it consisting strongly of Baathists and jihadists.

Ali was typical of some StwC activists who were praying for some unified Iraqi National Liberation Front when there was no evidence for that over the growth of sectarian divisions that existed long before the invasion. The Baathists and Sunni jihadists groups have reformed as ISI and then as ISIS. 

So unfairly, Corbyn is going to be the accused of aligning with lots of people who supported 'the resistance' against 'imperialist' occupation and who are very far removed from pacifism either in sentiment or in the sort of groups abroad whose violence they regard as serving a liberating purpose.

The most obvious example of what is regarded as 'appeasing terrorism' is Corbyn's belief Hamas and Hezbollah are guerilla resistance movements who respond in kind to Israeli hatred, persecution and what Corbyn called its "military ethnic cleansing" of Gaza during Operation Cast Lead in 2008.

The Israel-Palestine conflict, however, hardly goes on simply because Britain tends to do nothing to stop Israel or criticise it other than waffle about its 'right to defence'. Corbyn is deluded that the Israel-Palestine conflict is similar to the low intensity conflict in Northern Ireland that ended in 1999 with peace talks.

The Israel-Gaza wars may not have a military solution but there is no indication Israel does not think it cannot succeed in provoking Hamas into retaliation as a pretext to 'demilitarise' Gaza further and destroy missile stocks that would threaten its secure control over the Gaza Marine gas reserves.

The conflicts in the Middle East are far more intractable than Northern Ireland as they revolve around not only old ethnic-sectarian animosities but also increasingly a life and death struggle for control over resources from water to oil. Sanctions might make a difference but Israel is no longer dependent on the US or EU.

Moreover, there is very little Britain could do to prevent the vicious proxy wars between Sunni and Shi'ite militants in the Middle East which is helping to create the chaos in which ISIS thrives. Sunni-Shia enmity has also driven Hamas and Hezbollah apart, so that both are hostile to each other as well as Israel.

One thing Britain could do is move away from being so blinded by Saudi oil wealth. The lucrative arms deals with Riyadh do not 'purchase influence' should be dropped by export bans on arms along with ditching the policy of forthrightly aligning with a state that bankrolls Sunni jihadists across the Greater Middle East.

In this sense, Corbyn is both more of a realist that Blair, Brown or Cameron. They all seemed to think a geopolitical strategy of 'Democracy Promotion', one that depended on working with regional powers that are themselves autocracies, would bring about Arab democracies led by 'moderate rebels' against dictatorship.

Corbyn is also right that involving Iran as part of a negotiated regional peace settlement would be the best way forward over Syria. But he was hardly unique in that respect and there is no guarantee either Saudi Arabia or Iran is going to be persuaded by Corbyn to just stop their Gulf Power rivalry.

The difference between Corbyn and Blair is that Blair believes evil could be overcome by decisive military action in benighted lands. Corbyn, however, believes that the world would be set aright through Britain being a leading global player promoting peace and by non-military intervention and moral example.

Corbyn's foreign policy is firmly in the tradition of Tony Benn, CND and post-war liberal left 'eggheads' led by the sort of radical with beards and placards who used to march in their anoraks to Aldermaston and listen to Bertrand Russell. Whatever one thought of it, that peace movement was principled.

It is difficult to be so convinced that the StwC has much moral authority. The problem with the 'anti-war movement' that stands behind Corbyn is that it was united by that which it was against rather than that which it was for. This meant it was dominated by radical ideologues of the SWP and Islamist back in 2003.

Jones calls for anti-semitism to be 'recognised, routed out and defeated'. But it is in part a manifestation the paranoid belief that Israel and the lobby was telling the US to invade Iraq and because Iraq was Muslim and the West is an evil imperialist force in league with Zionists. There was no attempt to challenge that.

The reasons for that run deeper in the core ideology of the 'progressive movement' that Jones wants to believe. The problem with Corbyn is that he appears to pander to this sort of worldview. When  interviewed by  RT over ISIS, the switch to what the US did back in 2005 in Fallujah clearly plays to the gallery.

The usual charge is that anti-war spokesmen advocate a paralysing form of 'moral relativism'. This appears to be given credence when Corbyn is portrayed by Blair's ex-spin doctor John McTernan, in a report carried by the Daily Telegraph, that ISIS is 'the same' as the US.

In fact, he did not actually do that and he was quoted from an RT interview out of context, though he seemed to soft pedal over ISIS atrocities as 'brutalities', perhaps, because he is not as interested in them as he is in what 'the West' or the US is doing in its air war against the Islamic State.

“Yes they are brutal, yes some of what they have done is quite appalling, likewise what the Americans did in Fallujah and other places is appalling”

If anybody watches the interview in full it becomes clear what Corbyn meant was that the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the napalming of Fallujah created a resentment in Sunni Arab regions of Iraq that ISIS had tapped into and used to swell recruits for its insurgency.

Corbyn blames the West and 'imperialism' of course and points out the sectarian nature of the Maliki government at the time, one that was backed and supported by Iran, something Corbyn omits to mention because he wants to pretend that a secular democratic Iraq is the 'real' alternative.

The irony is that was precisely what the neoconservatives and Blair believed was the case if they knocked out the secular dictator Saddam. Even if the chaos and rise of ISIS is rightly claimed to be the consequence of the invasion, and the Saudi financing of jihadists, Corbyn sees this as a result of 'imperialism'

Corbyn does so because he wants to hold out for the idea of a non-sectarian resistance force equally opposed to both western imperialism and sectarian politics. At the same time he has to see this as imperial divide-and-rule as that feeds into the idea most Muslims are all somehow naturally aligned with each other.

The idea that Saudi Arabia is an 'obedient client state' of the US, as Chomsky claims in his Making the Future is ludicrous. Riyadh is contemptuous of Washington and its withdrawal of troops from Iraq in 2011 and it wants the US to shoulder the burden of protecting it from ISIS blowback.

If it were not for the danger ISIS poses to Iraqi oil and the contribution it makes to keeping the oil price low enough for the East Asian economies, which in turn produce relatively low cost goods needed to prop up consumer spending in the West, it is unlikely the US be that interested in the region.

However, the 'Chomsky' position offers hope to British leftists who are as militant as Blair in thinking that Britain is a Global Player and Internationalist Force for Good, that the world will be made a better place if Britain shows how non-intervention and giving up imperialism shall make the world peaceful.

The reason, apart from wanting strength of support in numbers, is that he accepts the idea of unique Muslim victimhood as the consequence of what 'we' do to 'them' and so a new unified 'we' in which Muslims and non-Muslims are in 'solidarity' against 'imperialism'. It's a very simplistic ideological worldview.

The hazard of such a position is that

Britain has not really been an imperial power since the 1960s. The illusion it could and should revive its role as such is as much an illusion shared by those who wanted an uncritical 'shoulder to shoulder' alignment with the US as with those who think that if the UK rejected the US it would have world shaking consequences.

Britain is not 'the West' in superpower terms and so the question then for the left has to be what it would rather have in place of NATO. Corbyn is reported to be 'sceptical' of NATO expansion and its role in Eastern Europe but that does not really mean much other than he does not like its role there.

That is not say there are not great benefits to non-intervention. In fact, Britain should always advocate diplomacy as opposed to war and try to avoid futile entanglements abroad. But this would create no world shaking revolutionary change nor necessarily lead to peace and harmony in conflict ridden regions.